Hinds CC honors Neilsen, Alumni Service Award winner

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Hinds CC honors Neilsen, Alumni Service Award winner
Posted by
22 October

Hinds CC honors Neilsen, Alumni Service Award winner




Hinds Community College will honor Ray Neilsen, the 2014 Alumni Service Award winner, at the Alumni Dinner, held at 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 23 in Mayo Gymnasium on the Raymond Campus.

Neilsen believes in second chances. His second chance came at the College of Idaho where history professor Howard Berger saw potential, while others saw a brash kid from a middle-upper class family who was passed from grade to grade, more trouble than untapped potential.

The relationship got off to a rocky start when Berger challenged Neilsen’s ability to read. He recalls the “horrible” experience of being asked to read aloud and struggling to string the words together. After taking a written entrance exam, Berger told Neilsen, “Ray, your writing skills stink.”

“I didn’t know how bad I was until I met someone who cared about me and my success,” Neilsen says. “He opened my eyes to the value of education and learning.”

It was just the second chance he needed. With Berger’s help — and a lot of hard work and dedication — Neilsen committed himself to his education, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Over a 20-year period, Neilsen earned his way up the ladder, from busser to chairman of Ameristar Casinos with eight locations in six states and more than 7,000 employees.

Neilsen began his relationship with Hinds in 2006 when his passion for learning surfaced in an onsite GED preparation program at Ameristar Casino in Vicksburg. As general manager he recognized that many Ameristar team members missed opportunities to grow with the company because they lacked a high school diploma. Their second chance came with a boss who gave them a pathway to personal fulfillment and $1,000 when they passed the GED test.

His father, Craig H. Neilsen, was the founder of Ameristar Casino. “He was proud of the GED program we established at Ameristar Vicksburg,” Ray Neilsen says. Wanting to make a bigger impact in his adopted community of Vicksburg, Neilsen called upon the resources of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, which was established by his father in 2002 to support spinal cord injury (SCI) research and rehabilitation. Ten percent of the foundation’s resources go to other entities helping to improve lives.

Craig Neilsen, who became quadriplegic after a 1985 car accident, rarely spoke about his injury, but once said, “…I think that most people – when push comes to shove – take their hard knocks and then pick up the pieces and go on.”

Perhaps prophetically, the Neilsen Foundation is doing just that – helping Adult Education students pick up the sometimes messy pieces of their lives and go on to better things. With Ray Neilsen’s urging, the Neilsen Foundation made a $50,000 gift in 2009 to establish the Education Pays program, which awarded $500 checks to Warren County GED achievers enrolled in the college’s Adult Education program.

From that initial investment, the foundation has awarded more than $600,000 to support the ABE/GED program at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus and the Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center. From a computer lab staffed by tutors to instructional dollars to provide more class time for adult learners, the Neilsen Foundation has been the college’s partner in improving outcomes in Adult Education. This year Neilsen Foundation funds support a Single Stop office at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus and a basic computer applications course designed specifically for adult learners who must now take a computer-based GED test.

Most recently, the Neilsen Foundation is funding scholarships and supplemental support for two Hinds students with spinal cord injuries. After his father’s death in 2006, Ray Neilsen was named cotrustee and chairman of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

“After several years of therapy, my dad only had limited use of a few of his fingers, nothing else,” Neilsen explains. “The accident only slowed him down for a little while, and over time, his focus and attention became more laser-like and intense.”

Those same words might be used to describe Ray Neilsen, says Colleen Hartfield, vice president for Community Relations and Governmental Affairs at Hinds. “When Ray makes a decision to be personally involved in a project or a cause, he’s all-in. He expects that same commitment from others.”

She credits the Neilsen Foundation for being a catalyst for positive changes in the Adult Education program. “Ray doesn’t just write a check; he brings resources and connections gained over a successful career to the college. Most of all, he brings a genuine concern, coupled with an incredible drive to make a difference,” Hartfield says, adding with a laugh. “It can be exhausting trying to keep up with his mind.”

Neilsen says, “There’s this crazed energy, under the surface. It’s doesn’t make my life easy, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way.”

Today, Neilsen and his wife Nancy, a Vicksburg native, live in Edwards on a meticulously landscaped ranch, where visitors will find a rock garden. Etched into the rocks are words that describe his personal brand, and nestled among words such as “integrity,” “courage” and “family,” are rocks inscribed with “Hinds Community College” and “GED.”

