UM Vice Chancellor Honored as Prestigious AAAS Fellow

Alice Clark cited for research achievements, service to National Institutes of Health

Alice M. Clark

Alice M. Clark

OXFORD, Miss. – Alice M. Clark, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs and Frederick A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy at the University of Mississippi, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Election as a fellow is bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers based on the candidates’ scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. This year’s 401 new AAAS fellows will be formally announced in the Nov. 28 issue of the journal Science, the largest peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with 1 million readers.

“This is an outstanding recognition of Vice Chancellor Alice Clark’s accomplishments,” said Morris Stocks, UM provost. “She is an exemplary educator and a distinguished scientist who holds the respect of her colleagues. Her commitment to excellence is matched only by her commitment to research and service.”

Being named an AAAS fellow is one of the highest honors in the sciences and engineering, one shared by only three other current UM faculty members. Clark joins Julius Cruse, professor and director of immunopathology in the UM School of Medicine, who was elected in 1970; Marjorie Holland, a professor of biology who was elected in 1991; and Steven Case, professor of biochemistry in the School of Medicine, who was elected in 2002.

Stephen Duke, research leader at the USDA Agricultural Research Service unit in the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research, also is an AAAS fellow, elected in 1993. Russell Aven, a retired UM professor of chemical engineering, was elected in 1960 and former pharmacognosy professor James McChesney was elected in 1995.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by this recognition,” Clark said. “I realize my good fortune to have enjoyed an exciting and fulfilling career at an institution that values scholarship and service to society. I also know full well that whatever accomplishments are attributed to me are, in truth, shared accomplishments with my many colleagues here at the University of Mississippi and throughout the country with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. I accept this honor as a tribute to our collective efforts over 35 years.”

A member of the organization’s Section on Pharmaceutical Sciences, Clark was cited for her “tremendous contributions to pharmacognosy of anti-infective agents, leadership in university science and stellar service to the National Institutes of Health review system.”

As part of that system, Clark has served on for many years or chaired scientific review panels that evaluate NIH and other grant applications to help the agencies fund the most promising research.

Clark earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Troy State University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmacognosy at UM. After spending a year as a Robert F. Welch Fellow at the Drug Dynamics Institute at the University of Texas, she returned to Ole Miss, where she helped establish the longest continually funded antifungal research program in NIH history.

Working in the School of Pharmacy, Clark and colleagues, including Charles Hufford, the school’s associate dean for research and graduate programs, found and patented several compounds that killed or inhibited Candida albicans, the fungus behind an opportunistic infection that threatens AIDS patients and others with compromised immune systems. The team’s research program has been funded by NIH since 1984 and has brought in more than $7.4 million and led to the identification of many new natural products.

They also developed a microbial model for predicting the human metabolites of primaquine, an antimalarial drug that produces hemolytic anemia in some people and to which some parasites have become immune.

Clark has authored or contributed to more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles and numerous invited book chapters, nonrefereed publications and presentations.

She also has served on NIH’s AIDS and Related Research Experimental Therapeutics Study Section and on the Biorganic and Natural Products Chemistry Study Section, and is associate editor of the Journal of Natural Products. She is a past president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy and an American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Fellow, a designation limited to the association’s top pharmaceutical scientists.

For her successes, Clark was awarded the university’s Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship in 1989 and the School of Pharmacy Faculty Research Award in 1993. She was named the director of the then-new National Center for Natural Products Research in 1996 and was named as a Frederick A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor in 1998.

Since 2001, she has served as the university’s chief research officer, working to increase awareness of the university’s research enterprise and serving as an advocate for all faculty researchers as they seek funding and recognition for their efforts.

“In her role as vice chancellor, Dr. Clark has made great strides in advancing scientific research in countless university programs,” said David D. Allen, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy. “Her commitment to research awareness has been demonstrated repeatedly through her many efforts at the national level, specifically by serving on National Institutes of Health scientific review panels. She even put together a Pharmaceutical Sciences session for the AAAS annual meeting last year.

