Seven UM Employees Receive Outstanding Staff Awards

Personnel recognized for excellence in service categories

Seven UM staff members are recognized for outstanding service.

Seven UM staff members are recognized for outstanding service.

Human Resources employee Andrea Jekabsons was all smiles Friday (May 20) after being named the University of Mississippi’s 2016 Overall Outstanding Staff Member.

Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter presented the assistant director of employment and training a plaque, $1,000 and two season football tickets during the annual Staff Appreciation Awards program in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“The overall award winner this year has been with us since 2006, but the contribution she is making is already significant,” Vitter said. “She is a role model for her peers and has proven herself to be one of the leaders on her team. She takes pride in all that she does and is an outstanding employee. She loves her job, and it shows in her performance.”

Beaming with joy as she jogged to the stage to accept her award, Jekabsons said she was truly humbled.

“I tried to get my staff to come on stage with me because I always say, ‘It takes a village,'” she said. “I’m taking my first two-week vacation this summer, so this (cash award) will certainly make that more enjoyable.”

Six other employees were equally surprised to be presented Outstanding Service Awards, including a $500 stipend, in their respective EEO categories. Winners were Jeffery McManus, director of landscape services and airport/golf course operations, for EEO 1 (Executive and Managerial); Jennifer Phillips, assistant director for retention, for EEO 3 (Professional Nonfaculty); Kimberly Barnes, executive coordinator to the Chancellor, for EEO 4 (Secretarial/Clerical); Jason T. Mangrum, instrumentation and controls technician in the Physical Plant Department, for EEO 5 (Technical/Paraprofessional); Jonathan Joe “J.J.” Potts, senior plumber in the Physical Plant Department, for EEO 6 (Skilled Crafts); and Sheila Ann Lewis, senior custodian in Custodial Services, for EEO 7 (Service Maintenance).

More than 280 UM employees were recognized during the ceremony. Those hired since May 1 were asked to stand in the assembly. Afterwards, 102 five-year, 72 10-year and 33 15-year employees were called. Each received a certificate and lapel pin in recognition of their service.

A plaque and keepsake was presented to 30 20-year, 19 25-year, five 30-year and 25 30-plus-year employees for their dedicated service to the institution. Among these was Katherine Tidwell, manager of contractual services and director of the University ID center, who received a lengthy standing ovation for her 47 years here. Having served under four chancellors, Tidwell has been a UM employee longer than anyone.

Near the program’s end, two surprise awards were presented. The first was the second annual Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Outstanding Team Service Award, which went to 10 employees known as “The Student Advising and Field Experience Team” in the School of Education.

The second award was the Staff Council Distinguished Service Award, presented to Sovent Taylor for his outstanding leadership as staff council president.

“You, the staff here, are what make the University of Mississippi work,” Vitter said. “I’m honored to be a part of this great, great family.”

The outstanding staff awards were created in 1990 as a way to honor staff members for their contributions to the university.

“Staff members can vote for other staff members in their respective EEO categories through myOleMiss,” said Taylor, instructor and assistant director of the Health Professions Advising Office in the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience. “The person with the most votes in their respective EEO category is recognized at our awards day ceremony.”

Anyone can nominate someone for the overall outstanding staff member, regardless of EEO category.

“Individuals wishing to nominate a staff member for the overall outstanding award submit a narrative explaining why they believe their nominee should be recognized,” Taylor said. “These nomination forms then go before a committee of staff council members who choose the overall outstanding staff member.”

Congratulations to all this year’s winners! I’m celebrating a decade of employment at UM and look forward to many more years to come.

UM College of Liberal Arts Launches New Minor in Society and Health

Interdisciplinary program is collaboration with the Center for Population Studies

John Green Photo by UM Photographer Kevin Bain

John Green Photo by UM Photographer Kevin Bain

OXFORD, Miss. – A new academic minor with an emphasis on society and health is available at the University of Mississippi.

Housed within the College of Liberal Arts and directed through the Center for Population Studies, the interdisciplinary academic program consists of 18 credit hours. The minor was created in association with the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College to build a broader social and cultural understanding of the context of health outcomes and health care through perspectives from the individual to population levels.

“The minor in society and health arose partially as a result of changes in the medical school entrance exam, shifting expectations for the education of health professionals and recognition of the need for interdisciplinary approaches to address health problems,” said John Green, professor of sociology and anthropology and director of both the Center for Population Studies and the new minor.

“An advisory committee comprised of faculty representing several disciplines across the College of Liberal Arts helped craft the curriculum for the minor. The Honors College, School of Applied Sciences, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and the School of Pharmacy are also represented on the committee.”

Required courses include Elementary Statistics and one of the two advanced courses: Society and Population Health or Medical Humanities. Following the completion of one of these courses, Ole Miss students can then apply to the minor program It is also recommended that students take General Psychology and Introductory Sociology to complete the general education social science requirements.

“In Society and Population Health, students learn about health disparities in Mississippi and the value of interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams in tackling these issues,” Green said. “They also make field visits to medical/nursing schools and public health programs.”

Medical Humanities is a combined readings and field experience course in a hospital setting to study the ethical, social and cultural issues in medicine. Additionally, students must take advanced elective courses.

Students must take courses from at least two different departments when completing the last requirement of 12 credit hours of advanced social science and humanities courses. They should note that the same course may not satisfy requirements for both the major and the minor.

Students who complete relative internships, special topics, study abroad or directed study courses must consult with the director before enrollment in the course for approval.

