UM Team Wins North American Championship in Space Law

Title is second major victory for school's moot court teams this year

Ian Perry (left), C.J. Robinson, and Olivia Hoff

Ian Perry (left), C.J. Robinson, and Olivia Hoff

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law has won its second national moot court championship for 2015, this time in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Technically, Ole Miss earned the title of North American Champion and with it, the right to represent the continent at the world finals in Jerusalem in October.

“A success like this, in the world’s oldest and most prestigious space law competition, stands out as a highlight on a student’s resume,” Dean Richard Gershon said. “As an international leader in this unique emerging area of law, Ole Miss helps propel students into careers at government agencies like NASA and the CIA, as well as position students for opportunities in the growing private space industry and at companies like Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX.”

This victory, on March 21, builds on a string of successes for the law school’s advocacy programs, which include winning the nation’s pre-eminent environmental law moot court competition for the fourth time in five years, winning four national championships in 2014, earning a top 14 national ranking for the school’s moot court board in 2014, receiving second place at the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition last fall and achieving a top 8 finish at the moot court National Championship in January at the University of Houston Law Center.

As North American space law champions, the Ole Miss team will compete in the world finals against schools from Africa, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Three members of the International Court of Justice will serve as judges and hear arguments in a hypothetical case involving an asteroid mining dispute and liability for a failed attempt to divert an asteroid from colliding with Earth. In its 24th year, the competition takes place under the auspices of the International Institute of Space Law, headquartered in Paris, and attracts more than 60 law schools from around the globe.

On the road to the championship, the UM law school triumphed over a field that included teams from Georgetown, Nebraska, Hawaii, Temple, St. Thomas, Florida State, University of California at Davis, Arizona State, George Washington University, McGill (in Montreal) and Universidad Sergio Arboleda (Bogota, Columbia).

While all these law schools focus on international law, Ole Miss stands out as one of just a few to offer a program devoted to the law governing aviation, space exploration and satellites. In fact, the School of Law pioneered the field of space law over 45 years ago and the New York Times has recognized it as “an international center for space law studies.” The school’s expertise is embodied in its Journal of Space Law, the conferences it hosts, the service of its graduates in the field and in its curricular programs.

Notably, the School of Law features both a J.D.-level certificate program on remote sensing, air and space law, and an advanced LL.M. degree in air and space law. Indeed, Ole Miss offers the only advanced law degree program in the United States combining both aviation law and space law. For more information on these programs, visit and

The UM championship team includes Olivia Hoff of Gulfport and C.J. Robison from Lubbock, Texas, both second-year law students in the space law certificate program. Joining them is Ian Perry of Ellis County, Texas, a 2013 J.D. recipient who is working on his space law LL.M.

“I believe a great deal of our success stems from our knowledge of general international law and space law,” Robison said. “Ole Miss has some of the best resources and professors in the country for such study. Our success is definitely a testament to the university’s leadership in this area.”

“I am extremely proud of these students,” said Jacquie Serrao, director of the LL.M. program. “I know they will represent North America and our law school brilliantly at the finals in October. C.J., Ian and Olivia are each examples of the caliber of space law scholars and future attorneys which the J.D. and LL.M. programs produce.”

For Hoff, a physics and mathematics graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, the space law certificate program offered a path to become a lawyer while staying focused on the sciences. “To some degree, pursuing the certificate makes me feel as if, even though I changed fields, I am still staying true to my roots.”

The team is coached by Michael Dodge, who graduated from the UM space law program in 2008 and teaches U.S. and international space law at Ole Miss. Joining Dodge as assistant coach is Michael Mineiro, an adjunct professor who holds a J.D. from North Carolina along with an LL.M. and D.C.L. from McGill University, and works on space law issues for numerous federal agencies and international organizations.

“I am tremendously proud of the team’s achievement,” Dodge said. “In the upcoming months, I look forward to working to prepare them for the next stage of the competition. I know they will compete admirably, and skillfully represent the University of Mississippi and its long association with space law.”

