UM Professor Helps Honor Mentor

Jared Spears captures longtime NMCC educator John Osier's spirit in sculpted monument

Jared Spears, a University of Mississippi faculty member and alumnus of Northwest Mississippi Community College, has sculped a monument in memory of mentor and beloved NMCC English instructor John Osier. Photo courtesy NMCC

Jared Spears, a University of Mississippi faculty member and alumnus of Northwest Mississippi Community College, has sculped a monument in memory of mentor and beloved NMCC English instructor John Osier. Photo courtesy NMCC

SENATOBIA, Miss. – In his obituary, John Osier, a beloved Northwest Mississippi Community College English instructor was described as “a quiet, private, common and remarkable man.” The published author of four novels and numerous short stories and magazine articles, Osier was a “household name” around Northwest for the 35 years he taught at the college.

In 1993, Osier was honored by the Senatobia Chamber of Commerce as “Higher Education Teacher of the Year.” That was also the same year an 18-year-old freshman, Jared Spears, sat in Osier’s summer creative writing class and dreamed of becoming a writer like his teacher.

Although writing was not to become Spears’ career, he drew inspiration from Osier that has helped him in not only his own teaching career at the University of Mississippi, but also in his career as an artist and sculptor.

When Spears was approached by Osier’s widow, Barbara, and asked to sculpt the monument for Osier’s grave, he jumped at the chance.

“I told her that I had known John and had admired him,” said Spears, who teaches design and drawing in the UM Department of Theatre Arts. “That made this whole project pretty special to me. Just the serendipity of it all. ”

Spears is no stranger to Northwest. He spent his first five years living on the Senatobia campus. His father, Gary Lee Spears, who served the college as registrar for many years, is in his 11th year as president of the college, and his mother, Marilyn, spent 26 years as an early childhood technology education teacher and was director of the program for many of those years.

As a child, Spears was well acquainted with renowned Northwest potter Lane Tutor, who allowed him to practice and explore art in his studio.

While at Northwest, Spears was a member of Les Fauves Art Club, a Northwest recruiter, president of the Northwest Players Club and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. He acted in several productions on the Northwest stage and also worked on the crew as well.

Spears received an Irene Ryan Acting Award nomination and a scenic design award. He was a member of the Northwest Hall of Fame, the highest honor a student can receive.

“A bunch of us kids from Senatobia High School tried to get a jump on things and took the creative writing class in the summer from Mr. Osier,” Spears said. “I just thought he was cool, and that is the only way I could have described it back then, but it was so much more than that.

“He knew his material so well and he knew how to put it out there in such a way that we could understand whatever he was trying to teach us. He was such an inspiration and had such a command of the classroom. I still do things in my classroom today that I learned from him.”

John Osier. Photo courtesy NMCC

John Osier. Photo courtesy NMCC

Her husband would be pleased to know that he had made a difference in some of his students’ lives, Barbara Osier said.

“Although teaching was a way to pay the bills and still have time to write, he truly enjoyed teaching and sharing his love of literature with his students,” she said.

After graduating from Northwest, Spears attended Delta State University and began studying art.

“I got a classical art education there,” Spears said. “You learned not only how to draw, but how to see. You cannot draw anything that anyone else can understand unless you can truly see the world as three-dimensional objects in light and shadow and reality. It’s a real tool that they gave me and it is something I use as a teacher today.”

Spears received his bachelor’s degree in sculpture and printmaking from DSU in 1999. In 2000 he moved to Taylor, a thriving arts community, and decided to pursue his master’s degree from Ole Miss. He earned his MFA in scenic design in 2005 and joined the full-time faculty after graduation.

A video documentary featuring Spears’ traditional stone-carving techniques is housed in the Rinzler Archives of the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Cultural Heritage and was featured as part of the 2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.

In 2010, he and several colleagues received a Special Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters for the multimedia collaboration piece, “The Passions of Walter Anderson: A Dramatic Celebration of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Artist.”

Spears and his younger brother, Daniel, have played together in various musical groups over the past 15 or so years.

“We like to play ‘ole timey’ regional music,” Spears said. “We play music from the early 1900s with an emphasis on instrumentation – big groups with horns and strings. I play guitar and sing. We really lean toward folk, jazz and early rock and roll with an improvisational bent.”

On a visit to Taylor, Lane Tutor and his wife, Susan, visited with Spears and saw that he was sculpting a three-dimensional monument for another family. Impressed with Spears’ work, Susan Tutor mentioned the monument to Barbara Osier, who contacted Spears and asked him to consider the project.

“I think Barbara and her son, Wes, were comfortable with me and pretty much gave me carte blanche,” Spears said.

He presented his idea in drawings and maquettes to the Osiers. They liked what Spears had planned for the monument and agreed that he was the one they wanted to complete it. The sculpture took about a year to finish.

“I like the direct nature of carving stone,” Spears said. “I think I am more exacting and deliberate in my approach. I have an agenda when I start.”

For this project, Spears carved a limestone slab, which is recessed into the granite monument. The bas-relief is no more than an inch at its deepest. He worked with Mike Sanders of Batesville to create the base of the monument. He also created the lettering.

On the top of the monument is a Celtic cross.

“The reason Wes and I chose the Celtic cross was that John loved Ireland,” Barbara Osier said. “I told Jared about the cross that John bought for me in Dublin on my birthday. He took a picture of it and that is the cross on the monument. That just shows the care and thought that Jared put into this project.”

Besides representing Osier, the monument also reflects characters from his novels, Spears said.