“We are fortunate that she spent two decades working for the pharmacy school before assuming her current post. This incredible honor from AAAS is well-deserved, and I congratulate her on this achievement.”

In her role as vice chancellor, Clark coordinated the university’s involvement in Blueprint Mississippi, an extensive one-year research project focusing on how public and private sectors can strengthen and expand the state’s economy and competitiveness, and responses to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She also has overseen the development of Insight Park, the university’s research park, and its centerpiece, the Innovation Hub.

“Through visionary leadership, meritorious efforts and unwavering dedication, Dr. Clark has helped lead the University of Mississippi through a period of remarkable growth and scientific achievement,” Stocks said. “I am pleased that Dr. Clark has been recognized and selected for this tremendous honor. She has made a profound and lasting impact on the University of Mississippi. We are indebted to Dr. Clark for her countless contributions.”

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society. Founded in 1848, it includes 254 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Besides Science, the association also publishes the journals Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling.

The nonprofit is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and more. For more information, go to

Second Annual Egg Bowl Run Set for Monday

ROTC cadets to make the 100-mile run from Starkville to Oxford to deliver game ball

UM ROTC cadets on the first leg of the inaugural Egg Bowl Run in 2013. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

UM ROTC cadets on the first leg of the inaugural Egg Bowl Run in 2013. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

The advent of cooler temperatures signals the beginning of the holiday season and the chilly reminder that the annual Egg Bowl is right around the corner. This year, fans of the two Egg Bowl rivals have another event to look forward to before the main event’s kickoff on Saturday.

The second annual Egg Bowl Run takes place Monday (Nov. 24) as Army ROTC cadets from both the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University will cover more than 100 miles in two separate legs to deliver the game ball from Starkville to Oxford. Last year’s event was quite popular on social media. This year, members of the public may track runners’ progress in real time by visiting throughout the day, by following @UMEggBowl on Twitter or by following the hashtag #eggbowlrun on social media outlets.

2nd Annual Egg Bowl Run scheduled for Monday, Nov. 24.

Second annual Egg Bowl Run poster.

Not only is it an opportunity to honor cadets and veterans from all branches of our military during Military Appreciation Month, it’s a great way to support these programs. In fact, if you give to Ole Miss Army ROTC during the Egg Bowl Run this year, you’ll be eligible for some cool perks as well as be automatically entered to win the official Ole Miss game ball carried by cadets and signed by head coach Hugh Freeze. Other prizes include an opportunity to fire the cannon at Vaught-Hemingway during the Egg Bowl, joining the cadets and members of the Ole Miss football team during their walk through the Grove before the game and even the American flag flown over Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Check out the Ignite Ole Miss campaign site. They’ve already raised more than 15 percent of their goal, but with your help, they can easily reach $5,000 before the Egg Bowl Run kicks off early Monday morning.

If you aren’t able to give, go out and support our cadets along the route. They are estimated to arrive in front of the Lyceum around 9 p.m., and they’ll be making a quick loop around the Square before that time, so you’ll have plenty of time to grab a bite to eat before cheering them on during the last leg of their 50-mile journey.

UM Artist-in-Residence Creates Unique Opportunities for Students

Bruce Levingston

Bruce Levingston

In 2013, concert pianist Bruce Levingston, who was serving as the chancellor’s special adviser on the arts, was approached by University of Mississippi administrators to develop a program in which Ole Miss students would experience the art of classical music.

Levingston invited students to attend his performances around the country to get a behind-the-scenes look at how concerts are staged, to meet key players at each venue and to act as ambassadors for the university in each city.

Some students were even asked to participate in some of Levingston’s performances. Students Clarissa Brumley and Richard Culpepper both performed with Levingston in front of local schoolchildren in Lexington. The Ole Miss musicians played their instruments, trumpet and piano, respectively, and answered questions from the enthusiastic crowd.

Students also performed with Levingston at Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s event touting 2014 as the “The Year of the Creative Economy” at Power APAC Elementary in Jackson, attended a performance at the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson and visited Levingston in New York, where he invited them to his concert at Carnegie Hall.

