UM English Major Wins Prize at Southern Literary Festival

Junior Page Lagarde took top honor in nonfiction category

Page Lagarde recently won the nonfiction category at the Southern Literary Festival. Submitted Photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Page Lagarde has always aspired to write professionally. Still, the University of Mississippi junior wasn’t expecting her first entry in a prestigious regional competition to win first place.

An English and French major from Winchester, Virginia, Lagarde won in the nonfiction category at the Southern Literary Festival. Besides receiving a cash prize, she will read her story at the event, set for March 30-April 1 at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

“I was so surprised,” she said. “I found out via email while studying with friends, and they can tell you that I gasped very audibly. It was very exciting!”

Lagarde won for a story titled “To Thaw.” In the piece, the fledgling author reflects upon an Outward Bound dogsledding experience she had.

“It’s a story about faith and surrender when we’re pushed to our limits,” she said. “This is the first writing contest I’ve ever entered, so this one is particularly exciting because I want to eventually be a published writer.”

Lagarde deserves the recognition, said Ivo Kamps, UM professor and chair of English.

“Page’s win is a testament to her talents, and we like to think that the instruction she received in her English and creative writing classes also played a role,” Kamps said. “Thanks to Beth Spencer, lecturer in English, the English department has had robust student participation in the Southern Literary Festival in recent years.

“Each year, Ms. Spencer mentors some of our fine young writers and takes them to the festival, where they can meet their peers as well as a group of impressive professional writers.”

While Lagarde is still processing this honor, she already has her sights set on even bigger achievements.

“After graduation, I hope to pursue an MFA in fiction writing,” she said. “After that, I want to continue writing and also teach.”

As for her publishing dreams, Lagarde said she remains hopeful.

“Creative writing is a fairly new endeavor for me, and I know that it’s so hard to be successful in this field,” she said. “This was really encouraging.”

The Southern Literary Festival is an organization of Southern colleges and schools founded in 1937 to promote Southern literature. For more about the event, go to http://www.southernliteraryfestival.com/.

For more information about the UM Department of English, visit http://english.olemiss.edu.

 

UM Faculty Among Presenters at SEC Academic Conference

More than 60 researchers from across region to discuss 'The Future of Water' at March 27-28 meeting

Cris Surbeck (at right in white shirt) takes a group of students on a tour of a wastewater treatment plant as part of their coursework. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Four University of Mississippi professors will join researchers from across the Southeastern Conference for a two-day academic conference examining water and climate issues.

“The Future of Water: Regional Collaboration on Shared Climate, Coastlines and Watersheds” is set for March 27-28 at Mississippi State University. UM presenters include Catherine Janasie, senior research counsel in the Mississippi Law Research Institute; Scott Knight, director of the UM Field Station; and Cris Surbeck, associate professor of civil engineering. Stephanie Showalter-Otts, director of the National Sea Grant Law Center, will serve as a moderator.

More than 60 scientists, representing all 14 SEC institutions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey and Environmental Protection Agency, are scheduled to participate.

“This conference will bring together the best of the best in the SEC doing water research,” said Daniel Petrolia, an MSU associate professor of agricultural economics and one of the conference organizers. “We will tackle some of the most pressing water issues facing the Southeast, the U.S. and the world.”

Knight will participate in a panel discussion of nonpoint source pollution and best management practices for dealing with it. Surbeck is moderator for the session.

Stephanie Showalter-Otts conducts research at the UM Field Station. Photo by Robert Jordan

As part of a panel on emerging water law and policy issues, Janasie will present “Mississippi v. Tennessee – the  Interstate Groundwater Dispute.”

“I will be covering the United States Supreme Court case over the use of groundwater near the Mississippi-Tennessee border, which focuses on Memphis’ water pumping and how that affects Mississippi’s water resources,” Janasie said. “My talk will also cover how freshwater is allocated and how interstate disputes are traditionally handled by the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court has never handled an interstate dispute over groundwater, so the case is groundbreaking law.”

Janasie said she hope those in attendance will learn about the specific laws concerning how freshwater is allocated, that surface water – lakes, rivers, streams – and groundwater – aquifers – are treated differently under the law, and that interstate disputes have another specific set of rules that apply to them.

Scott Knight is director of the UM Field Station. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“I also hope they learn that even though Mississippi seems to have an abundance of water resources, Mississippi relies heavily on groundwater,” she said. “That’s where we get about 90 percent of the water we use, so the case has big implications for both Mississippi, the city of Memphis and the innumerable other places throughout the country who rely on groundwater.”

Surbeck said that the intention of her session is to get academics together to discuss areas of research necessary to improve the characterization, modeling and management of pollution in water bodies that comes from storm water runoff.

Headlining the conference are best-selling author John M. Barry, former National Geographic executive environment editor; Dennis Dimick, professor at the University of California at Irvine; and Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Increased climate variability and water demand are bringing water issues to the forefront of research discussion, conference organizers said. Drought, declines in aquifers used for irrigation and sea-level rise are among core topics of interest.