“The figure in the foreground is John, wearing the driver’s cap he often wore in later years,” Spears said. “I think John always identified with his characters. In each of his novels, the central character always seeks refuge in an old building or a hideout in the woods.

“So it’s kind of an archetypal image of a man going on to the beyond. I wanted it to be timeless and stylized.”

Spears also used rounded forms, drawing inspiration from the Works Progress Administration’s art deco reliefs found on the old Senatobia High School Auditorium, in the monument.

The artist is working on a monument for another family and hopes to continue to carve these types of projects, but he thinks that the Osier monument will always be special because of his relationship with the family and with Northwest.

“It’s a stately looking monument that I am really proud of, and I think the family is too,” Spears said. “It is in a beautiful place in the cemetery, not far from where he lived, which I think is kind of special.”

“John loved art, and that is one reason that my son Wes and I wanted this special monument to him,” Barbara Osier said. “I feel that Jared captured John’s spirit and what he was about.”

UM Professors Earn Tenure and Promotions

Four academic departments, Croft Institute and Sarah Isom Center are under new leadership

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Four faculty members within the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi have been promoted to administrative positions, and more than 50 faculty members across campus have been granted tenure or rank promotions.

Also, Gregg Roman has been hired as chair and professor of biology, and Rebekah Smith has been hired as chair of the Department of Psychology.

Luca Bombelli, associate professor of physics and astronomy, has been named chair of the department, and Michael Barnett, associate professor of lighting design, is the new chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. Oliver Dinius, associate professor of history, is the new executive director of the Croft Institute for International Studies, and the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies is under the direction of Jaime Harker, professor of English. All appointments became official this summer.

“I am pleased to announce the outstanding faculty that will assume these very important administrative roles within the College of Liberal Arts,” Dean Lee Cohen said. “I am confident that each of these units will flourish under their new leadership and I am excited to begin working with them.

“I would also like to thank those individuals who these individuals are following – all of whom served their respective units with exceptional leadership and resourcefulness.”

Though new to the university, Roman comes with both short- and long-term goals for the Department of Biology, which includes growing its faculty and increasing the number of high-impact research projects in diverse areas of the life sciences.

“Our team will accomplish this goal through a multipronged approach that includes improving our ability to conduct state-of-the-art research with new shared-use instrumentation facilities Roman,” said. “We are increasing our efforts at recruiting and retaining academically excellent, driven and curious graduate students. We will also increase the level of discourse with discipline specific journal club courses, a bolstered research seminar series and a departmental retreat.

These increases in research communication will help generate more innovation and provide both incentives and tools for even higher levels of multidisciplinary research, he said.

“By encouraging our faculty to work together in these tasks, we will elevate our research and develop national and international recognition for the areas of strength present in the biology department,” he said.

A member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty since 1996, Bombelli said he is fortunate to have stepped into the position at a time when the department has seen an increase in the number of regular, tenure-track faculty members.

“This has strengthened our already very active and prominent research groups, and put us in a position to attract even higher levels of funding,” he said. “We are a relatively small, friendly department, in which faculty carry out very exciting research, and we plan to use this to raise the quality and diversity of our applicant pool, in both our undergraduate and graduate programs.”

In terms of course offerings, the recent increase in faculty size has been offset by the number of sections needed to teach to serve a much larger overall student population.

“So my goal is to increase the size of the faculty further, to reach a level at which we can teach a really attractive variety of courses,” Bombelli said. “In the short term, this will require the development of a clear vision and expansion plan.”

Before coming to Ole Miss, Smith was professor and chair of psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“My goals are to provide leadership for growth in the department within the environment of UM as a leading research university by supporting faculty and students and through creative problem solving,” she said. “I am fortunate to have a strong positive foundation to build on, thanks to the work of Dr. Michael Allen, who served as department chair for 14 years and who continues to provide invaluable advice during the transition in leadership.”

Barnett joined the faculty in August 2007 and has served as assistant professor of lighting design, assistant chair of theatre arts, vice-chair of the Faculty Senate and chair of the Faculty Senate for the last four years.

“The department will work to ensure that our students have the resources to create wonderful pieces of theater, film and dance,” Barnett said. “They will learn about the artistry, professionalism and critical thinking necessary to generate substantive pieces of work and discover the ways in which they can make a positive difference in our community through the representation of our regional, national and global stories.”

Through collaboration with the other fine arts departments, the Department of Theatre Arts will serve as a cultural corridor through which the community is able to connect with the university, he added.

Dinius, who has been a UM faculty member since 2004, said his first and foremost goal is to make sure that the international studies major remains a program that stands for academic excellence as the number of students continues to grow.

“The Croft Institute now accepts 50 percent more students than it did in 2010, but its faculty has not grown, which means that we have to use our resources very wisely to give students the true ‘Croft’ experience and inspire them to perform at the highest level,” Dinius said.

“Over the next few years, I would like to reshape the curriculum in the international studies major to be more global in outlook, building on our strength in the study of four particular regions – East Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East – and finding ways to think beyond those regions.”

Another priority of Dinius’ would be to place even greater emphasis on undergraduate research, a skillset that has proven to lead to exciting careers for alumni, often in areas of the private sector that one might not immediately associate with research.

“In terms of Croft’s contribution to the university at large, I want to see us even more engaged in the internationalization of our campus,” he said. “This would include expanding the number of international events working with other units on campus, such as the Honors College, the Department of Modern Languages and the Office of Global Engagement, among others.

