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Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the Co-Lin Foundation are pleased to announce the hiring of D.J. Preiss of Hattiesburg as executive director of the Foundation/Alumni Affairs.

Preiss has previously served as a development officer at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was responsible for research and cultivating major gift donors on behalf of the University. His other recent work experience includes two years as a sales manager for Howard Technology and seven years as coordinator of recruitment for the University of Southern Mississippi. He received a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in counseling and personnel services from Southern Miss.

“We are very pleased to have D.J. Preiss as the new director of the Foundation,” Co-Lin president, Dr. Ronnie Nettles said. “He brings with him proven fundraising experience in higher education and he has exciting ideas about how to further grow our Foundation at Co-Lin.” 

Preiss has been involved in his community as an active member of Pinebelt Young Professionals, the Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership, and as a member of Venture Church where he serves as a small group leader and assists in numerous production and technical roles. He is married to the former Nicole Kemp of Madison and has a seven-year-old daughter, Emily.

 “I’m incredibility grateful for the opportunity to become a part of the Co-Lin family and look forward to working diligently with the Foundation and Alumni Affairs team, the Foundation Board of Directors and Dr. Nettles to meet the mission of the college and its Foundation,” Preiss said. “I am eager to work with our donors and friends that provide much needed support for our students, faculty, and staff.

Preiss replaces David Campbell, who retired in December after 11 years at Co-Lin. The Co-Lin Foundation manages assets of more than $8 million and is operated by the executive director and a 23-member board of directors.


Toyota DonationToyota of Brookhaven recently donated two vehicles to Co-Lin’s Automotive Technology Program. Pictured are from left, Prentiss Smith, Toyota of Brookhaven General Manager; Blake Oberschmidt, Co-Lin Automotive Technology Instructor; Jerry Taylor, Toyota of Brookhaven Service Manager; and Roger Martin, Toyota of Brookhaven Used Car Manager.

Admin Building 1Co-Lin has received notification from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History of grant funding in the amount of $100,000 for assistance with the roof replacement on the historic J. M. Ewing Administration Building on the Wesson Campus. The grant award was announced at a special meeting in early December of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for twenty-six grants totaling 2,980,194. These funds will be used for the preservation of historic courthouses, schools, and other historic properties in specially designated Certified Local Governments. This award is expected to cover approximately one-third of the cost of the re-roofing project for the building, with additional funding coming from the Mississippi Bureau of Building, Grounds, and Real Property, and additional local county maintenance funds. 

“The J. M. Ewing Administration Building at Copiah-Lincoln Community College is one of the remaining historical buildings remaining at the college and has been in major need of a roof replacement with the current roof installed in 1991,”  said Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles. “We are very grateful to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for assisting us with funding this worthwhile project.” 

In order to be eligible for grant funds, school properties have to be registered as a Mississippi Designated Landmark Property. In 1996, the Ewing Administration Building was registered as a Landmark Property with 10 other properties in Copiah County, with only two in the city of Wesson. The J. M. Ewing Administration Building was built in 1938 and designed by Hull and Drummond Architects of Jackson. The Georgian Revival style building contains 15,327 assignable square feet and contains the R. E. Rea Auditorium, which seats over 700 guests and hosts over 10,000 visitors to the building each year. 

To address the needs of the aging roof, Dr. Jeff Posey, Director of Facilities Planning, began researching grant options to assist with the project and found out about the Mississippi Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program, which was passed in Senate Bill 2906 in 2015. 

“We felt the Ewing Building was the perfect property for this type of grant, because of its historic character and its extreme need for roof replacement,”  said Posey. “By participating in the Historic Landmark Property designation, we will enter into a 25 year protective maintenance covenant. The current covenant on the property expires in 2021 with the next one expiring in 2046.”  These covenants require that the college have all building improvements approved by a special historic preservation board at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to help preserve the historic integrity of the building. 

Grant awards are paid on a reimbursable basis upon the successful completion of the entire project or at the time of the completion of pre-established phases of the project. Prior to application all buildings must have been designated Mississippi Landmarks.

For more information about any of the facilities renovation and historic preservation projects ongoing at Co-Lin, contact Dr. Posey at (601) 643-8411. 

Lightsey Scholarships

Former instructors Jim and Martha Lightsey of Wesson recently made a significant gift to the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Foundation, establishing two new endowed scholarships and new student leadership and faculty development endowments at Co-Lin.

The newly established Jim and Martha Lightsey Immigrant Student Scholarship is designed to assist students born to immigrants who reside in Mississippi and are faced with financial hardship. A second endowed scholarship named after the Lightseys will be awarded to two students annually, one or both education majors. The Lightseys have also designated funds to support student leadership scholarships and faculty development scholarships for full-time teaching faculty members pursuing professional development opportunities.

The gift is one of the largest individual donations the Foundation has ever received. Co-Lin president Dr. Ronnie Nettles said the gift is especially meaningful coming from two former instructors.

“The Lightseys are former instructors who have dedicated their lives to helping students at Co-Lin,” Nettles said. “Their generosity is incredible, and our students and faculty will benefit from this gift for years to come.”

The Lightseys are no strangers to the Foundation. Since 1997, they have endowed three other Foundation scholarships, including the Robert K. Howard Memorial Scholarship, the Reverend Mary Stewart Scholarship, and the Bobby O’Quinn Memorial Scholarship.

Jim Lightsey joined the Co-Lin faculty in 1971 where he taught sociology and psychology courses until his retirement in 2001. Martha began teaching developmental studies courses at Co-Lin in 1984 and retired in 2002. Their goal in giving to the Foundation is to give back to Co-Lin and help students and faculty.

“This is very exciting for us,” Martha said. “We’re thankful to be able to help.”

Jim shares the sentiment. “We often see former students who tell us that their time at Co-Lin was two of the most rewarding years of their lives,” he said. “Having a part in helping students succeed at Co-Lin and in life is something we’re glad to be a part of.”


Jim and Martha Lightsey pictured with Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles (center).

underwoodscholarshipA new scholarship has been endowed with the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Foundation by the Underwood family. Don Underwood of Brookhaven, his sister Tammy Underwood Torrey of Meadville, and their mother, Ann Underwood of Brookhaven have endowed the Underwood Family Scholarship, which will be awarded in the fall of 2017 to a Co-Lin student who is a graduate of Brookhaven High School.

The Underwood family has been involved with Co-Lin for many years. Don is a 1979 graduate of Co-Lin, Torrey a 1980 graduate, and the most recent graduate in the family is Stone Underwood, who was a standout on the Wolfpack’s 2012 state championship football team. He graduated in 2013 before transferring to the University of West Virginia where he was a member of the offensive line for the Mountaineers. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the University of West Virginia. Torrey is also a member of the Co-Lin Foundation board of directors.

“We are very fortunate to have the support of the Underwood family,” said Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles. “That support has transferred across generations, and they have been excellent representatives of our college in many different ways.”

For information on ways to give to Co-Lin, visit To apply for a 2016-2017 endowed scholarship, visit


The Underwood family recently established a scholarship with the Co-Lin Foundation. The scholarship will be awarded in the fall of 2017 to a Co-Lin student who is a graduate of Brookhaven High School. On hand for the presentation were from left, Don Underwood of Brookhaven, Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles, Tammy Underwood Torrey of Meadville, and Stone Underwood of Morgantown, West Virginia.


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