Chancellor Robert Khayat, Nancy and Cecil Brown, and Dr. Andy Mullins

OXFORD, Miss. – Cecil Brown, a Mississippi State Representative from the 66th District, has established the Nancy H. Brown Teacher Corps Endowment at the University of Mississippi with a gift of $130,000.

The Mississippi Teacher Corps, which is housed at Ole Miss, addresses the critical need for teachers in Mississippi’s most poverty-stricken areas. It is a two-year program, similar to the Peace Corps, that recruits college graduates to teach in the region.

The gift honors Brown’s wife, a teacher in the Jackson Public Schools.

“Education is a passion in our home,” Brown said. “Nancy is a math teacher, and I spend much of my legislative time working on issues in public education.  Also, we are both alumni of Ole Miss and love the university.  Nancy and I agreed when I was elected to the House nearly 10 years ago that we would always give all of my legislative pay to charity. We have been very blessed and wanted my service in the House to be all about public service and not in any way for personal gain. The Teacher Corps gives us a way to concentrate future gifts on our commitment to public education.”

Expressing his appreciation, UM Chancellor Robert Khayat said, “Not only are we grateful to Cecil Brown for his service to the state, but that he would give his salary back to the state of Mississippi in this way is truly remarkable. The Teacher Corps has proven to be a much needed program, and since its creation, nearly 500 educators have been placed in the state’s most impoverished schools.”

The MTC was created in 1989 by co-founder Andy Mullins, who worked at the State Department of Education and now serves as executive assistant to Chancellor Khayat.

“Dr. Andy Mullins is a good friend, and we wanted to help honor his vision in creating the Teacher Corps.” Brown said.  “Nancy is very appreciative and happy about the opportunity to create the scholarship.  While the gift comes from my legislative pay, it also comes from her.  This scholarship is a way for her to continue to participate in public education long after we are both gone.” 

Scholarship recipients will be second-year MTC teachers in the Jackson Public Schools. 

 “Without question the most critical element in a quality education is a qualified teacher in every classroom,” Brown said. “There is no substitute.  Mississippi suffers from a shortage of teachers – more than 2,000 in the current year. In addition, large numbers of young teachers leave the profession in the early years, further exacerbating the problem.  Graduates of the MTC have proven time and again that they will be successful in the classroom and become leaders in educational excellence.  Through the MTC we are building an army of qualified teachers one individual at a time.”

MTC participants receive teacher training and certification, a full scholarship to UM for a master’s degree in education, job placement that includes full pay and benefits, and, most importantly, an opportunity to help strengthen education in Mississippi.

“Economic and social indicators make it clear that a quality education is the key to a brighter future for all Mississippians,” Brown said. “If we are going to build a successful economy in Mississippi, we must provide educational opportunities for everyone, and education must become a valued commodity in every household.”

Brown has represented District 66 in the House since January, 2000. He serves as Chairman of the House Education Committee and as a member of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. In addition to serving in the House, he is also a CPA/PFS and Registered Investment Advisor with Medley & Brown, LLC.

“Ole Miss is a great university and has meant a great deal to us both,” Brown said. “Nancy and I want to encourage others to give to the Teacher Corps. We are proud to join the legion of alumni who have given of their time and treasure to support the university and all of its activities.” 

The Brown’s gift is part of the university’s MomentUM campaign, a four-year initiative to raise $200 million. Funds raised through the campaign, which ends in December 2008, will support scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty support, a basketball practice facility, residential colleges and a new law school on the Oxford campus. Also in the plans are a cancer center at the UM Medical Center and a new building to house the School of Pharmacy, both in Jackson.

For more information on making a gift to the University of Mississippi, visit http://www.umf.olemiss.edu/makeagift. For more information on the Mississippi Teacher Corps, visit http://www.mtcorps.net.

By Sonia Thompson