Native American Artifacts on Display at UM

Exhibits at Barnard Observatory, J.D. Williams Library include pottery, tools and decorative items


Maureen Meyers, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, documents the Native American artifacts as they are installed in display cases. The Department of Sociology and Anthropology will have many Native American artifacts from its archaeology collection on display in Barnard Observatory until mid-August. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Maureen Meyers, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, documents the Native American artifacts as they are installed in display cases. The Department of Sociology and Anthropology will have many Native American artifacts from its archaeology collection on display in Barnard Observatory until mid-August. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Artifacts dating back to the 1400s offer a glimpse into the life of Native Americans in Mississippi through multiple exhibits over the next month at the University of Mississippi.

Barnard Observatory is housing an exhibit of “The Davies Collection: Mississippian Iconographic Vessels,” which features 15 ceramic vessels recovered from the Walls site in northwest Mississippi by physician Julius Davies in the early 20th century.

The items are part of the UM Department of Sociology and Anthropology’s Davies Collection, which includes about 270 items. The full university collection contains about 1,300 boxes of artifacts.

“These Davies vessels are unique because of their iconography, which show religious symbols of Native Americans who lived during the Mississippian period in the Southeastern United States,” said Maureen Meyers, assistant professor of anthropology.

Visitors can see these items in from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays in Barnard Observatory until mid-August.

Many items in the collection have been used for continuing research of Native American culture in the Southeast.

“These artifacts are in need of a proper curation facility, so we can use them to their fullest extent and share with researchers across North America their research potential,” she said.

Meyers also added original drawings and photos of these artifacts taken by Calvin Brown, an amateur archaeologist and professor and chair of the UM Department of Modern Languages in the 1920s, to the exhibit.

Additionally, similar items are on display in the J.D. Williams Library’s Department of Archives and Special Collections this summer and fall in conjunction with the university’s Common Reading Experience. Native American author Sherman Alexie wrote this year’s featured book, “Ten Little Indians.”

The exhibit, which is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through the fall semester, displays artifacts that offer a sneak peek into the breadth Native American ethnographic collection. It includes Alaskan Inuit objects such as a scrimshaw, harpoon hooks and wooden sun visors, a Southwestern Zuni pot, baskets from Northern California Indians, beaded work, moccasins and blankets made by Lakota Sioux and Cherokee in Oklahoma, and items from the Southeast, such as ceramic pots from the Walls site, stone tools and toli sticks used in games of stickball.

Meyers said all these items likely date to the 1920s, when they were procured.

“These items have the potential to contribute greatly to educating the public about Native Americans in our state,” Meyers said. “We hope these two exhibits give the UM community a sense of what rich resources we have.”

Interdisciplinary Employee Writing Groups to Begin This Fall

The University of Mississippi will sponsor employee writing groups beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year to increase collaboration between representatives of different departments and disciplines on professional writing projects.

The Faculty Writing Groups, which are open to both UM faculty and staff members, will work together on projects ranging from grant applications to getting scholarly texts published. Interdisciplinary groups of three or four people will meet at regular intervals during the fall and spring semesters.

Alice Johnston Myatt, assistant chair of the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, is heading up the creation of the collaborative groups.

“Interdisciplinary faculty writing groups offer more than just a space and time for faculty to write in a structured way,” Myatt said. “They also are places where group members can take time to reflect on their learning and development within a peer-based framework of cooperation and collaboration.”

Research shows that faculty are more productive in their research and writing when they write daily, keep track of time spent writing and hold themselves accountable to others, said Myatt, who is also an assistant professor of writing and rhetoric. Faculty Writing Groups, which meet twice monthly on days the group selects, will help faculty writers and scholars put this into practice, she said. 

The groups are a collaborative effort led by the Department of Writing and Rhetoric; Institutional Research, Effectiveness and Planning; and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

To join a Faculty Writing Group, contact Myatt at

‘An Ambush of Tigers’ Claims CELI Read Aloud Book Award

UM literacy center honors top picture book of the year with annual award

CELI literacy specialist Angie Caldwell reads "An Ambush of Tigers" to children at Willie Price University Lab School.

CELI literacy specialist Angie Caldwell reads ‘An Ambush of Tigers’ to children at Willie Price University Lab School.

