BLUE MOUNTAIN, Miss. – Reflecting on the “great faithfulness” of previous and contemporary times and challenging the community to commit to “great expectations,” Dr. Barbara Childers McMillin on Friday was formally installed as the eighth president of Blue Mountain College.
More than 500 from the BMC community, family members, fellow higher education leaders, political officials, and friends from throughout the region greeted McMillin, a native of nearby Falkner who became BMC president on Aug. 1.
Among the dignitaries were McMillin’s predecessors: Dr. E. Harold Fisher, BMC president from 1965 until 2001, and Dr. Bettye Rogers Coward, president from 2001 until 2012, and Dr. David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
McMillin touched on the 140-year-history of the college founded by Gen. Mark Perrin Lowery, and said, “most noteworthy about this story is its theme – a theme that is never lost … a theme that flows through every page of every chapter, compelling the listener to appreciate its power and its beauty, the theme of Great Faithfulness and Great Expectations.’
The new president promised to continue that theme. “Inspired by those who have gone before, this administration will likewise trust in God’s great faithfulness to cheer and to guide. We will trust the Lord to grant the vision and wisdom to press onward with great home, great optimism, and great expectations.”
McMillin called for BMC to give priority to enhance its identity by remaining faithful to its liberal arts heritage and to remain firm in its affiliation with the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
“As we enhance our identity as a family with a formidable focus,” she said, “let us also prioritize enhancing our identity as scholars who think Christianly.”
McMillin used to words attributed to Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation:
“ ‘The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays – not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes because God is interested in good craftsmanship.’
“I contend,” McMillin said, “that 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.”
McMillin concluded her remarks by identifying what she sees as the BMC culture – past, present and future.
“May all who visit our hallowed halls depart proclaiming that the culture of Blue Mountain College is permeated by excellence, integrity, kindness, hospitality, civility, and loyalty.”