Fourth National Championship Underscores Law School’s Success

Student team bests squads from 13 other finalist schools

Patrick Everman, chair of the Negotiation Board and student coach; Drew Taggart; Brad Cook; and Professor Mercer Bullard, faculty coach

Patrick Everman, chair of the Negotiation Board and student coach; Drew Taggart; Brad Cook; and Professor Mercer Bullard, faculty coach

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law continues to pile on the accolades, recently winning its fourth national championship this year.

The latest championship, coming at the hands of Brad Cook and Drew Taggart, both third-year law students, was captured at the 2014 National Transactional LawMeets Competition April 4 in New York City.

Cook and Taggart, from Stonewall and Madison, respectively, beat 13 other national finalist teams including Boston College, Cornell University, Emory University and University of Tennessee, and won one of seven regional competitions involving 84 teams to earn a spot at nationals.

“This victory powerfully reflects the strength of the student body at the School of Law, as you can see from the quality of the other teams at the national finals in New York,” said Matthew Hall, senior associate dean and adviser to the moot court board.

“It represents an enormous success for Brad and Drew, who poured hours into this competition, but it is also a product of the efforts of the entire Negotiation Board, Professor Mercer Bullard and of the team. We are so proud of all of them.”

The national rounds were hosted by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s New York office. The competition asked teams to represent one of two sides in drafting and negotiating an acquisition of a biotechnology company. Over the past several months, the students drafted agreements, interviewed their clients and marked up opposing teams’ drafts. The national rounds of the competition culminated with rounds of face-to-face negotiations April 3-4.

“The problem was released mid-December and a lot of work was put in speaking with attorneys figuring out what to put in the acquisition,” Taggart said. “It was one of the most effective practical experiences I’ve had as a law student.”

Fourteen senior practitioners served as judges at the national rounds, hailing from workplaces such as Safeguard Scientifics, Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Pfizer, Rothschild Inc. and Bloomberg Law, among others.

“Some of the most encouraging words we received were from the judges who said they were willing to put us up against some of their fifth- and sixth-year associates,” Taggart said. “That was unbelievably encouraging.”

The UM law school’s Business Law Institute provides Taggart and other students with opportunities such as this. The institute, whose mission is “to train great business lawyers,” ties together a number of initiatives including:

- A Business Law certificate

- Negotiation Board that fields several intercollegiate competition teams

- 1L Skill Session course devoted to Contract Drafting and Negotiation

- Upper-level courses on Lawyers as Entrepreneurs, Client Interviewing and Counseling, and How to Do a Film Deal

- Transactional and Taxpayer Assistance Clinics

- Externships with governmental agencies that regulate business

- The Mississippi Business Law Reporter, a brand-new journal

- Business Law Network, a student group that recently organized the inaugural Business Law Conference

This structure, in combination with victories such as this latest triumph, seems to set Ole Miss law students apart.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students to work with faculty very closely, to write and to argue,” said Richard Gershon, the school’s dean. “This fourth championship was at Sullivan & Cromwell, one of the top law firms in the world, and our students were chosen to be the best. That says a lot.”

Taggart agrees with the significance of the win.

“My favorite part about this whole experience was learning that we can compete with anyone nationally,” he said. “I definitely learned people respect us.”

UM Announces Commitment to ‘Climate Neutrality’

Chancellor signs American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, renewing campus focus on environmental issues

Climate

Chancellor Dan Jones signs the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones announced a major campuswide commitment Tuesday (April 22) to the goal of making Ole Miss “climate neutral,” saying the university community is focused on making sure its operations will benefit the environment as much as they take away from it.

At the ceremony, Jones signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to which some 600 of his counterparts across the country also gave their signatures. Jones said UM, which is already perennially ranked as one of the most beautiful campuses in America, will continue to focus on being “good stewards of our Earth.”

“A lot of good things happen on this campus and our university every day,” Jones said. “Students’ lives are changed. We make an impact on our state, but as we are doing that in a modern society; consequently, we have negative effects on the environment, on the Earth. This is simply a commitment to joining with lots of other universities in saying we want to be the best stewards we can be.”

The announcement of UM’s renewed commitment to the environment came on Earth Day. Green Week also kicked off on campus Tuesday, bringing a weeklong focus on environmental issues and sustainability. Green Week culminates with an Arbor Day tree planting celebration among the many oaks in the Grove at 11:30 a.m. Friday (April 25).

The chancellor also expressed his appreciation of the local landscape’s natural beauty and said he was grateful for the wisdom of state leaders in choosing the then-rural site for the campus, which opened in 1848. The picturesque surroundings inspire UM employees and students to strive for the goal of climate neutrality, he said.

