UM Staff Member Named to ACT State Organization Council

Martina Brewer appointed to three-year term

Martina Brewer will be working to provide feedback on the ACT and the changes that can be made that apply to Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Martina Brewer will be working to provide feedback on the ACT and the changes that can be made that apply to Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi ACT State Organization has named Martina Brewer, associate director of admissions at the University of Mississippi, to its council.

Brewer, an Ole Miss graduate, began her time in the Office of Admissions as a student worker during her undergraduate years. She earned both a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in higher education.

Her primary responsibility during her three-year term on the council will be to provide feedback on the ACT, and to learn the work others are doing and how it can apply to Mississippi.

“It is a great honor to be a part of this wonderful organization,” Brewer said. “Many people are aware of the ACT test, but the group is responsible for many other educational programs that positively benefit those of all age groups.

“Their mission and values – empowerment, diversity and excellence – also align with my own personal aspirations and what I stand for.”

Martina Brewer joined the Mississippi ACT Council in August 2016. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Martina Brewer joined the Mississippi ACT Council in August 2016. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

One of the main goals for the council is to emphasize and increase communication about the ACT among educators and workforce professionals, as well as policymakers. To help achieve this, Brewer will attend two full-day meetings per year as well as participate in monthly conference classes and plan, execute and attend local council initiatives.

“I will be working closely with ACT staff to receive updates and communications regarding ACT solutions and research,” she said.

Brewer will be a valuable addition to the council, said Jody Lowe, UM associate director of admissions.

“She has worked to advance her knowledge of best practices and to position herself as an expert in the admissions field,” Lowe said. “We are proud that she was selected to represent the university on the state ACT Council. She will provide a veteran and well-reasoned perspective to the many issues facing the council.”

Grenada Hospital Employee Benefits from Scholarships at Regional Campus

Simpson family working toward college degrees with help from employee benefit

Sonia Thompson (seated) and daughter Jennifer, both of Grenada, are enrolled in college courses together this fall at the University of Mississippi at Grenada. The Thompsons are taking advantage of scholarships available to full-time employees and their children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Grenada hospital.

Sonia Thompson (seated) and daughter Jennifer, both of Grenada, are enrolled in college courses together this fall at the University of Mississippi at Grenada. The Thompsons are taking advantage of scholarships available to full-time employees and their children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Grenada hospital.

GRENADA, Miss. – Sonia Simpson never imagined that she would one day be sitting in a college classroom with her daughter, but this fall semester she is doing just that as she works to complete her junior year of courses at the University of Mississippi’s Grenada campus.

“This has been a personal goal of mine for a long time,” Simpson said. “And now I have the help I need to meet that goal.”

Simpson works as a clinical supervisor over ambulatory care at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Grenada hospital. Previously, she worked for 20 years with Grenada Family Medicine before she joined those three providers who transferred to the hospital staff.

“My director encouraged me to take advantage of the employee scholarship that is available to hospital employees,” Simpson said. “I just go across the street after work and take my classes. It couldn’t be any more convenient.”

As a full-time employee of the Grenada hospital, Simpson soon learned that not only could she take advantage of scholarship benefits for herself, but she could also apply for a half-tuition scholarship for daughter Jennifer as well.

“The university strongly supports professional and personal development,” said Pam Johnson, UM assistant director of benefits and compensation. “As an institution of higher learning, we encourage continuing education to help create a stronger employee base.”

Simpson is a 1987 graduate of Grenada High School and received her associate’s degree in accountancy from the Holmes Community College Grenada campus. Her daughter graduated from Grenada High School in 2011 and also went on to take her freshman- and sophomore-level courses at Holmes-Grenada

Sonia and Jennifer both received the UM employee benefit scholarships and are enrolled this fall at the regional campus.

Full-time Grenada hospital employees who have worked for the institution for at least a year are eligible to apply for scholarship benefits for their single, dependent children under the age of 25 who are interested in completing their first bachelor’s degree with Ole Miss.

This scholarship covers 50 percent of tuition costs each semester.

“It’s great to be share this journey with my daughter,” Simpson said. “We are both taking the transfer student experience class this semester. It has really helped me get back into the expectations of college classes. It is really exciting to be learning together.”

Jessica Hughes, associate director of the Grenada campus and instructor of the transfer student experience course, said she enjoys having the Simpsons in her class, and that there is even a bit of friendly competition between mother and daughter.

“It’s funny how they get a little competitive when grades come out after a test,” Hughes said. “They are happy for each other, but they both want to get the top grade. They are engaged in class and encourage one another. It’s a great dynamic for the classroom.”

