UM Museum Opens Photography Exhibit of Buddhist Caves

Images from China illustrate artistic and architectural achievements

The exhibit “Dunhuang through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” is now open at the UM Museum. Submitted Photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Photographs of the intricately painted Mogao and Yulin Caves in Dunhuang, China are on exhibit at the University of Mississippi Museum.

“Dunhuang Through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” features photographs taken of the caves by the Los in the 1940s. The nearly 500 caves containing artwork are in the northwestern area of China along the ancient Silk Road and are a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. The caves, which served as spaces for meditation and worship, were painted between the fourth and 14th centuries.

The exhibit opened Jan. 10 in conjunction with the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, held on the UM campus Jan. 13-15. The free exhibit runs through April 29, and an opening reception is set for 6-8 p.m. Jan. 31.

Joshua Howard, Croft associate professor of history and international studies and a Chinese historian, proposed this exhibit to the University Museum.

“These photographs have high artistic value,” Howard said. “James and Lucy Lo used natural light and often placed mirrors in the caves to create special lighting effects and create a sense of the caves’ spirituality.

“James Lo also experimented with his photo angles; for instance, shooting a 50-foot reclining Buddha from the vantage point of the head of the statue rather than from the feet looking toward the head. The result is a more intimate and serene shot of the Buddha. Other landscape photos they took give a sense of the harsh but beautiful desert terrain the caves inhabit.”

The collection of 31 black-and-white photographs is from the Lo Archive and the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University. The Mogao and Yulin caves illustrate artistic and architectural achievements, as well as provide an intimate look at the history of Buddhism and other religions of the region.

Museum officials were excited about the opportunity to open the exhibit to conference attendees, said Robert Saarnio, museum director. The conference included workshops, panel discussions, lectures and film screenings of Asian poetry and literature, history, language, art, philosophy and politics.

“These are exactly the kinds of multidisciplinary and cross-campus partnerships that the museum seeks to foster and welcome, wherein great art and artifact content can be exhibited in such close correspondence to curricular, research and teaching endeavors,” Saarnio said.

The museum, at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

UM Winter Institute Has Key Role in National Day of Racial Healing

Initiative of W.K. Kellogg Foundation includes more than 130 organizations across the country

OXFORD, Miss. – The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi is collaborating with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and more than 130 organizations for a National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday (Jan. 17).

The observance is an effort to heal wounds created by racial, ethnic and religious bias and build an equitable and just society where all children can thrive.

“We have to be truthful when looking at ourselves as individuals and as a nation,” said Portia Espy, the Winter Institute’s director of community building. “Although we’ve made positive strides in the area of race relations, there is still a deep divide in this country, one that if we’re not careful will become even deeper; undoing the good work that has been done.

“We each have to take responsibility in playing our individual and collective parts in bridging the divide and bringing us together as one. The National Day of Racial Healing is intended to call attention to this need and to kick off an ongoing effort to bring the healing that many in our nation are calling for.” 

In the next few weeks, the Kellogg Foundation and its Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation colla­borating organizations will carry out a variety of events to mark the first-ever National Day of Racial Healing. The TRHT community, corporate and nonprofit partners represent a collective network of nearly 300 million Americans.

Winter Institute namesake, former Mississippi Gov. William F. Winter, serves as the TRHT enterprise’s honorary co-chair, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. 

One of the Winter Institute’s most powerful tools is the Welcome Table and its story circles, which build trust and understanding among participants. The institute has developed a toolkit that individuals can use to lead story circle sessions in their communities as part of National Day of Racial Healing events. The toolkit can be accessed at

Communities are encouraged to share their TRHT efforts, on Jan. 17 and afterward, by posting photos and statements on social media using the hashtag #mississippihealing.

“Communities, organizations and individuals are being asked to acknowledge that there are still deep racial divisions in America that must be overcome,” said Gail Christopher, senior adviser and vice president for TRHT at the Kellogg Foundation. “We have to come together to heal and commit to truth telling, engaging representatives from all racial, ethnic, religious and identity groups in genuine efforts to increase understandi­ng, communication, caring and respect for one another.”

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have equal opportunities to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

Based in Battle Creek, Michigan, the foundation works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans.