“Greater internationalization of campus benefits our majors, the student body at large and the Oxford community.”

Harker joined the faculty in 2003 and has been an assistant professor and associate professor of English. She was director of undergraduate studies in English, the department’s assistant chair and interim director of the Isom Center in 2014-2015.

“Our short-term goals include increasing the availability of courses in gender studies to serve the student body, creating partnerships with groups on campus and in the community regarding gender and sexual studies, and building financial support for programming and education,” she said. “We will build on partnerships with the Oxford Film Festival, the Powerhouse, the Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement, and many others within and outside of the university.”

Harker said her long-term goals are to extend the reach of the center’s educational programs through podcasts, social media and online programming, move to more accessible and visible space in Lamar Hall, and build a stronger endowment to support its educational mission.

Other faculty members earning tenure and/or rank promotions are:

  • Kim Griffin Adcock was promoted to professor of pharmacy practice and is director of faculty and academic affairs in the Department of Pharmacy Practice
  • Abbas Ali was promoted to principal scientist at the National Center for Natural Products Research
  • Alan Louis Arrivee was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of theatre arts
  • Robert William Barnard was promoted to professor of philosophy
  • Edmond Boudreaux was granted tenure
  • Cecilia Botero was granted tenure
  • Qingying Bu was promoted to professor of mathematics
  • Joe Turner Cantu was promoted to professor of theatre arts
  • Tucker Carrington was promoted to associate professor of law and is director of the Innocence Project
  • Amber Jean Carpenter-McCullough was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of curriculum and instruction
  • Virginia Rougon Chavis was promoted to professor of art and is chair of art and art history
  • Allen Stanley Clark was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of modern languages
  • Svjetlana Curcic was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of special education
  • Charles Clay Dibrell was promoted to professor of management and is William W. Gresham Jr Entrepreneurial Lecturer
  • Victoria Lynn Dickinson was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of accountancy
  • Conor M. Dowling was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of political science
  • Micah Paul Everett was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of music
  • Joshua First was promoted to Croft associate professor of history and international studies
  • Laurie Warrington Fleming was promoted to clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice
  • Jennifer W. Ford was promoted to professor and is head of Archives and Special Collections at the J.D. Williams Library
  • Karen Forgette was promoted to lecturer in the Center for Writing and Rhetoric
  • Richard John Gentry was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of management
  • Kristy L. Gilliland was promoted to professor of law and is director of the Law Library
  • Bradley T. Goodwiller was promoted to research and development engineer II at the National Center for Physical Acoustics
  • Joan Hall was promoted to senior lecturer in English
  • Ralph Hugh Hamilton was promoted to instructional associate professor of management
  • John David Heffington was promoted to senior research and development engineer at the National Center for Physical Acoustics
  • John A. Holleman was promoted to clinical associate professor of higher education
  • Kate Hooper was promoted to lecturer in the Center for Writing and Rhetoric
  • Guy Krueger was promoted to lecturer in the Center for Writing and Rhetoric
  • Cecille Alista Labuda was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of physics and astronomy
  • Christopher J. Leary was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of biology
  • Theresa Hilary Levitt was promoted to professor of history
  • Soumyajit Majumdar was promoted to professor of pharmaceutics and research professor in RIPS and is associate dean for research and graduate programs and associate director of the PII Center for Pharmaceutical Technology
  • Charles D. Mitchell was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of journalism and new media and is assistant dean
  • Sathyanarayana Narasimh Murthy was promoted to professor of pharmaceutics and research professor in RIPS
  • Ahmed Mohamed Galal Osman was promoted to senior scientist at the National Center for Natural Products Research
  • James J. Pitcock was promoted to clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice
  • Charles K. Ross was promoted to professor of history and is director of African-American studies
  • Stefan E. Schulenberg was promoted to professor of psychology
  • Carrie Smith was promoted to instructional associate professor in psychology
  • Rebekah Smith was granted tenure
  • Daniel Stout was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of British literature
  • Natascha Techen was promoted to senior scientist at the National Center for Natural Products Research
  • Anne S. Twitty was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of history
  • Randy Mack Wadkins was promoted to professor of chemistry and biochemistry
  • Yanhong Wang was promoted to principal scientist at the National Center for Natural Products Research
  • Ivonne Whitehead was promoted to senior lecturer in modern languages
  • Kathleen Wickham was promoted to professor of journalism
  • Louis George Zachos was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of geology and geological engineering
  • Yaoxin Zhang was promoted to senior research scientist at the National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering

Brittney Reese Claims Silver in Olympic Long Jump

Former Rebel medals in second straight games

Brittney Reese (USA) during the women's long jump final in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Brittney Reese (USA) during the women’s long jump final in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

RIO DE JANEIRO – Former University of Mississippi great Brittney Reese (BA English ’11) added another shiny medal to her collection with a world-class long jump performance en route to silver Wednesday night at Rio’s Olympic Stadium.

The world’s premier female long jumper since she turned pro after her 2008 junior year at Ole Miss, Reese came out to defend her gold medal from the 2012 Games in London. But despite an impressive leap of 7.15 meters (23-5.5), she was edged out by fellow American Tianna Bartoletta who claimed gold by 2 centimeters with a mark of 7.17 m. Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic earned bronze at 7.08 m, a national record.

Reese, a Gulfport native who lives and trains in San Diego, had only one fair attempt (6.79 m) out of her first four, before a pair of huge distances in her final two – 7.09 m and then 7.15 m. Bartoletta won the competition on her fifth attempt with a personal-best 7.17 m in a dramatic final two rounds of jumping.

