Dr. Tyrone Jackson sees community college as valuable not only for students but also for Mississippi.
The ninth president of Mississippi Delta Community College, as well as the first African American to hold the position, Jackson was the guest speaker for the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation’s annual membership and business meeting, held Thursday at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta.
“If I knew then what I know now, I would have gone to community college first instead of going to a four-year school,” said Jackson, who earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Delta State University.
He explained that students who start at community college to pursue their associate’s degrees before transferring to four-year universities end up saving more money than they would if they immediately started at a four-year university.
Jackson, who started his job as president this summer, said his goal is to make MDCC the best community college in the nation.
“I believe the bar should be set higher,” he said.
Some things the president said he’s been working on include rewriting the employment development curriculum, recruiting top faculty and finding more creative ways to offer courses, such as strengthening MDCC’s technology presence.
Jackson said about 100,000 students in Mississippi are getting associate’s degrees at one of the state’s 15 community colleges.
Collectively, these community colleges employ about 8,000 people, many of whom are in rural areas. The community colleges contribute about $400 million annually to the state, Jackson said.
Additionally, students who have associate’s degrees earn 70% more than those who only have high school diplomas, he said.
This fall, MDCC’s enrollment was up 5.1% over last year, growing from 2,423 students to 2,546.
At the Greenwood branch of MDCC, 237 students are currently enrolled, Jackson said.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to assist the Mississippi Delta to move forward,” Jackson said.
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.