Sonia is taking upper-level courses to complete her bachelor’s degree in business. Jennifer is working on minors in education, history and psychology to earn her bachelor’s degree in general studies.

“I already see where my classes are helping me,” Simpson said. “Of course, my business courses are giving me new insight into the fundamentals of a successful business, but they are also helping me learn more about working with people and improving my writing skills.”

The Grenada campus offers most live classes in the afternoons and evenings as well as a selection of online course offerings.

Earning a degree at the campus is a family affair for the Simpsons. Sonia’s husband, Herman, who retired as Grenada’s fire chief in 2013, completed a degree there in 2015.

Upon retirement, he decided to enroll in classes and went on to complete his bachelor’s degree. He now works for the Social Security Administration office in Grenada.

Sonia said she isn’t sure whether she would be able to continue pursuing her education if not for the scholarships available to UMMC employees.

“It will be such an accomplishment for me to complete my bachelor’s degree,” Thompson said. “I’m excited to put this on my resume. I’m very happy to have this opportunity and have it work out so well for my family.”

For more information on the UM-Grenada campus and tuition scholarships available to full-time employees of UMMC’s Grenada hospital and their dependent children, contact Jessica Hughes at 662-227-2348 or visit

Dental Community Remembers Couples Lost in Crash

Oxford dentists left behind families, legacy of caring service

dental_memorial_top_artJACKSON, Miss. – Just before noon on Aug. 14, Mississippi’s dental community suffered a great loss. Six University of Mississippi alumni on their way home from a dentistry continuing education event in Florida were killed in a plane crash in Alabama. Four were graduates of the School of Dentistry.

On board were Drs. Jason and Lea Farese, Dr. Austin and Angie Poole, and Dr. Michael and Kim Perry, all of Oxford. They leave behind multiple practices, hundreds of patients, colleagues, friends and family. Most heartbreaking is the loss suffered by their combined 11 children.

The dental community has rallied together in an attempt to fill the void left by these special lives. Fellow alumni have stepped in to keep practices open and staff employed, and a fund has been started to provide for the children’s care and education.

Drs. Jason and Lea Farese

Drs. Jason and Lea Farese

Drs. Jason and Lea Farese

Jason and Lea Farese met in dental school and were married in 2002. He was a Vanderbilt graduate, captain of the baseball team his senior year, and she graduated from Belhaven University. The two were a perfect pair – of contrasts.

“He was like the fiery guy, and she was like the calming of the waters,” said Dr. David Duncan, professor emeritus in the Department of Care Planning and Restorative Sciences. “They just meshed together really well.”

Duncan recalls Jason coming to him during dental school for some personal advice. “He was wringing his hands, and he said, ‘I just don’t know. I’m thinking about asking Lea to marry me.’ And I said, ‘Duh! Yeah! Y’all are perfect for each other.'”

Lea worked in public health for a few years while Jason worked on getting a private practice started. They joined in practice as Farese Family Dentistry in Oxford. They were members of the Tri Lakes Dental Study Club, which includes a coverage group to provide clinic coverage for members who are injured or ill and unable to practice for a time.

Both Lea and Jason had participated in helping cover two other dental practices since the group was formed, said Dr. Thomas Hodge, a 1995 graduate of the School of Dentistry. Now it was time for the group to give back to the Fareses, the first time the group has covered for a death in the dental community, Hodge said.

“We tried to get in there and keep their normal business hours going, keep the staff in place until the family could sell the practice,” he said.

However, the person who traveled the farthest to help out was not a member of the Tri Lakes group. Dr. Lauren Timmons, who graduated in 2002 with Jason Farese and Austin Poole, traveled from his practice in Ocean Springs to help keep the practice going.

“I really felt like God spoke to me when I heard it happened. I knew, in that minute,” said Timmons, who received the call while driving back from Orlando, where he had attended the same conference from which the three couples were returning when their plane crashed.

“The second thought that was in my head was do it for the kids. I knew this was their retirement. The value of the practice would slip away quickly if people didn’t step in.”

The Fareses had one of the most technologically advanced practices in Mississippi. Attending the seminar in Florida was a testament to their commitment to staying on the cutting edge of dentistry.

However, Timmons said the group skipped one day of classes to take in the sights at Universal Studios.

“I didn’t want to skip class,” he said. “I am kind of glad now that they did, not knowing it was going to be one of their last few days.”

Timmons said that he talked to Jason on the day before the crash. “Farese just came and sat down beside me before this class started,” Timmons said. “He talked to me for just a little bit, which was kind of unusual, I thought. He’s always busy, somewhere to go and something to do.”

John Green, a family friend of all three couples who lives in Oxford, described Jason as the little brother he’d never had.

