UM Professor Talks Turkeys On NPR Today

Richard Buchholz will talk about his research of the mating habits of America's favorite Thanksgiving bird

University of Mississippi Associate Professor of Biology Richard Buchholz will talk about the mating habits of wild turkeys on today’s NPR Science Friday. His segment is expected to air between 2:50 and 3 p.m. (Central).

The research, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, was conducted at the UM field station. To hear Buchholz talk about this timely topic with Thanksgiving less than a week away, check out this list of stations that air the program.

Second Annual Egg Bowl Run Set for Monday

ROTC cadets to make the 100-mile run from Starkville to Oxford to deliver game ball

UM ROTC cadets on the first leg of the inaugural Egg Bowl Run in 2013. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

UM ROTC cadets on the first leg of the inaugural Egg Bowl Run in 2013. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

The advent of cooler temperatures signals the beginning of the holiday season and the chilly reminder that the annual Egg Bowl is right around the corner. This year, fans of the two Egg Bowl rivals have another event to look forward to before the main event’s kickoff on Saturday.

The second annual Egg Bowl Run takes place Monday (Nov. 24) as Army ROTC cadets from both the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University will cover more than 100 miles in two separate legs to deliver the game ball from Starkville to Oxford. Last year’s event was quite popular on social media. This year, members of the public may track runners’ progress in real time by visiting http://www.myathletelive.com throughout the day, by following @UMEggBowl on Twitter or by following the hashtag #eggbowlrun on social media outlets.

2nd Annual Egg Bowl Run scheduled for Monday, Nov. 24.

Second annual Egg Bowl Run poster.

Not only is it an opportunity to honor cadets and veterans from all branches of our military during Military Appreciation Month, it’s a great way to support these programs. In fact, if you give to Ole Miss Army ROTC during the Egg Bowl Run this year, you’ll be eligible for some cool perks as well as be automatically entered to win the official Ole Miss game ball carried by cadets and signed by head coach Hugh Freeze. Other prizes include an opportunity to fire the cannon at Vaught-Hemingway during the Egg Bowl, joining the cadets and members of the Ole Miss football team during their walk through the Grove before the game and even the American flag flown over Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Check out the Ignite Ole Miss campaign site. They’ve already raised more than 15 percent of their goal, but with your help, they can easily reach $5,000 before the Egg Bowl Run kicks off early Monday morning.

If you aren’t able to give, go out and support our cadets along the route. They are estimated to arrive in front of the Lyceum around 9 p.m., and they’ll be making a quick loop around the Square before that time, so you’ll have plenty of time to grab a bite to eat before cheering them on during the last leg of their 50-mile journey.

Kenneth Sufka is Carnegie-CASE Professor of the Year

UM psychology educator received prestigious honor in Washington, D.C.

Ken Sufka lectures to one of his classes.

Ken Sufka lectures to one of his classes.

OXFORD, Miss. – A respected University of Mississippi educator and researcher is this year’s Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching-Council for Advancement and Support of Education Mississippi Professor of the Year.

Kenneth J. “Ken” Sufka, professor of psychology and pharmacology, received the prestigious honor Thursday (Nov. 20) at the U.S. Professor of the Year Awards celebration in Washington, D.C. The program salutes the country’s most outstanding undergraduate instructors and is the only national effort to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

“When I first read the letter, I was flat-out dumbfounded. I had to read it again,” Sufka said. “The CASE-Carnegie Foundation Award is by far the most prestigious recognition one can receive in this profession. For CASE-Carnegie to think that the entire body of my academic work is worthy of such recognition is both overwhelming and humbling.”

In addition to an all-expenses-paid trip, Sufka got a framed certificate of recognition. Winners were also recognized at a congressional reception and have opportunities to participate in media interviews, speaking engagements, teaching forums and other events.

The university shares Sufka’s recognition, UM administrators said.

