UM Moves Up in Measures of Academic and Research Performance

University included in several rankings of the nation's and world's best institutions

The University of Mississippi is ranked among the nation’s best public institutions in several third-party evaluations of academic and research performance. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Efforts by faculty, staff and students to excel in their pursuit of knowledge have given the University of Mississippi, the state’s flagship university, new momentum in its mission to lead the way in learning, discovery and engagement for the state and nation.

UM has been ranked among the nation’s best public institutions in several third-party evaluations of academic and research performance, and the university has climbed in recent measures of those areas.

In 2016, the university was included for the first time among the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the nation’s top doctoral research universities. UM is among a distinguished group of 115 institutions, including Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins in the highest research category, which includes the top 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education.

The university also achieved its highest-ever standing in the 2017 U. S. News & World Report annual rankings of Best (Undergraduate) Colleges and Universities, where UM tied for No. 64 in the Top Public Universities category, up seven places from the previous year’s rankings. The rankings reflect 15 indicators of academic excellence, such as graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, financial resources and alumni giving rates.

The business (including accounting) and engineering programs were also ranked nationally.

Chemical engineering students conduct an experiment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“These achievements and rankings reinforce our flagship status and are a testament to the value of our degrees, the impact of our research and the competitiveness of our students, staff and faculty,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “While they provide important benchmarks for our university, we remain committed to achieving even higher levels of excellence.

“We will focus upon growing the reach and impact of Ole Miss to continue making a positive difference for Mississippi, our nation and the world.”

The university ranked in the top 20 percent of U.S. institutions for total research and development expenditures in a report issued by the National Science Foundation based upon 2015 expenditures. For the 10th consecutive year, the university was ranked in the top 20 percent in this report.

The university also performed well in the inaugural ranking of U.S. colleges and universities by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education publications. This measure ranked UM 74th among all the nation’s public universities.

This ranking constitutes a comparative assessment of more than 1,000 colleges and universities, measuring factors such as university resources, student engagement, outcomes and environment. The latter includes a gauge of the university’s efforts to build a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff.

“Many of our academic offerings continue to gain exposure and recognition,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “I fully expect this trend to continue because of the quality and commitment of our faculty and staff.”

Success in international education and research partnerships contributed to the university’s standing on U.S. News’ 2017 list of Best Global Universities. Among the top 1,000 research universities in 65 countries, UM ranked in the top third on this year’s list.

Ole Miss students attending the PULSE Sophomore Leadership get to interact with Corporate Execs from FedEx, Hershey’s, Chico and others. PULSE is a two-day sophomore leadership workshop that brings together sophomore students from a variety of roles on campus to learn about themselves and their leadership potential. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The Best Global Universities list ranks each institution’s international and regional research reputation, including a statistical analysis of peer-reviewed publications, citations and international collaborations. The university ranked in the top 10 percent in international collaborations, and the university’s research areas of physics and pharmacology/toxicology were ranked in the top 20 percent.

“The reputation of the university in national and international research circles has been steadily growing over the past few decades,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “We have seen this trend through an increasing number of national leadership positions in societies and consortia, an increase in the number of grant awards, as well as in statistical reports such as U.S. News and World Report.

“It is an exciting time for the research community at the university, and I look forward to increasingly higher impact of UM research.”

U.S. News and World Report ranked two of the university’s graduate academic programs in the top 25 nationally among public universities: the online MBA program (No. 19) and pharmacy (No. 23). Here are some of the other U.S. News rankings of UM graduate programs among public universities:

  • School of Education online program (tied No. 35)
  • History (tied No. 48)
  • Master of Business Administration (tied No. 51)
  • English (tied No. 56)
  • Clinical psychology (tied No. 67)
  • Civil engineering (tied No. 70)
  • Education (tied No. 72)
  • Social work (tied No. 77)
  • Physics (tied No. 84)
  • Electrical engineering (tied No. 85)
  • Mathematics (tied No. 91)

In national rankings by other sources, the university achieved several additional accolades among all public and private universities:

  • Patterson School of Accountancy (all three degree programs ranked in the top 10 nationally by the journal Public Accounting Report)
  • Patterson School of Accountancy master’s and doctoral programs (No. 1 in SEC)
  • Patterson School of Accountancy undergraduate program (No. 2 in SEC)
  • Creative writing (No. 6 among “Top 10 Universities for Aspiring Writers” by CollegeMagazine.com)
  • Online health informatics undergraduate program (No. 3 by the Health Informatics Degree Center)
  • Business law program in the School of Law (one of only four schools to earn a perfect score of A+ by preLaw Magazine, ranking it as one of the country’s top programs)

The university’s efforts to achieve excellence in all its endeavors also has helped recruit talented students to learn and contribute on all its campuses. The Chronicle of Higher Education named the university as the nation’s eighth-fastest growing among both public and private colleges in its Almanac of Higher Education, moving up from 13th in 2014.

The ranking is based upon enrollment growth from fall 2006, when the university enrolled 14,497 students, to fall 2016, with 24,250 students registered.

The university’s incoming freshmen continue to be better-prepared for the rigor of college, posting an average ACT score of 25.2 in fall 2016, surpassing the school record of 24.7 set in 2015. The high school GPA of incoming freshmen also increased, growing from 3.54 to 3.57, another university record.

“Ole Miss is committed to student success,” Vitter said. “The demand for a University of Mississippi degree is unprecedented, and the success of our programs and initiatives aimed at helping students stay in school and graduate is clear in our increasing retention and graduation rates.

