Billy Crews Hired as Education Development Officer

Former Daily Journal executive joins UM in fundraising role

Billy Crews education development officer ole miss university of mississippi daily journal school of education um foundation tfa oxford

Former newspaper executive and public education proponent Billy Crews joins the UM School of Education as its new development officer.

OXFORD, Miss. – Longtime newspaper executive and public education proponent Billy Crews has joined the University of Mississippi as the new development officer for its School of Education.

Crews’ position is a new one, in which he will head fundraising efforts from within the school in collaboration with the UM Foundation.

“I believe the School of Education is one of the most important units at the university in terms of potential impact on our state,” said Crews, an Oxford native. “After 35 years in business, I am committed to a new career focused on supporting public education in Mississippi.”

Crews joins the university after more than two years working for Teach for America’s Mississippi region, where he served as vice president for strategic partnerships. Before TFA, he led the Tupelo-based media company Journal Inc., which owns the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, serving as chairman and chief executive before retiring in 2010. Crews also previously served as chief operations officer and as a member of the board of trustees for the Tupelo Public School District.

“Billy Crews is an asset to the University of Mississippi because of his experience and his genuine passion for education,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “We are very fortunate to have his experience and expertise as we advance our mission to support and improve education in Mississippi and beyond.”

Crews’ experience in support of public education dates to the late 1970s when, while working as a community service representative for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, he helped establish the Mississippi Reading Improvement Program, an endeavor that placed assistant teachers in K-2 public classrooms throughout the state. More recently in 2010, he helped lead a citizen initiative to raise $100,000 to fund pre-K classrooms in Tupelo public schools. Crews also helped establish Mississippi’s first multicorporation pre-K learning center for employees of five Tupelo-based organizations.

A UM alumnus, Crews received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1978 and was the Associated Student Body president and a Rhodes Scholar finalist. The son of former UM English professor John Crews, he spent much of his childhood on the Ole Miss campus.

“In a sense, I’ve come full circle from growing up on this campus, graduating college here and now returning for a new career,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with Dean Rock and the School of Education’s faculty and staff to enhance the university’s commitment to excellence in education.”

Academic Efforts Score with Bowl Appearance

Chick-fil-A provides generous gift for UM scholarship fund

ole miss peach bowl scholarships charitable chick-fil-a 2014 the university of mississippi gary stokan academic win college football

UM Provost Morris Stocks (right) accepts a donation of $100,000 from Steve Riddell, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl chairman, and Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A Inc., executive vice president and CMO, to the university’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Scholarship Endowment at the University of Mississippi.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl has made a $100,000 gift to the University of Mississippi for scholarships, continuing an eight-year tradition of charitable and scholarship contributions by the organization.

One of college football’s most charitable bowl game, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl topped the $1 million mark in contributions this year.

“We are driven to do what we can to help and elevate those who have supported us,” said Gary Stokan, the bowl’s president and CEO.

Established at UM in 2011, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Scholarship Endowment assists Georgia students seeking an education at UM. To date, the bowl has given $270,000 to the endowment.

First priority for the scholarship goes to graduates of the Play It Smart program.

Play It Smart began in 2007 when the bowl partnered with the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame to create an educational program targeted at high school football players from economically disadvantaged environments. Play It Smart provides “academic coaches” in all 11 Atlanta public high schools. The coaches strive to keep the students in school, help improve their grades and study habits, encourage them to take college entrance exams and help them transition to college.

Students from Atlanta-area high schools are eligible for the scholarship if no Play It Smart graduates are identified in a given semester or year. In the event no eligible students are found from the Atlanta area, all UM applicants with Georgia residency become eligible.

“Giving back in the communities who have supported us is part of who we are,” Stokan said. “It is a priority for us and a significant part of our mission as an organization. The Atlanta community, our expanding partner conferences and schools, student-athletes in Georgia – they are all part of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl family.”

Paul Finebaum to Speak at Law School Graduation

Popular SEC Network analyst and sports journalist to address graduates May 9 in the Grove

From left to right: Joe Tessitore, Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears, and Paul Finebaum broadcast SEC Nation live from the Grove prior to the Ole Miss - Tennessee football game in fall 2014. Photo by Win Graham.

From left to right: Joe Tessitore, Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears and Paul Finebaum broadcast ‘SEC Nation’ live from the Grove before the Ole Miss-Tennessee football game in fall 2014. Photo by Win Graham.