Students also got to join Levingston as he played piano for the Boston Ballet premiere of “Close to Chuck.” Katie Shuford and Kate Prendergast ventured backstage to meet dancers, choreographers and other members of the Boston Ballet creative team. Shuford and Prendergast also visited the Boston Ballet School to see how the school was run and meet with the physical therapist who treats the dancers.

In August 2014, Levingston assumed a new role as Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College artist-in-residence and plans to continue providing students with opportunities to experience the arts.

Ole Miss’ Shackelford a Finalist for Two National Awards

One of 10 Finalists for Senior CLASS Award, One of 12 Finalists for Wuerffel Trophy

Ole Miss Football vs Boise State during the 2014 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Ole Miss Football vs Boise State during the 2014 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

OXFORD, Miss. – Deterrian Shackelford has had a long, winding journey as an Ole Miss Rebel.

His perseverance and pursuit of excellence were rewarded when he was announced as a finalist for two different national awards – the Senior CLASS Award and the Wuerffel Trophy.

The Decatur, Alabama, native already boasts a long list of honors in this football season, his sixth as a Rebel. He is a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and has been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and the SEC Community Service Team. He has also been tabbed Capital One Academic All-District and a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award.

He is one of 10 finalists for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes NCAA Division I FBS seniors who have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

He is one of 12 finalists for the 2014 Wuerffel Trophy, the national award that honors the college football player who best exhibits exemplary community service.

On the field, Shackelford is the starting Mike linebacker for the nation’s top-ranked defense that allows just 11.9 points per game. Fully recovered from the knee injuries that caused him to miss the entire 2011 and 2012 seasons, he has helped Ole Miss to an 8-2 record and No. 10 national ranking for one of its best starts in history. He ranks sixth on the team with 44 tackles along with 4.5 TFLs, two sacks, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. He is the first ever two-time winner of the prestigious Chucky Mullins Courage Award, which goes to the Rebels’ most deserving defensive player each year.

Shackelford already owns two degrees from Ole Miss. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in English in just three years, and he received a master’s degree in higher education this summer. He boasts a 3.57 grade point average in graduate school after posting a 3.36 in his undergrad studies.

He is equally committed to off-the-field service to his community. He is a highly sought-after speaker for community, school and religious groups, has volunteered for numerous community outreach activities, and has helped lead mission trips to Panama and Haiti the past two spring breaks.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in September. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through December 15. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches’ votes to determine the winner. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the football bowl season in early January.

2014 Senior CLASS Award Finalists

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Sam Carter, TCU

Chris Conley, Georgia

Cody Fajardo, Nevada

Devin Gardner, Michigan

Taylor Kelly, Arizona State

Eric Kendricks, UCLA

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

Deterrian Shackelford, Ole Miss

JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas

This is the 10th anniversary of the Wuerffel Trophy, an award named after former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, who led the Florida Gators to the 1996 national championship, played six years in the NFL and has received national recognition for his humanitarian and community service efforts with Desire Street Ministries, in New Orleans and around the country.

A committee, which includes the Wuerffel Trophy national directors, selection committee members and past winners, will vote on the winner, who will be formally announced on Dec. 9, 2014. The 2014 Wuerffel Trophy will be presented to the winner at the All Sports Association’s 46th Annual Awards Banquet on Feb. 13, 2015, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

For more information on the Wuerffel Trophy, visit

2014 Wuerffel Trophy Finalists

Ameer Abdullah – University of Nebraska – running back

Corey Acosta – University of Southern Mississippi – place kicker

Brennen Beyer – University of Michigan – defensive end

Chris Conley – University of Georgia – wide receiver

Andrew East – Vanderbilt University – long snapper

Bryce Haynes – Ohio State University – long snapper

Taylor Kelly – Arizona State University – quarterback

Trevor Knight – University of Oklahoma – quarterback

Greg Mancz – University of Toledo – center

Sam Rodgers – Syracuse University – long snapper

Deterrian Shackelford – University of Mississippi – linebacker

Dylan Thompson – University of South Carolina – quarterback

Kenneth Sufka is Carnegie-CASE Professor of the Year

UM psychology educator received prestigious honor in Washington, D.C.