“Each and every day, our faculty and staff demonstrate strong commitment to transforming lives through higher education.”

UM Creative Writing Program Ranked Among Nation’s Top 10

Award-winning authors, talented students, unique opportunities key elements in latest recognition

The UM Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing Program, housed in Bondurant Hall, has just been ranked in the "Top 10 University for Aspiring Writers" by CollegeMagazine.com. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The UM Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing Program, housed in Bondurant Hall, has been ranked among the 10 vest programs for aspiring writers by CollegeMagazine.com. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Less than a decade ago, the University of Mississippi was ranked as one of five “Up-and-Coming” Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programs by The Atlantic magazine.

Apparently, the program is reaching its full potential, with UM recently being named a “Top 10 University for Aspiring Writers” by CollegeMagazine.com.

“I am extremely happy for our English department, MFA program and our current and former students,” said Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and MFA program director. “A lot of this foundation was laid well before I arrived here four years ago in Barry Hannah’s vision for the program, Beth Ann Fennelly’s dedication as our long-standing director and the full support of Ivo Kamps, our extremely supportive chair.”

At No. 6, the university is ahead of such prestigious rival institutions as the University of Virginia, Emory University, the University of Chicago and New York University. Ranked ahead of UM are Wesleyan University, the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University and the University of Iowa.

“Ole Miss boasts of notable alumni John Grisham and William Faulkner and tries to re-create the literary geniuses their programs housed in the past,” wrote CollegeMagazine.com author Isabella Senzamici. “The Creative Writing program admits only a small amount of students so each student receives optimal attention. Their student publication, The Yalobusha Review, an online journal that breaks the traditional norms of mainstream media, is considered one of the best student publications in the nation.”

Acclaimed author Kiese Laymon is one of the newest hires in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Acclaimed author Kiese Laymon is one of the newest hires in the MFA in Creative Writing program. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

UM students transform their passion for writing into a catalyst for social change, Senzamici wrote.

They teach community writing workshops, read at retirement homes and judge writing contests to help budding writers understand the value and impact of their words. Ole Miss equips students with the Oxford Conference for the Book, a program that puts writers and students in contact with an author they admire or helps market their writing collections.”

Kamps said he was excited to read the College Magazine piece because it confirms the upward trajectory of the university’s writing program.

“We have an extraordinary group of creative writers on the faculty, and our students know it,” he said. “Our entire faculty is dedicated to the success of the students. The recent addition of Kiese Laymon and Melissa Ginsburg only confirms that.”

While numbers and rankings aren’t everything, it does mean a lot for UM as a fairly young program, Hariell said.

“To be mentioned in the same breath as long-established programs is something we can hang our hat on,” he said. “Additionally, we can share this information with prospective students in hopes to continue improving our recruitment efforts.”

Renowned poet Melissa Ginsburg is also a new faculty member in the program.

Renowned poet Melissa Ginsburg is also a new faculty member in the program.

The latest news comes as verification that UM’s program is doing everything right, Fennelly said.

“For many years, we’ve believed that what has been happening in our classrooms, with our students, is very, very special,” said the award-winning poet, professor of English and Mississippi poet laureate. “But of course, it’s nice to have the confirmation! All I know is, our mojo is working. And this year, I’m happy knowing in his (Harriell’s) hands, our program will grow even stronger.”

Poets and fiction writing students in the MFA program were also ecstatic to learn about the ranking.

“I’m not at all surprised to find Mississippi ranked so highly, but I’m absolutely thrilled by it, mostly because it’s a recognition of how hard our faculty and staff work to make this an incredible place to be educated as a writer, and of all the remarkable and exciting work my colleagues are doing,” said Molly Brown, a third-year poet from Amherst, Virginia.

“From the moment I arrived in Oxford, this place, and these people, have been on my team in every conceivable way. My colleagues and my teachers have made me want to be better and do better work every day.”

Fellow student Matt Kessler agreed.

“I knew I would receive a great writing education, but I didn’t realize just how much I’d also learn about literature and about how to teach,” said Kessler, a third-year fiction writer from Chicago. “That’s what I’m excited about: the quality of the writing that my classmates and teachers have shared with me.”

Since the Ole Miss program was launched in 2000, it has stayed small and selective, attracted outstanding students, retained its exceptional faculty and been supported financially by generous benefactors such as John and Renee Grisham.

For several years, students in the program have garnered inclusion in “Best New American Voices,” an anthology of the best of fiction workshops across the country. Other student recognition includes the Association of Writing Programs Intro Award for Non-Fiction, the Iron Horse Discovery Award for Poetry, the Best American Poetry award and publication in a number of national magazines.

Locally, the MFA program was also awarded a Graduate Schools Diversity Award a couple of years ago.

For more information about the UM Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, visit http://mfaenglish.olemiss.edu/.

Campaign Honors Chancellor through Academic Support

'Invest in Ole Miss' celebrates a new era under Vitter's leadership

The new Invest in Ole Miss campaign honors Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, who enjoys spending time with students over breakfast. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The new Invest in Ole Miss campaign honors Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, who enjoys spending time with students over breakfast. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A new fundraising campaign – Invest in Ole Miss – is celebrating a University of Mississippi milestone while building support for academics.

Campaign administrators say Invest in Ole Miss honors the Nov. 10 investiture of Jeffrey S. Vitter, the university’s 17th chancellor, by increasing resources in the Ole Miss Fund, the reserve of unrestricted financial contributions that supports the university’s schools and colleges at the deans’ discretion.