Dodge also praised the student body of the space law program and the school’s placement efforts.

“Our professors have decades of contacts in academia, government and private industry,” he said. “Accordingly, many of our graduates have gone on to realize their dreams, working for such diverse employers as NASA, the FAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, congressional offices, Bigelow Aerospace, Spaceport America, consulting firms, higher education and, of course, private law firms.”

UM Named Top 20 in Higher Ed Crowdfunding

Technology connects university with a new generation of supporters

Remnants of the goal post remain at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Remnants of the goal post remain at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium following the Oct. 4 Ole Miss football win over No. 1 Alabama

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has been nationally recognized among the top 20 crowdfunding programs in higher education by Evertrue, a social donor management platform.

Crowdfunding encourages potential donors to give by offering a user-friendly format. Online donation platforms reach a wide audience through social channels and allow donors to specify which projects they want to support. UM’s crowdfunding platform, Ignite Ole Miss, has attracted more than $290,000 to date for various initiatives from scholarships to service projects.

Suzanne Thigpen, director of annual giving at the UM Foundation, sees an opportunity to attract new donors and show the tangible impact of their gifts.

“Donors can share and promote their favorite projects with their social networks, see real-time results as their causes are funded and interact with the beneficiaries of their gifts,” Thigpen said.

In partnership with the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, Ignite Ole Miss was launched in fall 2014 to raise money to replace damaged infrastructure following the Oct. 4 Ole Miss football win over No. 1 Alabama. More than $150,000 from 916 donors was contributed in 48 hours.

“We could not have predicted how successful our first campaign would be,” Thigpen said.

Michael Thompson, senior associate athletics director for communications and marketing, believes that crowdfunding meets the needs of donors, especially younger ones, and is excited about its prospective growth.

“As consumers’ perceptions and feelings evolve, we must be in a position to give Ole Miss fans opportunities to stay involved in a meaningful way,” Thompson said.

Since its launch, Ignite Ole Miss has supported various projects and offered giving levels that range from $5 to $5,000. The “Rebels for Haiti” fundraiser enabled football players to travel to Haiti over spring break to help construct clean water facilities. Some campaigns even offer unique rewards for giving, including an opportunity to fire the cannon at a football game in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Plans are underway to launch four new projects this spring. The UM Museum will initiate a campaign for refurbishments at Rowan Oak, home of Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner. The Division of Student Affairs is seeking support for a partnership with the National Pan-Hellenic Council to construct a garden honoring the nine historically African-American fraternities and sororities. Additional fundraisers will assist the J.D Williams Library to update its technology and workspace and fund scholarships. UM Foundation officials hope these efforts will resonate widely among supporters.

“Ignite Ole Miss allows our alumni and donors to leverage their circles of influence via social media and helps share more about our institution to a larger audience,” Thigpen said.

Thompson appreciates the opportunity that crowdfunding offers for insight and communication. “We want to listen to our fans and customers and provide innovative ways for them to stay connected to this great university.”

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to UM initiatives via Ignite Ole Miss or by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting online at; or contacting Suzanne Thigpen at or 662-915-6625.

Honors College Class Explores ‘Who Owns The Past?’

Classics class visits Metropolitan Museum of Art, Christie's and other antiquities sites over spring break

A Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College classics class studying antiquities took an educational trip to New York over spring break.

An Honors College classics class studying antiquities took an educational trip to New York over spring break.

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi class focusing on “Who Owns the Past?: Ethics in Archaeology” recently traveled to New York to learn about the financial, legal and political considerations in the ongoing international battle to properly preserve ancient artifacts.

Hilary Becker, a UM assistant professor of classics, teaches the 300-level class made up of Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students. Over spring break, the class visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art, and Christie’s Department of Ancient Art and Antiquities, among other educational attractions in New York.

