Mike and Karen Brown (Faculty)

Mike and Karen Brown

Mike and Karen Brown met in college comparing test grades in a music history course. As Mike put it, “the rest was history.”

Both agree they knew from the start that teaching was their calling. After eight years in Indiana higher education, they came to Starkville in 2000 to join the Mississippi State faculty.

Now, 15 years later, the parents of three adult children are gearing up to conclude education careers spanning four decades. At the end of the current school year, they will move permanently to their Alabama beach home.

A specialist in the trumpet, Mike is the university’s former music department head who stepped down last year to teach music courses fulltime while also directing the MSU Philharmonia student string orchestra. He also conducts the Starkville-MSU Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to leading teacher education courses, Karen serves as a student adviser and mentor. “I help prepare future teachers,” said the instructor for the College of Education’s curriculum, instruction and special education department. “That’s my joy, teaching students who are going to end up being Mississippi’s teachers and going out to the schools and seeing them there.”

Since coming to Starkville, the couple also has been heavily involved at the First United Methodist Church. Karen is a choir member, and Mike often leads a brass ensemble.

As he looks back on their time here, Mike said he and Karen have been provided with many irreplaceable experiences. “Two things that I enjoy most in life are music and people, so the chance to work with music and to work with people at the same time is just unique,” he said. “When we came, neither of us thought we would be here for 16 years. That never occurred to us.”

Taking work, church and community experiences together as a whole, he added: “We feel like we found a place that we could serve and serve others and have it serve our needs, too.”

Both also agree they will miss much about the campus environment and traditions.

“There are lots of different missions for Mississippi State, and the one that I am always proud of is its giving young people a chance,” Mike said.

“We’ve been here longer than we have anywhere else,” Karen added. “I think we will always have ties to Mississippi State.”