“Dr. Sufka is a role model at our campus and is now a recognized model of excellence to the nation,” said Richard Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “We are proud to have him as a faculty member at the University of Mississippi.”

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, said Sufka sets the bar for excellent teaching and creative scholarship among students and colleagues.

“(He) has produced more final theses with our high performing Honors students than any other professor on campus,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “The ethic of excellence that guides his work and interaction with our students creates a powerful magnetic attraction to those who want to push the boundaries of knowledge and wisdom.”

Sufka is most deserving of the award, said Michael T. Allen, chair and professor of psychology.

“I immediately felt a sense of pride for him and the Department of Psychology, but I wasn’t really surprised,” Allen said. “Dr. Sufka has won essentially all of the awards for teaching and service that the university bestows, and he has been a magnificent teacher and mentor of students for many years. What makes him so special is his love of teaching and his constant effort to become better and better at it, along with his sincere desire to have students succeed in his classes.”

Sufka earned his bacheor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Iowa State University. Before joining the UM faculty in 1992, he conducted research at Drake University, Des Moines University and Duke University. Sufka is a visiting research fellow at Newcastle University and an associate member of the UM Medical Center’s Cancer Institute.

“The University of Mississippi was a good fit for me when I was offered the position and it remains a good fit more than two decades later,” Sufka said. “It offered the right balance of teaching and research I was hoping to find in a mid-sized, flagship university located in a great little college town. While the university and Oxford have grown considerably, I am still able to find that perfect balance of teaching courses in psychology and engaging in laboratory research in neuroscience.”

Sufka said he is following in the footsteps of professors who taught and mentored him.

“I think all of us can point to a teacher/mentor that inspired and nurtured us in immeasurable ways,” Sufka said. “Professor Ron Peters at Iowa State University was that person for me. His love and enthusiasm for teaching, alongside a masterful ability to convey the most complex and interesting material, made it clear that I wanted to become a brain scientist and university professor.”

Sufka teaches several courses at UM, including General Psychology, Biopsychology, Psychopharmacology lab, Physiological Psychology and Teaching of Psychology seminar. A campus favorite among students and faculty alike, he has received the 1996 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, the 2005 Faculty Achievement Award and the 2006 Thomas F. Frist Student Service Award. His other awards and honors include Top 20 Psychology Professor in Mississippi, Distinguished Alumni Award from ISU’s Department of Psychology, Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association and Top 40 Under 40 Mississippian.

Sufka holds professional memberships in the Society for Neuroscience and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. With research interests in behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology, he has written more than 67 refereed papers, 10 book chapters and one book, “The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades” (Nautilus Publishing, 2011).

“I wrote that to help my students at UM to better transition from high school coursework to college level course work, or from lower division courses to the harder upper division courses,” Sufka said. “It is an academic survival guide of sorts that detail a number of bad habits commonly exhibited by students that contribute to poor grades and offers evidenced based tips/strategies that promote course learning and yield much higher grades.”

Many colleges and universities across the U.S. have used Sufka’s book for specific programs.

“Some schools, like UNLV and Washington State University, have given it out as a summer reading assignment for their incoming freshman classes,” he said. “This has led to my giving numerous faculty and student workshops on promoting students’ academic success across the country and here at UM.”

Sufka has been the principal investigator on grants and contracts totaling more than $660,000. A prolific author, he has presented more than 120 conference papers and abstracts.

Sufka has directed 12 master’s theses and eight doctoral dissertations. He is a regularly invited speaker at freshman summer orientation sessions and helped develop the initial Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College curriculum. He also volunteers with the Oxford-Lafayette County Habitat for Humanity.

CASE launched the awards program in 1981. That same year, the Carnegie Foundation began hosting the final round of judging, and in 1982 became the primary sponsor.

For more about the UM Department of Psychology, visit http://psychology.olemiss.edu. For more about the U.S. Professor of the Year Awards program, visit http://www.usprofessorsoftheyear.org.