Ken Sufka lectures to one of his classes.

Ken Sufka lectures to one of his classes.

OXFORD, Miss. – A respected University of Mississippi educator and researcher is this year’s Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching-Council for Advancement and Support of Education Mississippi Professor of the Year.

Kenneth J. “Ken” Sufka, professor of psychology and pharmacology, received the prestigious honor Thursday (Nov. 20) at the U.S. Professor of the Year Awards celebration in Washington, D.C. The program salutes the country’s most outstanding undergraduate instructors and is the only national effort to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

“When I first read the letter, I was flat-out dumbfounded. I had to read it again,” Sufka said. “The CASE-Carnegie Foundation Award is by far the most prestigious recognition one can receive in this profession. For CASE-Carnegie to think that the entire body of my academic work is worthy of such recognition is both overwhelming and humbling.”

In addition to an all-expenses-paid trip, Sufka got a framed certificate of recognition. Winners were also recognized at a congressional reception and have opportunities to participate in media interviews, speaking engagements, teaching forums and other events.

The university shares Sufka’s recognition, UM administrators said.

“Dr. Sufka is a role model at our campus and is now a recognized model of excellence to the nation,” said Richard Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “We are proud to have him as a faculty member at the University of Mississippi.”

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, said Sufka sets the bar for excellent teaching and creative scholarship among students and colleagues.

“(He) has produced more final theses with our high performing Honors students than any other professor on campus,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “The ethic of excellence that guides his work and interaction with our students creates a powerful magnetic attraction to those who want to push the boundaries of knowledge and wisdom.”

Sufka is most deserving of the award, said Michael T. Allen, chair and professor of psychology.

“I immediately felt a sense of pride for him and the Department of Psychology, but I wasn’t really surprised,” Allen said. “Dr. Sufka has won essentially all of the awards for teaching and service that the university bestows, and he has been a magnificent teacher and mentor of students for many years. What makes him so special is his love of teaching and his constant effort to become better and better at it, along with his sincere desire to have students succeed in his classes.”

Sufka earned his bacheor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Iowa State University. Before joining the UM faculty in 1992, he conducted research at Drake University, Des Moines University and Duke University. Sufka is a visiting research fellow at Newcastle University and an associate member of the UM Medical Center’s Cancer Institute.

“The University of Mississippi was a good fit for me when I was offered the position and it remains a good fit more than two decades later,” Sufka said. “It offered the right balance of teaching and research I was hoping to find in a mid-sized, flagship university located in a great little college town. While the university and Oxford have grown considerably, I am still able to find that perfect balance of teaching courses in psychology and engaging in laboratory research in neuroscience.”

Sufka said he is following in the footsteps of professors who taught and mentored him.

“I think all of us can point to a teacher/mentor that inspired and nurtured us in immeasurable ways,” Sufka said. “Professor Ron Peters at Iowa State University was that person for me. His love and enthusiasm for teaching, alongside a masterful ability to convey the most complex and interesting material, made it clear that I wanted to become a brain scientist and university professor.”

Sufka teaches several courses at UM, including General Psychology, Biopsychology, Psychopharmacology lab, Physiological Psychology and Teaching of Psychology seminar. A campus favorite among students and faculty alike, he has received the 1996 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, the 2005 Faculty Achievement Award and the 2006 Thomas F. Frist Student Service Award. His other awards and honors include Top 20 Psychology Professor in Mississippi, Distinguished Alumni Award from ISU’s Department of Psychology, Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association and Top 40 Under 40 Mississippian.

Sufka holds professional memberships in the Society for Neuroscience and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. With research interests in behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology, he has written more than 67 refereed papers, 10 book chapters and one book, “The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades” (Nautilus Publishing, 2011).

