UM Social Entrepreneurship Projects to Benefit Wheelchair-bound Teen

MBA students use social media, online marketing and other skills to raise money for a new wheelchair

Former Ole Miss Rebel tennis player Adrian Forberg Skogeng and some other MBA students put together a benefit for the MBA entrepreneur project to raise money for a new wheelchair for Shambrica. They sold wristbands at Friday's match against Texas A&M.

Former Ole Miss Rebel tennis player Adrian Forberg Skogeng and some other MBA students put together a benefit for the MBA entrepreneur project to raise money for a new wheelchair for Shambrica. They sold wristbands at Friday’s match against Texas A&M.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi MBA students enrolled in a business planning and entrepreneurship class are embarking on a game of friendly competition with serious consequences.

During the spring class, which is led by Clay Dibrell, UM associate professor of management, community members pitch potential projects for a social entrepreneurship project. Students can select one of those projects, or choose to work on something they create. This year, one project captured the hearts and minds of the majority of students in the class.

Shambrica Whitehead is a young lady who lives in a nursing home and attends high school in Walls. Paralyzed completely on one side, Whitehead is in dire need of a new wheelchair that provides better support and improves mobility. Such wheelchairs can cost several thousand dollars. Numotion, a Memphis, Tenn., company specializing in solutions for people with mobility limitations, has donated a modifiable frame and offered to measure Whitehead to ensure that the end product is right for her.

Upon hearing Whitehead’s story, six of the eight teams in Dibrell’s class chose to design projects to benefit her. Angela Box, who works with Whitehead as her occupational therapist through the Quitman County School District, presented Whitehead’s story to the class.

“After the presentation, when Shambrica and I were surrounded by students who approached us to ask questions and meet Shambrica, I was overwhelmed with joy,” Box said. “I was grateful and honored that these students elected to take on this project. I know it is a lot of hard work. Watching and hearing the way they interact with Shambrica and talk about her speaks volumes about the respectful and caring people that they are.”

“There was such an emotional connection between Angie and Shambrica,” said Adrian Skogeng, an MBA candidate from Oslo, Norway, who obtained his undergraduate degree from UM in managerial finance. “It was moving, and we knew we could do something good to help Shambrica get what she needs to be more comfortable and more productive.”

Skogeng, who played four years on the Ole Miss tennis team and is a volunteer assistant, is part of a team selling “Together4Shambrica” wristbands. The red-and-blue bands can be purchased for $10, $25 or $50, with all proceeds going directly to the fund for a new wheelchair. The bands are available online.

Other teams are using social networks, websites and other marketing strategies to raise money by selling “parts” to the wheelchair. Jessica Turner, an MBA candidate from Clinton, is on one of those teams and felt a personal connection to Whitehead.

“Seeing pictures of Shambrica and learning more about her story drew a personal connection for me because I had a nephew who was confined to a wheelchair,” Turner explained. “Knowing that Shambrica’s quality of life can be improved by our efforts is motivation to work hard for her.”

Jessica’s team website offers certificates of commitment, allowing contributors to receive acknowledgement of their support and providing a way for them to share Whitehead’s story with others.

Three additional projects are promoting sales of various parts of the wheelchair. Geoffrey Martin, an MBA student from Natchez, is part of a team whose website offers opportunities to purchase numerous parts of the wheelchair, including armrests and footrests, a solid seat, heel loops, caster wheels and more. In addition to parts, cubic inches of the wheelchair are available for purchase online via Shambrica’s FundWheels for Shambrica is another team’s project offering a similar approach.

Another project is offering a variety of sponsorship levels to help raise money for the wheelchair. Each sponsorship purchased at Strength4Shambrica helps the cause and earns the sponsor a chance to be entered into a drawing to win an iPad.

“This has been such an amazing experience for Shambrica,” Box said. “She is absolutely thrilled that she has been able to go to Ole Miss, talk to college students and even get ‘famous’ on the Internet.

“This experience has already given Shambrica so much socially and mentally, which was something I had not even considered, but has been so valuable. I cannot wait for the day when we get to present her with the new wheelchair, which will so greatly improve her independence and quality of life.”

The competition runs through April 29. A special fund is being established to ensure that proceeds from each project are made available for the proper use, and to ensure that future proceeds are used only for Whitehead’s medical needs.