For more information about the Winter Institute’s National Day of Healing, email Portia Espy at

Future of Nanomedicine Topic of January Science Cafe

Previous TEDxUM presenter is first lecturer for spring semester

Randy Wadkins. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Recent breakthroughs in nanomedicine and their impact is the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The spring semester’s first meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. Randy Wadkins, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and associate member of the UM Medical Center Cancer Institute, will review his 2015 TEDxUM talk, “A Fantastic Voyage to the Future of Nanomedicine.” Admission is free.

Organizers of TEDxUM 2017 said they teamed up with the Science Cafe as a promotional activity for the main event, scheduled Jan. 28 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Wadkins was one of 10 speakers at the inaugural TEDxUM in October 2015.

“Imagine shrinking down robots to a size so small that they can be injected into humans,” Wadkins said. “Imagine them swimming around in our bodies until they reach the sites of disease, where they apply treatment. That future is called nanomedicine, and it is almost here.”

Wadkins’ 30-minute presentation will include how nanomedicine has moved from science fiction in the 1970s to reality. The fluorescent properties and common uses of nanomaterials in daily household products are also highlighted.

“On the nanometer scale, the very small things, such as molecules, are on one end, while the larger things, such as bacteria, are on the other end,” he said. “In between the two is where a lot of new and exciting things in science is happening.”

Wadkins’ research focuses on biologically compatible nanomaterials for possible medical purposes within the human body.

“In 2006, a scientist at Cal-Tech discovered a way to weave nanomaterials with DNA,” Wadkins said. “These can be manipulated into robots that can do things. The future of medicine lies at the nano-scale.”

The university’s first TEDx talk featured 10 brief lectures from Ole Miss faculty members to showcase “ideas worth spreading.” Though the event was open to only 100 attendees, those talks are available on YouTube for everyone who missed it.

“TEDxUM 2015” used the TED Talks conference format, which brings together lecturers and other participants in a globally popular set of conferences run by the Sapling Foundation. Under the rules set by TED, seating was limited for the event, although interest was very high.

UM administrators and professors said Wadkins’ appearance should be most interesting.

“Dr. Wadkins is one of the most prominent scientists in the U.S. using DNA as a nanomaterial,” said Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “His wealth of knowledge is sure to inspire and inform those in attendance.”

Wadkins earned his doctorate and bachelor’s degrees from UM. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany and at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He was an assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine before returning to UM.

He also was a 2015-2016 AAAS Science & Technology Congressional Fellow, working in the office of U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis. His research interests are biophysical chemistry, molecular dynamics, fluorescence microscopy and imaging, DNA structure and structural transitions and biosensors.

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, go to For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit or call 662-915-7046.

UM Professor Hopes to Shed Light on Voter Wait Times

Election Day study introduces students to data collection and analysis

Julie Wronski

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi political science professor and her students are collaborating with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth University and 25 other universities to study wait times at polling places in the 2016 presidential election. 

Julie Wronski, an assistant professor of political science, had the help of 40 students from her Political Science 251 class to collect data on how long people spent at the polls. The hundreds of pages of information students collected from Lafayette, Yalobusha and Desoto counties will be paired with data collected in urban and rural areas across the country. 

Researchers want to better document the variability of voter wait times across the country and understand the factors that lead to long lines.

“If we do find that there are certain precincts or certain regions where there are consistently longer times to vote, we can identify these areas and the factors that could lead to longer wait times,” Wronski said. “These issues can be ways of disenfranchising voters and making them more apathetic to the process. The fewer barriers to vote, the better.” 

The UM team was the only one from Mississippi to participate. Data was collected in New York, Boston and other urban areas, as well as rural areas across the country. 

The study offered a chance for students to see firsthand how states and localities conduct elections, Wronski said. The work also helped them better understand how data is collected, as well as its importance. 

UM students went to polling places to sample how long voters waiting in line to check in and the amount of time voters take to cast their votes, among other information.

Mississippi law required the team to remain outside the polling places and to not interact with voters. The students respected those rules, but were still able to gather the information they needed. 

“The poll workers and election officials were very welcoming to us as nonpartisan observers in a very contentious election,” Wronski said. “Just being able to see anything was great.” 

The work resulted in a thick stack of records that will be compiled along with information collected by other participating universities. The findings will be analyzed along with demographic information about each precinct. 