“This is an opportunity to look at ethical dilemmas, using current events and case studies involving antiquities and ancient sites,” Becker said. “There are cases like the famous Elgin Marbles that once graced the Parthenon, but they’re in London now. The fact that they’re in London means millions of people can see them each year, but the Greeks think they should be in Athens because they would attract people there, and the marbles are also part of their heritage.”

The Honors College provided funding for the course and the trip. It funded another class this semester, a cinema studies course on New York City in film, which also traveled there during spring break.

The archaeology class’ visit to New York gave students an opportunity to see antiquities and also to explore questions of who can or should “own” these objects and care for them. The sessions in New York, as well as the ongoing class discussions, expose students to the wide range of legal and ethical issues over ownership of cultural heritage.

Preservation issues have recently made global headlines. The terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is looting artifacts and selling them on the antiquities market and also destroying cultural sites in the process. The money they make from the looting of historically important pieces helps to fund their terrorist operations.

ISIS is only one group responsible for plundering historical sites. Scholars, curators, archaeologists and others are battling this problem by trying to ensure artifacts are scientifically excavated with care to preserve information about the dates and locations in which those pieces were found. This information is often lost when artifacts are illegally and haphazardly removed.

“You can buy a cuneiform tablet through eBay, but it could be that it was looted by ISIS and, very indirectly, you could be funding ISIS,” Becker said. “Everyone agrees we don’t want to fund ISIS. That’s the worst case, but at the very least, if you have an undocumented object without a pedigree, far too often, it was probably looted from some site and it’s now devoid of context. … If you have that object out of context, you lose most of the information about it.”

The class also met with Nancy Wilkie, a professor emerita at Carleton College who serves on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee for the U.S. State Department. The committee advises the president and the State Department about cultural heritage and protects sites and archaeological objects around the world that are at risk of being looted.

Wilkie also gave a public lecture March 25 in Bryant Hall. She discussed looting and efforts to return those objects to their native countries.

The two classes were the fruit of proposals the professors submitted to the Honors College. The first was in 2013 and focused on the 2014 World Cup.

The experiential classes are an excellent opportunity for students, said John Samonds, associate dean of the Honors College. The college’s officials hope to continue funding  special topics courses each semester.

“We want them to engage with the world, not just spectate,” Samonds said. “We try to develop these experiential courses that allow students to grapple with issues, particularly with the classics course. There weren’t just issues of archaeologists taking things from Greece or taking things from Peru 150 years ago and displaying them in other museums. This is going on right now.”

Samantha Lund, a senior from Biloxi majoring in international studies and French, said the class has helped her understand the increasing focus on where artifacts came from, in addition to their actual financial value.

“There are countless unforeseen consequences to the discovery, distribution and legitimization of artifacts that influence a number of aspects of a nation’s identity and reputation,” Lund said. “Both public and private institutions will go to extreme lengths in order to prove legitimate provenance for a particular artifact and also to mediate conflicting claims of property rights.”

Jessie Smith, a sophomore liberal studies major from Jackson, called the trip “unforgettable,” particularly the opportunity to visit Christie’s auction house warehouse. There, the class met with experts from the antiquities department and carefully walked around golden tea sets and other artifacts.

“I’m still in shock that we got to very carefully pass around a small, scarab-shaped piece of carnelian with a soldier carved in intaglio on the other side (circa 500 B.C.),” Smith said. “This experience of holding such amazing and ancient objects in our hands was something that many other trips could never provide. I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity.”

Pharmacy Administration Student Wins ‘Three Minute Thesis’ Challenge

Sujith Ramachandran takes 'Peoples' Choice' award during annual conference in New Orleans

UM pharmacy administration student Sujith Ramachandran (second from left) was one of the winners at the competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools held in New Orleans. He’s congratulated by  Donna West, Christy Wyandt and John Kiss.

UM pharmacy administration student Sujith Ramachandran (second from left) was one of the winners at the competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools held in New Orleans. He’s congratulated by Donna West, Christy Wyandt and John Kiss.