“It’s a place of honor,” Hartfield says. “I am so pleased that the college is responding, in kind, and recognizing Ray with the very well-deserved Alumni Service Award.”

Neilsen says he is honored and pleased to accept on behalf of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and the Adult Education students at Hinds Community College.

“I believe the American dream is still alive,” he says. “However, I tell students in the program that to succeed, an education is paramount. I tell them that education gives you hope that your life can be better. I teach them what my Dad taught me—success must be earned, and you must do what you do better than anybody else. That’s the difference the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and Hinds CC are making in the lives of Adult Education students and in our community. It is my intention that our partnership will continue for many years to come.”

0 2736 22 October, 2014 News more
Hinds CC honors Mullins, Alumnus of the Year
Posted by
16 October

Hinds CC honors Mullins, Alumnus of the Year

Hinds Community College will honor Bob Mullins, the 2014 Alumnus of the Year, at the Alumni Dinner, held at 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 23 in Mayo Gymnasium on the Raymond Campus. Also being honored at the Alumni Dinner is Ray Neilsen, the 2014 Alumni Service Award winner, and the 2014 Hinds Community College Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

As vice president for Economic Development at Hinds, Mullins spent a large portion of his time developing relationships, marketing the college and doing public relations.

“When I worked at Hinds, it wasn’t a job – it was a position. It was a position that I loved,” he says. Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse “wasn’t just my boss, he was my friend. I traveled with him to the state and nation’s capitals to promote the good things we were doing at the college. We worked together on making strong relationships within the community.”

Muse says Mullins had a large impact on the college and the community.

“Bob was one of the most talented and gifted vice presidents I have worked with,” Muse says. “He is creative and has tremendous energy as well as a unique ability to work with business and industry to help them develop a skilled workforce.”

Mullins first started at Hinds in 1967 as a student, then received a bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. Mullins was hired to teach by Walter Gibbes and was called to active duty training for the National Guard shortly after. When he returned from service, he finished his master’s degree at USM and picked up right where he left off, teaching at Hinds.

After two years of teaching architectural drawing, surveying, math and industrial psychology, Mullins began overseeing night school programs at the Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center.

He eventually moved back to the Raymond Campus as assistant dean of Vocational and Career-Technical programs, and then started taking care of industry training courses for the entire college district.

“We were able to do a lot of training and also make a profit,” he says. “We paid all our expenses plus contributed to the college. That’s when we began discussing a conference and training center.”

After several years of budgeting and finding the right funding, Eagle Ridge Conference Center was born.

Mullins also spearheaded a partnership with Bridgwater College in the United Kingdom, growing the roots of what has become one of the college’s most popular international study abroad options for students and faculty.

“Someone from the U.K. was visiting the states and saw the Hinds CC sign. They came to meet Dr. Muse, he referred them to me and the next thing you know, I’m getting a call from someone with a British accent asking when they can send their students to visit our college,” Mullins says. Jackie Granberry, vice president for Advancement and Student Success, remembers going on the first Bridgwater trip overseas with Mullins.

“I am overjoyed to see how the program has grown over the years, and I know it wouldn’t have happened without him,” she says. “He’s always been very visionary and a step ahead of his time.”

After 28 years as a college employee, Mullins accepted a position at Nissan North America, where he began as section manager for training and communications. He was the first employee the company hired at its Canton plant. By the time he retired in 2013, he had advanced to senior manager for training and was responsible for technical training for the entire North American district.

Although Mullins is technically retired, he owns and operates his own consulting business and provides services nationally and internationally. He also has a unique hobby of making stained glass, and has pieces in two Raymond churches and more than 60 churches across the state.

Mullins is married to Deborah Mullins. He has a daughter, a son-in-law and two grandchildren, all of Pelahatchie. The family enjoys spending their time at their Eagle Lake retreat.

“Although I don’t get to spend as much time with the college as I used to, Hinds is a special place to me still, because it helped create a lot of things that led to success in my life,” he says. “The things I learned there — the value of getting things done, making contacts and being fair and honest with people — that’s invaluable.”

For more information on Hinds Community College homecoming events, visit

0 2233 16 October, 2014 News more
Posted by on 20 February

Hinds CC student, faculty honored at HEADWAE

From left, student honoree Caleb Upton, Hinds CC President Dr. Clyde Muse, Rep. Oscar Denton, facutly honoree Jane Flowers, and her brother, Joe Lauderdale.

