Students Present Range of Studies at Neuroscience Research Showcase

First-ever event for UM program raises awareness, provides opportunities for collaboration


The neuroscience research showcase is a tremendous learning opportunity for students.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s minor program in neuroscience recently hosted its first-ever research showcase, which gave about 20 students an opportunity to present their own studies to a panel of faculty judges.

The event also allowed faculty to give presentations and show posters about their research and talk about the overall scope of activities in their respective labs. One goal of the event is to help raise awareness about the neuroscience minor across campus.

“We hope collaborations might form out of these interactions during the event,” said Lainy Day, associate professor of biology and director of the university’s neuroscience program.

Rich Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the neuroscience research showcase is a tremendous learning opportunity for students.

“The showcase is important since undergraduate research is increasingly valued for graduate school admissions,” Forgette said. “The college is grateful to Professor Day and others for enriching our neuroscience program and supporting undergraduate research.”

Participants came from several university departments, including biology, psychology, communication sciences and disorders, biomolecular sciences, and pharmaceutics and drug delivery. Toshikazu Ikuta, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders; Janet Lambert, associate research development biologist; and John C. Garner, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, all served as judges at the event.

“It was encouraging and exciting to see the depth and passion for neuroscience research from the students,” Garner said. “They all did a very nice job with all aspects of their presentations and the question-and-answer session, making it very difficult to choose the winners.”

The following students won awards at the research showcase:

  • Amy Hribar, a graduate student in biology, won first place overall and first place in the behavioral neuroscience category for a presentation on “Bird on Live Wire: Cued Fear Conditioning in the Zebra Finch.”
  • Goutham R. Adelli, a pharmacy graduate student, won second place overall for a presentation titled “Ex vivo and In vivo Evaluation of Topical Hesperetin Matrix Film for Back-of-the-Eye Delivery.”
  • Glendin Pano, a senior biology major, won third place overall and second place in behavioral neuroscience for a presentation on “The Sexiest Birds Have the Largest Brains: A Positive Relationship between Display Complexity and Brain Volume in Manakins.”
  • Megan Jones, a senior biology major, won third place in behavioral neuroscience for a presentation titled “Male Lays Eggs: Chromosomal and Mate Preference Abnormalities in a Chimeric Zebra Finch Lineage.”
  • Walid Alsharif, a pharmacy graduate student, won first place in applied neuroscience for a presentation titled “Development of Dual Sigma Receptor Antagonist Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor as Potential Treatment for Stimulant Abuse.”
  • Pankaj Pandey, a pharmacy graduate student, won second place in applied neuroscience for a presentation on “Protein Structure-Based Virtual Screening: Identification of Natural Product-Derived Hits as Cannabinoid Receptor 1 Modulators.”

The wide range of research presented at the showcase demonstrates how many academic departments conduct neuroscience research in which students enrolled in the minor program can participate, Day said.

“These posters show you the variability within neuroscience and why we need this interdisciplinary neuroscience minor because people in the field of neuroscience are spread between at least four schools and eight departments,” Day said. “We want people to understand there’s a connection between all the areas of neuroscience, even if on the surface it doesn’t seem that way.”

Blues Legend B.B. King Lives on at Ole Miss

B.B. King continues to inspire through his collection in the Ole Miss Blues Archive

Trailblazer, celebrated Mississippian and blues legend B.B. King passed away in his sleep on May 14. He died peacefully at 89 after a half-century career of moving audiences with his music and live performances. But the thrill isn’t gone, B.B.; it’s just found in a different place.

For those not aware, between 1982 and 1983, King donated 8,000 sound recordings from his personal collection to UM’s Blues Archive, which, including King’s generous donation, features more than 60,000 sound recordings, 20,000 photographs and 1,000 videos housed at the J.D Williams Library. The Blues Archive is one of the world’s largest public collections of blues recordings, publications and memorabilia.

B.B. King performing live, date unknown. Photo courtesy of UM Blues Archive in Special Collections at J.D. Williams Library.

B.B. King performing live, date unknown. Photo courtesy of UM Blues Archive in the J.D. Williams Library.

