UM Insight Park Co-Hosting DRA Delta Pitch Competition

Participants vying Sept. 29 for fellowships, advancement to national conference

Delta Regional Authority FlyerOXFORD, Miss. – Individual entrepreneurs and start-up organizations are invited to vie for fellowships to a national conference at the Delta Regional Authority Delta Pitch competition Thursday (Sept. 29) at the University of Mississippi.

The event begins at 1 p.m. in UM’s Innovation Hub at Insight Park. Co-hosts are Insight Park, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation. Space is limited, so early registration is recommended.

“The Delta Pitch Competition is part of DRA’s region-wide entrepreneurial initiative known as The Delta Challenge,” said William Nicholas, director of economic development at Insight Park. “It will provide participants the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to an esteemed panel of judges.

“The top three winners will get the chance to attend an expenses paid trip to New Orleans Entrepreneurs Week in spring 2017.”

Competition is open to residents of the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta Regional Authority. This includes Lafayette County and all Ole Miss students, regardless of their hometown.

“The number of participants is uncertain, but we can only accommodate up to 10 or 12 teams, so it is important to register soon to ensure a spot,” Nicholas said.

“The university and the EDF frequently partner together to promote entrepreneurial endeavors to inspire students and community members to start businesses and improve our community and our state. This competition affords us an opportunity to fulfill that mission.”

The DRA Delta Pitch Competition is another opportunity to allow UM and its partners in the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation to showcase the best in entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial ecosystem, said Clay Dibrell, CIE executive director, professor of management and
holder of the William W. Gresham Jr. Entrepreneurial Professorship.

“One of our goals is to make Oxford a destination for entrepreneurs,” Dibrell said. “A strong entrepreneurial ecosystem is a driving force for community economic prosperity and a greater quality of life.”

The DRA Delta Pitch Competition is a wonderful opportunity for Oxford to show off its entrepreneurial spirit, said Allen Kurr, vice president of the Oxford-Lafayette County EDF.

“The entrepreneurial culture we are cultivating in the Oxford-Lafayette-University community will greatly benefit from this program, and hopefully the participants will see this competition as a way to jumpstart their business ideas here locally,” he said.

Judges for the competition are Kim Campbell, Bill Mobley, Kyle McElhaney, Troy Drewry and Steve Vasillo.

During the three-minute pitch, entrepreneurs should address the critical questions of each category, while maintaining the flow, pace and consistency of a good business pitch. Entrepreneurs will then have one minute for questions and answers from the judges.

Pitches will be evaluated on presentation, business model, organizational structure, financial objectives, market, risk, competitive advantage and scalability.

Requirements for eligibility in the contest are:

  • Individuals and startup organizations must live or work within the 252 counties and parishes that DRA serves;
  • Be organized as a for-profit business;
  • Generate less than $1 million in annual revenue;
  • Have fewer than five full-time employees.

Up to 20 startup companies will be identified to represent the eight-state DRA region and will receive a fellowship to participate in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2017. While at NOEW, fellows will have access to programmatic seminars, workshops and mentorship from panelists and industry experts as well as opportunities to showcase their company to a panel of investors.

For more information or to register, visit

UM Choir Contributes to World Day of Peace

Concert singers videotaped performance, sang on live stream for global telecast

Stella Mbugua and the University of Mississippi Concert Singers take part in a worldwide performance for World Peace Day. The choir's performance in Paris-Yates Chapel was live-streamed on the internet. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Stella Mbugua and the University of Mississippi Concert Singers take part in a worldwide performance for World Peace Day. The choir’s performance in Paris-Yates Chapel was live-streamed on the internet. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – As World Day of Peace was observed around the globe Wednesday (Sept. 21), the University of Mississippi Concert Singers joined their voices as part of a worldwide choral cry for peace that live-streamed on the internet.

Led by Don Trott, director of choral activities, the 50-member group participated in a worldwide effort to promote peace through the singing of a South African song titled “Ukuthula,” which translates into “peace.”

The live performance aired at 2:30 p.m. on USTREAM under the group designated “AVoice4Peace.’ A pre-recorded performance of the UM Choir will be added to many from around the world on a website called “AVoice4Peace” at

“The idea for this worldwide choral celebration of peace was that of Ken Wakia, the conductor of the Nairobi Chamber Chorus from Nairobi, Kenya,” Trott said. “This choir performed in the Ford Center last November as part of their USA tour and included a performance of ‘Ukuthula.’

