Millsaps chooses interim president


Special to the Advocate

Howard McMillan, dean of Millsaps College’s Else School of Management, will serve as the acting president from mid-August until a national search is completed for the college’s next president, the college announced July 21.

Maurice Hall, chairman of the Millsaps College Board of Trustees, said Dr. Frances Lucas will use accrued sabbatical leave during the upcoming year before completing her presidency of the college in June 2010.

“Throughout Millsaps College’s distinguished history, outstanding individuals have led us through remarkable times. It has been my pleasure to work with our tenth president, Dr. Frances Lucas, and I have personally witnessed how she has earned the love and respect of many Millsaps alumni, students and friends,” Hall said.

“While the college conducts a national search for our next president, Howard McMillan will serve Millsaps College as acting president. President Frances Lucas will continue to represent the college at meetings of national and regional associations. We look forward to a year of successful transition concluding the 10-year presidency of Frances Lucas and the continuation of Millsaps College’s traditions of academic excellence, open and free inquiry and expression, the exploration of faith to inform vocation and the innovative shaping of the social, economic and cultural progress of our region.”

Millsaps College’s search for the eleventh president of the nearly 120-year-old institution is led by Millsaps trustee and alumnus Tom Fowlkes of Bristol, Virginia. A search committee composed of trustees, faculty, staff, a student representative and an alumni representative is working with the national executive search firm Witt/Keiffer. A new president is expected to be named before June of 2010.  

McMillan, who since 2002 has been involved with the college’s business school as both executive-in-residence and dean, is widely recognized as a significant business leader in Jackson, in Mississippi and throughout the United States.

A native of Jackson, McMillan is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. He attended the Harvard School of Business Administration and the School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University. A former president of Deposit Guaranty National Bank and Deposit Guaranty Corp. in Jackson, McMillan is a former adviser in Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management area. In addition, he is a former director of the Federal Reserve Bank (Atlanta) and past president of the American Bankers Association. 

“Acting President Howard McMillan currently serves as dean of the Else School of Management at Millsaps College, following a successful career in banking. Howard is a respected business and civic leader in Mississippi with long family ties to Millsaps College,” Hall said. 

McMillan is married to the former Mary Eliza Love, a native of Jackson and a direct descendent of Reuben Webster Millsaps, for whom Millsaps College is named. The McMillans have two children and four grandchildren. 

“Howard McMillan is a dynamic leader and a wonderful mentor to many people, including me. I believe he will do an outstanding job as the acting president,” Lucas said. “While on sabbatical, I will continue to assist the college in making this presidential transition, reflect and plan for my future and spend time with my children.” 

Lucas became Millsaps’ first female president in 2000 and led the campus response to September 11, 2001, to recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and to the current economic recession. With her leadership, the college has raised $110 million in its largest capital campaign and enrolled two of the largest entering classes in recent history. 

She is responsible for raising the college’s national profile and its recognition in multiple college rankings and guidebooks. In recent years, Millsaps College is one of only 40 colleges included in Colleges That Change Lives, named one of The Princeton Review’s “Best Southeastern Colleges” and recognized in the top tier of liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.