“I say thank you to those founders of this community who had the vision to think that this beautiful place in the woods would be a good place for this university,” Jones said. “I’m grateful not to be in an urban environment here. I’m grateful to be surrounded by beautiful trees, by rolling hills that we can see and appreciate. I’m grateful to be in a place where it’s inspiring to be better stewards of the environment and also a little bit easier.”

In April 2008, then-Chancellor Robert Khayat signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and two months later, the university established its Office of Sustainability.

“Sustainability is about efficiency in all things; it’s a smart way to live,” said Ian Banner, university architect and director of sustainability. “Do as much as you can with as little as necessary. Try not to waste, pollute or destroy. Respect what is around you and preserve it for coming generations.”

The Office of Sustainability is working on “green” building construction principles across campus to promote energy and water efficiency and environmentally conscious uses of building materials. Last fall, it also launched a compost pilot program, supported by the UM Green Fund, which has diverted one ton of food waste from the local landfill and produced beneficial soil enhancements for the campus garden at Residential College South. The office also runs an intern program that provides valuable experience for students.

The office also supports the establishment of the broad campus council for sustainability that is to be formed this summer. There’s an ongoing effort to fully understand how the university is affecting the environment, as well as an effort to determine other initiatives to be undertaken as UM pursues climate neutrality. Students, faculty and staff will be involved in all these efforts as the university continues to learn and make positive changes.

Jones thanked sustainability staff members who have kept the issue in the forefront at UM, including Banner and Anne McCauley, the office’s assistant director. Banner and McCauley thanked those who have been involved in the fight for sustainability.

“The Office of Sustainability is here to support and move these efforts forward, but it’s by no means something we do alone,” McCauley said. “We work with people all across campus.”

The chancellor also thanked poet and UM English professor Ann Fisher-Wirth, who directs the environmental studies minor and has been active in environmental issues. Fisher-Wirth said she sees the student body becoming more engaged in those issues.

“I’m especially grateful for the leadership from the university and also for the students who are just increasingly active and outspoken and so mindful,” Fisher-Wirth said.

The chancellor said the students have been one of the main driving forces behind UM’s commitment to climate neutrality.

“My highest thanks goes to our students, who are always our best inspiration for making this a stronger and better university on almost every topic,” Jones said. “Students, thank you for encouraging, cajoling, pressuring us to be a stronger and healthier university in lots of ways, including protecting our environment.”

Famed Civil Rights Leader to Speak at Law Commencement

U.S. Rep. John Lewis recognized as one of the nation's equal rights pioneers

Lewis

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law welcomes U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as the featured speaker at the school’s graduation, set for 11 a.m. May 10 in the Grove.

Lewis will speak at the law school’s individual ceremony, which follows the main university Commencement at 9 a.m.

“Congressman Lewis is a hero of the civil rights movement,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “He is a great speaker, and I know our graduates will benefit from him being here.”

Lewis, often called one of the most courageous people of the civil rights movement, is known for his efforts in protecting and securing human rights and civil freedoms. He is a nationally recognized leader and was one of the main players in the March on Washington in 1963.

“Lawyers can accomplish a great deal to build a more fair, more just society, and my history is living proof of their ability to help transform America for the better,” Lewis said. “I feel very honored to be asked to deliver the commencement address at the University of Mississippi law school.”

Lewis is the winner of numerous awards, including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom, as well as the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence and the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

He is senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

“As a member of Congress, he has had an impact on the law and has worked to make sure that every citizen enjoys the rights and protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution,” Gershon said.

The law school will graduate 152 students at the ceremony, which includes the keynote speaker, an address by Gershon, and an address by Marcus Williams, the law school student body president. Mississippi Bar President Guy Mitchell will also speak to graduates.

For more information about the law school’s commencement, please visit the law school’s commencement page.

April Science Cafe Focuses on State’s Energy Production

MMRI director speaks on fracking April 22 at Lusa Pastry Café

April Science Cafe

April Science Cafe

OXFORD, Miss. – Energy production in Mississippi is the focus for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The spring semester’s fourth and final meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. April 22 at Lusa Pastry Cafe, 2305 West Jackson Ave. in Oxford. Greg Easson, director of Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute at UM, will discuss “Energy Production in Mississippi through Hydraulic Fracturing.” Admission is free.

“Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the process of enhancing the characteristics of an oil and/or gas well to increase production,” Easson said. “While hydraulic fracturing is not a new process, advances in technology have made it possible to drill horizontal wells through previously unproductive geologic units and fracture the rock to economically produce the energy resources.”

Easson’s 45-minute presentation will include a discussion of drilling and hydraulic fracturing history, environmental issues associated with the processes, water use issues and a discussion of activities in southwest Mississippi. The talk will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Easson earned his Ph.D. and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri at Rolla and bachelor’s degree from Southwest Missouri State University. Before assuming his present position in 2010, he was chair and professor of geology and geological engineering at UM. Easson has also worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

His research interests are in the various aspects of Gulf Coast geology, remote sensing and geographic information system development.

