Chair of the Department of Business at Mississippi Valley State University
I am an educational product of the Meridian Public Schools, Rust College in Holly Springs, (B.A., Mass Communication and Political Science) and the University of Mississippi (M.Ed., Higher Education/Student Personnel Services and the Juris Doctor).
Where did you live?
I currently reside in Greenwood
Tell us about your family
My household includes my husband of thirty-two years, Troy D. Brown, Sr., my daughter Kayla, my youngest son Solomon, my mother-in-law, Edna G. Brown, and my “grandpuppies” Laila and Nyla. I also have two adult children, Troy Jr. and Brandice, who returned to Greenwood after earning their degrees at Morehouse College and Spelman College, respectively. Both are educators employed with the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District.
What was your first job?
I actually have two “first jobs.” Lillian’s Playpen was my first “first” employer. It was the childcare center operated by my parents, Curby and Ruby McFarland in Meridian. My responsibilities included whatever tasks my Mom assigned—from custodial services to tutoring after-school students. My second “first” job was as a church musician during junior high and high school.
Describe what you do in this position
I am responsible for advocating for the needs of our department to the University and communicating and implementing the University’s policies to the department, planning and executing a strategic direction for the department, managing the staff and faculty, ensuring excellence in teaching and continuous improvement of our programs and practices, leading recruitment and retention efforts and ensuring that our majors are appropriately advised.
What do you like least about your job?
What I like least about my job is that I don’t possess an unlimited reserve of resources. Because this is not uncommon in higher education, I have learned to be efficient with what we have and to maintain the highest level of teaching and learning to ensure that our students are equipped to be competitive, global leaders.
Goal you have yet to achieve
A goal I have yet to achieve is to write my first book. I’ve had several “starts and stops” over the years. In fact, I think my husband has almost given up when it comes to being my #1 cheerleader in this process. I’ve grappled with what I want to say—what I ought to say—about my experiences in higher education, as a woman, as a community advocate in the Mississippi Delta. This goal will definitely be a priority in the next chapter of my life.
Best business decision you have ever made?
The best business decision I’ve ever made was to serve as a consultant/advisor for aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs in the Mississippi Delta’s rural communities. I am a firm believer in two Biblical principles: “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” (Proverbs 29:18); and, “Wisdom is the principles thing; therefore get wisdom and in all thy getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). These principles apply to every aspect of our lives. They are also critical to the success of small businesses in our communities. The Delta not only boasts fertile soil, but fertile minds that are rich with creativity and expertise. Those minds, with developed visions and understanding, will change the Delta in a positive way.
Two or three people that have made a difference in your life while growing up
It’s difficult to list two or three people who made a difference in my life while growing up. For me, it is easier to identify two or three groups. The most influential persons in my “coming of age” were my parents, Curby and Ruby McFarland of Meridian, Mississippi, members of the first church that I played for outside my own, West Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Nellieburg, Mississippi (just outside Meridian), and my Rust College “Mothers and Fathers.” My parents set the standard with their expectations of honesty, integrity, work ethic and the knowledge that I was created with and for a purpose and accountable to God for fulfilling that purpose. The congregation at West Mt. Moriah valued and respected my talents and abilities (even though I was young) and the experience with the music ministry was my “internship” as a professional. Rust College was the “village” that fine-tuned me—academically, socially, and intellectually. There are individuals on that campus who I feared disappointing as much as I feared disappointing my own parents, then and now. They saw my potential and demanded that I live up to it.
Favorite movie and book?
My favorite movie is any movie with Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson in a lead role! My favorite books in this moment are Becoming by Michelle Obama and Just as I Am by Cicely Tyson. The notes I made to myself while reading these two are enough to fill a composition tablet!
What music are you currently listening to?
While my music choices are pretty eclectic, I am currently listening to neo-soul (Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Maxwell). As the mother of an eighteen year old and a twenty-seven year old daughter, I have little choice in the matter!
Best business advice you have been given
The best business advice I’ve been given? It is as important to do the right thing as it is to do the thing right.