For more than 35 years, Mississippi University for Women and the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship.

MSMS Students
Sean Stewart, Savannah Massey, Jaelon Carter, Alexis Allen, Elizabeth Bankston,Laverne Greene-Leech, Aniyah Allen and Ramse Jefferson

A recent example of that partnership is the historical markers and public history exhibits being unveiled on campus—one celebrating The W’s first African American students and the second, to be unveiled this spring, celebrating The W’s founding mothers.

Dr. Erin Kemper, professor of history, guided W students on historical research and oral histories to explain the university’s journey of desegregation. Dr. Beverly Joyce, art historian, then worked with museum studies students to create an exhibit to share the story with the public. For the historical marker, MSMS students took the mantle, adding to their research to develop a marker to ensure the story could be shared for years to come.

Kempker said, “This dynamic is easier to establish at an institution like The W than it would be elsewhere, and the size of our city brings similar benefits. At The W and in Columbus, MSMS students can navigate their way to resources and partnerships in the community without difficulty.”

Chuck Yarborough, MSMS history teacher, added, “I have always appreciated the access and individual support students in my history classes have enjoyed from the W library staff.  Students have gleaned wonderful information from the Beulah Culbertson Archives that has contributed to the success of our nationally renowned research/performance projects.”

A second marker is scheduled for unveiling Thursday, March 28 in Pioneers Plaza, next to Carrier Chapel. This marker will be placed to the side of the gate leading from College Street to Callaway Hall and is being made possible thanks to the work of Yarborough and his students.

Joyce, W gallery director, will unveil the exhibit “Trailblazing Women: Our Legacy,” in Summer Hall, which will run from March 18 to April 12 and be up for the public to view during The W’s Homecoming and Pilgrimage. The inaugural phase features Sallie Eola Reneau, Annie Coleman Peyton and Olivia Hastings and tells the history not only of these women but also the steps they went through to found a state-endowed female college. 

Joyce said, “Last year’s unveiling of the historical marker, written by MSMS students, was an event that I believe could only happen on a campus like The W. MSMS is vital to our campus, and as such, their students have opportunities to collaborate with the university. In meetings leading up to the unveiling ceremony for the marker, I was impressed by the partnership between the high school and the university. I doubt that the high school students would have the same opportunities on a large campus.”

Amanda Clay Powers, dean of library services, said, “The MSMS students and faculty are avid users of the library, as you might imagine, and we love having them here. The W library is the MSMS library. All library resources are available for their use, including expert research assistance, tech-enabled study rooms, in-house and remote use of library materials, as well as specialized in-class library instruction on primary and secondary research. When needed, we have also taught credit-bearing Library Lab courses for MSMS students.”

Powers added MSMS is a partner in the university’s Community Read.

“As one of the partners in the city-wide Community Read, the MSMS students and faculty also participate in library programming, including The Community Read Book Club. They are engaged and thoughtful readers, and we are lucky to have them join us.”

Other shared spaces between the two entities include the health center, recreation center, cafeteria, library, athletic facilities and the post office.

Facilities exclusive to MSMS are two residence halls, three academic buildings and one administrative building.

The presence of MSMS students helps defray some operational costs for W students.

W President Nora Miller said, “The W’s relationship with MSMS goes all the way back to 1983 when the director of the MUW Center for Gifted and Talented and the faculty in that Center wrote the proposal for the creation of MSMS. We are proud to house MSMS on our campus, and we look forward to being able to address their facility needs.”

MSMS has been on the campus of The W since it was founded in 1988.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.