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi student’s “Three Minute Thesis” was the audience favorite at the recent Conference of Southern Graduate Schools annual meeting.

Sujith Ramachandran, a pharmacy administration student from India, won the “Peoples’ Choice” award during the competition in New Orleans. Audience members, rather than judges, selected his “Honey, We Drugged the Kids!” as the best and most interesting presentation.

“It was an amazing feeling to be standing up there with the best students from across the South,” Ramachandran said of his honor, which included a $250 cash prize. “I also feel like it was a very good conclusion to my thesis project. My department helped me put all of it together, from the project to the final presentation, and Dean Kiss helped me take it to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. So it was a rewarding experience for everyone involved.”

Ramachandran’s entry was based on his master’s thesis project, titled “Determining physician and patient characteristics that predict the use of atypical antipsychotics in children with mental health disorders.”

“It is an attempt to understand physician decision-making in the area of pediatric mental health,” he said. “My thesis is basically an insight into what causes physicians to prescribe new-generation antipsychotics (such as Abilify or Seroquel) to children under the age of 18.”

Twenty-six students from major universities throughout the South competed in the 3MT finals. Each has won his or her university’s title. Ramachandran qualified for the contest by winning the UM competition in November.

UM administrators congratulated Ramachandran on winning the honor.

“The competition was very intense in that the best students from other 26 major schools, such as the University of Virginia, Auburn University and the University of Kentucky, were represented,” said John Kiss, dean of the UM Graduate School. “Sujith’s win also is a testament to the interesting and vibrant graduate programs we are building at our university.”

Provost Morris Stocks said Ramachandran’s honor adds to UM’s reputation for academic rigor.

“Any recognition of UM research, particularly from fellow scientists, speaks to the high caliber of our students and our formidable faculty,” Stocks said. “Mr. Ramachandran’s achievement at the CSGS annual meeting is another bragging point for our already renowned standing as Mississippi’s flagship university.”

Ramachandran, who completed his master’s degree last year, is a doctoral candidate and is working on his dissertation.

“I hope to finish my Ph.D. within the next year or two,” Ramachandran said. “I plan to join the pharmaceutical industry after my graduation, but my long-term goal is to work in the health policy arena to help fix the problems with health care cost and quality.”

The Three Minute Thesis competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by doctoral students. Developed by the University of Queensland, the exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a nonspecialist audience.

“Our 3MT program has done a great job of highlighting our graduate level studies as well as promoted interdisciplinary research,” Kiss said.

For more information on the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, go to For more information on the 3MT competition, see

Pilobolus to Teach, Perform in Oxford

Pilobolus will perform at the Ford Center March 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Pilobolus will perform March 31 at the Ford Center.

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi welcomes renowned dance company Pilobolus for a Monday (March 30) performance as part of its Artist Series.

Seating for the 7:30 p.m. show starts at $28 for the mezzanine and balcony levels and $35.50 for orchestra and parterre. Tickets are available on the Ford Center website or at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

Pilobolus, founded in 1971 by Dartmouth College students, challenges perceptions of modern dance by forming diverse collaborations that break barriers. The company has toured to more than 64 countries over the last 42 years and has been seen by more than 500,000 people. It physically and intellectually engages audiences through performance and education.

“Pilobolus is a very exciting dance company,” said Norman Easterbrook, Ford Center director. “They are very different from a typical modern dance company. The way they view movement and music and their use of space is very unique. It truly challenges the audience see things differently.”

Besides performances, the dance company also educates through workshops, classes, residencies and children’s programming. The Pilobolus@Play program allows children and adults with various levels of dancing experience to learn about improve, movements and choreography and are also invited to watch a show.

A community workshop is set for 2 p.m. Saturday (March 28) at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Children attending the workshops and students are invited to a Kids Show at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (March 31) at the Ford Center.

“We are thrilled to partner with Pilobolus for their Pilobolus@Play program,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “It is great way to teach different audiences how dance and movement can be used examine themes and ideas found in daily life.”

