Michael Lalmuanpuia may be 8,700 miles from home, but in many
ways he already feels right at home.
The brand-new William Carey University student came all the way
from Serampore, India, a town near the sprawling megalopolis
Calcutta, to begin studying business management in Hattiesburg this
Despite the distance, there
is much about Carey that Lalmuanpuia finds familiar. His father,
Lalchungnunga, is principal of Serampore College, the school founded
by the missionary William Carey in 1818.
Hattiesburg is admittedly quieter and less crowded than Calcutta,
but in many ways, Lalmuanpuia, 20, said, "it's the same - we're all
worshipping the same God ... We're all equal in his eyes."
Lalmuanpuia arrives on campus just in time for a major milestone
in his new school's history. It officially marks its name-change to
William Carey University from William Carey College at a special
convocation today. The Baptist institution, founded in 1906, also
celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
The name change, executed to better represent the organization
and breadth of Carey's academic offerings, comes at a time of major
change for the university.
Carey's 20-acre Gulfport campus was all but totally destroyed
during last summer's Hurricane Katrina. Enrollment on the Coast
plummeted from 605 in fall 2005 to 462 this fall, and students are
studying in trailers on the devastated campus. The New Orleans
nursing school, which escaped that city's catastrophic flood, has
lost 249 students since last year - but registration is still open,
so more students could still materialize, said Tommy King, executive
The Gulfport campus is up for sale, and much of Carey's future on
the Coast is tied to a successful transaction, King said -
especially because the university is up for reaccreditation in 2010.
By that time, it must have a new campus, preferably north of
Interstate 10, well out of range of the storm surge of future
"You can't recruit students to a temporary campus," King said.
"Rebuilding the Coast and New Orleans will be our main, consuming
activity for the next two to three years."
Things are much brighter, though, at the Hattiesburg campus,
where enrollment has grown slightly since last year and new
buildings are cropping up at a rapid clip. A new baseball field is
under construction, and Donnell Hall, which houses the Center for
the Life and Work of William Carey, opened in May.
With 1,240 students on the Hattiesburg campus, including 42
international students such as Lalmuanpuia, King said he hopes a new
190-bed residence hall will be ready by next fall. A second,
matching residence hall should follow shortly thereafter.
And fundraising for an art gallery on the Hattiesburg campus to
house the Sarah Gillespie collection, which was on the Coast before
Katrina, is going well, King said.
Demonstrating the university's continued strength despite the
blows Katrina dealt, Carey will mark its name change in illustrious
Daniel Jones, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the
school of medicine at University of Mississippi Medical Center, will
deliver the major address.
Other speakers and guests include Mississippi Secretary of State
Eric Clark, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, retired federal judge
Charles Pickering, University of Southern Mississippi President
Emeritus Aubrey Lucas, Tougaloo College President Beverly Hogan,
Jones County Junior College President Emeritus Terrell Tisdale and
Pearl River Community College President William Lewis.
For Lalmuanpuia, it is an exciting time to continue his education
in a new country - and for the university he chose, his decision to
come despite the challenges brought on by Katrina is a hopeful sign
for the future.
"It's a great opportunity to build relationships between
Serampore and Carey," Lalmuanpuia said. "And I'm looking forward to
making a big mark here."