As Co-Lin’s ninth president settles into his new job, which he started on July 1, Dr. Dewayne Middleton is viewing his work on minimizing problems and maximizing opportunities at Co-Lin through one lens: students first.
“I am excited about the direction of Co-Lin, and believe valuing students is how we continue to move forward,” he told the Wesson Lions Club.
Student focus, he explains, is about maintaining Co-Lin’s great academic and career education programs supported by great teachers reflected in the highest graduation rate among Mississippi colleges, recruiting and retaining students by being highly visible in communicating what the college does, advancing partnerships with business and industry and other colleges and universities to assure job and educational opportunities for students and treating all the college’s. people – students, faculty and staff – right.
Within this context, Middleton says his immediate priorities are maintaining institutional accreditation, upgrading facilities and recruiting new students:
“Accreditation is basic and is my first priority in the coming months,” Middleton says. “A Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission team will visit Co-Lin in October 2024 to review all our programs, and we want to make sure it results in a 10-year report that reaffirms the college’s accreditation. We’ve begun that process.””
Middleton also says he wants to focus on upgrading facilities that are in disrepair or dated, similar to upgrades to athletic facilities on the Wesson campus over the past few years. Although the emphasis will be on existing buildings, he would like to see construction of new dormitories to meet demands of students on waiting lists for rooms on campus. He also wants a new gymnasium to replace the Mullens gym, which has numerous problems with the structure – a phase one of the proposed athletic arena-arts complex on the Wesson campus, a project with a price tag that worries him.
The new Co-Lin president also wants to stimulate enrollment growth. “We’re appealing to a ‘show-me’ generation today,” he observes. “We’ve got to make sure people know about our programs and understand what we offer.”
“I feel extremely honored and grateful to have been selected by the board of trustees to lead this incredible institution as president,” says Middleton. “Co-Lin has been part of my life for nearly 30 years, first as a student-athlete here and then the place I was fortunate to build my career.”
He holds an associate degree from Co-Lin, where he played on the Wolf Pack men’s basketball team, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in coaching and sports administration, a master’s degree from Alcorn State University in secondary education, and a doctorate from Mississippi State University in community college leadership. At Co-Lin, he served as Executive Vice President before moving into the Presidency, and also was Vice President of Co-Lin’s Simpson County Center, Dean of Student Services at the Simpson County Center, an academic advisor/instructor, the Upward Bound coordinator, and assistant men’s and women’s basketball coach.
Middleton serves on the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACSCOC) Substantive Change Committee Review Team, the SACSCOC On-Site Committee Review Team and the Mississippi Community College Board Review Team for OCR and ADA Compliance. He is a member of the Mississippi ACT Council, Southeastern Association of Collegiate Registrars and Academic Officers, Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges Student Affairs Association and Mississippi Scholars Steering Committee.
He says meeting his wife Sirkersia was the most important thing that has happened to him at Co-Lin. They have two daughters -- Mikaylin and Soumya who attended Co-Lin -- and a son, Kendal, who plans to attend Co-Lin.