Gov. Phil Bryant to Deliver UM Commencement Address

State's chief executive to address 2014 graduates and families May 10 in the Grove

UM Graduation to take place on May 10.

UM Graduation to take place on May 10.

OXFORD, Miss. – Gov. Phil Bryant is set to visit the University of Mississippi on May 10 to deliver the main address at the university’s 161st Commencement.

Mississippi’s 64th governor, Bryant was sworn in on Jan. 10, 2012. Before becoming the state’s chief executive, he was lieutenant governor from 2008 to 2011. He also served as state auditor and represented his legislative district in the Mississippi House of Representatives for five years.

The Moorhead native speaks to graduating students, their families and other guests at 9 a.m. in the Grove. This year’s graduating class includes about 2,650 spring candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees, plus some 1,000 August 2013 graduates.

“Over the years, we have had leaders from many fields come to campus for our commencement addresses, and Gov. Bryant has provided valuable leadership to our state in both the legislative and executive branches for nearly 25 years,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “By championing education and business reforms, he has helped drive economic development and provide a brighter future for all Mississippians. We look forward to the insights and challenges he will offer our graduates.”

Recipients of doctor of philosophy degrees are to be hooded by their major professors in a 7:30 p.m. ceremony May 9 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College ceremony begins at 4 p.m. at the same location.

A shuttle service for handicapped and elderly visitors is available Saturday before the main ceremony. Shuttles will pick up people needing assistance from various locations and take them to the seating area. (Wheelchairs, if needed, must be provided by families.) The headquarters for the shuttle service will be at the Department of Parking and Transportation tent, at the intersection of University Avenue and All American Drive. To request assistance, call 662-915-7235.

In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Tad Smith Coliseum. If the weather is threatening, a decision on moving the ceremony indoors will be made by 8 a.m. and announced through media outlets, text messaging and the Ole Miss website.

Following the main ceremony, individual schools and the College of Liberal Arts hold ceremonies at various times and locations to present baccalaureate, master’s, doctor of pharmacy and juris doctor degrees and awards. The schedule is as follows:

- College of Liberal Arts master’s degrees – 11 a.m., Fulton Chapel

- Patterson School of Accountancy – 11 a.m., Ford Center

- School of Applied Sciences – 11 a.m., Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center

- School of Business Administration – 11 a.m., Tad Smith Coliseum

- School of Engineering – 11 a.m., Lyceum Circle

- School of Education – 11 a.m., Grove

- School of Law – 11 a.m., Grove

- Bachelor of General Studies – 11:30 a.m., Jackson Avenue Center

- School of Pharmacy – 2:30 p.m., Manning Center

- Meek School of Journalism and New Media – 2:30 p.m., Ford Center

- College of Liberal Arts – 2:30 p.m., Tad Smith Coliseum

In case of rain, the College of Liberal Arts master’s degree ceremony will be moved to 11 a.m. in Nutt Auditorium. The School of Education ceremony will be moved to 5 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum; Engineering, 11 a.m. in Fulton Chapel; and Law, 5 p.m. in the Manning Center.

Besides Bryant’s address, the main ceremony also includes remarks by the senior class president, recognition for the university’s outstanding teacher and announcements of the Frist Student Service Awards and the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award.

Bryant earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Hinds Community College and completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Mississippi College, and before assuming his role as governor, Bryant served as an adjunct professor of government there.

He began his career as a deputy sheriff in Hinds County and later worked as an insurance investigator before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1991.  In 1996, then-Gov. Kirk Fordice appointed Bryant as state auditor, a position he was re-elected to in 1999 and 2003.

As governor, Bryant has led Mississippi in implementing public education reforms and in building a competitive business climate that attracts major employers such as Yokohama Tire Corp. He is president of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and past president of the Southern States Energy Board.  Bryant is also an avid outdoorsman and a longtime member of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.

Because of campus construction projects, parking and transportation options have changed on campus. Guests are encouraged to check out parking and driving instructions at A map showing construction zones road closures is available at

For more information on commencement activities, go to For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7234.

World Class Teaching Program Leads Nation in National Board Prep

North Mississippi teachers in UM program make up largest group seeking national board certification

Julie Gatlin, a Lafayette Lower Elementary School teacher and national board candidate, joined the World Class Teaching Program in August and hopes to pass her boards by the end of June.

