Jack Woodward Award of Excellence

Jack Woodward's life and ministry was directed toward the service of others. After graduating from Millsaps College in 1951, he completed his divinity studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1954. Jack returned to Mississippi to receive his first assignment as Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Corinth. It is during this time that his life changed forever when he met Nelda Ruth Wright. They were married on June 30, 1957.

In 1961, he received his second and only other assignment as Director of Religious Life at Millsaps - his alma mater. Jack also became Director of Financial Aid for the college, and in 1967, he along with Ken Wooten and a few other financial aid administrators founded the Mississippi Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Inc. (MASFAA).

His position at Millsaps grew into a full-time ministry and Jack became Dean of Student Aid Financial Planning. During his time in financial aid, he encountered many families who wanted a Millsaps education for their child and may not have had the means to send them there. Jack always said: "We will find a way." And he did.

Because of this, Jack envisioned an organization that would help families navigate the paths of college financial aid and provide assistance in charting a post-secondary course for their children. From this vision, he joined with the late Herman Hines in 1979 to create this entity, which in 2017 was renamed for its two founders as the Woodward Hines Education Foundation.

Jack retired from Millsaps in 1999 but remained active at the college and in the foundation. He also continued in service by teaching the Ben Fatherree Sunday School Class at Galloway UMC - a ministry which brought him great joy.

In the many lives he met on his journey, he tried to convey to each person a sense of service, humbleness and love. He quietly went about serving his fellow human beings with an authentic caring and compassion that was driven by his love for God and for humanity. He truly left a mark on all whom he encountered, from Millsaps to MASFAA to the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, and his sweet spirit will remain in all of us as we move forward in his shadow.

The recipient of the Jack Woodward Award of Excellence will be selected by the Executive Board from a list of nominations provided by the membership. The nominees will be evaluated based on their involvement, leadership, knowledge and experience, contributions, cooperative and professional behavior, commitment, and service. 

2023-2024 Dr. Megan Smith Delta State University
2022-2023 Brenda Pittman William Carey College
2021-2022 Nicole Patrick Mississippi University for Women
2017-2018 Laura Diven-Brown University of Mississippi
2016-2017 Sonja McMullen Sallie Mae
2015-2016 Brenda Carson East Central Community College
2014-2015 Bob Walker Itawamba Community College
2010-2011 Wendy Hutchins Sallie Mae
2006-2007 Brenda Paganelli National Student Loan Program
2005-2006 Bruce Crain Mississippi State University
2004-2005 Jane McNaughton edamerica
2000-2001 Jeanie Hughes Education Services Foundation
1999-2000 Hugh Graves IHL
1997-1998 Ann Hyneman Millsaps College
1996-1997 Linda Phillips Belhaven College
1996-1997 Ronnie Sweeney Northeast Mississippi Community College
1995-1996 Mary Givhan Mississippi College
1994-1995 Jean Ellis Bank of Mississippi
1993-1994 Joan Dambrino MGSLA
1992-1993 Vernetta P. Fairley University of Southern Mississippi
1991-1992 Louanne Langston Hinds Community College
1990-1991 Larry Blankenship IHL
1989-1990 Billy Q. Caples Itawamba Community College
1988-1989 G. Hal Hughes Northeast Mississippi Community College
1987-1988 Jack L. Woodward Millsaps College