“This unique and timely minor provides a social science and humanities perspective to the understanding of health,” said Lee M. Cohen, UM liberal arts dean. “I believe such a perspective will foster an appreciation and respect for team-based problem-solving to improve the delivery of health care. The College of Liberal Arts is proud to provide this new program for our students.”

For more information about the minor in society and health, visit http://sohe.olemiss.edu or contact Lynn Woo, research associate with the Center for Population Studies, at lcwoo@olemiss.edu or at 662-915-7288.

Ikhlas Khan Receives UM Distinguished Researcher Award

Associate director of National Center for Natural Products Research excels in leadership, scholarship

University of Mississippi Interim Vice Chancellor of Research and Sponsored Programs Josh Gladden presents Ikhlas A. Khan with the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award during Commencement 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

University of Mississippi Interim Vice Chancellor of Research and Sponsored Programs Josh Gladden presents Ikhlas A. Khan with the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award during Commencement 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – External recognition is always appreciated, but being honored internally by peers is far better. So says Ikhlas A. Khan, who received the University of Mississippi’s 2016 Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award on Saturday (May 14).

The UM research professor of pharmacognosy and associate director of the National Center for Natural Products Research was presented the prestigious honor, which includes $7,500 and a personal plaque, during the university’s annual Commencement ceremonies in the Grove.

“I was humbled and honored to be considered for this prestigious award,” Khan said upon learning of his latest accolade. “I have received many awards before, but getting recognition at home always has special meaning and is a feeling which is hard to describe.”

Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, said Khan is most deserving of the award.

“The University of Mississippi is fortunate to have had a very qualified pool of outstanding candidates for this year’s award,” Gladden said. “Each candidate is evaluated by a panel of distinguished researchers from across the UM research community, and Dr. Khan quickly rose to the top.

“Dr. Khan’s prolific and impactful work has been well recognized on a national and international level, and we are pleased to recognize his accomplishments on his home campus.”

Khan also recently received the IAMSTAM Zandu International Award for Excellence in the Field of Ayurvedic and/or Natural Products and the Outstanding Contribution in Natural Products Research/Water’s Corp.

He holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology in Munich, Germany, and joined UM as a research scientist in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1992. Because of his valuable contributions and potential for leadership, he was appointed as a research assistant professor in the university’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Department of Pharmacognosy three years later.

In 2001, Khan was promoted to associate professor and in 2002 became NCNPR assistant director. Within three years, he was again promoted to professor, and promoted to his current position in 2015. Khan also serves as director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Excellence, Sino-US TCM Research Center and Center for Research of Indian Systems of Medicine at UM.

During his tenure at the university, Khan’s scientific achievements have gained him international recognition as a scholar, leader and innovator. He is renowned for his collaborative work with the U.S. FDA to ensure quality and safety of botanical dietary supplements worldwide.

His other honors include the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Director’s Special Citation Award, Varro E. Tyle Prize from the American Society of Pharmacognosy and ABC’s Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award.

Khan has authored or co-authored more than 600 refereed journal articles, served on dissertation committees for 29 graduate students and trained more than 100 post-doctoral associates and visiting scholars. He serves/served as an editorial or advisory board member for more than 15 international research journals and has presented over 100 invited lectures globally.

As a principal or co-principal investigator, he has generated more than $30 million in external funding for NCNPR research in the last 15 years. Khan serves as PI in UM’s cooperative agreement with FDA and as a co-PI in the NIDA Marijuana Project.

His professional memberships include the International Society of Ethnopharmacology, New York Academy of Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, American Society of Pharmacognosy, International Society for Horticultural Science, American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and many more.

“It is very gratifying to us in NCNPR to see Dr. Khan’s career research contributions recognized in this way by the University community,” said Larry A. Walker, NCNPR director and research professor. “The laboratory pursuits in his group have greatly contributed to scientific reference standards and methods for botanical identity, purity and safety.

“Just as importantly, his interface with industry, regulatory groups, scientific and trade associations, government health agencies, and research collaborators worldwide have framed a robust dialog and raised awareness for higher quality and greater accountability in the marketing and regulation of herbal and medicinal products.”

Khan already has plans for how he will spend funds that come with his award.

“I’m going to celebrate with the people who contributed through their hard work to achieve this award,” he said.

Khan and his wife, Shabana, a principal scientist at NCNPR, have a son, Farjad, a third-year pharmacy student at Ole Miss, and a daughter, Sariya, who is graduating from Oxford High School and has been accepted into the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Created in 2008, the annual honor recognizes a faculty member who has shown outstanding accomplishment in research, scholarship and/or creative activity. It is sponsored by Pharmaceutics International Inc., whose CEO, Syed Abidi, is a UM alumnus. 

Much like Hall of Fame inductions, recipients can receive the honor only once. Nominees must be an associate or full professor (including research associate professors or research professors who are not tenure-track faculty) and must have been continuously employed full-time by the university for at least five years.

UM Journalism School Wins Third Kennedy Award

Depth reporting class exposé on 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act winner in college category

University of Mississippi student Mollie Mansfield, right, interviews civil rights activist and business owner Vernice Sanders, center, with Professor Bill Rose at Vernice's Upholstery in Leland, Miss., Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

University of Mississippi student Mollie Mansfield, right, interviews civil rights activist and business owner Vernice Sanders, center, with Professor Bill Rose at Vernice’s Upholstery in Leland on March 11, 2014. Photo by Thomas Graning

OXFORD, Miss. – For the third time in seven years, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi has won an annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award.