“I’ve known Jason since the time he was born,” he said. “His older brother and I were best friends.

“Jason was a consummate perfectionist in everything he did – academically, professionally and even spiritually. You could say that about all of them. They donated a lot of their time and did a lot of pro bono work for people who couldn’t afford it.”

Lea was great with children who came into the clinic, Green said.

“She was kind of Jason’s alter ego, if you will,” he said. “She was a great mom and a great mentor to a lot of children. She was always at Jason’s side and always at the children’s side.”

“They were not just good dentists – and they were very good dentists – but they were good people,” Hodge said. “They were people whom you’d want your families to be around. They are going to be missed by many, many, many people.”

The Fareses leave behind three children: Luke, Alexa and Layla.

Dr. Austin and Angie Poole

Dr. Austin and Angie Poole

Dr. Austin and Angie Poole

Austin and Angie Poole met later in life. Austin worked his way through college to a degree from Delta State University. Angie was an Ole Miss alumna. Theirs was a second marriage for both, and together they parented five children: Katie, Walker, Kingsley, Wesley and Jack. As a family, they enjoyed spending time outdoors.

“They spent a ton of time outdoors with all their children,” Green said. “They were outdoors all the time.”

Austin is remembered for his Delta roots by many. Dr. Neva Penton Eklund wrote in the Mississippi Dental Association publication MDA Insider about Austin wearing his hunting boots to class “because he had either just come from hunting that morning or was headed that way as soon as he could after the afternoon lab class.”

Former chair of periodontics and preventive services at the School of Dentistry, Dr. Frank Serio remembers the stories Austin told of time spent in the woods, hunting and fishing.

“I loved talking to Austin because he was just a country boy, no question about it,” Serio said. “He would rather spend time out in the woods chasing hogs or hunting deer than just about anything else in his life. He was also a really good fisherman. He taught me a few things about fishing. I really enjoyed his company.”

Angie and Austin spent their days together. As office manager, she ran his practice in Clarksdale. Together, they drove an hour each way from Oxford to Clarksdale to provide care to patients in the underserved, rural area.

Often Poole treated patients regardless of their ability to pay, Duncan said.

“Angie was just kindhearted,” Green said. “She was very confident and constantly involved in all of their children’s lives. She was a great mom, very welcoming. Her house was open to everyone.

“They’d take in total strangers. Austin and Angie were just great to everyone they knew. They never met strangers.”

Timmons said that Austin was one of the nicest people he had ever known.

“Austin Poole would, literally – if it was during finals, if there was a war going on, if the building was on fire – he would stop and help somebody,” he said. “He would sacrifice his time.”

Timmons summed up the way many friends and colleagues are feeling.

“It’s really sad and tragic,” he said. “It is a tremendous loss to the dental community.

“Jason was way ahead of his time in dentistry with technology. That was a great loss. Michael Perry did so much for the community, as you know, and so did all of them, really. They were just an inspiration to live our lives that way.”

Dr. Michael and Kim Perry

Dr. Michael and Kim Perry

Dr. Michael and Kim Perry

Michael Perry and Kim Westerfield grew up together in Brandon. They started dating when he was in ninth grade and she was in the eighth. They both attended UM after high school.

She received a degree in nursing. After receiving a math degree in Oxford, he went on to attend the School of Dentistry and then completed postdoctorate training in periodontics at Baylor College of Dentistry while Kim earned a master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University and post-master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner from Mississippi University for Women.

The high school sweethearts married in 1997. They settled in Oxford, Michael to establish a periodontal practice and Kim as a nurse practitioner at the UM Health Center.

Kim was a committed wife, mother and health care provider, Green said.

“She spent her entire adult life taking care of others,” he said. “That’s common with all of them. They were all just very giving people.”

Michael’s brother, Robert Perry, said that his brother was passionate about his work, his patients and his staff. More than one person described him as driven. He grew five practices in north Mississippi and the Memphis area, and his staff followed him to each location to provide care.

“People say that he ran 90 miles an hour everywhere he went,” Robert Perry said. “He wanted to cover as much of an area as possible and see as many patients as possible.”

He also went the extra mile to show how much he cared for his patients.

“I’ve received a lot of letters – the whole family has – about how Michael would call his patients after he had seen them that day,” Robert said. It was the first time most patients had ever received a telephone call from a doctor or a dentist checking on them, and it meant a lot. “He really did care.”

He showed his caring in other ways as well. Inspired by Serio, Perry traveled with him to the Dominican Republic to provide care to the less fortunate. Perry took his oldest children along to nurture in them an appreciation for helping others.

Robert said that his brother’s legacy will be the 73-acre Oxford-Lafayette Sports Plex he built with his own money.

“Michael always knew how important sports were growing up and how there were role models in coaches and good support in youth sports,” Robert said.

“They were very motivated for the youth in this town. They took care of people who couldn’t financially take care of themselves.”

Serio said that Michael was not just tireless for himself but for everyone around him.

“He and Kim really did so much for the Oxford community,” Serio said. “Any way that Michael touched people was just tremendous, and of course Kim was right by his side the whole time.”

The Perrys leave behind three children: Sarah McConnell, John West and Anna Reed.

Our Oxford Family

Green has formed a memorial fund to help the children of all three families.

“Our Oxford Family was set up to take care of the short- and long-term needs which should arise for the children who were left when their parents passed away,” he said. “Short- and long-term needs include education or basic needs going forward.”

Those who wish to contribute may visit the Our Oxford Family website.

Give a Summer Youth Camp Experience for Christmas

New UM camps to include Code Monkey computer programming class, culinary arts courses

High school students start the final race with project cars they built during the UM Summer College for High School Students on the Oxford campus. The UM Pre-College Programs Department is offering certificates for parents, grandparents and relatives who want to the gift of a learning experience to a child or teen for summer 2017.

High school students start the final race with project cars they built during the UM Summer College for High School Students on the Oxford campus. The UM Pre-College Programs Department is offering certificates for parents, grandparents and relatives who want to the gift of a learning experience to a child or teen for summer 2017.

OXFORD, Miss. – Dreaming of warm days in the Grove is a great way to pass the cold winter months. The University of Mississippi Office of Pre-College programs has an offer to make this dream a reality as registration opens for the summer schedule of camps for students in kindergarten through 12th grades.

The list of classes includes several new courses and more available seats as well as a special offer for gift-giving this holiday season.

“We had such a great response to this past summer’s offerings that we wanted to open up more spots for students and expand even more on the variety of classes for next summer,” said Ellen Shelton, UM executive director of pre-college programs.

Registration is open for more than 25 summer programs offered to K-12 students beginning in late May 2017 on campus. There are monthlong, two-week and one-week camps to choose from. Some programs also offer options for students to stay on campus overnight or commute each day from home.

New camps in the lineup for summer 2017 include the “Code Monkey” crash course in computer code writing and programming. Offered for rising 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, the camp will take place June 25-30 on the Oxford campus.

A new Shakespeare camp is set for June 11-16 that will help high school students learn five different ways to examine Shakespeare’s works in five days. The class will include an excursion to Memphis to attend the Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s performance of “The Comedy of Errors.

Also new this year is a culinary arts camp that will be offered July 16-21 for middle school students and July 23-28 for high school students.

Program staff anticipate this class will fill up quickly, said Ari Lugo, UM pre-college counselor.

“We think Mississippi, and Oxford in particular, have such a unique culinary scene that students will enjoy learning more about,” Lugo said.

Students will have an opportunity to try out their cooking skills and learn about working with locally-grown food sources.

The popular Rebel Quest day camp has expanded for next summer to include a section for rising first- and second-graders, another section for rising third- and fourth-graders, and a third section for rising fifth- and sixth-graders.

The summer 2017 weeklong themes include “Mad Scientist Week,” “Gamer Week” and “All About Art Week,” among several others.

For high school students looking to get a head start on college, UM’s Summer College for High School Students and Jumpstart programs are taking applications.

These camps allow students to come to campus for one month over the summer and get a head start on college courses. Students can receive college credit in one of the numerous academic tracks available, including computer science, engineering, health professions, pre-pharmacy, journalism, integrated marketing communications, intelligence and security studies, legal studies, liberal arts or one of numerous intensive foreign language programs.

UM Summer Academy is a two-week academic program designed to provide U.S. and international rising 9th-, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders an opportunity to have a glimpse into college life for two weeks during the summer. During their stay on campus, students take one of the different classes offered in fields such as ACT/ SAT exam preparation, debate, engineering, arts, or literature and earn a one-half Carnegie high school credit.

There are also one-week academic camps available for middle and high school students looking to learn something new this summer. Those include CSI, creative writing, ecology, intelligence studies, math, theater and several others.

“We know that students can be very busy in the summer months and may not have a full month to dedicate to a program,” Shelton said. “These various shorter camp options allow students to have an engaging academic experience and explore the Ole Miss campus with a smaller time commitment.”

If you are looking for a unique gift for a student in your life, the UM Office of Pre-College programs has special gift certificates available that would be great for this holiday season.

“Giving the gift of a learning experience is something children and teenagers will keep with them always,” Lugo said. “And by making a summer camp opportunity available to a student in any grade from kindergarten to a senior in high school, you may be opening up a door to their future. Who knows how a summer camp program might pique their interest in a particular field or future career.”

To find out more about the UM Pre-College Programs’ summer 2017 schedule, including the full list of classes, dates and costs, as well as gift certificate and payroll deduction information, visit, email or call 662-915-7621.

UM Student Passes His Way to a $100K Scholarship

Jarrius Adams wins grand prize in the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway in Indiana

UM sophomore Jarrius Adams holds the $100,000 check he won during the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway football throw-off in Indiana. Submitted photo

UM sophomore Jarrius Adams holds the $100,000 check he won during the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway football throw-off in Indiana. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Throwing winning touchdown passes is always gratifying, but for Jarrius Adams on Saturday (Dec. 3), lobbing the football also proved to be very lucrative.

The University of Mississippi sophomore successfully threw 11 15-yard passes into a target to win the $100,000 Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway scholarship. The 30-second throw-off against another finalist was televised live during halftime at the Wisconsin-Penn State Big 10 Conference championship.

The windfall is a welcome surprise for the Hattiesburg native, who is majoring in public policy leadership and political science at Ole Miss.

“It’s a truly wonderful blessing,” the 19-year-old said Monday, still giddy from the prize-winning weekend. “I worked really hard to get to reach this level, but honestly, it’s hard to believe it really happened.”

Adams’ journey to the winner’s circle began in August, when he ran across an ad for the competition on his Facebook page.

“Years before, I’d watched another Ole Miss student I knew win second place in this same competition,” he said. “I told myself then I would one day enter it myself, but forgot about it until I saw the ad. That’s when I decided to enter the contest.”

The soft drink company contest invites students ages 18 to 24 to submit 350-word essays on how they would use their education to change the world. Social media users vote for the entries, and those whose entries receive a minimum of 50 votes each record 1-minute videos to gain even more votes.

To see Adams’ video, go to

Company officials then select 16 finalists who compete in preliminary throw-offs before appearing at ACC, Big 10, SEC and PAC-12 college conference football championships. Other institutions with finalists included Texas A&M University, Cornell University, George Fox University, Oklahoma City University and the universities of Georgia, Northern Colorado and Southern California at Santa Cruz.

Students from the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Enterprise State Community College and Bristol Community College were also finalists in the competition.

“Tuition costs are rising year by year,” Adams said in his video. “The No. 1 financial crisis for this nation for years to come is college students’ debt. The nation must make a commitment to alleviate the pressure on millenials.

“Financial constraints create unbearable obstacles, but I thank Dr Pepper for disabling those barriers for so many students.

Before Saturday’s telecast, Adams rehearsed throwing footballs alone with a friend.

“I really wasn’t nervous, but being on live television in front of thousands of people was a bit distracting at first,” he said. “Once the whistle blew and I started actually throwing the balls, I focused on winning. Only after it was over and I was being presented the check did I realize that I’d won. It felt so good!”

The runner-up got a $20,000 scholarship.

Since his winning moment, Adams has received hundreds of thousands of congratulations via his social media, emails, texts and phone calls. UM Chancellor Jeffery S. Vitter was among those who praised him for his winnings.

“I am so thrilled for Jarrius,” Vitter said. “He is such a deserving student who will use his college education to achieve great things and change lives. This prize money will certainly go a long way toward helping him reach his goals.”

A UM orientation leader, Adams is the son of Taquanna and Yahmani Adams of Hattiesburg. His siblings include a brother and a sister.

“To not have to worry about college tuition anymore is such a huge blessing for me,” he said. “I really hope that my good fortune inspires others to seek such opportunities in the future.”

He shared his short- and long-term goals for his unexpected funds.

“There are two issues that I hold dear to my heart: education and voter registration,” Adams said. “With my degree, I will work to rebuild the current educational system to ensure that all students have access to a free and adequate public education. I will continue to be an advocate for voter registration, making sure that it is more feasible for all citizens to participate in the voting process.”

For more information about the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway, visit

UM Master of Business Administration Program Ranks Among Nation’s Best

Bloomberg Businessweek lauds track record of alumni satisfaction, success

The University of Mississippi's Master of Business Administration program has been named one of the best in the nation for the third consecutive year. Photo by Nathan Latil, UM Brand Photography

The university’s Master of Business Administration program has been named one of the best in the nation for the third consecutive year. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – For the third consecutive year, the University of Mississippi’s Master of Business Administration program has been named as one of the best in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The UM program ranked No. 36 among American public universities in the annual rankings and No. 68 overall nationally.

“We are thrilled that the MBA program is getting the recognition it deserves,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “We are excited our efforts have paid off through the commitment of our faculty, staff and board to provide excellent graduate educational opportunities.

“We are proud of our MBA graduates and the recognition that the program is receiving and look forward to the future.”

More graduate degrees in business are awarded annually than in any other field in the U.S., the report said. Also, dozens of new business schools are accredited each year. The data in the survey was compiled from more than 1,000 recruiters, 15,000 alumni and 9,000 recent graduates.

“As leaders and professionals, our board members understand the big picture,” said Ashley Jones, director of the university’s MBA program. “They want an Ole Miss MBA student, with a polished resume in their hand, to walk into an interview and ‘wow’ a company, and to then transition into the workforce as a valued employee.”

The report indicates that more than 89 percent of MBA graduates find job placement within three months of degree completion.

“The recognition of the Ole Miss MBA program reflects the excellent efforts of our faculty, alumni board, administrators and the students themselves,” said Walter Davis, the program’s faculty director. “As a team, we are always looking for ways to add value to the experience of our MBA students.”

UM came in ahead of several respected programs, including Tulane, Case Western Reserve and Pepperdine universities, in the report. The university ranked sixth in the Southeastern Conference.

“I chose the Ole Miss MBA program not only to further my education, but to become a business professional,” said Shelby Buckley, of Farmington, Missouri, president of the 2016-17 MBA class. “The program focuses on how to apply skills learned in the classroom to our future careers.

“I value the professional development the program provides as well as the level of involvement of the board. They are a vital resource, and it is great to have other professionals helping us start our own careers.”

Bloomberg Businessweek News Service has ranked full-time MBA programs in the U.S. since 1988. Over the years, the organization has shifted its methodology to focus on how well programs prepare their graduates for job success. The survey measures recruiter opinions on how well MBA programs equip their graduates with relevant skills, and also records feedback from students on how thoroughly they have been prepared for the workforce.

According to the survey, the university’s MBA program’s two greatest strengths were in the employer survey and the student survey, ranking Nos. 37 and 46, respectively.

The UM School of Business Administration was established in 1917 and awarded its first MBA degree in 1946.

UM Engineering School Creates Biomedical Degree Program

Curriculum will prepare students for range of career opportunities in cutting-edge field

Biomedical Engineering students will soon be among those using chemical engineering laboratories such as the one pictured here. Classes in the new degree program begin Fall 2017. Photo by Kevin Bain.

Biomedical engineering students soon will be among those using engineering laboratories such as this one. Classes in the new degree program begin in fall 2017. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – After years of development, the University of Mississippi School of Engineering has launched its new biomedical degree program.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved the curriculum for the new major during its November meeting. Students interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering are encouraged to apply now for admission for the fall 2017 semester.

“Biomedical engineering at the University of Mississippi will prepare students for rapidly growing opportunities in three primary job markets,” said Dwight Waddell, associate professor of electrical engineering and director of the new program. “These include biomolecular engineering, biomedical systems engineering and bioinformatics.”

“I believe that the addition of the new biomedical engineering program will definitely serve the university, state and nation well,” said Alex Cheng, dean of the engineering school. “With so much attention currently being given to the field, having such a program here keeps us highly competitive.”

Biomolecular engineering is a growing discipline at the interface of molecular biology, biophysical chemistry and chemical engineering, whereby students gain expertise developing novel molecular tools.

“These tools are used to translate understanding of fundamental principles of physical biochemistry into useful processes, devices, therapies and diagnostics,” Waddell said.

Biomedical systems engineering incorporates elements of mechanical engineering design with physiological controls and instrumentation.

“Students can employ lessons from bioinstrumentation and systems mechanics to create sensors, test models and build devices to meet currently unmet needs in the medical field,” Waddell explained.

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary hybrid combining computer science, statistics, mathematics and engineering to analyze and interpret biological data.

“Techniques from bioinformatics have helped unlock the human genome, better understand evolutionary biology and are now pivotal in the coming era of ‘big data’ analysis,” he said.

In addition to fundamental engineering courses, biomedical engineering students will take courses in biology, chemistry and systems physiology to more effectively apply engineering science to specific medical and industrial needs.

The program has been requested by prospective students for several years, said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean for undergraduate academics in the engineering school.

“I’m delighted to finally be able to direct them to this exciting new opportunity,” Kendricks said. “I believe it will attract some of the best and brightest.”

The idea and initial work for the new program was initiated by Ramanarayanan “Vish” Viswanathan, chair of the UM Department of Electrical Engineering, and Cheng. Waddell, also a research associate professor of health, exercise science and recreation management at UM, moved into the School of Engineering to facilitate program development in 2013.

“It’s an exciting time,” Waddell said. “With increasing demands to share fiscal resources and promote interdisciplinary research, BME is uniquely situated at the cusp of applied technology, medicine and STEM education.”

A former postdoctoral researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Waddell earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas, and his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Louisiana State University. Formerly a faculty member at Tulane University, he has an active research program, including projects on stuttering mitigation, functional brain imaging and postural control of gait and locomotion.

For more information about UM’s biomedical engineering program, visit

UM Museum Unveils 2016 Holiday Keepsake Ornament

Ole Miss powder blue helmet celebrates throwback colors

The UM Museum’s 2016 Ole Miss Powder Blue Helmet keepsake is now available for purchase. Submitted Photo

The UM Museum’s 2016 Ole Miss Powder Blue Helmet keepsake is now available for purchase. Submitted photo. 

OXFORD, Miss. – For the 16th year, the University of Mississippi Museum is offering a new keepsake ornament for the holidays. This year’s design features the Ole Miss powder blue football helmet.

“As with our 2012 Walk of Champions gateway design, we celebrate the traditions of Ole Miss athletics and campus life in these ornaments, and we’re grateful to have such collegial partners in athletics as we develop these keepsakes,” said Robert Saarnio, museum director. 

The team wore the color until 1977 and then again from 1983 to ’94. The nostalgic color is often associated with the “golden age” of Ole Miss football, having been worn by notable players such as Billy Brewer, Jake Gibbs and Archie Manning.

In 2014, the university renamed Coliseum Drive in honor of Chucky Mullins. In addition to this commemoration, the powder blue helmet, which Mullins wore, saw its second revival on the field.

“The powder blue helmet has a long history with the Ole Miss Rebels football,” said Melanie Munns, the museum’s antiquities collections manager. “While the University of Mississippi chose Yale’s navy and Harvard’s crimson as its official colors, the powder blue has become a signature color of the team.

“Legend attributes the first iteration in 1948 as an accident in production, which Coach Johnny Vaught chose to embrace.”

The Ole Miss Powder Blue Helmet commemorative ornament is available for $25, plus tax.

Collectible ornaments from previous years include the Old Skipwith House, Brandt Memory House, Ventress Hall, Lafayette County Courthouse, Oxford City Hall, the Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Jersey, Theora Hamblett House, Theora Hamblett’s “Christmas Trees,” Walk of Champions, Oxford’s Double Decker Bus and the Herakles Neck Amphora. These ornaments retail for $20, plus tax.

The keepsake ornaments can be purchased in the Museum Shop or by phone with a credit card by calling 662-915-7073. Orders must be placed by Dec. 14 if needed by the holiday and require a $7 shipping and handling fee.

Museum members and Friends of the Museum receive a 10 percent discount on all merchandise in the museum store.

The University Museum is at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Holiday Hours for the Museum Shop are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Museum visiting hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For information about events and exhibits, visit or call 662-915-7073.

UM Professor Shares His ‘A’ Game

Ken Sufka creates scholarship with book royalties

UM professor Ken Sufka (left) and his wife, Stevi Self, have established a scholarship from royalties received from the publication of Sufka's book. UM Provost Morris Stocks (right) was instrumental in making the book required reading for all entering students. Photo by Bill Dabney

UM professor Ken Sufka (left) and his wife, Stevi Self, have established a scholarship from royalties received from the publication of Sufka’s book. UM Provost Morris Stocks (right) was instrumental in making the book required reading for all entering students. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Ken Sufka, professor of psychology and pharmacology at the University of Mississippi, wants students to achieve academic success, so much so that he’s given them a guide that centrally involves bringing their “A” game to every class.

During Sufka’s 25 years-and-counting at Ole Miss, an increasing number of students have sought his counsel on improving their performance on assignments and exams.

“From interviews with students, I discovered a set of bad student habits and poor study skills that hinder academic performance,” Sufka said. “At the same time, I kept up with a growing body of scientific literature on student learning.

“It was interesting to see how well this research dovetailed with many identifiable problems that interfered with mastering coursework.”

His solution? Publish a list of study strategies that would give students a written roadmap to success. Sufka’s book, “The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades” (Nautilus Publishing, 2011) is given to every Ole Miss student at enrollment.

From the book’s increasing royalties, the professor and his wife, Stevi Self, have established the Kenneth Sufka Undergraduate Scholarship in Psychology Endowment.

“I originally wrote this book of study tips to help my students succeed in their coursework,” said Sufka, who was named the Elise M. Hood Outstanding Teacher in 1996. “Now, with the book’s proceeds, we can help fund a scholarship to make college a little more affordable so that students can focus more on their academic success.”

The scholarship is available to full-time junior or senior psychology majors with financial need and who maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.