For more information about Oxford Science Café programs, go to http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/oxfordsciencecafe. For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, go to http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/physics_and_astronomy/ or call 662-915-5311.

Award-winning Writer, Environmentalist to Present Earth Day Lecture

Rob Nixon to discuss 'slow violence' and its long-term impact on the earth and human beings

Rob Nixon

Rob Nixon

OXFORD, Miss. – Rob Nixon, the Rachel Carson and Elizabeth Ritzmann Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, will discuss the slow, yet violent, impact created by events ranging from toxic drift to climate change for the University of Mississippi’s Earth Day keynote lecture.

The lecture, which is part of the university’s 2014 Green Week celebration, is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday (April 22) in the Overby Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Ann Fisher-Wirth, UM professor of English, heard Nixon speak last year and knew he was a good fit for Earth Day events.

“I heard Professor Nixon speak at last year’s conference for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, a 1000-member organization with nine international affiliates,” Fisher-Wirth said. “His talk was so brilliant and far-reaching that I knew I would like to bring him to the University of Mississippi for our Earth Day Speaker’s Series.

“I hope that attendees will learn about the persistence of what he calls ‘slow violence,’ environmental violence that is inflicted on both the earth and human beings constantly, but that, since it is not sudden and catastrophic, is all too easy to ignore.”

Nixon asserts that because the destruction from these events is delayed destruction, it is typically not viewed as violence at all. Focusing on environmental activists from the global South, Nixon plans to link the emergencies of the long-term to creative efforts to infuse such emergencies with urgency.

“I hope that attendees will be inspired to further research, create awareness and take action,” Fisher-Wirth added.

Nixon is the author of four books, most recently “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor” (Harvard University Press 2011), which has been awarded an American Book Award and three other prizes. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and his writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Village Voice and The Guardian.

He has been a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a MacArthur Foundation Peace and Security Award.

The lecture is sponsored by UM environmental studies minor, the College of Liberal Arts, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, the Southern Documentary Project at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the English and history departments.

Nixon is the third annual Earth Day speaker. Sandra Steingraber, an environmental toxicologist, delivered the inaugural lecture, which featured the work and legacy of Rachel Carson, and addressed issues concerning fracking. Last year, Janisse Ray, environmental activist and poet, gave a talk about seed preservation, sustainability and biodiversity in agriculture.

UM Technology Management Division and Research Partners Land National Award

Technology transfer prize honors work to develop, study and bring pterostilbene to market

The University of Mississippi's Division of Technology Management has been jointly awarded a a Technology Transfer Award for their work to develop, study and bring to market pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries, grapes and other small fruits.

The University of Mississippi’s Division of Technology Management has been jointly awarded a a Technology Transfer Award for their work to develop, study and bring to market pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries, grapes and other small fruits.

OXFORD, Miss. and IRVINE, Calif. – A collaboration formed by the University of Mississippi’s Division of Technology Management, the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Natural Products Utilization Research Unit and natural products company ChromaDex Corp. has won a national award for excellence in technology transfer.

The three organizations have won a Federal Laboratory Consortium 2014 Excellence in Technology Transfer Award for their work to develop, study and bring to market pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries, grapes and other small fruits. In studies, pterostilbene has demonstrated promise for improving cardiovascular health, glucose levels and cognitive function.

The award will be presented this week during the 2014 Federal Laboratory Consortium National Meeting, being held April 21-23 in Rockville, Md. Walter G. Chambliss, UM director of technology management; Agnes M. Rimando, a research chemist with the USDA-ARS; and Tom Varvaro, CFO of ChromaDex (OTCQB: CDXC), will be on hand to accept the award.

“This award is a wonderful acknowledgement of the work our researchers and their partners at USDA-ARS and at ChromaDex have done,” Chambliss said. “These types of multidisciplinary projects allow us to share expertise and translate laboratory discoveries into commercial products with demonstrated health benefits.”

ChromaDex launched its pTeroPure® dietary supplement ingredient in 2010, licensing the technology from the university. The independent research company Frost & Sullivan awarded the product its 2010 North American Health Ingredients Most Promising Ingredient of the Year award. pTeroPure® is available in dozens of consumer dietary supplement products.

“ChromaDex is honored to have worked with UM and USDA-ARS on the research of pterostilbene and commercialization of pTeroPure®,” said Frank L. Jaksch, founder and CEO of ChromaDex. “This award recognizes not only the individual efforts of our team members but also the important impact that research and corporate collaborations can have.”