UM Alumnus Honored by Navy for Science and Technology Achievements

Kerry Commander receives National Defense Industrial Association Bronze Medal

UM graduate Kerry Commander, (center), is presented with the National Defense Industrial Association Bronze Medal for achievements in Science and Technology. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

UM graduate Kerry Commander, (center), is presented with the National Defense Industrial Association Bronze Medal for achievements in Science and Technology. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

A University of Mississippi graduate has earned the National Defense Industrial Association Bronze Medal for Achievements in Science and Technology.

Kerry Commander, a Clarksdale native who earned a doctorate in physics and bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from UM, as well as a master’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Arizona, was recently presented the award by Navy Rear Adm. Michael Jabley in Groton, Connecticut.

Commander, a research scientist and administrator in the Panama City division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, was selected for the award because of his “numerous technical achievements that have laid the foundation for several fleet programs.”

“My most significant technical accomplishment to date is leading the first successful demonstration of a synthetic aperture sonar on a fully autonomous underwater vehicle in CJTFEX04-2 by our science and technology team,” Commander said in a Navy news release. “This was a major milestone in the transition of this early S&T program to advanced development programs and the beginning of a new era in MCM (mine countermeasures).”

He has more than 29 years of distinguished service with the Navy, which began when he became a research physicist at the Naval Coastal Systems Center in Panama City, Florida. His early research led to important discoveries in nonlinear bubble dynamics, multi-phase flow and inverse scattering acoustics and had a direct application to a surface ship torpedo defense program.

But he says the award recognizes the teamwork, rather than an individual effort.

“The reward is really a group recognition award for our science and technology team that worked for years to develop advanced technology that could perform some parts of the MCM mission from an autonomous underwater vehicle, removing people and marine animals from a very dangerous job,” Commander said. “The team consisted of experts in sonar systems, signal and image processing, unmanned systems and autonomy, and of course, all the support personnel from the test and evaluation side of the lab.”

A Navy news release details his professional accomplishments.

(Commander) serves as Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Science and Technology Department Head. Today, he is a senior leader for technical research and development initiatives of 180 scientists and engineers performing science and technology work in support of mine/undersea warfare and expeditionary warfare. Additionally, he serves as NSWC PCD’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) where he is known for demonstrating outstanding leadership in developing and implementing latest S&T trends to evolving naval requirement.

“This prestigious undersea warfare award is a tribute to Dr. Commander’s leadership and technical excellence,” said NSWC PCD Technical Director Ed Stewart, a member of the Senior Executive Service Corps. “Currently, as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at NSWC PCD and head of the Science and Technology Department, his contributions to the undersea community are many and profound.”

At NSWC PCD, Commander is personally involved with and responsible for the execution of science, technology, unmanned systems, strategic systems, and threat analysis programs supporting Navy and Marine Corps research, development, test and evaluation, homeland defense, and force protection. This also includes championing and obtaining funding for associated programs, developing sponsor relationships, and driving the technology transition and Fleet support processes.

He has published and presented his research in numerous papers and conferences, and is recognized internationally as a Subject Matter Expert in Acoustics. He was the U.S. Navy representative on the Technical Committee for the Institute of Acoustics’ International Conference on Synthetic Aperture Sonar and Synthetic Aperture Radar, held in 2010 in Lerici, Italy and again in 2014.

His professional standing within the technical community has been recognized through his election to the grade of Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Dr. Commander currently serves on the ASA’s Technical Committee on Physical Acoustics and is a technical reviewer for the ASA’s Journal. He also continues to serve as a reviewer for the classified Journal of Underwater Acoustics and the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering.

New Biography Examines Elvis Presley Against Backdrop of the South

UM professor Ted Ownby pens foreword

elvisOXFORD, Miss. – Elvis Presley is the undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and he is back in the spotlight with a new biography that captures the drama of his career.

In “Elvis Presley: A Southern Life,” Southern historian Joel Williamson, professor emeritus of the humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, takes on one of the greatest cultural icons of all time.