Julie Gatlin, a Lafayette Lower Elementary School teacher and national board candidate, joined the World Class Teaching Program in August and hopes to pass her boards by the end of June.

OXFORD, Miss. – With a record group of 409 K-12 teachers from north Mississippi, the University of Mississippi chapter of the World Class Teaching Program has become the largest recruitment site for national board certification in the nation.

A continuing education program, the WCTP is designed for educators who seek to become National Board Certified Teachers, or NBCTs, by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, known as NBPTS, in Arlington, Va. The program is housed within the UM School of Education.

The program prepares teachers to pass a series of assessments and a portfolio review to earn the credential and a lucrative pay raise – the Mississippi Legislature funds an annual $6,000 salary raise for all K-12 teachers who earn and maintain the certification. UM’s chapter oversees sites operating in Batesville, Clarksdale, Fulton, Senatobia, Southaven, Indianola, Madison, Oxford and Tupelo.

“In the past year, we’ve concentrated on implementing our program within our partner school districts,” said WCTP coordinator Jackie Parker, who has run the program at UM since 2002 and was the 2001 Mississippi Teacher of the Year. “Our sites are being run in classrooms by mentors who already hold their NBCTs. We want the program to be imbedded in the culture of the schools.”

National board certification is a mark of distinction among teachers and research suggests that educators who complete the process produce better results. A Harvard University study found in 2012 that over the course of a school year, students of NBCTs gained the equivalent of two months more instruction in mathematics and one month more instruction in English than students of non-board certified teachers.

According to NBPTS data, the national first-time passage rate for teachers taking national boards is nearly 30 percent. Ole Miss WCTP candidates have a first-time passage rate of more than 50 percent, Parker said.

“The University of Mississippi has done a tremendous job with recruitment in becoming the largest site for teachers pursuing national board certification,” said Michelle Accardi, director of state policy for the NBPTS. “I wish every state would look at what Mississippi is doing with the World Class Teaching Program. If universities across the nation would support national board certification, it would be a better world for teachers and students.”

Throughout the year, Parker and mentors within the WCTP operate twice-monthly workshops or individual meetings for teachers to help prepare them to pass assessments in their subject area, pedagogy, classroom management and more. Within the assessments, teachers must create videos of themselves teaching in the classroom and prepare documents assessing their teaching abilities. Teachers must have at least three years of full-time experience to apply for the certification.

“I feel like this has made me such a better teacher,” said Brittany Furr, an NBCT candidate and sixth-grade language arts teacher at Madison Middle School. “The national boards have taught me how to teach using a variety of formats such as an article, story or video so I can use all these different tools to teach in a variety styles.”

The WCTP program at UM is one of five chapters of in the state. Other chapters are housed at Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Since August, all five chapters have worked together on a grant projected funded with $300,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and additional funding from the state Legislature to provide specialized training for both pre-service teachers and early-career teachers interested in national board certification. Mentor NBCTs are meeting with these educators twice a month at 10 sites across the state. The program is funded to continue through 2016.

NBPTS is redesigning the structure of the national board process to implement new research and make the process more accessible to working teachers, Accardi said . The redesign will be complete by 2017.

“I wanted to do this because I knew it would be challenging,” said Myra Cox, an information and communication technology teacher at Tupelo Middle School who has been working toward her NBCT certification since September. “The process forces you to really analyze yourself as a teacher and provides valuable information for me to bring back to the classroom and my students.”

UM Hosts Annual Green Week Celebration April 22-25

Author Rob Nixon to deliver Earth Day keynote lecture

UM Green Week

UM Green Week features an eco-fashion show and gala.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s sixth annual Green Week celebration kicks off on Earth Day (April 22) with the goal of opening a campuswide dialogue about sustainability.

Rob Nixon, author of “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor” (Harvard University Press, 2011), will deliver the Earth Day keynote lecture at 7 p.m. that day at the Overby Center. His session focuses on complex global issues related to sustainability, including “slow violence,” the slowly unfolding environmental effects that are often underpublicized or unnoticed.

“As we educate and support the development of the next generation for responsible citizenship, we consider these global issues to be of critical importance to their preparation,” said Anne McCauley, assistant director of the UM Office of Sustainability. “Changing behaviors and habits are important, but equally important is understanding the larger context behind why we advocate for these changes. We hope Green Week brings to light both actions for individual responsibility as well as awareness of social, environmental and economic challenges that need to be addressed.

