Endowment Honors Memories of Three Friends

Scholarship recipients carry on fraternity brothers' legacies

Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers (with plaques, from left) Michael Deauville, Kyle Thigpen and Dillon Pitts, recipients of the 2017 Kelly, Kelly and Wilbanks Scholarship, are joined by (from left) chapter President Hayden Poer, Lynn and Ken Wilbanks, Chris and Christine Kelly, and Sam and Kim Kelly. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – A scholarship endowment paying tribute to the lives of three University of Mississippi students has grown to more than $335,000, and three new recipients of the scholarship say they feel honored to represent the men for whom the endowment is named.

Continuing gifts from the Kappa Alpha fraternity have expanded the Charles Walker Kelly, Samuel Clayton Kelly and Bryant Mason Wilbanks Memorial Scholarship Endowment that pays tribute to the lives of lifelong friends tragically killed in a 2011 car accident. Kappa Alpha fraternity recently contributed an additional $60,000 to the endowment and $15,000 for this year’s scholarship awards. 

All natives of Madison, the friends graduated together from Madison Central High School, attended Broadmoor Baptist Church, enrolled at Ole Miss and pledged the same fraternity. Their legacies are kept alive by fellow KA brothers who receive scholarship awards.

This year’s recipients are Michael Deauville of San Jose, California, Dillon Pitts of Pearl and Kyle Thigpen of Jackson.

“One of the biggest fears of a parent who has lost a child is that the child will be forgotten,” said Ken Wilbanks, father of Mason Wilbanks. “Thanks to the generosity and support of KA and the Ole Miss community, our sons’ legacies will continue on the Ole Miss campus long after we are gone.

“It is truly humbling and such an honor to be able to present these three scholarships annually to active KA members in memory of Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker. I know our boys are smiling, knowing they are continuing to help those in the fraternity they loved so much at the university they loved so dearly.”

Alumni advisers of the KA Alpha Upsilon Chapter and UM’s Scholarship Committee work together to select recipients. The award is based on a number of criteria, including financial need, leadership and academic performance.

Deauville, a sophomore biology major with a minor in chemistry who hopes to attend medical school, said the scholarship will enable him to have the resources he needs to pursue his goals.

“From the bottom of my heart, I am incredibly blessed and grateful for this recognition and scholarship,” Deauville said. “It is nothing short of an honor. Knowing that I am continuing the legacy of the three men is a very good feeling, and I aspire to be everything that they were.

“I am humbled by this recognition, and while I believe that there were many other deserving men, I will vow to continue their legacy in all that I do.”

At the recent Kappa Alpha awards banquet, Deauville spent time with Sam and Kim Kelly, parents of Sam Clayton Kelly.

“They opened their arms to me, and after a few short minutes I felt I had known them my entire life,” he recalled. “Mrs. Kelly even noted that I too am now a part of her family.

“I just want to thank them, as well as the other two families, for their enduring support of KA. I am honored to call them friends. I know they will all be a part of its family, and the chapter is better for that relationship.”

Pitts, a junior marketing and corporate relations major with a minor in manufacturing engineering, said the scholarship will help him pursue his goal to attend law school.

“Receiving this scholarship is an honor – not only to myself, but an honor that I get to represent three amazing young men who were members of our chapter,” Pitts said. “To me, being a part of KA has opened numerous doors. I have been blessed to grow and make many lifelong connections and I owe it all to being a part of KA.”

Thigpen, a junior accounting major who plans to work for an accounting firm after graduation, said the scholarship will help him offset tuition costs as he pursues his degree.

The Kelly, Kelly (and) Wilbanks Scholarship is an awesome way to remember the lives of our three brothers who were lost,” Thigpen said. “Their story has led me to think about the relationships I’ve built throughout my short time at Ole Miss, and I’ve come to realize how great of an impact the ones I love have had on my life.

“Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker continue to impact lives every day, and it’s awesome to know that they will continue to do so for years to come.”

Chapter adviser Trey Horne, of Oxford, has been instrumental in growing the endowment.

“Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker were strong men of character who loved God and their families,” he said. “Through this scholarship endowment, their legacies will live on by providing three men of Kappa Alpha Order scholarships each year.

“As new classes enter Ole Miss, this endowment will remind these men that the lives that Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker lived are worthy to be followed.”