Ted Ownby, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, wrote the foreword for the book, which is published by Oxford University Press. Ownby, professor of history and Southern studies who first became involved as a reviewer for the press, said he is happy to have even a little involvement with such an important book by one of his favorite historians.

“My foreword tries to summarize what is unique about Elvis Presley, when there are already a good number of Elvis biographies,” Ownby said. “I think the two most distinctive things about Williamson’s book are, first, that it emphasizes his female fans about as much as it discusses Presley himself and, second, that it says Presley got stuck as an object of female desire in his late teens and early 20s and never really moved out of that role for the rest of his life.”

Williamson is a renowned historian known for his inimitable and compelling narrative style. Rather than focusing on Elvis’s music and the music industry, “Elvis Presley: A Southern Life” illuminates the zenith of his career, his period of deepest creativity, which captured a legion of fans and kept them fervently loyal for decades. Williamson shows how Elvis himself changed – and didn’t. In the latter part of his career, when he performed regular gigs in Las Vegas and toured second-tier cities, he moved beyond the South to a national audience that bought his albums and watched his movies.

“The book helps us understand a lot about music and youth and sex and celebrity, all with Southern roots and surprises,” Ownby said. “And it’s also just a great biography that goes beyond seeing Elvis as a case study or example and instead tells a complicated, fascinating story.”

In the foreword, Ownby writes, “The book left me in a bit of a daze, and in truth, although it is a long book, I wanted it, like a really good concert, to keep going.”

Williamson is the author of a number of landmark works on Southern culture, including “William Faulkner and Southern History” (Oxford University Press, 1993), and “The Crucible of Race: Black-White Relations in the American South Since Emancipation” (Oxford University Press, 1984).

Ownby has most recently co-edited “The Larder: Food Studies Methods from the American South” (University of Georgia Press), and written American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty, and Culture, 1830-1998″ and “Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865-1920.”

BFA Students to Show Thesis Projects Next Week

Show features graphic design, painting and photography

BFA_SHOW_GRAPHICNext week, three University of Mississippi Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates will present their artwork for their senior thesis shows in Gallery 130 in Meek Hall.

Beginning Monday (Nov. 17) and running through Nov. 21, Julia Tatum, Jonathan Adams, and Desiree Kapler will exhibit their talents in graphic design, painting and photography, respectively.

Each show has evolved from a theme that materialized within each student.

Julia Tatum, who graduates in December with her BFA in studio art, will show a collection of fabrics presented as “The Gathering,” a tribute to her family and the beauty of fall.

Her inspiration developed inside her grandmother’s national landmark home, Ammadelle, a Civil War-era Italianate mansion on North Lamar Boulevard in Oxford. She values the home as a centerpiece for her and her family.

“My grandmother’s home is where I began to acquire a taste for the decorative and fluid designs,” Tatum said. “The decor in the home inspired me to create designs to mimic the ornate patterns as preserved memories.”

Jonathan Adams, also graduating in December, came to Ole Miss to study criminal justice, but instead will leave with his BFA in painting. His show, “Sacrosanct,” creates a dialogue that intertwines what he has been told in life with life experiences he holds sacred.

“I think ‘Sacrosanct’ is fitting,” Adams said. “I am trying to raise awareness that there are people of faith that are in love with someone of the same sex.”

He says it’s an actuality that should never be taken away from anyone.

“We create ourselves by layering information,” Adams said. “I like to think about that when I paint.”

Lastly, Desiree Kapler, also graduating in December, might as well have emerged from the womb, camera-in-hand. Her grandfather was a photographer and her mother is an artist. She has been surrounded by cameras her entire life, so she said her BFA in imaging arts was inevitable.

“The camera is a part of who I am, a way for me to watch myself and to watch others,” Kapler said. “If someone looked at my genetic code, they would probably see spirals of film from a long line of artists who passed down their passion.”