Greg Johnson, blues curator at J.D. Williams Library and associate professor, has had the unique ability to wade through King’s collection to honor the great musician and witness the lasting footprint of an icon.

“The amount of people he influenced and the reach of his music cannot be diminished,” Johnson said. “B.B. was a lifelong learner. He always tried to better himself. In his collection he had countless books trying to teach himself while constantly on the road performing.”

Brett Bonner, editorial director at Living Blues Magazine, also worked for a short time at the Blues Archive and has seen his fair share of the monstrous collection.

“You can tell a lot about a man by his record collection,” Bonner said. “While working on the radio show ‘Highway 61′ with Bill Ferris (first director of Southern studies and the Blues Archive), I was able to look and pull from B.B.’s collection as far as I wanted. It featured thousands of LPs. I felt I learned more about him looking through his collection; I could figure out what kind of music excited and influenced him.”

King has always been regarded as a kind and gracious man, always treating people the right way, but he was also an avid learner. It is fitting that UM is able to house and chronicle his unique collection since it features not only recordings of other musicians, but also books, manuscripts and materials signifying how King never stopped learning.

“He always tried to better himself,” Johnson said. “In his collection, I found foreign language books that he would study to learn common phrases in order to speak to audiences when he would tour around the world.”

“I found a pilot book because B.B. was a trained pilot,” Bonner said. “And you wouldn’t believe it, but I also found a copy of a book detailing how to play the guitar!”

King made it a point to come back to Mississippi. In 2004, the university gave him the title of Honorary Professor of Southern Studies, one of many distinguished titles he had received from numerous universities. Johnson publicly interviewed King for the ceremony.

“It is a testament to the various universities honoring him with degrees and doctorates,” Johnson said. “When I got to publicly interview him, he was such a gracious and kind man, very down to earth.”

“B.B. would always come back to give concerts,” Bonner said. “Whether it was his homecoming concert in Indianola or the Medgar Evers Memorial Blues Concert, B.B. felt it was really important for him to be there.”

King influenced millions of people with his music. Countless musical genres, such as rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, gospel, jazz and more, can thank the work of King and his beloved Gibson guitar, Lucille.

“The amount of people he influenced and the reach of his music is unbelievable,” Johnson said. “Blues is the biggest cultural export of the state, and B.B. truly was an ambassador. He wasn’t one just for the blues or Mississippi, but for the entire United States.”

So whether in Mississippi, California or even Russia, people around the world will still find solace in the music King made, knowing he is in a better place.

For more heartfelt responses from UM and its family on the passing of B.B. King, read Johnson’s blog,

Registration Open for Museum Summer Camps

Variety of weeklong sessions provide art, education for children of all ages

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum is registering participants for a variety of summer camp sessions that will have children traveling back in time, journeying to faraway lands and creating art inspired by their surroundings.

Camp sessions will have children traveling back in time, journeying to faraway lands and creating art inspired by their surroundings.

Camp sessions will have children creating art inspired by their surroundings.

Camps begin the week of June 8 and continue through the week of July 24. Each session runs Monday-Friday for one week. For family-level museum members, the fee is $60 for each weeklong session per participant. For nonmembers, the fee is $80. All supplies and snacks are included.

Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Parents can pick up a registration form at the museum or, for the first time, register online here.

The exciting and educational camps are inspired by the museum’s collections, including rarely-seen artifacts from the museum vault.

“Summer is always a busy and exciting time at the museum, and we are looking forward to exploring a variety of engaging themes with our elementary-aged participants, introducing our youngest mini masters to the museum with a grown-up, and delving a little deeper into artistic explorations with our middle school camp,” said Emily Dean, the museum’s curator of education. “‘Potato: Art or Dinner’ and ‘Myths, Monsters and Faraway Lands’ are already booked.”

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From ancient civilizations to modern marvels and all points in between, each session promises new adventures.

