Center pays tribute to former MCC instructor

Family, friends, colleagues and community residents gather the opening of Meridian Community College’s Mark Chandler Center for Culinary Arts. The new facility is located in College Park Shopping Center. 

When Meridian Community College Culinary Arts Technology Program students begin their studies in the fall, they’ll gather, learn and grow in the new Mark Chandler Center for Culinary Arts.

Chandler’s legacy, which surpasses his widely-known bread pudding, will continue as students, faculty, staff and community residents meet in the newly remodeled College Park facility. College officials showcased the facility in a dedication ceremony while reflecting on Chandler’s life and passion for his craft in both educational and hospitality industry arenas. 

A committed educator, Chandler began working at MCC in 1996, where he taught and led the Hotel and Restaurant Management Technology Program until his passing in March 2020. “Mark was truly a special individual; he cared about his students, was a good friend to his colleagues and taught a subject he loved and in a community and college he loved,” noted Leia Hill, vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the MCC Foundation, in her remarks about Chandler.

“We all love Mark, and that is one of the many reasons why we are here today,” said An Howard Hill, MCC Culinary Arts Technology Program coordinator and instructor, in addressing the dedication ceremony audience. “He was not only a mentor to me but also a very dear friend,” she said.

Chandler instructed her in the ways of developing community college relationships and how to build a program. An Howard Hill added, “most importantly, he taught about instilling pride and work ethic in his students.”

Students in the program’s new center will learn in a fully equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen so that they can excel and prosper in their future careers. The center features a hydroponics grow wall so students can experience growing and maintaining the integrity of produce and specialty ingredients that are not always locally and readily available. Also, in the center, a high-flex teaching classroom will allow students to continue learning whether they are in the center or away from campus.

An Howard Hill noted all the current students in the program currently employed in the culinary industry in Meridian.

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