Her show, “Exposed,” explores the frustrating fears and anxieties that many women face as a result of society’s pressures.

“We (women) are not objects of lust or shameful, nameless masses for society’s judgments,” Kapler said. “We’re women – facing the world and feeling ‘Exposed.'”

Each student has enjoyed remarkable success in their years at Ole Miss. The future holds dreams of grad school and then careers in their respective artistic medium.

To learn more about the artists, check out the show beginning Monday and see for yourself what these students have accomplished artistically.

VISTA Project Needs Community-Minded Volunteers

Full-time, one-year placements supported by AmeriCorps

OXFORD, Miss. – The North Mississippi VISTA Project at the University of Mississippi is looking for dynamic individuals with a passion for helping others to serve as Volunteers in Service to America, commonly known as VISTAs.

Each of these full-time, one-year placements is supported by AmeriCorps with a modest living allowance, health benefits and an education award, which can be used for graduate school or to repay qualified student loans. The positions, starting in February 2015, will be based in Columbus, Sardis, Oxford and on the UM campus.

The North Mississippi VISTA Project works in 23 counties to build sustainable systems that connect the university and its resources to low-income communities in the region. VISTAs are deployed to nonprofit organizations and schools seeking to develop or expand educational programs that serve low-income children and adults.

“Those who take these positions will make real contributions to the people of Mississippi and gain valuable experience in education,” said Stephen Monroe, UM project director.

Founded in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to combat poverty. Across the country, VISTA members build programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty by fighting illiteracy, improving health services, strengthening community groups and much more.

Serving with United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County, VISTA member Sylvia Stewart works to inform people of what United Way and its partners are doing for the community and how they can get involved to help make Oxford a better place.

“United Way not only mobilizes volunteers and donors within the community, they also unite nonprofits and other actors to solve big-picture issues facing Oxford and Lafayette County,” Stewart said. “United Way recently partnered with the Lafayette County Literacy Council, Horizons, the school districts and others to create the LOU Reads Coalition, a group dedicated to tackling the issues of literacy and reading readiness. I’m grateful that AmeriCorps VISTA gives me the opportunity to work on such worthy projects.”

“VISTAs like Sylvia Stewart are highly motivated Americans who serve with dedication and energy,” Monroe said. “We are seeking more great people to join our project and to make a difference in Mississippi.”

See the list of open positions below. For more information, see the North Mississippi VISTA website at http://vista.olemiss.edu/ or contact project coordinator Susan Nicholas at nicholas@olemiss.edu.

Luckyday Program at UM: The VISTA will report to the director of the Luckyday Program and work to strengthen partnerships with local poverty-fighting organizations. The VISTA will develop service projects and recruit Luckyday alumni to volunteer alongside Luckyday scholars, providing opportunities for service learning.

School of Education at UM: The VISTA will connect UM resources and expertise to educators in underperforming schools across Mississippi. The VISTA will strengthen existing programs, including service learning opportunities such as the School of Education service field trip. The VISTA will also support the Jumpstart pilot, which enhances pre-K learning for low-income children.

Volunteer Oxford: The VISTA will serve under the director of Volunteer Oxford to establish connections with community service agencies, recruit volunteers and utilize social media to expand outreach to agencies and volunteers in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community. The VISTA will help coordinate, on a community level, two national days of service.

North Panola High School, Sardis: The VISTA will develop programs and activities to increase student opportunities to interact with the community and to strengthen student exposure to college and career opportunities. The VISTA will also explore and pursue grant opportunities to provide additional program funding.

Center for Mathematics and Science Education at UM: The VISTA will work with CMSE staff to help develop and expand the Mississippi FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics program, particularly in low-income communities. The VISTA will work to recruit teams, educate the public and develop support personnel in these communities, building capacity so that the programs will function independently. The VISTA will help strengthen CMSE partnerships with businesses, educational institutions and communities to provide K-12 STEM outreach programming for students and teachers.

University of Mississippi Museum: The VISTA will report to the curator of education and work to expand the museum’s educational and outreach programming by creating teaching materials for the traveling trunk program that will be deployed to 23 counties in the NMVP area. The VISTA will also expand the schedule for program implementation, giving priority to underperforming schools. The VISTA will pursue program sponsors and partnerships to build the museum’s capacity, applying for additional funding and managing awarded grants.

Seeding the Future

Loyal UM alumni Johnny and Renee McRight create scholarships and support athletics

Johnny and Renee McRight

Johnny and Renee McRight

OXFORD, Miss. – When Johnny and Renee McRight began graduate school as young newlyweds, they did so on a tight budget with help from fellowships, grants and lots of sweat equity. Today, their generous gifts to the University of Mississippi are enabling graduate students to pursue research and advanced degrees, while also helping Ole Miss athletics programs reach new heights.

“Grad school is tough. We’ve been there,” said Johnny McRight, who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology from UM in 1973 and 1975. “We know from experience that if your finances are stable, you can focus on your studies.”

The Greenville couple created the McRight Biology and Speech Pathology Endowment in 2010 to recognize the role that education played in their fulfilling professional careers. Renee McRight, who earned her undergraduate degree in education in 1973 and graduate degree in communicative disorders in 1975 from UM, and her husband both noted Ole Miss professors who mentored them as they prepared for careers in speech pathology and agricultural research, testing and product development.

Johnny McRight founded McRight Services LLC., an agricultural consulting firm, in 1976. Renee formed a private practice to help adults and children with speech disorders. Yet after a few frustrating years, Johnny decided it was time to switch gears and “build a better mousetrap” for increasing crop yields. He developed his own line of agricultural biostimulant and micronutrient products.

“Thanks to my studies under Dr. Bailey Ward, a plant physiologist at UM, my interest and understanding of plant nutrition really flourished,” McRight said. “He had me take several courses in pharmacy research with Ph.D. pharmacognosy students. I started developing this amino acid chemistry and vitamin chemistry as it applies to plant nutrition – the ‘aha moment,’ you could say. I developed the ability to know what was wrong with plants and what would fix them.”

Through an additional gift this past year, they have divided their endowment, creating one for each department, so that scholarships can be awarded annually to graduate students in both programs simultaneously.

“The McRights have both vision and generosity,” said Richard Forgette, interim dean of liberal arts. “The College of Liberal Arts is truly thankful. This investment will have lasting benefits to these students, the university and the state.”

Velmer Burton, dean of applied sciences, echoed that gratitude.

“Financial assistance allows our students the opportunity to submit scholarly papers to conferences, participate in organizations, further their research and fulfill clinical hours in a timely fashion. The School of Applied Sciences and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders are appreciative of their thoughtful and gracious support.”

The McRights also support Ole Miss Athletics, providing financial gifts and faithfully traveling to cheer on the Rebels.

“Our constant involvement in Ole Miss sports has been a major factor in our desire to also support academics,” Renee McRight said. “We believe the academic and athletics leadership truly understand that sports are what keep a vast majority of our alumni coming back. Following and supporting Ole Miss athletics reminds us how critically important it is that we support academics.”

Not only did they make a major contribution to the Forward Together campaign, the McRights followed the Rebels to last year’s Music City Bowl, NCAA Basketball Tournament and SEC Baseball Tournament, NCAA baseball regionals and super regionals, and the College World Series.

Indeed, this sports year – and the Diamond Rebs’ history-making crusade from preseason to post-season in particular – held special meaning to the McRights’ and their 42-year marriage.

“The first year Ole Miss baseball went to the College World Series was the year we got married, 1972,” said Renee McRight. “We were on our honeymoon when they were in Omaha. We always said we would go when they got there again, so this year, we finally got that chance.”

