Reception to honor Garner

Published 1:23 am Sunday, May 11, 2008

WESSON — Retiring Copiah-Lincoln Community College President Dr. Howell C. Garner will be honored at a reception on Sunday, May 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. at The Thames Conference Center on the college’s Wesson Campus. He is retiring June 30 after 40 years in education, 34 years at Co-Lin.

Garner, who has spent the last 11 years as president of the college, served as the dean of the college from 1985-1997. Prior to moving to the Wesson campus he served as administrative assistant/assistant dean, and dean on the Natchez campus from 1974-1985.

“We want to thank Dr. Garner for his dedicated service to Co-Lin,” said Co-Lin’s Executive Vice President Dr. Ronnie Nettles. “This reception is an opportunity for those in the community to visit with Dr. and Mrs. Garner before his retirement.”

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During his tenure as president, Co-Lin has seen growth in enrollment, programs, services, faculty, and facilities.

Garner’s work with the Simpson County supervisors led to the construction of Co-Lin’s Simpson County Center. The $4.17 million center, located on Highway 49 near Legion Lake between Mendenhall and Magee, opened in August 2005. The center offers a full array of academic classes and three career-technical programs. Enrollment continues to grow every year.

During his tenure Co-Lin saw the construction of eight new buildings and the renovations of 11 buildings.

Co-Lin’s latest renovation project Willie H. Smith Hall was completed this fall. This $2.6 million project expanded and updated science labs to state-of-the-art, created a much-needed suite of faculty offices with necessary conference and workspace, and enhanced the overall nature of the building. In addition, instructional technology was installed in classrooms as a separate part of the overall project. Plans are to build a fitness center that will be completed in Spring 2008.

“One of the things that I have most enjoyed is to have been a part of so many outstanding programs, such as the student organizations which have represented the college in an outstanding fashion through the years,” Garner said. “I was thrilled to have been a part of the Eta Omega Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa being named the ‘Most Distinguished’ Chapter in April 2005. The chapter had previously been given that distinction in 1989. No other college in Mississippi has ever accomplished that distinction even once, much less twice!”

He initiated the Awards Day Program on the Natchez Campus, supported the initiation of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, Scholars Bowl, Science Quest, the Aficionado Series of the Community Arts Series on the Wesson campus.

The college’s athletic programs expanded during Garner’s tenure, with the addition of men and women’s soccer. All of Co-Lin’s intercollegiate athletic programs (football, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, and golf) have participated in national tournaments or bowl games, and student-athletes have been recognized for their academic excellence.

Garner has provided leadership at the state level through the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) and the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges (SBCJC). He was instrumental in the development of the Mississippi Virtual Community College for on-line instruction and currently serves as chairman of the committee. Garner led in the initiation of the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame.

The public is cordially invited to the reception.