“Ken and Kevin Fenton, choral director at Florida State University, came up with the idea to organize many, many choirs to come together in this worldwide choral cry for peace.”

“Ukuthula” (pronounced oo-goo-too-lah) is a prayer set to music. Loosely translated, the lyrics say, “In this world of sin, the blood of Jesus brings peace, redemption, praise, faith, victory and comfort.”

“It’s wonderful being a part of something so heartfelt and meaningful,” Trott said. “All the students have been very passionate about this experience, both in rehearsals and in performances. It’s really amazing to see them sing as a form of self-expression and connect in this beautiful, unique way.”

Stellah Mbugua, one of the members of the Nairobi Chamber Choir who came to UM on their tour, sang background on “Ukuthula” then. She is pursuing a Master of Music in choral conducting at UM this fall and has become the featured soloist for the UM Choir’s performance.

Mbugua, 27, said she initially was hesitant about being the soloist, even though the song’s message resonates deeply within her.

“I’ve never led this song before and was very nervous about doing so,” she said. “But as I’ve sung it, I felt this energy making me stronger and compelling me to sing.

“No matter where we are from, music truly connects us. This song brought together people from all over the Earth and turned us into once voice for world peace, which is something I really believe in.”

Besides the website, a documentary about the “A Voice 4 Peace” experience is being filmed, Trott said.

World Peace Day – officially The International Day of Peace – is observed annually on Sept. 21. It is dedicated to world peace, specifically to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Organizers hope that it will become the occasion for a temporary ceasefire in combat zones for humanitarian aid access.

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67PDF document of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September. The first Peace Day was observed in September 1982.

In 2001, the General Assembly adopted resolution 55/282PDF document, which established Sept. 21 as an annual day of nonviolence and cease-fire.

For more about the UM Concert Singers, visit

UM Archives Program Spotlights J.O. Eastland Collection

Sept. 29 event features historian David Hargrove and James Ziglar, former aide to late U.S. senator

U.S. Senator James O. Eastland (D-Miss.) was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo courtesy of UM Archives and Special Collections)

U.S. Senator James O. Eastland (D-Miss.) was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo courtesy of UM Archives and Special Collections)

OXFORD, Miss. – The life and achievements of legendary U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland are the topic for a Sept. 29 program at the University of Mississippi.

The Department of Archives and Special Collections will host “Mr. Chairman: U.S. Senator James O. Eastland and the Judiciary Committee” at 5:30 p.m. in the Faulkner Room on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library. Open to the public, the event is approved for one hour of Continuing Legal Education and Continuing Judicial Education credit.

Historian David Hargrove will share insights he gained in the Eastland Collection on the judicial process while researching an official history of the U.S. District Courts of Mississippi. James Ziglar, who worked as an aide for Eastland from 1964 to 1971 while attending college and law school, will provide a personal perspective on the man and his role as chair of the Judiciary Committee.

“The program is designed to coincide with an exhibit of Eastland Collection material currently on view in the Faulkner Room of the Archives and Special Collections through December,” said Leigh McWhite, political papers archivist and associate professor. “The James O. Eastland Collection holds the correspondence, documents, publications, photographs, scrapbooks and recordings from his time in the Senate as well as personal papers.”

Besides documenting the Eastland’s life and career, the collection covers a broad range of topics on issues ranging from agriculture, the environment, industry and the economy to communism, civil rights and the Cold War.

“The papers are an invaluable resource on local history and public works projects within the state, and researchers can examine constituent correspondence for grassroots opinions on a wide array of international, national, state and local subject matter,” McWhite said.

David Hargrove once taught in UM’s Department of History and was a law school librarian. (Submitted photo)

David Hargrove once taught in UM’s Department of History and was a law school librarian. (Submitted photo)

Hargrove said Eastland’s collection provided invaluable insights for his book.

“My discoveries included how the state’s junior and senior senators divided federal judicial patronage, and the candidates for a half-dozen appointments to Mississippi’s federal judiciary during the civil rights era,” said Hargrove, former UM instructor of history and law library staff member who is director of the Gibson Memorial Library in Creston, Iowa.