“It’s going to be matched with precinct-level data on income, race and education level, and then also matched to the precinct-level voter file to see the percentage of Republican or Democratic voting,” Wronski said. “So, we can make those empirical connections on where the longer lines were. Were they in the more Republican-leaning or Democrat-leaning, or more urban or rural, areas?” 

The national team of political researchers will write up their findings for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The information may be ready by the summer of 2017.

The team also plans to use the data to educate the general public and nonprofit groups who are passionate about voting issues on the causes, costs and remedies for long lines at polls. 

The class, which is an introduction to empirical analysis, is a perfect venue for giving students a chance to participate in the process of inquiry, said John Bruce, UM professor and chair of political science. The work brings the ideas discussed in class into a more concrete focus and gives students an “extraordinary experience,” he said. 

“The collaborative study that Dr. Wronski is working on cuts to the very heart of our democracy,” Bruce said. “Voting has to be a reasonable exercise, and all voters should expect similar experiences when they vote. … Gathering this type of data is a way to begin to understand how well our citizens are able to engage in democracy.” 

Haley Simmons, a political science doctoral student from Starkville, helped with the data collection project on Election Day. As a graduate assistant for Wronski, he was responsible for logistics of the research, while Wronski managed student involvement and coordinated with lead researchers from other institutions. 

Simmons said he hopes the students involved in the project will eventually conduct their own research using the skills they learned. 

“Introducing students to research practices and showing them that research can be fun as well as academically rewarding was the highlight of my involvement with this project,” Simmons said. “Skills we learn in graduate school classrooms are often abstract, and this opportunity allowed me to apply abstract skills to real-world research.”

UM Classics Department Honored for Professional Equity

University is third recipient of award

The Department of Classics, housed in Bryant Hall, received the WCC award this month. Photo by Robert Jordan

OXFORD, Miss. – The Women’s Classical Caucus honored the Department of Classics at the University of Mississippi with its WCC Award in Professional Equity at the Archaeological Institute of America/Society for Classical Studies joint annual meeting last week (Jan. 6) in Toronto.

The award, established in 2014, is given to an institution that has worked to improve equality and diversity in the classics field and has served as a model for other institutions. UM is the third recipient of the award.

Molly Pasco-Pranger, UM chair and associate professor of classics, has been a member of the WCC since 1992. The nonprofit organization was founded in 1972 and incorporated in 1992 with both scholarly and professional goals to incorporate feminist and gender-informed perspectives through the study of women in classical antiquity.

“The organization has been a consistent and powerful progressive voice in our field, and a source of professional support for me personally,” Pasco-Pranger said. “This new award, which acknowledges the roles departments have in advancing the mission of the WCC through policy and culture, fits in beautifully with the caucus’s tradition of professional mentoring and advocacy.”

The WCC also includes in its mission the advancement of equality and diversity within the profession, support relationships with scholars concerning gender and linking feminist scholars with other disciplines.

“From my perspective, equity of various kinds has been a leading priority of the department ever since I arrived,” associate professor Jonathan Fenno said. “I see this award as a recognition of the outstanding leadership our department has enjoyed for more than a decade now, which allows us to flourish as individuals and as a group.”

Molly Pasco-Pranger, chair of the Department of Classics.

Fenno praised colleague and former department chair Aileen Ajootian and Pasco-Pranger for their leadership supporting equality and a supportive and professional environment for everyone.

“As one of the oldest units on campus, the Department of Classics has strong ties with the past, but also looks forward, encouraging students and faculty of all genders, races and economic backgrounds to join us,” Ajootian said.

“In the past, the academic discipline of classics was a white, male, elite stronghold, but today its doors are open to all. It is especially significant at the University of Mississippi that one of the oldest departments on campus has been recognized as a beacon of equity.”

Morgan Palmer, visiting assistant professor of classics, nominated the department for the award, citing its record of hiring and promoting women, supporting diversity and inclusion among students and faculty, and incorporating feminist and gender-informed teaching in classics studies.

“This award provides formal recognition from colleagues across North America for the work that the University of Mississippi classics department does to promote equity at the university and in the profession,” Palmer said. “I nominated the department for this award because the University of Mississippi stands out as a place where there is a shared and concerted effort at both the departmental and administrative levels to create a supportive and welcoming environment for everyone.”

The department has fully supported Palmer’s teaching, research and professional development activities, even as a visiting faculty member, she said.