The campaign welcomes Vitter in this new chapter in the life of the university, recognizing the growth and progress taking place, said Barbara Daush, regional development officer at the UM Foundation.

“The Invest in Ole Miss campaign capitalizes on Chancellor Vitter’s first year,” she said. “We wanted to use the themes of his investiture to commemorate the new, exciting opportunities that it brings.

“Annual giving is the foundation of all giving for the university, a way to engage all donors to invest in the needs of the institution. This year, we decided to utilize the crowdfunding platform Ignite Ole Miss to attract support for the Ole Miss Fund.”

Specifically, contributions will help increase educational opportunities, employ new faculty and form on-campus programs.

“Private giving, especially in the form of unrestricted support, is critical to the day-to-day operation and progress of our university,” said Noel Wilkin, senior associate provost. “This new era in the history of Ole Miss provides the perfect opportunity to engage our ever-generous alumni and friends.”

Addi McNutt, a junior mechanical engineering major from Decatur, Alabama, said she chose to attend Ole Miss after being offered a scholarship funded by a private gift from UM benefactors.

“It speaks volumes to have such a nationally recognized academic leader like Chancellor Vitter invested in the well-being of Ole Miss students,” McNutt said. “His time at our university will be a milestone for us in terms of continued growth and greater unity on the Oxford campus.”

Ignite’s crowdfunding platform enables donors to support the university by offering support to specific needs on campus.

“By contributing to the Invest in Ole Miss campaign through Ignite, alumni and friends can take an active role in the future of the university and celebrate our new leader and his family,” said Angie Avery, project director.

“This is an exciting time at the university, and there is unlimited potential when we come together with our gifts to bolster programs. We encourage everyone to participate and we thank those who already have.”

Thirteen giving levels were designated to reflect points of interest about the chancellor and the university, Avery said. For example, donors could contribute $17 in honor of Vitter becoming the university’s 17th chancellor, $500 to commemorate his 500+ connections on LinkedIn or $1029 to mark the day (Oct. 29, 2015) Vitter was named chancellor.

For more information on Invest in Ole Miss, visit Ignite Ole Miss or contact Avery at aavery@olemiss.edu.

The public investiture formally marking Chancellor Vitter’s leadership of the university is set for 3 p.m. Nov. 10 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. To find out more, visit http://inauguration.olemiss.edu.

UM Alumni Association Welcomes 2016-17 Officers

New leaders announced at Homecoming

The new officers for the Ole Miss Alumni Association are (from left) Kirk Purdom, Leon Collins, Dr. Hal Moore, Bobby Bailess, Andy Kilpatrick and Deano Orr.

The new officers for the Ole Miss Alumni Association are (from left) Kirk Purdom, Leon Collins, Dr. Hal Moore, Bobby Bailess, Andy Kilpatrick and Deano Orr.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Alumni Association announced its officers for 2016-17 as part of recent Homecoming festivities on campus

Dr. P.H. “Hal” Moore of Pascagoula was named president, a one-year term that changes each Homecoming. Moore is president of Singing River Radiology Group. He serves on the board of directors of the Merchants & Marine Bank and formerly served on the boards of the Mississippi State Medical Association and Belhaven University.

“What a great honor it is to represent the Ole Miss Rebel nation,” Moore said. “There has never been a more exciting time at Mississippi’s flagship university, and I look forward to listening to, learning from and working with alumni, administration, faculty, students and other UM stakeholders during the coming year.”

Moore earned his Doctor of Medicine in 1976 from UM. He is past president of the medical chapter of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. He and his wife, Melanie, have three sons, Paul (BS 01, MD 05), John and Michael (BA 10, JD 13) and four grandchildren.

Outgoing association President Eddie Maloney (BS 78) of Jackson welcomed both a new chancellor and new Alumni Association executive director named during his tenure. Both Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter and Kirk Purdom (BA 93), the Alumni Association’s sixth executive director, joined the university leadership team this year.

“We have been blessed with great leadership teams,” he said. “It has been the experience of a lifetime meeting so many new friends.”

Bobby Bailess (BBA 73, JD 76), attorney and former president of the Warren County Bar Association in Vicksburg, was named president-elect. Augustus L. “Leon” Collins (BBA 73, JD 76), of Madison, chief executive officer for MINACT Inc., a job development and training corporation, was elected vice president.

Athletics Committee members include Andy Kilpatrick (BBA 87) of Grenada and Deano Orr (BBA 93) of Bartlett, Tennessee. Kilpatrick serves as counsel for the Mississippi State Board of Architecture. Orr serves as executive director of International Paper Foundation in Memphis. Purdom also serves as treasurer.

UM, Oxford Again Ranked Among Nation’s Best and Most Beautiful

University and its hometown pick up four new accolades

The University of Mississippi and Oxford have recently been recognized by several major publications for having the nation's most beautiful campus, the most unique tailgating experience and being among the nation's best college towns. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi and Oxford have recently been recognized by several major publications for having the nation’s most beautiful campus and most unique tailgating experience and for being among the nation’s best college towns. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and Oxford often rank at the top of annual lists of beautiful campuses and best college towns, and this fall has brought a new set of national accolades upon the area.

USA Today’s Reader’s Choice travel awards contest has named UM the nation’s most beautiful campus, while Thrillist named the university on its unranked list of the 20 most beautiful public college campuses. The NCAA recognized Ole Miss’ tailgating environment as the nation’s best. FanSided, which is run by Sports Illustrated and owned by Time Inc., named Oxford the second-best college town in the nation.

Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter, who moved to Oxford from Kansas in January, said there’s a magic here that quickly grabs visitors.

“Over the last 34 years, I have lived and served in a number of great university towns, and there is something truly special about Ole Miss and Oxford,” Vitter said. “Ours is a unique place with extraordinary people. All it takes is just one visit here and you quickly realize why it captures the hearts and minds of so many.”

The university was the only Southeastern Conference school and the only one in Mississippi chosen in USA Today and 10best.com’s list of beautiful campuses. Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, came in second place and Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, came in third.

The USA Today/10best.com ranking notes Ole Miss “comprises 2,000 acres of expansive lawns, wooded trails and historic architecture, like the Greek Revival-style Lyceum.”

Thrillist, which ranks UM alongside the universities of Michigan and Hawaii and other schools, praised the Greek revival architecture of the Lyceum and the beauty of the surrounding buildings.

“When you think of great collections of Greek architecture, only one place comes to mind: Mississippi. No?” Thrillist writes. “Well, the original campus building, the Lyceum, is a classic white-columned structure with massive brick wings that anchors an entire historic district within the campus.

“The Circle, as it’s known, looks more like an area you’d find in D.C. than Oxford, with long, brick buildings stretching throughout. And Ole Miss’ beauty isn’t limited to the architecture, as anyone who’s spent a Saturday tailgating in the Grove can attest.”

Jeff McManus, UM director of landscape services, said the university and his team is “humbled and honored” by recognition of the campus’ beauty. He thanked the administration, including the chancellor, Provost Morris Stocks and Vice Chancellor Larry Sparks for supporting his efforts.

“Our Landscape Services vision, on the ground, in the weeds and trees is to ‘Cultivate Greatness’ – to inspire our students, faculty and staff – to give them an environment in which they can grow and produce,” McManus said. “We set our standards high and today, we are especially proud to be Landscape Rebels.”

The NCAA recently released a video of college football’s most unique tailgates, with the Grove being ranked No. 1, referred to as “the Holy Grail of Tailgating.” Others listed include University of California’s Tightwad Hill, which lets fans view into the stadium and see the game for free, and the University of Washington’s Husky Navy and University of Tennessee’s Vol Navy, which both allow partying near the football stadiums on boats.

FanSided ranks Oxford as the country’s second-best college town, bested only by Athens, Georgia, home of the University of Georgia.

“Ole Miss is another school where enrollment somehow outnumbers the town it resides in in terms of population,” FanSided writes. “The enrollment may be hovering around 23,000, but go to one tailgate in Oxford, MS and you’ll think it’s 100,000. Students and non-students alike love their Rebels.”

Of all the reasons Oxford is getting such attention, the biggest is that people love to call the city home, said Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation. For decades, locals have been serious about making their growing community the best it can be, he said.

“Attention to detail, high expectations and adherence to a plan to be great is why we are what we are today,” Maynard said. “The university, the city and the county are all committed to making sure that the quality that we have now will remain quality into the future. The toughest challenge that our community faces is growing without messing up that which is Oxford.”

The area’s health care system, beautiful parks, artists and musicians, business owners, entrepreneurs and longtime residents have all helped attract new businesses and also new Oxonians, he said.

“Oxford is the place where great things can happen,” Maynard said. “People from all walks of life, some without any previous affiliation to Ole Miss or Oxford, are finding that they can come and be welcomed into the community.

“They are coming for many reasons, but they are staying because of the quality that is pervasive in our community.”

Westbrook Pledges Major Gift to UM Journalism School

Endowment will support new construction, featuring consumer research lab

Leslie Westbrook visits with (from left) Jason McCormick, development officer for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media; UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; and Will Norton, UM journalism dean. UM photo by Bill Dabney

Leslie Westbrook visits with (from left) Jason McCormick, development officer for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media; UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; and Will Norton, UM journalism dean. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – In true Rebel style, University of Mississippi alumna Leslie Westbrook bucked the confines of her generation and became one of the nation’s most successful consumer market specialists with Fortune 500 clients.

“Like all good Southern ladies in that era, I planned to marry my college sweetheart and teach school,” said Westbrook, a Jackson native who was named Miss Ole Miss in 1968. “I was to start the family and add to it the station wagon and dogs. Well, I cancelled the Big Fat Southern Wedding.”

Instead, she landed a job in Procter & Gamble’s Market Research Department and left Mississippi for Cincinnati. The bachelor’s degree in education that Westbrook earned from UM in 1968 would have served her well for teaching, but she required weeks of on-the-job training for her new career as a consumer research specialist and marketing strategist.

“There is a great need to offer extensive consumer research training to students who are majoring in integrated marketing communications through the Meek School of Journalism and New Media,” Westbrook said.

Determined to see students adequately prepared to enter her profession, Westbrook has pledged $500,000 to the university. The Leslie M. Westbrook Journalism Quasi Endowment will ultimately support the construction of a new consumer research laboratory bearing Westbrook’s name.

“Leslie is very generously giving for an area to which she devoted her entire professional life,” said Will Norton, UM journalism dean. “She’s basically saying how thankful she has been for her Ole Miss education and that she wants first-class opportunities that will enable students to prepare for a similar career.

“This is the first major gift for the new building, and it means a great deal to have such a significant kickoff.”

Westbrook said she has discussed the school’s needs with Norton and Meek School namesake Ed Meek over the past couple of years.

Leslie Westbrook instructs students at the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media. UM photo by Bill Dabney

Leslie Westbrook instructs students at the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media. UM photo by Bill Dabney

Besides providing financial support, she participates in faculty support, teaching a Global Brands course during May intersession and co-teaching, guest lecturing and meeting with students several other times a year. She also serves on the board of the university’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

“We found the perfect fit,” she said. “Everything that I learned and put into practice in my career is taught in IMC over the course of the four-year program.

“I can speak from actual experience, from the business world, about how IMC can be utilized in a career and with a wider variety of choices: consumer research, marketing, branding, public relations, advertising, writing and more.”

In class, Westbrook often shares case studies from her work with such brands as Pringles, Pampers, Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee and the Dairy Queen Blizzard.

“I love my time back at Ole Miss, passing it forward, interacting with students,” she said. “If I can impact even one student, I am fulfilled.”

Westbrook’s gift will benefit the university community and beyond, Meek said.

“Leslie’s gift will represent the beginning of a major campaign to build a new building and dramatically expand the reach of the Meek School,” Meek said, adding that Westbrook enjoyed an extraordinary career in corporate practice nationwide. “Her focus is a unique laboratory that will create tremendous instructional, research and service opportunities for students and faculty

After Procter & Gamble, Westbrook joined New Product Insights, a nationally revered new product consulting firm in Kansas City, Missouri, where she practiced qualitative research as a marketing strategist for seven years before starting her own company in Easton, Maryland. During her career, she met with many Fortune 500 companies which later became clients of Leslie M. Westbrook & Associates Inc.

For the past 20 years, she has lived on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay near Washington, D.C., with her husband, Paolo Frigerio of Milan, Italy.

“The loyalty, support and dedication of our alumni like Leslie is a key element to the university’s continued excellence,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Her gift will have a transformative effect on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media as we build for the future.”

The Leslie M. Westbrook Journalism Quasi Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

Alumni Association to Honor Distinguished Alumni at Homecoming

Group to be lauded at reception and on the field during Memphis game

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Alumni Association is awarding seven distinguished alumni with its highest annual honors as part of Homecoming activities.

Inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame for 2016 are: David E. Brevard (BA 78) of Tupelo; Dr. James L. Cox (MD 63) of Atlanta; Thomas C. Meredith (EDD 71) of Oxford; Thomas J. “Sparky” Reardon (BAEd 72, PhD 00) of Oxford; and Constance Slaughter-Harvey (JD 70) of Forest.

T. Michael Glenn (BBA 77) of Memphis will receive the Alumni Service Award for service to the university and the Alumni Association over an extended period. Patrick Woodyard (BA 10) of Nashville, Tennessee, is being honored with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees at 6 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner for the award recipients follows at 7 p.m. The honorees also will be recognized on the field during the Oct. 1 Ole Miss-Memphis football game.

David Brevard

David Brevard

Created in 1974, the Hall of Fame honors select alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or the university through good deeds, services or contributions that have perpetuated the good name of Ole Miss.

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have shown exemplary leadership throughout their first 15 years of alumni status in both their careers and dedication to Ole Miss.

Brevard is president and chief executive officer of B&B Concrete Co. Inc., a concrete materials supply company with plants throughout north Mississippi. He is also vice president of Concrete Industries Inc., a real estate firm with ready-mix concrete plant holdings in north Mississippi.

The 1974 graduate of Tupelo High School was a Carrier Scholar, a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and a member of the Hall of Fame at Ole Miss. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Virginia in 1981.

Brevard is active in the First United Methodist Church of Tupelo. He is a past president of the District

James Cox

James Cox

One Ole Miss Alumni Club and a past president of the UM Alumni Association. He served as chairman of The Inn at Ole Miss Campaign Committee; member of the Chancellor’s Trust and Pacesetters Committee for the Commitment to Excellence Campaign; member of the Campaign/Committee Chairs for the Momentum Campaign; and as an executive committee member for the UM Foundation. He received the Alumni Association’s Alumni Service Award in 2009.

Brevard is married to the former Shawn Robson Stewart of Glendale, Ohio. They have two daughters.

Cox was born and raised in Fair Oaks, Arkansas. He was recruited to Ole Miss by Johnny Vaught and from 1960 to ’64 played baseball and freshman basketball, was president of Alpha Epsilon Delta and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.

After turning down baseball contracts from the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, he enrolled at University of Tennessee Medical School in 1963. He received his medical degree in 1967 and was awarded outstanding student in his graduating class.

Cox trained in cardiothoracic surgery at Duke University. He spent the majority of his career as the first Evarts A. Graham Professor of Surgery and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes Hospital in St. Louis.

Tom Meredith

Tom Meredith

He is best known for his work in the field of cardiac arrhythmia surgery and the development of the eponymous “Cox-Maze Procedure” for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. He lives in Atlanta and serves as a senior consultant to eight medical device companies and on the board of directors of four of them.

Meredith has served as the head of three university systems and as a university president during his 41-year career in higher education.

He has been commissioner of higher education for Mississippi’s eight universities; chancellor of the University System of Georgia, responsible for the state’s 35 public colleges and universities; chancellor of the University of Alabama System; and president and professor of education at Western Kentucky University.

He also served as a vice chancellor at Ole Miss. Meredith holds a bachelor’s degree from Kentucky Wesleyan College, a master’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate from UM. He also completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and the Higher Education Roundtable at Oxford University. He has twice been selected as the Ole Miss School of Education Alumnus of the Year.

Sparky Reardon Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Sparky Reardon

Meredith’s wife, Susan (BA 72), and sons Dr. Mark Meredith (BS 97, MD 01) and Matthew Meredith (BA 00) are an Ole Miss family.

A 1968 graduate of Clarksdale High School, Reardon served the university in several positions within the area of student affairs. Most notably, he served as dean of students from 2000 to 2014. Before that, he served as coordinator of pre-admissions, assistant director of student activities, associate director of student services and associate dean of students.

Reardon received his bachelor’s degree in education from Ole Miss in 1972 and his doctorate in 2000. He also earned a master’s degree at Delta State University.

Reardon initiated the adoption of the Ole Miss Creed in 2000 and served as co-chair of the Creed Committee. He received the initial Thomas Frist Award for Outstanding Service to Students and was honored by the Class of 2008 with a scholarship in his name.

Reardon resides in Taylor and serves on several local, regional and national boards.

Constance Harvey Slaughter

Constance Harvey Slaughter

Slaughter-Harvey, former assistant secretary of state and general counsel, is founder and president of Legacy Education and Community Empowerment Foundation Inc.

Slaughter-Harvey was the first African-American female to receive a law degree from the university and first female African-American to serve as judge in Mississippi. The Black Law Student Association at the UM School of Law was named in her honor, and she received the Law School’s Public Service Award, becoming the first female and first African-American to be so honored.

She was an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College for more than 36 years. She is president of the Scott County Bar and prosecutor for Scott County Youth Court.

Slaughter-Harvey is the mother of Constance Olivia Burwell and grandmother of James A. Emmanuel “Tre” Burwell III.

Glenn, the Alumni Service Award recipient, is executive vice president of market development and corporate communications for FedEx Corp.

Mike Glenn

Mike Glenn

He is a member of the five-person executive committee, responsible for planning and executing the company’s strategic business activities. Glenn also serves as president and chief executive officer of FedEx Corporate Services, responsible for all marketing, sales, customer service and retail operations functions for all FedEx operating companies, including FedEx Office.

A native of Memphis, he earned his bachelor’s degree from UM and his master’s degree from the University of Memphis. Glenn previously served as a member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association Executive Committee and serves on the Athletic Committee. He was inducted into the UM Alumni Hall Of Fame in 2008.

The Outstand Young Alumni Award recipient, Woodyard is a 2010 graduate of the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish.

While at Ole Miss, Woodyard was inducted into the Student Hall of Fame and served as the ASB director of community service, and as philanthropy chair and vice president of Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Patrick Woodyard

Patrick Woodyard

After graduating, he pursued an opportunity through Peru Mission to work in microfinance in northern Peru. While there, Woodyard was introduced to a massive community of shoemakers, and with a vision to support the Peruvian footwear industry, he co-founded Nisolo in late 2011.

For his work with Nisolo, Woodyard recently was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, recognized as an “Innovator Changing the South” by Southern Living magazine and named a Global Accelerator Entrepreneur by the United Nations.

Woodyard resides in Nashville with his wife, Sally Ward (BA 10), and serves as a founding board member of the Nashville Fashion Alliance and the Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance.

For more information about the Ole Miss Alumni Association, visit http://www.olemissalumni.com.

UM Welcomes Most Accomplished Freshmen Class Ever

State's flagship university celebrates record enrollment as it builds for future

Students head to class at the University of Mississippi, which has experienced record enrollment again this year. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Students head to class at the University of Mississippi, which has experienced record enrollment again this year. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has recorded its 22nd consecutive year of rising enrollment, registering its largest and most academically qualified freshman class ever.

Enrollment at the state’s flagship university hit 24,250 across all campuses, largest in the state, according to preliminary data. The freshman class of 3,982 students posted an average ACT score of 25.2, surpassing the UM record of 24.7, set last year.

“Students and families across the state and nation are noticing that great things are happening here at the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “They recognize the academic excellence and outstanding college experience we offer and continue to join us in record numbers.

“Our faculty and staff work very hard to deliver the very best academic programs at a competitive price, providing all qualified Mississippi students the educational opportunities to transform their lives and our communities. It’s gratifying to see those efforts acknowledged by a growing Ole Miss family.”

Total enrollment is up 412 students, or 1.7 percent, from last fall.

This year’s first-time students include 87 class valedictorians, 54 salutatorians, 94 student body presidents, 92 Eagle Scouts and 13 Girl Scouts who achieved the Gold Award, the organization’s highest youth honor.

“Our university has a long history of attracting and developing student leaders,” Vitter said. “We offer them valuable experiences and help them hone their talents.

“I look forward to seeing what this talented group of freshmen can accomplish. I fully expect them to have a tremendous impact on our local and global communities during their time here and beyond.”

The high school GPA of incoming freshmen also increased, growing from 3.54 last year to 3.57, another university record.

The group bucked declines in average ACT scores both nationally and on the state level. Among new freshmen from Mississippi, this year’s average was 24.8, up from last fall’s 24.4.

The progress in freshman ACT scores actually has been maintained over the past nine years, growing 2.5 points over that span. Several factors have contributed to that success, Provost Morris Stocks said.

“We offer more and more outstanding programs for excellent students,” Stocks said. “For example, the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program is now admitting 30 students per year. These are honors-quality students planning to be teachers, and they have committed to teach in Mississippi upon graduation.