From left, student honoree Caleb Upton, Hinds CC President Dr. Clyde Muse, Rep. Oscar Denton, facutly honoree Jane Flowers, and her brother, Joe Lauderdale.

Jane Flowers of Vicksburg, work based learning and developmental studies coordinator on the Vicksburg/Warren Campus, and Caleb Upton of Natchez, a general studies student and baseball player on the Raymond Campus, were honored  at the Legislature’s Feb. 18, 2014, HEADWAE (Higher Education Appreciation Day – Working for Academic Excellence) program.

Flowers began her education as a student at Hinds 1973. She has served the college as an employee for 29 years.

Upton is a member of the Hinds Eagles baseball team, the Honors program and the Baptist Student Union. He has been named for the Dean’s and President’s lists and is the recipient of the G.J. Cain Memorial Foundation Scholarship.

HEADWAE was established by Mississippi Legislative Resolution to annually honor the academically talented students and faculty members of Mississippi’s higher education institutions who have made outstanding contributions in promoting academic excellence.

On Appreciation Day, the honorees were invited to the state capitol where they were recognized by name in front of their guests, institution leaders, corporate sponsors, and legislators.

0 2573 20 February, 2014 News more
Posted by on 20 December

Hinds CC recognizes exceptional employees with Hinds Heroes

Hinds Community College recently named the fall 2013 group of winners in the Hinds Heroes employee recognition program at the November Board of Trustees meeting.

Hinds Heroes are chosen because they represent the college well, provide exceptional customer service to internal and external customers and constantly promote the Hinds mission of service. Winners received a lapel pin, a token of appreciation and one free day off from work.

The fall 2013 Hinds Heroes are:

Norma Jean Scrivener of Clinton, who serves as an assistant registrar in the Admissions and Records department on the Raymond Campus. She is responsible for the online catalog, athletic eligibility, building programs and courses approved by the college. She has been with Hinds for five years.



Randy Wilson of Utica has been with Hinds for nine years. As an instructor for the Raymond Campus, Wilson teaches electrical classes and is an authorized OSHA Outreach Trainer for 10 and 30 hours training.



Margaret Ann Bell of Clinton, an English instructor on the Utica Campus, has been with Hinds for 11 years. She also has worked at Hinds as a librarian.



Catherine McGill of Utica is the director of Housing at the Utica Campus and  manages three residence halls on the Utica Campus. She has been with the college for 10 years.



Amber King of Raymond teaches Beginning English, Intermediate English, Composition I and is an adviser for Associated Student Government and Phi Theta Kappa on the Raymond Campus.  She has been with Hinds for five years.



Timothy Rush of Jackson, a 13-year employee, is the dean of Students for the Utica and Vicksburg -Warren campuses.



Ernest Dixon of Raymond has been with Hinds for seven years.  Dixon is a residence hall director for the Raymond Campus and oversees the hall and staff.



Jean Williamson of Mendenhall has been with Hinds for more than 14 years. Williamson serves as the administrative secretary for the vice president’s office on the Rankin Campus and coordinates day-to-day operations.



Eric Smith of Florence, director of the Career Technical Center on the Rankin Campus, has been at Hinds for 15 years. He is responsible for the high school career and technical center on the Rankin Campus.



Jan Carraway of Utica has been with Hinds for 14 years. Carraway is the district supply buyer for the Raymond Bookstore and is also responsible for ordering supplies and gifts for all six Hinds bookstores.



Patricia Grantham of Brandon has been with Hinds for 27 years. Grantham is a Child Development Tech instructor on the Rankin Campus.  She also advises and implements state objectives for Child Development Technology.



Libby Mahaffey of Raymond, dean of the Jackson Campus-Nursing/Allied Health Center, has been with Hinds for 31 years.  She oversees all nursing and allied health programs.



The next group of Heroes will be named at the April 2014 Board of Trustees meeting. The program is sponsored by the Hinds Community College Foundation and coordinated by the foundation office. To nominate someone deserving of recognition, visit the Hinds web page at or contact the foundation office and submit a nomination by paper. Nominations can be submitted at any time.