Pilobolus is known around the world and has made appearances at the Academy Awards broadcast (2007), on “Oprah,” “Sesame Street,” “60 Minutes” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” It was received prestigious honors including a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Programming and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in Choreography.

Gallery 130 Features Full Slate of Spring Shows

Visit Meek Hall during the semester to support student artists

Piece by Claire Whitehurst. Photo by Dennis Irwin.

Piece by Claire Whitehurst. Photo by Dennis Irwin.

The spring semester is here, and Gallery 130 at Meek Hall is showcasing new artwork throughout the semester. Exhibits feature artwork by MFA and BFA candidates.

Stop by Meek Hall before March 27 and check out this masterpiece by Claire Whitehurst. Other artists include Tiffany Priewe and Allison Young.

When you are out and about enjoying the spring here on campus, stop in to Gallery 130 at Meek Hall and enjoy an admission-free art show during your travels. Take a look at the calendar for upcoming events and check back on the Ole Miss Blog throughout the spring for more details.

March 23-27 – BFA Thesis Exhibition 2. Reception: 4-6 p.m. March 26.

March 30-April 3 – MFA Thesis Exhibition: Terry Lynn. Reception: 4-6 p.m. April 2.

April 6-10 – MFA Thesis Exhibition: David Radway. Reception: 4-6 p.m. April 9.

April 13-17 – MFA Thesis Exhibition: Brian Horn. Reception: T4-6 p.m. April 16.

April 20-24 – MFA Thesis Exhibition: Seth Thibodaux. Reception: 4-6 p.m. April 23.

April 27-May 1 – MFA Thesis Exhibition: John Cummings. Reception: 4-6 p.m. April 30.

May 4-8 – MFA Thesis Exhibition: Stacey Rathert. Reception: 4-6 p.m. May 7.

May 11-Sept. 4 – Student Summer Exhibition. Juror: Michael Williams, Nicholls State University. Reception: 4-6 p.m. Sept. 4; award presentation, 5 p.m.

Teaching Program Fellows Study Education Policy in Nation’s Capital

Spring break trip offers policy perspective for education students

METP fellows in from the of the U.S. Department of Education. The group includes (left to right): Brenna Ferrell of Ocean Springs, Lydia Hall of Madison, Emily Reynolds of Brandon, Kaye Whitfield of Birmingham, Ala, Katianne Middleton of Selma, Ala., James Wheeler of St. Johns, Fla., Abigail Sudduth of Flowood,Shelby Knighten of Gauthier, Ben Logan of Sherman, Kaypounyers Maye of Gulfport, Rachel Parbs of Southaven,, Anna Claire Kelley of Madison,Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Abigail Null of Corinth.

METP fellows gather in front of the of the U.S. Department of Education. The group includes (left to right): Brenna Ferrell of Ocean Springs, Lydia Hall of Madison, Emily Reynolds of Brandon, Kaye Whitfield of Birmingham, Alabama, Katianne Middleton of Selma, Alabama, James Wheeler of St. Johns, Florida, Abigail Sudduth of Flowood, Shelby Knighten of Gauthier, Ben Logan of Sherman, Kaypounyers Maye of Gulfport, Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Anna Claire Kelley of Madison,Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Abigail Null of Corinth.

OXFORD, Miss. – Fifteen University of Mississippi sophomores from the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program spent spring break in Washington, D.C., getting a close-up view of how education policy is crafted and administered at the national level.

Throughout the 2014-15 academic year, the cohort has studied education policy issues on a variety of levels as part of specialized seminars designed for METP participants, or fellows.

“This year, our goal is to help fellows understand how policy decisions at the national and state level directly impact schools,” said Ryan Niemeyer, the program’s director. “We’re training students to be exceptional educators. This means equipping them with content knowledge and a pedagogical understanding of teaching. But it also means producing educators who recognize how governing bodies operate and how they can have a voice in policy discussions.”

