The McLean Institute for Community Development was founded in 1984 to honor the legacy of newspaper publisher George McLean, whose mission was to raise the quality of life for all Mississippians. McLean understood that universities could be a resource for communities and regions seeking to raise their own quality of life.
Today, the Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement is a resource for the entire University of Mississippi campus community, and collaborates with students, faculty and staff around volunteerism, service-learning, community-based research, and community development and social entrepreneurship projects. The Grisham-McLean Institute then works to leverage these university resources to partner with communities across the state to solve problems relating to poverty.
For more than twenty-five years, the accomplished sociologist Vaughn Grisham led the McLean Institute for Community Development. The institute was the brainchild of publisher and patron George McLean, whose mission was to raise the quality of life for all Mississippians. The institute that bears his name has cultivated leaders, researched problems, and implemented solutions for communities around Mississippi and the nation.
About the McLeans
“It is the responsibility of the people of Mississippi to try to raise the level – economically, educationally, spiritually and otherwise – of all the people of Mississippi. There’s nobody else who’s going to come in here and do it for us.”
-George McLean, founder of CREATE Foundation (1982)
As chairman of the board of the Journal Publishing Company and executive editor of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, George McLean made significant contributions in the areas of local education and community development.
He received the Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mississippi in 1926, and the Master of Arts degree from Boston University in 1928. He began a teaching career at Adrian College, Michigan, and in 1931 moved to Southwestern College in Memphis, Tennessee.
Three years later, McLean purchased the Tupelo Journal, a biweekly newspaper with a paid circulation of less than 500. From that beginning, McLean built the Journal into a daily publication with a circulation of nearly 40,000—the largest circulation of any newspaper in a city the size of Tupelo.
His background in the field of education kept McLean, and the Daily Journal interested and involved in local education. One program initiated by McLean provided reading aides in each of the Lee County school system’s first grades. McLean served on the advisory committee that secured a Tupelo branch of the University of Mississippi and was a member of the steering committee that secured the Tupelo Branch of the Vocational and Technical Center of Itawamba Community College. He served as chairman of Gov. Waller’s Quality Education Committee.
In the field of community development, McLean was involved with groups such as the Community Development Foundation; the Rural Community Development Council; CREATE Inc., a non-profit charitable, religious, and educational organization; and Lift, Inc. a local community action agency designed to provide Head Start and other services.
McLean was recognized as Nation Magazine’s Man of the Year 1937 with Supreme Court Justice Brandeis and Wisconsin’s Robert LaFollett; Progressive Farmer’s 1948 “Man of the Year” in Mississippi agriculture, as the first recipient of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s “Distinguished Citizen” award, and as the first recipient of Tupelo Civitan Club’s annual “Outstanding Citizen” award. He was selected for the University of Mississippi’s Hall of Fame; The Old Miss Journalism Department also honored McLean by selecting him as the first recipient of the “Silver Em” award for outstanding journalistic achievement; and Adrian College, where he had taught early in his career, awarded him an honorary doctorate for his lifetime accomplishments.
Anna Keirsey McLean
Anna Keirsey Rosamond McLean of Tupelo was president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for Journal Publishing Company which publishes the Northwest Mississippi Daily Journal, the largest Mississippi-owned newspaper.
In 1972, she and her husband, George, founded CREATE, Inc., a non-profit charitable organization that serves as a community foundation for Northeast Mississippi.
McLean also founded and provided the initial funding for the George A. McLean Institute for Community Development, located at the University of Mississippi. The institute trained local leaders throughout northeast Mississippi and has become a model for the Southeast and nation.
In 1986, McLean oversaw the development of Mississippi’s first jointly sponsored corporate child development center, serving employees of the Daily Journal and three other local corporations.
A native of Paragould, Ark., McLean received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from the University of Mississippi in 1927. Before she and her husband moved to Tupelo, McLean taught at Byhalia High School and in the Boston Public School System.
Active in civic affairs, McLean served as an elder and Sunday School teacher for First Presbyterian Church, an organizer of the Tupelo Service League (now the Junior Auxiliary) and a board member for the Community Development Foundation of Tupelo.
by Vaughn Grisham, Ph.D., Director Emeritus of the Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement