UM School of Education ‘Rocks’ Hotty Toddy Video

The University of Mississippi School of Education produced this video in anticipation of the Rebels’ first football game in 2014 and they knocked it out of the park. In fact, we’d go so far to say they ‘Rocked’ it. Pardon the pun, but Dean David Rock, along with fellow faculty and staff members, certainly know how to get pumped up for the big game. Hotty Toddy, y’all!

Are You Ready? Beat Boise State! from Ole Miss School of Education on Vimeo.

Welcome Week at Ole Miss Lived Up to the Hype

Welcome Week 2014 sure has flown by. As we’ve said before on this blog, it’s an extremely exciting week that dictates months of planning on behalf of so many departments on campus. Now that it’s gone, things will settle into a rhythm on campus, but if you haven’t been here to experience it, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. There’s a fervor surrounding the entire week and around each event that has been so meticulously planned for so long. To give you a sense of what it’s like, one of our oh-so-talented Broadcast Communications Specialists puts together a highlight reel each year. Be on the look out for the 2014 edition later this week, but here’s last year’s Welcome Week video. Enjoy!

‘Ole Miss Matters’ Campaign Will Make August a Month to Remember

#olemissmatters

#olemissmatters

August is a big month on the Ole Miss campus. From Move-In Week activities to the first day of classes, it’s a fun time to be a Rebel. Could there be a better time to launch our new national ad campaign?

This year, the campaign is targeted directly to the interests of prospective students. Research shows they’re very interested in knowing more about the majors offered here. And they want to choose a major that prepares them for careers they can be excited about. Bottom line: they want to know how Ole Miss can make a difference for them. That’s what led to a campaign called “Ole Miss Matters,” which provides a long, long list of reasons why an education at Ole Miss matters, using the television spot and a coordinated Internet/social media campaign. It’s more than a catchy phrase, slick graphics or poignant photography. It’s a strong statement about our university, our faculty, staff, students and alumni, and it shows the world that Ole Miss and its graduates matter – in a big way.

Why does Ole Miss matter?

Our leadership. The Patterson School of Accountancy is ranked among the top 4 accountancy programs in the country and has ranked as one of the top 20 accounting programs in the country for five years in a row. The forensic chemistry program at Ole Miss has been called one of the 15 best in the country. Our School of Law prepares space lawyers for the final frontier thanks to the nation’s only LL.M. program in air and space law. And the list goes on and on.

Our selfless service. Each year, thousands of students learn the meaning of service through a variety of initiatives, including support for the Lafayette-Oxford-University community in the annual Big Event. The Ole Miss chapter of Engineers Without Borders designed and built a school in the West African nation of Togo. They’re also working to provide the village with clean drinking water. The San Mateo Empowerment Project is building a road for a once-forgotten community in Belize.

We are accessible. Our student body includes representation from 93 countries around the world, and our university was one of only two in the SEC listed as “Best College Value Under $30,000 a Year.”

We achieve great things in the classroom. Since 1848, 25 Rhodes scholars have called it “home.” Nearly 100 percent of our School of Pharmacy graduates pass the national licensure examination on the first attempt. We boast some of the best graduation rates in the country.

We excel on the playing field. Eleven former or current Rebel athletes have participated in the Olympics. Since head baseball coach Mike Bianco began his career at the helm of the Ole Miss baseball program, 38 players have been selected in the Major League Baseball draft. And, ever seen “The Blind Side”?

The list goes on and on. In fact, we have dozens of other facts that we’ll be sharing via Internet/social media over the next month. So we encourage you to use our hashtag (#olemissmatters) and share your stories. No one knows Ole Miss better than all of you. You are our story: our past, our present and our future.

Yesterday, after months of planning and conceptualizing, we unveiled the “Ole Miss Matters” video right here on the Ole Miss News Blog. It’s the same one that will air at halftime of the Ole Miss-Boise State game on Aug. 28. Wow. That’s only six days away. Yet another reason why August is a great time to be a Rebel.