“My colleagues in classics work to ensure that everyone feels welcome, encouraging student-driven activities, and also giving their own time to arrange lunches, reading groups, peer tutoring and information sessions. The professors in the classics department strive to give all of their students and colleagues every possible chance for success, and their efforts represent the best of the University of Mississippi community.”

Schools Look to DeSoto Writing Center for Insight

Faculty and staff offer advice, resources for development of middle and high school centers

Josh Green (right), director of Independence High School’s writing center, oversees a tutoring session with students Josh Figures and Martasia Copeland. Green reached out to the University of Mississippi – DeSoto Writing Center for resources and ideas. Submitted Photo

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – As director of the Writing Center at the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven, Jeanine Rauch sees the value of honing writing skills early.

“Ultimately, writing is clear thinking,” said Rauch, an instructor in the university’s Department of Writing and Rhetoric. “When students are confident in their own writing, the writing process becomes more focused on audience and purpose, which leads to clear communication.”

The Writing Center at the UM regional campus offers free services designed to help students become stronger writers and critical thinkers. Teachers from DeSoto and Tate counties recently visited the center to glean ideas for creating and developing writing centers at their respective schools.

“Incorporating a middle school or high school writing center introduces the importance of writing and helps students become more aware and connected to their own writing,” Rauch said. “Peers helping peers allows for a collaborative conversation through the writing process.”

Robert Cummings, chair of the university’s Department of Writing and Rhetoric, said that Rauch’s leadership at the writing center “knows no bounds.”

“(Rauch) has long been of great service to her students, the students of the University of Mississippi, and to students at Northwest Mississippi Community College,” Cummings said. “Not content with this level of contribution, she is now extending opportunities for designing supplemental peer literacy instruction to her partners in the K-12 environment.

“Her work is truly exceptional and exemplifies the best work of writing centers on a national level.”

Tarra R. Taylor, English teacher and writing center director at Hernando Middle School, met with Rauch this summer.

“Teaching writing is a passion that I have,” Taylor said. “So, in an attempt to do what I love to do, I wanted to offer something to my school that would not only benefit the students that I teach but also the entire student body.”

Taylor began by reading and researching writing centers in colleges and secondary schools.

“Jeanine and her team of consultants were more than welcoming and helpful,” she said. “They informed me of how their writing center was run and offered me suggestions for the middle school level.”

The DeSoto Writing Center team provided Taylor with a number of resources, including “The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors,” a sample writing center feedback survey, a tutor script and relevant articles. Rauch and one of the center’s consultants even accompanied Taylor when she presented the idea to faculty at Hernando Middle School.

Many students enter middle school with “negative attitudes toward writing,” Taylor said. This could stem from a lack of confidence or limited writing skills, she said.

“When the confidence level of students is built, students will want to write more,” she said. “In turn, writing achievement will be positively affected.

“The end goal is for students to become effective written communicators. They will write for a plethora of purposes and audiences; therefore, writing skills are important in order for them to be successful at it.”

The Hernando Middle School Writing Center launched Nov. 14. Taylor is confident that the center will make an impact on her students.

Josh Green, English teacher and writing center director at Independence High School, also recently met with Rauch. Green’s writing center began in 2014 under the direction of Jason Jones, the writing center director at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

When Green was named director, he began investigating new ways to develop the center.

“As a teacher consultant for the University of Mississippi Writing Project, I know firsthand the quality work that Ole Miss does within the field of writing,” Green said. “I knew that (Rauch’s) work with the writing center could provide critical insight and perspective for us. Jeanine and the writing center staff members were extremely helpful and personally met with us. “

This year, Independence High School’s center has served some 20 students so far.

“They have shown significant improvement and most have now visited more than once, which is exciting for us,” he said. “We love the fact that students are beginning to feel comfortable and continue to come back. Some of them have even become our biggest recruiters.”

Green recognizes the role that writing plays in student success.

“Writing is a vital skill that essentially permeates all academic disciplines and endeavors,” he said. “Whether it is at the elementary, secondary, post-secondary or corporate level, writing is a key component in succeeding in any field.

“Writing is not a vacuum skill that is applicable and/or useful only to students pursuing an English degree or a career in technical writing, but rather it is something that is used in practical facets of life such as: resume writing, surveys, engineering field reports, research proposals, etc.”