“There was significant grassroots pressure on behalf of numerous candidates for each nomination, and while Senator Eastland made prompt and courteous replies to all supporters, he usually had a candidate in mind for each appointment. Some attorneys did not hesitate to promote their own candidacies, and to my surprise, a few undertook desperate and even underhanded measures to win the senator’s consideration.”

Ziglar’s 15-20-minute section of the program will focus on Eastland the man and how he personally influenced the Judiciary Committee and its processes.

“I worked for the senator as a very young man,” said Ziglar, whose career encompassed business, government, academia and law. “My various jobs during that period involved a lot of direct contact with Senator Eastland and I was privileged to get to know him on a very personal basis.”

“I hope to convey an image of the man I knew, an image that often is at odds with the seemingly widely-held perception of the senator.”

After law school, Ziglar clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, served as sergeant at arms of the U.S. Senate, assistant secretary of the interior for water and science, and commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He also has experience in investment banking and private law practice.

Hargrove earned his bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Nebraska. He earned a master’s degree in history from UM, and in 2011 received his doctorate, having completed a dissertation on “The American School Discipline Debate and the Persistence of Corporal Punishment in Southern Public Schools.” Hargrove has been an instructor of history at the University of Memphis.

A Democrat, Eastland accepted a temporary appointment to the U.S. Senate in 1941 after the death of Pat Harrison. He then won the seat in his own right in 1943, staying in Congress until his retirement in 1978.

With the accrual of seniority, Eastland assumed chairmanship of the powerful Judiciary Committee in 1956, a post he retained throughout his career. The senator donated the papers to UM in 1978-1979.

The Eastland Collection finding aid, which offers biographical account of the senator and more information on the contents, is online at

UM Language Professor Heads to Germany as Humboldt Research Fellow

Corina Petrescu plans to use fellowship to advance studies of Jewish life in post-war Eastern Europe

Associate Professor of German Corina Petrescu is a Humboldt Fellow.

Corina Petrescu, UM associate professor of German, is a Humboldt Fellow.

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi modern languages professor has earned a prestigious research award, which will help further her studies of Jewish life in Europe following World War II.

Corina Petrescu, associate professor of German, is the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. The award funds 18 months of research with the option to spend all that time in Germany at once or to divide it into three stays.

Petrescu is headed this week to Germany, where she plans to stay through July 2017 and then return for two summers.

“I was very happy to become a Humboldt fellow,” Petrescu said. “It is the most prestigious award coming out of Germany for any field of inquiry.”

Petrescu applied for the award in November 2014 to fund her research, which is to develop a cultural history of Teatrul Evreiesc de Stat (the State Jewish Theater) in Bucharest, Romania, from its establishment in 1948, in the aftermath of World War II and the Shoah, to the present.

“The project seeks to uncover the factors that made this founding possible, as well as situate the theater in the historical, cultural and political context of communist and post-communist Romania,” she said. “The purpose of this research is to further a better understanding of Jewish life in post-Second World War Eastern Europe.”

During her time in Germany, Petrescu will attend conferences to present her work.

“The first one takes place between Sept. 12 and 14 in Dusseldorf, Germany,” she said. “I plan to finish a manuscript for a book by the end of my fellowship.”

Donald Dyer, chair of the Department of Modern Languages, said he looks forward to seeing the results of Petrescu’s work in Germany.

“Being awarded a Humboldt Fellowship brings important and well-deserved recognition to her, the department and the university as a whole,” Dyer said. “The Humboldt award is impressive in itself, but all the more so given its magnitude and scope.

“Dr. Petrescu has joined an elite group of scholars conducting first-rate research projects, and we all look forward to the product that emerges from her current project as well as her future research endeavors.”

Petrescu earned her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. Her research interests include National Socialist Germany, representations of 1968 in the German and Romanian imagery, transcultural literature, German-Jewish relations from the 18th century to the present and Eastern European Yiddish theater.

For more about the UM Department of Modern Languages, visit

Gravitational Wave Discussion Set for First Fall Science Cafe

Renowned cosmological physicist Michael Turner to speak Sept. 13

Michael S. Turner, Rainer Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, will speak at the UM Science Café Sept. 13. (Submitted photo) (Submitted photo)

Michael Turner, Rainer Distinguished Service Professor at the
University of Chicago, will speak Sept. 13 at the UM Science Cafe.
Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The origins of the universe is the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Michael Turner, the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor of Physical Cosmology and director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, will discuss “Einstein’s Outrageous Universe: Gravitational Waves, Black Holes and the Big Bang” at the fall semester’s first meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe.

