G.R.O.V.E. Memories

Reflections upon 36 years of visiting beloved spring spot

Edwin Smith (far right) with his fiance' Fannie Jenkins and members of his family near the Grove on graduation day (May, 1980).

Edwin Smith (far right) with his fiance’ Fannie Jenkins and members of his family near the Grove on graduation day in May, 1980.

There’s nothing quite like the University of Mississippi in the spring. That’s when the colorful hues of nature found on our campus– officially recognized as one of the nation’s most beautiful– shine brightest. And nowhere is this more true than in the Grove.

I vividly remember my first spring semester in the Grove. It was 1978 and I was a sophomore transfer student who’d just come through the worst term of my entire academic career. On top of that, I’d not made many friends (two roommates bailed on me within the first month I arrived). Ready to put my wintery past failures and social disappointments behind me and to start anew, I welcomed the arrival of warmer weather and better days.

The Grove brought me both. Strolling around on the spacious grounds, I breathed the fresh air in deeply, basked in the sun’s rays and listened to the birds chirping. I gazed at the purest blue skies and saw lively squirrels running up and down the trunks and limbs of green-leafed trees. And for the first time, Ole Miss began to feel like my second home.

A year later, I was back in the Grove and no longer alone. During the course of the months between, I had met and become fast friends with several people. One of these persons became particularly close. She was my prayer partner, confidant and girlfriend (whom I married shortly after I graduated the next year). Together, we shared the sights, sounds and smells of the Grove in spring. Sometimes we talked; other times we picnicked. We found we enjoyed eating in the Grove better in the spring, as neither of us cared much for tailgating among the crowds in the fall.

Years later, I returned to work in the UM Office of Public Relations. By this time, my wife and I had two young children. Once again, we took in the Grove and found it was still an excellent space for all the members of our young family to spend precious quality time together. The kids learned to ride bicycles, toss balls and jump rope right there underneath the canopy of trees providing shade from the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sunshine.

Of course, the Grove is the place for commencement exercises every May. Last year, as I covered the event, I was able to combine work with pleasure. Sitting at one of the picnic tables, I had an ideal spot to watch graduates and their loved ones arrive. Civil Rights movement icon Myrlie Evers-Williams delivered one of the most inspirational addresses I’ve ever heard. (View excerpts here). The cloudy skies of early morn rolled away and sunny skies appeared, highlighting the specialness of the occasion.

And once again, I had more Grove memories to keep and reflect upon.

The Ole Miss campus has changed significantly over the years. New buildings here. Old buildings no longer there. Departments playing “see if you can find me” with their locations. Still, the Grove remains one of the few constants in the midst of the flux of change. I like to think of it as a Graceful Reminder Of Valuable Experiences  or GROVE.

Understanding the History and Significance of ‘Hotty Toddy’

Rapper Snoop Dogg leads the Hotty Toddy cheer on the video board inside Vaught Hemingway Stadium before an Ole Miss football game. Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Sports Productions.

Rapper Snoop Dogg leads the Hotty Toddy cheer on the JumboTron inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at a football game in 2003.

While several Ole Miss traditions have gone the way of the dinosaur, one that continues to thrive from generation to generation is the use of the words “Hotty Toddy.”

Whether it’s the two words often used as a familiar signature to end emails or phone conversations or the chant shouted in response to the question “Are you ready?” at athletic events, one thing is for certain: Hotty Toddy and Ole Miss are inseparable.

The origins of the phrase remain a mystery. There’s no concrete answer that explains what “Hotty Toddy” truly means. Some speculate that it was developed after the Virginia Tech Regimantal Band called The Highty Tighties, derived from a cheer used throughout World War II, associated with the description of a warm alcoholic drink or a term referred to the perceived sentiment of the Ole Miss student body.

Actually as an Ole Miss reference, the first documented evidence of the phrase (then written as “Heighty! Tighty!”) appeared in the Nov. 19, 1926 copy of the Mississippian. That day, the following words appeared:

Heighty! Tighty!

Gosh A Mighty!

 Who in the h—l are we?

Rim! Ram! Flim! Flam!

Ole Miss, by D—n!

