Entering his 17th season as “The Voice of the Choctaws,” professor Reid Vance takes on a new leadership role as chair of Mississippi College’s Communication Department.
As the department celebrates its 70th anniversary this fall, Dr. Vance joins an all-star lineup of leaders. They stretch from Communication Department pioneers Hollis Todd and his wife, Julia, to venerable chairs Billy Lytal and Cliff Fortenberry. His appointment becomes effective July 1.
Announcing the appointment June 17, MC leaders say Reid Vance is an outstanding successor to Dr. Fortenberry. He’s offered splendid leadership since 2003.
“Dr. Fortenberry has led the Communication Department with distinction” says Debbie Norris, the university’s interim provost. “I enjoy reading and hearing about all the successful communication graduates who have been strongly influenced by him. The Communication Department has always had strong leadership.”
Reid Vance thanks university leaders for providing this wonderful opportunity. The list includes President Blake Thompson, Dr. Norris and Wayne VanHorn, dean of the School of Christian Studies and the Arts.
The Mississippi College graduate appreciates mentors like the late Dr. Billy Lytal and Dr. Fortenberry for shaping his life. Lytal chaired the department when he was a student. “His creative spirit continues to influence all of what we do. And Cliff Fortenberry has been my teacher and mentor for many years.”
Vance is grateful Dr. Fortenberry will continue teaching on the Clinton campus.
Many Blue & Gold supporters are familiar with Reid through his live broadcasts of football, basketball and baseball games. The diehard Chicago Cubs baseball fan stays on fire for the Choctaws, win or lose.
“Reid has been an integral part of the success of our athletic department through the years,” says MC sports information director David Nichols. Whether doing live streams, interviews or highlight videos, Reid shines bright promoting Choctaws student-athletes and coaches.
“His work ethic is unquestioned, and we know he loves Mississippi College athletics,” Nichols said. “We’re excited to see the direction of the Communication Department under his leadership.”
Joining the faculty at his alma mater in 2007, Reid was instrumental in developing online programs, and establishing communication internships for students in Washington. He teaches courses in mass media, journalism, sports media, and political communication.
His faith, family and MC are life’s cornerstones for the Clintonian. He and his wife, Cheli, serve as college ministry leaders at First Baptist Church Clinton. Cheli is the program coordinator with MC’s Office of Continuing Education.
Reid’s faith is reflected in the title of his doctoral dissertation at Azuza Pacific University in California. It is “Characteristics of Christian College Faculty Who Prioritize Students’ Development of Vocational Calling.” He received his doctorate in January.
A Canton native, Reid enrolled at Mississippi College to pursue sports broadcasting at campus radio station WHJT, named for Hollis and Julia Todd. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication at MC. The Mississippian received a master’s in Christian education at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mississippi College roots also run deep for Dr. Fortenberry. Joining the faculty in 1986, he received a bachelor’s in broadcast media and master’s in media production at MC. He earned a doctorate in interpersonal communication at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Fortenberry, who studied under the Todds, has other MC family ties. His wife, Melanie, serves as director of MC’s health services administration program. The Fortenberrys love their grandkids, travel, cooking and working with church ministries.
For nearly two decades as chair, Dr. Fortenberry helped the department build award-winning online undergraduate and graduate programs. Professors prepared students to excel in sports media, theatre, communications, public relations and other fields.
Communication professor Mignon Kucia summed up Cliff Fortenberry’s strengths. “His love for our department and out students is unsurpassed.”
Dr. Vance takes the leadership post as Mississippi College addresses the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our students are resilient and will do great,” he said. The department’s goal, Dr. Vance said, is unchanged. It is “to prepare MC students to be excellent communicators with their words, skills and lives.”