UM Technology Management Division and Research Partners Land National Award

Technology transfer prize honors work to develop, study and bring pterostilbene to market

The University of Mississippi's Division of Technology Management has been jointly awarded a a Technology Transfer Award for their work to develop, study and bring to market pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries, grapes and other small fruits.

The University of Mississippi’s Division of Technology Management has been jointly awarded a a Technology Transfer Award for their work to develop, study and bring to market pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries, grapes and other small fruits.

OXFORD, Miss. and IRVINE, Calif. – A collaboration formed by the University of Mississippi’s Division of Technology Management, the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Natural Products Utilization Research Unit and natural products company ChromaDex Corp. has won a national award for excellence in technology transfer.

The three organizations have won a Federal Laboratory Consortium 2014 Excellence in Technology Transfer Award for their work to develop, study and bring to market pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries, grapes and other small fruits. In studies, pterostilbene has demonstrated promise for improving cardiovascular health, glucose levels and cognitive function.

The award will be presented this week during the 2014 Federal Laboratory Consortium National Meeting, being held April 21-23 in Rockville, Md. Walter G. Chambliss, UM director of technology management; Agnes M. Rimando, a research chemist with the USDA-ARS; and Tom Varvaro, CFO of ChromaDex (OTCQB: CDXC), will be on hand to accept the award.

“This award is a wonderful acknowledgement of the work our researchers and their partners at USDA-ARS and at ChromaDex have done,” Chambliss said. “These types of multidisciplinary projects allow us to share expertise and translate laboratory discoveries into commercial products with demonstrated health benefits.”

ChromaDex launched its pTeroPure® dietary supplement ingredient in 2010, licensing the technology from the university. The independent research company Frost & Sullivan awarded the product its 2010 North American Health Ingredients Most Promising Ingredient of the Year award. pTeroPure® is available in dozens of consumer dietary supplement products.

“ChromaDex is honored to have worked with UM and USDA-ARS on the research of pterostilbene and commercialization of pTeroPure®,” said Frank L. Jaksch, founder and CEO of ChromaDex. “This award recognizes not only the individual efforts of our team members but also the important impact that research and corporate collaborations can have.”

Pterostilbene is chemically related to resveratrol, a compound that is plentiful in the skins of red grapes. Resveratrol is thought to be at least partly responsible for the health benefits attributed to drinking red wine, which include cardiovascular health and cancer prevention.

Rimando began collaborating with Dennis R. Feller, former UM professor and chair of pharmacology, and others in 2003 to study the compound. Results of their work were presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in 2004 and attracted widespread attention.

Following the launch of pTeroPure®, researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center found that pterostilbene seems to help lower blood pressure in adults. The work, led by Daniel M. Riche, UM associate professor of pharmacy practice, was presented at the American Heart Association’s 2012 Scientific Sessions on High Blood Pressure Research.

“The purpose of research is to better understand our world,” said Alice M. Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “The process of ensuring that our research results have the greatest impact on society is broadly known as technology transfer. This prestigious award validates the University of Mississippi’s approach – pursuing quality research in a collaborative environment. It is exciting to see our discoveries making an impact both here and throughout the world, and for our people to be recognized for their contributions is always rewarding.”

The collaboration has also proven beneficial for ChromaDex, Varvaro said.

“The partnership with UM and the USDA is an example of private and government collaborations that not only work but also bring great benefits to all the parties involved,” Varvaro said. “By working together to further develop the licensed technology, we have accomplished more than we ever would have expected to do working on our own.”

About ChromaDex:

ChromaDex is a natural products company that discovers, acquires, develops and commercializes proprietary-based ingredient technologies through its unique business model that utilizes its wholly owned synergistic business units, including ingredient technologies, natural product fine chemicals (known as “phytochemicals”), chemistry and analytical testing services, and product regulatory and safety consulting (as Spherix Consulting). The company provides seamless science-based solutions to the nutritional supplement, food and beverage, animal health, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The ChromaDex ingredient technologies unit includes products backed with extensive scientific research and intellectual property. Its ingredient portfolio includes pTeroPure® pterostilbene; ProC3G®, a natural black rice containing cyanidin-3-glucoside; PURENERGY™, a caffeine-pTeroPure® co-crystal; and NIAGEN™, its recently launched branded nicotinamide riboside, a novel next-generation B vitamin. To learn more about ChromaDex, visit

About the UM Division of Technology Management

The Division of Technology Management of the UM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs protects, manages and transfers intellectual property from the university to the private sector for commercialization. For more information on DTM, go to

About USDA-ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit

The Agricultural Research Service is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The USDA-ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit focuses on discovery of natural product-based pest management solutions and research in support of minor and new crops. For more information on the ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, go to

Consciousness Conference Bringing ‘World-Class’ Experts to Campus

Philosophers and cognitive scientists to discuss human and animal consciousness April 27-30 in free events

conciousnessOXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi hosts the “Conscious Thought and Thought About Consciousness” conference April 27-30, bringing “world-class” philosophers and cognitive scientists to campus.

