John and Connie Forde (Faculty)
John and Connie Forde each have witnessed nearly 30 years of change at Mississippi State University. They remember when President George H. W. Bush spoke at commencement in 1989, and they’ve seen campus changes, like the closure of “Malfunction Junction.” In addition to extensive campus growth, the two faculty have seen many advances in technology to improve advising and teaching methods.
From these two, countless business educators and public relations professionals have learned their trades.
Surprisingly, the Fordes’ careers have been parallel despite teaching and researching in different disciplines. Both have served as faculty advisers to their respective disciplines’ student organizations, but it’s been traveling with each other’s group that has given them the opportunity to get to know a variety of students. Both have served in leadership positions with state and national organizations to amass a professional network that stretches across the country.
Each also has earned the title of department head. John became the head of the communication department in 2004 and Connie the head of instructional systems and workforce development in 2011. “Becoming department head was a wonderful way to end my career,” she said with a smile. In retirement, she hopes to learn Spanish, take up golf, work on projects and spend time with family—which now includes two granddaughters in Ocean Springs.
One difference between them is that John, an only child, never has been accused of being in two places at once. However, Connie’s twin sister, Carol Lehman, taught in MSU’s College of Business. This has provided humorous stories through the years, Connie said.
They have learned from each other’s experiences along the way and benefitted from similar demands and schedules. When their sons John David and Daniel were young, the Fordes would alternate their teaching responsibility in the summer.
Both have associate degrees from Jones County Junior College, which recognized the pair in 2012 as “Honor Alumni.” John said, “Being recognized together was really special.”
Now, their time on campus together is winding down as Connie retires at the end of the month.
The Fordes said that although many changes have taken place over the years, one thing has remained constant—students have always been their top priority. “We want to help students and prioritize them. We want to see our students succeed,” John said.