“I’ve been through a lot these past two years emotionally, and physically battling back from surgery,” Reese said. “Today, I kind of got off to a slow start and it cost me at the end, but I am really pleased to be on the stand again and represent the United States.”

It was part of a big night for the Team USA women on the track, who are coached by Ole Miss head coach Connie Price-Smith. The Americans went 1-2-3 in the 100-meter hurdles (first ever gold, silver and bronze for the U.S. women in any track and field event), while Mississippi native Tori Bowie earned bronze in the 200 meters.

Reese earns the fourth Olympic medal all-time among Ole Miss track and field representatives and is the first Rebel to boast two Olympic medals.

With Sam Kendricks’ bronze in the men’s pole vault on Monday combined with Reese’s runner-up effort, it’s the first Olympics for Ole Miss representatives to win multiple medals.

Tony Dees won the other Olympic medal by a former track and field Rebel with his silver in the 110-meter hurdles in Barcelona in 1992.

That concludes Olympics competition for the program-best track and field contingent in 2016. Below are the complete results of the one current Rebel (Raven Saunders), one current volunteer assistant coach (Gwen Berry) and four former Rebels.

 

Brittney Reese (USA) – silver medal – women’s long jump – 7.15 m/23-5.5

Sam Kendricks (USA) – bronze medal – men’s pole vault – 5.85 m/19-2.25

Raven Saunders (USA) – 5th – women’s shot put – 19.35 m/63-6

Gwen Berry (USA) – 14th – women’s hammer throw – 69.90 m/229-4

Ricky Robertson (USA) – 17th – men’s high jump – 2.26 m/7-5

Antwon Hicks (Nigeria) – 23rd – men’s 110 m hurdles – 14.26

 

For complete coverage of Ole Miss in the Olympics, visit http://www.RebsInRio.com.

 

For more information on Ole Miss Track and Field, follow the Rebels on Twitter (@OleMissTrack), Facebook and Instagram.

 

Special Collections Lecture Series Begins this Week

Topics include U.S. Sen. James Eastland, Mississippi authors and fiddle tunes

Archives and Special Collections will host a lecture series throughout the fall semester based on the new exhibit “Hot Off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections”

Archives and Special Collections will host a lecture series throughout the fall semester based on the new exhibit ‘Hot Off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections.’

In conjunction with the exhibit “Hot Off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections” at the University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library, the Department of Archives and Special Collections has planned a series of lectures to add context to the artifacts.

Items on display in the Faulkner Room include an untitled play by William Faulkner, a Civil War soldier’s diary and promotional materials for famed blues artists, among dozens of other literary, historical, blues and political artifacts.

The first lecture is set for noon today (Aug. 16). Lee Annis, author of the 2016 biography “Big Jim Eastland: The Subtleties of a Segregationist,” will talk about the former U.S. senator in a lecture titled “The Godfather of Mississippi: The Subtleties of a Segregationist.”

Eastland represented Mississippi in 1941 and 1943-1978 and chaired the Judiciary Committee from 1956 to 1978. Eight cases in the exhibit feature selections from his congressional collection.

The exhibit is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through Dec. 16. All lectures are set for the Faulkner Room, on the third floor of the library. Participants are welcome to bring food to the lectures.

Here’s a brief look at the rest of the scheduled lectures:

“A Day with Mr. Faulkner and His Horses,” noon Sept. 1

Ed Meek, namesake of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, donated his collection of photographs to Special Collections in 2014 and will be discussing the history of selected images. The collection includes photos Meek shot of Faulkner, as well those taken during the university’s integration in 1962.

The Taborian Hospital of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, noon Sept. 13

Doctoral candidate Katrina Sims will discuss her use of the James O. Eastland Collection in examining the history of the Taborian Hospital in the African-American community of Mound Bayou.

“Mr. Chairman: U.S. Senator James O. Eastland and the Judiciary Committee,” 5:30 p.m. Sept. 29

Historian David Hargrove and former Eastland aide James Ziglar will discuss Eastland’s time as chair of the Judiciary Committee. Open to the public, the program is accredited for one hour of both Continuing Legal Education and Continuing Judicial Education.

“Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s,” 3 p.m. Sept. 21

Harry Bolick, Mississippi fiddler and tunesmith, will discuss his book on fiddle tunes of the 1930s and perform selected examples.

John C. Satterfield Collection, 5:30 p.m. Oct. 4

Rita and William Bender, attorneys in Washington, were previously visiting professors at the UM School of Law. During their time here, the Benders frequently used the Satterfield/American Bar Association Collection and will discuss ways in which they used the information.

“Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore: Literary and Family Connections,” 11:30 a.m. Oct. 6

Suzanne Marrs, friend and biographer of Eudora Welty, and Annette Trefzer, UM associate professor of English, will discuss the literary and familial connections between Welty and Hubert Creekmore, a poet from Water Valley.

“Making Slavery in the Mississippi Hills:  Chickasaw Slaveholders, Race, Religion, and Gender, 1810s-1840s,” Thursday, October 13 at 12 pm.

Ph.D candidate Justin Rogers will discuss the history of Chickasaw slaveholders in Mississippi from the 1810s-1840s, as well as related topics.

For more information, contact Jennifer Ford, head of Archives and Special Collections at jwford@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7408.