The week’s events include Business in the Green, during which representatives from International Paper, Project Green Fork and Toyota will share sustainable strategies and operational practices in the workplace. The event is set for 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.

Other events include the annual eco-fashion show and gala, which features outfits made from uncommon materials, and the annual Green Week Sustainability Fair. The fair will feature plastic bag knitting, an on-campus farmers market and displays from several university groups.

An Arbor Day tree planting and celebration in the Grove conclude the week’s activities on Friday.

“It is a week where we, as a community, can build our environmental conscience and strengthen our commitment to lowering our global impact,” said Kendall McDonald, a junior public policy major from Bay St. Louis who serves as the Office of Sustainability’s Green Week intern. “Green Week also plays an invaluable educational role by engaging those who have not previously been exposed to environmental issues.”

All events are free and open to the public. Green Week events are sponsored by the UM Office of Sustainability, Environmental Studies Minor, Students for a Green Campus, Landscape Services, the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation, Jim Keras Subaru, the College of Liberal ArtsSouthern Documentary ProjectCroft Institute for International StudiesSally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the UM departments of English and history, and the city of Oxford.

2014 Green Week Schedule of Events

Tuesday, April 22

Business in the Green – 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Oxford Conference Center

Earth Day keynote address – 7 p.m., Overby Center, speaker, Rob Nixon, “Slow Violence, Environmental Activism and the Arts”

Wednesday, April 23

Green Week Sustainability Fair – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Student Union Plaza

Udall Scholarship Workshop – 4 p.m., Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Room 311

Eco Fashion Show and Gala – 7 p.m., Bryant Hall

Friday, April 23

Arbor Day Tree Planting and Celebration – 11:30 a.m., Grove

For more information, contact Ann McCauley at

UM Offers Millions in Scholarships for Scouting’s Highest Honors

University recognizes leadership, success of Eagle Scouts, Gold Award recipients with $6,000 grants

Brothers Bryce Akins (left) and Brant Akins (right), accompanied by their father and scoutmaster, Sean Akins, show off their Eagle Scout scholarship awards from the University of Misissippi at the Yocona Area Council's recent Youth Recognition Banquet. The Ripley natives, members of Troop 38, both plan to attend Ole Miss. Photo by Mitchell Diggs

Brothers Bryce Akins (left) and Brant Akins (right), accompanied by their father and scoutmaster, Sean Akins, show off their Eagle Scout scholarship awards from the University of Misissippi at the Yocona Area Council’s recent Youth Recognition Banquet. The Ripley natives, members of Troop 38, both plan to attend Ole Miss.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi distributed scholarship offers recently to dozens of elite student recruits at a banquet with community leaders in Tupelo. But these are not cornerbacks with blazing speed, power forwards who pull in a dozen rebounds a game or pitchers with ridiculously low ERAs.

Instead, these sought-after students are all Eagle Scouts.

Many of the recipients are also accomplished athletes, and most boast solid academic records, but the reason Ole Miss is courting them has more to do with their demonstrated leadership, organizational skills and commitment to community service, all validated by achieving Scouting’s highest rank. This scene is being repeated several times this spring across Mississippi and Tennessee as local councils of Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America host recognition events for their 2013 Eagle Scouts and Gold Award recipients, respectively.

“These outstanding young men and women are exactly the kind of students we want at the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “Less than 5 percent of all Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts achieve these honors, and the ones that do demonstrate remarkable commitment both to the values of their respective organizations and to setting and achieving worthy goals.

“The university has a long tradition of training leaders – from business and political leaders across our state and nation to champion athletes and military officers – and I am confident that these young men and women can continue to develop their potential through the programs we offer at Ole Miss.”

Each of the honorees received a congratulatory letter from Jones and an elaborate certificate affirming that they are eligible for one of the $6,000 scholarships. The presentation made an impression on many of the Scouts, as well as on their parents.

“This really says a lot about the university, that they value the achievement and the dedication that the rank of Eagle represents,” said Sean Akins, scoutmaster of Troop 38 in Ripley and father of two of the night’s honorees, Brant and Bryce Akins. “They are placing the Eagle rank and the Gold Award on the same footing as being the president of the senior class or the class valedictorian. It says a lot about Scouting, and it says a whole lot about the university.”

