Five inducted into Alumni Hall of Fame
William Carey University inducted five members into the alumni Hall of Fame during the annual awards dinner March 31 at Southern Oaks House and Gardens. The inductees are Larry Harrington, Ron Herrod, Victor Mariduena, Debra Owens Mercer, and Matthew Olson, recipient of the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award.
Larry Harrington – Class of 2006
Larry Harrington earned the Master of Business Administration from William Carey University in 2006. Prior to earning his degree from Carey, he received the Bachelor of Science in architectural engineering from The University of Southern Mississippi and the Master of Strategic Studies from the United States War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He is a certified construction quality manager and has founded, owned and operated several companies throughout the United States and abroad. Harrington is a highly-decorated Army general with 32 years of military service.
Harrington’s civic activities include serving as board member of the Mississippi Chapter of the Association of Builders and Contractors, a Fellow at George Mason University Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, and a board member of Soil and Water Conservation, as well as co-founder of Habitat for Humanity in Hattiesburg. He was inducted into The University of Southern Mississippi’s Sports Hall of Fame and was chosen for the Hattiesburg Chamber of Commerce Leaders Program. Harrington also served on the board of directors for the Salvation Army, YMCA, president of USM’s M-Club, president of Oak Grove Sports Booster Club, and was elected commissioner of the Forrest and Lamar County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Ron Herrod – Class of 1965
Dr. Ron Herrod earned the Bachelor of Arts in religion from William Carey University, a Master of Theology from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and went on to earn the Th.D. from Luther Rice Seminary. He is the president and founder of Ron Herrod Evangelistic Ministries Association International. His organization, now in its 22nd year of ministry, focuses on evangelism, mission projects, and training pastors and church leaders in developing countries in church planting and leadership. He also teaches, has authored several books, and served as a pastor for 36 years. He has served the Southern Baptist Convention in many capacities, including the International Mission Board, Louisiana College Board, Southern Seminary Board, as vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastor’s Conference, president of the Tennessee Pastor’s Conference, president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists and as the first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Herrod has received numerous awards and accolades for his work, including Alumnus of the Year from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2013, honorary doctorates from Emanuel Bible College and Seminary in Kota, India; the Baptist Seminary in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Nimes Theological Institute in Nimes, France.
Herrod and his wife Emily married in 1963 and have three children and 11 grandchildren. They currently reside in East Tennessee. A cancer survivor, Herrod has devoted his life to ministry and training those called to serve.
Victor Maridueña – Class of 1967
Victor Maridueña earned the Bachelor of Arts in sociology from William Carey University in 1967 and pursued post graduate studies in public administration at Queens College in New York. He began his life of service in human resources administration in New York, then returned to his native Ecuador and has since served in numerous positions in the City of Guayaquil, including as city councilman. He has been appointed to various leadership and advisory positions for three Ecuadorian presidents. He also founded Fundación Niñez Internacional (International Children’s Foundation) in Ecuador in 2000 and served as president and CEO until 2009. He currently serves as the advisor on social action to the Municipality of Guayaquil.
In addition to his professional appointments, he has also served his community through volunteer work as the president of Sociedad Protectora de la Infancia (Children’s Protective Society) and León Becerra Children’s Hospital, on the board of the International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership, and as a member of organizations such as the Human Rights Commission and Youth for Christ. Maridueña is also an author, and his book “Servir es Vivir,” published in 2014, is a testament to his love of ministry and service. Throughout his years of service, Maridueña has received countless awards, including Outstanding Citizen of Guayas province, the Atahaulpa Medal for Merit by the Armed Forces of the National Government of Ecuador, was decorated by the Marines of the Country of Ecuador, the Medal of Honor for Services to the Country, and Man of the Year by the Association of Press Photographers.
Maridueña is married to Nancy Farris Maridueña, also a 1967 graduate of William Carey, and they have a daughter, Elyssa Maridueña. The Maridueñas will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in October.
Debra Owens Mercer – Class of 1974 and Class of 1979
Debra Owens Mercer earned the Bachelor of Music Education from Carey in 1974 and the Master of Music Education in 1979. She began her decades-long teaching career in Hattiesburg, then in Louisville, Kentucky, as choral director at a large urban middle school with approximately 100,000 students. While teaching fulltime, she did post-graduate work in secondary guidance and administration.
After three years in Louisville, Mercer and her family moved to northern Kentucky where she started the next phase of her career as a middle school counselor and then assistant principal at Beechwood High School.
Over the next 20 years, she added administration certifications and gained recognition as a specialist in opening and restructuring middle schools. She was appointed to the Kentucky state high school restructuring committee and eventually returned to Louisville to join the staff of the lowest performing high school in the state where she spent her time doing professional development and rewriting curriculum for their magnet programs. Mercer then became the principal of Conway Middle School, and while she was there, the school became the national example of student led conferences and led the state in reading. She has served as an interim assistant principal in an urban all-boy middle school and is currently the interim principal of an English as a second language middle school. Now semi-retired, she also volunteers for several organizations and travels extensively.
Matthew Olson – Class of 2008
Distinguished Young Alumnus Award
Matthew Olson graduated with a Bachelor of Art in religion from Carey in 2008 and then went on to earn the Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2012. While a student at Carey, he was presented the Jenkins Chastain Citizenship award, the highest honor for a Carey student. He served as senior pastor of Big Creek Baptist Church in Waynesboro for 11 years, as a Bible teacher at Wayne Academy from 2013 to 2014, and currently serves as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Sharon in Laurel while pursuing a doctorate at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
In addition to his pastoral work, Olson has also travelled extensively to countries like India, Turkey, El Salvador and Mexico for mission work. He has also served as a missionary in various parts of the United States.
Olson served as a state board member of the Mississippi Baptist Convention from 2013 to 2016. He is also active at the associational and state levels of the Southern Baptist Convention. As a pastor, he believes part of his calling is to be involved within the community. In fulfillment of that calling, he has served on the board of several organizations and through his leadership, his church has been involved in projects to encourage and strengthen the Laurel area. Most recently, the church assisted with tornado cleanup and meal preparation for the communities around Carey’s campus.
He and his family have been faithful Carey donors, especially in the building of the new chapel, and have assisted with tuition for several students. Matt and Christina (’08, ’10) have two daughters.