Special to the Advocate
Two church-related colleges located across the street from one another have become one.
Rust College in Holly Springs has purchased the campus of the former Mississippi Industrial College. Dr. David Beckley, president of Rust, announced the purchase at a recent gathering of staff and faculty.
“We do not know what is going to happen to the historical buildings on the front side of the campus,” said Beckley. “A community-wide stakeholders meeting will bring all partners to the table to dream, and talk about what we can do to hopefully restore some, if not all of the facilities as we go forth into the future.”
“The decision to sell the property was influenced by several factors including the continued depreciation, decline and deterioration of the property; he continued cost to service the debt on the property; the inability to continue to secure property and casualty insurance because of the deterioration of the property; the limitations of the use and restoration of the property because of the historic status of the property, and the inability to generate and/or secure funding for the restoration of the property,” said Dr. Tyrone T. Davis, general secretary of Personnel Services, for the CME in a statement.
In 1905, The Mississippi Conference of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church founded MI College under the leadership of Bishop Elias Cottrell. His objectives were to provide literary and industrial training to black youth, to train young men and women in Christian ideals and to furnish a practical education. The school began its first session in January 1906 and by May of that year had 200 students enrolled. The school closed its doors in 1982, and the campus fell into disrepair. Then, under the direction of Dr. Jessie Edwards, a 1976 MI graduate, Mississippi Industrial College Alumni Association, Inc. (MICAAI) organized in November 1999 for the purpose of saving the buildings and the campus.
Rust plans to begin organizing this week to access the structures on the 63-acre plot that formerly housed the M.I. College and surrounding properties. Beckley has already been in contact with Edwards, and ICS Executive Director Elois McClinton to assure them that Rust hopes to continue the connection the group has with the M.I. College campus. ICS and the Holly Springs Police Department are two major tenants on the property.
“I have ensured Mrs. McClinton that Rust wishes to continue working with the Headstart,” said Beckley. “We did not acquire the property to ask anyone to move, but want to work incorporate with ICS as we go forward. We want the property to remain in the educational arena and a part of our historical black community here in Holly Springs.”
Beckley expressed his desire to work with the MICAAI to preserve the history and the legacy of Mississippi Industrial College property. During Beckley’s tenure, the Rust has established a working relationship with the MI Alumni Association through the Rust alumni office and its graduates.
“At the appropriate time, an appropriate historical marker will be placed on the property site so that those who pass by will know that for some 77 years an historical black college served kids here in Holly Springs and throughout the world under the Mississippi Industrial College banner,”Beckley.