Sandra Guest, vice president of the UM Foundation, said she’s heartened by KA’s generosity.

“By memorializing its members through scholarships, Kappa Alpha has set an outstanding example for other student organizations to follow,” she said. “I commend Mr. Horne for his leadership efforts to sustain the momentum of this initiative over the last four years and to the chapter for working hard to keep the spirit of their lost brothers alive.

“KA has turned a tragic situation into a lasting tribute, ensuring the legacy of Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker will forever remain at Ole Miss.”

The endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the Kelly, Kelly and Wilbanks Scholarship noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; contact Sandra Guest at 662-915-5208 or sguest@olemiss.edu; or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

McLean to Host Hope Credit Union Founder Bill Bynum

Public invited to Tuesday's free event

Bill Bynum

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement will host Bill Bynum, CEO and founder of Hope Credit Union, Tuesday (Feb. 21) in the Robert C. Khayat Law Center auditorium as part of Black History Month observances.

The 5 p.m. event is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will follow Bynum’s address, which is titled “Poverty and Mobility in Mississippi.”

Bynum has dedicated his career to improving the lives of financially vulnerable populations by providing them with increased economic opportunities. With 14 locations in Mississippi, Hope Credit Union assists hundreds of thousands of Mississippians in building assets and improving their lives by providing access to high-quality financial products and services.

The McLean Institute shares Hope’s vision to provide people with the tools and resources to foster community development, with a specific focus on using education to fight poverty and further the engagement of the university with communities throughout the state.

The McLean Institute’s CEED Program, or Catalyzing Economic and Entrepreneurial Development, works to empower students and faculty to create community partners and engage purposefully in the economic advancement and development of these communities.

Vera Gardner, a CEED innovation scholar, spent last summer leading financial literacy workshops in Vardaman. With support from Catholic Charities and the Caterpillar Foundation, Gardner worked with Laura Martin, assistant director of the McLean Institute, to provide residents of Calhoun County useful tools and resources to improve their financial literacy.

“In my first year of involvement with McLean through the CEED program, I have already seen how student engagement can impact individuals within a community,” said Nikki Park, a CEED innovation scholar. “I saw how children attending Vera’s classes in Vardaman understood basic financial concepts that had been foreign to them at the beginning of the workshop.

“I have seen the excitement in young kids from our own Oxford and Lafayette County communities as they open their own bank accounts through McLean’s LOU Saves program, which combines asset building with financial education.”

By continuing to learn from leaders like Bynum, McLean Institute officials hope to create effective and sustainable programs that improve Mississippian’s quality of life.

The mission of the McLean Institute is to advance transformative service at the university and to fight poverty through education in Mississippi. The mission of Hope Credit Union is to strengthen communities, build assets and improve lives in economically distressed areas of the Mid-South by providing access to high quality financial products and related services.

Physicists to Gather for International Workshop at UM

Scientists from around the globe coming to Feb. 27-March 2 event on gravitational research

Luca Bombelli (left) and Marco Cavaglia are members of the Ole Miss Gravitational, Astrophysical and Theoretical Physics Group. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Dozens of esteemed scientists from around the globe are headed to the University of Mississippi for a four-day workshop on the latest in gravitational-wave astronomy, hosted by the UM Gravitation, Astrophysics and Theoretical Physics Group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The “Strong Gravity and Binary Dynamics with Gravitational Wave Observations” workshop convenes Feb. 27 to March 2 in the Yerby Conference Center. The event is supported in part by Emanuele Berti’s National Science Foundation CAREER Award and by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange Action network, funded by the European Union’s FP7 program.

“This network supports exchanges of gravity researchers among the participating nodes,” said Berti, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “In addition to Ole Miss, there are five nodes in Europe, one in in Japan and one in Canada. A dozen researchers will visit campus for a month before and after the workshop.”

About 50 scientists representing some 30 research agencies and institutions of higher learning are scheduled to attend. Researchers will discuss several topics in the newborn field of gravitational-wave astronomy, including the astrophysics of compact binary populations, spin measurements in compact binaries, strong-field tests of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and how to look for hints of new gravitational physics beyond Einstein’s theory.

U.S. registrants include researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, California Institute of Technology, NASA, Montana State University, and the universities of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas at Dallas, among others.