OXFORD, Miss. – Popular college sports commentator Paul Finebaum will address the University of Mississippi School of Law’s class of 2015 at its graduation ceremony, which is set for 11 a.m. May 9 in the Grove.

The law school officially announced Finebaum’s selection as graduation speaker Tuesday. 

“We eagerly anticipate hearing Paul Finebaum, along with the president of the Mississippi Bar and the president of our graduating class,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “We invited Paul Finebaum because of the law school’s expertise in sports law – we have the only sports law journal in the SEC, we have a thriving sports law student society and we have several excellent sports law courses.”

Finebaum will provide a fresh perspective that will be useful to graduates entering the legal profession, Gershon said.

“Mr. Finebaum will provide the important perspective of a non-lawyer on why the law matters to real people and to communities,” he said. “He will also help to put the law in perspective – sports has the capacity to draw us together; shouldn’t the law achieve the same lofty goal?

“Mr. Finebaum also has a keen understanding of how sports can divide us. But in sports, we manage our fervor because we all understand sportsmanship – no victory holds value unless achieved honorably. Wouldn’t we all feel like better citizens if we could say the same thing about politics and the law?”

Finebaum, an SEC Network analyst, is a Memphis native. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a political science degree in 1978 and began a career as a newspaper reporter. His Southeastern Conference-heavy sports radio show, which is also televised on the SEC Network, is hugely popular. He’s one of the most respected voices in the realm of college football commentary and his sportswriting has also won more than 250 national, regional and area awards.

He was live from the Grove for a broadcast of “SEC Nation” before the Ole Miss football game against Tennessee in October.

More information about the university’s commencement will be released as the event approaches.

UM Museum, Meek Hall Featured in Monthly Oxford Art Crawl

Lee Renninger's A Light Passage will be featured at the UM Museum during the January Art Crawl.

Lee Renninger’s ‘A Light Passage’ will be featured at the University Museum during the January Art Crawl.

Art crawl season returns today (Jan. 27) with the first Oxford Arts Crawl of 2015. The free event kicks off at 6 p.m. with plenty of exhibits spanning a wide range of visual arts.

The University of Mississippi Museum will feature Lee Renniger’s “A Light Passage,” which uses ceramics to portray elements of the garden. This will also be the last opportunity to view “Bloomingdale’s Fashion Touchdown: NFL Haute Couture Helmets,” featuring unique football helmets created by world-famous designers.

Also on campus, Gallery 130 in Meek Hall will feature Cliff Tresner’s “Notes from the Road.” Tresner earned his MFA from Ole Miss in 1994, and his exhibit features sculpture, painting and drawings that he says balances functional crafts, such as furniture design, with fine art practices.

Here’s what you can find at the other stops:

The Powerhouse Community Arts Center will feature a fiber arts show of quilts from Piecemakers Quilters Guild of Lafayette County. City Grocery will feature works from Tammy Oliver Cook, and Frame Up Gallery will feature Jeri Carter and Lisa Paris. Southside Gallery will feature various artists from around the region.

Art Crawl participants can park at one spot and the double-decker bus will shuttle art them to all the exhibits.

Art crawls are set for the fourth Tuesday of each month, so upcoming crawls will be held Feb. 24, March 24 and April 28.

The University Museum, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Gallery 130, Southside Gallery and Community Trust Bank are sponsoring the events.

Tyner to Lead Higher Education Lawyer Group

UM general counsel to become head of the National Association of College and University Attorneys

UM General Counsel Lee Tyner (left) has been chosen to lead the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

UM General Counsel Lee Tyner (left) has been chosen to lead the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

OXFORD, Miss. – Lee Tyner, general counsel at the University of Mississippi, has been elected board chairman of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, a group of more than 4,000 higher education lawyers across the country. He begins his new role in June.

UM Chancellor Dan Jones said those who have the honor of working with Tyner on a daily basis aren’t surprised by his selection to head a national group of his peers.

“It’s gratifying that his peers have selected him for this large honor and responsibility,” Jones said. “This brings recognition to our friend, Lee, that he deserves and certainly puts our university in the national spotlight. We value leadership and service. We are grateful to Lee for his leadership and service to both Ole Miss and this important national organization.”

Tyner, a Columbus native, earned a bachelor’s degree from UM in 1987 and his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1990. He worked as a litigation attorney for Butler Snow in Jackson for six years before coming back to Ole Miss in 1998. At UM, he worked for Mary Ann Connell, who was the university’s chief legal officer. When she retired in 2003, then-Chancellor Robert Khayat hired Tyner to become her replacement.

Tyner said NACUA is the best professional organization with which he’s ever been involved.

“My primary goal in my year as board chair is to do no harm because it’s such a highly effective, highly functional and healthy professional association,” Tyner said.

He has been active with NACUA for years and said he’s looking forward to leading the impressive group of lawyers from all levels of higher education, representing many universities and community colleges. He’ll assume his duties at the NACUA annual conference in Washington, taking over from the current board chairman, Tom Cline, vice president and general counsel at Northwestern University.

“I was humbled that my colleagues around the country who do what I do would ask that I serve in this way, particularly when I think of the other lawyers who have played this role nationally, whether it’s my mentor, Mary Ann Connell, who served in this role several years ago, or other professionals that I respect so much who have gone before me,” Tyner said.

The group is full of many dedicated professionals with whom Tyner enjoys working, he said.

“The thing about higher education lawyers is they are lawyers who like their job. They’re happy lawyers, which is not always an easy thing to find. They’re typically very interesting people and highly competent people and they are passionate about higher education. It makes for a pretty good combination of colleagues.”

The job of a university lawyer has become more challenging in recent years as federal regulations have become more far-reaching. The vast network of lawyers is a good resource for members of the group because the members have encountered almost any issue that can arise on a college campus, Tyner said. They often talk by phone or through email.

The group doesn’t take positions on issues, but does help other higher education trade groups with issues they encounter, he said.

“We’re trying to be a resource for these other organizations,” Tyner said. “We don’t take positions, but we’re trying to figure out how to have a seat at the table and have healthy discussions of our regulatory climate and how our student experiences are enhanced and not inhibited by that regulatory climate.”

Tyner was chosen for many reasons, including his record of leadership and service to the group, his commitment to its mission and also his modeling of NACUA‘s values of civility and collegiality, said Kathleen Santora, NACUA president and chief executive officerHe’s also always willing to help his colleagues with any issues they encounter, she said.

“Lee is held in the highest regard by NACUA’s members, and election to board leadership is clear evidence of that esteem,” Santora said. “If you ask NACUA members what stands out most about Lee, though, I am virtually certain they would respond that it is the warmth, graciousness and generosity of spirit with which he treats everyone he meets. It is my honor to know and to work with Lee, and we all look forward to working with him when he becomes board chair at the annual conference in late June in Washington.”

Tyner’s former boss, Mary Ann Connell, served in the same role at NACUA in 1999. Connell works in private practice with the Mayo-Mallette firm in Oxford and is still active with the organization. She said she’s also not surprised by the choice.

“He is the most capable person I think I’ve ever known,” Connell said. “He’s an excellent choice to be board chair. He’s a great leader, he’s brilliant, kind, considerate and hardworking. He gets along with people beautifully. He has all the qualities you want in a leader for such a large organization like NACUA.”

Michael Eric Dyson to Deliver Keynote for UM Black History Month Event

Performances, film screenings and panel discussions also scheduled

Michael Eric Dyson

Photo courtesy Michael Eric Dyson

OXFORD, Miss. – Renowned author, educator and syndicated radio host Michael Eric Dyson is the featured speaker for University of Mississippi Black History Month observances in February.

Dyson, a sociology professor at Georgetown University, will deliver the keynote address at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 in Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at the Inn at Ole Miss. Admission is free and open to the public.

“I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Dyson speak at an MLK Day celebration several years ago,” said Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement and coordinator of the events. “He is a dynamic and engaging speaker who offers a provocative and fresh perspective on issues of race, politics and popular culture. The opportunity to hear his powerful message and voice is one our community won’t want to miss.”

All members of the campus community are welcome to take part in the upcoming events.

“We look forward to the opportunity to learn, honor and celebrate the achievements of African-Americans throughout history,” Mead said.

The observance officially begins Feb. 3 with a noon Kick-Off Celebration in the Ole Miss Student Union lobby. Featured participants are Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor for student affairs; Rosusan Bartee, professor of leadership and counselor education; and the UM Gospel Choir. Donald Cole, assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs, will present the 2015 Lift Every Voice Awards, which honor faculty and staff who have contributed to inclusion and diversity at the university. A reception follows.

