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William Carey Univ. names R. Thomas King as president

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (BP)–William Carey University trustees on Feb. 15 removed the word “acting” from R. Thomas (Tommy) King’s title, selecting him as the ninth president of the Mississippi Baptist-affiliated institution of higher learning based in Hattiesburg.

King had served as acting president since shortly after the death last September of Larry Kennedy, who was WCU president for eight years before succumbing to complications from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“Dr. King was the unanimous and enthusiastic choice of the board [of trustees],” board chairman Stan Burton, a member of First Baptist Church, Ellisville, said. “Dr. King’s extensive background in education, his strong role in Baptist life, his dedication to the mission of Carey and his sound management skills make him the right choice for continuous growth and accomplishments at the university.”

King earned an undergraduate degree in religion and philosophy at William Carey and was named WCU Alumnus of the Year in 1980. He joined WCU’s faculty in 1999 and has served as dean of the school of psychology and counseling, vice president for graduate and off-campus programs, executive vice president and professor of psychology.

He served as an adjunct faculty member at WCU (1975-99) and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in Hattiesburg (1977-86). In addition, he maintained a private counseling practice.

King also was pastor of Sandy Hook Church in Marion County for 14 and a half years until retiring earlier this month. He has also been a member of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and the Gulfshore Assembly Restoration Committee following Hurricane Camille in 1969. King continues to preach on a supply basis and is a noted dinner speaker and conference leader.

He holds B.D. and M.R.E. degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and M.ED.and Ed.D. degrees from USM.

King came to the university from an extensive career in public education in Mississippi, having served as school psychologist and special services director, and director of elementary education for the Columbia School District (1983-99); principal of East Marion Attendance Center middle school in Marion County (1982-83); principal of Monticello High School (1981-82); elementary principal and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Jones County Schools in Laurel (1975-81); teacher of biblical literature, creative writing and English at R.H. Watkins High School in Laurel (1970-74); and teacher and librarian, Walthall County Schools (1969-70).

He also has served as chairman of deacons and pastor search committee member at First Baptist Church in Laurel and First Baptist Church in Columbia.

WCU trustee Odean Busby, chairman of the search committee and member of First Baptist Church in Magee, said faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the university were invited “to give their input into this very important task of identifying the right person to lead William Carey at this time in its history.”

“After studying the responses of those interested in providing input and recommendations, and through a process of interviews, it became clearly evident to us that the right person to lead the university was already informally filling that role,” Busby said.

King has been married for 42 years to the former Sandra Simmons of Mt. Herman, La., who also is a WCU graduate. They have one adult son, Dave, and two grandsons.

“I am honored to be the first alumnus of William Carey to be chosen as president,” King said. “My goals will be to honor God in all that we do, to strengthen the relationship between the university and the churches of our convention, to complete the vision that Dr. Kennedy had for the school and to continue to allow the motto of William Carey University – ‘Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God’ — to be the guiding principle for all that we do.”

Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, commended trustees on King’s selection.

“Dr. King has been a part of the William Carey family for decades and has had that school on his heart the entire time,” Futral said. “At the same time, because of an almost lifelong relationship with Dr. Kennedy, he was a much-needed friend and confidant during the most difficult days and shared the vision that was unfolding under Dr. Kennedy’s leadership.

“He is an outstanding leader in his own right, but as acting president he has provided a bridge of comfort and progress for the school and will continue on in that direction.”

William Carey University is located on three campuses: the 120-acre main campus in Hattiesburg; Carey on the Coast, with an ocean view in Gulfport; and the school of nursing on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Founded in 1906 and operated for decades as Mississippi Woman’s College, the school was renamed William Carey College in 1954 in honor of the father of modern missions. The school also became coeducational that year.

In 2006, the college’s board of trustees renamed the institution William Carey University.

Carey offers baccalaureate degrees in the areas of arts, humanities, sciences, education, psychology, business, religion, music and nursing. The M.B.A., M.Ed., M.S. in psychology and M.S.N. degrees and a specialist degree in elementary education also are offered.
William H. Perkins Jr. is editor of the Baptist Record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

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