Institutions of Higher Learning Trustee Karen Cummins Credit: Institutions of Higher Learning

Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Trustee Karen Cummins has died after a battle with cancer, officials said Monday.

“Karen was an example to all of us in the way she took on her illness, her courage and the way that she continued to work through all the pain that certainly she was suffering,” says Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of the board of trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

Announcement of Cummins’ death came at the start of the Institutions of Higher Learning meeting with the Senate appropriations subcommittee at the Capitol Monday.

“She was a true champion of our diversity committee and our diversity effort. She was steadfast, level headed and I loved working with her. She did a great job and she will absolutely be missed,” said Boyce.

Cummins was  appointed to the state College Board in 2012 by Gov. Phil Bryant.

A biography of Cummins on the IHL website notes that she had been a vice president of Atmos Energy since 2012 and was responsible for operations in the Northern Region (the Delta region, the Southaven District and the Columbus and Tupelo areas).

Cummins began her career with Atmos as a local office clerk in 1979 and progressed through administrative, marketing and operations teams before assuming her vice president duties, the biography states.

Cummins held a bachelor’s degree in education from Delta State University and an associate degree in business from Mississippi Delta Community College.

Cummins was born in Indianola and spent her childhood in Inverness, where she lived until graduating from college.

She moved to DeSoto County in 1997 and was a past chairman of the DeSoto County Economic Development Council. She also served on the Community Advisory Board for Baptist Memorial Hospital and was a member of DeSoto County Business Women.

Cummins was a past board member of the Southaven Chamber of Commerce, the Southaven Main Street Association and the North Mississippi Homebuilders Association.

She was also active in a number of volunteer activities. At the time of her death, Cummins and her husband, Billy Wayne Cummins, lived in Oakland.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Take our 2023 reader survey

Ashley F. G. Norwood, a native of Jackson, earned a bachelor's degree in English from Jackson State University and a master’s degree from the Meek School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi. Norwood, who specializes in multimedia journalism, has been recognized nationally for her documentary film the fly in the buttermilk, which covers the history, perceptions and principles of black Greek-lettered organizations at the University of Mississippi.