JCJC President, Dr. Terrell Tisdale’s legacy; the foundation of Jones College

ELLISVILLE – Jones College’s third president, Dr. Terrell Tisdale will be remembered as the “Building President,” with a larger-than-life career that touched thousands of students’ lives. The 86-year-old peacefully passed away at Forrest General Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit in Hattiesburg, on Saturday, January 20, 2024.

“His visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to education have left an indelible mark on the college, the broader educational community, and thousands of alumni,” said current Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith. “His dedication to the development of our institution has shaped countless lives, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations.”

Tisdale began his 42-year career in education at Ellisville Elementary School before launching a 37-year career at JCJC in 1960. Serving as dean of men and assistant to the president, before being selected as the third President of JCJC in 1970, Tisdale was the first president to have attended both Jones County Agricultural High School and Jones County Junior College, now called Jones College. While in school, Tisdale played tuba in the band, and he drove the bus for the JCJC transportation department as a student worker. Furthermore, he served his country for eight years, from 1955 through 1963, in the United States Army and the Mississippi National Guard.

He retired as president of JCJC in 1997 yet continued to serve in higher education as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University and as legislative liaison from 2000-2007. The Mississippi Legislature recognized him for his many years of distinguished service in higher education.

2006 Homecoming-Dr. Ronald & Charlotte Whitehead, Dr. Jesse & Jennifer Smith & Dr. Terrell and Martha Tisdale.

“Dr. Tisdale was honored by the JCJC Foundation with his cohorts, president emeritus, Dr. Ronald Whitehead, and retired V.P. of student affairs, Tim Waldrup as Honor Alumni in 2010 for their service and the indelible impact on the college. The three were leading administrators during the nearly 30 years they worked at JCJC, guiding the thriving college into the 21st century,” said Smith. “Tisdale was also inducted into the USM Alumni Hall of Fame, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees.”

Tim Waldrup

Individually, Tisdale’s legacy is the very foundation of Jones County Junior College because he is responsible for either building or renovating every building on campus during his 27 years as president of the college. The Old President’s House is the only remaining building original to the campus, along with the three wisteria arbors and stone wall. 

“Over 25 years, 26 buildings were constructed on campus under Tisdale’s leadership. New buildings included Covington, Clarke, Greene, Jasper, Smith, and Wayne dormitories, the current President’s House, the Community Services Center, the Hutchison-Hubbard Administration Building, D.O. Thoms Sr. P.E. Building, the C.L. Neill Student Center which includes the cafeteria and Student Center, the Academic Support Center, Bobcat Field House, Visual Arts Center and Eula Bass Lewis Art Gallery, King Chemistry Center, Alfred and Adella Foote Chapel, the Welding Building, Sports Complex, Smith Hall, the Student Activities Building, the Stringer-Huff Business Building, the Terrell Tisdale Library, Allied Health Center, the Life Sciences Center, and the Industrial Service Center.

Additionally, renovations were made to the Agricultural, Horticultural, M.P Bush Fine Arts, Home and Health Services, Bush-Young Stadium, Center for the Humanities, the Mathematics Center, the J.B. Young Technical Business Center and the Thomas H. Harris Science buildings.  

Tisdale, with his wife, Martha, and son, J.T., who grew up on the JCJC campus, continued to engage in campus events long after the education giant retired in 1997. J.T. and Heather’s children, Thomas Reese, George Grayson and Margaret Ansley often joined the Tisdale’s for activities on campus.

A native of the Boggy Community, which is located west of Ellisville, Tisdale served on the boards of numerous organizations including the Lions Club, Boy Scouts of America, Phi Theta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Mississippi Junior College Association, and Laurel Community Concert Association. While living in Ellisville, the Tisdale’s were members of the First Baptist Church of Ellisville and after retiring and moving to Hattiesburg, they joined Main Street Baptist Church.