Ole Miss Releases First Phase of Renovation, Expansion Plans for Vaught-Hemingway

South End Zone Renovation for 2015 Season, North End Zone Expansion for 2016 Season

South End Zone renovation rendering

South End Zone renovation rendering

OXFORD, Miss. — As part of a step-by-step plan for the renovation and expansion that will have Vaught-Hemingway Stadium completed by the start of the 2016 football season, the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation has released drawings for the expansion of premium seating in the south end zone complex.

The project is part of the first phase of expansion plans, which is scheduled for completion by the start of the 2015 football season.

The released drawings, Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said, was a necessary step in the fundraising and financing plan in order to start the sales process for the 770 club seats that will be located at the lower level of the south end zone.

The enclosure and expansion of the north end zone seating bowl are part of the second phase, scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 season, which will bring capacity to more than 64,000.

“Since the Forward Together capital campaign was launched in the fall of 2011, the goals for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium have remained consistent; to expand the overall stadium capacity and fan experience amenities, to upgrade exterior elements that provide more consistency around the stadium and with university architecture, and to expand premium seating offerings in order to provide necessary funding,” Bjork said.

Ole Miss has already sold more than 130 club seats in the south end zone since the announcement Wednesday. As part of the same project, 30 suites will also be added, which were sold out as of December 2013.

“The south end zone was chosen for the expansion of premium seating because it allows for the consolidation of premium seating into one main area of the stadium,” Bjork said. “Existing infrastructure, such as a kitchen, elevators and access to parking are already in place to operate the new premium seating. There is a significant savings in construction cost by capitalizing on existing infrastructure.”

In addition to premium seating, the first and second levels of the main concourse will be expanded by 2,500 square feet for more walking space, and there will be the addition of 75 new toilets and three concession stands as part of the first phase of expansion. The west side suites and press areas will also be renovated and completed for the 2015 season.

As part of the second phase, the north end zone seating bowl will be enclosed and expanded to right below the existing scoreboard. This expansion will also create a full stadium concourse with added restrooms and concessions to the north end zone complex. Two new video boards will also be added in the south end zone.

Other parts of the second phase include a new front door to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on the north end with the extension of the Walk of Champions to the stadium, a brick and stone exterior, a new entrance plaza, more gates and a bell tower.

“A long-term approach guides our athletic complex master planning,” Bjork said. “We’re not limiting ourselves. We are leaving room for Vaught-Hemingway to expand for future growth. The current plans for the north end zone allow for expansion, and the west side press box could be demolished to accommodate a new structure and upper deck.”

The first phase of expansion plans will see a slight reduction in capacity for the 2015 season, which will decrease visiting teams’ allotments.

“It is important that we continue to grow our fan base and once we reach full capacity in 2016, we will be able to accommodate more Rebel fans than ever before,” Bjork said. “It will be a transition year in 2015, and we may have to move people because of the addition of premium seating in the south end zone. By 2016, when we have full capacity of more than 64,000, we will have the ability to increase student seating and add to our fan base.”

The student seating capacity of 8,100 tickets will remain the same for the 2015 season, and the student seating section will be adjusted within the south end zone as the premium seats are added. With the growth of the entire stadium, student seating capacity will also expand for the 2016 season.

“The goals for student seating beginning with the 2016 season are to increase student seating capacity, provide more student-related amenities and create more convenient stadium access,” Bjork said. “As student population expands on campus and Vaught-Hemingway capacity increases to more than 64,000, this plan provides the flexibility to enhance the student seating experience.”

For more information on the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation and the Forward Together Campaign, go to ForwardTogetherRebels.com or call the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7159.

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller.

Ole Miss Volleyball Reports, Begins Preseason Camp

Rebels Practice Twice Saturday

Ole Miss volleyball defeated Southern Miss 3-0 on Friday, September 20th, 2013 at the Gillom Center in Oxford, MS.

