Steve Rogers

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Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

EMCC to Honor Alums at Homecoming

SCOOBA – One studies history, the other makes history, and East Mississippi Community College will honor both at Homecoming 2012.

Eugene Futato of Macon and Mary Margaret “Miss M.” Smith of Louisville are EMCC’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year and Distinguished Service Award winners. Both will be honored Oct. 6 during EMCC’s Alumni Luncheon, which gets started at 11:15 a.m. at the new Scooba Student Union.

EMCC’s history-making football team, fresh off the school’s first-ever NJCAA National Championship in 2011, will also be in action Saturday at 2 p.m. That’s when the Lions take on Holmes Community College in an MACJC North Division matchup at Sullivan-Windham Field.

STUDYING THE PAST

Alumnus of the Year Eugene Futato, who now makes his home in Moundville, Ala., is deputy director of the Office of Archaeological Research and curator of archaeological collections for University of Alabama Museums.

His resume includes a long list of titles in the fields of archaeology and anthropology at the University of Alabama. He is a member of no fewer than 12 professional societies, has authored or co-authored nearly 80 scholarly publications, and has received well over $5 million in research funding and a number of prestigious honors. Most recently he received the 2012 E. Roger Sayers Distinguished Service Award from UA, the highest faculty/staff award given by the university.

His career has taken him to Puerto Rico, Mexico and four summers in Israel, where he analyzed stone tools. But it all started in Scooba.

Futato transferred to East Mississippi Junior College in 1968 on a band scholarship. On a whim, he took his roommate up on an invitation to search for arrowheads in the woods around the college. What began as a hobby developed into a life-long calling after he took his first archaeology course under legendary football coach Bob “Bull” Sullivan.

His class was my first exposure to professional methods and ethics. He helped me make the leap from artifact collector to archaeologist,” said Futato.

Sullivan helped Futato along his new career path again when he introduced Futato to a friend who headed the small archaeology program at UA, where Futato would earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and make a career.

In addition to archaeology, Futato also picked up a knack for the fine arts at EMJC. He participated in the glee club, acted in plays and helped organize the inaugural Pine Grove Arts Festival, a tradition which continues to this day.

He recalls the majority of EMJC instructors in the late 60s were fresh out of college themselves and not much older than the students they taught. As such, students and faculty interacted very closely and Pine Grove was born “because the faculty got bored and wanted something to do.”

CREATING THE FUTURE

Providing something for students to do was also at the top of Miss M. Smith’s list of priorities at EMCC, but the “something” she had in mind was worship and fellowship, and there weren’t many places on campus that fit the bill. So she helped build a place.

This year’s Distinguished Service Award winner isn’t an EMCC alum, but her roots at the Scooba campus run deep.

She married EMCC alum Robert Smith in 1969, and the couple moved to DeKalb. Both of their sons graduated from the Scooba campus. In 1993 Smith, who holds four master’s degrees and had been a teacher for years, joined the EMCC staff as director of the Displaced Homemaker Program. Working in concert with community agencies, Ms. M. helped single mothers find tuition funds, transportation, housing and counseling that made it possible for them to achieve a college education. The Displaced Homemaker Program eventually became Special Populations, but won recognition as Mississippi Exemplary Program of the Year under both titles with Miss M. as director.

But Miss M.’s legacy at the Scooba campus will be the Chapel in the Pines, completed in 2007.

The story begins in the 1960s when Brown Briggs of Scooba donated a plot of land adjacent to campus for a chapel. Miss M.’s son, Rob, who helped form EMCC’s first Student Christian Fellowship, learned about the donation as a student. He was part of a group who joined hands around a pine tree on the property and prayed for the chapel to become a reality.

Later, as an employee, Miss M made it her business to work with the EMCC Development Foundation to raise money to fund the chapel construction.

We say this chapel was built on chicken. Two Fridays a month we had chicken cookings and sold dinner plates and made two to three thousand dollars per cooking,” she said.

Miss M., who also taught nutrition, had her class bake cakes to help raise money. She organized car washes. She asked for offerings from area churches. And when the chapel was nearing completion and there was no money left for chimes, Miss M. was part of a group that planned a cook book, typed the recipes, had the book printed and bound and sold $2,000 worth of cook books all in the span of two weeks.

She even got involved in the construction, bringing a set of old clothes to change into each day after class so she and her husband could go work on the chapel.

Finally, as with many projects at EMCC, generous Lion alumni stepped forward with large donations.

Today the Chapel in the Pines, and the new Orr Center for Christian Activity, are central to campus life in Scooba – hosting everything from fellowship meetings and God Bless America Day to weddings, revivals and Christmas services.

And Miss M? She retired from teaching in 2009, but remains at EMCC as the chapel coordinator.

Other highlights from EMCC’s 2012 Homecoming at the Scooba campus include:

  • Homecoming Parade: EMCC will hold a Homecoming Parade Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 5 p.m. The parade begins at Aust Hall, and will include floats from both campus and community organizations. Everyone is welcome to attend.
  • Sports Hall of Fame: EMCC will induct eight athletic stand-outs from the past into the EMCC Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony Friday, Oct. 5, at 6:30 p.m. This year’s honorees are John Apple of Nashville, Martin Buchanan of Porterville, Bobby Mitchener of Brandon, Ernest Ray Moore of Louisville, Edward Mosley of Meridian, Gene Murphy of Raymond, Billy Harold Smith of Collinsville and Mickey Stokes of Brooksville. Reservations are required.
  • Building dedication: The new Scooba Student Union will be dedicated in honor of EMCC President Dr. Rick Young in a ceremony Saturday, Oct. 6, at 10:45 a.m.
  • Alumni Luncheon: The annual Alumni Luncheon begins Saturday, Oct. 6, at 11:15 a.m. at the Scooba Student Union. It includes presentation of the EMCC Alumnus of the Year and Distinguished Service Award winner.
  • Statue unveiling: A bronze statue of EMCC football coach Bob “Bull” Sullivan will be unveiled Saturday, Oct. 6, at the football field that bears his name. The statue, created by Columbia artist Ben Watts, stands 7 feet tall.
  • Kick-off: EMCC kicks off against Holmes Community College Saturday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m. The Sports Hall of Fame inductees will be presented at mid-field before the game.
  • Half-time: The half-time show includes the presentation of the Alumnus of the Year and Distinguished Service Award winner, a performance by the Mighty Lion Band in brand-new uniforms, presentation of the Homecoming Court and crowning of the Homecoming Queen.
  • Questions: For more information about any of these EMCC events, call Alumni Affairs at (662) 476-5063 or (662) 476-5075.
  • Scooba Fall Festival: The Town of Scooba will also host the Scooba Fall Festival Oct. 6 in conjunction with EMCC Homecoming events. Sponsored by the Scooba Focus Group, the festival includes a Wild Game Cook-off, 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk and booths and vendors. For more information, call the Kemper County Chamber of Commerce at (662) 743-5060.