“I wrote that to help my students at UM to better transition from high school coursework to college level course work, or from lower division courses to the harder upper division courses,” Sufka said. “It is an academic survival guide of sorts that detail a number of bad habits commonly exhibited by students that contribute to poor grades and offers evidenced based tips/strategies that promote course learning and yield much higher grades.”

Many colleges and universities across the U.S. have used Sufka’s book for specific programs.

“Some schools, like UNLV and Washington State University, have given it out as a summer reading assignment for their incoming freshman classes,” he said. “This has led to my giving numerous faculty and student workshops on promoting students’ academic success across the country and here at UM.”

Sufka has been the principal investigator on grants and contracts totaling more than $660,000. A prolific author, he has presented more than 120 conference papers and abstracts.

Sufka has directed 12 master’s theses and eight doctoral dissertations. He is a regularly invited speaker at freshman summer orientation sessions and helped develop the initial Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College curriculum. He also volunteers with the Oxford-Lafayette County Habitat for Humanity.

CASE launched the awards program in 1981. That same year, the Carnegie Foundation began hosting the final round of judging, and in 1982 became the primary sponsor.

For more about the UM Department of Psychology, visit For more about the U.S. Professor of the Year Awards program, visit

Ole Miss MBA Program Ranked by Businessweek

New mark is highest national ranking ever for program

The University of Mississippi School of Business is located in Holman Hall.

The UM School of Business Administration is housed in Holman Hall.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s MBA program has been ranked 76th nationally by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The schools that made the ranking are considered by Businessweek to offer the strongest education and best preparation for business careers.

“We are very happy with the MBA ranking,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “This ranking reflects the hard work of our faculty and staff, as well as the board who has helped us in many ways. We are grateful for the recognition and will continue the good work to provide an excellent education and preparation to our students entering the workforce, and enhance the value of the MBA degrees for our alumni.”

MBA_76The MBA program has been ranked in the low 90s by U.S. News and World Report, but this is the highest national ranking it has ever received, said Del Hawley, the school’s senior associate dean. The program was ranked higher than other respected programs, including those at the University of Alabama, Oklahoma University and Baylor University, he said.

“The Businessweek ranking is exciting news!” Hawley said. “Clearly, our program delivers tremendous value to our students and is an increasingly attractive alternative to many larger and more costly programs.”

The rankings are based on student satisfaction, which includes school culture and academic quality; a survey from employers that hire those graduates to reflect career prep of the program; and the expertise of the faculty that administers the education, including articles published in business journals.

“This upward ranking trend reinforces what so many global employers, alumni and current students know: graduating with an Ole Miss MBA provides students with an educational cornerstone to succeed throughout their career,” said Chris Daniel, MBA Alumni Board president and a strategic buyer for Exxon Mobil in Houston.

Ann Canty, the MBA program faculty director, said she is thankful for student participation in the survey.

“We are aware that MBA students consistently tell us that school culture is important in selecting the right MBA program,” Canty said. “The unique aspects of the Ole Miss MBA program school culture were communicated very well by our students.”

The program’s goal is to increase enrollment with strong candidates and equip MBA students with the tools to succeed in a competitive workforce, said Ashley Jones, director of MBA/MHA administration.

“Support from our MBA Alumni Board makes our program unique,” Jones said. “The board realizes the importance of professional development and has created a series of professional development workshops to make Ole Miss MBAs stand out. Their time and dedication to prepare our students is an asset to our program.”

According to the findings, the Ole Miss business school has an average GMAT score of 550 for admitted students. The cost of the program for Mississippi residents is around $15,000 and the average salary of graduates from the program is $56,000 annually.

Renowned Pharmacognosist to Present Waller Lecture

A. Douglas Kinghorn returns to Ole Miss to discuss collaborative pharmaceutical research

A. Douglas Kinghorn

A. Douglas Kinghorn

OXFORD, Miss. – A. Douglas Kinghorn, professor and Jack L. Beal Chair in Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, will deliver the 2014 Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture at the University of Mississippi.