OXFORD. Miss. – “An Ambush of Tigers,” by author Betsy R. Rosenthal and illustrator Jago Silver, is the 2016 winner of the CELI Read Aloud Book Award, which presented annually by the University of Mississippi’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction to recognize outstanding new books to read aloud to young children.

Published in April 2015 by Millbrook Press, “An Ambush of Tigers” conjures a wild gathering of rhyming and collective nouns to pique the interest of young children while educating them on vocabulary referring to groups of animals, such as a prickle of porcupines or a shiver of sharks.

“This book really focuses on enriching children’s vocabulary and engaging them with rich illustrations,” said CELI literacy specialist Angie Caldwell, who serves on the Read Aloud award selection committee. “We had a great deal of positive comments and it engaged children in asking questions about the book.”

A committee of UM School of Education faculty and staff and working educators field-tested the eligible books with young children in a variety of educational settings, including schools, homes and media centers.

“Our class loved reading ‘An Ambush of Tigers,'” said Sarah Siebert, pre-K teacher at Willie Price University Lab School and a committee member. “It was an awesome way to introduce new vocabulary words to explain the different names of groups of animals.”

Committee members, who are selected based on their experience with children and their knowledge of children’s books, choose the best read-aloud picture book of the year using rubrics that measure children’s reactions to the books.

The book was chosen as the 2016 winner from 25 eligible books and will carry a seal on its cover. All remaining Read Aloud submission books will be donated to needs-based classrooms in north Mississippi.

Established in 2010, the Read Aloud Book Award recognizes honors books created for children from toddlers to 8 years old and promotes a love of reading. The award is partially supported by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson.

CMSE Staffer Receives International Award for Robotics Work

Mannie Lowe honored for growth, impact of FTC Robotics Challenge statewide

Mannie Lowe is recognized as the FIRST Tech Challenge Volunteer of the Year. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Mannie Lowe (left), pictured with John O’Haver, is recognized as the FIRST Tech Challenge Volunteer of the Year. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Mannie Lowe, a staff member at the University of Mississippi, is the 2016 recipient of the International Volunteer of the Year Award from FIRST, an organization that promotes an interest in STEM fields among students, with programs such as the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition for middle- and high-schoolers.

As this year’s honoree, Lowe, a program manager at UM’s Center for Mathematics & Science Education, was selected from more than 200,000 volunteers in 80 countries worldwide for his more than 12 years of service to the organization. He received an honorary certificate from FIRST at a surprise ceremony in July at Ole Miss.

“I’m touched by this award because I hold other people who have won this honor in such high admiration,” he said. “People who have won this in the past have done some truly amazing work with FIRST and with students. I didn’t realize I was held in such high esteem.”

As the manager for FIRST Tech Challenge robotics, Lowe, who previously ran FTC programs as a volunteer in Georgia, has spent the past five years carving out an infrastructure to allow Mississippi middle and high school students, as well as home-schooled children, the opportunity to design and build their own robots and compete in tournament-style competitions at the local, state, regional and even international level.

The competitions allow students to learn and apply knowledge in such disciplines as engineering, computer science, physics and mathematics. Many students participating in FTC programs go on to earn valuable scholarships to study STEM fields at colleges and universities around the world.

Under Lowe’s leadership, FTC programs in Mississippi have grown from just four robotics teams in 2012 to more than 40. Lowe spends about two days a week on the road, working with students and teachers to help FTC teams with their robot designs, a task that requires countless hours of travel and work after hours.

“First and foremost, Mannie has a passion for what he does,” said John O’Haver, CMSE director. “He loves what he does and is loved for it. He will use his vacation time and weekends to drive across the state to work with students and teachers. He will tell you himself that he feels like he is living the dream.”

Lowe also helps plan other events related to the robotics competitions, such as regional qualifying tournaments in communities across the state. Each February, the CMSE hosts a statewide competition at UM. This year, the event attracted more than 450 students.

Besides his work in Mississippi, he serves on the FIRST game design team, which brings together an international group of robotics mentors and volunteers who design a new challenge for students each year. This year, the FIRST Res-Q challenge required robotics teams to design a robot that can simulate a mountain rescue mission by lighting beacons, clearing debris and climbing an uphill rack made to simulate a mountain ascent.