The McRights’ experience this summer traveling with the team and fellow Rebel fans encapsulates their decades-long relationship with the university. Fans, players and players’ families – from Lafayette, Louisiana, to Omaha, Nebraska – were making new friends and forming bonds, sharing rooms and meals and doing what Rebels do best: taking small-town, big-heart values and attitudes on the road.

“We met players’ grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and the players themselves,” Renee McRight said. “In Lafayette, we met Will Allen’s parents sitting in the hotel lobby securing rooms for Omaha. We were unsure if they knew who we were, but we knew who they were. But then Will Allen’s dad gave us a hug and said, ‘We know you’ll be in Omaha because you’ve been everywhere else supporting the team.’ So we made our arrangements, too. They were appreciative of us being there.”

The university’s athletics leaders are grateful for the McRights’ continued support.

“Johnny and Renee McRight epitomize what it means to be an Ole Miss Rebel,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “Their history runs deep with our great university, as does their generosity to both athletics and academics. They have supported athletics in many ways throughout the years, and their recent gift to the Vaught Society will allow us to keep pushing to our goal for the Forward Together campaign. We are extremely grateful for their unwavering resolve to help Ole Miss athletics continue our pursuit of championships.”

“We recognize that we wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the education our university provided us, so we both feel it is important to support academics as well as athletics,” Renee McRight said.

To discuss giving to UM, contact Denson Hollis, senior director of development for the College of Liberal Arts, at dhollis@olemiss.edu or 662-915-5092. For more information on the Forward Together campaign or to make a gift to Ole Miss athletics, visit http://www.forwardtogetherrebels.com or contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7159.

UM to Dedicate Pittman Hall in Friday Afternoon Ceremony

Event pays tribute to Jackson couple's generosity, involvement

Pittman Hall

A dedication ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 7 will honor Scarlotte and Crymes Pittman of Jackson with the naming of Pittman Hall, a new residence hall at the University of Mississippi.

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi residence hall will be named for Scarlotte and Crymes G. Pittman of Jackson, to honor the couple’s longtime generosity and service. The public dedication ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 7) will also celebrate the couple’s recent $1 million gift, which elevates their lifetime giving to more than $6.6 million.

The ceremony takes place in front of Pittman Hall (on the side facing a courtyard shared with Minor and Burns halls), just off Rebel Drive, with a reception following in the residence hall’s lobby.

The Pittmans have directed $500,000 of their new gift to faculty support in the College of Liberal Arts and the other half to the Forward Together athletics campaign.

UM Chancellor Dan Jones expressed gratitude for the couple’s contributions.

“Scarlotte and Crymes Pittman are outstanding alumni,” Jones said. “We are extremely grateful and proud of their many investments in the life of the University of Mississippi directed to both academic and athletics programs. The Pittmans are thoughtful and visionary in their support, as evidenced by their creation of the Freshman Seminar to enhance students’ educational experiences. They always have the best interests of our students and the future of this university uppermost in their hearts and minds.”

Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, described the Pittmans as “dedicated alumni and fans.”

“The Pittmans continue to dedicate resources to bolster programs and facilities for Ole Miss student-athletes, which, in turn, draw alumni back to campus and keep them engaged with the overall university. The generosity shown by the Pittmans is inspiring and will encourage other members of the Rebel Nation to invest in our Forward Together campaign, which will secure a very bright future for our athletics programs.”

The impact of the Pittmans’ gifts continues to have far-reaching effects. They have provided in excess of $1 million and a planned gift for the Pittman Fund, which founded and supports the Freshman Seminar at Ole Miss. This program boosts students’ writing, oral communication and critical thinking skills, with the goal of acquainting students with the critical participation required in a seminar setting and to stimulate their interests in more active learning.

“I have always considered education to be one of the most important things I could provide my children and grandchildren,” Pittman said at the conclusion of the law school campaign he co-chaired in recent years. “I support the University of Mississippi and its School of Law because I identify closely with them. The primary focus of my philanthropic efforts is directed to the university and education.”