From ancient civilizations to modern marvels and all points in between, each session promises new adventures, so even children who participated last year will find new experiences. Besides camp sessions for children entering grades 1 through 5, a special “Meet Me at the Museum – Mini Masters” session will provide fun and learning for children ages 3 to 5 and the adults who join them. (Due to university policy, children under 5 must be accompanied by an adult.) “All About Art: Middle School Edition” will introduce children entering grades 6-8 to illustrating, painting, drawing, sculpting and more.

For more information about the museum’s 2015 Summer Camp, visit or email

This year, the University Museum is celebrating 75 years of exhibition and service to the community. Located at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street, the museum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.

Cherished Friendship Leads to Memorial Pharmacy Scholarship

Ben Taylor Smith Memorial Pharmacy Endowment honors alumnus

Bob Buchanan (left), Sara Taylor Jenkins, Gloria Smith and David D. Allen

Bob Buchanan (left), Sara Taylor Jenkins, Gloria Smith and David D. Allen

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ben Taylor Smith Memorial Pharmacy Scholarship Endowment has been created to honor a University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy alumnus and provide support to the school’s students.

“Ben Smith was one of the closest and dearest friends I have ever had,” said Robert Buchanan (BSPh 59), Smith’s college roommate. “Pharmacy was a very important part of our lives.”

A gift from Buchanan and his wife, Georgia, initiated the scholarship. Upon learning of the Buchanans’ gesture, Gloria Franks Smith, Ben Smith’s widow, also contributed to bring the scholarship to endowment level. Her gift assured permanent recognition of her husband while meeting the needs of pharmacy students for generations to come.

The $25,000 endowment will provide assistance to students who are Mississippi residents in the professional pharmacy program with a grade-point average of at least 2.5.

Gloria Smith said she was delighted that Bob Buchanan chose to honor her husband’s legacy.

Ben Taylor Smith

Ben Taylor Smith

“Bob is a generous and caring man, and it is evident that he loved Ben Taylor Smith as Ben loved Bob,” said Gloria Smith, of Booneville. “The Buchanans are lifelong, special friends who have made an impact on our family. I know that both Bob and Ben will be remembered because of this scholarship.”

Ben Smith and Bob Buchanan came to Ole Miss as freshmen in fall 1954. They pledged Sigma Chi and in 1958 were among the first students to room in the fraternity’s new house. Coming from families with pharmacy backgrounds, the men graduated with Bachelor of Science in pharmacy degrees in 1959.

Smith and his friends were the quintessential Ole Miss gentlemen, Gloria Smith said. Her husband used to tell her about the “beautiful Ole Miss coeds” and the “glory days” of the John Vaught football era, she said.

“We saw Coach Vaught about 2004, and Ben – quite out of character – stopped him and his group to ask for an autograph for our young granddaughter,” Gloria Smith said. “Coach Vaught obliged, signing a brief note and signature on a paper napkin for us. Ben was so proud of it.”

As seniors, Buchanan and Smith commuted to Batesville and worked in pharmacies making just one dollar per hour to gain experience before entering the working world.

After graduation, the two friends parted ways. Buchanan worked in Columbia for his uncle Sid Armstrong (BSPh 27) – whom he honored with a scholarship in 1985 – before returning to Jackson. Smith went to work for a pharmacy in West Point, but ultimately returned to his roots in Booneville and worked for his father, Ben C. Smith (PhG 24). After his father passed away, Smith became owner of Smith Drugs and worked there for 55 years.

“Ben was fair, honest and respected,” Gloria Smith said. “The business was built on Christian principles from the beginning by his father and has been continued for 88 years.”

Smith and Buchanan’s friendship lasted well beyond their years at the School of Pharmacy.

“Ben and I had a lifelong friendship and continued to get together after we graduated,” Buchanan said. “We would go to New Orleans for the weekend and see each other at Ole Miss functions, ball games and Sigma Chi meetings. We were close friends.”

Gloria Smith said she hopes that the students who benefit from this endowment will be dedicated to pharmacy and honor what her husband stood for: the patient. She recalled an example of his relationship with customers.

