Richie E. Lawson, former dean of Northwest Mississippi Community College’s DeSoto Center has been named vice president for Education.
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 Center as center director, and returned to DeSoto Center two years later as director of Vocational Technical Education.
In 2002, Lawson was named dean of DeSoto Center. In that capacity, he was responsible for the administration of every aspect of the campus.
As vice president, he is responsible for all aspects of education at the college: academic, career-technical and workforce at each campus. His office deals with compliance with all state requirements, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), articulation agreements with universities, dual enrollment and eLearning.
“We have to make it easier for our students to come to Northwest. My main concern is to get our students enrolled and coming to school. We have great programs to offer but we need to make it easier for them to get here. One of my goals is to provide online registration for our students. We are working on that now, and we have to do it,” Lawson said.
Lawson grew up in Corning, Ark. and graduated from Corning High School. 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 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 secretary of the Mississippi Community and Junior College Academic Officers Association and a past board member of the DeSoto Economic Development Council.
He and his wife, Nila, have been married for 43 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 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, Ark. and the late Afreda B. Lawson of Corning.
Lawson enjoys hunting deer, turkey and ducks. He is a member of Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the National Rifle Association, the Coldwater Red Banks Hunting Club and Quality Deer Management Association, Wolf River Branch. He and his wife are members of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, and he is a member and past president of the Seekers Sunday School class.
“It’s different from my position at DeSoto Center. There I was responsible for everything at that one center and my office was always full of staff, faculty or students. There was never a dull moment up there, but here it is much quieter. It’s a different kind of busy here,” Lawson said.
For more information, visit the college’s website www.northwestms.edu.
Photo and story by LaJuan Tallo, communications assistant