0 4236 20 December, 2013 News more
Hinds CC names student, faculty HEADWAE honorees
Posted by
25 November

Hinds CC names student, faculty HEADWAE honorees



Jane Flowers of Vicksburg, work based learning and developmental studies coordinator on the Vicksburg/Warren Campus, and Caleb Upton of Natchez, a general studies student and baseball player on the Raymond Campus, have been named Hinds CC’s honorees for the Legislature’s Feb. 18, 2014, HEADWAE (Higher Education Appreciation Day – Working for Academic Excellence) program.

Flowers began her education as a student at Hinds, studying distribution and marketing technology, in 1973. She went on to Mississippi State University to obtain her bachelor’s degree in distributive education and her Master of Education in industrial education.

She came back to her alma mater in 1975, where she began her Hinds career as a secondary cooperative distributive education instructor and coordinator, as well as a marketing and fashion merchandising instructor. During her 29 years of service to the college, Flowers has served as a tourism and hospitality instructor; developmental education instructor; career exploration instructor; public relations assistant; career center director; speech, music, art, nutrition and reading departmental chair; and her current role, work based learning and developmental education studies coordinator. She also worked as a full-time mother to her three children from 1981 to 1990. All of her Hinds positions were served on the Vicksburg/Warren Campus.

Flowers is a member of the district student services committee, district scholarship committee, adult education and community services committee, student affairs committee, and the Hinds Community College education association. She is also a member of the Mississippi and National Association of Developmental Education Teachers. Flowers has been named a Hinds Community College Hero, received the 3E Award, the college’s highest honor, and has been awarded numerous instructor of the year awards, among many other titles.

Caleb Upton is a member of the Hinds Eagles baseball team, the Honors program and the Baptist Student Union, where he is a lead team member. He has been named for the Dean’s and President’s lists and is the recipient of the G.J. Cain Memorial Foundation Scholarship.

After finishing his classes in Raymond, Upton plans to move on to a four-year university to continue his studies, with the ultimate goal of becoming a coach and mentor to young athletes.

Both Flowers and Upton will be honored at the HEADWAE luncheon in downtown Jackson on Feb. 18.

0 4509 25 November, 2013 News more
Posted by on 27 September

Alumnus of the Year named

6 Dean Liles

Hinds Community College will honor Hinds graduate and former athlete Dean Liles of Plano, Texas, as the 2013 Alumnus of the Year at the Oct. 17 Alumni Recognition Dinner, held at Mayo Field House on the Raymond Campus. The reception begins at 4:30 p.m. and dinner is at 5 p.m.

With a family legacy at Hinds Community College running its roots back to the early 1920s, Liles followed the path to Hinds and made his own footprint – one that has had a lasting impression.

Liles was a two-year letterman in basketball, a member of Phi Theta Kappa and graduated with honors in 1961. He has served on the Foundation Board and has established two scholarships at Hinds, which help deserving students get an education.

His claim to fame, and his fondest memories of his alma mater, can be found on the basketball court. Liles was inducted into the Hinds Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 for his record for the most points scored in a Hinds basketball game, a whopping 51 points.

After he graduated from Hinds, Liles went to Mississippi College, where he graduated with honors in 1963. He graduated from Louisiana State University with his master’s degree in 1964.

Liles has a full career history, working for companies such as IBM Corporation, Zale Corporation, National Store Systems, Deloitte Haskins and Sells, Neiman Marcus, Computer Language Research and Tactica Technology Group, an independent company that  prompted him to open his own company, Dean Liles and Associates. Liles retired from the company in 2007.

In 2009, Dean Liles established the Dean and Rebecca Legg Liles Scholarship at Hinds, in memory of his wife. In 2012, he established a second scholarship, the Euell and Etoile Liles Family Scholarship, to honor his parents, Euell and Etoile Liles.  Both scholarships were endowed because of his desire to help others achieve their goals in life.

Liles said he believes Hinds provides a quality education that can be the catalyst for a senior college degree and the start toward achieving career goals, as was the case with his own family members.

Dean resides in Plano, Texas. His late wife, Rebecca, who was also a Hinds graduate, passed away in July 2009. Dean and Rebecca have two children, Brad Liles and Lori Hall, who also live in Plano. They have four grandchildren, Ashley Liles, Matthew Liles, Mark Liles and Grace Hall.

For more information on the Alumnus of the Year award, or on homecoming festivities, contact Libby Posey in Advancement and Student Success at 601.857.3350.

0 3785 27 September, 2013 News more