Set for 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd., the event is free and open to the public.

“Einstein changed the way we think about the universe,” Turner said. “In this presentation, I will discuss three of the most timely and interesting things in our universe: gravitational waves, the big discovery of this year; black holes, they are everywhere; and the beginning of the universe, the big bang.”

Turner’s 30-minute presentation will include discussion about the biggest science news story of the year, the discovery of gravitational waves – or ripples in space-time – that was announced in February by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration. UM is an institutional member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and was among the major contributors to the LIGO discovery.

“They came from two massive black holes that merged a billion years ago and spectacularly verified a major prediction of Einstein’s theory,” he said. “The detection involved measuring the distance between two mirrors to a precision of one-thousandth the size of the proton!”

Turner’s appearance is part of the Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship Program of the American Astronomical Society, a program of two-day visits by professional astronomers who bring the excitement of modern astronomy and astrophysics to colleges of all types. Besides his Science Cafe presentation, he is scheduled to give a talk on “Cosmology” in the colloquium series of the Ole Miss physics department at 4 p.m. Sept. 13 in Lewis Hall, Room 101.

Turner’s appearance should provide a fascinating look at cutting-edge research, said Luca Bombelli, chair and professor of physics and astronomy.

“Dr. Turner is one of the most prominent theoretical astrophysicists and cosmologists in the U.S.,” Bombelli said. “Among his many honors, he has served as chair of the Physics Section of the National Academy of Sciences, led the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the National Science Foundation and is a past president of the American Physical Society.”

A theoretical cosmologist who coined the term “dark energy” in 1998, Turner was formerly the assistant director for mathematical and physical sciences for the U.S. National Science Foundation from 2003 to 2006. His book, “The Early Universe,” co-written with fellow Chicago cosmologist Edward “Rocky” Kolb and published in 1990, is a standard text on the subject.

Turner’s 20-plus former doctoral students hold faculty positions at leading universities around the country, at national laboratories and on Wall Street. He has served as chief scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, chair and president of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and president and chairman of the board of the Aspen Center for Physics.

Turner’s national service includes membership on the NRC’s Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy and on the senior editorial board of Science Magazine, chairmanship of the OECD Global Science Forum’s Astroparticle Physics International Forum, membership on the board of directors of the Fermi Research Alliance, and serving as secretary of Class I of the National Academy of Sciences and founding chair of ScienceCounts, a new 501(c)3 organization that promotes awareness and support of science.

Turner received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1971 and earned his doctorate in physics from Stanford University in 1978. He holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Michigan State University and was awarded a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Caltech in 2006.

He helped establish the interdisciplinary field that combines cosmology and elementary particle physics to understand the origin and evolution of the universe. His research focuses on the earliest moments of creation, and he has made contributions to inflationary cosmology, particle dark matter and structure formation, the theory of big bang nucleosynthesis and the nature of dark energy.

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, go to For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit or call 662-915-7046.

William Winter, Leland Speed to Receive Geographic Visionary Awards

Mississippi Geographic Alliance honoring leaders for their connections to global economy

William Winters

William Winter

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Geographic Alliance at the University of Mississippi will honor former Gov. William Winter and business mogul Leland Speed in September for their efforts to connect the state to the global economy.

The annual MGA Geographic Visionary Awards ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. The award honors a Mississippi business or civic leader who recognizes the importance of global understanding and awareness for Mississippians and/or promotes understanding about Mississippi in other parts of the world.

Previous recipients include Ambassador John Palmer (2013), George Schloegel (2014) and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (2015).

“I have a special interest in and appreciation for the work of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance and feel greatly honored to be the recipient of this award,” Winter said. “From my earliest experiences as a schoolboy, I developed a deep affection for the study of geography and was fascinated by the wonders of the world that I read about.

“I have since had my life enriched by the travels I have enjoyed to so many different places, including some 36 countries and all 50 states. Because this award is about geography, it has great significance for me.”

MGA officials said Winter is most deserving of the honor.

“William Winter is a role model and moral leader for those seeking to improve education in the state,” said Carley Lovorn, MGA assistant director. “Gov. Winter served in the United States Army during World War II and the Korean War, and he was also a member of the Mississippi National Guard.

