Northwest’s Lawson receives T.P. Vinson award

Dr. Rick Gregory, Richie Lawson and Daniel Christian

Richie E. Lawson, vice president for Education at Northwest Mississippi Community College was recently honored by the University of Mississippi-DeSoto Center as the 2017 recipient of the T.P. Vinson award.

T.P. Vinson was an associate dean, faculty member and advising coordinator in the School of Education at Ole Miss who strongly supported the regional campuses of Ole Miss as a teacher, adviser and student advocate. The T.P. Vinson award honors those outside the DeSoto campus who have helped the center grow and prosper in the quality of student services and community outreach. The award was first given in 2005, and has been given every year since that time.

Lawson, who served as dean of the Northwest DeSoto Center from 2002-2014,  was instrumental in the success of the 2+2 partnership between Northwest and Ole Miss-DeSoto. “As the previous dean of Northwest DeSoto and in his current role as vice president for Education at Northwest, his leadership has ensured a pathway for success for those students who have started strong at Northwest and seek to finish strong at Northwest DeSoto. We are blessed to be a part of the 2+2 partnership, and we recognize that our success is an extension of Northwest’s success. This year’s recipient continues to prove himself an advocate for success for all of the DeSoto Center. His love of people, spirit of service and enjoyment of a good laugh have left indelible marks on this campus,” said Daniel Christian, Ole Miss-DeSoto coordinator of Admissions, in his presentation speech.

Lawson began his career at Northwest in 1983, teaching what was then called Mortuary Science at DeSoto Center. He taught until 1987, when he was named director of Vocational-Technical Education. In 1988, he moved to Northwest’s Olive Branch campus as center director, and returned to DeSoto Center-Southaven two years later as director of Vocational-Technical Education.

Lawson grew up in Corning, Arkansas and graduated from Corning High School, class of 1968. He attended Arkansas State University for two years and then went to Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science. He worked in the funeral service industry for 13 years in Little Rock and Memphis before he came to Northwest. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations in 1981, and his master’s degree in communications studies in 1986 from The University of Memphis. In 2006, Lawson earned a graduate certificate in Community College Teaching and Leadership from The University of Memphis. He is the current president of the Mississippi Community and Junior College Academic Officers Association and a past board member of the DeSoto Economic Development Council. Lawson is a member of the MACJC Athletic Council.

He and his wife, Nila, have been married for 46 years. Nila is a nurse practitioner at the University of Memphis Health Center. They are the parents of two sons, Justin, a regional director of the Quality Deer Management Association, and Aaron, a respiratory therapist in Chattanooga. They have one grandson, West.  Lawson is the son of Deloy J. Lawson of Paragould, Arkansas and the late Alfreda B. Lawson of Corning.

For more information on Northwest’s DeSoto Center, visit the college’s website at

Pictured:  Richie Lawson, center, vice president for Education at Northwest Mississippi Community College is the 2017 recipient of the University of Mississippi DeSoto Center’s  T.P. Vinson award, which honors those outside the DeSoto campus who have helped the Ole Miss –DeSoto Center grow and prosper in the quality of student services and community outreach. Congratulating Lawson are (l-r) Dr. Rick Gregory, director of Ole Miss–DeSoto and Daniel Christian, coordinator of Admissions, Ole Miss-DeSoto. (Photo submitted)

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