UM’s depth reporting class won in the college category for “Land of Broken Promises.” The exposé examines the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Mississippi Delta 50 years later.

The winning project was led by Willard “Bill” Rose, visiting professor and a fellow of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics; Mikki Harris, assistant professor; and Darren Sanefski, assistant professor of multiple platform journalism.

“Winning the Kennedy Award for college journalism is a testament to the quality of teaching by Mikki Harris, Bill Rose and Darren Sanefski,” said Will Norton Jr., professor and dean of the journalism school. “These three individuals have demonstrated repeatedly that they are uncommonly effective, student-oriented teachers. We are grateful to have professionals of their caliber on our faculty in the Meek School.”

Twenty-seven students spent spring break 2014 conducting interviews and photographing images for the 132-page, four-color magazine. It was published and distributed in January 2015.

Students who worked on the project included Eliza McClure, Debra Whitley, Erin Scott, Jason Burleson, Logan Kirkland, Thomas Graning, Clancy Smith, Katie Adcock, Karson Brandenburg, Phil McCausland, Cady Herring, Phillip Waller, Mary Marge Locker, Kayleigh Skinner, Alex Edwards, Allison Moore, Mollie Mansfield, Christina Cain, Taylor Davenport, Kristen Ellis, Conner Hegwood, Jessica Hotakainen, Lauren Keossian, Ignacio Murillo, Savannah Pounds, Kimberly Sanner, Madisen Theobald and Ellen Whitaker.

Three reporters both wrote and captured photographs. One worked on the design and captured photographs, and four were dedicated to photojournalism for the project.

“This was a wonderful and unique opportunity for our journalism students to work as multimedia journalists in a very diverse setting,” Rose said. “It’s one of the things I love about working here. Students who are driven to be the best can get opportunities here they won’t get at other journalism schools.”

The project focused primarily on documenting the work of activists in the civil rights movement and their struggles to help people in impoverished areas register and vote in local, state and national elections.

“These students tracked down civil rights legends Andrew Young and John Lewis and lesser known, but influential, civil rights workers to capture what happened here after the Voting Rights Act was passed,” Rose said. “They tackled the tough conversations on race and did it impressively.”

The result was a print depth report produced to raise awareness of this community.

The award is nice, but the experience with the students is the best reward, Harris and Sanefski agreed.

“We used a significant number of archival photos to tell a visual story of major events that happened in the past,” said Harris, who edited the photos to fit the written stories. “The process of spending hours looking at the AP’s archive of images was eye-opening and emotional.”

Archival images selected for inclusion in the project showed activist Fanny Lou Hamer speaking to delegates attending the Democratic National Convention in 1964, civil rights leader Lawrence Guyot as a young man in 1963, covered with marks from a police beating, and Martin Luther King, Floyd McKissick and Stokely Carmichael marching together for equality.

“The images from the 1960s provide a visual of the blood, sweat and strength that laid a foundation for today,” Harris said.

Sanefski’s digital design students spent more than a semester designing the award-winning publication.

“We were not able to accomplish it in one semester, so me and three other students from that class wrapped it up early the next semester,” Sanefski said. “Design is always about making content easier to understand. I’m very proud of my students and all the students who have pooled their talents together to create a great product.”

The journalism school has won previous RFK Awards for magazines on poverty in the Delta and attempts to help residents of an island off the coast of Belize.

“Throughout his life, my father held a deep commitment to freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “He would invite reporters and news crews to join him in the most impoverished city neighborhoods, to Indian reservations and communities in Appalachia, California’s Central Valley or rural Indiana – places that often lacked electricity and plumbing – and he would ask the press corps why it wasn’t covering those issues and these places.

“The journalists who followed his ’68 campaign created the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards in his name, to honor those who covered the issues most important to him.”

This year’s Book and Journalism Award winners were chosen from more than 300 submissions. Historian Michael Beschloss chaired the judges’ panel for the 2016 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

The journalism awards ceremony, in its 48th year, will be presented May 25 by Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. All honorees will receive a bust of Robert F. Kennedy in recognition of their award.

For more information about the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit http://meek.olemiss.edu.

UM Launches Partnership with North China University of Technology

Students in 2+2 program would start in Beijing, end in Oxford

UM Provost Morris Stocks (seated, right) and NCUT Vice President Zhili Shen (seated, left) sign a partnership agreement between the two universities. Witnesses to the event include (standing, from left) Ge-Yao Liu, Director of UM Office of International Programs; Noel Wilkin, UM Senior Associate Provost; Alex Cheng, UM engineering dean; Jiaquan Xiong, director of NCUT’s International Office; and Nosa Egiebor, UM executive director of global engagement. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

UM Provost Morris Stocks (seated, right) and NCUT Vice President Zhili Shen (seated, left) sign a partnership agreement between the two universities. Witnesses to the event include (standing, from left) Ge-Yao Liu, director of UM Office of International Programs; Noel Wilkin, UM senior associate provost; Alex Cheng, UM engineering dean; Jiaquan Xiong, director of NCUT’s International Office; and Nosa Egiebor, UM executive director of global engagement. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Citing successful past collaborations and hopes for future expansion, the University of Mississippi and North China University of Technology have formally entered into a new partnership that will give students opportunities to receive instruction at both schools.