Established in 2012 with nearly $13 million from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson, METP is one of the nation’s most valuable teacher education scholarships, designed to attract the best and brightest into the field. The program, which has a partner chapter at Mississippi State, includes four years of tuition, room and board, books, study abroad professional development and more.

METP fellows (left to right) Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Shelby Knighten of Gauthier stand in front of the Washington Monument in the District of Columbia.

METP fellows (left to right) Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Shelby Knighten of Gauthier visit the National Mall.

During the trip, fellows toured the U.S. Capitol and met U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker. The group also visited the U.S. Department of Education, where they met with Melody Musgrove, a Mississippi native who directs the department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

On the first night, the group spent an evening discussing state and national education policy with Melody and her husband, former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, at their home in the district.

“I thoroughly enjoyed our evening with the Musgroves,” said METP fellow Ben Logan, a Sherman native who is majoring in both mathematics education and public policy leadership. “We gained an interesting perspective when we able to sit and discuss education policy with Gov. and Dr. Musgrove.”

Throughout the group’s stay, they also visited Arlington National Cemetery, Chinatown, Ford’s Theatre, the Library of Congress, the National Mall, multiple Smithsonian exhibits and more.

“We’ve jumped feet-first into education policy issues this year,” said fellow Rachel Parbs, a Southaven native majoring in English education. “So far, this program is going above and beyond my expectations. Our cohort is bonding and we’re getting to travel. I’m really looking forward to what’s next.”

To date, the UM chapter of METP has recruited 32 students from nine states with an average ACT score of 29.1. Each graduate makes a five-year commitment to teach in a Mississippi public school after graduation. Next year, METP plans to take a group abroad to study education issues from an international perspective when the fellows visit multiple countries within the United Kingdom.

“It was so encouraging to meet people who care about education issues and have ideas for the future,” said fellow Brenna Ferrell, an English education major from Ocean Springs. “Each experience we’ve had in the program has made me more excited to enter the classroom and make a difference.”

UM is interviewing applicants for METP’s third cohort, which will enroll this fall.

UM Researchers Evaluate if ‘Breast is Best’ in the Delta

Center for Population Studies joins interdisciplinary team to plan and study breastfeeding program

The 'Right! from the Start' initiative is a breastfeeding outreach program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The ‘Right! from the Start’ initiative is a breastfeeding outreach program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies has been invited to partner with various organizations to plan, research and evaluate a program using breastfeeding to improve the health outcomes for low birth weight babies from the Delta region of Mississippi.

The “Right! from the Start” initiative is a breastfeeding outreach program funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. It works to address socioeconomic, racial, and geographic disparities in maternal-child health, and its partners have launched two projects to increase breastfeeding rates among mothers in the Delta.

Through a new W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant to the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, the initiative has been expanded to create a hospital-based project focusing on low birth weight babies from five counties: Bolivar, Coahoma, Leflore, Sunflower and Washington.  Mothers of babies from those areas who are admitted to the Level III neonatal care unit, or NICU, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson will receive specialized services.

“We will be working directly with the mothers as it relates to breastfeeding while also helping to coordinate other services needed to ensure the mom is able to continue providing breast milk to her baby,” said Sandy Snell, director of Right! from the Start. “This includes providing transportation to the NICU and providing breast pumps to those not having access to one or the other.

“The objective is to ensure better health outcomes for mothers and babies and affect systematic change through a collaborative, multiagency approach.”

The Center for Population Studies will handle the research and evaluation aspects of the program.

“Working in collaboration with our colleagues at UMMC, we want to identify whether there are health benefits to low birth weight babies who are breastfed and the extent to which support services improve mothers’ abilities to initiate and continue breastfeeding,” said John Green, UM associate professor of sociology and director of the center. “We hope to identify the potential population health implications if such support services were made more widely available through changes in public policy.”