Ole Miss volleyball defeated Southern Miss 3-0 on Friday, September 20th, 2013 at the Gillom Center in Oxford, MS.

OXFORD, Miss. – While many students are enjoying the final days of summer, the Ole Miss volleyball team, under first-year head coach Steven McRoberts, is already back in Oxford preparing for the 2014 season, as preseason camp kicked off Saturday.

Friday, the team reported to campus for a full day of orientation, acclimation and team meetings as the student-athletes met with different members of the Ole Miss Athletics staff, including compliance, media relations, athletic training, strength and conditioning and academics. Athletics Director Ross Bjork took time out to speak to the team as well. Following a full afternoon of meetings, the team members received their new Nike gear for the season.

Adding to the excitement of starting a new season and the beginning of a new era, several updates to the Gillom Sports Center took place while the team was away between second summer session and the start of camp, including a newly designed court.

Thirteen players took to the courts Saturday morning for a two-hour practice, spending a lot of time on ball control.  The Rebels broke for lunch, before coming back in the afternoon for position practices.

“We all came in excited. It’s definitely a new challenge for us, a new beginning,” McRoberts said. “We have a lot of work to do, but the effort was there and the attitude was good. You always have to go through that first practice to see what direction you want the next few days of camp to go.”

Coach McRoberts will benefit from the return of 11 letterwinners, including four position starters. Key returnees include junior middle blockers Nakeyta Clair and Ty Laporte as well as right side hitter Melanie Crow and setter Aubrey Edie.

The Rebels will practice once Sunday before resuming two-a-day practices Monday.

Be sure to come see the team and meet Coach McRoberts at the annual “Meet the Rebels Day” Presented by Cannon Motors, Saturday, August 16 at the Manning Center.  The team posters will be handed out and the Rebels will be signing autographs.

Doors will open to Rebel Kids’ Club Members (with up to two parents or guardians) at 11:30 a.m., at the south entrance of the facility, which faces the Track & Field complex. The general public may enter at noon, and all fans should park in the Coliseum lot.

For more information on Ole Miss Volleyball, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB, on Facebook at OleMissVolleyball and on Instagram at OleMissVB.

Ole Miss Fans Meet Rebel Players, Coaches in Oxford

Meet the Rebels Day Draws Big Crowd

The 2014 Meet The Rebels event held at the Manning Center on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

The 2014 Meet The Rebels event held at the Manning Center on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

OXFORD, Miss. – A Manning Center crowd of about 5,000 Rebel fans were treated to a bevy of autograph and photo opportunities, children’s games, food, giveaways and merchandise at the 2014 Ole Miss Meet The Rebels Day, presented by Cannon Motors.

Fans met with players and coaches from the preseason nationally ranked football team, as well as the soccer, volleyball, rifle and women’s golf teams. Members of the cheerleading and Rebelette squads also visited with fans during the event.

Football head coach Hugh Freeze addressed the crowd, as did athletics director Ross Bjork and other coaches and administrators.

Many fans got their first glimpses of the renovated Manning Center, which includes a flashy new dining facility called the Grill at 1810, a renovated strength training area, a state-of-the-art team meeting room, and a hallway that pays tribute to the Rebels’ NFL players past and present.

The football team practiced Saturday morning in a workout closed to the public. The Rebels are more than halfway through fall camp in preparation for the 2014 season opener against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome (Thursday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m. CT, ESPN).

The Ole Miss soccer team opens its season this Friday at home against the Georgia Bulldogs at 6 p.m. CT, televised by the new SEC Network. The volleyball team begins the year on the road in a tournament in Buffalo, New York, on Aug. 29. Women’s golf gets going on Sept. 8 at the FedEx Memphis Intercollegiate, and rifle starts Oct. 2 at the Tiger Invitational in Memphis.