The event is scheduled for the E.F. Yerby Conference Center, and all events are free and open to the public.

Leaders in several fields, including philosophy and neuroscience, will converge on campus to promote cutting-edge work in hopes of creating better understanding of human and animal consciousness, its relation to the brain and how humans think about sentient beings, among other topics, said Donovan Wishon, UM assistant professor of philosophy.

“What’s particularly remarkable about this event is that it will bring together scholars with vastly different views about consciousness, thought and the methods we should use to come to grips with the mind, its workings and its relation to physical reality,” Wishon said. “What’s more, the conference is intended to educate the students and the general public about how philosophy, and the humanities in general, can work side-by-side with the sciences to answer fundamental questions about who we are and what our place is in the world.”

The event is sponsored by the UM departments of philosophy and religion, and psychology, and the university’s College of Liberal Arts, the Office of the Provost, University Lecture Series and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. It’s also co-sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Philosophical Association and the Mississippi State University Department of Philosophy and Religion.

For more information, click this link to a website devoted to the event. For assistance related to a disability issue, contact the UM Department of Philosophy and Religion at 662-915-7020.

Program Coordinator Works Year-Round on Annual Botanicals Conference

Event draws participants from around the globe

Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor

OXFORD, Miss. – If the 13th annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals is as successfully staged as the previous 12, it will be due, in large measure, to the efforts of Jennifer S. Taylor, program coordinator in the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.

Putting the ICSB together “is a huge undertaking,” said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR’s assistant director and director of its FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Center for Excellence in Botanicals.

“It’s sort of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces,” he said. “Jennifer makes sure that, in the end, all those pieces fit together perfectly to ensure that everything comes off without a hitch.”

The conference has drawn as many as 250 participants from around the world to the Oxford Conference Center to discuss pressing topics affecting the botanical dietary supplement industry and the people who consume the supplements. Taylor’s job is to prepare year-round for each upcoming conference.

“I am the ‘event coordinator,’ ‘travel coordinator,’ ‘administrative coordinator’ and ‘speaker coordinator’ all rolled into one,” Taylor said. “My role is pretty intense.”

Taylor arranges venues and menus for the conference’s various activities and ensures that whoever needs to get paid for them receives payment. She manages hotel arrangements and shuttle services for conference participants and even helps some of them solve their flight issues. She also handles invitations and other correspondence with conference speakers and manages their itineraries and travel reimbursements.

During the actual event, she deals with the registration, check-in and other problems that invariably arise whenever and wherever large numbers of people gather for a series of carefully orchestrated events.

“Her job is like herding stray cats, but somehow she does it very well,” said Larry Walker, NCNPR director. “She manages to assist many of our NCNPR staff as well as many of our conference participants.”

This year, Taylor’s workload is even more intense because NCNPR also is hosting the American Society of Pharmacognosy’s annual meeting Aug. 2-4.

“We will be challenged this year because the ASP event is much larger than our ICSB,” she said. “It averages 500 attendees, but we have an amazing group of people at NCNPR, and everyone will pull together to really make this year a huge success.”

Topics for this year’s April 15-17 ICSB conference include various approaches for post-market surveillance, risk and safety assessment, and adverse event reporting for botanical dietary supplements and other natural products. To ensure that regulatory and manufacturing perspectives are shared, the program includes presentations from members of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, major trade associations and industry representatives, Taylor said.

The ASP meeting will explore natural products and their impact on human health, agriculture and the environment.

“Participants will review, discuss and explore the confluence of natural products research,” Taylor said. “Topics include past achievements, current status and future prospects in natural products discovery.”

While in the midst of finalizing agendas and plans for the ICSB event and beginning similar work on the ASP meeting, Taylor also is serving as Khan’s administrative assistant.

“He oversees approximately 30 people at any given time, so I assist them, as well as him, with any clerical needs they have, such as travel, purchasing, correspondence, payroll, reimbursements, etc.,” she said.