Ever since, the cheer (with slightly differing spelling in the opening line) has been passed down by Rebel fans. ESPN’s Doug Ward wrote, “’Hotty Toddy’ is the spirit of Ole Miss,” which extends much farther than the Grove and at athletics. It only takes seeing an Ole Miss logo or design on a shirt, hat, etc. for two fellow Rebels to exchange “hotty toddy” to one another.

“Hotty Toddy” has also become synonymous with Ole Miss among the national media. ESPN’s SportsCenter, Erin Anderson, former Miss America Nina Davuluri and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney have all tweeted it at least once in recent years. Celebrities  like Russell Crowe, Snoop Dogg, Betty White, Sandra Bullock, Jack Black and others have lead the cheer via recorded video messages played in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium before Ole Miss football games.

Here’s what Ole Miss students had to say about “Hotty Toddy” a few years ago:

Hotty Toddy, everybody!!

Laurel Middle School Students Get a True Chance ‘of a Lifetime’

After reading memoir, group scheduled to tour campus and meet former UM chancellor

Laurel Middle School

Laurel Middle School students read University of Mississippi Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat’s memoir.

OXFORD, Miss. – “The Education of a Lifetime” is more than the best-selling memoir of University of Mississippi Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat. For some Laurel Middle School students, it also represents a rare opportunity to visit the university, to see sites from the book and to meet the author.

More than 40 eighth-graders plan to visit campus April 16-17. Their first-day itinerary includes meeting with admissions staff, a tour and a final stop at the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. There, they will hear presentations by UM School of Engineering officials who work with K-12 students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The following day, the students are scheduled to meet Khayat in the Lyceum for a discussion of his book, which the students have been reading. Following lunch, they will tour the Manning Center practice facility and meet Rebels head football Coach Hugh Freeze before heading back to Laurel.

“My students have been reading ‘The Education of a Lifetime,’ and their response to this entirely optional assignment has been overwhelming,” said Joshua Walters, a teacher at LMS. “Out of 51 students, 42 purchased the book and are actually reading it. Watching them take an interest in the many issues that the book raises and guiding their thoughts and discussions about its mature subject matter has been an extremely rewarding experience for me as a teacher.”

The students’ viewpoints on the Confederate flag and other race-relations issues have been particularly intriguing as all but six of them are African-American, Walters said.

“As they’ve been reading the book, my students expressed a desire to take a field trip to the University of Mississippi campus and to meet Chancellor Khayat,” he said. “I agreed to see if I could make this happen for them. I knew my students would appreciate his football stories and humorous anecdotes. My students are very excited about meeting Chancellor Khayat and having the opportunity to ask him questions.”

Khayat was more than willing to honor the students’ request.

“News of Mr. Walters’ project thrilled me for a number of reasons,” Khayat said. “First, his students will read an accurate account of the evolution of Ole Miss in recent years. It is exciting to know they are interested not only in Ole Miss but in recent history. Second, there is nothing quite as informative as an in-person visit to a place of interest. By coming to see us, the students will feel, as well as see, the university.

“And finally, once they visit us, it is likely that many of them will choose Ole Miss as their university, and we will welcome them to our community.”

Walters anticipates his students will benefit in several ways from meeting Khayat and seeing campus.

“As a graduate of Ole Miss, I wanted my students to read ‘The Education of a Lifetime’ in order to dispel the negative stereotypes that many of them had about the university,” Walters said. “Also, since they will be entering high school next year, I wanted them to start thinking about college and some of the social issues, both good and bad, that they may face in the real world.”

Four Outstanding Seniors Honored

Students recognized for academic achievement, leadership, professional development and community service

Maddie Costelli

Maddie Costelli

Four seniors have been awarded the 2013-2014 Outstanding Senior Leadership Award in the University of Mississippi School of Engineering.

This year’s recipients are Samuel Di of Oxford, Madeline Costelli of Gulfport, Zachary Morgan of Horn Lake and Trey Powell of Pascagoula. Each was selected through a nomination process in their respective departments, based on their records of academic achievement, leadership, professional development and community service. Nominees also delivered a presentation to the selection committee about their experiences as students in the engineering school.

“As in the past, this year’s competition has brought forward a group of outstanding seniors, who not only excelled academically but also demonstrated strong leadership qualities,” Dean Alex Cheng said. “We congratulate all the students who participated in the competition.”