Ole Miss Soccer Reports For Fall Practice Wednesday

Rebels Hold First of Two-A-Day Practice With Spirited Workouts

Ole Miss Soccer defeated Auburn 7-0 on September 29th, 2013 at the Ole Miss Soccer Complex in Oxford, MS.

Ole Miss Soccer defeated Auburn 7-0 on September 29th, 2013 at the Ole Miss Soccer Complex in Oxford, MS.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss soccer team took to the pitch Wednesday morning to kick off preseason workouts with the first of two practices as the Rebels prepare for the upcoming season which begins on August 22, when Ole Miss hosts Georgia.

The season-opening match with the Bulldogs will begin at 6 p.m. at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium and is the first live event to be broadcast by the SEC Network.

“We’re very happy with the fitness level of the team,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “Our strength coach, Randy Dorvin, has done a tremendous job and that allows us to start so much further along on the first day. We’re in a great spot physically.

“I’m happy with the speed and pace with which we trained this morning and that will help us with the style of play we want to put on the field this fall,” Mott said. “The attitude of the players was great and exactly what you look for as a coach. The players were energized and there was a buzz as they were flying all over the field in drills.”

Twenty-two players took to the field for Ole Miss, including 16 returning players and six newcomers as the Rebels look to build on the most successful season in program history. In 2013, Ole Miss finished 16-6-2 on the year and fourth in the Southeastern Conference standings with a 7-3-1 record.

The 16 wins marked the most in a single season for the program as the Rebels advanced to the fifth NCAA Tournament all-time and hosted an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in program history. Ole Miss defeated Jackson State 9-0 in that opening-round game before falling to top-ranked Florida State on the road in the second round, as the Seminoles would go on to finish as runners up for the national championship.

With the goal in sight to build on that successful campaign, the Rebels hit the field for technical drills to start the first day of practice under the watchful eye of the coaching staff, athletics trainers, and the strength and conditioning staff.

Ole Miss will close out the first day of practice when the Rebels hit the field again at 8 p.m. tonight for 11-on-11 competition.

The opening day of practice comes on the heels of a full day of orientation, acclimation and team meetings on Tuesday as the student-athletes met with different members of the Ole Miss Athletics staff, including compliance, media relations, athletic training, strength and conditioning and academics. The squad also received its new Nike equipment for the season as a part of reporting day.

The Rebels will continue practice through the next two weeks alternating two-a-day practices with single practice days, strength training and cardiovascular fitness workouts.

Kelly McCormick is the lone senior for the upcoming season as the goalkeeper has started all three years for the Rebels and is the all-time wins leader in goal (34). She posted a 16-6-2 mark as a junior while seeing the full time in goal in 19 matches and posting 10 shutout victories.

The Rebels also welcome back a large junior class of seven players for the upcoming season and nine players among last year’s freshman class.

Ole Miss returns several playmakers for the 2014 season, including forwards Olivia Harrison, Bethany Bunker and Addie Forbus, who combined for 17 of the team’s goals last season. In all, the Rebels return seven players who notched goals a year ago, and 39 career goals among all returning players in the junior and sophomore classes over the last two seasons.

Harrison (13), Bunker (7) and midfielder Jennifer Miller (6) are among the top goal scorers in the junior class. Also returning to the lineup for the Rebels will be Sara Coleman, who missed last season after a freshman year that saw the speedy forward notch three goals, including the game-winner in a shutout of Kentucky.

Defensively, the Rebels also return one of the most talented and experienced back lines in program history with all six players (Melissa Capocaccia, Maddie Friedmann, Gretchen Harknett, Jessica Hiskey, Georgia Russell and Samantha Sanders) who drew starts returning from last season all hitting the field again.

The group helped post 10 shutout victories a year ago and 17 matches with one goal or fewer allowed. The rising junior class has helped lead the Rebels to 18 shutout victories over the last two seasons and 30 total matches with no more than one goal allowed by opponents.

