HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – In May 2019, William Carey University opened a student center to replace the historic Tatum Court building which opened in 1914 and was destroyed just over a century later in the tornado. of 2017 that devastated the Hattiesburg campus.
On Friday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new King Student Center, which stands on the site of the old Tatum Court and is named for WCU President Dr. Tommy King and his wife, Sandra .
Since King became president in 2007, student numbers have doubled from 2,500 to over 5,000. At the same time, the number of students in residence at WCU’s Hattiesburg campus has tripled and six new dormitories were opened.
“Well, I feel very excited but unworthy,” King said, “We’ve never had a student center in the history of William Carey. Our students have been loyal, our enrollment has steadily increased, and it’s That’s why we are here, the students, so they finally have a building dedicated to them.
WCU Vice President for Student Support Valerie Bridgeforth said the new student center will provide a place for classmates to study, grab a bite to eat or relax and just have fun.
“This new student center sits at the center of our campus and will give our students a place to belong, a place that belongs to them. Whether they want to visit one of the lounges, attend a Baptist Student Union event, or grab a hot meal and charge their phone between classes,” Bridgeforth said.
The new King Student Center includes:
- Baptist Student Union Campus Ministries
- Student meeting room: Large event space with catering kitchen
- Administrative offices of the Department of Information Technology
- Carey Diner: open Monday-Friday 11am-9pm, Saturday-Sunday 11am-2pm
- Games room: pool tables, ping-pong tables, big screen TV and recliners
- Large patio with picnic tables and rocking chairs
- Student Services Office
- Residence life and housing
- Student life: decals and IDs
- Conference room
- Two study rooms
- Computer room
King, the grandson of the town of Sumrall’s founder, became William Carey University’s ninth president in 2007.
He was the first WCU graduate to be named president. King comes to the position with more than 30 years of experience in public education, from elementary through university. At Carey, he served as Dean of the School of Psychology and Counseling, Vice President of Graduate and Off-Campus Programs, Professor of Psychology, and Executive Vice President. He was named WCU Alumnus of the Year and is a member of the WCU Alumni Hall of Fame.
In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree from WCU, King holds four graduate degrees, including a doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi. His wife, Sandra Simmons King, a Carey alumnus, is a retired educator with more than four decades of experience.
King has served the Southern Baptist denomination at the local, state, and national levels. In local churches, he served on staff, on committees, and as a Bible teacher and deacon. He is a former member of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and served for eight years on the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
His leadership record in civic affairs includes serving on boards of directors in Jones, Marion and Forrest counties. King was named an “Outstanding Citizen” of Columbia and is a Melvin Jones Fellow of the Lions International Foundation for his outstanding humanitarian work. He established the Mississippi Lions Deaf Camp and was inducted into the Lions Hall of Fame in 2002. In recognition of his service to the Lion’s Club, he has received numerous awards, including the Ambassador of Goodwill Award, the highest honor in the club. In 2015, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.
He received the prestigious Hattiesburg Hub Award in 2010. He received the Promotion of the Arts Award in 2014 and the Leadership Award in 2020, awarded by the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. The Mississippi Business Journal named him Outstanding CEO of the Year 2015. In 2019, he received a “Forever Young” award from Coast Young Professionals.
He has held numerous leadership positions at the state and national level, including President of the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities in 2011-2012. He currently serves on the boards of the Salvation Army, United Way, Area Development Partnership, and the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, as well as the Presidents’ Council of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He was president of the Southern States Athletic Conference and president of the Consortium for Global Education. King is also a director of Guidestone Financial Services.
Under his leadership, a new 50-acre campus was established in Biloxi. A medical complex of state-of-the-art buildings and many other facilities were built or renovated on the Hattiesburg campus and expanded from 135 to 170 acres. The College of Osteopathic Medicine was established in 2010, the College of Health Sciences was added in 2015, and the Doctor of Physical Therapy program began in the fall of 2016. The School of Pharmacy was established in 2018. The number of sports teams has grown from six to 18, new degree programs have been added, and online course offerings have increased significantly.
King and his wife have one son, two grandsons and four great-grandchildren.
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