A Myrtle native, Taylor joined the NCNPR staff in fall 2006.

“I worked for Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly at the NIDA Marijuana Project,” she said. “At the NIDA project, I was a senior secretary working with project coordinator Linda Spears. She taught me a lot about the project and my job duties. A lot of my success should be credited to her.”

Taylor began working for Khan in summer 2010.

“That’s when I became a program coordinator,” she said. “I still do the clerical jobs of a senior secretary, but I help coordinate an international conference too. It takes a lot of us working together to be successful.”

Working with all those people, as well as being allowed to grow in work-related knowledge and responsibilities, are the aspects of the job that Taylor likes most.

“There are so many wonderful individuals that I get the pleasure of interacting with every day,” she said. “Even though our group tends to change frequently with visiting scholars and postdocs coming and going, we are like an enormous family. When someone leaves, we try to keep in touch with (him or her).

“I have been fortunate to work for two amazing bosses, Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly and Dr. Ikhlas Khan. They both have inspired me to be the best at what I do.”

The annual ICSB is supported by a cooperative agreement between the NCNPR and the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

UM Professor Wins Poetry Award

Derrick Harriell wins the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2014 Poetry Award

Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies, speaks at the Oxford Conference for the Book.

Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies, speaks at the Oxford Conference for the Book.

OXFORD, Miss. – Derrick Harriell, a University of Mississippi assistant professor of English and African-American studies, has the won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2014 Poetry Award for his new collection of poems, “Ropes.”

Founded in 1978, MIAL aims to recognize the elite in fiction, nonfiction, visual art, musical composition, photography and poetry. The award is coveted and highly competitive.

“Receiving the news that my collection of poems ‘Ropes’ won the MIAL Award was gratifying in so many ways,” Harriell said. “I’m happy contributing to the high standard set by our English department and MFA program. Having only been in Oxford for a year-and-a-half, I’m pleased to be embraced both personally and professionally.”

In 2010, Harriell composed his first collection of poems, “Cotton.” For the follow-up, “Ropes,” he focused on the lives of black boxers in America.

Harriell was born and raised in Milwaukee. He has a Ph.D. in English from University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and a M.F.A in Creative Writing from Chicago State University. He has worked as an assistant poetry editor for Third World Press and The Cream City Review and has taught countless writing workshops for students of all ages. He is a two-time Pushcart Nominee and his work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies.

The award reflects well on the university, said Ivo Kamps, professor and chair of the UM Department of English.

“This is quite an honor for Derrick, for the department and the university,” Kamps said. “(Harriell) is relatively new to the university and the state of Mississippi, but he is already making a significant impact on our literary culture and our students. We are pleased and fortunate to have him on our faculty.”

Honors Convocation to Include Taylor Medals, Outstanding Teacher Award

Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa inductions also scheduled

William Berry

William Berry

OXFORD, Miss. – Outstanding students from all academic disciplines and the campuswide top teacher are to be recognized Thursday (April 10) at the University of Mississippi’s 71st annual Honors Day Convocation.

The convocation begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Seventy students are to be presented with Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medals, the university’s highest academic award, and one faculty member is to receive the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award.

Guest speaker for the convocation is the 2013 Hood Award recipient Will Berry, assistant professor of law. A reception follows the ceremony in the Ford Center’s orchestra level lobby.

At separate events, new members are to be inducted into the university’s top two student honor societies. The Phi Kappa Phi ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Ford Center. Phi Beta Kappa holds its ceremony at 3 p.m. April 11 in Paris-Yates Chapel.

The Taylor Medals, established in 1904, are the university’s highest academic award and recognize no more than 1 percent of the student body each year. The Hood Award was first given in 1966 and allows faculty, staff, students and alumni to nominate a deserving professor for superior classroom teaching.

Around 80 students are to be inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, the university’s highest academic honor across all disciplines. The speaker is John Z. Kiss, dean of the Graduate School.

Some 60 students are slated for induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the university’s highest academic honor in the liberal arts. Michele Alexandre, associate professor and Jesse D. Puckett Jr. Lecturer at the School of Law, will speak at the ceremony.

Inaugural Kevser Ermin Memorial Lecture to Focus on Bone Health

Noted researcher Kathleen Janz to speak April 3


Kesver Ermin Memorial Lecture

OXFORD, Miss. – The first Kevser Ermin Memorial Lecture in Health and Kinesiology, set for Thursday (April 3) at the University of Mississippi, will focus on the relationship between physical activity and bone health.