The lecture, “Pharmacognosy as a Collaborative Pharmaceutical Science,” is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday (Nov. 21) in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The pharmacy school and its Department of BioMolecular Sciences are hosting the free public event.

“I plan to point out in my talk that the discovery of new drugs and other interesting biologically active compounds from organisms such as plants, microbes and marine animals can most effectively be studied by scientists working in collaborative groups,” Kinghorn said. “This field of inquiry has a very promising future.”

Kinghorn received degrees in pharmacy, forensic science and pharmacognosy from the universities of Bradford, Strathclyde and London in the United Kingdom. He performed postdoctoral work at UM and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Kinghorn remembers his time at Ole Miss fondly.

“I worked for Dr. Norman Doorenbos, who at that time (1975) was professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacognosy,” he said. “From a professional perspective, I found my year at Ole Miss to be very valuable, since not only did I learn several new research techniques, but also I was given considerable independence to work on some grayanotoxins from rhododendron species that affect membrane sodium permeability.”

The recipient of numerous professional awards, Kinghorn has published more than 500 research articles, reviews and book chapters. His research interests are on the isolation, characterization and biological evaluation of natural products of higher plants of tropical and temperate origin. He has worked on antimicrobials, botanical dietary supplements, cancer chemopreventive agents, cancer chemotherapeutic agents and noncariogenic sweeteners and sweetness modifiers.

Kinghorn retains strong connections to the university, despite leaving Oxford some 40 years ago. He has recently served with Stephen J. Cutler, chair of the Department of BioMolecular sciences, on an external advisory committee for the Center of Research Excellence in Natural Products Neuroscience. His wife, Helen, will join him on his trip back to Ole Miss.

“We were married on July 17, 1976 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church,” Kinghorn said. “Helen has never been back to Mississippi since we left for Chicago shortly after getting married, so she is very excited to be accompanying me when I will give this special lecture.”

Cutler said he is thrilled that Kinghorn accepted the invitation to present.

“Dr. Kinghorn is a highly distinguished researcher and his lecture will be fitting for our annual recognition of Coy Waller’s great legacy,” Cutler said.

The Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture series was established in 2004 to recognize the former Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences director’s contributions to the field of pharmaceutics and to the pharmacy school. Each year, a department within the school hosts the lecture, and lecturers are selected for their contributions to the host department’s discipline.

For more information or assistance related to a disability, contact

UM Track and Field Champion Tailors Unique Degree through BGS Program

General Studies program allows for personal aspirations

Sam Kendricks, University of Mississippi senior, designed his own unique degree through Bachelor of General Studies.

Sam Kendricks, University of Mississippi senior, designed his own unique degree through the Bachelor of General Studies.

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – By now, just about everybody has heard about Sam Kendricks’ exploits – flying through the air at track and field meets all over the world – but only a handful know about his success designing an academic degree program.

In fact, that latter achievement has helped Kendricks, a University of Mississippi senior and reigning Southeastern Conference, NCAA and USA outdoor pole vault champion, excel in other areas during his time at Ole Miss. The degree program he helped design – his own – gave the 22-year-old from Oxford flexibility to compete as a student-athlete, train as an Army ROTC cadet and develop leadership skills.

Kendricks is part of a growing segment of UM students pursuing a Bachelor of General Studies, or BGS. These students want to take more control of their own career path and craft a plan of study that not only leads to a bachelor’s degree, but also helps them gain the knowledge and skills they feel will most likely help them excel at their own unique goals.

“An Ole Miss student was taking me on a tour of campus back when I was still in high school,” Kendrick recalled. “I remember something the student said that has stuck with me. ‘Ole Miss is whatever you put into it,’ she told me. I’m so glad that I have put everything I have into my time here.”

The university added the BGS program to its slate of undergraduate offerings in 2011. More than 500 students are constructing their own personalized college education by choosing from a wide variety of options to earn three minors and 30 hours of core courses. Students must successfully complete the courses for each minor with no grade below a C. They must also complete at least 30 hours of upper-level courses within their total requirement of 120 hours.