Rauch encourages schools to consider the development of a writing center.

“Writing centers create both a learning and collaborative space where students help each other improve upon their writing skills,” she said. “Students who frequent a writing center become more engaged with their own writing which leads to finding their own unique voice.”

For more information about UM-DeSoto’s writing center, visit

Streets Endow Scholarship to Honor Longtime UM History Professor

Education fund named after Harry P. Owens, professor emeritus and Civil War scholar

Dr. Harry P. Owens. Photo by Robert JordanPhoto by Robert Jordan

Harry P. Owens. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A recent gift from two University of Mississippi donors will provide scholarship opportunities for future UM secondary education majors while honoring Professor Emeritus Harry P. Owens, who taught history at the university for more than 35 years.

The Dr. Harry P. Owens Secondary Education Opportunity Scholarship Endowment was created with a $25,000 commitment from Bill and Ginny Street of Alabaster, Alabama.

Bill, a senior vice president at ServisFirst Bank, started his post-college career as a social studies teacher in DeSoto County in 1978 after receiving his undergraduate degree in secondary education from UM.

“The thing that I got from Harry was learning how to listen,” Bill explained. “Even if someone is on a different side (of the aisle) than you, you should hear what they have to say because you might learn something useful. I credit him with my ability to do that.”

Bill was a nontraditional college student. After initially losing interest in his studies at UM in 1969, he left the university to serve in the U.S. Navy, where he became a submarine petty officer. After being discharged in 1975, he returned to the university with two new things: a new resolve for his studies and tuition money from the G.I. Bill.

During this time, he was highly influenced by the Civil War historian. According to Bill, he and the professor just “clicked” and they bonded over their extensive interest and knowledge of Civil War history. The professor became a mentor for the sailor-turned-teacher.

Owens and his wife, MaryLou, still live in Oxford.

Bill and Ginny Street of Alabaster, Alabama (Submitted Photo)

Bill and Ginny Street. Submitted photo

“The most telling thing I can say about Bill is this: The first time I met him, I was teaching a new course that I had never taught before about the military history of the American Civil War,” Owens said. “I remember that there was Bill and one other student, who, if ever I had a single doubt in my mind about a particular fact, I could look at Bill for confirmation. He knew that much.”

Owens recently attended a meeting with Bill, Ginny and leadership from the UM School of Education, after finalizing the gift.

“Bill doing this in my name is a most gracious thing,” Owens said. “This reinforces the idea that teachers count.”

After college, Bill took a teaching and coaching job in Horn Lake, where he was named the school’s Star Teacher after his very first year in the classroom.

Although no longer a student, he kept in touch with his favorite professor. The two men often conversed via phone or would meet up when Bill and Ginny would return to the Oxford for sporting events.

To the Streets, this scholarship is also a way for the couple to help students who struggle with the tuition demands of college. Without the G.I Bill scholarship, Bill said would not have been able to afford his Ole Miss education.

A needs-based scholarship, each year recipients of the award will receive tuition support after being selected by the UM School of Education Scholarship Committee. The scholarship will support Ole Miss students majoring in secondary education.

“Harry had a profound impact on me and we want to put his name on this (scholarship),” Bill said. “We want to give someone an opportunity that they might not get otherwise. That’s what this is all about.”

Gift Reflects Longtime Pontotoc Teacher’s Passions

Berryhill scholarship will support UM students in music, education

A new scholarship endowment, named in memory of Ann Berryhill (at left, with husband Farrell), will provide financial assistance at UM for full-time entering freshmen from Pontotoc County.

A new scholarship endowment, named in memory of Ann Berryhill (at left, with husband Farrell), will provide financial assistance at UM for full-time entering freshmen from Pontotoc County.

OXFORD, Miss. – Family and friends of the late Anna (Ann) McDonald Berryhill, of Pontotoc, want to honor her memory by helping generations of future University of Mississippi students pursue their interests in music and education.

A 1951 graduate of the UM College of Liberal Arts, Berryhill returned to her hometown to teach, sharing for two decades her lifelong love of learning, specifically in the disciplines of music and history.

“Her students were like her children,” reflects Mary McDonald, daughter of Berryhill’s brother, Robert McDonald Jr. “She enjoyed history and kept boxes and boxes of family mementos and stacks of letters and postcards from her former students. 