Kathleen Janz, a professor of community health and exercise physiology at the University of Iowa, will speak about jump-starting bone health at 7 p.m. in Bondurant Hall, Room 204C. The event is free and open to the public.

Scott Owens, UM associate professor of exercise science, said he is thrilled that undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty have an opportunity to interact with noted researchers in exercise and health fields through the memorial lecture.

“Dr. Kathleen Janz is an internationally recognized exercise physiologist with a wide -ranging research background in the importance of physical activity and health,” Owens said. “Most recently, she has been focusing on the relationship between physical activity and bone health in young people.”

Janz has been a lead researcher with the Iowa Bone Development Study since 2001. Her recent work has also focused on electronic monitoring of physical activity.

Kevser Ermin, an accomplished doctoral student at Ole Miss, is remembered for her tragic death while cycling near Oxford in October 2011. An academic, athlete and volunteer, Ermin was a daughter, sister, wife and aunt who cherished her family, both in Oxford and back in her native Turkey.

Center for Writing and Rhetoric Awards First Faculty Seed Grants

Four faculty members receive $5,000 stipends to improve writing across a variety of disciplines

Recipients of the inaugural faculty seed grants discuss their approaches to improving writing across the disciplines.

Recipients of the inaugural faculty seed grants discuss their approaches to improving writing across the disciplines.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Center for Writing and Rhetoric has awarded $26,750 to four faculty members to improve writing campus-wide.

These first-ever grants were awarded on a competitive basis to those who designed writing-intensive modifications to existing courses, and who plan to implement those changes beginning this academic year. The Faculty Seed Grant program is the final phase of the Quality Enhancement Plan that began in 2009.

Recipients of the Faculty Seed Grants are Gerard Buskes, professor of mathematics; Joshua First, Croft assistant professor of history and international studies; Robert Mongue, associate professor of legal studies; and Kristen Alley Swain, assistant professor of journalism. Awardees have begun meeting weekly in a seminar format with Angela Green, the center’s writing-enriched curriculum instructor, to plan their courses and improve writing pedagogy.

“We have offered the Faculty Seed Grants in order to improve student writing across campus and in all disciplines, rather than just in the first- and second-year writing classes we teach in the CWR,” Green said.

Faculty members receive the $5,000 stipend to compensate them for the additional time spent developing and implementing writing-related activities. At the end of the grant period, results will be presented in a public forum.

Buskes will revise Math 261-Unified Calculus & Analytic Geometry I to fully integrate writing into the course. Students will be required to use writing to reflect on the mathematics they use in class and explain their understanding of key course concepts.

First will redevelop History 347-Topics on Film and History to allow students to gradually acquire advanced skills in preparation for their capstone experiences.

Mongue will rewrite one of the paralegal program’s required law courses, LA 308-Wills and Estate Administration, to focus on writing as a means of communicating students’ understanding of the substantive law for that class and to provide a template for the revision of most of the program’s legal courses.

Swain proposed creating an explanatory writing module, consisting of active-learning exercises and assignments, for use in three sequential core journalism courses. The courses are JOUR 102-Introduction to Multimedia Writing, JOUR 271-News Reporting and JOUR 377-Advanced Reporting.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed about working here is the ability to take advantage of opportunities to work with experts in many different fields in order to improve my own teaching and writing,” Mongue said. “Writing is an essential part of the curriculum for legal professionals. For many legal professionals, their final product is a written document, whether it be a letter to a client, legal memoranda, pleadings, appellate briefs or documents such as deeds, wills or business documents. Each must be written clearly, concisely and with precision.

“The primary benefit we expect students in these classes will receive is a better understanding of how writing and research differs across disciplines,” Green said. “For example, students in history should learn the specific conventions that historians use in their writing, as well as the types of questions historians ask, what evidence they use and how they conduct research.”

The Center for Writing and Rhetoric will offer grants again for the 2014-2015 academic year. These will be selected on a competitive basis and require the endorsement of the faculty member’s department chair. Grants are open to all full-time faculty, both in and out of the tenure stream. Interested faculty members should contact Angela Green at

Museum to Premiere ‘Blues @ Home: Mississippi’s Living Blues Legends’

Multimedia portraits by H.C. Porter showcased with music, oral histories from influential blues talents

Blues at Home

Blues at Home

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum presents “Blues @ Home,” a collection of 30 portraits of Mississippi living blues legends in their at-home settings, all painted by H.C. Porter. The paintings are paired with oral histories, collected by project manager Lauchlin Fields and heard through handheld audio devices, to give insights into the storied lives of the legends.