Fennelly Named Mississippi’s New Poet Laureate

Acclaimed author will spend four years working to promote poetry in schools, creating works for state

Gov. Phil Bryant has named noted poet and University of Mississippi educator Beth Ann Fennelly Mississippi's Poet Laureate. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Gov. Phil Bryant has named noted poet and UM educator Beth Ann Fennelly as Mississippi’s poet laureate. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Gov. Phil Bryant has named noted poet and University of Mississippi educator Beth Ann Fennelly as Mississippi’s poet laureate. The prize-winning author will spend the next four years as the official state poet while working to make poetry more accessible to Mississippians.

Fennelly is director of the UM Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, and she teaches poetry and nonfiction writing at Ole Miss. She will leave her position as director, which she’s held for six years, to fulfill her new duties.

She said she’s honored to be selected to replace Natasha Trethewey, whom she admires, as poet laureate.

“Southerners in general and Mississippians in particular are known to have produced many of our nation’s greatest writers,” Fennelly said. “It will give me joy to help promote literary arts throughout the state and encourage future generations of Mississippi storytellers and writers.”

Her new duties include creating and reading poetry during state occasions and participating in school and community events that promote appreciation of poetry. The distinction of Mississippi poet laureate dates to 1963. Fennelly said she has major aspirations for her new role.

“I look forward to continuing and deepening my work with the NEA’s Poetry Out Loud Initiative in Mississippi, the fabulous Mississippi Book Festival, and the schools, libraries and organizations that grow and nurture talent from our rich Mississippi soil,” she said.

The governor said he is pleased Fennelly will continue Mississippi’s rich literary tradition.

“Mississippi’s reputation for the written word is unmatched the world over, and Beth Ann will strengthen that reputation,” Bryant said. “I am pleased to appoint her poet laureate.”

W.W. Norton published Fennelly’s second and third collections of poetry, “Tender Hooks” (2004) and “Unmentionables” (2008), as well as her book of nonfiction, “Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother” (2006). In 2013, HarperCollins published “The Tilted World,” a novel that Fennelly co-wrote with her husband, author Tom Franklin. It was named an IndieNext Great Read, became a finalist for the 2014 SIBA Book Award and has been published in six foreign editions.

Her sixth book, “Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs,” will be published by W.W. Norton in fall 2017.

Fennelly’s poem “The Kudzu Chronicles,” from “Unmentionables,” is grounded in her experience in Mississippi and references William Faulkner, the Neshoba County Fair and her home in Oxford. Its closing stanzas were used as lyrics for Jackson musician Claire Holley’s song “Kudzu.”

In 2011 she was named UM Humanities Teacher of the Year and College of Liberal Arts Teacher of the Year. Her first collection of poetry, “Open House,” was a Book Sense Top Ten Poetry Pick and won a Kenyon Review Prize, a Zoo Press Poetry Prize and a Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award.

Born in New Jersey and reared in the Chicago area, Fennelly has written and taught around the United States and world before settling in Mississippi in 2001. She received a bachelor’s degree, graduating magna cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame, then taught English for a year in a coal mining village on the Czech-Polish border.

She returned to the United States to earn her M.F.A. from the University of Arkansas. She then completed a Diane Middlebrook Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin and went on to teach at Knox College in Illinois. She has completed residencies at the University of Arizona and MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, fellowships at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and Sewanee, and a 2009 Fulbright grant studying poetry in Brazil.

Fennelly has received a number of national awards, including a 2001 Pushcart Prize and a 2002 National Endowment of the Arts grant in poetry. She received a United States Artist Grant in 2006 and the Subiaco Award for Literary Merit in 2012.

The Mississippi Arts Commission awarded Fennelly grants for nonfiction in 2005 and 2015, and for poetry in 2010. In 2015, the A Room of Her Own Foundation presented her with the Orlando Award in Nonfiction, and in 2016, she received the Lamar York Prize in Creative Nonfiction from The Chattahoochee Review.

The poet laureate title has been a time-honored way of drawing attention to the importance of poetry in national discourse, said Ivo Kamps, UM English chair. The title dates back to 1616, when King James I of England gave poet and playwright Ben Jonson a pension, with the expectation he would write occasional verses to commemorate the country’s major events.

“It is an incredible honor for Beth Ann Fennelly and for the University of Mississippi that she is called to join in this tradition,” Kamps said. “I can’t think of a better person in the role than Beth Ann because she has written lyrically, lovingly, but also poignantly about the state of Mississippi.

“Her verse confronts readers with poetry’s best attributes: a clear understanding of proportion and form, captivating rhythms, striking imagery and startling insights.”

Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, said he’s also thrilled with the selection.

“Beth Ann’s accomplishments in literature are too numerous to mention,” White said. “We are thrilled that she has chosen to make her home in Mississippi and contribute to arts and education in our state. She is an excellent choice for Mississippi’s poet laureate.”

Summer Session Archaeological Dig Yields Thousands of Artifacts

UM students help uncover Chickasaw relics in Oktibbeha County

Graduate student Emily Clark sorts through Native American artifacts found at a dig site in Oktibbeha County.

Graduate student Emily Clark sorts through Native American artifacts found at a dig site in Oktibbeha County.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi graduate student Emily Clark dreamed of becoming an archaeologist since she was 5 years old.

“I was the kid that took my toys and buried them in the sandbox and pretended I was making a discovery,” Clark said.

Her dream is becoming a reality at UM, and she’s no longer pretending. In June, Clark and fellow graduate student Allie Smith served as field supervisors of the summer session Study USA course in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, an archaeological field session at a Native American site in Oktibbeha County.