The versatility of the returning athletes for the Rebels adds to the prospects for 2014 despite the loss of senior midfielder Erin Emerson, along with the departure of Mandy McCalla and Rafaelle Souza up top. Miller returns for her third season at midfield, while attacking defenders Harknett and Hiskey can both move up to the midfield to provide an effective combination of defense and offense along with Miller in the middle.

Add in an exciting freshman class and it’s hard to miss the excitement surrounding the program heading into the 2014 season.

UM Announces Plan for Leadership on Issues of Race and Diversity

Chancellor releases report on campus environment, creates new position of vice chancellor for diversity

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones has released a comprehensive action plan for fostering a more inclusive and welcoming environment on campus.

The recommendations are the fruit of a study of wide-ranging opinions on campus culture from students, faculty and administrators, which were paired with input from respected consultants. The plan includes a new position of vice chancellor for diversity and a variety of initiatives focused on inclusion and race relations.

Last summer, an expanded Sensitivity and Respect Committee completed its review of the university’s environment on race and diversity. After the committee’s report, consultants Ed Ayers and Christy Coleman of Richmond, Virginia, were brought in to study the effect on campus culture of building names and campus symbols tied to historical issues of slavery and segregation. Consultant Greg Vincent, who led the University of Texas in addressing issues of diversity and inclusion, was hired to analyze the university’s organizational structure and how it relates to diversity and inclusion.

The consultants submitted reports on their interviews with members of the campus community, as well as recommendations based on their experiences with similar issues. Jones complimented the work of the university community and consultants in generating the ideas included in the action plan.

“The reports from everyone involved were candid and thoughtful in suggesting that more can be done here to improve our environment for diversity and inclusion,” Jones said.

“It is my hope that the steps outlined here – reflecting the hard work of university committees and our consultants – will prove valuable in making us a stronger and healthier university, bringing us closer to our goal of being a warm and welcoming place for every person every day, regardless of race, religious preference, country of origin, ability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender expression.”

Jones said he knows that some people will find parts of the recommendations that they like and some they don’t. “Every idea was not included, but I’m confident everyone involved will find evidence of their substantial contributions.

“There were and will continue to be differences of opinion among us. But, I am encouraged that while our discussions over recent months were frank, even tough, they also were civil and respectful. My very sincere thanks go out to all of those who demonstrated these values throughout the process.”

The process was designed to gather as broad a range of opinion as possible, the chancellor said.

“It was important that we hear from everyone who loves this university,” he said. “Too often when viewpoints are wide-ranging, nuanced and emotional, the easy answer for leaders is a non-decision, freezing people at a point in time and putting progress off to another day. To me, that is not leadership. And our mission as a university is to lead.”

The plan involves six steps, with more initiatives expected when the new vice chancellor position is filled:

1. Create a vice chancellor-level position for diversity and inclusion. UM’s provost will create a specific position title, portfolio, set of responsibilities and initial budget for a new administrative position. The job will be created after consultation with faculty and will be subject to approval by the university’s governing board. A search committee will be formed to begin work during the fall semester.

2. Establish a portfolio model of diversity and engagement. As part of the creation of the job description for the new vice chancellor position, a set of standards for diversity and engagement will be drafted for the university to follow moving forward.

3. Deal squarely with the issue of race while also addressing other dimensions of diversity.

“We look forward to a day when it is the norm to embrace and celebrate our differences, when our country and state have become a truly post-racial society,” Jones said. “But that day has not yet arrived. Clearly, there are still issues regarding race that our country must address. And we will need to continue a dialogue on race at our university. Our unique history regarding race provides not only a larger responsibility for providing leadership on race issues, but also a large opportunity – one we should and will embrace.”