Porter said she was inspired to create this project while driving through the Mississippi Delta in 2010.

“My idea was to document the living, Mississippi-born (predominately) blues legends in either their home environment, or if they no longer lived in the state, some place that was significant in their career, or had a real sense of place about Mississippi,” Porter said. “Through their personal spaces and oral histories, the legacy of the blues experience in Mississippi and the influence these legends have had on the music of the world is experienced.”

The exhibit, which opens April 1 and runs through Aug. 2, is just one part of a yearlong series of events marking the museum’s 75th anniversary. The museum, which opened as the Mary Buie Museum in 1939, is celebrating its longevity with a variety of events throughout the 2014-2015 anniversary year.

Given the rich history of blues music and culture that emanates from north Mississippi, museum director Robert Saarnio felt compelled to draw the exhibit to Oxford for its debut.

“Porter’s cultural and artistic achievement in celebrating these compelling individuals is extraordinary and beautiful,” Saarnio said. “We’re particularly proud to be the opening venue for a nationally touring exhibition, which will take the stories of our state’s music legends to audiences far and wide. It is a wonderful way to launch a series of events that will mark the museum’s 75 years of exhibition and service to the community.”

“The University of Mississippi Museum has excitedly shared my vision for the ‘Blues @ Home’ exhibition,” Porter added. “The museum grasped the impact a show of this historic content, both through the paintings and recorded oral histories, can have on fellow Mississippians. They were also eager to share it with others from around the country who, they feel, can come to understand our state in a more positive way, experiencing the contribution Mississippi has made to the arts and music of the world.”

“Blues @ Home” comes on the heels of “Backyards & Beyond,” Porter’s powerful body of 81 paintings, also accompanied by the real voices of people featured in the paintings that documented recovery one year after Hurricane Katrina ripped through Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. “Blues @ Home” continues the spirit of that exhibit, sharing stories of passion, strength and talent from the state’s deep connection to the blues.

“Hosting this exhibit is an extraordinary opportunity for the museum, as we believe it has wide appeal across Mississippi and throughout our region,” Saarnio said. “It is no small production. Multiple partners were required to make this exhibition possible, and we are profoundly grateful to the museum’s many friends and supporters for making this happen.”

To produce the exhibit, Porter and crew hit the back roads of Mississippi to interview and photograph living blues legends in their personal environments. In the company of bluesmen including Alphonso Sanders, Tommie T-Bone Pruitt, L.C. Ulmer, Jimbo Mathis and many more, they learned their sorrows, secrets, love stories, family recipes and guitar names.

Porter’s original works of art are classified as mixed media, combining painting, printmaking and photography. A high-contrast black ink image from the original photograph is transferred onto paper using silkscreen, then completed when she hand-paints using acrylic paint to add color and detail. As part of the exhibit, a video featuring the making of “Blues @ Home” will be shown on a loop.

The exhibit’s opening reception is set for 7-9 p.m. April 3, with live music from Cadillac John and Bill Abel. Both Mississippi musicians are featured in “Blues @ Home.” The reception is free and open to the public. Following the reception, there will be an “afterglow” event at Lamar Lounge in Oxford with Jimbo Mathis and other blues musicians.

The University Museum is at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. General admission to this exhibition is $5, admission for seniors (62 and over) is $4 and admission for students (ages 6-17) is $3. Admission is always free for UM students, UM Museum members and children under 5. Special rates exist for tour groups wishing to visit the museum. To book a tour, contact For more information, visit or call 662-915-7073.

UM Accepts Health and Wellness Grant from BCBS of Mississippi Foundation

New RebelWell program will use $250,000 to expand community's health, nutrition and exercise options

Rebel Well program receives $250,000 from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.

RebelWell program receives $250,000 from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.

OXFORD, Miss. – With a grant of nearly $250,000, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is helping to expand fitness and nutrition programs at the University of Mississippi.

The foundation announced the grant for RebelWell, a new program name penned for the expanded offerings, Monday (March 24) on the Ole Miss campus.

“The goal of the foundation is to provide targeted funding to organizations and initiatives working to support a healthy future for Mississippi’s communities, schools, colleges and universities,” said Sheila Grogan, executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “The University of Mississippi’s RebelWell initiative has the potential to unify and build upon quality, existing programs and resources in order to extend the positive health impact beyond the university’s students, faculty and staff to the surrounding community in unique and creative ways.”

The program is designed to help position the university as a leader in programs and initiatives that will improve health, nutrition, exercise and individual wellness.