International affiliates include Instituto Superior Técnico-Lisbon and University of Aveiro in Portugal; Sapienza University of Rome; Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris; the universities of Birmingham, Cambridge and Nottingham in England; Nagoya University in Japan; and Amsterdam University in the Netherlands.

Emanuele Berti is coordinating the international Strong Gravity Workshop at UM. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

A fellow of the American Physical Society, Berti is well-known for his theoretical work in gravitational physics. He was invited to write a “Viewpoint” piece that accompanied the paper announcing the discovery of gravitational waves in the journal Physical Review Letters. Other scientists often visit the university to collaborate with him.

“Mauricio Richartz, a professor in Brazil, won a Fulbright fellowship to visit my group for four months in 2017,” Berti said. “Caio Macedo, a postdoc in Brazil, won an American Physical Society Travel Award to work with me this spring.”

Ole Miss physicists were part of the research collaboration that first detected gravitational waves in 2015. Marco Cavaglia, UM associate professor of physics and astronomy, serves as assistant spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and was founding chair of its Education and Public Outreach and Diversity Committees.

The department’s standing in research circles is reflected in U.S. News’ 2017 listing of Best Global Universities, where the university is ranked No. 11 globally for overall international collaborations in physics. Also, the department’s faculty rank No. 6 in the world in terms of producing work that is cited by others in their research publications.

“Our department’s worldwide reputation and competitiveness has been increasing in recent years because of the quality of our research and our strong ties to global collaborations, and we have been able to attract high-quality faculty and graduate students with international backgrounds,” said Luca Bombelli, chair and associate professor of physics and astronomy.

These achievements continue to benefit the department as it branches out into new areas, says Josh Gladden, who joined the faculty in 2005 and is the university’s interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

“When you raise the bar like that in a department, the standard becomes nationally and internationally recognized work, and that breeds more nationally and internationally recognized work,” said Gladden, also an associate professor of physics and astronomy. “If that’s what you’re around – your colleagues are publishing papers and getting invited to present at conferences around the world and being recognized for their contributions to their fields – then that’s the bar you’re going to try to jump over. It really elevates the work that everybody does.”

For more about the workshop, visit http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/StronGBaD/. For more about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, go to http://physics.olemiss.edu/.

Nominations for Sullivan Award for Community Service Due Feb. 24

Annual honors recognize students, alumni and local residents

OXFORD, Miss. – The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi is seeking nominations for The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

The award recognizes those who exhibit “nobility of character, exemplified by selfless service to others and the community.” UM will accept nominations through Feb. 24 for one student, either undergraduate or graduate; one alumnus; and one member of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community.

To nominate someone, visit the McLean Institute’s website. Recipients will be announced at 3 p.m. April 5 in the ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award nominations are due Feb. 24. Recipients of the community service award, which is given to one student, one alumnus and one member of the community, will be announced April 5. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

Recognizing service is crucial to the mission of the McLean Institute, which supports transformation through service, said Albert Nylander, the institute’s director.

“This is UM’s fourth annual celebration of service recognition, and we’re proud to honor wonderful individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make lives better for others,” Nylander said. “The Sullivan Award is an opportunity to honor a student, an alumnus and community member who have made our community a better place because of their humble service.”

Last year, UM senior Ann-Marie Herod and alumna Barbara Wortham were honored.

Herod was double-majoring in broadcast journalism and African-American studies, served with the McLean Institute’s Horizons program, College Corps, Ole Miss Ambassadors and the Black Student Union, in addition to years of volunteer work.

Wortham is coordinator for the Adult Basic Literary Education program for the Lafayette County Literacy Council and a tutor and instructor who has helped more than 400 people get their GED, among other accomplishments. 

Like honorees in years past, ideal candidates are selfless and committed to improving life for others, said Laura Martin, assistant director of the McLean Institute. 

“The Sullivan Award honors individuals who place serve above self,” Martin said. “Sullivan Award recipients have distinguished themselves by embodying the qualities of honesty, morality, ethics, integrity, responsibility, determination, courage and compassion.”

The honor was established in 1890 to recognize those who emphasize service to others before oneself, while also having integrity and being honest, moral, ethical, responsible, determined, courageous and compassionate. Those who do not actively seek recognition are prime candidates.

The award has been given for 130 years and is awarded at 72 colleges and universities across the South, said Steve McDavid, president of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation. 