Union Unplugged performances are scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Feb. 5, 10, 19 and 24. Entertainment will include the Gospel Choir on Feb. 19 and the Ole Miss African Drum and Dance Ensemble on Feb. 24.

Several film screenings are also scheduled. “Dear White People” shows at 5 p.m. Feb. 5 and again at 3 p.m. Feb. 8. Both screenings will be in the Turner Center auditorium. The satire on race relations at an Ivy League institution will be followed by a public discussion. On Feb. 7, a group of up to 30 UM students will travel to Memphis to see the Golden Globe-nominated feature film “Selma” and visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

A third film, “The New Black,” will be shown at 3 p.m. Feb. 12 in the Ole Miss Student Union Ballroom, Room 404.

The Luckyday Residential College dining hall will host a soul food luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 17. Students will be able to use their meal plans and faculty and staff will be able to purchase lunch at the regular rate. Complimentary tickets will be awarded throughout the month to students, faculty and staff in attendance at Black History Month events.

The observance continues Feb. 26 with an “Are You Ready?” dialogue at 5 p.m. at a location to be announced. Co-sponsored by the CICCE and the African-American Male Initiative, the discussion will focus on “Telling Our Stories: Living While Black-The African-American Male Experience.” The events conclude at 7:30 that evening with the Black History Month Concert in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, sponsored by the UM Department of Music.

“The Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement has worked to collaborate with other departments and student organizations to host Black History Month,” said Courtney Pearson, graduate assistant. “We have worked really hard to ensure that the events surrounding Black History Month are inclusive and engaging and are looking forward to interacting with those who come out.”

Dyson, who has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina and Columbia University, was the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University. He received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Carson-Newman College, graduating magnum cum laude, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in religion from Princeton University. His commentary on American culture has landed him on the “Nightline,” “Charlie Rose,” “Good Morning America,” “Today” and “Oprah” shows. He also has been on every major National Public Radio show.

Dyson has written for numerous academic publications, including Cultural Critique, Cultural Studies, DePaul Law Review, The Leadership Quarterly, New Art Examiner, JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Transition, Social Text, Religion and Literature, Theology Today, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, Princeton Seminary Bulletin and Black Sacred Music. He has been hailed for both his intellectual acuity and rhetorical gifts. As the Chronicle of Higher Education said, “He can rivet classroom(s) and chapel(s) alike with his oratory.” He has been called “one of the youngest stars in the firmament of black intellectuals” and lauded as “one of the most important voices of his generation.”

His 1993 debut, “Reflecting Black: African-American Culture Criticism,” won the Gustavus Myers Center for Human Rights Award in 1994. Dyson’s critically acclaimed follow-up, 1994’s “Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X,” was hailed as “a study that is as substantive and comprehensive as public criticism of such a figure can hope to be,” and was named Notable Book of 1994 by both The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

He has also written for scores of mass publications, including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Vibe magazine and Rolling Stone. Dyson has also been written about in Time, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, Current Biography and the New Yorker, and he has been featured in Essence, The Village Voice and on the cover of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Dyson has lectured across the nation and throughout the world in countless colleges, universities and public auditoriums. He won the 1992 Award of Excellence for Magazines from the National Association of Black Journalists.

For more information about UM Black History Month events, visit or call the Center for Inclusion at Cross Cultural Engagement at 662-915-2191.

Award Created for Environmental Toxicology Students

Recognition named in honor of influential former faculty member

Kristine Willett (left), William Benson and David D. Allen

Kristine Willett (left), William Benson and David D. Allen

OXFORD, Miss. – To honor a former faculty member and environmental toxicology research leader, the School of Pharmacy has created the William H. Benson Distinguished Graduate Student Award.

“I was honestly in disbelief when I first learned of the plans for the award,” said Benson, who served as a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the school for a decade. “I am just incredibly flattered and honored that it would even be considered.”

The award will recognize the most outstanding graduate student in environmental toxicology each year. Recipients will receive a plaque and monetary gift. Kristine Willett, professor of pharmacology, developed the idea for the award after realizing that other graduate programs had similar recognitions.

“Dr. Benson really spearheaded the environmental toxicology research program here at the University of Mississippi,” Willett said. “Many of his former students and mentees are still actively involved with our School of Pharmacy and provide networking opportunities for our current students.”

