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Monday, August 14, 2006

 

From India to William Carey


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 month.

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 vice president.

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 hurricanes.

"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 company.

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."

Originally published August 14, 2006

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JOEL BONNER | Hattiesburg American

William Carey University international student Michael Lalmuanpuia of India is the son of current principal of the Indian college founded by the missionary William Carey. William Carey College's name officially changes to William Carey University today.
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