WESSON – After 40 years in education, Copiah-Lincoln Community College President Dr. Howell Garner announced his retirement effective June 30, 2008. The announcement came at Thursday’s monthly Board of Trustees meeting.
“I have had the pleasure and good fortune to serve with may truly outstanding faculty members, some of whom have been affectionately titled “icons” in the history and tradition of this college,” said Garner. “In addition, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with many outstanding professional support staff members throughout my 34 years at Co-Lin. It has been a great experience for me and for my family to be a part of the Co-Lin family.”
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.
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.
Construction of eight new buildings include the Fred & Jewet Taylor Chapel (1998), the Billy B. Thames Conference Center (1999), Lincoln and Lawrence Men’s Residence Halls (2003), the Dow-Young Instructional Technology Building (2004), R. S. Parker Academic Building in Simpson County (2005), Baseball Field House (2006), and Football Weightlifting Facility (2007).
Renovations of 11 buildings include the Maggie Flowers Ewing Fine Arts Building Auditorium (1997), Henley Student Services Counseling Center and Wolf Den Conference Room (1998), Calendar Hall Grille (1998), Gertrude Mutton Building (1988, 2006, 2007), F. M. Fortenberry Building (2001), J. M. Ewing Administration Building (2000), Jessie Sandifer Communications Building (1999, 2003), and the R. E. Anderson Building (2004).
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. He currently serves as chairman for the Phi Theta Kappa All-Mississippi Recognition Steering Committee, Career-Technical Education Study Committee, and Mississippi Rural Health Corps Committee. Garner is vice chairman for the MACJC, the Legislative Committee for the MACJC and serves on the boards for the Mississippi Community College Foundation, Mississippi Higher Education Assistance Corp., and Public Education Forum Board of Governors.
Garner is active in the local community serving on the boards of the Wesson Chamber of Commerce, Trustmark National Bank Advisory Board for Hazlehurst Bank, and the Copiah County Economic Development District. He is a member of the Wesson Lions Club and has held numerous district offices and state in the Lions International, Boy Scouts of America, Central Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Copiah Competitive Community Leadership Program.
Throughout the years Garner has received notable honors including Who’s Who in American Education, Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa, National Institute for
Staff and Organizational Development Master Teacher Award, Phi Theta Kappa Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, Phi Theta Kappa Ambassador for the Mississippi-Louisiana Region, Phi Theta Kappa Eta Omega Chapter Rod Risley Leadership Awards, and Lions International President’s Certificate of Appreciation and Leadership Award.
Garner is a member, deacon and Sunday school teacher and is currently serving on the restoration II committee at First Baptist Church in Brookhaven. He and his wife, Candace are the parents of two sons, Brad and Justin.