“One lady told me a few months ago that she had planned to bring her new great-granddaughter to the store last spring for a picture with Ben because the little girl would have been a fifth-generation family member for Smith Drugs,” Gloria Smith said. “Ben was a trusted pharmacist and friend to his customers.”

To contribute to the Ben Taylor Smith Memorial Pharmacy Scholarship Endowment, mail 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

Student Conducts First Study on Autistic Adults’ Quality of Life

Research outlines essential roles of family and friends

Krutika Jariwala-Parikh

Krutika Jariwala-Parikh

OXFORD, Miss. – A doctoral student in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy has conducted the first U.S. study on quality of life among adults with autism.

Krutika Jariwala-Parikh, who graduated in May with a Ph.D. in pharmacy administration, wrote her dissertation on “Quality of Life and Health Care Utilization and Costs among Adults with Autism.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Jariwala-Parikh’s study focuses on how the disorder affects adults – the first of its kind.

Rahul Khanna, assistant professor of pharmacy administration, and Donna West-Strum, professor and chair of pharmacy administration, worked with Jariwala-Parikh on the project. Both faculty members were co-chairs on her dissertation committee.

“While I was exploring potential dissertation topics in the autism area, Dr. Khanna suggested looking at adults with autism,” Jariwala-Parikh said. “After doing a detailed literature review in that area, I realized that very few studies focused on outcomes among adults with autism.”

Khanna, who has previously conducted autism-related research, helped Jariwala-Parikh with various facets of the study such as conceptualization and data analysis. They acquired data by surveying autistic adults who were registered with the Interactive Autism Network. The surveys sought to determine whether coping technique, social support, severity of autism and functional independence had an impact on the respondents’ quality of life.

Jariwala-Parikh found that how adults cope with autism has a profound influence on their quality of life. Her dissertation outlines three key areas where family and friends of individuals with autism can play an essential role: helping with social support, functional independence and coping.

“The results of the study suggest that better coping abilities, social support and functional independence can lead to better quality of life among adults with autism,” Jariwala-Parikh said. “Some of the negative effects of severity of autism can also be reduced if better coping and social support is provided to these individuals. The results of this study can direct clinicians and family members’ focus on issues, which are modifiable and can be improved – such as better social support and coping – to ensure better health among this population.”

The study is timely, as Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed an autism insurance reform bill into law March 26.

“I commend Dr. Jariwala-Parikh and her colleagues for focusing on such an important topic,” West-Strum said. “Her study provides insight into the types of interventions needed to improve quality of life in patients with autism.

“It is exciting to see how this research provides support for the Mississippi autism insurance reform bill. It will be important for researchers to continue this research to advance patient care for autism patients.”

Khanna agreed that the research has great potential to influence policy and patient care.

“We feel that policymakers, health care practitioners and family members could use our results to better assist individuals with autism in improving their quality of life,” he said. “Health care practitioners could emphasize the provision of support and the use of positive coping when providing treatment to individuals with autism. Policymakers could invest in developing interventions that teach autistic individuals about positive coping techniques.”

The study was funded through grants from the Organization for Autism Research and the UM Graduate Student Council. Jariwala-Parikh commended those who helped her with the project.

“I’d like to extend thanks to my co-chairs and other faculty members in the pharmacy administration department,” she said. “I would especially like to acknowledge all of our study respondents for their participation.”

UM Physicists Celebrate Advance in Search for Gravitational Waves

Seven years in making, international collaboration yields futuristic technology

Photo Illustration

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OXFORD, Miss. – An international collaboration of scientists, including those at the University of Mississippi, is thrilled with a major equipment upgrade that will greatly aid the search for gravitational waves, black holes and other interstellar phenomena.

The Advanced LIGO Project increases the sensitivity of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories instruments by a factor of 10 and provides a 1,000-fold increase in the number of astrophysical candidates for gravitational wave signals. The system was officially dedicated May 19 in a ceremony at the LIGO Hanford facility in Richland, Washington.

“We’ve spent the past seven years putting together the most sensitive gravitational-wave detector ever built,” said David H. Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Project and a scientist at the California Institute of Technology. “Commissioning the detectors has gone extremely well thus far, and we are looking forward to our first science run with Advanced LIGO beginning later in 2015. This is a very exciting time for the field.”