Di is an electrical engineering major with a minor in computer science. A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, he won Eta Kappa Nu’s Outstanding Sophomore, Junior and Senior awards. A recipient of a Taylor Medal, Di has been a student employee in the National Center for Physical Acoustics since 2010 and served as a School of Engineering Ambassador and treasurer of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. His other honors include Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi and the Chancellor’s Honor Roll every semester of his enrollment.

Di participated in summer undergraduate research programs at the University of Southern California and the University of Minnesota. He is a named

Sam Di

Sam Di

contributor to published work presented at the 2013 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Symposium. Di was the institutional representative to the Mississippi Engineering Society’s Outstanding Senior Award, where he was recognized by the state organization at its annual ceremony. His plans are to attend graduate school and major in electrical engineering.

Costelli is a civil engineering major. Another Taylor medalist who is consistently on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll, she serves as vice president of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, vice president of design for Engineers Without Borders and is on the concrete canoe team for the American Society of Civil Engineers.

She has traveled to the African nation of Togo three times to work on the EWB school building project. Costelli holds memberships in Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society and Kappa Delta sorority. Her summer internships include Neel-Schaffer Inc. in Jackson and the Mississippi Department of Transportation in Gulfport. On campus, she worked as a research assistant in the Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology. She has accepted a full-time position with Lanier & Associates Inc. in the company’s structural division.

Trey Powell

Trey Powell

Powell is also a civil engineering major. He is the recipient of several scholarships, including a John G. Adler scholarship from the UM School of Engineering, a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship, Community College Leadership and Academic Excellence scholarships and the highly competitive Chancellor’s Scholarship. A Taylor medalist, he has been inducted into Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board honor societies, as well as Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society and Tau Beta Pi. He serves as president of the American Society of Civil Engineers and as treasurer of TBP.

An engineering intern with Neel Schaffer Inc., Powell is deciding between full-time employment opportunities and pursuing a graduate degree.

Morgan is another electrical engineering major with an emphasis in computer engineering. A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and regularly listed on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll, he has served as president of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers organization and Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering honor society. A Luckyday scholarship recipient, he is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Phi Eta Sigma and Tau Beta Pi.

Morgan has also been heavily involved with the FIRST Robotics Competition. His internships have focused on software and electrical engineering, with Raytheon in Texas and Maryland, respectively. He is a named contributor to work presented at the 2013 Electrical Engineering Research Experience for Undergraduates Symposium and at the 2013 Interplanetary Small Satellite Conference.

Zach Morgan

Zach Morgan

After graduation, Morgan plans to be a research assistant for the computational electromagnetics and antennas research laboratory as he pursues a doctorate at Pennsylvania State University.

(Ted) Bean’s About It

Civil engineering alumnus credits alma mater with launching successful, long-lived career

Theodore T. 'Ted' Bean and family.

Theodore T. ‘Ted’ Bean and family.

Ask Theodore T. “Ted” Bean (BSCE 62) what has been the key to his long, diverse and successful career and without hesitation, the University of Mississippi alumnus will tell you that it’s his alma mater.

“I would not be where I am today without the education I gained there,” said Bean, principal systems engineer at SAIC. “I can’t recall a single professor that wasn’t someone I couldn’t learn from. They were all good, but Dr. Sam Deleeuw was my favorite.”

Bean is paying his respects to Deleeuw in a concrete manner by contributing to the university’s Samuel L. Deleeuw Civil Engineering Endowment.

“Dr. Deleeuw was instrumental in getting me focused,” Bean said. “I have a lot to thank him for.”

A native of East St. Louis, Ill., Bean came to Ole Miss after a good friend and a fellow football player in high school, Bob Benton, was offered a scholarship at UM. Benton, who was an All-American in high school and all-SEC at Ole Miss, convinced Bean that he could play football for the Rebels as well.

“That is why I chose Ole Miss,” he said. “Unfortunately, when I met Johnny Vaught, my marriage as a freshman precluded me from playing for the team. He wouldn’t allow his players to be married until they were seniors.”

Putting collegiate athletics behind him, Bean refocused on his academics. The engineering school appealed to him for several reasons.

