Mississippi College on Oct. 10 announced “the first-of-its-kind, full-tuition scholarship program” named in honor of Leland R. Speed, one of the Baptist-affiliated university’s biggest boosters who was also the longest-serving board of trustees member in the institution’s 196-year history.
Beginning with enrollment for the fall 2023 semester, the college announced, eligible students from Mississippi who are admitted to the school and receive the Leland Speed Scholarship will pay no tuition after all federal, state and institutional grants and scholarships are first applied.
No other institution of higher learning in the state offers full-tuition scholarships for all qualified students from Mississippi, MC noted.
MC President Blake Thompson said the scholarship reflects the “incredible devotion” the late Speed had for Mississippi College, which is based in Clinton.
“Leland was well-known for giving back to his community and his home state,” Thompson said. “He is leaving a legacy that will provide generations of young people in Mississippi the opportunity to attend Mississippi College.”
Speed served for more than four decades as a member of the MC board of trustees.
At the time of his death at age 88 from complications of ALS on Jan. 27, 2021, Speed was serving as chair of the Mississippi College Foundation Board. The CEO of East Group Properties and Parkway Properties for many years, Speed was a widely respected entrepreneur and volunteer civic leader.
He served as executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority under former Gov. Haley Barbour, accepting the position under the stipulation that he be paid a salary of only $1 per year.
Speed’s family ties to MC date back to 1935.
The Leland Speed Library on the Clinton campus is named for his father, the late Leland S. Speed, a successful investment banker who served as mayor of Jackson from 1945–49.
The younger Speed’s mother, the late Katherine Rhymes Speed Ettl, was a prominent sculptor whose works are displayed in the Leland Speed Library and Gore Galleries on the MC campus.
“Dad would be humbled to know that his gift is being used by the University to give back to fellow Mississippi families,” said son Warren, whose wife Marla is a 1994 MC graduate, and whose daughter Elizabeth is a senior at MC and son Preston is a sophomore at MC.
“He was a champion of Christian higher education and specifically recognized the value of the Mississippi College experience,” Warren Speed said. “MC is a unique institution in our country today, and one that our entire family is very proud to support.”
The deadline to apply for the Leland Speed Scholarship at Mississippi College for the 2023–24 academic year is Dec. 1. For more information about the scholarship, click here.