Coward to retire from Blue Mountain in 2012

BLUE MOUNTAIN – Blue Mountain College President Bettye Rogers Coward announced Tuesday that she will retire at the end of June 2012.
Coward said she was announcing her retirement a year early so that the college’s board of trustees can begin its search for her replacement.
Coward, who has led the private, 553-student college for 10 years, said she will be retiring so that she and her husband, Tom, can spend more time with their two grandchildren.
“When I stepped on the campus in 2001, the peaceful atmosphere and the family-feel on campus became apparent to me,” said Coward, the school’s first female president. “I have loved being with the students who chose to come to this institution.”
Under her leadership, the historically female school supported by the Mississippi Baptist Convention has become coeducational, nearly doubled its enrollment, added graduate students and significantly expanded its donor base.
It started a men’s athletic program and began offering several additional women’s sports. The college has had extensive renovations and greatly increased its number of residential students, which is now 228.
“Under her leadership, the college has come light years in terms of enrollment and programs added,” said Joy Hill, a member of the college’s board of trustees.
Linda Gholston, a former member of the board, will chair a seven-person search committee. That search will seek input from faculty, students, alums and any constituent with an interest in Blue Mountain College.
“Everyone who loves Blue Mountain is grateful to Dr. Bettye Coward for her leadership,” Gholston said.
Before coming to Blue Mountain, Coward, 67, had spent 30 years at Mississippi College in Clinton, where she taught, served as a department chair and was vice president for academic affairs. Blue Mountain selected her to succeed longtime President E. Harold Fisher. Her 45-year career in education also has included one year at the University of Mississippi and three years at St. Mary’s Dominican College in New Orleans.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

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