Marco Cavaglia, UM associate professor of physics and astronomy and Ole Miss LIGO Project director, concurred.

“The LIGO Team at UM would like to express heartfelt thanks to all LIGO Lab and LIGO Scientific Collaboration colleagues who have worked so hard to make Advanced LIGO a reality,” Cavaglia said. “The success of LIGO to date is a remarkable accomplishment and a major milestone for our field. The next few years will no doubt be quite exciting.”

For a complete review of LIGO research at Ole Miss, visit

LIGO was designed and is operated by Caltech and MIT, with funding from the National Science Foundation. Advanced LIGO, funded by the NSF with important contributions from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Max Planck Society of Germany and the Australian Research Council is being brought online, with the first searches for gravitational waves planned for the fall of 2015.

The ceremony featured remarks from speakers, including Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics; Professor of Physics B. Thomas Soifer, the Kent and Joyce Kresa Leadership Chair of Caltech’s Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy; Kirk Kolenbrander, MIT vice president; and France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation.

“Advanced LIGO represents a critically important step forward in our continuing effort to understand the extraordinary mysteries of our universe,” says NSF director Córdova. “It gives scientists a highly sophisticated instrument for detecting gravitational waves, which we believe carry with them information about their dynamic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot be obtained by conventional astronomical tools.”

Several international partners provided significant contributions of equipment, labor and expertise:

The UK partners supplied the suspension assembly and some optics for the mirrors whose movements register the passage of the gravitational waves; this has been funded via Britain’s STFC.

The German contribution was the high-power, high-stability laser whose light measures the actual movements of the mirrors; this has been funded via the Max Planck Society in Munich and the VolkswagenStiftung. The laser system was developed at the Albert Einstein Institute and the Laser Zentrum Hannover.

An Australian consortium of universities, led by the Australian National University and the University of Adelaide, and supported by the Australian Research Council, contributed the systems for initially positioning the optics and then measuring in place the optics curvature to nanometer precision.

The University of Florida and Columbia University assumed specific responsibilities for the design and construction of Advanced LIGO. Other members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, with NSF and/or other funding, participated in all phases of the effort.

Predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 as a consequence of his general theory of relativity, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time produced by violent events in the distant universe, for example, by the collision of two black holes or by the cores of supernova explosions. Gravitational waves are emitted by accelerating masses much in the same way as radio waves are produced by accelerating charges, such as electrons in antennas. As they travel to Earth, these ripples in the space-time fabric bring with them information about their violent origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot be obtained by other astronomical tools.

Although they have not yet been detected directly, the influence of gravitational waves on a binary pulsar system (two neutron stars orbiting each other) has been measured accurately and is in excellent agreement with the predictions. Scientists therefore have great confidence that gravitational waves exist. But a direct detection will confirm Einstein’s vision of the waves and allow a fascinating new window into cataclysms in the cosmos.

For more information about the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, including Advanced LIGO, visit

Board of Trustees Appoints Provost Morris Stocks as Interim Chancellor

Chancellor Dan Jones will take personal leave beginning June 15

OXFORD, Miss. — University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones has made plans to take personal leave beginning June 15. The Board announced today that it has authorized Morris Stocks, UM provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, to act with full authority on behalf of the chancellor during that leave.

“It’s with a mixture of sadness and joy that I make this transition,” Jones said. “I’m certainly sad to not continue my role as chancellor but joyful both by the appointment of Provost Morris Stocks as our next leader and joyful for my 30-year association with the university and my 12 years of leadership: six at the medical center and six as chancellor. Provost Stocks is responsible for many of the decisions that led to our rapid growth in enrollment and improvement in important metrics such as our freshman to sophomore retention rate. I know all the constituencies of our great university will support Dr. Stocks’ leadership in the coming months.”

The Board of Trustees also appointed Stocks as interim chancellor, effective Sept. 15, until a permanent chancellor takes office.