“I’ve had the privilege of observing Ken’s outstanding teaching and the way he inspires students to be the very best that they can be,” said UM Provost Morris Stocks, who invited Sufka to speak to the Provost Scholars during the program’s first year.

“I saw the reaction our students had to Ken about achieving excellence, and it sparked our interest in making his book available to all our students. When students put into practice Ken’s nine rules, they are empowered and equipped to meet the challenges and rigor of college academic life.”

Self witnessed the book’s transformative effect when a student approached her husband to say that the advice offered in “The A Game” enabled him to be admitted into the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“It was so sweet,” she said. “It took us totally by surprise.”

The Kenneth Sufka Undergraduate Scholarship in Psychology Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655 or visit

For information on establishing scholarship endowments, call 662-915-5944.

UM Students Share Hospital Shadowing Experiences

Students followed health care professionals at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi

UM Center for Population Studies Director John Green (left) chats with Assistant Professor of Religion Sarah Moses and BMH-NMS Chaplain Director Joe Young during the Medical Humanities students reception.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

UM Center for Population Studies Director John Green (left) chats with Assistant Professor of Religion Sarah Moses and BMH-NMS Chaplain Director Joe Young during the Medical Humanities students reception.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – After spending several weeks shadowing area health care professionals, University of Mississippi students interested in similar careers shared highlights of their mentorship experiences this week.

The Tuesday (Nov. 29) reception for those enrolled in the fall 2016 Medical Humanities course was held in Bryant Hall gallery on the Oxford campus. Members of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi who mentored the group joined UM administrators, faculty, staff and students for the event, which featured five of the 12 enrolled students making brief presentations.

“Our goal was for the students to gain a better understanding of how various factors shape the human experience in illness and in medicine,” said Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion and course instructor. “Creating this class took lots of work, but hearing these students’ reflections today shows it was well worth the effort.”

John Green, professor of sociology and director of both the Center for Population Studies and the new Society and Health minor in the College of Liberal Arts, agreed.

“Listening to these students share their reflections is very rewarding,” he said. “We are definitely committed to making this course in the society and health minor a long-term investment.”

Medical Humanities, one of two advanced course requirements for the minor, is a combined readings and field experience course in a hospital setting to study the ethical, social and cultural issues in medicine. Additionally, students must take advanced elective courses.

“While only 12 students were able to take the course this fall, I already have 25 students on the waiting list for Medical Humanities in fall 2017,” Moses said.

Each of the presenters said that being in the course was more like a transformative “life experience” than a class.

“Being in this course made me a more well-rounded person,” said Josh Law, a senior religious studies and pre-med major from Birmingham, Alabama. “Ultimately, I believe I will be a more well-rounded health care professional in the future because of it.”

Sarah Robinson said she discovered how important addressing nonmedical needs and communication are to an ailing patient and his or her family members.

“Being in this course helped me to see both patients and those who work with them in various ways as whole people,” said the junior Spanish and pre-med major from Covington, Louisiana. “That understanding is critical to the effective treatment and care.”

Miller Richmond, a senior international studies and pre-med major from Madison, said Medical Humanities proved to be a perfect followup to his study abroad experience last spring.

“Being immersed in a different culture broadened my understanding of people as human beings,” he said. “Medical Humanities continued to expand my thinking. I now more fully understand that patient care goes much farther than physiology and medicine.”

Other student presenters were J.R. Markos, a senior from Jackson, Tennessee, who is majoring in public policy leadership, and Cayla Scott, a senior religious studies major from Mendenhall.

Green is slated to teach Society and Population Health, the other mandatory advanced course option for students entering the minor, during the spring 2017 semester.

“In Society and Population Health, students learn about health disparities in Mississippi and the value of interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams in tackling these issues,” Green said. “They also make field visits to medical/nursing schools and public health programs.”

Following the completion of Elementary Statistics and one of the advanced courses, Ole Miss students can apply to the minor program. It is also recommended that students take General Psychology and Introductory Sociology to complete the general education social science requirements.

Students must take courses from at least two different departments when completing the last requirement of 12 credit hours of advanced social science and humanities courses. They should note that the same course may not satisfy requirements for both the major and the minor.

Students who complete relevant internships, special topics, study abroad or directed study courses must consult with the director for approval before enrollment in the course.

“This unique and timely minor provides a social science and humanities perspective to the understanding of health,” said Lee M. Cohen, UM liberal arts dean. “I believe such a perspective will foster an appreciation and respect for team-based problem-solving to improve the delivery of health care.”

For more information about the minor in society and health, visit or contact Lynn Woo, research associate with the Center for Population Studies, at or at 662-915-7288.