A faculty group focused on UM’s history with slavery began work last year. The initiative is an example of the kind of scholarly leadership UM can provide on the issue, Jones said, voicing renewed commitment to the work of the university’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. He also said the new vice chancellor for diversity will be engaged in efforts to address issues of race and diversity and will work with existing campus organizations, such as the Critical Race Studies Group, that have focused on these issues.

4. Implement a symbolic and formal dedication of all new students to the ideals of inclusion and fairness to which UM is devoted.

The UM Creed was adopted as a means of communicating and cultivating the university’s core values. A public university can’t require a pledge or oath as a condition of enrollment. It can and will work with students and others to pursue methods of elevating and strengthening the UM community with the creed’s values. The university’s vice chancellor for student affairs will implement this recommendation.

5. Offer more history, putting the past into context, telling more of the story of Mississippi’s struggles with slavery, secession, segregation and their aftermath. 

Consultants cited Richmond, one of capitals of the Confederacy, as a good example of appropriately addressing a negative history. City leaders opted not to erase history, even some of the more difficult parts of it, and chose not to remove existing statues and building names. Instead, the city has balanced its presentation of history by offering broader, contemporary context for symbols and adding new symbols more representative of the city’s current culture.

An example of that approach already implemented at UM is the statue honoring James Meredith, the university’s first African-American student. Additional opportunities with more contemporary symbols lie ahead, and the new vice chancellor will be engaged in long-term evaluation of those recommendations. Until the new vice chancellor is hired, that job will be handled by the provost and the assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs.

Among buildings and symbols that will be evaluated for plaques adding context and perspective are Vardaman Hall, the ballroom in Johnson Commons and the Confederate statue at the entrance to Lyceum Circle.

Several steps have been taken already:

- The entrance of the Manning Center was recently designated the Williams-Reed Foyer in honor of Ben Williams and James Reed, the university’s first two black football players. Jones thanked Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze for their leadership in the recommendation.

- The new Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement opens this fall in Stewart Hall. The center, which will move later to the renovated and expanded Student Union, enhances the quantity and quality of programming and leadership initiatives for underrepresented students.

- Coliseum Drive will need a new name when the Tad Smith Coliseum is replaced with the new basketball arena. A recommendation from the UM Alumni Association and the M-Club to rename it “Roy Lee ‘Chucky’ Mullins Drive” has been adopted. Mullins, a black football player who was paralyzed and later died, became a unifying symbol of an indomitable human spirit at the university.

- Confederate Drive, which enters Fraternity Row, will be renamed “Chapel Lane.”

6. Appropriate use of the name “Ole Miss.” UM’s longstanding nickname is beloved by the vast majority of its students and alumni. But a few, especially some university faculty, are uncomfortable with it. Some don’t want it used at all and some simply don’t want it used within the academic context.

The university completed a national study about the name “Ole Miss” during the last year and found the vast majority of respondents don’t attach any meaning to it other than an affectionate name for the university. In fact, a significant margin likes and prefers the “Ole Miss” name. And a very small percentage of respondents associate the university, either as “Ole Miss” or “University of Mississippi,” with negative race issues.

Both names will be used in appropriate contexts going forward, with particular emphasis going to “Ole Miss” in athletics and as a representation of the university’s spirit.

Other campus efforts already in place will continue to grow 

The action plan includes a wide variety of other initiatives launched even as the study of campus environment was underway, including creation of the Bias Incident Response Team, diversity training for employees, construction of a National Pan-Hellenic Council garden representing the history and campus engagement of historically black fraternities and sororities, periodic surveys to monitor the campus environment, and various programs to enhance student success.

Ole Miss Breaks Ground on New Arena

Facility to officially be named The Pavilion at Ole Miss

Arena Groundbreaking Ceremony and Reception on Thursday, July 31st, 2014 on the campus of The University of Mississippi.

Arena groundbreaking ceremony and reception on July 31, 2014 on the UM campus.

OXFORD, Miss. – Chancellor Dan Jones called them extraordinary days for the University of Mississippi, as the athletics program and university move forward together and build their shared dream of excellence.