Benson joined the School of Pharmacy as a faculty member in 1988. He served as director of environmental and community health research at the school’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences before leaving in 1999.

The associate director for ecology at the Environmental Protection Agency fondly remembers his time at Ole Miss.

“The beauty of the pharmacy school was our ability to work across departments,” he said. “We worked together in the best interest of our students. It was so easy to work in a multidisciplinary culture because everyone pitched in. It was almost like a family, not a lab.”

Willett said that Benson continues to influence the University of Mississippi, despite being away from campus for nearly 15 years.

“As environmental toxicology-associated faculty members have prepared training grant proposals, Dr. Benson has volunteered his laboratories as internship locations for our students,” she said. “When I teach environmental toxicology, I use slide sets from short courses he has taught. Most importantly, he is always on the lookout for job opportunities for our students. At meetings, he enthusiastically encourages them and introduces them to other experts in the field.”

Benson said he hopes the award will give opportunities to deserving students who are dedicated to improving the state of Mississippi.

“I hope it goes to students who really believe in doing the right thing for the right reason,” he said. “I hope they work toward public, environmental good and that their work is beneficial to the people of Mississippi, while having impact on the nation and the world.”

To contribute to the William H. Benson Distinguished Graduate Student Award, send a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. For more information, contact development director Raina McClure at

UM Ranks Among Nation’s Best Online MBA Programs

U.S. News & World Report lists university in Top 25

Graduates from the online MBA program share their exhilaration at 2014 commencement ceremonies.

Graduates from the online MBA program share their exhilaration at 2014 commencement ceremonies.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s online MBA program is ranked in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 list of 25 Best Online MBA Programs.

UM tied Ball State University for No. 16. Other SEC schools on the list include Florida at No. 4, Auburn (No. 10) and Mississippi State (tied with the University of Tennessee at Martin for No. 18). Indiana University, Temple University and the University of North Carolina all tied for No. 1.

“We are very proud of the success of the online MBA program and the recognition of the incredible value this program provides to our students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “The fact that they can continue working and provide for their families while furthering their education is a wonderful opportunity. It is especially satisfying to be able to help our men and women in uniform to further their education.”

Besides this overall ranking, U.S. News & World Report ranks UM as a top university in the areas of:

  • Faculty credentials and training rank: 49
  • Student services and technology rank: 53
  • Student engagement rank: 35
  • Admissions selectivity rank: 20
  • Peer assessment score (out of 5): 3.1

MBA logo

UM’s online MBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The program may be completed in two years by taking two courses in fall, spring and summer. There is no residency requirement and students are not charged nonresident fees. More than 70 percent of the online students complete the MBA program in two years.

“We strive to be accessible to students through both predetermined interactions such as weekly discussion board meetings, in addition to the ability to ask questions to the class or professor,” Cyree said. “We also have several opportunities for students to meet face-to-face to develop connections with their classmates. The courses are rigorous and demanding and are a companion to our on-campus program, and in many cases the same professor teaches online and on-campus.”

The online program’s student population is a combination of young professionals and experienced, successful professionals.

“They are located from coast to coast and abroad,” said Ashley Jones, director of MBA/MHA Administration. “We have bankers, engineers and entrepreneurs. Along with those in the fields of business and accounting, we have students in the field of medicine that include a surgeon, anesthesiologist and a pharmacist. All have different career goals, and they each bring learning opportunities to the class.”

For more information about U.S. News & World Report rankings, visit For more information about UM’s online MBA program, go to


Museum Mini Masters Make Masterpieces

The UM Museum's Mini Master's program allow children to create works of art with their parents.

The UM Museum’s Mini Master’s program allow children to create works of art with their parents.

Young artists are invited to unlock their creativity this semester at the University of Mississippi Museum. The museum, in conjunction with the Powerhouse Community Arts Center, is hosting Mini Masters, a drop-in workshop series for toddlers and their parent or guardian.

The workshops give children ages 2 to 5 chances to create their own little masterpieces using works from renowned artists as inspiration. Tuesday workshops are at Powerhouse, ant the University Museum hosts the Thursday sessions.

Each workshop is $5 per family, and no pre-registration is needed. Sessions are from 3:45 to 4:40 p.m.

