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The Growing Impact of the Leland Speed Scholarship
On average, the school receives nearly 3,200 applications a year. As of mid-November, the amount of applications received for Fall 2023 admission is 2,300.
When the Leland Speed Scholarship was announced in October, it stirred a lot of conversations across campus.
The scholarship is available to freshmen and transfer students enrolling for the fall of 2023 and pays for four years of tuition. To qualify to receive the scholarships, applicants must be residents of Mississippi, admitted by Dec. 1, pay the housing fee by Jan. 23, live on campus in an MC residence hall, and fill out federal and state aid applications.
The webpage supplying the details of eligibility also provides clips from a recorded interview of Leland Speed. It reveals in a nutshell the heart of the man behind the scholarship. The interview was recorded during Speed’s last visit to MC.
Michael Wright, Dean of Enrollment Management said:
“The [scholarship] is named after an incredible Mississippian, Leland Speed, who recently passed and gave a lot of his estate to Mississippi College with an outline that that gift was going to be used for a removal of barriers to Christian higher education.”
Mr. Leland R. Speed, whose father’s name is engraved on the MC library, passed away on Jan. 27, 2021, after battling ALS for a year. Being an entrepreneur and devout Christian, Speed dedicated his life to serving God and his community. Speed had many connections to the university; however, he attended Georgia Tech, where he met his wife of 59 years, Bessie.
Tracy Harrison, a friend of Speed and the MC Associate VP for Marketing and Communication said:
“He loved Mississippi College. He had been involved with MC for over 40 years. One of the things he talked about was the importance of Christian higher education. He wanted, not only MC, but all of the Christian universities in the state, he wanted to encourage people to leave those institutions in bequest.”
The Leland Speed scholarship is a legacy that will affect the lives of generations to come. Speed never wanted finances to be the reason a student could not gain higher education from a Christian university. While the scholarship will bless many future students, current students are left wondering how the scholarship could affect them.
“When I first heard about it, I thought it was unfair,” said AK Charbonnet, a sophomore finance major, “But now, I am more accepting of it. [However, I don’t] want it to hurt all the [current students] if we have to pay more.”
The scholarship itself will not increase tuition for the 2023-2024 school year. Because of inflation, tuition will most likely increase by 3-4%. The Board of Trustees will make tuition decisions in their December meeting, and tuition rates will be released publicly in the spring.
Because of the influx of students, housing is also expected to change.
“In a perfect world, [the scholarship] fills up every bed on campus,” said Wright, “I hope to be forced to open Hederman and Gunter. We will almost never open up Ratliff, that is condemned.”
If Hederman and Gunter reopen fall 2022, they most likely be modified slightly to ensure the comfort of future residents.
On average, the school receives a total of 2,800-3,200 applications a year. As of mid-November, the amount of applications received for Fall of 2023 admission is 2,300. In November of 2021, the school had only received 1,300 applications. Administrators are expecting to have around 800 new students enrolled for the fall of 2023.
The hopes of this scholarship are to draw in more Mississippi students. Students who value a Christian higher education and want to make a difference in this world just like Leland Speed.
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