Dr. Ted J. Alexander, president of Pearl River Community College from 1986 to 2000, died Wednesday, July 2, in Hattiesburg. He was 78.
Alexander served as PRCC president during a time of tremendous growth in students, course offerings and physical facilities, including the Allied Health Center and its programs at the Forrest County Center.
“Ted Alexander was an innovative, creative and progressive educational leader,” said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president. “His vision for Pearl River Community College was reflected in the many transformations that took place at the institution during his tenure.
“The numerous allied health programs that the college opened during Dr. Alexander’s presidency serve as a tribute to his legacy. These programs have developed thousands of health care professionals who now provide a variety of health services for the citizens of South Mississippi. It goes without saying that Ted Alexander’s vision and leadership have made a difference for our people.”
The campuses in Poplarville and the Forrest County Center, in large part, took on their current shapes during Alexander’s administration.
“He was a very focused individual that had specific goals that he worked very hard to attain,” said Miller Hammill, who served as dean of student affairs under Alexander. “He brought a lot of positive things to Pearl River as far as improving the education programs and the facilities while he was president. He worked very hard to attain these goals that he set for the college and for himself.”
In addition to expansion at the Forrest County Center, Alexander spearheaded construction of a $3.6 million Nursing Building and the adjacent Wellness Center on the Poplarville campus.
“He was determined to get those programs going in Hattiesburg,” Hammill said. “Another thing was the Wellness Center. A lot of people had real reservations about that and now almost every college has one.”
The administration building on the Poplarville campus bears Alexander’s name as does the Ted J. Alexander Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship was established by friends of Alexander in lieu of retirement gifts and is administered by the PRCC Development Foundation established during Alexander’s tenure.
Following his retirement from Pearl River, Alexander was named chief executive officer of the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation. Martin T. Smith of Poplarville, attorney for the PRCC board of trustees, serves on the foundation’s board and was also the college’s attorney during Alexander’s administration.
“He was a visionary if there ever was one,” Smith said. “He continued to be very much involved in the life of Pearl River Community College and through his work with the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, he was aware of many projects that meant so much to the betterment of the recipients of those grants.”
The foundation was established to administer the majority of the proceeds from the sale of Crosby Memorial Hospital and concentrates its efforts on educational and health-related projects. Many of those projects were funded in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Poplarville.
“We worked closely together on a number of projects and I saw first hand the passion that Dr. Alexander had for the welfare of children,” said Archie Rawls, former Rotary Club president. “Through his leadership at the LPRVF, countless children in South Mississippi have benefitted from projects such as the Safe Harbor after-school programs following Hurricane Katrina, vision and hearing screenings in the schools, cultural and educational programs and numerous classroom enhancement grants. His leadership and advocacy in these efforts will be greatly missed.”
Rawls, chairman of the PRCC Department of Fine Arts and Communication, was director of bands during Alexander’s tenure as president.
“Dr. Alexander faced some very difficult decisions concerning the future of PRCC during his tenure but his determined and focused leadership ultimately resulted in a stronger institution with a better clarity of mission and goals,” Rawls said.
Alexander came to PRCC after 10 years as superintendent of the McComb Municipal Separate School District. During his 46-year career in education, Alexander also served as superintendent of schools in Newton, high school principal in Pascagoula and Franklin County, guidance counselor in Franklin County and in Meadville as biology and physical science teacher, football, basketball and baseball coach.
He was a member and past officer of numerous professional organizations.
He graduated from Central High School in Jackson and received a B.A. degree from Millsaps College. Alexander earned the Master of Education degrees in educational administration and guidance from Mississippi College and the Doctor of Education degree in educational administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Funeral arrangements will be announced by Moore Funeral Home in Hattiesburg.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Alexander of Hattiesburg; two sons, Brent Alexander and his wife, Jane, of Jackson; and Bryan Alexander of Biloxi; and twin granddaughters, Emily Clare and Elizabeth Chandler Alexander of Jackson.
Dr. Ted J. Alexander