The UM Office of Global Engagement launched the initiative to develop and establish a 2+2 Articulation Degree Program with NCUT.

Under the terms of the agreement, undergraduate students accepted into the program would take courses in China for their freshman and sophomore years. They would transfer to UM for their junior and senior years. Upon completion of all Ole Miss degree requirements, the students would receive a UM degree. They’ll also be able to receive their NCUT degree if they complete all degree requirements for that institution.

UM Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter met with NCUT leadership Tuesday (May 10) during the signing of the agreement of collaboration between the two institutions. Other signees included Zheng Wentang, president of NCUT; Zhili Shen, NCUT vice president; Morris Stocks, UM provost and executive vice chancellor; Xiong Jiaquan, NCUT director of international office; and Nosa O. Egiebor, UM senior international officer.

The UM-NCUT initiative will contribute significantly to the university’s strategic objective of “bringing the world to Mississippi and taking Mississippi to the world,” Vitter said.

“We are committed to broadening the university’s reach around the world,” he said. “This will provide many more opportunities for our students to get real-world experience beyond the classroom and also allow our students and faculty to apply their knowledge to help solve global problems that affect us all.”

Speaking through a translator, Shen expressed similar optimism.

“We deeply appreciate the University of Mississippi’s mission statement and the quality of education found here,” she said. “What is being done on the campus here is exactly what we are endeavoring to achieve on our campus in Beijing.”

During their two-day stay, the Chinese delegation also met with the deans of the university’s schools of Accountancy, Business Administration, Engineering and Journalism, and the College of Liberal Arts, as well as the chair of the Department of Public Policy Leadership and the executive director of the Lott Leadership Institute.

“In our present globalized world, the University of Mississippi takes the education of our students as global citizens very seriously,” said Egiebor, who is also UM’s executive director of global engagement. “Therefore, the development of a strong presence in China will not only enhance the global reach of the University of Mississippi, but also contribute significantly to our ongoing comprehensive campus internationalization efforts.”

During the visit, officials also discussed the possibility of UM establishing an international school on NCUT’s campus. Pending further negotiations, additional details will be forthcoming.

Founded in 1946, NCUT is in the Shijingshan District of Beijing. Accredited by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, the institution is among China’s top five public universities. With an enrollment of about 15,000 students, NCUT offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in science and technology, engineering, business and social sciences, the arts and humanities.

UM launched an Ole Miss in Africa initiative in 2015, and also engaged in concurrent efforts to expand the university’s international footprint in Asia with China and India as anchor countries. Similar initiatives are planned in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

For more about the UM Office of Global Engagement, visit http://www.oge.olemiss.edu. For more about NCUT, go to http://www.study-in-china.org/SchoolSearch/SearchDetail.asp?ID=112.

UM LIGO Among Recipients of $3 Million Award

Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics backed by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs

Members of the UM LIGO Team include (from left) Mohammad Afrough, graduate student; Camillo Cocchieri, visiting scholar; Marco Cavaglia associate professor of of physics and astronomy; Katherine Dooley, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; and Jared Wofford and Hunter Gabbard, both undergraduate research assistants. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Members of the UM LIGO Team include (from left) Mohammad Afrough, graduate student; Camillo Cocchieri, visiting scholar; Marco Cavaglia associate professor of physics and astronomy; Katherine Dooley, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; and Jared Wofford and Hunter Gabbard, both undergraduate research assistants. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Physicists at the University of Mississippi will share in a $3 million prize being awarded to more than 1,000 scientists for their historic discovery of gravitational waves.

The Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics will be shared among Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss and Ronald Driver, founders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration, and scores of physicists and engineers on the team.

The three founders will divide $1 million among them, with the remaining $2 million shared equally by the 1,012 other researchers and engineers on the LIGO team. Each receives about $2,000. The prizes will be awarded at a formal ceremony later this year.

“I was happy to know that the work of all my LIGO and Virgo colleagues and I were recognized in such a way,” said Marco Cavaglia, UM associate professor of physics and astronomy and assistant spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. “The prize itself is not important, but the recognition for being part of a scientific breakthrough, that’s really exciting!”

Katherine Dooley, UM assistant professor of physics and astronomy and senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, expressed a similar response.

“The award is certainly a very welcome surprise and honor,” she said. “I appreciate the decision by the selection committee to share the award amongst everyone who worked towards making this discovery possible. I hope the press coverage will result in a continued engagement of the public’s fascination with the discovery and encourage a new generation of curious scientists.”

Thorne, professor of theoretical physics at California Institute of Technology, said it was a “great pleasure” to share the prize with the LIGO team, and spoke of his profound gratitude to the team “for pulling off this discovery so successfully.”

“Gravitational waves are a whole new way to explore the universe,” he said. “They are the ideal tool for probing phenomena in which gravity is ultra-strong, and space and time are strongly warped, such as colliding black holes and the universe’s big bang birth.”

It is likely, for example, that a great richness of weird phenomena occurred in the first fraction of a second after the universe was born, Thorne said. Gravitational waves are likely to reveal the details.

“For centuries into the future, gravitational waves will be used, hand-in-hand with electromagnetic waves, to explore the universe,” he said.

The LIGO team’s observation of gravitational waves brought a 50-year search to a spectacular conclusion. Using twin instruments sensitive enough to detect distortions in space-time as small as one-thousandth the diameter of an atomic nucleus, they recorded the gravitational shudders released when two black holes spiraled ever closer together and ultimately collided in a violent merger.

