PRCC dedicates multi-purpose room at FCC to late administrator Cecil Burt

April 17, 2024

Some of the things that faculty and staff remember about the late Dr. John Cecil Burt was his commitment, vocation, and ability to connect with Pearl River Community College students.

Cecil Burt’s wife visiting with friends.

It was Dr. Burt’s contention that community colleges, sometimes unfairly disparaged, were beneficial stepping stones for some and a terminal degree that can lead to a variety of career paths for others. 

Dr. Burt retired June 30, 2015, after 43 years at PRCC, most of them as the college’s top Forrest County administrator. A native of Brooklyn, he passed away on July 4, 2021.

Monday, PRCC hosted a dedication ceremony in his honor at the Forrest County Campus. The event dedicated the Dr. Cecil Burt Special Events Room to him.

Dr. Adam Breerwood speaks at the Dr. Cecil Burt Special Events Room dedication.

“Dr. Burt is most deserving of this recognition,” said PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood. “His leadership, wisdom and dedication laid a strong foundation for our Forrest County Campus, a foundation that we are building upon daily.”

Dr. Burt graduated from a community college and loved to preach to recruits that attending a community college for certain introductory classes, for example, could help students avoid taking out huge student loans in the ultimate pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. 

In addition, an associate’s degree or professional certificate can set many students on the path toward long-term economic security. 

Former PRCC President Dr. William Lewis addresses those gathered for dedication ceremony.

“Dr. Cecil Burt made an immeasurable contribution to the growth and well-being of our institution,” said Dr. William Lewis, former PRCC president. “His long-standing tenure in leading the college’s operations in Forrest County were beyond compare.”

One example of his impact: Fall enrollment at the Forrest County Campus ballooned from 631 students in 2000 to 2,035 in 2010. His efforts to expand and/or add programs has a lasting effect today.

Dr. Jana Causey speaks at the dedication.

“Dr. Burt is the major influence who shaped our culture of ‘students first’ at the Forrest County Campus,” said Dr. Jana Causey, Vice President for Forrest County Campus, Allied Health and Nursing Programs. “He also believed in hiring the best people and getting out of their way. His servant leadership philosophy still guides our perspective and we will continue to follow the great example and solid legacy he founded.”

Dr. Causey, a PRCC alumnus, succeeded Dr. Burt as the head of the FCC in 2015.

Dr. Burt graduated from FCAHS and earned an Associate’s Degree from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He went on to earn a B.S. at Mississippi State, a Master’s of Education in Counseling from University of Southern Mississippi, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from USM.

He began his teaching career at West Jones High School in 1970. That led to his first job at Pearl River Community College as a Counselor at the Forrest County Vocational-Technical Center. 

Never leaving PRCC, he moved on to Career Technical Education Director and then became Dean of the Forrest County Center. He moved into the position of Vice President for Forrest County Operations in 2010, which he held for five years before he retired in 2015 after 45 years of service. 

James Bryant, PRCC staffer who worked under Dr. Burt.

Dr. Burt has been described by his colleagues as having a heart of gold, a passion for education, a dedication to students, and a wonderful friend to many.

“Cecil always backed his people which meant that we were free to try new things, and we knew that if we messed up, he would work with us to get better, but he would always cover us over like a great big spreading oak tree we could trust to shade us from the worst of the heat,” said Dr. Ryan Ruckel, Dean of the William Lewis Honors Institute and Phi Theta Kappa Regional Coordinator.

“We got to pursue our sense of mission with unhindered devotion because of him. Cecil always got the most from his people by loving them this way.” 

Dr. Terri Ruckel, online instructor of English and PTK Advisor for Beta Tau Gamma Chapter, echoed those sentiments. “Dr. Burt showed everyone he met the behavior required from God as expressed in Malachi,” she said. “He acted with consistent justice, he loved mercy, and he walked with graceful humility before us all.” 

Dr. Breerwood worked alongside Dr. Burt for a number of years. “He was an incredible mentor, colleague and friend,” said Dr. Breerwood.

“Hopefully, the dedication of this facility will serve as an opportunity for his memory to live forever on our campus. Dr. Burt’s career and life of service emulates everything we are hoping to instill in our students. He was a remarkable man, and I am honored to have his name forever associated with Pearl River Community College.”  

Added Dr. Lewis, “The naming of this facility in his honor is a most appropriate remembrance of his significant achievements at Pearl River.”

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), Facebook (@PRCCMKTG), and TikTok (@prcc_wildcats).

Article by Chuck Abadie. Photography by Kaitlyn Jones.

Each community college president is asked to bring two (2) wrapped door prizes, minimum value of $50 each. We will have a station set up at the conference for you to drop off the door prizes.

Each community college is asked to provide name tags for their Board members, administration, and staff attending the conference.