“Dr. Stocks is an exceptional academic leader, and we appreciate his willingness to serve as interim chancellor,” said Glenn Boyce, commissioner of higher education. “With 24 years of service at Ole Miss, Dr. Stocks is dedicated to the university and its students. He is certainly the right person to fulfill this important role for the faculty, staff, students and alumni.”

Immediately before assuming the provost responsibilities, Stocks served the university as senior vice chancellor for planning and operations and as dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy. During his tenure as dean, the Patterson School was ranked as one of the top 25 accounting programs in the country for the first time in its history. Before his service as dean, Stocks was the associate provost for three years, with responsibilities for the academic budget and undergraduate curriculum.

“I consider it a high privilege to serve the University of Mississippi in a new and exciting capacity over the next several months,” Stocks said. “In recent years, our university has experienced tremendous progress and wonderful success in providing outstanding educational and research opportunities. I look forward to helping the university maintain that momentum.”

Stocks received his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina and is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Mississippi. He has been a member of the UM faculty since 1991 and remains active in the teaching and research missions of the accounting program. He is the 1998 recipient of the university’s most prized teaching honor, the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award. Stocks’ research considers the impact of financial accounting information on the decision-making process of users. He has published in many of his profession’s top academic and professional journals.


Daily Mississippian Named a Top 3 Collegiate Newspaper

Award honors entire staff involved in all phases of publication's production


Front page of The Daily Mississippian from Dec. 5, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Daily Mississippian has been named one of the nation’s top three collegiate daily newspapers by the Society of Professional Journalists as part of the group’s prestigious Mark of Excellence Awards.

The Daily Mississippian was honored as a finalist in the SPJ’s “best all around” large daily newspaper category. The other finalists were The Daily Bruin of the University of California at Los Angeles and The State News of Michigan State University. The State News won top honors overall.

Lacey Russell

Lacey Russell

Lacey Russell, a senior journalism major from Tupelo, and Adam Ganucheau, who graduated from UM in 2014, served as editors-in-chief during the period the newspaper was honored. During Russell’s staff’s first meeting to begin the 2014-2015 school year, her team set a goal to be one of the hardest working staffs in the nation.

“It was a huge honor just to win in our region and I never imagined that we would go on to be a national finalist,” Russell said. “It’s exciting and also extremely gratifying to see all of our hard work pay off.”

Ganucheau, a native of Hazlehurst who graduated in 2014 with a degree in journalism, is a reporter for Alabama Media Group in Birmingham. He said that when he became DM editor for the 2013-2014 school year, the staff set a goal to provide “high-quality, meaningful journalism for our campus and community.”

“We were able to experience firsthand the impact a strong college newspaper can have on a campus,” Ganucheau said. “I truly marveled every single day at the talent we had on staff at The DM, so it comes as no surprise to me whatsoever to have been selected as a top student newspaper in the country by SPJ. They earned every single bit of it and I couldn’t be more proud of the year we had.”

In 2014, UM student journalists tackled a first-person enterprise piece on running. They told the personal story of how residents in a local mobile home park were being affected by new retail development in Oxford. Among the other work honored by the SPJ: articles on the hanging of a noose around the neck of the James Meredith statue on campus and an in-depth profile of Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, who helped bring the school’s football team back to national prominence. 

Adam Ganucheau

Adam Ganucheau

Patricia Thompson, director of UM Student Media and an assistant professor of journalism, is faculty adviser for The Daily Mississippian. She notes that the nation’s top student newspapers enter the SPJ contest, so the competition is especially tough.

“The award honors the excellence of the entire staff – the editors, writers, designers, photographers and cartoonists who spend many hours each night producing the newspaper,” Thompson said. “We were blessed the past two years with strong leadership from journalism and liberal arts majors, as well as design and photography and writing guidance and advice from journalism faculty.”

Will Norton Jr., dean of Meek School of Journalism and New Media, credits Thompson’s expert instruction and student mentoring.

This honor is the result of Pat Thompson’s great work,” Norton said. “She recruits committed students. She mentors them, and she supports their efforts. She has elite media experience and brings years of accreditation reviews and great common sense to her position as director of the Student Media Center.”