With the help of Ole Miss undergraduate students, researchers from the University of Florida and representatives from Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, the group discovered tens of thousands of artifacts during the four-week course.

“I was not disappointed with the findings from this site,” said Tony Boudreaux, UM associate professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Archaeological Research. “There were a ton of artifacts found, and it’s enough to not only keep us busy, but learn about the people and societies that produced them.”

Boudreaux said items found from the site, believed to date to the early contact period of Native Americans and Europeans between 1400 and 1700, include pottery, animal bone, stone and clay.

“This is a time we don’t have a lot of written documentation of,” he said. “Native Americans in the Southeast went through a time of significant change, and through archaeology, we can tell the story of these people.”

By looking at this site, Boudreaux said he is hoping to discover the processes by which Native Americans, likely Chickasaw or their ancestors, were affected by contact with Europeans.

This dig served as a course to assist students and faculty with their research interests in addition to training undergraduates.

“This gave our students an opportunity to work with other archaeologists and see the practices and research interests while making connections in the profession,” Boudreaux said. “Working with the Chickasaw Nation allowed us to tell stories we otherwise can’t tell.

“This group has a genuine interest in these objects, and knowing that, you can see the importance of archaeology.”

Next up for the artifacts is the analysis. Clark, an Oklahoma City native who received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, will focus her research on the political and social cultures of Native Americans in Oktibbeha, Clay and Lowndes counties during this time of early contact.

Emily Clark

Emily Clark

The lengthy process of washing, sorting, counting, bagging and identifying each item within a database becomes thrilling when patterns are found, Clark said.

“You have a puzzle but you don’t have all the pieces,” she said. “So when you get two to fit together, it’s exciting.”

Smith will study the ceramics discovered from this site and their attributes for her graduate research, hoping to find patterns that will help her build a chronology of the society.

The native of Fort Payne, Alabama, earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Auburn University. Growing up in the Southeast gave Smith an interest in her area and its evolution into modern society. This project allows her to further explore that interest.

“To me, archaeology gives me an opportunity to understand my landscape and the history underneath it,” she said. “One thing I’ve learned from archaeology is that one hour in the field is equal to six or seven in the lab, and lab work is just as important in understanding what’s happening.”

Clark and Smith both hope to have the analysis completed sometime this fall. The collection of artifacts will then be available to researchers from around the world to study Native American life in Mississippi.

The field school is offered each summer, along with a variety of other courses from Study USA. Next year, students will travel with anthropology professor Maureen Meyers to Native American sites in Virginia.

“The university’s Study USA program helps to facilitate courses such as ANTH 335 by assisting faculty members in introducing students to research, industry and professionals with firsthand experience,” said Kristina Phillips, UM coordinator of continuing education programs. “Students earn credit while applying academic knowledge in practical fashion, all while visiting cities across the U.S.”

Course offerings are both academically and geographically diverse. Upcoming Wintersession courses include STEM in Hawaii, studio art in Miami and an Honors College course in biomedical ethics in Washington, D.C.

For information about Study USA and courses offered, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/study_usa.

UM Graphic Arts Students Snag Big Internships

Heidi Bain at Walt Disney World, Will Halcomb at Cartoon Network's Adult Swim

Heidi Bain

Heidi Bain

OXFORD, Miss. – When Heidi Bain and Will Halcomb return to the University of Mississippi, the senior graphic art students will be able to compare notes from their respective internships at two of the biggest companies in the entertainment industry.

Through early next year, Bain will be employed as a graphic design intern with Disney Cast Activities Recognition and Experience in Orlando, Florida. Halcomb is at work at Adult Swim at the Cartoon Network in Atlanta until the end of August.

Both are scheduled to receive their bachelor’s degrees from the UM Department of Art and Art History in December and May 2017, respectively.

“Heidi is a talented graphic designer, and I’m not surprised that she was offered the Disney internship, as her work is colorful and somewhat magical in its design,” said Virginia Rougon Chavis, chair and professor of art and art history.

“The job Will was selected for at Adult Swim seems a perfect fit. His artwork is mix of wacky, lovable, retro and forward-thinking. He’s a rare gem and I think he’s definitely working on finding his niche.”

An Orlando native, Bain grew up going to Disney World and the beach. She decided to attend UM because it was completely different than any college she’d looked at in her hometown.

“I fell in love with everything about Oxford: the gorgeous campus, the small-town Southern charm and the friendliest people I have ever met,” Bain said. “I realized Ole Miss was the perfect environment for me to grow creatively at a university that is much more of a family than it is an institution.”

Heidi Bain with Mickey Mouse and two of her cowokers in the office.

Heidi Bain with Mickey Mouse and two of her cowokers in the office.

Bain applied for about 10 different internships before she found the Disney opening on the company’s Professional Interns website. She applied online, submitted her portfolio for review, and did phone and Skype interviews before she landed the position.

“I have already used many things I learned in my core art classes, such as knowledge on color theory, typography and elements of 2-D design,” Bain said. “The knowledge I gained from my BFA in graphic design at Ole Miss has been very beneficial with how to professionally respond to clients and explain the reasoning behind why some designs work best, and why and some don’t communicate ideas effectively.”

Will Halcomb

Will Halcomb

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Halcomb came to UM because it was the right distance from home and a “new enough” place where he wouldn’t know too many people. He also got his internship by applying online and reaching out to a cousin who had worked for a related company over a decade ago.