“Things that seemed like science fiction when I was a graduate student are now real as a result of the LIGO observation of gravitational waves,” said Ed Witten, chair of the prize selection committee. “Now that we are able to observe gravitational waves, there is no telling what we will find. It may be that the skies are full of ‘cosmic strings’ that we can only observe because of their gravitational signal.”

The cash is the latest to be handed out by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, an organization backed by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, including the Russian internet billionaire, Yuri Milner, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Anne Wojcicki, the co-founder of 23andme. The foundation has handed out more than $160 million to scientists since the prizes were established in 2012.

The intention, Milner has said, is to raise the public profile of scientists and turn them into the nerdy equivalent of rock stars.

“I am extremely pleased that the organizers of the Breakthrough prize have decided to honor the entire team of people that made the discovery,” said Weiss, professor of mathematical physics at MIT. He feels the prizes could help convey complex science to the public.

“If they are associated with a proper and easy-to-understand explanation of the science, they serve a wonderful purpose to bring everyone into the action,” he said.

That should not be understated, Thorne said.

“Their greatest value, I think, is to raise public awareness of science and its remarkable achievements,” he said. “And that is very important. Science is a crucial tool for the future of humanity and for solving today’s societal problems; but science cannot achieve its potential unless the public understands and appreciates it. Prizes like this are an important part of that.”

The Gruber Foundation also recently presented the 2016 Cosmology Prize to Weiss, Thorne, Drever and the entire LIGO team for pursuing a vision to observe the universe in gravitational waves, leading to a first detection that emanated from the collision of two black holes.

This remarkable event provided the first glimpse into the strong‐gravity regime of Einstein’s theory of general relativity that governs the dynamics of black holes, giving direct evidence for their existence, and demonstrating that their nature is consistent with the predictions of general relativity.”

Last month, Milner and Stephen Hawking launched the Breakthrough Starshot, an ambitious space project that aims to solve the technological problems that stand in the way of hurling a tiny, lightweight probe to our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, 25 trillion miles away.

“I really hope that the Breakthrough Starshot idea will prove to be practical,” Witten said. “There are a lot of technical obstacles to overcome. It probably sounds as far away as gravitational wave detection sounded when LIGO got started around 1970 or so.

“LIGO only became real because people were excited and worked hard and the U.S. National Science Foundation was willing to make a huge and risky investment.”

Yates Wins Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship Award

Annual recognition honors graduate advancing family-owned construction firm

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the School of Business Administration honor William Yates as the 2016 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year during a reception at the Farrington Gallery in Bryant Hall. Pictured are Dean Ken Cyree, Jan Farrington, Yates and Lawrence Farrington. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the School of Business Administration honor William Yates as the 2016 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year during a reception at the Farrington Gallery in Bryant Hall. Pictured are (from left) Dean Ken Cyree, Jan Farrington, Yates and Lawrence Farrington. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – William G. Yates III, president and CEO of W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co., is the recipient of the 2016 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship award, presented by the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration.

The award, named for Ole Miss alumni Jan and Lawrence Farrington, is given annually to a graduate who exemplifies the best of entrepreneurship.

Yates, a Philadelphia native who graduated summa cum laude in business administration from UM in 1993, calls the recognition “truly an honor.”

“This selection is really a reflection of the wonderful people that I work with at Yates Construction and I share this award with them and accept it on their behalf,” Yates said. “I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with an amazing and committed team.”

The Farrington Distinguished Award was created to honor successful entrepreneurs who carry on the tradition of the Farringtons in creating businesses that make a difference.

“Jan and Lawrence Farrington have been involved in innovation and entrepreneurship in the state of Mississippi for many years and have been an integral part in funding a number of businesses,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM business school.

“They are keen business people who help other entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition, thereby providing valuable goods and services, as well as creating employment for Mississippi citizens. They give back their time as well to the university and are great ambassadors for the business school and the university.”

Yates said that this award differs from others he’s received because it recognizes entrepreneurship.

“To me, entrepreneurship means how you identify and manage risk and then how you can do that while still providing true value to your customers,” he said. “That is what we do every day at Yates: we work hard to understand what is important to our clients, provide value to them and do it in way that equitably shares risk.”

Yates’ father, William G. “Bill” Yates Jr., and grandfather, Gully Yates Sr., started the family-owned company in 1964. In its 52nd year, the firm has offices in eight states and Mexico. Its portfolio includes projects from arts and culture, civil, commercial, education, entertainment and gaming, federal, health care, hospitality, manufacturing, municipal, retail and technology.

Ole Miss was truly a great experience for me,” Yates said. “It helped prepare me for my professional life in many ways, both technically from a business perspective but, just as importantly, it introduced me to people that have been lifelong business associates and friends.”

Before becoming president, Yates served several years as executive vice president of the Gulf Coast division of Yates Construction. He is the incoming 2017-2018 chairman of the Mississippi Economic Council.

Yates, who also earned a master’s degree from Arizona State University, has served on the board of directors for Trustmark National Bank and Trustmark Corp., where he is chairman of the Wealth Management Committee. He is immediate past chairman of the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and is also on the board of directors for the Gulf Coast Business Council. He is the immediate past president of the Board for the United Way of South Mississippi and was the 2013-14 co-chairman of the Southeast U.S.-Japan Association annual meetings.

