May 28, 2008
Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins
MUW to award three Medals of Excellence
COLUMBUS, Miss. – Mississippi University for Women
will award three Medals of Excellence on Friday, May
30. Awarded since 1979, the Medal of Excellence is
the university’s highest non-degree honor.
The special recognitions will take place on campus
during dinner at 6:30 p.m. in Pope Banquet Room.
This year’s recipients are Dr. Suzanne Bean, Rep.
Esther Harrison and Charles W. Ritter Jr.
Before retiring recently, Bean served as director of
the Roger F. Wicker Center for Creative Learning and
professor of education at MUW. For the past 27
years, Bean has served in the field of gifted
studies as a teacher of gifted students, director of
the Mississippi Governor’s School and founder and
director of various other programs for gifted
students and their teachers and parents. She has
served as director of graduate studies and
coordinator of graduate programs in education at
MUW. In the past four years, she has brought more
than $5 million grant monies to MUW.
She has co-authored seven books and has had numerous
publications in professional journals. She has
co-authored a textbook for teachers of gifted
students, “Methods and Materials for Teaching the
Gifted.” Bean is on the Editorial Review Board for
Gifted Child Quarterly and the Journal for Secondary
Dr. Bean also has co-authored numerous grants and
was the lead author of the grant that established
the Roger F. Wicker Center for Creative Learning.
For the past two decades, she has made numerous
presentations at the state, regional and national
levels. She served as president of the Mississippi
Association for Gifted Children and she is currently
serving as chairperson for the Advisory Board for
the organization. Her dissertation and continued
research has been in the area of developing
leadership potential in children and adults. She
also completed the Leadership Mississippi program
sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council. Bean
recently was granted emeriti status.
Rep. Harrison has begun serving her ninth year in
the Mississippi House of Representatives. She chairs
the State Library Committee and serves on the
following committees: Medicaid, Education (K-12),
Ports, Harbors and Airports and Colleges and
The Columbus native has received numerous awards and
citations for her contributions and involvement in
her church, community, state and national
She is a former school teacher, director of the Tenn-Tom
Waterway Minority Business Development Office,
project officer for Arc and construction assistant
training manager for B&K Construction Company.
Rep. Harrison received her bachelor’s degree from
Alcorn A&M University and master’s from MUW.
She is a member of Turner Chapel African Methodist
Episcopal Church, where she serves as musician and
president of the Missionary Society.
Ritter of Kosciusko is president of JRS, Inc. He
also is a member of Sanderson Farms, Inc. Board of
Directors, First M&F Corporation and Merchants and
Farmers Bank Board of Directors.
He has served as past president and owner or past
president and director of the following: The Attala
Company in Kosciusko, American Corn Millers
Federation and Mississippi Feed and Grain
His civic involvement includes organizations such as
the Kosciusko Rotary Club, Kosciusko Foundation for
Excellence in Education, MUW Foundation Board,
Mississippi State University Foundation, MSU Alumni
Foundation, Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System,
Attala County Library, Air University, Montfort
Jones Memorial Hospital, American Cancer Society and
the Andrew Jackson Council, Boy Scouts of America.
He has received many honors including the Golden
Shovel Award from the Kosciusko-Attala Chamber of
Commerce-Industrial Development Corporation, the
Silver Beaver Award from the Andrew Jackson Council,
Boy Scouts of America and Alumnus of the Year from
the MSU College of Agriculture.
Ritter is a member of Kosciusko First United
Methodist Church and has served in various
capacities at his church.
He is married to Carolyn Smithson Ritter, a 1957
graduate of MUW.