Brant Akins, a junior at Ripley High School, plans to attend Ole Miss with hopes of becoming a stockbroker. Bryce Akins, a senior who plans to enroll at UM this fall with an eye on earning a law degree after completing his undergraduate studies, also has qualified for two other academic scholarships.

“When you add all that up, it’s a nice chunk of money, and it puts a real dent in the costs of going to college,” Sean Akins said.

Douglas Crane, an Eagle Scout from Iuka, plans to use his scholarship to help attend the UM School of Pharmacy.

“This will really help a lot,” said Crane, a member of Troop 26. “The costs are so high these days, and this will help me not have to take out so many student loans.”

Officials of the BSA Yocona Area Council, headquartered in Tupelo, also are grateful for the acknowledgement that the scholarships represent.

“Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is a daunting task that takes years of hard work and determination,” said Rick Chapman, the council executive. “The scholarship that the University of Mississippi offers to every Eagle Scout is a validation of the hard work that the boys, with the support of their parents, put in to Scouting, and is a tremendous motivator in having the boys go that extra mile and complete all the requirements to become an Eagle.

“The parents of our Scouts are thrilled to hear that this opportunity is available for their son and for all those that stay in Scouting.”

One of those parents is Kim Winters, whose son, Bradley Winters, is a sophomore at Lafayette High School in Oxford. The Eagle Scout with Troop 146 wants to be a doctor and is already starting to look for scholarships and other ways to pay for college.

“This will help a lot toward his undergraduate degree,” his mother said. “We’re looking at all kinds of ways to pay for things, and this is the first piece.”

Over the past five years, the university has awarded more than 400 Eagle Scout scholarships and more than 60 Gold Award scholarships to enrolling freshmen. The awards are valued at $1,500 annually for up to four years of undergraduate studies.

The goal is to give out as many as possible, said Laura Diven-Brown, UM director of financial aid.

“I really want to get the word out about his opportunity,” she said. “These students have worked so hard and are so deserving of their awards. I hope to see more of them on campus.”

Scouting organizers also use the scholarship program to spur interest in their own programs. Last summer, the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi council, based in Jackson, took a group of Gold Award honorees on a tour of college campuses where the scholarships are available.

The scholarship program complements and reinforces the mission of Scouting as a whole, Chapman said.

“The vision of the council is to help prepare every possible youth in our 12 counties to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law,” he said. “Our mission includes providing a safe environment where boys can develop leadership skills while learning about hundreds of different career fields.

“With the help of Ole Miss we can unlock a world of opportunities to them and show them a path, with higher education, that can help them achieve their dreams.”

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.

National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau to Visit UM

Expert science teacher from Washington to discuss effective teaching


Jeffery Charbonneau

OXFORD, Miss. – Jeffrey Charbonneau, the 2013 National Teacher of the Year, will visit the University of Mississippi Wednesday (April 15) to address Ole Miss teacher candidates and faculty members on the importance of effective teaching.

A science teacher at Zilliah High School in Zilliah, Wash., Charbonneau was appointed to his position by President Barack Obama on April 23, 2013, after being named Washington Teacher of the Year. He has spent the past year touring the country, sharing his experiences and personal philosophies on teaching with educators and students from a variety of backgrounds.

Charbonneau will lead a forum with UM student teachers at 11 a.m. at the Jackson Avenue Center. Mississippi Teacher of the Year and UM alumnus Josh Lindsey, an English teacher from Hancock High School, will give opening remarks at the event. An open session for students, educators and UM faculty and staff will follow at 2 p.m.

On Wednesday (April 16), Charbonneau will visit students and faculty at the UM DeSoto Center.

The National Teacher of the Year visit to UM has been a tradition at the School of Education since 2011 to support a goal of exposing aspiring teachers to innovative and successful educators from different parts of the country. This year, freshmen fellows from both the UM and Mississippi State University chapters of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program will attend the event.

“Our student teachers will be leading their own classrooms in the near future, and this offers them the chance to meet and interact with one of the best teachers in the nation,” said David Rock, UM education school dean. “This is an incredible opportunity for our candidates and educators across the region.”