“He has served Mississippi in the state Legislature, as state treasurer, as lieutenant governor and as governor of the state. Thanks to his visionary leadership, the 1982 Mississippi Education Reform Act was passed, establishing public kindergartens and other improvements to state education.”

Winter was also a member of President Clinton’s Advisory Board on Race and is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Mississippi Bar’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“There is no one in the state of Mississippi more deserving of this award than Gov. William Winter,” said Andy Mullins, UM chief of staff to the chancellor emeritus and an MGA board member. “Considering his many contributions to education over the length of his legendary career, it is most appropriate for him to join the list of previous Visionary Award recipients.”

Leland Speed

Leland Speed

Speed has worked to position Mississippi to thrive in the global economy through state-level business leadership in both the private and public sectors, Lovorn said.

Being honored with the former governor took Speed by surprise.

“At the tender age of 84, you don’t expect things like this,” Speed said. “It is truly an honor having my name associated with a Mississippi icon like William Winter.”

Speed grew Mississippi-based real estate businesses to national proportions and kept that business right in Mississippi.

“He is in the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame and was the 2008 recipient of NAREIT’s Industry Leadership Award,” Lovorn said. “Mr. Speed has twice served his state as executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority and has served as chairman of Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce and Goodwill Industries, as well as other organizations.”

Speed is dedicated to improving education in Mississippi and has served as chairman of the Jackson State University Development Foundation.

The Jess McKee Award for Distinguished Service to Geography Education will also be presented at a noon luncheon to Barbara Boone of Petal. Top sponsors of the event include National Geographic Society and Southern Pipe and Supply.

“Barbara Boone spent decades in the classroom and countless hours outside of the classroom with groups like 4-H and the Boy Scouts of America,” Lovorn said. “Over the past five years, Ms. Boone has dedicated her considerable talents to improving geography education at the state level.”

Among her contributions, Boone has served as a teacher consultant for the Mississippi Geographic Alliance, a member of the MGA Steering Committee, an alumnus of the Geo-literacy Leadership Institute, faculty member of MGA’s Pre-Service Conferences and program director of the MGA Giant Traveling Map program.

She also develops materials for elementary classrooms and created a summer enrichment program for at-risk students.

Mississippians export billions of dollars in products to more than 100 different countries each year. The MGA at UM, part of National Geographic Society’s Alliance Network, helps prepare Mississippians to interact with the world around them by increasing geographic literacy through geography education services, including outreach to civic leaders and policymakers, awareness raising among the general public and professional development for K-12 educators.

All proceeds from the MGA Geographic Visionary Luncheon will help fund MGA programs in the state, including giant map programs for students and professional development for teachers.

Sponsorships at multiple levels are available. For more information on sponsorships and registration go to or call the MGA office at 662-915-3776.

UM Accountancy Programs Maintain Top 10 Standing

Undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs continue string of elite rankings

Conner Hall Photo by:UM Brand Photography

Conner Hall, home of the Patterson School of Accountancy

OXFORD, Miss. – All three degree programs at the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy are among the top 10 in the 2016 annual national rankings of accounting programs published by the journal Public Accounting Report.

The undergraduate program is ranked No. 7, the master’s program is No. 8 and the doctoral program is No. 7. The master’s and doctoral programs lead the Southeastern Conference in the rankings and the undergraduate program is second in the SEC. Each of the three degree programs has ranked first in the SEC for three of the past four years.

The Patterson School has become a mainstay on the national scene, with its programs ranked in the top 10 nationally for six consecutive years, and among the top 20 in the nation for nine straight years. The PAR has been ranking accounting programs for 35 years.

The rankings are based on a survey of accounting professors in the United States. Other undergraduate SEC programs ranked in the top 25 are Texas A&M, at No. 5; Alabama, 8; Florida, 10; Georgia, 11; Missouri, 14; and Tennessee, 23.

Among the highly ranked master’s programs are Alabama, at No. 9; Georgia, 10; Texas A&M, 11; Florida, 13; Missouri, 15; and Tennessee, 21. The doctoral rankings include Alabama, No. 8; Texas A&M, 9; Georgia, 12; Florida, 16; and Missouri, 20.

In other results, a new ranking category was established this year, which was a ranking by region.