“I help out with all the graphic design needs for www.adultswim.com as well as for the Adult Swim app and various other digital media outlets employed by Adult Swim,” he said. “A memorable moment would be when they made me wear a helmet with a camera on it and stream my day live on the homepage while also selling T-shirts with my face on them.”

The interns’ respective supervisors said they were very impressed with each student’s skills and professionalism.

“Will’s offbeat design style and great attitude make him an amazing asset,” said Peter Karpick, creative director at Adult Swim. “He has a great work ethic, has been super-easy to work with, takes direction well and always delivers really solid work. I have no doubt he will be successful in the future.”

“Heidi has been a valuable asset to both our team and to the clients she supports,” said Andrew Hendricks, graphic designer with Walt Disney Creative Learning Services. “From day one, her knowledge of working in the parks and her passion for graphic design allows her to solve problems in a way that still upholds the Disney brand, maintains the magic and integrity that we all cherish.”

Both Bain and Halcomb said they are anticipating exciting careers following graduation. She is hoping to find a full-time job in the area of graphic design within some department of the Walt Disney Co.

“My internship lasts from June 12th to January 7th, although there is a possibility to apply for an extension,” Bain said.

Halcomb said that his UM educational experiences have given him plenty of perspective with different media to try different approaches when he sits down in front of a computer.

“My plans after graduation are to enter the wonderful world of commercial design and start working hard for the money,” he said.

For more information about the UM Department of Art and Art History, visit http://art.olemiss.edu/.

Julia Aubrey Named Ford Center Director

Longtime faculty member and administrator hopes to establish venue as a regional arts leader

Julia Aubrey is now Director of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Julia Aubrey is the new director of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Julia Aubrey, new director of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, brings experience and a focused vision to the University of Mississippi’s premier performance venue.

Aubrey served as interim director of the Ford Center since September 2015 and held numerous positions in the university’s Department of Music over the last 21 years, including director of opera theatre and studio voice, assistant chair and associate professor of vocal and opera literature courses. She will continue to serve as director of opera theatre.

She plans to collaborate with the university and surrounding community to expand the mission of the Ford Center and engage students, residents and their families. Aubrey said she believes the Ford Center can be a producer as well as a presenter, incubating projects that will establish it as a regional arts leader.

“Oxford is such an exceptional place and there’s such a variety of interests,” she said. “We want to tap into that. We want more people to experience this wonderful venue.”

The St. Louis native is part of a musical Ole Miss family. Her husband, Robert, is an instructional assistant professor of music at UM, and her son, Michael, graduated with a double major in international studies and Spanish from the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies.

Aubrey has been involved in music her entire life. She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance and a master’s in theater at the University of Missouri at Columbia. However, she entered college as a political science major.

“Music was just too strong a pull, so I stayed with that discipline,” she said.

Aubrey started her career as a performer, appearing in musical theater and opera productions beginning in 1982. Her major focus soon became direction, serving as a professional artistic director, musical director and state director throughout the country.

She helped bring to life the opera “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” composed by UM alumna Nancy Van de Vate, which included invited guest artists and UM faculty, staff and students from the university’s Opera Ensemble. This presentation served as the world premiere of the opera in the Ford Center and the European premiere in Prague, Czech Republic.

Her role as a youth musical theater workshop director for the last 21 years has given her a vision of expanding the workshops and programming for children.

“We want to work toward providing grants and scholarships to children for them to experience the arts and view them as a method of personal expression,” she said. “We are looking forward to dreaming the next chapter in the Ford Center’s history and then making those goals a reality.”

The university community expressed excitement that Aubrey has been named permanent director.

“Julia Aubrey has many years of experience in the arts at a variety of levels: community, university and through national and international organizations,” said Rene Pulliam, interim chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. “She has a vision for the Ford Center to be a catalyst using the arts to bridge the gap between the university and the Oxford-Lafayette community.

“Having worked with her in the past, she is dedicated to the arts and is a tireless worker and advocate. I look forward to seeing what changes she will bring to the personality of arts at the Ford Center.”

David Allen, UM pharmacy dean and a Ford Center fan, echoed that sentiment.

“I’ve have had the privilege of working closely with Julia in the past,” he said. “I know her to be a tremendous professional and someone who is committed not only to the arts, but also to our university, city and region. Taking these things together, she is a stellar choice to serve as the Ford Center director.”

Aubrey has begun the Ford Center’s season schedule by bringing in comedian Lewis Black, a national tour of “Fame – The Musical” and performances by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and piano quartet Faure.

“We are excited to try to new things and provide entertainment for everyone, no matter what their interest,” she said. “I’m glad to be here with such a great staff and look forward to the future.”

For a full schedule of Ford Center events, visit http://www.fordcenter.org.

UM Student Selected for National Committee to Prevent Sexual Violence

Elizabeth Romary is among 28 chosen for It's On Us Student Advisory Committee

Elizabeth Romary

Elizabeth Romary

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi student has been selected to serve with a national organization that works to prevent campus sexual violence.

Elizabeth Romary, of Greenville, North Carolina, is among 28 students chosen for the It’s On Us Student Advisory Committee. Launched by the White House, the program is a grassroots, student-led approach to combatting sexual violence. Romary will help organize students to encourage bystander intervention and support survivors.

“The Student Advisory Committee will work to build student leaders on campuses across the country,” said Romary, a senior majoring in international studies and Spanish. “I am in the Southern region, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

“We will be reaching out to campus leaders at schools in those states to organize events, collaborations with other campuses and to provide help with starting student organizations on those campuses.”