“It was very well-organized and we were motivated and encouraged by the faculty to learn,” Bean said. “I liked their honor system. We were trusted to do our own work and take exams without faculty oversight.”

An enlisted Marine attending the university, Bean found his UM experience paralleled his Marine training, where integrity and commitment drove the core values. Moreover, the Naval Enlisted Scientific Education Program oversight by Navy ROTC ensured that he took many extra courses above the minimum required in his chosen engineering field.

“These extra courses in language, history, sociology and government were all above and beyond what was required in the engineering department,” Bean said. “I had to attend summer school every summer. These extra courses offered us the opportunity to meet, learn with and socialize with students from other majors, broadening our learning experience.”

Deleeuw joined the UM engineering faculty during Bean’s junior year and taught FORTRAN. Bean found this, coupled with his association with the American Society of Civil Engineers, very rewarding.

“Dr. Deleeuw once asked me to prepare a paper for delivering at an ASCE meeting,” he said. “It forced me to start working on my delivery skills, which I have worked on over my career, and I am much better now than I was then.”

Bean was also asked if he would help students in Deleeuw’s FORTRAN lab and to prepare a program to estimate the cutting and filling required to turn a creek into a smooth-flowing waterway. “I never knew if the computer program was used, but it really helped me focus my mathematics skills and engineering logic,” he said.

Deleeuw’s encouragement of Bean to learn and use what he had learned to solve problems has rewarded Bean throughout his career.

Deleeuw saw Bean’s potential as a student and somehow felt he would do well after graduation.

“I remember Ted was always so inquisitive and eager to learn,” Deleeuw said. “Anything I challenged him to do, he accepted with great enthusiasm and commitment. I figured those qualities, in addition to his problem-solving skills, would serve him well in life.”

Bean acknowledged two other members of the engineering school as having greatly impacted him.

“Dr. George and Dr. Karl Brenkert (former dean of engineering) were also two I thought highly of for their guidance and motivating techniques,” he said. “They made us want to learn and to have pride in our progress.”

After Bean graduated from Ole Miss and served a tour in Vietnam, the Marine Corps sent him to the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. There, he obtained a master’s degree in operations research-systems analysis.

“After I retired from the Marine Corps, the MITRE Corp. sent me to George Washington University to work on my doctorate in operations research, but management tasks got in the way and I wasn’t able to complete it,” Bean said. “These studies set me on a course to specialize in systems acquisition for the Marine Corps, which I still do to this day.”

Bean has received many awards and honors over his career, including membership in Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi, awards from the Military Operations Research Society for technical skills and leadership, multiple leadership awards from his corporations and combat ribbons while on active duty.

“My most cherished award is a Certificate of Accomplishment from the Commandant of the Marine Corps for my technical and leadership contributions to a Marine Corps system acquisition while on active duty,” Bean said. “The CMC is the highest ranking officer in the Corps, and to have him formally recognize my efforts is most rewarding.”

Bean is married to the former Kathy Brown, a lawyer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, William and Mary College and Georgetown University. The Beans adopted two children from Russia in 1995. Morgan attends Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Staunton, Va., and Trent attends Northern Virginia Community College.

“Trent is planning to transfer to Ole Miss,” Bean said. “We visited the campus two summers ago and he loved it.”

Bean is in the process of retiring and in training to become a docent at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in northern Virginia.

“That will be my principal hobby, along with improving my golf game and reading,” he said. “I’m looking forward to all three, as well as attending as many of the Washington Nationals baseball games as possible. I also attend several Rebel games at a D.C. sports bar with Ole Miss alumni and we see good things for the Rebels coming this year.”

Bean entered the university the same year as James Meredith integrated it with his enrollment. While admitting there have been challenges, Bean said his alma mater has continued to make him proud.

“The reaction to a black student on campus startled me, as I had never been in a segregated society,” Bean said. “But Chancellor Williams led us into an integrated world, followed by a speech by Robert Kennedy on campus at the invitation of the law school during my senior year. This leadership helped heal these wounds, and I couldn’t be prouder to be an Ole Miss alumnus. We have come a long way.”