He also has served on the Millsaps College board of trustees, the Blueprint Mississippi advisory council and the MEC’s board of directors. He is also on the UM Foundation’s board of directors and has been a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization since 2004.

He is a past chairman of Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors and served as a member of the Associated Builders & Contractors national board of directors. He has served as co-chairman of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Pacesetter Campaign, and was the 2011 chairman for the American Heart Walk for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

In 2016, Yates received the United Way’s President’s Award and was recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as a Mississippi Top CEO. He has also been featured in the Mississippi Business Journal and the Sun Herald as a Top Businessmen Under Forty and was inducted into the Roland Weeks Hall of Fame Outstanding Community Leaders Class of 2010. He was also a recipient of the Coast Young Professionals 4 Ever Young award in 2011.

In 2009, Yates was named the Construction Person of the Year by the Mississippi chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. He has served on the advisory council of the Mississippi State University School of Architecture and on the advisory committee of the University of Southern Mississippi School of Engineering Technology.

Yates is married to Tara Duett Yates, a former teacher. They reside in Biloxi with their daughter, Abby, and their son, Gully.

For the Farringtons, lending a helping hand is all part of their desire to give back.

“Lawrence and I want to do everything we can to encourage entrepreneurs in Mississippi,” Jan Farrington said. “We have so many bright, talented entrepreneurs in our state who have had the vision and tenacity to start their own companies. These businesses can and will make a difference in the future of our state if we can keep them here in Mississippi.

“Encouragement from the government, universities, organizations such as Innovate Mississippi, investors and individuals can help make this happen. This award was just a small way that we thought we could contribute.”

Accountancy Professor, Violence Prevention Officer Win Frist Awards

Recipients honored for their exceptional service to students

Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick

Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick

OXFORD, Miss. – Each day, University of Mississippi students are affected by the words and actions of faculty and staff members who extend their work beyond classrooms, labs and office space.

Two of them – Brett Cantrell, assistant professor of accountancy in the Patterson School of Accountancy; and Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, assistant director of the Office of Violence Prevention in the Counseling Center – have been selected as this year’s Frist Student Service Award honorees in recognition of their exceptional service to students.

They were chosen from among dozens of nominees, submitted by students, alumni, faculty and staff. A chancellor’s committee weighed all the nominations and made the picks.

“Of all the awards we bestow on faculty and staff each year, the Frist Awards are extra-special because they recognize unwavering commitment to serving our students and making sure they are successful,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “Students are the central reason we are here, and service is part of our core mission. I am grateful for the work of Ms. Mosvick and Dr. Cantrell, and on behalf of the entire university, thank both of them for their dedication and remarkable example.”

The awards, one for faculty and one for staff, were established with a gift from Dr. Thomas F. Frist Sr. of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate. This is the 22nd year for the awards.

Cantrell and Mosvick each receive $1,000 and a plaque, and are to be recognized May 14 at the university’s main Commencement ceremony. Both recipients expressed surprise upon learning that they had been chosen for the recognition.

Brett Cantrell

Brett Cantrell

“My first thought was, ‘I wonder if this is really correct?'” Cantrell said. “There are just so many professors at the University of Mississippi that go above and beyond in student service, and who have been doing so for so much longer than I have. I certainly see that here in the accounting school.”

Mosvick was equally astonished to receive the award.

“The work I do in the violence prevention office frequently involves confidential information, so I never expected something like this to happen,” she said. “I also thought I have not worked here long enough to deserve the honor. I am starting a master’s program in higher education through the university and I will put this (her stipend) toward those costs.”

Cantrell, who joined the Ole Miss faculty in 2013, received his doctorate in accounting from the University of Texas. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting are from UM.

His research examines the quality and usefulness of bank accounting estimates such as the allowance for loan losses. Cantrell’s work has been published in The Accounting Review, and he is a certified public accountant in the state of Mississippi. Before his doctoral studies, he served in the audit practice of KPMG’s Birmingham, Alabama, office.

“This is really the first award I’ve won,” said Cantrell, faculty adviser for the UM chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. “I am certainly honored to get to serve in that position, and I imagine it had something to do with me winning this award.

“Our chapter works to foster a sense of community for African-American students in the accounting school as well as developing the professional skills of our members.”

One nomination for Cantrell, from a graduate student, stated in part: “Dr. Cantrell not only does his duties as NABA adviser . . . but he goes above and beyond. He has generously opened his home to all of NABA on numerous occasions and is always willing to help us when needed. He has even donated money to start the Patterson School Minority Summer Scholarship.”

In another nomination, a former student wrote: “Dr. Cantrell has worked diligently to always keep our best interest at heart. He has been a voice for our community.”

Mosvick, who earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia law school, has also been employed at the university since 2013. Formerly project coordinator in the Office of Violence Prevention, she also works as adviser of Rebels Against Sexual Assault, the campus student organization that assists in raising awareness about sexual assault and implementing peer education programs.

She previously received the Students First award at the first annual Women’s Empowerment Awards in March 2015.

“That award was also an honor, but this award obviously leaves a greater legacy,” Mosvick said. “Learning about how my name will be on display in Martindale Hall and seeing this list of names I am joining is just as great an honor, as it includes many folks who I admire greatly like, Valeria Ross and Thelma Curry.”

One nomination for Mosvick, from a staff member, stated: “Lindsey is always putting the needs of her students above her own. She works weekends, nights and early mornings to ensure the survivors are getting the care and attention that they deserve. She never complains about the intense workload because she truly cares about the lives of Ole Miss students.”