“Even years after she quit teaching, she corresponded with many of them on a regular basis. Up until her death, she had several former students visit her in the nursing home.”

Representing her passions, the Anna McDonald Berryhill Ole Miss First Scholarship Endowment will give full-time entering freshmen from Pontotoc County financial assistance to supplement eight semesters of tuition with first preference going to students majoring in music or education.

The Ole Miss First Scholarship Program continues to provide mentoring and leadership development in conjunction with tuition assistance. Entering freshmen are selected to receive a four-year scholarship of $4,500 per year based on their high school record of academic excellence, leadership and commitment to service. Additionally, some scholarships are based on financial need, major or geographical area.

“The Ole Miss First program helps students reach their full potential as they grow into accomplished members of the community, both at Ole Miss and in the world,” said Rosie McDavid, program coordinator. “The program would not be possible without the continued support of those who understand the program’s mission to assist outstanding young people as they prepare for the future.”

Buddy Montgomery, president of First Choice Bank in Pontotoc, said the Ole Miss First program is perfectly aligned with his longtime friend’s personality.

“Mrs. Berryhill possessed the highest of moral character traits and she expected others to possess nothing less than what she expected of herself,” he said. “She would encourage and advise others, especially the younger generations, to prepare themselves by getting an education, studying diligently, being trustworthy, accountable, responsible and by working hard to pursue their dreams.”

First Choice Bank, originally First National Bank of Pontotoc, was founded by Berryhill’s grandfather, who served as president until 1926. In 1965, Berryhill’s husband, Farrell, was named president. After his death, Mrs. Berryhill was elected to the bank’s board of directors. 

“She loved the bank her grandfather founded and served its customers and employees very proudly until her health failed,” Montgomery said. “She was a very dedicated director and friend to all of us fellow board members and employees.”

Berryhill also deeply loved her community, showing her support by committing both her time and resources. She was active in the Pontotoc Historical Society and was a driving factor in turning the local post office into a museum. She also was president of the Pontotoc Hospital Auxiliary, a member of the Pontotoc Music Club and a representative of Pontotoc County for the Tupelo Community Concert Association.

Additionally, Berryhill was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a lifelong member of the First Presbyterian Church.

“Ann and Farrell had no children, so the bank, her students and her church were her life,” nephew Robert McDonald III said. “She loved music and played the organ at her church for many, many years.”

At Ole Miss, Berryhill was an active member of Delta Gamma sorority, serving as treasurer her senior year. She remained active as an adviser to the sorority after graduation, enjoying another opportunity to mentor young people toward success.

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the Anna McDonald Berryhill Ole Miss First Scholarship Endowment by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by visiting For more information about Ole Miss First, contact Rosie McDavid at 662-915-3895 or

UM Employees Give, Receive Blessings through Books and Bears

Annual program provides toys for children of Facilities Management Department employees

OXFORD, Miss. – “You haven’t been blessed until you are able to bless someone else,” Donald Cole said Friday morning (Dec. 16) at the University of Mississippi’s 19th annual

UM Facilities Management employees enjoy selecting items for their loved ones during the annual Books and Bears Program in Fulton Chapel. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

UM Facilities Management employees enjoy selecting items for their loved ones during the annual Books and Bears Program in Fulton Chapel. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

program. And plenty of blessings were both given and received at the event, which touches families across north Mississippi.

Several hundred UM Facilities Management Department employees piled into Fulton Chapel, each given a large, empty bag and a number. They sat patiently, but eager for their numbers to be called allowing them to come and receive a book, a bear and a toy.

And while it was seasonally cold outside, the soon-to-be recipients were warmed within by the generosity displayed by their benefactors.

“Books and Bears is truly a blessing program,” said Cole, special assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs.

Sponsored by the university’s Black Faculty and Staff Organization, the annual event distributes more than 1,000 gifts, all donated by Ole Miss faculty, staff, students and alumni. Each year the total number of donations reaches a new record.

Friday’s Books and Bears was the first for both Chancellor Jeffery S. Vitter and his wife, Sharon. Both were in attendance with Sharon Vitter pulling the very first number, which was 262. It happened to belong to Iesha Johnson of Oxford, a new employee in Housekeeping.

