A new month brings change to Rust College.
Ivy Taylor takes over as president, replacing Dr. David Beckley, who is retiring after 27 years.
Holly Springs and Marshall County welcomes President Taylor, the first woman to lead the college, and sends well wishes to Dr. Beckley.
And the community newspaper does the same.
One of the pleasures of moving here in 2001 to take over as publisher of The South Reporter was getting to know the good folks at Rust College.
Dr. Beckley has been great to work with since day one. He either answers my calls or quickly calls me back.
Through working with him, Ishmell Edwards, vice president for public relations, and the entire staff, The South Reporter crew has always striven to give Rust College the good publicity it deserves.
It has also been a wonderful experience being involved with Dr. Beckley through the Holly Springs Rotary Club and the Holly Springs Main Street Chamber.
The Main Street program, most likely, would not be in existence in Holly Springs without the efforts of Dr. Beckley and Rust College.
He saw the benefits of a Main Street program for the city. And he's played a huge role in its growth and development, serving many years at president of the Main Street Board of Directors.
I attended meeting after meeting with Dr. Beckley in charge. He always stayed on task and you knew you would get out of there on time or even early. He could accomplish a lot in just one hour. He was a man on the move.
Dr. Beckley is a good friend. We've shared a lot of conversation about a lot of things, other than newspapers and colleges, in the 19 years I've been in Holly Springs. The number one thing we enjoy talking about is our families.
Dr. Beckley's love for Rust College is deep very deep.
It was his mother, the late Georgiana Fields Beckley, and his aunt, the late Vallie G. Fields, who introduced him to Rust College at a young age.
He grew up in Shannon and entered Rust College as a freshman in 1964.
“I was always a talker and quickly became involved in campus life,” he was quoted as saying in a story published several years ago in The South Reporter.
He was elected president of the freshman class and served in the Student Government Association his senior year (1967).
In 1993, after six years as president of Wiley College, he had the great pleasure of taking over the top job of his alma mater. Today, he's the longest tenured president in Rust College history.
Dr. Beckley's accomplishments at Rust, and the honors he's achieved, are far too many to mention in this space.
The long list includes new facilities, strong academics, remarkable growth of the school's endowment and so on and so forth.
At the same time, Dr. Beckley realized the importance of community. He has consistently given his time to bettering Holly Springs, Marshall County and Mississippi.
Here's hoping he enjoys retirement, yet stays involved in our community.
For Rust, it's the end of an era, and the exciting start to a new one.