Special to The Clinton Courier
Mississippi College recently conferred Emeritus status on four members of their faculty and staff, including Donna Lewis of Clinton, who retired in 2020 from the position of chief financial officer for the university.
Lewis joined three other renowned members of the MC faculty and staff selected for the honor this year, including Leland “Butch” Benton, assistant professor of chemistry, who retired in 2020; Agnes Man-Bourdon, instructor of modern languages, who also retired in 2020; and H. Lee Hetherington, an MC Law professor, who retired in 2017. Man-Bourdon and Lewis are still connected to the university – Man-Bourdon as an adjunct professor of modern languages and Lewis as an assistant to the CFO.
In all, the four newly-named emeritus faculty and staff have a combined eighty-nine years of service to Mississippi College.
Emeritus status is bestowed upon retired Mississippi College faculty or staff members who have made significant contributions to the Christian university. It is given to showcase a long and distinguished record of scholarship, teaching, research and service.
Dr. Blake Thompson, who was on hand to present plaques to the emeritus recipients able to attend the ceremony, said all were exceptional choices for the honor.
“Each of these individuals has made important contributions to Mississippi College,” Thompson said. “They have dedicated their life’s work to enriching others, and the university has benefitted from their investment in many ways.
“By conferring emeritus status, we express our sincerest gratitude for their decision to lend their immense talents to this institution.”
In a story as inspirational as it is remarkable, Lewis worked her way up from a part-time payroll accounting position to budget analyst to an executive leader at Mississippi College.
Her ascension was far from easy: just three weeks after starting at MC, Lewis was diagnosed with breast cancer. However, she found a caring community of believers who were more than willing to help her throughout her healing process in her new colleagues.
“These people wrapped their arms around me that first year,” she said. “The people here, there’s nothing like them. I know God put me here. It’s an amazing place.”
Dr. Debbie Norris, dean of MC’s Graduate School and vice president for planning and assessment, said Lewis is an amazing person, having excelled in whatever role she has had.
“Donna Lewis was always a ‘big picture’ person,” Norris said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever known anyone as adept at breaking down a financial picture. Having worked with her hand-in-hand for many years, I can attest to her extreme competence and dedication to making MC better.”
Lewis, whose father was an MC graduate, said she had no real connection to Mississippi College until she started working here. Having achieved emeritus status, her connection to the university will be lasting.
“It’s a great place, and I’ve made wonderful friendships here,” she said. “A lot of people [on MC’s emeritus list] have given a lot of their lives to Mississippi College. I feel very humbled to be on the same list with those people.”