Charlie Mitchell, assistant dean of the school, credits the passion and drive of the students who work at the media center, along with Thompson for being an inspirational resource for them. Thompson instills a passion for quality and attention to detail in the students she works with, which has served them well in their reporting, editing, photography and design, he said.

“As it happened, the competition period covered an especially ‘newsy’ period on campus, and the students rose to the challenge of reporting tough stories aggressively and in keeping with the standards of the Society of Professional Journalists,” Mitchell said.

UM Launches Wellness and Physical Activity Credential for Teachers

Mississippi Department of Education to offer new endorsement based on Ole Miss curriculum

Wellness and Physical Activity Endorsement

Wellness and Physical Activity Endorsement

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education has launched a new license endorsement in wellness and physical activity for K-6 teachers based on a specialized program designed by education faculty at the University of Mississippi.

This fall, the UM School of Education will begin offering a 12-hour curriculum in wellness and physical activity for elementary education majors who seek to understand the correlations between cognition, physical activity and overall wellness. All students who complete these courses will qualify for the new credential as part of their teaching licenses.

“Our goal is for our students to teach in a way that benefits the whole child,” said Alicia Stapp, assistant professor of wellness and physical activity and coordinator of the program. “Integrating wellness and physical activity into academics benefits all forms of intelligence including academic, physical and social.”

Stapp, a veteran of public schools in central Florida, joined UM to design the new program in 2014 after the School of Education obtained $1.2 million in private funding from the Bower Foundation in Ridgeland to create the wellness program in 2013.

The new endorsement is no typical PE program. In fact, the physical aspect of this methodology is only a small piece of the puzzle. The Ole Miss program focuses on what happens in the minds and bodies of children who are active in a well-designed academic environment.

In essence, the goal is to prepare teachers to jumpstart children’s brains to optimize their capacity to learn and generate positive health outcomes. Wellness education graduates will create and implement lesson plans that integrate music and movement while also focusing on academics.

UM’s coursework utilizes extensive research that shows a direct link between health, physical activity, academic achievement and student behavior. Other research also suggests that incorporating physical activity in a classroom for just 20 to 30 minutes a day could help prevent troublesome conditions such as obesity or Type 2 Diabetes.

With more than 400 students, elementary education is the largest professional major at Ole Miss and graduates should start to emerge with this training within a year.

“The strength of the wellness and physical activity endorsement is that it provides pre-service teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to integrate movement and wellness into the existing curriculum,” said Susan McClelland, chair of the Department of Teacher Education. “This integrated approach can transform a classroom and greatly enhance student involvement in the learning experience and thus, impact student achievement.”

The university’s eventual goal is to place small cohorts of wellness education graduates in individual schools to help shift school cultures in a positive direction.

For more information about UM’s endorsement program in wellness and physical activity visit

UM Announces Effort to Honor Chancellor Jones

$1.5 million faculty support fund finds eager support

UM Chancellor Dan Jones (second from left), pictured with wife Lydia (left), receives a surprise announcement from UM Foundation Board Chair Rose Flenorl (second from right) and board member Suzan Thames that an endowed chair for faculty support worth $1.5 million in his name is being raised by UM alumni, friends, faculty and staff as thanks for Jones' numerous efforts to prioritize faculty support during his tenure.

UM Chancellor Dan Jones (second from left), pictured with wife Lydia (left), receives a surprise announcement from UM Foundation Board Chair Rose Flenorl (second from right) and board member Suzan Thames that an endowed chair for faculty support worth $1.5 million in his name is being raised by UM alumni, friends, faculty and staff as thanks for Jones’ numerous efforts to prioritize faculty support during his tenure.

OXFORD, Miss. – This week, alumni, faculty, friends and staff members are participating in a $1.5 million fundraising campaign to recognize Chancellor Dan Jones for his commitment to faculty support and a culture of academic integrity at the University of Mississippi.

