Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College honored its Alumni Hall of Fame and Sam Owen Award honorees during the 2020 Homecoming celebration on October 15. The 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame honorees will be recognized at the MGCCC In The Blue: An Evening in Support of Athletics event to be held February 5, 2021.
The Alumni Hall of Fame award was established in 1970 to honor MGCCC alumni who have exhibited exceptional merit and achievement resulting in fame and recognition for themselves and the college.
Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner
Harrison County Campus
Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s West Harrison County Center in 1987 while still in high school. A native of Long Beach, she worked for the college from 1992 to 2012. During that time, she moved up through the ranks, teaching math part time in the Computer Lab as the youngest-hired full-time instructor to the director of Institutional Research. She worked on several MGCCC campuses during those years, working for District Office while in the research department. She played an instrumental role in the college’s accreditation in 2011-2012 and led the way in securing the college a top-10 position for the Aspen Prize in 2012. After leaving the college, she worked at Phi Theta Kappa as a researcher and CIO, and eventually became president and CEO of the organization.
An incredible voice for community college students, Tincher-Ladner has lived what she preaches. She worked to put her way through college and knows how tough it is to achieve a higher education while supporting yourself and your family. Today, she helps students manage the struggle by working with a large group of corporate partners and colleges around the world to provide assistance and training to hundreds of thousands of deserving students.
As a partner in MGCCC’s Emerging Scholars program, Tincher-Ladner and PTK encourage high school students to attend community college first, which helps them save on tuition while still providing a quality education, and work toward getting PTK transfer scholarships to attend a university or four-year college. Due in large part to this program, MGCCC recruits more than 1,300 high school students from its four-county district each year.
Jackson County Campus
Christian Hartley is a branch manager at Keesler Federal Credit Union in Gautier and is a founding member of LEAD Mississippi (Leaders Engaging in Action & Development), the only credit-union-specific young professional group in Mississippi.
Along with her branch manager duties, Hartley serves as a mentor and coach at Keesler Federal Credit Union, with an impressive number of her direct reports promoted into Credit Union leadership.
Hartley was recognized as one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s Top Ten Leaders Under Forty and named one of Gulf Coast Woman Magazine’s “100 Successful Women to Know.”
In addition to graduating with honors from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in 2009, Hartley is a graduate of William Carey University and of the 2017 class of Leadership Jackson County.
She currently serves as the president of the Gulf Coast Chapter of Credit Unions on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is the current chair of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the Board of Directors for United Way of Jackson County and Coast Young Professionals. She also serves on the Credit Union National Association’s Young Professional Committee and was the 2018 Mississippi representative for the Cooperative Trust’s “Crash the G-A-C.”
Dr. Nollie Hickman
The late Dr. Nollie Wade Hickman Hickman, author of the 1962 study of South Mississippi forests, "Mississippi Harvest," was born December 9, 1912, in a log house at Big Level, east of Perkinston in what was then Harrison County. (On June 5, 1916, the secession of northern Harrison County resulted in the formation of Stone County which included Perkinston and Big Level.)
Hickman was named for Lorenzo Nolly Dantzler and Wade Hatten, both prosperous Piney Woods lumbermill owners. Nollie’s parents spelled Dantzler’s middle name with an “ie” instead of a “y,” but by the time they discovered the mistake, it was too late, so the name stuck. That he was named for great lumbermen was appropriate, for Hickman eventually penned the classic study of the forest industries he observed in his youth.
Hickman graduated from Home Vocational High School at Big Level in 1932. He began his college career in 1932 at State Teacher’s College (USM) at Hattiesburg, and then spent the school year of 1935-1936 at Harrison-Stone-Jackson Junior College (MGCCC Perkinston Campus). He returned to State Teacher’s College, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1938. For the next two years, he taught at Success High School and then spent four years in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.
After the war, Hickman attended The University of Mississippi, where he earned his Master of Arts degree in 1948. He began teaching social studies at Perkinston Junior College on September 1, 1948, where he met the new voice instructor, Norma Mettert of Hagerstown, Indiana. After a whirlwind romance, he married her. They stayed at Perkinston until June 1950, when the couple and their firstborn son, Wade, left for the University of Texas.