During the past three years as an Ole Miss student, Kendricks has followed a rigorous daily schedule that included early morning runs with his Army ROTC battalion, classes and course assignments, and afternoon training with the Ole Miss track and field team.

He chose three very distinct minors to craft his Ole Miss degree. The first, a minor in mathematics, was nearly complete after taking strenuous freshman and sophomore course loads while he was still undecided about the direction he might be headed career-wise.

“Math is something I’ll always use and have to fall back on,” Kendricks said. “It provided a structure that helped format a foundation of study for me. I hope I will be able to build on this further in the future.”

As he continued learning and growing as a competitive athlete, Kendricks realized that he has a talent for helping to motivate and train others. He then decided to begin his second minor field in the university’s recreation management program.

It was in these courses that one of his favorite instructors, David Waddell, shared more about leadership.

“He again brought home the idea that becoming a leader and manager is about the work and creativity that you put into the job,” Kendricks said. “After my athletic career is over, I want to use my education to coach, instruct, inspire and equip others with the skills to succeed.”

For his third area of study, Kendricks chose to minor in military science leadership. As a cadet in the Ole Miss Army ROTC officer-training program, he was already taking several of the required courses and had plans to be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army upon graduation. He will continue to train with the Army after graduation and to prepare as a leader if he is called to active duty.

“I have been so lucky to have all of the experiences I have had at Ole Miss,” Kendricks said. “My classes have prepared me for my future just like my athletic training is preparing me for the next level of competition. I’m happy that my education fits my goals and interests so well. I’ve learned so much, and I look forward to using what I’ve learned to continue chasing my dreams.”

His dedication will pay off next year as he graduates with his BGS in May and competes professionally around the world as a member of the Nike USA track team, all while beginning his career as an Army officer.

“So many of the students we see who are attracted to the Bachelor of General Studies degree program are creative, motivated and really thinking outside of the box – just like Sam,” said Terry Blackmarr, assistant to the dean of general studies. “Their career goals are unique, and they feel a variety of classes will better prepare them to achieve those aspirations.”

For more information about the BGS degree and a full listing of available minors at UM, visit studies.

Ole Miss Outdoors Offers Winter Ski Trip to Colorado

Space remains available for seven-day trip to Crested Butte

Ole Miss Outdoors heads to Crested Butte, Colorado on Dec. 13. Photo courtesy of Katherine Westfall.

Ole Miss Outdoors heads to Crested Butte, Colorado, on Dec. 13. Photo courtesy of Katherine Westfall.

OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss Outdoors is headed to Crested Butte, Colorado, for its annual winter trip, and spots remain available for any University of Mississippi students, faculty or community members who want to join the adventure.

The seven-day Rocky Mountain ski trip, set for Dec. 13-20, includes five days of lift tickets, a stay at the Grand Lodge, just 200 yards from the slopes, and airport shuttle transportation. Registration is $1,020 for students and $1,050 for faculty, staff and community members. Airfare is not included.

The trip is open to all levels of skiers and snowboarders and will include slopes for beginners as well as more challenging slopes for advanced skiiers.

This is the first time Ole Miss Outdoors has traveled to Crested Butte, giving participants a different experience this year. The week after finals is a great time of the year to go, graduate assistant Katherine Westfall said.

“It gives students an opportunity to relax after finals while still getting them home in time for Christmas,” Westfall said.

Ole Miss Outdoors offers about a dozen adventure trips each semester, ranging from stand-up paddle boarding in Tennessee and hiking in Alabama to larger semester trips, such as the ski trip.

The spring schedule will be released soon and will be available on the campus recreation website.

UM Focuses International Recruitment Efforts on India and China

With a goal of doubling international enrollment, officials recruit students in Hyderabad and Nanjing

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi officials have set a goal of doubling international student enrollment in five years, and officials from the UM Office of Global Engagement recently ventured into India and China to recruit freshman students from high-performing secondary schools.