“In the South region, we ranked No. 1 for both undergraduate and master’s programs, and would have also ranked No. 1 for doctoral programs had they been included,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “The South region, which constitutes 30 percent of the approximately 1,000 PAR votes in 2016, includes 10 states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.”

Undergraduate and master’s program rankings for 2016 were also compiled based only on votes by professors who did not vote their own schools No. 1 in the survey. Ole Miss fared extremely well in these rankings, coming in at No. 3 nationally for both the undergraduate and master’s program. The top schools in these rankings are Texas and Brigham Young.

More than 1,000 schools in the United States offer accounting programs, and around 500 of those, including UM, are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business as being among the best accountancy and business programs in the world, said Dale Flesher, associate dean and holder of the Burns Chair of Accountancy. PAR voters who determine the rankings are influenced by several other factors that set the Patterson School apart.

“Many voters, some of whom may not know much about Ole Miss, know that the university houses the AICPA Library, the largest accountancy library in the world,” he said. “Also, a recent study showed that we are the only university of our size in the country that has every accounting class taught by a professor with CPA designation.

“The main criterion for the undergraduate and master’s rankings is success of graduates in public accounting. Therefore, having every class taught by a CPA makes it easier for students to identify with the needs of the profession.”

UM also has hosted a number of faculty from other schools in recent years, whether to visit the AICPA Library or to present their research to Ole Miss faculty and doctoral students, Wilder said.

“For example, these faculty come from places like the universities of Texas, Illinois, North Carolina and also from Ohio State and Duke,” he said. “Invariably, they all leave impressed with the quality of our faculty, students and program. They are also impressed with the collegiality of our faculty and the beauty of our campus.”

Wilder credits the school’s faculty, students and alumni for having a positive impact on its reputation.

“We have an outstanding faculty of top teachers and researchers that are also very much focused on serving and mentoring students,” he said. “Our faculty all work together toward our common goal of having one of the top accounting programs in the nation.

“The Patterson School is also fortunate to have outstanding students who go on to have phenomenal careers. The academic profile of our accountancy student body gets stronger every year, a fact that is certainly being recognized in the marketplace.”

Wilder also noted the importance of private support in the school’s successful equation.

“The successes we are enjoying are directly attributable to the loyalty and generosity of our alumni and friends,” he said. “Their support helps us to offer scholarships to attract outstanding students, to reward our faculty and to strengthen our program.

“We are grateful for their loyalty and willingness to give back to the school. It is absolutely a difference-maker for us and allows our successes to be built upon and perpetuated.”

For more information about the Patterson School of Accountancy, visit

Vitter, UM Family Make Their Voices Heard

Chancellor initiated dialogue about campus growth, concerns at inaugural Town Hall meeting

Chancellor Vitter hosts a town hall meeting at the Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Chancellor Vitter hosts a town hall meeting at the Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Furthering his efforts to increase and improve internal and external communications, University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter launched the university’s first Town Hall meeting Monday afternoon (Aug. 29).

Several hundred UM faculty, staff and students joined the chancellor in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at the Inn at Ole Miss for the open forum.

Vitter, whose extensive use of social media and frequent interactions have earned him a reputation for being accessible, used both small-group discussions and a question-and-answer session to generate conversations about how to make what he acknowledges is already a “great university” into an even greater institution in the years to come.

“During the Flagship Forum in the spring, I spent 100 days in over 200 group interactions,” Vitter said. “I saw firsthand the amazing things we do at Ole Miss and that we are truly a great university. All great institutions share one thing in common: a drive and will to get even better.”

Participants expressed opinions and suggested ideas during the forum. Ronnie Agnew, a UM journalism alumnus who is executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, served as moderator for the 90-minute session that was streamed live on the official UM YouTube channel.

“I have distilled what I have heard about going from great to greater into four themes,” Vitter said in his opening remarks. “We’re here today to expand our conversations and start developing a shared vision for a greater UM.

“Today is an important step in the ultimate process to create a strategic plan, a roadmap for how to achieve our vision.”

Vitter called on those in attendance to focus on four themes: academic excellence; healthy and vibrant communities; people, places and resources; and athletics excellence.

Following the chancellor’s remarks, Agnew asked participants to discuss the themes, write down suggestions on color-coded index cards and post them on bulletin boards around the room.