A member of both the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Romary is a founding member of Rebels Against Sexual Assault and was the group’s president for fall 2015. She is expected to represent Ole Miss well, said Lindsey Bartlett-Mosvick, project coordinator in the UM Counseling Center and RASA adviser.

“Elizabeth dedicates her time to eradicating sexual violence on our campus as one of our first peer educators and our first president of Rebels Against Sexual Assault,” she said. “I know she will inspire more students across the country to become active bystanders, to prevent sexual violence and to create a supportive environment for survivors of sexual violence.”

Already, Romary has shown exceptional leadership ability, said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“The University of Mississippi does not tolerate sexual violence,” Hephner LaBanc said. “And with Elizabeth Romary’s assistance, staff and students have more effectively collaborated to provide programs and services to educate all members of our campus community about responsible conduct, the meaning of consent, how to report incidents of sexual misconduct and how to hold individuals accountable for their behavior.”

Romary passed along her duties as RASA president while studying abroad during the spring semester.

“My responsibilities were communicating with other student organizations, helping to organize our peer education trainings and running our meetings,” Romary said. “I chose to become involved because I was surprised that a student organization combating the issue of sexual assault on campus didn’t already exist.

“This issue is extremely important to me and I wanted to be able to create a community for survivors, bystanders and other individuals who care about this issue. We also wanted to find a way to make known the resources on campus available to students.”

Nationally, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. It’s On Us is a campaign to change the culture around sexual assault.

The organization’s framing principles are increasing bystander intervention, defining consent and creating an environment to support survivors. This campaign focuses on educating, engaging and empowering students and communities to be part of the solution to end sexual assault.

CSI Summer Camp Gives Students Experiences in Crime Scene Science

Weeklong UM event offered participants faux evidence and mock case

High school students conducted mock crime lab analysis during the second annual CSI Summer Camp held at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

High school students conducted mock crime lab analysis during the second annual CSI Summer Camp held at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A dead body, blood spatter, guns, bullets and DNA samples – all fake – offered gifted middle and high school students opportunities to test their forensic skills recently at the University of Mississippi.

Thirty-eight seventh- through 12th-graders visited Ole Miss as part of a weeklong camp on forensic science. Sponsored by the American Academy of Forensic Science, and the UM Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Division of Outreach, the event drew students from Mississippi, Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio and Tennessee.

Led by UM forensic chemistry program director Murrell Godfrey and his students, the group spent Monday honing detective skills while examining the “evidence” throughout select classrooms and labs in Coulter Hall.

“The CSI Camp gives hands-on experiences to students who love puzzles, science and watching forensic science television shows,” Godfrey said. “During the week, students learned the importance of the correct chain of custody procedures when handling evidence that they collect at the crime scene. Students must analyze the evidence using presumptive and confirmatory tests.”

Graduate student Caroline Spencer of Decatur, Alabama, assisted with instruction. Kelly Nolan, another graduate student from Oxford, coordinated housing and meals through the Division of Outreach. Undergraduate students Zachara Catchings of Jackson and Ebone McCowan of Acworth, Georgia, served as camp counselors.

Participants observed as Godfrey and others demonstrated the proper procedures for analysis of the staged evidence recovered from the mock crime scene.

Some of the hands-on activities include DNA, fingerprint, gunshot residue, bullet and drug analyses using the same high-tech analytical and physical techniques used in crime laboratories. Todd Davis from the Drug Enforcement Agency and Captain Elijah Wilson of the Holly Springs Police Department presented talks on problems with controlling drugs and crime scene investigations, respectively.

A mock trial in the School of Law‘s moot court room on the last day of the camp tests the students’ knowledge on the various topics and labs.

“The students must serve as expert witnesses, prosecutors, defense attorneys, suspect and so forth,” Godfrey said. “The expert witnesses must defend their analysis of the different pieces of evidence found at the crime scene. A jury will then render a final decision in the case.”

Divided into smaller groups, the students rotated daily between labs in the Thad Cochran Research Center and stations for DNA collection, presumptive tests, ballistics and gunshot residue, fingerprints, and analytical chemistry and forensics. At each specific station, students analyzed their samples and collected data.

A tour of campus and the UM medicinal plant gardens was scheduled on Wednesday by Don Stanford, assistant director of UM’s Research Institute of  Pharmaceutical Sciences.

This forensics summer camp was the second held at the university.

“Our first CSI Camp was held last summer, and we had 30 campers representing 15 states,” Godfrey said. “Our goal is always to encourage these gifted young minds to become STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors once they enter college.”

Several students said they’ve learned a great deal through their experience.

“I really like looking at the crime scene, collecting evidence and figuring out how the crime happened,” said Kira Brown, a rising ninth-grader from Falkville, Alabama.

Seventh-grader Kailynn Aragon agreed.

“It was remarkable,” said Aragon, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. “The camp helped me learn everything about CSI and the importance of taking good notes.”

“It’s definitely more than using goggles and gloves,” said another eighth-grade student. “I learned that while shows like ‘CSI’ show only one barrier around a crime scene, there are actually two barriers. I also discovered it actually takes much longer to process evidence and solve a case in real life than it does on television.”

By allowing the students to visit the department and experiment with the equipment, UM faculty said they hope to pique their interests in forensic chemistry and possibly recruit them one day to the university.

For more information about the forensic chemistry program within the UM Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, visit http://chemistry.olemiss.edu/undergraduates/forensic-chemistry/.