“The Sullivan Award is the highest nonacademic honor at most schools where it is given,” McDavid said. “The award recognizes and honors those that humbly serve others in their day-to-day life.”

Chemistry of Milk Topic of UM Science Cafe for February

Chemistry professor and student team up for second presentation of spring semester

Chemistry professor Susan Pedigo will discuss the chemistry of milk and dairy products for this month’s Science Cafe. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The chemistry of dairy products is the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The spring semester’s second meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. Susan Pedigo, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, along with Lemuel Tsang, a senior biochemistry major from D’Iberville, will discuss “The Chemistry of Milk.” Admission is free.

“Through the millennia, human cultures have exploited one biomolecule or another to create a wide range of foods from milk,” Pedigo said. “We will cover a diverse range of topics, including the incredible origin of milk, butter and its close cousin, margarine, and the art of cheese-making.”

Pedigo and Tsang’s 30-minute presentation will tour the chemistry of the proteins, lipids and carbohydrates in milk. They were motivated to discuss this topic to encourage recognition of the beauty and complexity in the ordinary.

“We tend to take milk for granted, but there are a surprising number and a diverse range of edible products made from milk,” she said. “Since it can support the growth and maturation of a new mammalian creature, it has water and all the required nutrients for life: proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.”

Pedigo said that food is really an interest for her.

“Why is some cheese stringy and other cheese crumbly?” she said. “We have been discussing the chemistry of food since Lemuel took biochemistry last year.”

The presentation should be captivating for all, said Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy and organizer of the Science Cafe series.

“Dr. Pedigo shares knowledge in a fascinating and yet understandable manner,” Cavaglia said. “Her discussion on milk and its by-products should be most enlightening.”

Pedigo earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Colorado, a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and her doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Iowa. Before coming to Ole Miss, she was a postdoctoral scientist at Vanderbilt University

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, go to http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/oxfordsciencecafe. For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/physics_and_astronomy or call 662-915-7046.

RebelTHON Team Sets High Goal for Weekend Fundraiser

Annual event benefits Batson Children's Hospital; portion to help renovate cancer center

RebelTHON 2017 begins at 3 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 18) at the Turner Center. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – With last year’s RebelTHON fundraising event at the University of Mississippi almost doubling its goal, the bar is set high for the 2017 dance marathon to benefit the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital at the UM Medical Center.

This year’s event begins at 3 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 18) at the Turner Center. The entertainment will be similar to last year’s event, but some details are being kept secret in hopes of surprising the dancers and families.

“This year, we really wanted to get our name out to the students and faculty even more, which I think we accomplished through various events like bar nights, percentage nights and union tables on campus,” said Marianna Schmidt, a UM senior from Houston, Texas, and executive director of RebelTHON.

RebelTHON organizers have set a goal to raise $150,000 by the end of the 12-hour dance marathon.

“To build up anticipation since the dance is so close, we have taken down our thermometer showing our fundraising progress on the donor drive,” said Schmidt, a business management major.

The organizers to do something a little different with part of their donations this year. They will be giving some of the final total directly to help fund renovation of the hospital’s Children’s Cancer Center.

“It will provide a more comforting area for kids that sometimes spend days in the center,” Schmidt said. “The Cancer Clinic lobby hasn’t changed much since the ’90s, so it will be great for it to receive a facelift.”

The event is a major boost each year for the hospital, said Jennifer Hospodor, director of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and community-based fundraising for the UM Medical Center.

“RebelTHON is an enormous inspiration to our team, and more importantly, it inspires our patients,” Hospodor said. “To see this group of college students work together like they do, with different personalities and backgrounds, all for the sake of our patients, is extraordinary. And then to see how their hard work pays off in such a big way makes their efforts truly astounding.

“We are all so grateful for these students and the countless hours of hard work they put in for the kids. Inspiring may not cover it.”

 Anyone interested in attending the event should visit http://www.rebelthon.org and click “Register.” Participants can sign up until the day of the event, but each person must raise $100 in order to attend. For those who cannot attend the full dance marathon, a community block party is set for 6-9 p.m., when any student or member of the L-O-U community can pay $5 to see what RebelTHON is all about.

Anyone interested in donating to RebelTHON can go to the website and click “Donate.” The site allows donors to designate a specific dancer or give to the event in general. Donations will be accepted throughout the event until one hour before the final reveal.