Charbonneau teaches high school-level science, including chemistry, engineering and physics. During his 12 years at Zilliah High School, he has increased participation in the sciences among students,  resulting in a 20 percent increase in available courses, including 24 courses offered with college credit. Since 2008, he has directed a free high school robotics challenge, which has exposed more than 1,000 Washington state children to a variety of STEM-based skills and principles.

Charbonneau is a graduate of Central Washington University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with honors and a master’s degree in teaching. He also holds a national board certificate in Adolescence and Young Adult Sciences from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The National Teacher of the Year Program started in 1952 and is a national honors program focusing public attention on teaching excellence. Each year, the national teacher is chosen from among state teachers of the year by a selection committee representing the major national education organizations, and is introduced by the president, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.

For more information about the National Teacher of the Year program, visit

University Honors Burns Family with Building Dedication

State-of-the-art residence hall, team meeting room named in honor of accountancy alumnus

Roland Burns with wife, Sheryl, son Derek, Ole Miss Accountancy Professor Jimmy Davis and son Tyler stand in front of the newly dedicated Burns Hall. Roland and Derek shared Davis as a professor while at Ole Miss, and youngest son, Tyler will be taking a class Davis is teaching this fall.

Roland Burns with wife, Sheryl, son Derek, Ole Miss Accountancy Professor Jimmy Davis and son Tyler stand in front of the newly dedicated Burns Hall. Roland and Derek shared Davis as a professor while at Ole Miss, and youngest son, Tyler will be taking a class Davis is teaching this fall.

OXFORD, Miss. – A crowd of nearly 100 students, faculty and staff participated in a ceremony hosted Friday (April 4) by the University of Mississippi to honor Sheryl and Roland Burns of Frisco, Texas, for their legacy of support with the naming of a premier campus residence hall and the new football team meeting room in the Manning Performance Center.

The Burnses have given generously to support both academic and athletics programs, with their recent $2 million gift elevating their lifetime giving to more than $5 million. Roland Burns, a 1982 graduate who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in accountancy, says it is humbling to see his family’s name on the building.

“It is not anything I ever thought I would see,” Burns said. “It is a really attractive building and there is a lot of history here (on this campus). We are so proud to be associated with Ole Miss and the School of Accountancy; it has been such an outstanding program.”

The Public Accounting Report, the independent newsletter of the accounting profession, recently rated UM’s undergraduate accountancy program as No. 4 in the country (behind Texas, Illinois and Brigham Young) and the master’s and doctoral programs at Nos. 5 and 8, respectively. The accountancy programs are No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference.

Burns Hall, which has been temporarily known as Ridge South, stands on the site of the former Miller Hall. Burns Hall opened in August 2012 and is one of three new residence halls on that site. The four-story structure houses 272 students and provides a shared courtyard and many of the amenities requested by students, including private bathrooms, microwaves, refrigerators in each room, study rooms, community kitchens, laundry facilities and lounges with TVs on each floor.

“Today, the residence halls are an extension of the learning experience, and when we talk about the Ole Miss family, it’s important that we know our family comes home here every night,” said Brandi Hephner Labanc, UM vice chancellor of student affairs. “We see this as a wonderful extension of our academic environment, and we are grateful to the Burnses for being involved in the living learning experience here.”

With a growth in enrollment on the Oxford campus from 9,412 in the fall of 1982 to 18,423 in fall 2013, much has changed since Burns graduated. The former Kincannon Hall resident noted that the housing looks quite different than when he was a student here.

It was a visit from UM Provost Morris Stocks, who at the time was the new dean of the School of Accountancy, and Debbie Vaughn, senior executive director of development, that reinvigorated Burns’ connection to the university. They visited Burns in Texas, where he is president and chief financial officer of Comstock Resources Inc. Stocks asked Burns to create an intern program in his company’s financial reporting department that would provide opportunity for Ole Miss undergraduate students.

“Morris got us interested by showing us the success the (accountancy) program is having on the national level, and that gave us a deep sense of pride,” said Burns, who transferred from Mississippi State after his freshman year to join the then-new accountancy school in its first year of programs set apart from the School of Business Administration.

“Being a part of something new made all of us know we were part of something special. Giving back through the internship program and in other ways is really rewarding to us, and we are grateful to be included as part of the Ole Miss family.”

This was the second time in a year that a campus building has been named for a Patterson School alumnus. Another of the Ridge residence halls was named last spring for alumnus Lucian Minor.