Taking questions and comments from the floor, Vitter responded to a variety of subjects, including burgeoning enrollment, the need for additional classroom space, the possibility of expanded mental health services for LGBTQI students in the wake of Mississippi House Bill 1523 and the decision to have the Pride of the South Marching Band discontinue playing “Dixie” at football games.

The success of Monday’s town has left those present wanting more such gatherings during the 2016-17 academic year. While other dates and appearances have yet to be announced, the ideas gathered at Monday’s Town Hall will be compiled and shared online, Vitter said.

“I think Chancellor Vitter is to be commended for his openness to the input of the university’s many constituents,” Agnew said. “Let’s work together and get behind his vision to make the University of Mississippi the greatest university in the nation.”

Hazlewoods’ Donations Establish Endowed Scholarships

Gifts support deserving students in School of Engineering

‘Lew’ and Janice Hazlewood, who have created an endowed scholarship in the School of Engineering, are greeted by Kevin Gardner (left), development officer for the school, and Engineering Dean Alex Cheng (right).

‘Lew’ and Janice Hazlewood, who have created an endowed scholarship in the School of Engineering, are greeted by Kevin Gardner (left), development officer for the school, and Engineering Dean Alex Cheng (right).

When it comes to generosity toward the University of Mississippi School of Engineering, P.L. “Lew” Hazlewood Jr., of Oxford, is a shining example.

Hazlewood and his wife, Janice, generously established the Janice and P.L. “Lew” Hazlewood Jr. Engineering Scholarship Endowment. The couple set up a planned gift for the future, but in the meantime are donating flow-through funds to accommodate the scholarship.

Giving to Ole Miss comes naturally for the couple.

“My parents paid for my college education,” said Lew Hazlewood, a chemical engineering alumnus. “Very often, this isn’t the case now, and the burden is left on the student.

“Janice and I wanted to help these students obtain a college education and to help grow the University of Mississippi School of Engineering. We urge others to donate to the engineering school via this scholarship.”

A native of Liberty, Lew Hazlewood was first exposed to the university at a 1959 football game against rival Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Coincidentally, his future wife, a native of New Iberia, Louisiana, also was at the game, although they didn’t meet until a few years later.

“From that time, I have dearly loved Ole Miss,” Hazlewood said. “To show our affection, we even bought a customized Ole Miss van.”

Lew Hazlewood enrolled at the university in 1967. Following graduation, he worked for the PPG Industries chemical facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for 35 years.

“At first, I was a process engineer,” he said. “Then, I was promoted and ultimately became team leader. My education at Ole Miss enabled me to understand chemical processes and gave me the necessary skills to perform my job.”

The Hazlewoods always wanted to be able to attend more UM sporting events by retiring to Oxford. They moved in 2004 and worked for the university for several years. He was is the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, and she worked in the Department of Psychology.

“We are grateful to be able to celebrate with them now, as we welcome our Hazlewood scholars to campus,” said Kevin Gardner, UM Foundation development officer for the engineering school. “This present and future commitment will greatly assist us in our recruitment for exceptional academic students.”

With this gift, the School of Engineering Scholarship Committee will be able to select a deserving student who has demonstrated an exceptional academic record and remained in a major track in engineering at the university.

The Hazlewoods’ donation has already proven very beneficial for the program, Dean Alex Cheng said.

“With the impending growth that has steadily become the norm at the School of Engineering, donations of any type are very well received, especially ones for student scholarships such as the gift from ‘Lew’ and Janice Hazlewood,” Cheng said. “Their timely generosity is helping to accomplish the provision of unique scholarships for the School of Engineering.”

Engineering Students Benefit from Summer Internships

Four recent participants feel better prepared for future employment and career success

Several University of Mississippi engineering students spent their summer months engaging in professional development experiences to prepare for their future careers.

Chinelo Ibekwe, a junior from Lagos, Nigeria; Colbert Lehr, of Brandon; Linda Bardha, from Albania; and Miles Johnson, of Tupelo, have participated in a number of experiences that will make them marketable as they begins job searches over the next couple of years.

Ibekwe, a chemical engineering major, spent the summers of 2015 and ’16 working with Goldman Sachs in its Private Wealth Management division. There, she researched structure products to advise clients on securities to minimize risks and analyzed daily price discrepancies for fixed income and equities, developing an Excel macro to maximize efficiency and reduce processing time by 50 percent.

