Coming soon to Mississippi College’s campus will be a new home for the President of Mississippi College, Lee Royce. Set on about three acres, the new house will be located on the southeast corner of Madison Street and Capitol Street in the area that was the previous location for the Hilltop Theater and the McGuffey House.
Steven Stanford, Vice President for Administration and Government Relations said, “This is an excellent location due to its elevation and focal point and will also serve as an architectural transition from the campus into the Olde Towne residential community.”
Part of the property that is not taken up by the house will be used as parking for those visiting the president’s home. The first steps of construction have already begun with the beginnings of the plumbing and the pouring of the slab for the foundation.
The framing of the house is anticipated to be completed around Christmas break or soon after. Many think that returning the president’s house to campus is something that will benefit the MC’s campus as well as the Clinton area.
Mississippi College presidents have lived on campus for almost the entire history of the university, up until about the last 15 years.
“An on-campus college president’s home serves as a convenient, attractive, personal, and primary site for entertainment and special events,” said President Royce. “Such a facility, located in Olde Towne, will also serve to advance the development of the university and community.”
Royce currently lives on a campus-owned house four miles away from MC. The Board of Trustees has wanted to implement for some time.
Before current living situation, the president’s home was located across from Whittington Hall on the other side of the Hwy 80.
Stanford explained that the house was vacated in summer 1999. At the time the university trustees hoped to start building a new one, the fourth such house, by the year 2000. Almost $1,000,000 was raised for the project, but it had to be canceled when the university faced various financial challenges in 2001.
The decision to re-evaluate building a new president house started in 2010. The trustees had received a major monetary gift for the specific purpose of the construction of a new house for the president.
Dr. Royce said,“the current house located off campus will be sold, and the proceeds will be used along with previous and projected gifts to build the new house.”
The budget for construction, which includes site work, construction, fixtures, etc., is $1,700,000.
The Board of Trustees voted in May 2012 to move forward with the project and selected a committee to oversee its progression. Steve Stanford said that he is working with this committee, construction contractors, as well as Director of Facility Planning Glenn Worley, to complete this project.
Work began soon after the committee selected the architect, designers, and landscape architect. The house has been designed by Frank Tindall, the landscape architecture by Michael Gibson, and the builder/contractor is Mark Hunt.
Both Royce and other administrators believe that this addition to campus will help the university advance the mission and vision of Mississippi College.
“I think it will be exciting to host more types of events on campus,” said Dr. Royce. “I have lived on a college home on campus and on a college home off campus, and it is certainly easier to entertain on campus than off.
“Parking is much easier, you are closer to athletic events or fine art events, and you can have student groups over much easier. So I think an on-campus house certainly makes more sense for the university,” he added.
Royce does host events at his current home that benefit the university, such as fund raising, recruiting, and campus community events, but he says the home is not designed to accommodate large groups of people or places for them to park.
The new president’s house has been designed with 8,848 square feet. In the two-story design, there is a master bedroom downstairs and three additional bedrooms upstairs. The downstairs also includes a kitchen and family area, as well as a dining room, living room, and loggia, which is connected to a large porch area.
“It is also being designed with a beautiful backyard patio and garden area which will also serve as entertainment space,” said Stanford.
“We are excited about having the president’s house returned back to campus. This new home will be a beautiful, brick, Georgian-style house which will prove to be a wonderful and prominent new addition to our beautiful campus.”
The site was chosen so it would be close to the center of campus, as opposed to the previous site which is now across from a four lane highway.
“While the current site is not large, the approximately 5,500 square feet house is designed to provide for maximum entertainment space both inside and outside the house, with nearby parking and additional green space across from the soccer fields,” said Dr. Royce.
He also added, “My wife and I look forward to welcoming the MC family and MC friends to the college home.”
– James Osborne, Contributing Writer