“I want the best for the college,” said Jim Turcotte, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, on the subject of the possible changing of the university name.
Turcotte and President Lee Royce are currently in the process of hiring an outside firm to lead this transition from the school being named Mississippi College to a new, more fitting title for the institution.
Though no definite contenders have been decided upon concerning the new name, Dr. Turcotte feels that having ‘university’ in the name will, “help us catch up to our reputation.”
Mississippi College was originally known as Hampstead Academy when the school received its first charter in 1825. After two years, the name was changed to Mississippi Academy at the request of the Board of Trustees. Later in 1830, the institution became a university and the name was changed to Mississippi College.
Turcotte believes that the word ‘university’ should be in the name of the college due to the way the school is perceived around the country and across the globe. He explained that first impressions really do matter when it comes to colleges, and MC is often viewed as a two-year institution based on its name.
“We’re more than that,” said Turcotte on the subject, claiming that the timing of the change is wise due to the school’s recent acceptance into Division II athletics. He encourages students to weigh in on the decision and assures them that their opinions matter.
Turcotte also explained that students have asked for an on-field mascot for our school. He recalled fond memories of his years at Mississippi College as student body president and the excitement that Chief Choc, the old school mascot, brought to each sporting event at MC.
In the 1980s, a Choctaw Indian mascot suit was arranged and worn by Cliff Mitchell, former MC cheerleader and close friend of Turcotte.
Once, a parachutist was even hired to jump from a plane and land on the 50-yard line while dressed as Chief Choc during a football game. After the parachutist landed, Mitchell quickly changed into the suit and continued dancing and cheering the Choctaws on to victory.
Turcotte explained that the shortened name of Chief Choc, along with the cartoon-like suit for the mascot, was insulting to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The Chief Choc Indian mascot was no longer used after this was discovered, as to not offend the Choctaw Indians.
As for now, Mississippi College is reaching out to the Choctaw nation to decide what might be acceptable to use for an on-field mascot. Turcotte expressed no current plans to change the school’s mascot and exclaimed, “We are the Choctaws!”
– Katie Rogers, Copy Editor