She was also hired as a co-op student with Mars Food Co. Finally, she was offered an opportunity to work with Medtronic in Memphis, Tennessee, as a sourcing engineer intern.

The experiences gave Ibekwe a number of opportunities to see the various industries in which business and engineering work together, and helped her develop important skills for her future.

“I ended my internship (with Medtronic) with much more knowledge about the manufacturing and business side of the company,” she said. “The experience helped me to answer questions I have about attracting medical technology into the health sector.”

Ibekwe said she is thankful for the support from the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the National Society of Black Engineers, both of which helped provide these opportunities. Her goal is to work in global health policy.

Like Ibekwe, Lehr found his summer internship experience to be extremely helpful and allowed him to realize the world of engineering that awaits beyond the classroom.

An electrical engineering major, Lehr spent his summer working with Raytheon in Forest. He learned of the internship by attending an employer information session with Raytheon representatives, hosted by the School of Engineering.

His responsibilities as an intern included assisting engineers with the manufacturing and testing of APG-79 AESA radars that will be fitted onto F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, as well as preparing facilities for the production and testing of the next generation jammer.

Lehr’s most challenging experience during the internship was determining how to program a top-of-the-line arbitrary waveform generator to generate a multitone waveform for test purposes, despite a lack of sufficient documentation for the product. He encourages other engineering students to pursue internships or co-ops before they graduate.

“Raytheon provided consistent, technically challenging work, which furthered my understanding of applying my education to solve problems,” he said. “I also gained applicable engineering and career advice from professional engineers across the spectrum of experience.”

Lehr enjoyed the fact that his company never limited him to one task or one specific product line. He reflected that he was able to serve the company in various ways while familiarizing himself with products and test processes that will help in determining a future specialization.

He hopes to return to Raytheon as an intern next summer with the possibility of full-time work there after graduation.

Miles Johnson inside nation’s Capital Building in Washington D.C. (Submitted photo)

Miles Johnson inside nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Submitted photo)

Both Bardha and Johnson spent their summers interning in Washington D.C.

A computer science major specializing in digital media, Bardha interned with the Voice of America organization. Johnson, who is studying geology and geological engineering, interned with U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Bardha found the internship opportunity with Voice of America as a result of her academic interest in digital media and the fact that VOA broadcasts in 100 countries and 61 different languages, including her own. The diversity of their work attracted her to apply for the internship program.

There, she worked with the Broadcasting Board of Governors and maintained some of their databases and a SharePoint site for an initiative to improve workplace satisfaction. She also created and maintained site content, met with action teams, organized workshops and delivered presentations.

Johnson learned about his internship opportunity through a UM alumnus who lives in the D.C. area. While working in Wicker’s office, he communicated with constituents, gave tours of the U.S. Capitol to hundreds of visitors, conducted research on various bills for the senator and participated in hearings and briefings on pressing issues.

Completing internships outside the traditional scope of engineering did not come without challenges for Bardha and Johnson. Bardha recalled a particularly challenging situation where she had to step in to make a presentation for a colleague who became ill at the last minute.

“I had less than 24 hours to put together the presentation, which was for a large number of people including my supervisor and her director,” she said. “However, I realized that public speaking is one of my strengths, although I was quite nervous at the beginning. The audience was engaged, and I received compliments for a great presentation.”

Johnson noted that the research aspect of his internship was the most challenging part.

Linda Bardha at work in Voices of America studios in Washington D.C. (Submitted photo)

Linda Bardha at work in Voice of America studios in Washington, D.C. (Submitted photo)

“I would say that doing research on a variety of issues was a challenge because my seemingly miniscule task may help the senator make an important decision on policy issues, so I wanted to provide thorough and accurate information in each situation presented to me,” he said.

Bardha graduates this year and hopes to begin graduate school, although she has not completely ruled out starting her professional career if the right opportunity presents itself. Johnson enjoyed his experience in D.C. so much that he plans to return to Capitol Hill after graduation.

As competition increases for students seeking job opportunities after graduation, the need for internship experience has also increased. Many employers are seeking applicants who have already demonstrated that they understand their field and have some type of experience related to their fields.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 65 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates from the class of 2015 participated in an internship or cooperative education experience, making their class the highest percentage recorded for any graduating class.