A student wrote, “The professional support she provides is important, but the emotional support that she is willing to give is what sets her apart from the rest. I am convinced that, if financially able, Lindsey would do this work for free. That’s how much she cares about our students.”

Cantrell and his wife, Stacey, have a 1-year-old daughter, Bronwynn.

“She’s a delight,” he said. “Since having Bronwynn, the concept of leisure time seems pretty foreign to us, but I used to read and play sports.”

Mosvick is married to Nicholas Mosvick, a doctoral candidate in the university’s Arch Dalrymple Department of History.

“If not for him, I would have never joined the university in the first place,” she said. “Outside of the office, I enjoy reading, cheering on my favorite sports teams and spending time with my family, especially my 1-year-old nephew.”

Joel Kotkin to Discuss Urban Development at UM

May 6 talk to examine issues of growth and economic development in smaller communities

Joel Kotkin

Joel Kotkin

OXFORD, Miss. – A respected professional in urban development is the guest speaker for a public forum Friday (May 6) at the University of Mississippi.

Joel Kotkin will address UM students and the local community in The Pavilion at Ole Miss beginning at 11:30 a.m. The author’s appearance is being co-sponsored by the UM Real Estate Advisory Board, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, School of Business Administration and Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in 36 years that academics and athletics at the University of Mississippi have joined together to sponsor an event such as this,” said Blake Tartt III, a UM marketing alumnus and owner of New Regional Planning, a real estate and strategy firm in Houston, Texas.

“Joel Kotkin is an internationally recognized author and professional in the global, economic, political and social trends of urban development. He studies patterns, why people are moving and where they are moving.”

One of the ongoing conversations in Oxford has been expansion and economic development with the growing student and local populations. For example, more than 50 percent of Ole Miss students are millenials from out-of-state, Tartt noted. Also, more and more adults 50 and older are moving away from urban areas and into nonurban/small towns, similar to Oxford.

“All the members of the advisory board are passionate about Ole Miss and Oxford,” Tartt said. “We feel it is extremely important to bring professionals like Joel Kotkin to Mississippi. As urban development rapidly continues, it is essential that the Oxford’s infrastructure expand to accommodate its growth. That also helps create much-needed job opportunities in Oxford and the state of Mississippi.”

Representatives of the other sponsors of the event echoed Tartt’s opinions.

“We believe this type of event, that students from throughout the campus may attend, enables students to be exposed to practical ideas that they may never have considered,” said Will Norton, UM journalism dean. “Despite the depth of his knowledge, the topics he addresses are so practical that students need to hear him so that they can be preparing themselves for internships and jobs.”

The Ole Miss real estate program partnered to provide an opportunity for students to engage in discussions and hear from industry leaders to add perspective to the academic information and how it relates to the real world.

“We definitely realize the value of bringing speakers of the quality of Joel Kotkin to further prepare our students as they transition into the global workforce,” said Chip Wade, assistant professor of finance.

“Joel Kotkin is a forward thinker with great insight into topics ranging from the future of class in global cities to the places with the best opportunities for minorities. These are extremely pertinent topics in today’s economic landscape. Moreover, these are challenges that the millennium generation is going to have to address head-on.”

The athletics department has a stake in the continued growth of Oxford, said Stephen Ponder, senior executive associate athletics director.

“It is an exciting time to be at Ole Miss, and I think campus and our community will find the remarks beneficial as our leaders continue to work on plans for campus and Oxford,” he said. “We want to be an integral part of our campus and community beyond athletics.”

Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, California, and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. He is executive editor of the widely-read website http://www.newgeography.com/ and writes the weekly “New Geographer” column for Forbes.com.

He serves on the editorial board of the Orange County Register and writes a weekly column for that paper. He is also a regular contributor to the Daily Beast and Real Clear Politics.

His new book, “The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us” was published by Agate in April. Other books by Kotkin include the critically-acclaimed “The New Class Conflict” (2014, Telos Press), “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050” (2011, Penguin Press), “The City: A Global History” (2005, Weidenfeld & Nicolson) and “Tribes: How Race, Religion and Identity Are Reshaping the Global Economy” (1992, Random House).

Kotkin has published reports on topics ranging from the future of class in global cities to the places with the best opportunities for minorities. His 2013 report, “Post-familialism: Humanity’s Future,” an examination of the world’s future demography, was published by the Civil Service College of Singapore and Chapman University and has been widely discussed not only in the United States, but in Israel, Brazil, Canada and other countries.

During the last decade, the speaker has completed studies focusing on several major cities, including a worldwide study examining the future of London, Mumbai and Mexico City, and studies of New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Houston, San Bernardino and St. Louis, among others. In 2010, he completed an international study on “the new world order” for the Legatum Institute in London that traced transnational ethnic networks, particularly in East Asia.

Kotkin also has worked in smaller communities, including a report – working with Praxis Strategy Group – on the rise of the Great Plains for Texas Tech University. He is coordinating major studies on Texas urbanism, the future of localism and the re-industrialization of the American heartland for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism.

As director of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman, he was the lead author of a major study on housing, and is involved in a project about the future of Orange County, California.

For more information about the UM School of Business Administration, visit http://business.olemiss.edu. For more about the Meek School of Journalism, go to http://www.meek.olemiss.edu. For more about Ole Miss athletics, visit http://www.olemisssports.com/.