Chili’s will host a RebelTHON percentage night tonight (Feb 15) at the restaurant on West Jackson Avenue. A flyer will be posted on social media that participants must show in order for RebelTHON to get a percentage of purchases.

“We would love to see people there getting ready for the dance,” Schmidt said.

To learn more about RebelTHON, go to http://www.rebelthon.org. To view a YouTube video from the 2016 Ole Miss RebelTHON, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAfak4pzGks.

Students Downloading LiveSafe App Can Win Free iPad

UM giving away tablet to promote mobile safety platform

Between now and Feb. 24, students can download the LiveSafe app and enter to win a free iPad by uploading a selfie with a UPD officer or by taking a photo of a UPD vehicle.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is giving away a free iPad to one lucky student who downloads LiveSafe, the new mobile safety communications platform for students, faculty and staff.

LiveSafe serves as a tool for real-time security communication and is available for free download for iOS in the App Store and for Android on Google Play.

Students can enter the contest by selecting “iPad Contest” under the Report Tips icon in the app and uploading either a selfie with a University Police officer or by taking a photo of a UPD vehicle on campus. A winner will be announced Feb. 24. Students must download the app and sign up with their Ole Miss email address to enter.

“We strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to download the LiveSafe app so this personal safety tool is readily available,” said Mindy Sutton Noss, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. “Additionally, the app links to the UMatter website and UMSafe, which provide additional resources for the campus community to help their fellow Rebels in need.

“It’s important to utilize these resources and report incidents so we can support one another and help keep the Ole Miss campus safe.”

LiveSafe allows users to report non-emergency tips, including threats, disturbances, assaults, theft, stalking, suspicious activity, drug and alcohol abuse and traffic and parking issues. They can include a photo, video or audio clip when submitting a tip, which can be anonymous. UM safety officials will respond from the appropriate department based on the tip type.

Students can also virtually walk their friends and family members home using the SafeWalk feature. This function uses GPS-enabled location technology to track a person via their mobile device until he or she safely arrives at the destination.

Full instructions are available at http://olemiss.edu/livesafe/.

Other Ole Miss safety resources are available through the sidebar of the app. Students can reach the UMatter website, which allows individuals to access support services for a variety of issues, report bias and hate incidents, and share information regarding campus community members for whom they’re concerned. UMSafe also can be accessed from the app to report issues of sexual assault.

To view all available resources, visit http://umatter.olemiss.edu/.

UM launched the LiveSafe app, which is used on more than 130 college campuses, in November.

“As a member of the team that launched the LiveSafe app, I appreciate that the University of Mississippi is so committed to the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and alumni and guests on and around campus,” said Chasity Galloway, a software developer at UM.

“As a parent, it gives me peace of mind that my daughter will be able to use the app to help keep her safe while she is a student. If at any time she feels unsafe, she has the ability to easily call or text University Police and her location will be available to them. Also, if she chooses, I can virtually watch her reach her destination with the SafeWalk feature of the app from anywhere I am.”

The university also uses the app to send RebAlerts and safety information to the campus community.

 

 

Former UM Director Receives Arts Commission Lifetime Achievement Award

Bill Ferris to be honored at 2017 Governor's Arts Awards

Bill Ferris (left) looks over a copy of Living Blues magazine with blues great B.B. King during a visit by King to the University of Mississippi in the 1980s, when Ferris was director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – William R. Ferris, the preeminent scholar and documenter of Mississippi’s rich culture, music and folklore, has been documenting the lives of Mississippians for more than 50 years. On Feb. 16, the Mississippi Arts Commission will honor him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 Governor’s Arts Awards.

Ferris is a scholar, author, documentary filmmaker and founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. For him, the award is linked to the center in a deep and wonderful way, as well as to the Oxford community.

“It’s a tremendous honor, and I know it would never have happened without the work I was blessed to do at the University of Mississippi and at the center,” Ferris said. “It was a special period in my life that connected me to Mississippi in ways that were very special and very moving, and I know full well that the friendships I was able to share there are a big part of why I was selected for this honor.”

The award is an opportunity to look back and appreciate more deeply what one’s life’s work represents, since in the moment, totally engaged and working, it can be difficult to see where things will land, said Ferris, who was on the Ole Miss faculty from 1979 to 1998.