“Then there’s the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, which brings in 60 top-level freshmen each year who are interested in the intersection of engineering, business and accounting. And over at the School of Accountancy, we’re admitting more students with ACT scores over 30 than we’ve ever had, and a lot of that stems from the school being ranked in the Top 10 for several years in a row now.”

Stocks also cited the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, Chinese Language Flagship Program and the Arabic language and Provost’s Scholars programs for helping attract more high-achieving students. The university also offers more top-level scholarships, such as the Stamps Leadership Scholarships, than in the past, he said.

“We’re now competing against the best universities in the country for the best students in the country,” Stocks said. “At the same time, we remain committed to educating the people of Mississippi and giving all qualified Mississippi students a chance to succeed and make better lives for themselves and their families.”

The university’s efforts to help new students adjust to college life and be successful – including FASTrack and the Freshman Year Experience program – also continue to pay dividends. Student retention remained near record levels, with 85.3 percent of last year’s freshmen returning to campus to continue their studies this fall.

The majority, 59.4 percent, of Ole Miss students are from Mississippi, including students from all the state’s 82 counties. The university also attracts students from around the nation and world. Overall, the student body includes representatives from every state, the District of Columbia and 90 foreign countries.

Minority enrollment totaled 5,548 students, or 22.9 percent. African-American enrollment is 3,166 students, or 13.0 percent of overall enrollment.

With a newly expanded building, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College continues to grow, enrolling 1,420 students this fall, more than doubling over the past 10 years. It received 1,484 applications for this fall, up 15 percent from last year’s 1,293 submissions. The Honors College has a record 474 incoming freshmen, with 59 percent being Mississippi residents.

Once it settles into its new space and completes renovations on the existing facility, the Honors College has a target enrollment around 1,500 students. The new space allows faculty to broaden the challenges and opportunities for its students, Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

“It gives us the physical capacity to go deep into conversation in public space,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “At a time when civil discourse is so lacking in America, we want to create a space where we can model civil debate on ideas, even ones that appear threatening.”

While many of the university’s schools and programs experienced growth, its accounting and journalism schools enjoyed the largest increases.

Enrollment in the Patterson School of Accountancy grew 9 percent, to 1,380 students this fall, compared to 1,261 last year. The school has been a mainstay in the Top 10 rankings for several years, and all three of its programs are again in the top eight this fall.

In the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, undergraduate enrollment increased 8 percent, growing from 1,375 students in fall 2015 to 1,486 this year. Founded in 2009, the school has benefited from being on a beautiful campus, with economical tuition, excellence in athletics and an exceptionally effective Office of Admissions, Dean Will Norton said.

“We have a program that focuses on preparing graduates for media careers in the modern world, not for 20 years ago, and we have a faculty who held significant positions in the media, many just within the last few years,” Norton said. “Because of this, many of them also are well-versed in social media, and they can help students master those areas.”

The school offers opportunities for students that are rare among journalism programs, he said.

“Not many places offer students a chance to do documentaries or depth reporting courses, or campaigns for companies throughout the region, but we offer all that here,” Norton said. “Our international projects also have been exceptional.”

Fall enrollment at the university’s Medical Center remained nearly level, largely because of space constraints.

“We are near or at capacity in all of our programs, with the exception of some of our online offerings,” said Dr. Ralph Didlake, UMMC associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Areas enjoying growth include the School of Medicine, from 563 students to 577; the Medical Center’s residency and fellowship programs, from 626 to 640; and the School of Dentistry, from 143 to 148.

The increase should accelerate with a new 151,000-square-foot, $74 million School of Medicine building set to open in fall 2017, Didlake said. The new building “is not only going to allow the School of Medicine enrollment to increase, but it will decrease pressure on other teaching space, allowing our other programs to grow.”

Enrollment should rise dramatically in the future, including the addition of a new School of Population Health, the seventh school on the medical campus. It opens to students in fall 2017.

To help accommodate the growing student population in Oxford, the university has opened two new five-story residence halls on the former site of Guess Hall, adding housing space for 603 students.

The university has launched a three-year project to expand and modernize the Student Union and is working on a new recreation center and transportation hub, a $32 million project on the south end of campus. Work also has begun on a $20 million renovation to Garland, Hedleston and Mayes halls, providing space for the School of Applied Sciences.

The university’s new STEM building, which will add 200,000 square feet of education and research space in the Science District for an estimated $135 million, will boost the university’s capacity to address workforce needs and enhance UM’s status as a Carnegie R-1 Highest Research Activity institution.

For more information on enrollment and programs at UM, go to http://www.olemiss.edu.

Ruth Cummins of the UM Medical Center contributed to this report.

Brokaw Touts Service, ‘Real’ Life Experiences to UM Graduates

Veteran newsman delivers Commencement address to thousands in the Grove

Journalist and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw addresses graduates during the University of Mississippi’s 163rd Commencement. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Journalist and former ‘NBC Nightly News’ anchor Tom Brokaw addresses graduates during the University of Mississippi’s 163rd Commencement. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Respected journalist Tom Brokaw warned the University of Mississippi’s graduates that they’re living in an age of violence and social media noise and he challenged them to cherish “real” experiences and help make their world a better place.

Brokaw, best known as the longtime anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” gave the university’s 163rd Commencement’s main address Saturday morning in the Grove under powder blue skies that turned overcast. He stood at the podium wearing an Ole Miss baseball cap.

He reminded the 4,000-plus graduates that though social media is a big part of their lives, many experiences transcend anything that comes from inside an iPhone. Those are the moments that should be cherished the most.

