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Elliott: MCC continues to build for the future

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Aug. 11, 2003
Meridian Community College president Scott Elliott participated in a ceremony Thursday in which MCC and Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus agreed to offer a new "two-plus-two" program.
In this case, students will be able to earn a bachelor of arts degree in communication, with a concentration in broadcasting, by taking courses at both institutions.
The degree program is the first academic program associated with the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center, which is under construction and is expected to open in fall 2005.
Elliott discussed the program, community colleges and the Riley center in an interview with The Meridian Star editorial board.
The Meridian Star: Are there other degree programs that MCC and MSU-Meridian are trying to develop?
Scott Elliott: Representatives of the respective faculties and administrations of MSU and MCC have been meeting to discuss the possibility of future programming. At this juncture, I don't know what new programs will result from those discussions, but I am confident we will hit on some exciting things.
The Star: What are some of the obstacles in developing academic program agreements between schools?
Elliott: Some community college programs are designed to be terminal, meaning the program is intended to position the student to enter the job market at the entry level after one or two years of study. It's sometimes challenging to try to meld an occupational program intended to culminate in two years with a university program designed for four years.
The transfer of occupational credits into a traditional academic program is an example of the types of issues that must be effectively articulated. But, as we have recently seen with the MCC-MSU broadcasting program, it can be done. Each entity has to respect the mission of the other, and we've had a good working relationship with MSU in that respect.
The Star: The Riley Education and Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2005. What is your vision for the center and MCC's role in it?
Elliott: I see MSU and MCC and other agencies partnering to make the Riley Center a magnet that will draw people from all over the state and beyond to Meridian. That can be accomplished through unique educational programs, quality cultural events and conferences for people in myriad businesses and industries.
All of those things can work in concert to elevate interest in Meridian and East Mississippi. I think the key to success lies in hitting on the right things that will cause Meridian to be differentiated from other markets. Obviously, the arts will be central in that process.
Personally, I could see degree programs being developed in things like folklore and country and bluegrass music to play on the history of our area. You have to develop a hook that causes an identification with your market to be readily evidenced. The arts and the promotion thereof take in a lot of ground, which could include studies in theater, music, graphic arts, marketing, recording, conference management, culinary arts and the list goes on.
There are endless possibilities. You've got opportunities like the Riley Center and the Southern Arts &Entertainment Center at Bonita in Meridian, and you've got one of America's top resort areas already in place in Choctaw, thanks to the vision of Chief Philip Martin and his team. Geyser Falls is already among the nation's foremost waterparks, as an example, and Dancing Rabbit is one of America's premier new golf venues. The point is an entertainment and conferencing corridor is on the horizon in this area. That kind of economic development will bode well for everybody's growth and prosperity, MSU-Meridian and MCC included.