Comedian Steve Harvey headlines College of Business gala


Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum presents comedian Steve Harvey with a cowbell Friday [Nov. 13] at the Mill at MSU Conference Center. Harvey served as keynote speaker for the College of Business Centennial Celebration Gala. (photo by Mitch Phillips)STARKVILLE, Miss.—By age 10, Steve Harvey knew he wanted to be on television. He was so confident of that dream, in fact, he wrote it on a piece of paper as a class assignment in elementary school.

Today, the renowned comedian hosts the syndicated television game show “Family Feud,” as well as a pair of major network talk shows, giving credence to Harvey’s foresight as a child. But as keynote speaker for Mississippi State University’s College of Business Centennial Celebration Gala Friday night [Nov. 13] in the Mill at MSU Conference Center, Harvey recalled how his teacher ridiculed his dream one day in front of the class. Harvey was poor and suffered from a severe stuttering problem, so he said his teacher encouraged him to choose something “more believable.”

“She said, ‘You’re never going to be on T.V.,’” Harvey said. “So every Christmas, I send her a flat screen T.V. I don’t want her to miss me.”

Harvey’s speech headlined a gala that celebrated 100 years of success at MSU’s College of Business and took time to recognize the college’s top 100 alumni from the last century, more than 40 of whom were on-hand. Also a fundraiser for the college, the gala included a formal dinner and silent auction.

Founded on Oct. 15, 1915, MSU’s College of Business is the oldest in the state and among the oldest in the South. It has produced more than 32,000 graduates, hailing from all 50 states and 142 countries.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum said the college owed its success over the years to the vision, leadership and hard work of its faculty and students.

“Our College of Business has a tradition of academic rigor combined with a commitment to outreach and service to our state,” Keenum said. “That tradition continues to this day.”

A Welch, West Virginia, native, Harvey’s success as a stand-up comedian eventually led him to a long stint as host of “It’s Showtime at the Apollo.” He has authored several books, including the New York Times bestseller “Act Like A Man,” and he has performed in movies such as “The Original Kings of Comedy,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Madea Goes to Jail,” and “Think Like a Man.”

Harvey has earned three Daytime Emmy awards, as well as 11 NAACP Image Awards.

On Friday, though, he spoke about how he used imagination and faith to climb from an early adulthood in which he spent three years homeless to having the career and lifestyle he enjoys today. He encouraged those in attendance to tap into their imaginations and entrepreneurial spirits, as well, to make their dreams come true.

“If one day you want to soar, you first have to jump,” he said. “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent what you do about it.”

A year of centennial celebration events will culminate this weekend, as the College of Business is sponsoring MSU’s football game against Alabama Saturday [Nov. 14] at Davis Wade Stadium. The college will host a tailgate from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at The Junction, and College of Business leadership -- including Dean Sharon Oswald, Professor of Marketing and Centennial Fellow Melissa Moore, and members of the executive advisory board -- will accept the ceremonial game ball on the field.

For more information on the College of Business centennial celebration, visit www.wemeanbusiness.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.