Sustainability Enthusiasm Wins UM Student Udall Scholarship

Grace Sullivan is the university's third award recipient since 2008

Grace Sullivan is congratulated by her parents, Claire and Dr. David Sullivan (left) and UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Grace Sullivan is congratulated by her parents, Claire and Dr. David Sullivan (left) and UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Every leap year since 2008, a University of Mississippi student has been surprised with a Morris K. Udall Scholarship. This year is no exception, as Grace Sullivan became the university’s third recipient of the prestigious academic award.

The junior social work major from Madison got the news recently when she was summoned to Chancellor Jeffery Vitter’s office in the Lyceum. Led to believe that the chancellor was meeting with all institutional nominees for national fellowships, Sullivan had no idea she had actually won the Udall.

“I was just overwhelmed by the support that I have been given in my years at Ole Miss,” she said. “So many people have come alongside me and provided me with opportunities to serve and develop my ambitions in sustainability. I know that I would not be a Udall Scholar without the support of all of them.”

As the chancellor announced the good news, he extended thanks to her professors, staff members who have assisted her and family supporters.

“I love to see effective passion, and Grace has taken a lot of good advice and channeled it in healthy and constructive ways,” Vitter said. “Part of what education is about is helping people find what they love and then use it to make the world a better place. Our students are making a difference, and we are pleased when their efforts are recognized on a national scale. We look forward to following Grace’s career and seeing what she will accomplish.”

The Udall Scholarship provides $7,000 for one year of study. Previous UM students to be awarded Udall Scholarships are Alecia Waite in 2008 and Taylor Cook in 2012.

Sullivan is among 60 national winners of the scholarships, given annually to college sophomores and juniors who are committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy or Native American health care.

“I will be putting the monetary scholarship from the Udall toward my graduate studies,” Sullivan said. “I plan to attain a master’s in social work and a law degree, so I am thankful to have this assistance as it seems I have a lot of education left to go. More importantly, I think that the Udall will help me in my further studies by providing a network of support through the other scholars.”

Sullivan is a graduate of Madison Central High School. A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Phi Kappa Phi and Order of Omega, she is actively involved in the Associate Student Body, Green Fund Committee, Delta Gamma fraternity, Active Transportation Advisory Committee and Gamma Beta Phi community service honors society.

She is also a member of the Ole Miss Cycling Club and UM Garden Club.

As a sophomore, she led her sorority’s team in the Green Cup competition, an annual event among Greek houses to be named the most sustainable, culminating in Green Week. Intent on being interactive with members and on encouraging involvement, the team developed a project to reduce transportation waste.

“I had everyone sign a pledge to carpool, take a bus or ride a bike to campus at least once a week,” she said. “When I gave a presentation about easy sustainable choices on campus, I asked to see the hands of those who had used our recycling receptacles or who had noticed them and chosen the nearby trashcans instead.”

As a second project, Sullivan took groups to local recreation trails to pick up litter.

“After that year, I think that a significant difference will be made,” Sullivan said. “I see this experience as a microcosm for culture around sustainability in Mississippi and the potential for progress. For anything to change, individuals have to be engaged and understand their impact.”

“I have known Grace Sullivan since her freshman year, and I have worked with her extensively both formally through internships and informally through collaborative partnerships and committee service, which speaks to the kind of dedication and commitment she has,” said Anne McCauley, assistant director of the Office of Sustainability. “She is passionate, driven, smart and yet humble. I am thrilled to see her being recognized and know that she certainly deserves this honor.”

Honors College Dean Douglass Sullivan-González said he was pleased, but not really surprised.

“Grace Sullivan leads by example,” Sullivan-González said. “She makes her academic pilgrimage come alive with her commitment to our university community as both citizen and scholar, and Udall distinguished that record with this extraordinary award.”

Sullivan credits the university with developing her leadership skills.

“Social work and law are not the typical avenues through which people expect environmental activism to grow, but I think that the Udall Foundation appreciates that change has to come from every direction,” she said. “Getting to know the diverse group of students that will become the generation that fights with me will likely help direct and support me in my future studies even more than funds can.”

Besides her work in the world of environmentalism, Sullivan fosters education and activism for local birds, volunteers at an Oxford nursing home and is a member of the Student Gardening Club, all while maintaining a 3.76 GPA.

In her Udall application, she wrote that she hoped “to go into public service in Mississippi, eventually transitioning into a community planning position in which I will encourage sustainable practices as a way to combat social ills.” This scholarship is a sign of Sullivan’s dedication and potential, and will offer unique opportunities as well.

One of Sullivan’s mentors is Tess Lefmann, assistant professor of social work.

“Grace is a wonderful student whose passion for sustainability is evident in her work and presence in the classroom,” Lefmann said. “Her united interest in social welfare and the environment has sparked new dialogue among social work students, which has been a joy to witness.”

Lefmann said she has no doubt that Sullivan will continue to make valuable contributions to the country’s policies on energy use and environmental sustainability.

Sullivan’s parents are Dr. David and Claire Sullivan of Madison, both UM alumni.

Congress established the Udall Foundation as an independent executive branch agency in 1992 to honor Morris K. Udall’s 30 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives. Students interested in pursuing a Udall Scholarship can contact Tim Dolan, the university’s Udall representative, at onsa@olemiss.edu.

The Office of National Scholarship Advisement conducts workshops each semester to introduce students to major national scholarships. Go to http://www.honors.olemiss.edu/national-scholarship/ for more information.