Southern studies students are leading various areas in new and exciting ways, said Ferris, who keeps up with the program’s students and alumni.

“I look around the state, the region and the nation and know there are powerful voices that were shaped at the center and by the Southern studies program,” he said.

Ferris grew up on a farm south of Vicksburg and developed an early love of storytelling, books, art and music. In 1997, he became chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Bill Clinton.

Since 2002, he has served as Joel Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina.

The 2017 recipients will be recognized at the 29th annual Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony at the Old Capitol Museum in downtown Jackson at 6 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 16). A public reception at 4:30 precedes the awards.

“When I first found myself out in the cultural landscape of Mississippi’s vast richness, Bill was already there, established and knee-deep in the exploration of art and culture,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “Bill is a pathfinder and an icon of this work, and I am proud to be at the helm of MAC on this occasion of his recognition.”

Other award recipients include Sammy Britt (MFA art ’66), Excellence in Visual Art; Vasti Jackson, Arts Ambassador; Lucy Richardson Janoush, Arts Patron; Jaimoe Johnie Johnson, Excellence in Music; and the Mississippi Opera, Artistic Excellence.

“Because these six recipients have made a significant and lasting impact on our state’s arts culture, it is fitting to recognize them during Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration,” White said.

Ferris is the author of 10 books, including “Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues” (University of North Carolina Press, 2009), “You Live and Learn. Then You Die and Forget it All: Ray Lum’s Tales of Horses, Mules, and Men” (Anchor Books, 1992) and his latest, “The South in Color: A Visual Journey” (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities and France’s Chevalier and Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters. The Blues Hall of Fame recognized his book “Blues from the Delta” (Anchor Press, 1978) as one of the classics of blues literature.

Established in 1988, Governor’s Arts Awards are given to individuals and organizations for the excellence of their work in a wide variety of art forms including visual, literary and performing arts, and community development through the arts in Mississippi.

Applicants Sought for Entrepreneurial Spirit Scholarship

JAMAS Capital Management created award to encourage pursuit of innovative business careers

The $2,500 Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship is intended to help UM students become the entrepreneurial business leaders of the future. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Students in the University of Mississippi’s School of Business Administration are encouraged to apply soon for a new scholarship funded by JAMAS Capital Management, a private investment firm based in Jackson.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship, worth $2,500, is intended to help UM students become the entrepreneurial business leaders of the future by easing the financial burden of a college education. Applications must be received by Feb. 28. For more information and to apply for the scholarship, visit the JAMAS website.

Young leaders are capable of innovation and creative new approaches to all aspects of business, including innovative start-ups, said Ben O. Turnage, founder and CEO of JAMAS.

“We know that these young leaders have a unique, fresh perspective not always seen in the business world, as well as their own personal experiences to draw upon,” Turnage said. “Our hope is that by easing the financial burden of secondary education, we will see new UM graduates developing more innovative business start-ups in Mississippi.”

The JAMAS Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship is open to all students who are enrolled or have been accepted at Ole Miss. To be considered, applicants must have at least a 2.8 grade-point average and must submit a 500-to-1,000-word essay from their choice of three topics.

“We are thrilled that Ben, one of our outstanding entrepreneurs and investor in many Mississippi businesses, is funding this important scholarship,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “Through this generous gift, we are able to enhance our Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and our entrepreneurship major, thereby encouraging our students to create new businesses and innovate in existing businesses. 

“This scholarship will allow us to have a long-term impact that enhances the economic value of businesses in Mississippi, the Southeast and throughout the world.”

The scholarship is a timely partnership with the Ole Miss entrepreneurship program because the full entrepreneurship major goes into effect this year, Cyree said.

Also, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which received the Emerging Entrepreneurship Award in 2015, provides opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to hone their start-up business ideas through the Gillespie Business Plan Competition, Pitch Night and Land Shark Tank Pitch programs. Interested students should contact the CIE for more information about how to get involved in programs that foster innovation and entrepreneurship for all businesses.

JAMAS Capital Management is a private investment firm providing a unique source of strategic capital to a broad spectrum of industry sectors. For more than 30 years, Turnage has founded, invested in and profitably grown companies across a variety of businesses, including enterprises in construction, residential/commercial real estate, oil field services and agri-foods.

