Millsaps College Selected as SHECP Academic Home; Rolph Named Academic Director

Following a competitive application process, Millsaps College has been selected as the new academic home of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP). Established at Washington and Lee University in 1998 as the “Shepherd Poverty Alliance,” a poverty studies program, SHECP has grown into a nonprofit association of 23 higher educational institutions in the United States, dedicated to the goal of preparing students for a lifetime of professional, civic, and political activity that will diminish poverty.

Millsaps is a selective undergraduate institution founded in 1890. It is located on 100 acres in the heart of Jackson, the capital of Mississippi—a progressive southern metropolitan city of nearly half a million population.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for Millsaps College, and we are grateful for the trust and confidence of the Consortium board,” said Dr. Robert W. Pearigen, president of Millsaps College. “The educational opportunities that come with this decision are obvious for our students, faculty, and staff, but it means so much to the greater community around us as we take a lead role in the important work of the Consortium.”

 The new partnership between Millsaps and SHECP will formally begin July 1, 2017 and run for a three-year term, through June 30, 2020. 

Dr. Rolph is an assistant professor of history at Millsaps College. She received her B.A. cum laude from Millsaps and her doctorate from Mississippi State University. She is currently at work on, “Whiting Out the Movement: The Citizens’ Council, 1954-1989,” to be published by Louisiana State University Press.

Another key component of the agreement is the announcement that Dr. Stephanie Rolph, associate professor of history at Millsaps, will take on the role of academic director for SHECP effective July 1. In this role, Rolph will work with the executive director of the Consortium to manage all academic partnerships and programs, including supervision of an internship director, collaboration with the Consortium board and member schools, and fundraising.

 “I look forward to Stephanie’s leadership and expertise. Together we will enhance the internship opportunity and reach many more students and agencies across the country,” said Amy DeHart, director of internships for SHECP, who will continue to work out of office space donated by Washington and Lee.

 “We are thrilled that Millsaps College will take on the leadership for the education dimension of the Consortium, and I look forward to working closely with Dr. Rolph,” said Harlan Beckley SHECP founder and current executive director.

 Rolph echoed Beckley’s excitement about the new partnership.

 “Millsaps’ membership in SHECP and its engagement with institutions across the country has ensured that our mission in Jackson, Mississippi, is situated within a national commitment in higher education to serious considerations of poverty, its causes and consequences,” Rolph said. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with our colleagues across the country, learning from their successes and sharing our own. Millsaps’ new role within the Consortium is an incredible opportunity for the College, for Mississippi, and for our students.”

 Dr. Jay Barth of Hendrix College, chair of the SHECP Governing Board, emphasized the high quality of Millsaps’ proposal to serve as academic host for the program.  “In its written proposal as well as in follow-up conversations, the leadership at Millsaps showed a deep dedication to the important work that SHECP is doing to try to transform the role of higher education in aiding students’ understanding of poverty and honing their abilities to reshape our responses to poverty in the generations ahead.”

 The SHECP program will operate under the structure of the College’s Institute for Civic & Professional Engagement, established in 2016 to facilitate student development along a continuum of engagement from living and learning communities, in-depth student research projects, and study abroad to co-curricular service projects and professional internships.

 “This partnership with SHECP aligns perfectly with the mission and strategic goals that Millsaps envisioned when the Institute was founded,” said Kenneth Townsend, executive director of the Institute. “We have so many opportunities to effect important and profound change through students, faculty, and communities across the country.”