“I am pleased to see our faculty provide leadership for better health among our employees, students and the community,” said Dr. Dan Jones, UM chancellor. “This support from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation enhances those efforts to make us a healthier university and allows us to continue leadership for our state in healthy living.”

Though the university offers a number of fitness and nutrition options, the overall program lacks the cohesion needed to make all the opportunities easily accessible to faculty, staff, students and the broader community. RebelWell will raise the visibility of many of those programs and expand opportunities for participants to take advantage of a full range of campus- and community-based programs.

For example, a nutritionist is being added to the staff of UM’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, annual fitness challenge competitions are in the works and exercise opportunities are planned for various locations across campus. Health screenings and other events also will be made available to the larger Oxford community.

“The partnership with the foundation and the creation of a comprehensive program, RebelWell, allows us to provide linkage of many programs offered on campus and to heighten the visibility of each program,” said Andrea Jekabsons, UM assistant director of employment and training. “Various departments on campus have an opportunity to work collaboratively to support the mission of wellness. The grant also provides a greater opportunity for us to work with the Oxford community.”

The collaboration across campus and with the Oxford community is a welcome addition to the many departments already on board with nutrition and wellness programs. The Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, which already offers healthy cooking classes, nutrition classes and a variety of school-based programs, sees immediate value in these new relationships.

“Mississippi has so much potential to be healthy,” said Kathy Knight, the department’s interim chair. “With so many farmers and gardening experts to bring us local meats and produce, and some of the best cooks in the country, we have an opportunity to really highlight our strengths and set positive nutrition examples for the rest of the region. The foundation is making it possible to teach our community how to utilize these wonderful local resources.”

Jay Garner, interim chair of the UM Department of Exercise Science and Recreation Management, agrees with the potential this new resource provides.

“With the health challenges our state continues to face, our goal is to become the healthiest area in not only Mississippi, but in the Southeast,” Garner said. “This means changing perceptions that daily fitness activity is too difficult or too time consuming.

“Our goal is for our community to learn to make healthy changes in their daily lives, resulting in lifelong healthy habits. The foundation is making it possible for us to provide tools and proper training to anyone who wants to learn.”

The implementation of grant activities is in the final planning stages, with a full launch expected this spring. The grant covers programs and activities through the end of 2014, with the option for yearly renewal based on the successful attainment of the measurable grant objectives.

Faculty and staff at all UM locations will be encouraged to participate in RebelWell. Community residents from the Oxford area also will be encouraged to participate. The committee charged with grant oversight will soon be expanded to include members from a broader range of campus offices, as well as from the Oxford and Lafayette civic, business and school communities.

“Beyond merely reducing health care costs, promoting employee well-being contributes to the overall success and prosperity of the university and community,” Jekabsons added. “Acceptance of this grant is an opportunity to promote a healthy work culture by assessing the attitudes of our faculty and staff, providing additional education resources, aligning our policies to support a wellness culture and making ‘healthy’ the new norm.”

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation works to build a healthy Mississippi through targeted grant-making throughout the state, focusing on health and wellness initiatives to support schools, communities, colleges and universities. More information is available at

Tickets Available for T.P. Vinson Scholarship Reception

Annual event scheduled March 29 in Robert C. Khayat Law Center


Vinson Family with Chancellor Khayat

OXFORD, Miss. – Recipients of the T.P. Vinson Memorial Scholarship and T.P. Vinson Educator Award at the University of Mississippi will be recognized during an annual reception set for March 29.

The event begins at 4:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Robert C. Khayat Law Center. Both honorees will be announced as family, colleagues and friends remember and honor Vinson’s legacy. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by contacting Whitney Webb at 662-915-7906 or

“The Memorial Scholarship was established in 2006 and has been granted to education majors at the University of Mississippi,” said Jacquline ‘Jackie’ Vinson, project coordinator in the Office of the Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the educator’s widow. “The Educator Award was established in 2011 as a means to recognize a current or retired K-12 teacher or administrator who has made an impact on the lives of others and the education profession.”

Vinson was an assistant dean and a faculty member in UM’s School of Education from 1989 to 2003. He also served as pastor of the Philadelphia M.B. Church in Oxford and was an active member of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community before succumbing to cancer.

The $1,000 Dr. T. P. Vinson Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a full-time junior or senior African-American student who demonstrates extraordinary leadership ability and community service in the teacher education program. Tax-deductible donations to the scholarship endowment can be sent to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677, or donations can be made online at