“No text will ever replace the first kiss,” Brokaw said. “No email will ever compete with the spoken phrase, ‘I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ No selfie can ever take the place of holding a first child moments after birth. Life will always be most rewarding when real, not virtual, emotions are involved.”

Ole Miss is where a lot of the important nondigital experiences Brokaw referred to have occurred for Saturday’s graduates. For many, the friendships and memories made in college will be cherished for the rest of their lives.

Not much in life compares to being beneath Grove’s oaks on a Saturday in the fall, Brokaw said.

Suggested caption: Tom Brokaw delivers the 2016 Commencement address to more than 4,000 University of Mississippi graduates on Saturday, May 14. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Tom Brokaw delivers the 2016 Commencement address to more than 4,000 University of Mississippi graduates on Saturday, May 14. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“For the rest of your life, Ole Miss will be a prominent part of your formative years,” Brokaw said. “You’ll go to great parties and you’ll think, ‘Not bad, but it’s not the Grove.'”

Brokaw is very familiar with the university, which he calls a “special place” in the state. He served as a guest lecturer in UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media in 2010 and discussed presidential politics in a campus program before the first 2008 presidential debate between then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. John McCain, which was held in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Brokaw has also visited campus several times over the last decade, often attending football and baseball games. He was here for the football victory over Alabama in 2014, which he enjoyed. A verbal jab directed toward the University of Alabama drew laughter from the Commencement crowd.

“I’m so relieved to be speaking to a graduating class from Ole Miss,” Brokaw said. “If I were speaking at Alabama, I would have to use smaller words and shorter sentences.”

Brokaw, who holds a political science degree from the University of South Dakota, has enjoyed a long and distinguished career, including covering the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. He also served as host of the “Today” show from 1976 to 1982, when he became an anchor of “NBC Nightly News.”

Since retiring as anchor in 2004, he’s kept busy with journalism projects. He worked on documentaries for the Discovery Channel, the History Channel and Fox Sports Net and also moderated the second McCain-Obama presidential debate at Belmont University in 2008.

He is also author of “The Greatest Generation,” which is about those Americans who grew up during the Great Depression, went on to fight World War II, won and came home to transform their country.

As a young journalist, he witnessed the many struggles of people of color to find equality in the United States. He sees great progress at the university, which was the scene of deadly riots over James Meredith’s enrollment as the first black student in 1962.

“As a reporter in the South in those days, I must tell you I could never have imagined I’d be here one day with the affection I have for Ole Miss and speaking to a student body that is ever more diverse, or that I would walk into the chancellor’s box during a football game and find James Meredith as the guest of honor, or that the president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association would be an African-American mother of a student here who also happened to be an executive at FedEx,” Brokaw said.

“These are important, historic steps forward in Mississippi but in most of the country, in every state and in every institution, the issue of race, reconciliation, resolution – these are the unfinished businesses of our time. It’s not confined just to states in the great South, but it’s across state lines, from sea to shining sea in our nation.”

Continuing to address these issues is critical, he said.

“The dream of equality for all is not an obligation of one race or another,” Brokaw said. “It is a common calling in our unique society. We are still a nation of immigrants, where the rule of law is inadequate if the rule of the heart is not also an equal part. All shades of the American palette matter.”

The graduates live in a country where mass shootings in schools and other public places, police-involved killings, terrorism and racially motivated violence are common. Brokaw said he owns “a closet full of guns” and is an active sport shooter, but he supports more stringent gun control laws to help lessen the violence.

He said no one will take his guns away, but he’s “appalled” by an ongoing movement to arm more people with even more lethal weapons without considering the consequences.

“More guns and more firearm tolerance will mean more homegrown acts of terror,” Brokaw said. “Yes, you have a constitutional right to own guns. I believe strongly in the Second Amendment, but with that right comes the personal obligation to be on guard against the promiscuous use of guns, not to pretend no limits means no trouble.”

He called graduates to use their skills to address the state and nation’s problems. Noting that social media wields great influence over communication, social, scientific, academic, commerce, political and research endeavors, Brokaw urged graduates take what they’ve learned at Ole Miss and dedicate part of their life to working for increasing tolerance, education, economic opportunity, social acceptance for all Mississippians.

“Take as much pride in where Mississippi ranks on those metrics as it does on the national football standings,” he said.

UM Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter, presiding over his first Commencement at the university, took a panoramic photo of the Grove full of graduates to post on his Twitter account. He wished them luck.

“Today, you complete your work as students at the university when you graduate,” Vitter said. “You also begin the next chapter of your life at Commencement. Our collective prayer for you is a life filled with joy, good health, successful, meaningful careers and peace. God bless each of you.”

Edward C. Maloney, president of the UM Alumni Association, paraphrased the biblical parable of the talents from Matthew 25:14-30 to charge graduates to live up to their potential.

“Some of you were given five talents,” Maloney said. “Some of you were given two talents; some, one talent. Whatever talent you have been given, be the best you can be.”

Mary Katherine Berger, president of the senior class, said that during their time here, classmates have had to be Rebels by making tough decisions and standing up for what they believe is right.

“As we leave the spot that ever calls, I charge each of you with the task of remaining a Rebel in your everyday life,” Berger said. “To take a stand for what you believe in, to always uphold the Creed, to go against the status quo and to always shout ‘Hotty Toddy’ at the random person you see in the street wearing an Ole Miss T-shirt wherever life may take you.”

UM Journalism School Wins Third Kennedy Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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