ME Professor Proves Major Asset to Department, Students

Ellen Lackey gives back to the institution that helped her achieve greatness

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

When Ellen Lackey first arrived at the University of Mississippi, the Forrest native was much like any other first-year student. A brilliant scholar, she soon graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering.

Within six years, Lackey also completed both her master’s degree in mechanical engineering and her doctorate in materials science and engineering, both from Ole Miss.

“Because I am originally from Mississippi, I was excited to have an opportunity to stay in Mississippi and contribute to the education of students in Mississippi,” she said. “I enjoy working with the students in classes and on projects.”

After joining the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an acting assistant professor in 1995, Lackey quickly rose within the ranks. A year later, she became an assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 2002 and became a full professor in 2010.

She teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in materials science, design, manufacturing and CAD/CAM/CAE courses. Lackey has also participated in course development activities, including courses in failure analysis, composites manufacturing, CAD, mechanical characterization of composites and introduction to manufacturing. A beloved instructor, Lackey has been selected to receive the ASME Student Section Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Teacher Award (which may be received once every three years) seven times since 1996.

“In terms of academic honors, I am proud of receiving the UM Faculty Achievement Award and the School of Engineering Outstanding Faculty Award,” she said. “Both of these awards value the significance of both teaching and research.”

Involved with composite materials research for the past 24 years, Lackey has made numerous contributions to the composites industry.

“I am proud of my work as a member of the Pultrusion Industry Council Load Resistance Factor Design Technical Committee and the ASTM D 20.18 Committee,” she said. “Work on these committees has included the development of various ASTM standards and the development of the ANSI standard document, ‘Code of Standard Practice for Fabrication and Installation of Pultruded Structures.’”

The Standard for LRFD of pultruded fiber-reinforced polymer structures will have long-term impacts, as it will help expand opportunities in structural applications for the composites industry.

Besides her work at UM, Lackey has worked in summer positions at the National Mechanical Engineering Laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan, and at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“In 2012, I joined 10 other industry professionals on the annual list of Bright, Energetic, Skilled Trailblazers in the composites industry, as selected by the American Composites Manufacturers Association,” she said.

Lackey holds membership in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASM International, Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering, American Composites Manufacturing Association and American Society for Engineering Education. Lackey is chief faculty adviser for the Mississippi Beta chapter of Tau Beta Pi.

Lackey’s dedication, scholarship and service have garnered her highest regards from colleagues.

“Dr. Lackey is most definitely one of the strongest members of our faculty,” said Arunachalam Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering. “Not only is she an outstanding teacher and accomplished researcher, she is also an excellent mentor and adviser to our students.”

In her spare time, Lackey said she enjoys watching Ole Miss sports, playing league tennis, travel, the outdoors, reading, computer-electronics projects and her corgis: Worf and Sulu.

ExxonMobil Executive Remembers, Supports Alma Mater

Albert Hilliard donates annually, advises undergraduates, networks and recruits potential students

ExxonMobil employee and UM School of Engineering alumnus Albert Hilliard finds time to give back to his alma mater.

ExxonMobil employee and UM School of Engineering alumnus Albert Hilliard finds time to give back to his alma mater.

When it comes to supporting the University of Mississippi School of Engineering, Albert Hilliard goes all out.

The projects execution manager for ExxonMobil Upstream IT Division, Hilliard manages 120 IT project managers and consultants who execute IT business projects associated with oil and gas exploration, development and production around the world. Yet the life member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association also finds time to donate annually (getting a triple match from ExxonMobil), network with other alumni, advise undergraduates on career opportunities, assist with job searches and recruit family, friends and strangers.

A regular attendee at football games and black alumni reunions, Hilliard also supports Ole Miss diversity program and racial reconciliation initiatives.

“My experience at Ole Miss helped me to appreciate the value of perseverance, resourcefulness and hard work,” said the Hernando native, who earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the university 31 years ago.

A first-generation college graduate, Hilliard remembers spending many long nights at the computer finishing computer programs and class projects. Engineering professors Tobin Maginnis and Tyrus McCarty are two faculty members he credits with being most influential during his years at Ole Miss.

