By NATHAN GREGORY
A Mississippi State University alumnus and successful businessman has been appointed to the state’s Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees.
Hal Parker, of Bolton, founded and is a past President of Sunbelt Wholesale Supply, a company he built into one of the largest fiberglass and roofing distributors in the country. Gov. Phil Bryant recently named Parker among three others to the 12-member board. Parker graduated from MSU in 1969 with a degree in business. He will become an official member next month. The governor appoints members to the board as terms of other individuals expire.
Parker is in the first class of board appointees to serve a nine-year term after a 2004 revision to the legislation to change terms from 12 years. He said he was honored to be asked for his service.
“I was really surprised but also pleased (Gov. Bryant) approached me about this,” he said. “Once we talked, I realized this as a great opportunity to work with the board members and with (IHL Commissioner) Hank Bounds.”
Parker said he’s known Bryant since his days as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives. He said his four-term tenure in the MSU Development Foundation Board of Directors and the MSU Bulldog Foundation are experiences that translate to this position and are his main links to higher education.
“I’ve been closely related with higher education (since starting Sunbelt) through working on the Foundation Board and (through my) relationships at the university,” Parker said.
MSU President Mark Keenum said he knows Parker through his generous support of the university and believes he will be an invaluable source of knowledge and leadership as a member of the board.
“When I first arrived ... , he was one of the first persons I had the opportunity to meet with, and I think the world of him. He is a very successful business leader in our state. He’s highly respected in the business community, not only in Mississippi but throughout the nation. He is a visionary leader, and he’s also someone who loves Mississippi State University,” Keenum said. “His generosity is evident in the support he has provided both in facilities on our campus, support for our athletic programs and for scholarships for students. He and his wife Linda are two truly outstanding individuals that have a passion for helping others and a passion for helping Mississippi State University. I think he’s going to be an excellent leader to help direct all the institutions of higher learning in Mississippi.”
Parker said he looks forward to serving all the colleges and universities in the state.
“My relationship has always been with MSU ... but this is about all eight universities and working with them to help create better opportunities,” he said.
Keenum said he believes Parker will continue the high standard of service that has been provided by so many board members over the years.
“One of the things I’ve noticed in my three years of interacting with the board is without exception, the IHL Board of Trustees — regardless of what their alma mater is — they look at the system as a whole,” Keenum said. “I have been so impressed ... with our board of trustees in providing governance, (and) policy direction in a manner that is in the best overall interest of all our institutions. I think Hal Parker will be a trustee who will carry on that tradition of providing strong capable leadership for all eight universities on an equal basis.”
IHL governs Mississippi’s public universities, including Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, MSU, Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi Valley State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.