Already underway, the Chancellor Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Faculty Chair is drawing support from a wide range of donors. Initiated by a leadership team coalesced from the UM Foundation, Ole Miss Alumni Association, Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, UM Faculty Senate, Staff Council, Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy and Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat, volunteers have spread the word in recent days to secretly raise initial support.

Rose Flenorl of Memphis, chair of the UM Foundation board of directors, surprised Jones with the announcement at a May 15 board meeting.

“In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,'” Flenorl said. “Dr. Jones has always stood in integrity, in what is right for Ole Miss – and he always stood in his faith.”

A standing ovation thanked Jones as a placard announcing the Chancellor Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Chair was unveiled.

“Anyone who knows me well knows nothing could please me more,” Jones said at the announcement. “For these six years, I thank you for your support of me and our leadership team as we have moved things along at Ole Miss. It’s been gratifying, emotional and moving for both Lydia and me. The outpouring of support for us makes us feel loved and affirmed.”

At his 2010 inauguration, Jones highlighted attracting faculty support as a priority during his tenure. Since then, the university has assembled almost $40 million in endowed funds to continually strengthen teaching and research on the part of UM faculty. With the university’s enrollment continuing to grow at record pace, it is estimated that UM must recruit 200 new faculty members in coming years. Total applications for the fall semester have already increased by 10 percent from last year, Jones said.

“We have every confidence that our goal of $1.5 million for the Jones Chair Endowment will be reached,” said Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the UM Foundation. “We have had an overwhelming response thus far, which is not surprising given the respect that our faculty, staff, alumni and friends have for Dr. Jones.”

Flenorl thanked everyone who embraced the effort. Initial donors were pleased to have an opportunity to exhibit their appreciation to Jones before his departure, she said.

“Dr. Jones has had a deeply meaningful impact on our university community during his administration,” Flenorl said. “The Ole Miss family feels a very personal connection to him. We are so happy to have this chance to thank him for his service and also to give back to Ole Miss in a way that illustrates how we have learned from his example.”

Jones has been credited with leading UM during an era of substantial growth and success. Approximately $473 million of active capital projects can be found on the Oxford campus, while construction at the UM Medical Center in Jackson totals $414 million. Both the Oxford campus and UMMC have been nationally recognized for their value and quality of education, and individual schools and programs continue to climb in rankings and garner acclaim. The university’s athletics programs have added achievements in sports standings for Rebel fans, while the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation has attracted more than $130 million for athletics facilities improvements.

Jones announced a $5 million gift just weeks ago from Martha Dowd Dalrymple of Amory to undergird teaching, research and service efforts of the newly named Arch Dalrymple III Department of History.

“Establishing the Dr. Dan Jones Faculty Chair will cement the permanent legacy of Chancellor Jones and will showcase how he inspired our students, our faculty – all of us – to be better human beings who contribute through service and leadership,” said Athletics Director Ross Bjork, who also attended the announcement. “He is a selfless champion for improving education, and he has used his position to transform the university’s expectations of what is possible. This show of gracious support speaks to the strength of the Ole Miss family. Together, we are Ole Miss.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the 2015 UM Senior Class establishing the Chancellor Dan Jones Service Before Self Scholarship Endowment. That effort raised $26,060 in 30 days to provide scholarships for future UM students with academic achievement and servant-leader qualities. The chancellor has also been recognized through the Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Outstanding Team Service Award, created by the UM Staff Council to acknowledge university employees who exhibit tremendous service through teamwork and shared vision.

“I love Ole Miss,” Jones said. “While I have some sadness, I leave this position with great joy in my heart. The opportunity to be a part of this university for 30 of my 66 years is the greatest professional privilege of my life.”

Lydia Jones was also recognized for her contributions to university projects and her devotion to the institution and its people.

“These have been the most wonderful six years I could imagine,” she said. “You made us feel like a part of a family. Ole Miss is strong in all the right places.”

Individuals and organizations may contribute to the Chancellor Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Chair Endowment by visiting; mailing a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the UM Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; or by contacting Wendell Weakley, UM Foundation CEO and president, at, 662-915-3845 or Debbie Vaughn, senior executive director of development, at or 662-915-3937.