The conference is designed to stimulate communication and collaboration aimed at sustainable and resilient water resource management in the Southeast, with overarching themes to include shared inland waters and aquifers, coastlines, climate and regional policy.

Catherine Janaskie presents during last year’s TEDXTalk at UM. Submitted photo

The SEC Academic Conference is an expanded slate of academic programming that is expected to showcase SEC university research in areas of critical importance within the region and around the nation.

For the complete agenda and registration, visit http://www.secconference.msstate.edu.

Nominations Sought for Annual Frist Awards

UM honor recognizes outstanding service to students

Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor for student affairs, presents Brett Cantrell, assistant professor of accountancy, with his Frist Award at the 2016 Commencement. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Being away from home and their familiar support systems, college students often encounter difficulties, but at the University of Mississippi, faculty and staff members often step in to lend a helping hand or simply provide advice and encouragement.

These efforts often go unacknowledged, other than the students’ gratitude and success. But students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff can formally recognize those who have truly “gone the extra mile” to help students by nominating them for the Thomas Frist Student Service Award.

“This university is composed of so many faculty and staff who go above and beyond to help students,” said Anne McCauley, UM assistant director of sustainability who won the honor in 2015. “Each student could probably name at least one person who has made a real impact on his or her life, and we hope to capture everyone’s attention about the nomination process to encourage students to nominate that person, whether it be an office, custodial, support staff, counselor, student organization adviser, mentor, coordinator or faculty member.”

Students, alumni, friends, faculty and staff can submit nominations for the annual awards online through April 3. Any full-time faculty or staff member, except previous winners, is eligible for the award, which includes a $1,000 prize and a plaque.

Written and submitted by individuals, nominations can be entered at http://www.olemiss.edu/frist_award/. Past nominations also may be considered.

Nominations should not focus on classroom teaching or tutoring efforts. Letters that cite only teaching-related activities may not be considered for the award.

The Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award, announced at the annual Honors Day convocation, recognizes excellence in that area.

The nomination narrative should differentiate between obligation and service by citing specific examples in which the person being nominated has gone beyond the call of duty to help a student or group of students.

“Many of our faculty and staff go above and beyond the call of duty to demonstrate their commitment to students,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “It is a privilege to honor two such individuals each year who provide such an example for us all.”

All nominees are notified that they have been so honored, and a campus committee appointed by the chancellor chooses the winners. Awards are to be presented May 13 at UM’s spring Commencement.

The 2015 Frist winners were Brett Cantrell, assistant professor of accountancy, and Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, assistant director of the Office of Violence Prevention in the University Counseling Center

Previous recipients include current faculty members Aileen Ajootian, Luca Bombelli, Don Cole, Charles Eagles, Ellen Meacham, Terry Panhorst, Ken Sufka and Eric Weber; and current staff members Thelma Curry, Carol Forsythe, Dewey Knight, Ginger Patterson, Valeria Ross, Amy Saxton, Marc Showalter and Linda Spargo.

The Frist Student Service Awards were established with a $50,000 gift from the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate.

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/frist_award/.

UM Museum Readies Major Exhibition Honoring Kate Freeman Clark

Curators hope to broaden awareness of painter's works and raise support for conservation

University Museum workers hang a portrait for the ‘Lasting Impressions: Restoring Kate Freeman Clark’ exhibit, set to open March 28. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The largest exhibit in more than two decades featuring works by acclaimed Mississippi painter Kate Freeman Clark is set to debut March 28 at the University of Mississippi Museum.

“Lasting Impressions: Restoring Kate Freeman Clark” includes more than 70 paintings from the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery and several artifacts from the Marshall County Historical Museum to illustrate different times and aspects of the artist’s life.

The exhibition was developed by Guest Curators James G. Thomas Jr., associate director for publications at the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and Annette Trefzer, UM associate professor of English.

“The fact that there was an accomplished and prolific female artist in our neighborhood whose name I had never heard before was the magnet that drew me first to the Holly Springs museum,” said Trefzer, also owner of Bozarts Gallery in Water Valley.

“And visiting there, I was overwhelmed by the quality and depth of her work: hundreds of canvases of landscapes, portraits and still lifes reside in the little museum. What a treasure and what a story!”

The exhibition is a major event for the University Museum and for art lovers across north Mississippi, said Robert Saarnio, museum director.

“The University Museum is honored and thrilled to have developed this major exhibition of the work of Kate Freeman Clark, in partnership with our guest curators, the Holly Springs lending institutions and our donors who so graciously provided the required funding,” Saarnio said.

“The compelling story of this exceptional artist and the beauty of her work will captivate audiences and inspire a renewed appreciation for one of Mississippi’s artistic treasures.”

A colorful garden scene from the ‘Lasting Impressions: Restoring Kate Freeman Clark’ exhibit, set to open March 28 at the University Museum. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

A Holly Springs native, Clark spent many years in New York City, where she studied under teacher, mentor and well-known American impressionist William Merritt Chase. She produced hundreds of paintings and had major exhibits at the Boston Art Club, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Corcoran Gallery, Carnegie Institute, New York School of Art, National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists.