The outreach project’s rural setting is significant. Babies in Mississippi have long had a greater chance of dying before their first birthdays than babies in other states. Additionally, preterm and low birth weight rates are high in Mississippi, especially in the Delta region.

“I believe that collaboration is the key to change in the Delta,” Snell said. “We hope to work with agencies providing maternal and child health services to identify gaps in care and services and develop solutions to providing equitable, accessible services for low birth weight babies and their families.”

Other partners with this planning project include Mobolaji E. Famuyide from the Division of New Born Medicine at the UM Medical Center, Aurelia Jones-Taylor with the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center in Clarksdale, and other health centers in the Delta region.

‘American Cultural Icon’ John Waters to Perform One-Man Show on Campus



Acclaimed writer, director and photographer John Waters is bringing his one-man show “This Filthy World” to the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts for a March 28 performance.

Hosted by the university’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, the student-inspired event is made possible by the support from the University Lecture Series, numerous campus entities and private donations. The 7 p.m. event is free, but tickets are required and are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

Waters has directed more than a dozen movies and is a noted photographer whose work has appeared in galleries worldwide. His is also the writer of many nonfiction books, and his most recent, “Carsick” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), was a 2014 New York Times bestseller.

“John Waters has been a key figure in gender studies for decades,” said Jaime Harker, the Isom Center’s interim director. “His films paved the way for performers like RuPaul and with his casting of ‘big girl’ Ricki Lake in ‘Hairspray,’ he forged a path that, most recently, Lena Denham in (the HBO series) ‘Girls’ has trod. Look at recent popular culture manifestations of feminism, body size, gender and sexuality, and it is almost certain that John Waters did it first and did it better.”

In anticipation of the event, the Isom Center, Student Union and Division of Student Affairs are hosting a “Welcome to the World of John Waters Movie Night” beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday (March 24) in the Turner Center Auditorium. “Hairspray” and “Serial Mom” will make up the double-feature. The evening also will feature a raffle of John Waters tickets with VIP seating, an autographed movie poster and copies of “Carsick.” This event is free.

“Bringing John Waters to our campus marks an important moment for the university community and our students,” said Theresa Starkey, assistant director and instructor of gender studies. “His body of creative work covers so much and his vision and influence seems limitless, embracing film, photography, sculpture and nonfiction. As an artist, Waters is always probing the boundaries of good taste. He embraces the complexities of American culture and social life and celebrates diversity and the outsider in the process.”

UM Reaches Gold as a Heart Association Fit-Friendly Worksite

University promotes wellness, healthy eating to make employees healthier

Workout equipment for students and facility that have a “FIT” sticker their Identification card.

Workout equipment for students and facility that have a ‘FIT’ sticker on their ID card.

OXFORD, Miss – The University of Mississippi has been recognized as a Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association, which commended the university’s efforts to make its workplace a healthy environment for employees.

The university recognizes that this support may yield positive business results, such as reduced health care costs, reduced absenteeism, improved productivity, lower turnover and enhanced university image,” said Andrea Jekabsons, assistant director of the UM Department of Human Resources.

The gold level recognizes a worksite that practices healthy eating while promoting a wellness culture. In order to earn the distinction, the university must have a minimum of 25 employees who fulfill at least six physical activities, two nutrition criteria and a culture criteria form.

The worksite has specific tools such as a walking tracker, wellness kit, an e-newsletter and more. These tools can help employees live longer, healthier lives.

Since November 2014, the university has been on the Fit-Friendly Worksite Honor Roll. At the worksite, the university offers each employee a 20 percent discount on customized booklets and brochures to raise the awareness about heart disease and strokes.

Human Resources continue to partner with departments and committees on campus to provide wellness-related programs and communications with the objective of enhancing individuals’ health.

While making employees aware of healthy lifestyles, the university receives recognition at local events, a recognition plaque to hang in the workplace and the right to use a recognition seal for internal and external communication programs.

For more information on the Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite, call Human Resources at 662-915-7431, or visit the American Heart Association website at