“Without this event, lots of kids wouldn’t have very much on Christmas Day,” said Johnson, who took home presents for her 2-year-old son, Jaden.”Every little bit helps and a little goes a long way.”

The chancellor told the employees that their daily work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

“We depend upon what all the staff do to make this university the beautiful place that it is,” Vitter said. “Thank you for all that you do, and have a great holiday.”

Tasha Jones, another new Housekeeping employee from Oxford, received the first of more than 20 bicycles given away was “big” gifts.

“This feels really great,” she said. “I’m truly thankful to be here and to get such a nice gift.”

Locksmith Bill Herron of Batesville, who has attended every Books and Bears distribution since the program began, recalled how Books and Bears has benefited his family over the years.

“The first time I attended, I won a bicycle for my youngest son, who was 13 at the time,” Herron said. “Now, I’m taking gifts from here home to my grandkids, ages 7 to 16. This really helped me financially.”

Specificity is not a requirement for Mike Siner of Water Valley.

“It doesn’t have to be any particular thing for my nieces and nephews,” said the 10-year employee. “Just seeing the excitement on their faces over whatever they receive is a blessing.”

The donations were noticed and greatly appreciated by BFSO officials.

“The thoughtfulness and outpouring of support from the UM family has been nothing short of amazing this year,” said Jackie Vinson, project coordinator in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “By helping others, we have truly captured the spirit of the holidays.”

The spirit of generosity generated by the program appears to be contagious.

“I don’t have any children myself, but this is a way to give back to members of our Ole Miss family who may feel they are underappreciated,” said Stephanie Brown, staff assistant the Vinson’s office. “I just wanted to help him and his family out in any way that I could.”

BSFO members expressed their pleasure at the assistance in obtaining toys and books for the children.

“Over the years, Books and Bears just keeps growing and growing,” said Jackie Certion, senior academic adviser in the College of Liberal Arts. “We outgrew the Union Ballroom and the Jackson Avenue Center. Next year, we may need the Ford Center and maybe The Pavilion at Ole Miss after that. Who knows?”

New teddy bears, children’s books and toys have been collected for children of custodial and grounds workers each year since 1997.

Two UM Band Members Receive Carr Scholarships

Alumnus Jimmy Carr rewards students' dedication and talent with annual awards

UM alumnus Jimmy Carr (center) greets his 2016 scholarship recipients, Pride of the South Marching Band members James Vinson (left) and Taylor Bost at Memory House. Photo by Bill Dabney

UM alumnus Jimmy Carr (center) greets his 2016 scholarship recipients, Pride of the South Marching Band members James Vinson (left) and Taylor Bost, at Memory House. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Each year, University of Mississippi alumnus Jimmy Carr awards scholarships to two members of the Ole Miss Pride of the South marching band. Despite this dedication, Carr never played in the band himself.

“I have always admired the dedication of the band members,” said Carr, who earned undergraduate and law degrees from Ole Miss. “In my opinion, of all the students at Ole Miss, they put the most energy into what they are passionate about and they do so without much recognition.”

Many Pride of the South Band members provide their own instruments, have spent years honing the skills they need and work many hours in all kinds of weather to be able to perform on game day.

A professional and active member of the Oxford community, Carr is glad to give back – to pay it forward to the university that supported him.

“I was fortunate to receive several small scholarships, which combined, allowed me not to have to pay any tuition during my four years of undergraduate studies,” Carr said. “I remain appreciative of the support I received.”

Each year, the Jimmy Carr State Farm Scholarship, created with the help of the State Farm Companies Foundation’s Good Neighbor Grant and Matching Gift Program, is awarded to a graduate of Oxford High School and Lafayette High School by Carr and his wife, Amanda, a UM accountancy graduate.

This year’s freshman recipients are OHS graduate James Vinson, who plays cymbals, and LHS graduate Taylor Bost, who plays clarinet.

“The fact that I was selected among such a respected group of people means more than anything to me,” said Bost, who is majoring in music.

Vinson, a mechanical engineering major, said he feels honored as well.

“The scholarship has helped a great deal with expenses that come with going to college, such as buying books for my engineering classes,” he said.

The university’s goal is to build a $2 million endowment to support band scholarships.

Gifts of all sizes combine to provide band scholarships. Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the University Marching Band Scholarship Fund by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by visiting

For more information, contact Ron Wilson, development director, at or 662-915-1755.