“There is much to celebrate today, as we are so grateful to Roland and Sheryl for their continued dedication to the university,” said Chancellor Dan Jones. “They support us financially and today, they are lending us their name, and what a great thing for the university to be associated with their name.”

Stocks praised the Burnses for their holistic approach to support for the university.

“The Burnses have continued to support our school and our university in many ways, including the Burns Chair in Accountancy,” Stocks said. “Outside of the major public accounting firms, (Roland) has also recruited more accountancy students to our program and formed an internship program at his company that is critical to our program. The Burnses’ lend constant moral support to our efforts to transform lives. We are a better place because Roland chose to attend Ole Miss.”

During a ceremony held earlier in the day, Ole Miss Athletics honored the Burnses with the naming of the team meeting room. That naming took place in conjunction with the ribbon-cutting for the newly- renovated Indoor Practice Facility, now called the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.

“Sheryl and Roland support excellence in academics and support academics in athletics equally, making sure that we move forward together,” Jones added. “They are making a big difference in the lives of students in their local community and here. We are so grateful to them.”

Along with family friends, the Burnses were joined by their sons Derek, an Ole Miss graduate student in accountancy who earned a bachelor’s degree here in 2013, and Tyler, an Ole Miss freshman majoring in biology with a minor in accountancy. Their daughter, Stephanie, is a graduate of Southern Methodist University.

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.”

MBA Students Sharpen Business Skills for Case Competition

Rivalry among Southeastern Conference teams extends beyond athletics with second annual MBA event

From left, William Dunphey, Anastasia Verenita, Steven Murphy, Julian Sanchez,  and Dr. Samantha Fairclough, Faculty Advisor.

From left, William Dunphey, Anastasia Verenita, Steven Murphy, Julian Sanchez, and Dr. Samantha Fairclough, Faculty Advisor.

OXFORD, Miss. – A team of four University of Mississippi MBA students faced off with teams from other Southeastern Conference schools during the second annual SEC MBA Case Competition.

Steven Murphy, of Charleston, S.C.; Anastasia Varenita, originally from Chishinau, Moldova, but who grew up in Jackson; Julian Sanchez, from the New York borough of Queens; and Will Dunphey, of Picayune, represented Ole Miss. The competition took place April 3-5 at the University of Alabama, with all 14 SEC universities taking part. Though the University of Florida walked away with the top prize, each student who participated learned something to help them succeed in the future.

The student teams were given a current, real-world problem facing the banking industry. Each team analyzed the information, developed a strategy for addressing the problem and made oral presentations to a panel of judges.

“This competition provides two of the most important ingredients that help our students to learn and to be successful,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “The two things are the ability to get into a case and analyze it, and then the competition itself.

“The competition requires a broad-based analysis, so you are applying many business skills to solve problems, and you are doing it quickly. So, it’s not just a finance or a marketing niche; it’s more of an overall view. The competition allows students to compare themselves to others, which helps raise their game and sharpen their skills.”

UM students prepared by working closely with the team’s faculty adviser, Samantha Fairclough, UM professor of management in business administration. The students also participated in the 2014 Speaker’s Edge event, a transformative public speaking competition for Ole Miss MBA students, who spend a week-and-a-half working with world-class communication coaches to learn the skills of high-impact public speaking. The program culminated in a two-day competition, where students give three different presentations in front of a panel of judges, composed of industry business leaders.

The 14 teams were divided into four divisions Friday (April 4) before the Saturday competition. The Saturday morning sessions included divisional rounds that were judged by a three-member panel consisting of leaders and experts from Regions, the sponsoring company.

The four divisional winners advanced to a final round Saturday afternoon.

“This is a live, strategic competition where the students have less than 24 hours to solve a business problem and develop a plan,” said Brian Gray, associate dean of Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business. “We want to keep it as real as possible for the students and in line with what they will actually experience in their careers.”

The winning team received $10,000, second place took $6,000, third place got $3,000 and fourth place received $1,000. Additional awards were presented to individuals in each division for categories such as best Q&A and best presentation.

Regions, the SEC’s banking partner, was the competition sponsor. Regions also presented the case for analysis and provided company leaders and experts to serve as competition judges.

The first competition was held at the University of Missouri in 2013, and the University of South Carolina is scheduled to host the 2015 event.