That campaign resulted in the construction of the Robert C. Khayat Law Center, as well as private support for student scholarships, Grisham Law Library, and faculty and clinic support.

A longtime leader in the legal community, Pittman was a natural choice to help lead the campaign. The attorney is a partner in Pittman, Germany, Roberts & Welsh of Jackson.

He was inducted into the School of Law Hall of Fame in 2011 and was named Law Alumnus of the Year in 1999. He co-created a scholarship endowment in Pittman, Germany, Robert & Welsh’s name at the UM School of Law and has generously provided personal gifts to this endowment to assist law students. Likewise, the firm continues as a generous financial supporter of the university.

Pittman also has given his time and expertise to serve as a board member of the University of Mississippi Foundation, Ole Miss Alumni Association, Lamar Order, Law Alumni Chapter and the Momentum Campaign.

“It is a tremendous honor to work with individuals who have such exceptional commitment to supporting educational opportunities for young people and a strongly held belief that education is the key to elevating the quality of life for our state, nation and world,” said Debbie Vaughn, UM’s senior executive director of development and chief development officer. “They have built a wonderful legacy that will continue to improve and touch countless lives. We look forward to celebrating this family at the dedication of Pittman Hall.”

In addition to the support the couple has provided Ole Miss over the years, the Pittmans have strengthened Mississippi’s higher education community through gifts to Mississippi State University, Millsaps College and William Carey College.

Scarlotte Pittman graduated from the School of Business Administration, and Crymes Pittman earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, followed by a Juris Doctorate. They have two grown children, Lucy Pittman Culver (husband Eskridge Van Naarden Culver) of New York and Crymes M. (wife Ashley W.) Pittman of Jackson, and four grandchildren. Their daughter, son and daughter-in-law all earned degrees at Ole Miss.

Individuals and organizations interested in joining the Pittmans to provide academic support to Ole Miss can contact Debbie Vaughn at dvaughn@olemiss.edu or 662-915-3937. To learn more about providing support to athletics programs, contact Keith Carter at jkcarter@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7159.

Military Appreciation Month Set For November

Campus events include football game, military review ceremony and Egg Bowl Run

Military Appreciation events begin Nov. 8.

Military Appreciation events begin Nov. 8.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will celebrate those who have served our country with a monthlong celebration throughout November.

Cadets from four military branches will participate flag football games Nov. 8 before the Ole Miss football game against Presbyterian College. Cadets and veterans will be honored at halftime during the game, and a World War II veteran will fire the cannon during halftime.

The Chancellor’s Review will take place at 2 p.m. Nov. 11 in front of the Lyceum. Here, the chancellor will have a chance to walk around with the ROTC commander and speak to cadets.

On Friday, Nov. 14, the Jazz Ambassadors, the official touring band of the United States Army, will visit the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Formed in 1969, this 19-member ensemble has received international acclaim and has performed with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony Pops, the Colorado Pops Orchestra and the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, among others.

The month’s activities will conclude with the Egg Bowl Run on Nov. 24. During the run, cadets from both Ole Miss and Mississippi State make the 93-mile run from Starkville to Oxford in two separate legs. Cadets exchange the game ball in Calhoun City during a short ceremony. The event is expected to begin at 5 a.m. and conclude about 9 p.m.

The game ball will be on display in the Student Union following the Egg Bowl Run. On Saturday, Master Sgt. Matt Hayes, UM senior military professor, and the cadets will walk in front of the team through the Walk of Champions carrying the ball. A website is being created for those who wish to purchase the game ball. All proceeds go to the Ole Miss ROTC fund.

“It is very important for everyone who attends Ole Miss, lives in Oxford to take a minute and thank a soldier or a cadet,” Hayes said. “November should be a time to honor our military, veterans and future leaders.”

For more information about Military Appreciation Month activities, contact Veteran and Military Services at 662-915-5021 or at umveterans@olemiss.edu.