Hickman remained at the University of Texas for three years, during which he completed doctorate requirements except for his dissertation. Fittingly, the subject of the dissertation was to be lumbering in South Mississippi. Returning to Perkinston, he taught for two years (1953-1954 and 1954-1955) and then taught at the University of Tennessee (Martin Branch) and Florence State College in Florence, Alabama.
In June 1958, the University of Texas awarded Hickman a doctorate. His dissertation was titled “History of the Forest Industries in the Longleaf Pine Belt of East Louisiana and Mississippi, 1840-1915.”
In 1959, Hickman accepted a teaching post at the University of Northeast Louisiana at Monroe. He remained there for the rest of his career, retiring in May 1978.
In 1962, The University of Mississippi, with the financial aid of the Mississippi Forestry Association and the Forest History Society, published a section of Hickman’s dissertation titled “Mississippi Harvest: Lumbering in the Longleaf Pine Belt, 1840-1915.” J. Roland Weston, retired owner of one of the greatest lumbermills of Hancock County, reviewed "Mississippi Harvest" in the October 1962 Journal of Mississippi History deeming it “a splendid work.”
In 1962, hundreds of copies of Hickman’s book were stored at Ole Miss and were not found until 1984. A number of copies of this cache were placed for sale in the general store of the Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson. Quotes from "Mississippi Harvest" adorn the walls in the forestry section of that museum, because State Agriculture Commissioner Jim Buck Ross had the foresight to ask Hickman to serve as a consultant to the Museum while it was being built. The popularity of "Mississippi Harvest" resulted in a 2011 reprint by The University Press of Mississippi.
Hickman died October 26, 1987. He and his wife, who died September 4, 2015, are buried in Big Level Baptist Church Cemetery.
Sam Owen Award
The Sam Owen Award was established by and given in memory of the late Sam Owen, a 1927 Perkinston graduate. It is given each year to a person who has actively supported the college through dedication and service.
This year's recipient, Vernon Ehlers, set a record for the most honors and photographs in yearbooks. He dominates the 1957, 1958 and 1959 yearbooks for his year of high school and two years of college at Perkinston Agricultural High School and Junior College. As one student put it, “He won everything except Miss Perk and Most Beautiful. Being a man, he was ineligible for those, or he would have won those as well.”
Ehlers’ achievements are impressive. He grew up in a family of 10 children and is the only one of his siblings to finish college. His biography has been one of determination, marked by a steady climb in every facet of his life. For example, in his career he rose from classroom teacher to Long Beach superintendent of Education.
Ehlers is a lifetime member of the Mississippi Jaycees. While he was president of his local Jaycees chapter, the group built a youth center for the city of Long Beach. He received the Doyle Ray Garrett Award as a top recruiter for the Mississippi Jaycees and still holds the record for the most recruits. He is a lifetime member of the Lions Club and has been a member of his local Elks Lodge for 58 years, making him the second-longest active member.
For MGCCC, he has raised more than $50,000 by selling $100 signs for the college golf tournament, and he has raised $3,500 for golf tournament prizes each year. When he's selling, he wears an MGCCC cap and shirt. He has also been a motivator in the Bulldog Club, which he has served as president and vice president and is currently serving as a member of its governing board. As a Bulldog Club member, he made the motion to create the Bulldog Hall of Honor to recognize members of the support groups of athletics (band, cheerleaders, Perkettes, etc.). Also, he played a role in establishing a Bearcat Club for Long Beach High School, which is a counterpart to the Bulldog Club.
1. From left, Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president; Christian Hartley, Jackson County Campus Alumni Hall of Fame honoree; Ryan Rogers, Mary Rogers, Susan Seiter and David Greatwood, daughters of Dr. Nollie Hickman and their escorts, Perkinston Campus Alumni Hall of Fame honoree; and Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, Harrison County Campus Alumni Hall of Fame honoree.
2. Vernon Ehlers, 2020 Sam Owen Award honoree