“Being from rural Mississippi, Dr. Maginnis helped me understand the unimaginable possibilities of computer technology by presenting real-world problems to solve,” he said. “It was great seeing a young African-American engineering professor in the classroom at Ole Miss. Dr. McCarty motivated me to strive for excellence in the classroom as well with other student activities. He was very approachable and set high expectations.”

Three of Hilliard’s brothers and a nephew have also graduated from UM. He also has a great-niece and a great-nephew scheduled to attend this fall.

“I am very proud of becoming an executive at one of the largest corporations in the world,” said Hilliard, who also has a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Dayton and an EMBA from Baylor University. His wife, Harriet, earned her bachelor’s from Ole Miss and her M.D. from the UM Medical Center. The couple has two sons: Cedric, a Notre Dame graduate who played football in the NFL; and A.J., a sophomore linebacker at Texas A&M University.

Hilliard’s hobbies include playing tennis, golf, biking and basketball, watching sports (especially college football) and traveling for pleasure.

“Albert Hilliard is an excellent example of everything an Ole Miss engineering school graduate should be,” said Kevin Gardner, the school’s development officer. “He’s successful, generous, professional, yet personable and, most of all, dedicated to maintaining excellence in the educational programs at the institution that gave him his start.”

REJOICE!, ‘Pepper’ and Me

Edwin Smith, former editor of Rejoice magazine, center, speaks at the Center for The Study of Southern Culture's Music Symposium of the South in 2012.

Edwin Smith, former editor of Rejoice magazine, center, speaks at the Center for The Study of Southern Culture’s Music Symposium of the South in 2012.

OXFORD, Miss. — Once upon a time at the University of Mississippi, there existed a little-known publication called “REJOICE!: The Gospel Music Magazine.”

I know this for two reasons. First, because I read about it when the first issue debuted circa 1987. Second, I was privileged to serve as its managing co-editor for the last two years of its brief five-year existence.

Published by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, REJOICE! was one in a trio of music magazines published every two months. The other two periodicals were called Ole Time Country (also no longer around) and Living Blues (the best-known and most profitable of the three, which is still around today).  Its office, more like a big storage closet, actually, was in the Johnson Commons over what was then the Rebel Shop and later home for Human Resources.

While it never fully enjoyed mainstream popularity or commercial profitability, REJOICE! was– and is still– special. Initially, its creators envisioned it as somewhere between a scholarly academic journal and a trade publication for the burgeoning gospel music scene. Only in REJOICE! could you read about both crossover contemporary Christian music artists (i.e. Amy Grant, Take 6), Southern gospel groups (i.e. the LeFavre and Happy Goodman families), urban gospel stars (i.e. the Winans) and traditional quartets (i.e. the Sensational Nightingales, Canton Spirituals). In the magazine’s efforts to appeal to everyone, it featured unknown local acts and rising gospel musicals right along with the popular artists of the day and living legends. White, black, old, young, male, female, Protestant, Catholic all had access to and made appearances in REJOICE! at one time or another.

It was a great job being co-editor, along with Sidney Lamar “Pepper” Smith II of Gulfport, a master’s student in Southern studies at the time. Even though we shared the same last name, Pepper and I were literally as different as night and day. I am black, he is white. I was older, married with young children. He was single, in a long-distance relationship and in grad school. I liked “new” gospel music. Pepper liked “old school” gospel.

Together, Pepper and I served the university, the center, people we worked with and our various audiences. We got to attend the Gospel Music Association’s annual convention in Nashville (which included the DOVE Awards), the 25th anniversary of the Gospel Music Workshop of America in Chicago and a gospel music symposium held at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

We interviewed some of our favorite gospel celebrities, enjoyed complimentary tickets to gospel music concerts and reviewed all the latest gospel music releases months before they hit the shelves. We even sponsored our own gospel concert at Oxford High School featuring the UM Black Student Union Choir and the Sensational Nightingales of Durham, N.C. When I completed my master’s degree in journalism, REJOICE! was the subject of my thesis.

Why do I share all this with you who are reading this blog? Perhaps it’s because I believe it can serve as a model for where we are presently. Ole Miss is (like my experience with REJOICE! was) a mixed bag of ethnicities, beliefs, cultures, experiences, backgrounds, achievements and experiences. Each of us is different, yet we all have a place here and an opportunity to create something wonderful and meaningful together. Sure, there will always be times when we won’t see eye-to-eye, but that doesn’t have to yield division and dissention. There is (or at least there can be) unity in diversity, if we so choose. We really can all get along.