Pterostilbene is chemically related to resveratrol, a compound that is plentiful in the skins of red grapes. Resveratrol is thought to be at least partly responsible for the health benefits attributed to drinking red wine, which include cardiovascular health and cancer prevention.

Rimando began collaborating with Dennis R. Feller, former UM professor and chair of pharmacology, and others in 2003 to study the compound. Results of their work were presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in 2004 and attracted widespread attention.

Following the launch of pTeroPure®, researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center found that pterostilbene seems to help lower blood pressure in adults. The work, led by Daniel M. Riche, UM associate professor of pharmacy practice, was presented at the American Heart Association’s 2012 Scientific Sessions on High Blood Pressure Research.

“The purpose of research is to better understand our world,” said Alice M. Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “The process of ensuring that our research results have the greatest impact on society is broadly known as technology transfer. This prestigious award validates the University of Mississippi’s approach – pursuing quality research in a collaborative environment. It is exciting to see our discoveries making an impact both here and throughout the world, and for our people to be recognized for their contributions is always rewarding.”

The collaboration has also proven beneficial for ChromaDex, Varvaro said.

“The partnership with UM and the USDA is an example of private and government collaborations that not only work but also bring great benefits to all the parties involved,” Varvaro said. “By working together to further develop the licensed technology, we have accomplished more than we ever would have expected to do working on our own.”

About ChromaDex:

ChromaDex is a natural products company that discovers, acquires, develops and commercializes proprietary-based ingredient technologies through its unique business model that utilizes its wholly owned synergistic business units, including ingredient technologies, natural product fine chemicals (known as “phytochemicals”), chemistry and analytical testing services, and product regulatory and safety consulting (as Spherix Consulting). The company provides seamless science-based solutions to the nutritional supplement, food and beverage, animal health, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The ChromaDex ingredient technologies unit includes products backed with extensive scientific research and intellectual property. Its ingredient portfolio includes pTeroPure® pterostilbene; ProC3G®, a natural black rice containing cyanidin-3-glucoside; PURENERGY™, a caffeine-pTeroPure® co-crystal; and NIAGEN™, its recently launched branded nicotinamide riboside, a novel next-generation B vitamin. To learn more about ChromaDex, visit http://www.chromadex.com.

About the UM Division of Technology Management

The Division of Technology Management of the UM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs protects, manages and transfers intellectual property from the university to the private sector for commercialization. For more information on DTM, go to http://www.research.olemiss.edu/technology.

About USDA-ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit

The Agricultural Research Service is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The USDA-ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit focuses on discovery of natural product-based pest management solutions and research in support of minor and new crops. For more information on the ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, go to http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/usda/usdapage.html.

Consciousness Conference Bringing ‘World-Class’ Experts to Campus

Philosophers and cognitive scientists to discuss human and animal consciousness April 27-30 in free events

conciousnessOXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi hosts the “Conscious Thought and Thought About Consciousness” conference April 27-30, bringing “world-class” philosophers and cognitive scientists to campus.

The event is scheduled for the E.F. Yerby Conference Center, and all events are free and open to the public.

Leaders in several fields, including philosophy and neuroscience, will converge on campus to promote cutting-edge work in hopes of creating better understanding of human and animal consciousness, its relation to the brain and how humans think about sentient beings, among other topics, said Donovan Wishon, UM assistant professor of philosophy.

“What’s particularly remarkable about this event is that it will bring together scholars with vastly different views about consciousness, thought and the methods we should use to come to grips with the mind, its workings and its relation to physical reality,” Wishon said. “What’s more, the conference is intended to educate the students and the general public about how philosophy, and the humanities in general, can work side-by-side with the sciences to answer fundamental questions about who we are and what our place is in the world.”

The event is sponsored by the UM departments of philosophy and religion, and psychology, and the university’s College of Liberal Arts, the Office of the Provost, University Lecture Series and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. It’s also co-sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Philosophical Association and the Mississippi State University Department of Philosophy and Religion.

For more information, click this link to a website devoted to the event. For assistance related to a disability issue, contact the UM Department of Philosophy and Religion at 662-915-7020.

UM Social Entrepreneurship Projects to Benefit Wheelchair-bound Teen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gov. Phil Bryant to Deliver UM Commencement Address

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

UM Graduation to take place on May 10.

UM Graduation to take place on May 10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- School of Law – 11 a.m., Grove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because of campus construction projects, parking and transportation options have changed on campus. Guests are encouraged to check out parking and driving instructions at http://commencement.olemiss.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/90/2014/04/Commence2014_Parking5.pdf. A map showing construction zones road closures is available at http://beautiful.olemiss.edu/.

For more information on commencement activities, go to http://www.olemiss.edu/commencement/. For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7234.

World Class Teaching Program Leads Nation in National Board Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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