Workshop themes for the spring are:

Feb. 10, Powerhouse: Eric Carle-Style Mixed-up Animal Collages

Feb. 26, UM Museum: Messy Monet Prints

March 26, UM Museum: Under the Sea: Walter Anderson and Me

April 14, Powerhouse: Corduroy the Bear Paintings and Collages

April 30, UM Museum: Theora Hamblett’s Spring Games

May 12, Powerhouse: Olivia Splash Paintings

For more information, contact the University Museum at 662-915-7073 or the Powerhouse at 662-236-6429.

David Calder Named Leader in Law

Mississippi Business Journal honors UM clinical professor's stellar career

David Calder

David Calder

OXFORD, Miss. – For 20 years, Oxford attorney David Calder has made major contributions to various clinics in the University of Mississippi School of Law. Fittingly, the clinical professor recently received a 2014 Mississippi Business Journal Leaders in Law award and was chosen among the top 10 leaders from among the 40 honorees.

The fifth annual program recognized members of the state’s legal community for being astute, wise, knowledgeable and successful. Honorees also exemplify the noble tradition of the legal profession, win cases and solve problems with the utmost integrity, inspire and lead others with their skills and character, are role models and mentors, and are passionate and aggressive on behalf of clients and the community.

“I was quite surprised and grateful to be included,” said Calder, who directed the Fair Housing Clinic from 1994 to 1996 and returned to clinical teaching in 2000 as staff counsel. He recently became a clinical associate professor. Calder was also named as one of the top ten finalists for the Journal’s Lawyer of the Year Award.

“I enjoy working closely with our law students as they develop a practical understanding about practicing law, improve their professional skills and experience making a difference in the lives of the children we represent.”

Calder has also directed the Consumer Clinic, Domestic Violence Clinic and, for the last 10 years, the Child Advocacy Clinic.

“Our Child Advocacy Clinic is my favorite because we provide a much-needed service to our courts and local communities, and because I enjoy teaching my students to act as advocates for the children we are appointed to represent,” he said. “Our cases provide students with their first opportunity to act as lawyers in real cases, and the decisions reached in our cases have a permanent impact on the lives of the children we represent.”

Besides training students for the practice of law, Calder conducts pro bono activities, which are part of his professional obligations.

“I also work on post-conviction appeals in death penalty cases,” he said. “I was proud to be part of the team that recently won a new trial for Michelle Byrom, who had been on death row for 14 years.”

His colleagues, current and former students say Calder is most deserving of his honors.

“David is our most experienced litigator and is a great resource to all of us,” said Deborah Bell, professor of law. “He’s traveled a long road from part time to full time to a professor title.”

Laci Moore credits Calder with strengthening her research skills and making her aware there is more than one side to every story.

“I have learned that it is very important to take on each case and listen to each party involved with an open mind and hear from each party before coming to any conclusion in the case,” said the second-year law student from Pisgah, Alabama. “This lesson and experience has taught me to be diligent in searching for the truth because determining a child’s best interest is not something that should ever be taken lightly.”

Caitlyn Lindsey-Hood said she became a part of the positive change Calder effects daily among the families of northeast Mississippi.

“During my experience in working with Professor Calder, I learned the importance of keeping a strong focus on the purpose of your advocacy,” said the third-year law student from southwest Georgia. “When dealing with sensitive family matters, it is sometimes easy to be distracted or motivated by your own emotions, impressions or even concerns of practicality. But when your purpose is to represent a child, often a child who can barely speak for herself, you will not effect positive change without wholly and completely devoting your efforts to pursuing the very best outcome for that child, no matter what it means for anyone else involved.”

Cara Hall spent her third year of law school with Calder and three other students representing the poor in chancery courts throughout rural northeast Mississippi. During the experience, she found him to be intelligent, resourceful, articulate and, most of all, kind.

“I was so impressed by David’s empathy and ability to connect to people others had virtually given up on, such as single mothers, prisoners at Parchman and abused children,” said Hall, an attorney at Christovich & Kearney in New Orleans. “Although we were only student attorneys, David let us play important, pivotal even, roles in the cases. He trusted us. He gave us credit. But he also knew where to draw the line.”

Calder received a bachelor’s degree in religion from Mississippi College and a J.D. from UM, where he was a member of the Mississippi Law Journal and received the Mississippi Law Institute Scholarship. After law school, he served as law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerry A. Davis for two years before entering private practice.

Calder’s family includes his wife, Claire, and daughter, Laurie, 12.