The magazine may be no more, but the memories of relationships found and lessons learned through REJOICE! will always be with me. 


Mike Harris New Helm of Parking and Transportation

Director moving forward with strategic plans for future success

Mike Harris, new director of Parking and Transportation.

Mike Harris, new director of Parking and Transportation.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has welcomed Mike Harris as its new director of parking and transportation.

The Starkville native joined the university Feb. 24. His duties include working with UM administrators and other stakeholders to define a strategic, long-term plan.

“The University of Mississippi is a progressive and fast-growing environment,” Harris said. “I wanted to be a part of such a dynamic environment.”

Among the new director’s goals are working to maximize the parking and transportation assets available.

“This plan will need to be detailed both in scope and vision and also works within the confines of the University Master Plan,” Harris said.

Harris is a welcome addition to the UM family, said Clayton Jones, assistance vice chancellor and director of human resources and contractual services.

“Mike Harris is the person who we targeted early on in our search to fill this position,” Jones said. “He is considered an expert in the field of parking and transportation. He has a proven record of being student-oriented and great at conflict resolution, which along with his expertise, are extremely important as the university evolves into a more pedestrian-friendly campus.”

Harris previously worked at Mississippi State University for 14 years. Having earned undergraduate degrees from the University of Kentucky and MSU, Harris also has an MBA from the latter.

“I also hold the CPP (Certified Parking Professional) from the National Parking Association and the CAPP (Certified Administrator of Public Parking) from the International Parking Institute,” Harris said. “I am currently serving on the board of Mid-South Parking and Transportation.”

Harris has two daughters, Victoria Faith and Sarah Jobeth. Though he doesn’t have much leisure time, Harris said he enjoys reading parking and transit periodicals.

“Parking and transit is such a fast-paced and ever-changing environment that one must continually keep up with new technology and trends,” he said.

For more information about UM Parking and Transportation, call 662-915-5450 or email Harris at gmharris@olemiss.edu.

Meet James “Blind Jim” Ivy

African-American was a beloved fixture at Ole Miss games decades ago

"Blind" Jim Ivy in front of the Lyceum at UM in this undated photo.

“Blind Jim” Ivy in front of the Lyceum at UM in this undated photo.

While James Meredith will always be the first African-American to attend The University of Mississippi as as a student, there was another man whose presence and influence on campus long preceded him.

His name was James Ivy, but he was best known by his nickname, “Blind Jim”. For 60 years, he was a peanut vender on campus, an unofficial mascot for the school and self-appointed “Dean of Freshmen.” Blinded as a teenager while working with tar on the Tallahatchie Bridge, Ivy was known for his humorous saying: “I’ve never seen the rebels lose a game.”

Ivy came to Oxford-Lafayette County with his mother in early childhood. His mother, Matilda, was one of the eight ex-slave women who formed the nucleus of the first Colored Baptist Church (now Second Baptist) in 1869. A member and ordained to preach, he would always lead the opening of the worship on Sunday services by singing ‘Let Heaven’s Light Shine on Me.’ In a whirlwind courtship, he married Blind Rosa Sanders and lived across the street from the church he loved.

“Blind Jim” became a part of the University of Mississippi in 1896. It is said that while boiling peanuts at one of the athletic events he loudly cheered ‘Hey! We’re gonna beat ‘em.’ After that event, the students honored him as mascot of the football team and also honored him as dean of the freshmen class.

“Blind Jim” Ivy was thought of as being ‘the grace of the Ole Miss campus’ for 69 years before his death in 1955. His funeral services were attended at Second Baptist Church, the church which he supported spiritually and financially.

A tall, distinguished man dressed impeccably in a black suit and white shirt, Ivy used a cane and wore a wide-brimmed hat. It is speculated that the figure of “Colonel Reb” is based on Ivy. “Blind Jim” was known for his loyalty to the football, basketball and baseball teams. His optimism, perseverance and humor endeared him to many people.

For a rare glimpse of “Blind Jim” Ivy at an Ole Miss football game in 1947, click this link.