“One of the things that amazes me is that we will come up with an idea and say, ‘There’s no way the students will be able to do this,'” he said. “But every year they find a way to top our challenge. It really is amazing to see.”

Lowe said he hopes to help FTC robotics programs continue to grow across the state and to see the number of participating teams rise to 50 in 2017.

Tuition Waiver Is an Amazing Employee Benefit

University employees can enroll in two college courses each semester and receive tuition assistance. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

University employees can enroll in two college courses each semester and receive tuition assistance. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

During my employee orientation in September 2014, I was told about the employee benefit to promote education.

As a communications specialist, I knew learning to further my writing skills and complete research studies would only make me better as an employee. So I took the GRE a month later and in January 2015 began pursuing my M.A. in journalism.

The courses were extremely beneficial. I was able to learn about research and work toward completing a thesis while taking electives that focused on social media, photography and crisis communications. This combination of journalism and marketing communications was the perfect mixture of coursework for someone like me, in the public relations field.

Now, a year-and-a-half later, I’ve nearly completed my degree. Pending the successful defense of my thesis later this summer, I will have my master’s in journalism, which wouldn’t have been possible without these awesome employee benefits.

So here’s how they work:

Full-time university employees are able to take up to two three-hour courses with associated one-hour lab, if applicable, each semester at no cost through the employee tuition waiver benefit.

And here’s what’s even better – with approval of your department head, one course related to your current work duties may be taken during your normal work day.

So if you’re looking to finish your bachelor’s degree, pursue a master’s or higher or just learn a skill such as a foreign language, art or design, check out the Ole Miss course schedule to find what’s best for you.

If you already know what you which courses you want to take, fill out Form 19 and return it to Human Resources before the beginning of the fall semester to receive the employee scholarship.

Ole Miss Competing in BattleFrog College Championship for Second Year

Ole Miss will compete in the BattleFrog College Championship for the second straight year.

Ole Miss will compete in the BattleFrog College Championship for the second straight year.

University of Mississippi students have proven that they excel in competitions both academic and athletic, and that includes BattleFrog.

No, I didn’t just misspell “football.” Ole Miss students recently competed in the second season of the BattleFrog College Championship in Atlanta, with the highlights airing next week on ESPN.

The competition sends participants through an obstacle course race inspired by U.S. Navy Seals training. Teams must navigate a 400-meter relay and 20 other obstacles along the quarter-mile course, and the fastest advance through the tournament.

Last year, four students represented the university in the single-elimination competition, facing off against 16 other teams. In the final round, a team from the United States Military Academy at West Point narrowly defeated the Ole Miss contingent.

Now, the second-place Ole Miss team returns to compete for the Trident Cup and a grand prize scholarship award of $10,000.

Don’t miss this competition, which airs at 8:30 p.m. June 30 on ESPN.

Rebel Quest Day Camp Offers Fun Learning Opportunities

Rebel Quest is hosting week-long day camps throughout the summer.

Rebel Quest is hosting week-long day camps throughout the summer.

Are you looking for an educational and fun opportunity for your children this summer? Well, look no further than Rebel Quest!

Rebel Quest, a University of Mississippi day camp, is an opportunity for Lil’ Rebels (rising first- through third-graders) and Junior Rebels (rising fourth- through sixth-graders) to keep their brains and bodies active through fun and interactive activities.

The camp features hands-on learning that encourages critical thinking specific to the child’s age group. Participants will also take part in field trips in the Oxford community as part of each week’s program.

Here’s the full schedule of this summer’s  remaining day camps, each lasting one week:

Keep Calm and Camp Week, June 27-July 1. Campers will learn about the great outdoors and have an opportunity to unleash their imaginations as they explore the writing process and write their own short stories. Space is still available for Junior Rebels.

Red, White and Blue Week, July 11-15. Campers celebrate the birth of the United States of America and honor everyday heroes. Space is available for Lil’ and Junior Rebels.

Food Fusion Week, July 18-22. Young aspiring chefs will learn about cooking and create their own healthy recipes, as well as discover fun ways to stay healthy and active. Space is available for Lil’ Rebels.

Each camp is $200 for the week. Ole Miss faculty and staff members can enter the code “STAFF” at registration to receive a $25 discount. Payroll deduction is also available.