Greet Provoost, director of the Office of International Programs, traveled with Jean Robinson, the office’s assistant director, to Hyderabad, India, where UM sponsored the Oakridge International School’s Model United National Conference, or OAKMUN. The conference brought together global-minded students from 30 schools around India and South Asia. Provoost also traveled to Nanjing, China, for the Jiangsu Star Student Search and met with prospective students to get the word out about UM.

“We are increasing awareness that we are on top of our game here at the University of Mississippi,” Provoost said. “We are letting prospective students and their parents know about our excellent academics, our incredible scholarship program, our safe and beautiful campus, and about the opportunities available to them as part of our campuswide focus on internationalization.”

University officials want to double international enrollment, which is nearly 1,000 students from 92 countries. To reach that goal, the Office of Global Engagement is partnering with schools, universities and media, as well as government and private agencies in target recruitment countries, with the goal of promoting the UM brand and its reputation for academic excellence.

At the suggestion of Univariety, a private enterprise commissioned by more than 300 Indian high schools, including Oakridge International School, to aid in college-abroad counseling, UM sponsored OAKMUN, which brought together more than 600 students and advisers from many of those schools.

Some of the strong selling points at OAKMUN were UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies and the university’s strong bachelor’s degree programs. Efforts to get attention from international students were helped by the Manning name and the movie “The Blind Side,” to which students often referred when talking with Provoost. Video clips and pictures prompted prospective students to say UM’s campus looked as nice as a resort. 

“Having the University of Mississippi on board with us at OAKMUN 2014 was a wonderful experience, mutually beneficial, and added significant value to the conference,” said Mohseena Hussain, activity coordinator for Oakridge International School. 

Her colleague agrees.

“It is clear that Oakridge International School and the University of Mississippi share a common objective – that is to impact students across the globe,” said Biju Baby, Oakridge vice principal for international curriculum. “We look so very forward to our continued association with the University of Mississippi through OAKMUN and any other opportunities which may arise.”

In the meantime, plans are being made for Provoost to be present via remote media at Oakridge’s upcoming parent meetings to further discuss opportunities at UM. 

Some of UM’s international freshman students come from countries such as Brazil, Oman and Saudi Arabia, whose governments offer generous scholarship funds and tuition grants for their studies in the U.S. Self-funded high-performing students may be awarded UM’s academic excellence scholarships.

“We’re always looking for good students and we’re always happy if they’re funded,” Provoost said. “It balances the scholarships we give to others. But in the end, we are looking to make sure every UM student graduates having had global exposure.”

While UM has its reasons for helping international students study on campus, students have their own motivations for studying in the U.S. and at UM.

For many years, India has produced a large number of graduate students to attend American universities. That holds true at UM, too, as the vast majority of its students from India are enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs. As India develops, the competition for an undergraduate seat in one of India’s top-tier universities is fierce, so many Indian high school graduates seek a first-rate undergraduate education in the United States instead. 

“Now, it’s either the best in India, or it’s the best abroad,” Provoost said. “Students want to get into top-notch American schools.” 

In China, UM participated in the Jiangsu Star Student Search scholarship contest, presented by IntroAmerica in collaboration with the Jiangsu Education Association. The contest engaged 300 high schools in Jiangsu province. More than 9,000 essays were submitted and pared down to 625 by judges in China and the U.S. The finalists were invited to meet with officials from American universities about enrollment and scholarship opportunities.

Efforts to recruit international students will continue in China, India and other target countries by the various offices that make up the Office of Global Engagement: Office of International Programs, Study Abroad Office and the Intensive English Program. 

“The experience of bringing people from all over the world to study at UM benefits all of our students as they prepare to step into a global economy,” Provoost said. “They will collaborate with, lead and manage, or be led or managed by people with different values, who may be fluent in other languages and view the world through a different lens. It is a privilege and an opportunity for all students to be able to practice those global skills while still in school. This global astuteness is a prereq to success.”