The Vision

McConnell Lays Out Plan for School’s Future

Senior+Brady+Suttles+speaks+with+Executive+Director+Dr.+McConnell+about+his+future+plans+for+MSMS.
Senior Brady Suttles speaks with Executive Director Dr. McConnell about his future plans for MSMS.

Senior Brady Suttles speaks with Executive Director Dr. McConnell about his future plans for MSMS.

Gina Nguyen

Gina Nguyen

Senior Brady Suttles speaks with Executive Director Dr. McConnell about his future plans for MSMS.

Brady Suttles, News Editor

During junior and senior orientation this August when the wave of MSMS students flooded Hooper and Shackelford Auditorium during orientation, the Executive Director of MSMS Dr. Germain McConnell spoke to students about his future plans for the school. I recently sat down with him to discuss the direction he plans to take with the school and what that means to the future students, teachers and administrators.

After talking about the restored funds MSMS received after its budget cut earlier this year, the first thing Dr. McConnell stressed was the importance of quality vs. quantity.  He spoke on the importance of providing every student with the same “opportunity for excellence” that is promised by the school’s motto.

“This starts with making sure every student is comfortable,”  McConnell said.

To ensure this “comfort,” McConnell is looking at updating the residential halls of the school. The state has allocated funding to hire an architect that would look at the cost of renovating the current dorms as opposed to building completely new ones. If constructed, the new dorms would be located in the field behind PAC.

“We need new facilities for our residence halls. The way I envision that is that we would have the two halls, but we would have a common lobby between those two buildings. So you have a common lobby space, similar to how you see the library that has those meeting room spaces that are glassed in, so if you guys wanted to go study there, you could. Additionally, this helps us with resources. Instead of having a desk worker for both buildings, we now have one desk worker,” commented McConnell.

McConnell also envisions an office of student affairs in the space that connects the two buildings with a large office suite for the transportation assistant, custodian, coordinator for activities and other members of student affairs. This would allow students to access anyone they may need in res life all in one central location. 

“I know the new dorms would cost a lot, but the renovations would cost a lot more, since these buildings have been here since the 19th century. We have to take into consideration how long these buildings have been standing and the cost of updating the plubming and everything else that would have to be renovated,” stated Goen RA Lexie Montgomery.

Not only is he looking into new residence halls, but McConnell is also making plans for new academic buildings.

“We need more administrative and classroom space. In between Mary Wilson and Hooper, there is a three story building. That building will house our administrative offices and will house our additional classroom space. There would be some meeting spaces for our advisory board and foundation board when they come. What I envision as well would be our social science classes to come over to this building where they would have their own offices,” McConnell added.

If MSMS is to fill the 300 beds, there now becomes an added importance on the expansion of the academic buildings. With Shackelford being vacated this opens up additional space for outreach and another thing McConnell is planning to enhance: engineering.

“STEM. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. We have done science and technology to a large extent and of course mathematics very well. Right now we have neglected that E, the engineering in STEM. My focus is, how do we enhance that E and bring it up to a certain level? It’s not about just some isolated courses. I want to see engineering fused throughout our curriculum. And to do that we need a human resource in engineering to do that.”

This year MSMS has taken a step in ‘enhancing the E’ by offering a dual enrollment engineering course with MSU.

Lori Feng is a senior currently enrolled in the course that meets on Wednesdays from 3:30-4:45 p.m.

“The engineering course seems like a very interesting opportunity, and it focuses on not only the math, but also the ethics and technical writing behind engineering. I am not sure if I want to have a future involved with engineering yet, but hopefully I’ll have a better idea after  this intro class,” Feng stated.

Two years ago the funding for MSMS was cut by $170,000. However, this year that money was restored. Budget cuts like these are reasons MSMS is not able to take in 300 students per academic year and give them an opportunity with plans like McConnell has proposed.

However, these future plans were not the reality for 20 MSMS juniors of the class of 2019 that did not return as seniors. For various reasons, 20 members of the MSMS family did not return to complete their senior years. This has been the largest number of students the school has lost in one year for a class in all 31 years of its establishment. With all of the reforms McConnell plans to make, in the end will they prevent major ‘drop-outs’ like this?

I asked Dr. McConnell to speak on this issue and what can be done about it. 

“We desire that every student that comes will stay for two years. But we also understand that students leave for various reasons, something we can’t do anything about. But, we have had discussion about why students left and is there something we could have done,” McConnell went on to say. “It is everybody’s responsibility to identify students who may have a need and reach out to those students. That is my message to all of us, that everybody who comes here is a part of this family.”

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About the Writer
Brady Suttles, News Editor
Brady Suttles, a senior at MSMS hailing from Meridian, MS, is the returning News Editor for the Vision. When he isn’t rapidly editing articles and asserting his journalistic excellence, you can find Brady cruising to SONIC or stressing out about his multitude of Chemistry and Biology classes this year. He plans to pursue his interests...
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