For more information about JAMAS Capital Management or the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship, contact Susan Segars at 404-808-0075 or by email at susans@qcom-inc.com.

For more information on programs in the UM School of Business Administration, go to http://www.olemissbusiness.com/.

Eunique Jones Gibson Challenges UM, Community to Activism

'Because of Them, We Can' founder delivered Black History Month keynote Monday night

Eunique Jones Gibson delivers the UM Black History Month keynote address at Fulton Chapel. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Flowing with candor, charisma and in a conversational style, Eunique Jones Gibson urged listeners Monday night (Feb. 13) at University of Mississippi to become social activists who improve living conditions for present and future generations.

Delivering the keynote address for the university’s Black History Month observances, the creator of the “Because of Them, We Can” campaign addressed more than 200 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in Fulton Chapel. The audience listened attentively as Jones Gibson shared her experiences and issued a call for change.

“Our mission is to help our children reimagine their possibilities,” she said. “We need you to help us. There is so much work to be done. Now is the time to get involved because life is short and none of us knows how many years we have left.”

During her presentation, which included videos and a question-and-answer session, Jones Gibson outlined three things necessary for individuals to engage in finding and fulfilling their purpose and passion in life.

“First, get to know you,” she said. “Learn your history because that’s how you build your foundation and your confidence.”

“Second, decide what works for you. There’s no cookie-cutter way to be involved because real activism doesn’t come in a box.”

“Third, know that it’s bigger than you,” Jones Gibson said. “Because it’s for those who are coming after us, what we do matters more than our comfort and complacency.”

To drive the last point home, the speaker shared that she had surgery last weekend but didn’t cancel her scheduled UM appearance.

“Being here is more important than my pain,” she said. “It’s bigger than me.”

In 2013, Jones Gibson launched the “Because of Them, We Can” campaign during Black History Month with a mission to empower the next generation to honor the legacy of their ancestors through individual pursuit of greatness.

The campaign went viral and is considered to be one of the most prolific and virally successful Black History campaigns of all time.

“I didn’t envision this becoming what it is when I started it,” Jones Gibson said. “I was simply striving to combat the negative and false narratives of black people to which my children and their peers are being exposed. As it grew, I realized I had an opportunity to create weapons of mass empowerment.”

“Because of Them, We Can” now encompasses a website, social media outlets and videos. A coffee table book, posters, T-shirts and sports jackets are available for purchase online. The campaign also has featured billboards and bus shelter advertisements in major cities.

A team travels to elementary schools to speak to students and leave behind copies of the book for them to keep.

Jones Gibson and her assistants donated 40 copies of the book, three of which were given away to audience members, for her visit to Oxford. The remainder will be delivered to the Boys and Girls Club of Oxford, the Oxford-Lafayette County Public Library and elementary school libraries in the area.

“It’s time to be determined and intentional … especially now,” she said. “By being resilient, we can change the values of our children. The more excited people become about their futures, the more real change can be accomplished in our communities.”

Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, said she hopes that all members of the university community will respond to Jones Gibson’s appeal.

“As our university strives to be a leader in racial reconciliation and inclusivity, this year’s keynote address is a continuation of our educational efforts,” Mead said. “Having engaged with Mrs. Jones Gibson and learned more about the founding, as well as the guiding principles, of ‘Because of Them, We Can,’ we should be even more determined to fulfill our mission.”

Ole Miss students and others in attendance said they were moved by Jones Gibson’s words.

“I’m definitely more motivated to continue to work,” said Joshua Bell, a master’s student in higher education from Miami. “Her take on ‘failing fast’ is a perspective that I never considered before as a pathway to success. Though the work is never over, I’m encouraged to keep going forward.”

“She reminds me of a stick of dynamite,” said Baba Wovoka Subkwe of Oxford, founder of the Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom School and Culture Center in Etta. “Organization and unity is key.

“I’m definitely inspired to continue teaching everything we know to the people of the community in which I live.”

Jones Gibson said she hopes that the UM community will never tire of talking about its 1962 integration by James Meredith.

“Every black person in this room is a miracle,” she said. “Just your going to college makes you a trailblazer and an example for those looking to you. Because of those who came before us, we can. Because of us, those who come after us can also.”

For a full list of sponsors and Black History Month calendar of events, visit http://inclusion.olemiss.edu/.