By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
BLUE MOUNTAIN – Several speakers during Blue Mountain College’s presidential inauguration ceremony on Friday spoke of the challenges facing Christian higher education.
As the world becomes more secular, they said, the pressure is on the leader of such an institution.
“In the history of the College, no time has been more difficult than now,” said Jim Futral, executive director and treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.
On the day she was formally installed as the eighth president in the Baptist college’s 140-year history, Barbara Childers McMillin called on the school to answer those challenges by raising its standards.
“We will enhance our identity as Christian scholar-teachers not by putting little crosses on lesson plans and lectures but by being good teachers – because God is interested in good scholarship,” she said in her inaugural address.
“…Bearing the label ‘Christian,’ we are duty-bound to expect more, to work harder and to aim higher because we are seeking to honor a higher standard than the world acknowledges.”
McMillin’s address called for the college to enhance its identity, enlarge its territory and enrich its culture.
Although she’s held the job since Aug. 1, she was invested on Friday in a two-hour ceremony. Berry Auditorium was nearly filled to capacity with guests including U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi University for Women President Jim Borsig, Northeast Mississippi Community College President Johnny Allen and Itawamba Community College President David Cole, among others.
Past BMC Presidents E. Harold Fisher and Bettye Rogers Coward participated in the ceremony, as did Union University President David Dockery.
McMillin served as associate provost and dean of instruction at Union before getting her current job, and Dockery estimated at least 40 of her former colleagues from the Jackson, Tenn., school attended Friday.
“I love Doctor Coward, and I was nervous to see who would follow her,” said BMC senior Biblical studies major Kayce Carr of Corinth. “Dr. McMillin has done a fantastic job. She is very personable and loving of the students. There is an honor about her.”