Parents and guardians can drop campers off each day between 7:30 and 8 a.m. and pick them up between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. inside Lamar Hall.

For more information about Rebel Quest, including online registration, click here.

Living Blues Hires New Publication Manager

Melanie Young hopes to broaden awareness of the magazine, including digital editions

Melanie Young. Photo by James G. Thomas Jr.

Melanie Young. Photo by James G. Thomas Jr.

OXFORD, Miss. – With her new position as publication manager of Living Blues magazine, Melanie Young feels as though she’s come home.

She first began working with the magazine, produced by the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, in 2009 as its circulation manager. At the same time, she had an editorial internship with the publication. Since then, she’s been a contributing writer for Living Blues and even wrote her Southern studies master’s thesis on the magazine in 2012.

“Growing up in Mississippi, I was drawn to elements of the blues in popular music without really understanding what the blues was, or where it came from,” Young said. “As a student, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Living Blues gave me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of the art form within its cultural context – something that’s forever changed me and how I see the world.”

As publication manager, Young’s duties include managing the day-to-day tasks necessary to the upkeep of the magazine, which consists of subscription services, publishing, distribution, marketing and accounting. She also trains and supervises graduate assistants and student workers.

In her new position, Young hopes to increase the magazine’s circulation and prominence by attending more events, broadening the magazine’s presence on social media and making readers more aware of its digital edition.

“Hundreds of blues artists have shared their stories through the pages of Living Blues over the years, and I’m honored to further my association with a publication that continues to do such important work,” Young said.

Before accepting her new position at Living Blues, Young worked as a freelance writer for the magazine, as well as a professional assistant for Diann Blakely, a Georgia-based poet.

Young was born in Mobile, Alabama, and her family moved in 1989 to Lucedale, where they have lived since. In 2008, Young earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Adam Gussow, associate professor of English and Southern studies, said he is thrilled to have Young join the magazine’s staff. He was a member of Young’s master’s thesis committee and said she completed her thesis in an extremely detailed and precise manner.

Gussow said he is confident Young will carry on the standard of excellence that her predecessor, Mark Camarigg, had established, as well as bringing new and fresh ideas.

“She’s proven herself over the past several years to be a skilled and compassionate writer, interviewer and reviewer for the magazine,” Gussow said. “I think that her ability to wear that other hat, as it were, will help solidify Living Blues’ longstanding and deserved reputation as the blues magazine of record, with extended interviews and a reputation-making CD review section.”

Neumann Finishes Ole Miss Degree after 45 Years

Johnny Neumann participates in the University of Mississippi’s commencement ceremony May 14. Photo courtesy of Josh McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics.

Johnny Neumann participates in the University of Mississippi’s commencement ceremony May 14. Photo courtesy of Josh McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics.

Johnny Neumann lit up the scoreboard during his time as a basketball player at the University of Mississippi.

In the 1970-71 season, Neumann scored an average of 40 points per game – and this was before the three-point shot was part of the game. He led the Rebels to a 113-90 win over rival LSU, a game in which he scored 63 points.

But there was one thing he hadn’t finished.

At age 65, Neumann has completed what he began 45 years ago. He recently walked across the stage at the Manning Center during Commencement activities to celebrate earning his bachelor’s degree in general studies with minors in journalism, recreation administration and legal studies.

In 1971, Neumann signed after his sophomore season at Ole Miss with the Memphis Pros. At the time, his father was hospitalized after a heart attack and he hoped an immediate career would help his family.

“I felt guilt by doing that and not finishing my degree, but it was a situation where I had to do something to help my family,” the former Rebel recalled.

Neumann has accomplished a lot. At Ole Miss, he earned All-SEC and All-American Honors. He played professional basketball in Memphis, Indiana, Utah and Los Angeles. He also played and coached around the world, including stints in China, Greece, Israel, Japan and Lebanon.

After 30 years of traveling, some friends from Oxford told him it was time to come home.

When Neumann came back to the United States, he worked as a car salesman before ultimately deciding to return to Ole Miss and finish his degree.

“It was the only thing I hadn’t accomplished,” he said.

Neumann was at first skeptical about returning. He didn’t know how fellow students and professors would receive him, but he was pleasantly surprised.

