The Rev. R. Edwin King, a retired United Methodist minister and civil rights activist, will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity during the 119th Commencement to be held at Millsaps College on May 11, 2013.
A 1958 graduate of Millsaps College, King went on to receive his M.Div. and M.Th. from Boston University. King was chaplain and dean of students at Tougaloo College from 1963-68, an adjunct faculty member at Millsaps from 1974-2004, and an associate professor of sociology and medical ethics at the School of Health Related Professions of University of Mississippi Medical Center, 1974-2005.
King is considered a major figure in the civil rights movement in Mississippi. As a divinity student at Boston University's School of Theology, he spent summers as liaison between student activists and white ministers and church women in Montgomery, Alabama. As chaplain at Tougaloo College, he assisted students attempting to desegregate the lunch counter at Woolworth's in downtown Jackson. He also worked closely with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Lawyer's Guild in efforts to promote black voter registration. In 1963, he participated in the mock election known as the Freedom Vote, running as lieutenant governor. In 1964, he acted as a local organizer for Freedom Summer, which brought many northern college students to Mississippi for voter registration activities and educational seminars. He was one of the founders (along with Fannie Lou Hamer and Lawrence Guyot) of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged the all-white Mississippi delegation at the 1964 Democratic convention. He organized a number of "kneel ins" in an attempt to desegregate the larger Protestant churches in Jackson.
He is a founding member of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, a past staff member and board member of Delta Ministry, and a past board member of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
He has received numerous awards that include the John F. Kennedy Freedom Award, the United Methodist Church of Mississippi Conference Award, the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference Founders Award, and the Freedom Award given by the National Civil Rights Museum. He has been recognized by the Catholic Council of Civil Liberties and Harvard University. He was the Millsaps College Alumnus of the Year in 2011, and the Reverend Ed King Leader of Values and Ethics Award at Millsaps is given in his honor.
Dr. Aaron Shirley will be awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Public Service during the 119th Commencement to be held at Millsaps College on May 11. A physician and civil rights activist, Dr. Shirley currently serves as chairman of the Board for Jackson Medical Mall Foundation; director of Community Medical Services; and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.
Dr. Shirley is best known for his pioneering work in providing affordable and accessible health care for the poor and underserved populations of Mississippi. During the 1970s, he was active in the development and organization of numerous agencies and projects to effect such changes, including Mississippi Action for Progress, the Mississippi Association of Community Health Care for the Poor, and the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center. In partnership with the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, he established a clinic at Lanier High School in Jackson that became a national model for health and counseling services for teens.
Between 1995 and 2001, Dr. Shirley worked to redevelop the Jackson Mall, then a declining retail venture, into a state-of-the-art ambulatory health care facility. In collaboration with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson State University, and Tougaloo College, Dr. Shirley spearheaded this venture, and the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center was dedicated in 2001. The only facility of its kind in the nation, the Jackson Medical Mall provides health care and human services to the surrounding community, and includes retail and economic development components.
Dr. Shirley's current project, the Community Health House Network, is based on models and techniques of a health-delivery system in use in Iran, and was recently featured in The New York Times Magazine. The Jackson Medical Mall Foundation, in partnership with the Oxford, Mississippi-based Oxford International Development Group, and Jackson State University (and with the approval of the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Departments of State and the Treasury), engaged in collaboration with physicians and health professionals from the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran to adapt the "health house" concept to Mississippi communities. Currently in the pilot demonstration phase with 15 proposed sites in the Mississippi Delta, the network consists of primary care facilities staffed by local medical experts who go door-to-door in their communities, developing on-going relationships with patients, and monitoring neighborhood health patterns with an eye toward preventative as well as curative medical programs.
Ms. Seetha Srinivasan, director emerita of University Press of Mississippi, will be awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during the 119th Commencement to be held at Millsaps College on May 11, 2013.
Srinivasan is credited with bringing the University Press of Mississippi from relative obscurity to a nationally recognized press that publishes some 60 titles annually. In her editorial capacity, she presided over the selection and editing of scholarly titles, while also developing for publication more general works. These latter include titles by historian Stephen Ambrose, the photographic works of Eudora Welty, a retrospective of the work of artist William Dunlap, and a collection of nonfiction by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. In her role as president of the Association of American University Presses, Srinivasan addressed the Publishers Congress of the International Publishers Association in Berlin on the "Future of the Academic Book" in 2003. Srinivasan is author of A Way to Serve: The Mississippi Nurses' Association, 1911-2011, published by the association in 2011.
Srinivasan also has served as an external reviewer for the Indiana Historical Society Press, the University of Tennessee Press, and the Texas Christian University Press, and serves on grant review panels for the National Endowments for the Arts. She has been a guest lecturer on Hinduism for the Department of Religious Studies at Millsaps College, and has worked with Millsaps faculty on a series of lectures on Indian culture and religion, a project that has fostered relationships between Millsaps and the Indian community in Jackson. Among the awards Srinivasan has received are the Jim Livesay Service Award from Millsaps College (1998), the Constituency Award for service to the university press community from the Association of American University Presses (2002), and the Publisher's Award from the Toni Morrison Society (2008).
Srinivasan has been involved in many civic efforts, including serving on the Steering Committee and as past chair of the Women's Fund of Mississippi; the Board of Directors and past president of the Millsaps College Arts & Lecture Series; and as a past member of the Board of Directors for Leadership Jackson. She currently serves on the board of directors of ProLiteracy, which addresses adult literacy and is headquartered in Syracuse, New York.