Once a vision, the new basketball arena, which will officially be named The Pavilion at Ole Miss, became more of a reality with a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.

“Today is ceremonial, but it also shows it’s a reality,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork said. “We have seen the construction fence, the dirt being taken out and the parking garage up, but you have to celebrate a milestone like this. Today was about the ceremony and the reality, but it was also bringing the Ole Miss community together and having our student-athletes see it firsthand.”

Once completed, The Pavilion at Ole Miss will not only be a destination point for the Ole Miss men’s and women’s basketball programs, but for the entire athletics department and university.

“We’re going to have a lot of excellence here,” Jones said. “We’re going to win a lot of basketball games. We’re going to have a lot of good convocations here for students. Parents are going to see their children graduate from this university. Students who come here to look at the university are going to have a great place to convene to begin their campus tours.”

“Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, family, friends and visitors love being on this campus, and so our vision was to create a front door along All-American Drive that would be a capstone for Ole Miss Athletics,” Bjork said. “It’s a destination point for many things that can happen on this campus, and it’s also close to the heart of the campus. The Pavilion at Ole Miss will be a reflection of its name as a large building used for public exhibit and sporting events for the Ole Miss family.”

The new arena, Bjork said, is a commitment to excellence with facilities that speaks to greatness in recruiting and fan experience and a huge statement for the athletics program that shows they’re healthy financially to continue growing and building.

“From a game day experience standpoint and all the things that you are asking from donors, we finally have the opportunity to provide them something that equates to the other sports on this campus,” men’s basketball head coach Andy Kennedy said. “From a recruiting standpoint, it gives us the opportunity to say, ‘You have everything you need to be successful as it relates to basketball.’ ”

“It’s great, not only for us, but for everyone on campus,” women’s basketball head coach Matt Insell said. “For us in terms of recruiting and walking into a new building, we go on the road and play in a lot of nice facilities and our girls are always wowed, but now teams are going to be wowed by our facilities because it’s going to be one of the best on-campus arenas in the country.”

AECOM is architect of record for the project and is providing architectural design, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, acoustic design and cost consulting. Construction on the attached parking structure has been underway since the beginning of the year. Arena construction is expected to be complete by December of 2015.

“The arena design features an intimate seating bowl for great student interaction and fan experience,” said Jon Niemuth, director of sports for AECOM. “We’re excited to create a venue that embraces the campus community and creates an environment for top-level competitive athletics.”

Bjork announced that the Forward Together capital campaign has reached the $112.5 million mark, on the way to its $150 million goal, which included the $85 million set aside for the new arena.

Ole Miss will continue to aggressively pursue adding a name in front of the word “Pavilion,” whether it’s an individual donor or a corporate sponsor, to work toward bridging the $37.5 million gap.

“Days like this help,” said Bjork of fundraising. “We can take this step, get this project going. We’re under construction and ready to be open by December 2015. It allows us to start focusing on that design process.”

As part of the Forward Together campaign, AECOM recently completed additions and renovations to the Manning Center football headquarters facility and currently is designing improvements for Vaught Hemmingway Stadium.

To learn more about donating to the campaign or securing seats in Ole Miss’ various athletic venues, fans are encouraged to go to ForwardTogetherRebels.com, or contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7159.

AECOM is an international design, planning and engineering firm with an integrated, cross-disciplinary approach to complex infrastructure challenges. AECOM’s sports practice has delivered hundreds of innovative venue designs and renovations at the collegiate, professional and international level

Clarion Ledger: Mannings, UMMC develop healthy-living campaign

Imagine, for the moment, every famous athlete gave back to their community in the manner the Archie Manning family does. Just imagine.

Dr. Jimmy Keeton, who heads up the University of Mississippi Medical Center, has.

“The world would be a better place,” Keeton says. “Mississippi would be a much more healthy place.”

Read the entire story by Rick Cleveland.