I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Clyde Muse, President of Hinds Community College since 1978, which makes him the longest-serving community college President in Mississippi history. Dr. Muse announced his retirement in December, and when we talked, he reminisced about his long tenure in Mississippi education.
Muse refers to himself as “a man with a servant’s heart”, and certainly, in his 42 years at the helm of Hinds, he has proven himself to be a man of compassion who truly cares about those he serves.
Today, Hinds Community College serves a student population of over 20,000, operates in 6 different facilities, and has a faculty and staff of more than 1,200. It is truly one of Mississippi’s (and America’s) crown jewels among community colleges, and as many will recall, Mississippi’s community college system is ranked first nationally.
Born in Benton County, Muse grew up in Mississippi, much of which was in the Mississippi Delta. His father was a minister, and Muse has been a man of deep religious faith throughout his life.
After graduating from high school, he entered East Central Junior College, and it was there that he felt he gained a great appreciation for what “community colleges can do”. Working his way through college, milking cows and working in the school cafeteria, he also learned the value of work.
“From East Central, I enrolled at Delta State, and was fortunate to get a basketball scholarship,” he said. “I’m pleased to say that I’m in the Sports Hall of Fame at both Delta State and East Central.”
With that experience, it was perhaps natural that he became a teacher and coach, initially at Canton, and later moving to Starkville. His first teaching job paid $2400 a year in 1952, he recalled.
“I spent 26 years in secondary education,” he said. “While I was a coach at Starkville,we won the state championship in basketball, something that had been a goal of mine. I’m still very proud of that.”
In time, Dr. Muse attended Ole Miss and took Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Mississippi State University. He began his administrative career as a principal at Starkville, and later served as Superintendent of Schools for Hinds County. In 1978, he was invited to apply for the President’s position at Hinds Community College, and has served there ever since.
I asked him how things have changed at Hinds since then.
“We have certainly grown,” he said with a laugh. We’re now the 4th largest higher education institution in Mississippi, and we offer a wealth of programs, no only in 2 year transfer, but in a wide range of technical and trade areas.
“That includes our new lab dedicated to mechatronics,” he said, laughing. “It took me a while to understand what all that entailed.”
I asked what the most popular programs are these days at Hinds.
“I’d say that nursing and allied health and business administration are our two most popular programs, and you’ll find people working in all of the hospitals who started their education at Hinds,” he said. “But we do so much more….for instance, one of our highest demand programs is welding, and why? Because there is a huge demand for welders and not enough welders to meet that demand.”
He also pointed out that “we train people to work on Mississippi tugboats, fly drones, and many other things”.
How does he see the future for Hinds?
“I’m confident that we’re going to continue to evolve to meet the needs of Mississippi, it’s people, and its businesses,” he said.
He told an interesting story about Continental Tire, when they were looking to come to Mississippi.
“They visited with us on 3 separate occasions,” he said. “They wanted to know if we could supply the skillsets they needed for their operations. And we showed them we could.”
What advice does he have for families and young people in today’s world?
“I believe it’s important that young people become aware of the career possibilities that will be available to them, and they should be doing this as early as junior high school,” he suggested. “Ours is a complex and changing world, and it’s important that students have a good understanding of their options and the education they will need to succeed and live a good, productive life.”
He told me that no only does Hinds serve the needs of students who have just graduated from high school, but that “we have over 500 students that have bachelor’s degrees who are coming back to school to acquire important skillsets.”
One thing is certain: Dr. Clyde Muse is one of the most respected and loved educators in the history of Mississippi, and he has had a tremendous influence on the quality and availability of education in the Magnolia State.
A special event is planned to honor Dr. Muse on February 20, to be held at the Muse Center. For information on this event, you may email Jackie Granberry at Jgranberry@hindscc.edu.
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