“Everyone was very open and very loving,” he said. “School has changed tremendously from when I was here before. If you want to achieve success and get a degree, the teachers will go the extra mile to help you get that. It was a fantastic experience.”

David Waddell, a lecturer in parks and recreation management, said Neumann came to his office to introduce himself before the first of five classes the two would have together.

“He introduced himself as ‘Johnny Neumann, All-American in 1971’,” Waddell said. “I looked at him and said, ‘What have you done for me lately?'”

Waddell said he explained to Neumann what he meant.

“He had so much to give to the world today that I wanted him to stop introducing himself from the past,” Waddell said. “I ended up being correct. Johnny was a contributor to class discussions, performed excellently in academics and was a leader among other students. Johnny also knew how to have fun in the classroom. His humorous and sarcastic remarks often kept the classroom in stitches.”

Neumann’s contributions and differing opinions allowed other students to freely express their ideas as well, Waddell said.

“This man has so much to offer any school that would offer him a coaching position,” he said. “Knowing all Johnny has gone through and continues to deal with in life makes me all the more proud of his graduation from the University of Mississippi.”

Neumann was a hard-working student, said Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

“I think Johnny Neumann was very brave to come back to school,” Norton said. “He had enormous basketball success and great personal satisfaction. He also experienced deep sadness that helped him realize there is more to life, and he came back to finish what he had started.”

Neumann returned to college at age 62 with two-and-a-half years of classes to complete his degree. He finished coursework in December and, like many other recent college graduates, he’s looking for job. His dream is to speak to athletes about the importance of a degree.

“From the ages of 5 to 62, I’ve either played or coached basketball. It doesn’t matter how big of a contract you get, being an athlete with a degree puts you ahead of the average.”

Neumann hopes to use his experience and adversity to educate athletes about decisions on and off the court.

“A lot of athletes in college have no idea how important a degree is,” he said. “I want to give something back to the game. It’s still tough to find a job, but God willing, something will develop.”

Ole Miss Outdoors Offers Summer Full of Adventure

Students with Ole Miss Outdoors hike along a canyon at Lookout Mountain, Georgia last spring.

Students with Ole Miss Outdoors hike along a canyon at Lookout Mountain, Georgia last spring.

Ole Miss Outdoors will continue to take the University of Mississippi and Oxford community on exciting trips this summer.

Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to participate in all these events, including local day trips and weekend getaways.

Here’s the full schedule of summer trips:

White Water Rafting on the Chattooga River, Mountain Rest, South Carolina, June 30-July 2. Join OMOD as they take on the high-adventure portion of the Chattooga River. The river includes Seven-Foot Falls, Raven’s Chute Rapid and the famous Five Falls, where class IV and V rapids appear for one-third of a river mile. The Nantahala Outdoor Center’s elite team will guide OMOD through the rapids. You’ll get to wind down midday with a riverside lunch and hike along the base of Long Creek Falls.

This wet and wild trip is $230 for faculty, staff and community members, and $220 for students.

Climbing, Hiking and Camping, Tishomingo State Park, July 9-10. Did you know you could go rock climbing in Mississippi? It’s true! OMOD will teach you the basics of climbing, and you’ll also get the opportunity to hike along beautiful trails in the park before relaxing around a campfire.

This trip is $60 for faculty, staff and community members, and $50 for students.

Community Survival Workshop, South Campus Rail Trail in Oxford, July 15-16. OMOD will teach the basics of wilderness survival during this two-day workshop in Oxford. Trip leaders will instruct participants on building shelters, creating a campfire, water purification and backcountry medicine, among other necessary skills. Participants will take part in an overnight challenge to test their newfound skills.

This clinic is $30 for everyone.

Canoeing and Camping, Puskus Lake near Etta, July 23-24. The final trip of the summer is a relaxing weekend at Puskus Lake. You’ll spend the afternoon paddling around the lake and exploring the local trail system before winding down for a relaxing night with a meal around the campfire.

This overnight trip is $40 for faculty, staff and community members, and $35 for students.

All necessary camping and activity equipment, transportation and most meals are included in the price for each activity. To be part of the outdoors with OMOD and learn more about the adventure trips, click here or visit Turner Center, Room 110.