New Scholarship Restores Wood College Legacy

4/12/2017

Award Offerings Begin Summer 2017 
By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Mississippi Conference Communications Specialist
 
Photo right: Meet some of the Wood College board members. From left to right: Phillip K. Williams, David Stotts, Andy Ray, Connie Marion, John Moore, Bobby Sacus, and Carl Grubbs. The full board is not pictured. 
 
A move to restore the legacy of Wood College through scholarships has Bobby Sacus reliving his Wood story.  Sacus a lifelong United Methodist, received a scholarship to the college back in the 70s. The campus which is located in Mathiston, Mississippi once belonged to the Women's Division of The United Methodist Church.  It has been dormant since 2008 when it ceased to be a Mississippi Conference institution.

Sacus grew up about 45 minutes away from Wood in Aberdeen. His parent's education level did not exceed the eighth grade, but they encouraged him to further his schooling.  So, he went on to attend a high school during a time of integration.  His plan after graduation was to work at the local gas station where he was employed through the summer.  Nevertheless, that plan changed on the day a recruiter from the Wood music department showed up at his home and offered Sacus a scholarship.  He has long suspected the person behind the recruiter's visit was his high school music teacher. She was the wife of a United Methodist pastor. 

"I am almost certain that she was the one that turned my name in trying to help me further my education back then and I ended up at Wood. I made no hesitance in quitting my job that summer at Conoco and accepted Wood when I found out my full year would pretty much be covered," he said.  
 
Wood College afforded Sacus the chance to travel and experience various leadership opportunities around the campus and beyond.
 
Fast forward some 40 years, he still leads.  One of his most cherished responsibilities came last November when he was asked to serve on the re-formed Wood College board.

"I love being a part of it because I think you must show gratefulness when something or someone has been a part of shaping you.  Wood College was good to me,"  Sacus said.
 
For more than a decade, board members have been busy taking account of funds residual following Wood's closure.  According to David Stotts, a member of the board and a graduate of Wood, the excess was $700,000.  That money will be moved into an endowment to offer the scholarships.  He said the audit is ongoing.
 
"It has taken us 14 years to get all of this figured out and to get the money moved to where it needed to be. Now, we are at the point where we got money that still belongs to Wood College for educational scholarships," stated Stotts.

The amount allocated for educational scholarships is $25,000.  In the summer of 2017, a total of 25 $1,000 gifts will be dispersed through the Mississippi Methodist Foundation on behalf of what Stotts and others affectionately call "the Wood family."
 
"It is a landmark archive of Methodism in Mississippi of how we can work together to make a difference in people's lives.  Now, we have revitalized that in a way that we will be giving scholarships so that we can continue honoring the roots of Wood College," said Stotts.   
 
Like Sacus, Stotts attended Wood College on a scholarship and learned to be a leader there.  Currently, Stotts serves as the treasurer and benefits officer for the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church.
 
To apply for a Wood Foundation Scholarship or to contribute to the legacy, contact the Mississippi Methodist Foundation at 601-948-8845 or email melissa@ms-umf.org.