After 27 years of painting and following the deaths of Chase and her mother and grandmother, Clark stored her entire collection in a New York City warehouse in 1923 and returned to Holly Springs, where she remained until her death in 1957. She left her collection and estate to the city.

“I was first drawn to Kate Freeman Clark’s fascinating life story, and as I examined her vast body of work, she became all the more intriguing to me,” Thomas said. “How could a person with such great talent and obvious drive to create, and who had achieved a not inconsiderable measure of success, suddenly abandon her passion?”

An opening reception is set for 6 p.m. March 28 in conjunction with the Oxford Arts Crawl. The city’s double-decker busses will stop at the museum every 20 minutes for guest convenience. The event is free and open to the public.

A landscape from the ‘Lasting Impressions: Restoring Kate Freeman Clark’ exhibit, set to open March 28 at the University Museum. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“The main concept of our show is to highlight her work as that of a woman artist,” Trefzer said. “We also want to show the variety of work in terms of styles, themes and media that she created as a student. We call the show ‘Lasting Impressions’ because we want the viewer to confront her ‘impressions’ of the world around her, a domestic life largely dominated by her mother and grandmother, and her love of the landscapes, both cultivated and natural, that she painted.”

Only a fraction of Clark’s paintings have been exhibited for many years, so the exhibit represents a rare opportunity for art lovers to view the works, Thomas said.

Both Thomas and Trefzer expressed special thanks to Walter Webb, director of the gallery in Holly Springs, for his assistance in developing the exhibit. They also hope the showing will boost support for continued conservation of the artist’s works, Trefzer said.

“These canvases have lasted more than 120 years, and we hope that with ongoing restoration efforts, more of them will be preserved for the future,” she said. “This is why we are also showing unrestored work. We want to make the public aware of this woman’s tremendously accomplished work so worth preserving and of her unique story that should be included in books of art history.”

A panel discussion on “The Art of Kate Freeman Clark” is slated for 1:30 p.m. March 30 at the museum, as part of the Oxford Conference for the Book. A reception will follow the discussion.

Panelists include writer, editor and scholar Carolyn Brown, who published award-winning biographies of Eudora Welty and Margaret Walker, as well as “The Artist’s Sketch: A Biography of Painter Kate Freeman Clark” (University Press of Mississippi, 2017). She will sign copies of the book at the reception.

Other panelists are Thomas, Trefzer and Beth Batton, an art historian and executive director of The Oaks House Museum in Jackson.

Funding for the exhibition was provided by Lester and Susan Fant III, Tim and Lisa Liddy, David B. Person, the Bank of Holly Springs, Ellis Stubbs State Farm Insurance, First State Bank and Tyson Drugs Inc.

The museum, at Fifth Street and University Avenue, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu/.

UM Liberal Arts Graduate Programs Jump in Rankings

English, history and political science doctoral programs named among nation's best

Several programs in the UM College of Liberal Arts, headquartered in Ventress Hall, have risen in the latest rankings of graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – On the heels of achieving the university’s highest-ever standing in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of Best (Undergraduate) Colleges and Universities, the publication’s most recent graduate academic program rankings confirm the university’s commitment to academic excellence.

Doctoral programs in English, history and political science all made significant strides in the 2018 graduate program rankings, indication of the growing strength and upward trend for UM’s graduate programs in social sciences and humanities.

The U.S. News & World Report graduate rankings for the three programs were last updated in 2013.

“We are proud of the faculty who have worked hard to distinguish our graduate programs, and these new rankings clearly indicate that they are gaining recognition for their efforts,” said Noel Wilkin, UM interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “We have encouraged each of our programs to pursue excellence and I am pleased that this pursuit is bringing recognition to our faculty, our university and our state.”

The English doctoral program demonstrated the biggest jump as it improved 16 spots, where it tied for No. 40 in the nation among public universities with fellow Southeastern Conference institutions the universities of Florida and Missouri.

A Ph.D. in history from the university has never been more valued, as the graduate program cracked the Top 40 for the first time. UM tied for No. 37 in the category – up nine spots from 2013 – and shares the position with fellow SEC and Carnegie R1 research universities Texas A&M and Kentucky.

The political science graduate program entered the rankings for the first time and tied for No. 58 among public institutions.

Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, says the rankings are a testament to the university’s strong faculty, staff and students.

“These rankings demonstrate what we have believed for some time: that we have strong, competitive doctoral programs on our campus that are well-respected at the national level,” Cohen said. “Of course, without the hard work of our faculty, staff and students, and the support of university administration, none of this would be attainable.”

The rankings are based on data collected last fall via surveys sent to administrators or faculty members at schools that granted five or more doctorates in each discipline from 2011 to 2015.

“Graduate education is increasingly important and valued in today’s competitive global marketplace,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “A UM graduate degree marks someone as a leader who will exceed employer expectations and be a real-world change maker.

“In order to continue the rise of our graduate programs, we are committed to enhancing our R1 standing as well as faculty excellence, research and scholarship.”

Susan Duncan Named UM Law School Dean

Experienced leader and administrator brings entrepreneurial approach

Susan Duncan

OXFORD, Miss. – After a national search, Susan Duncan has been chosen as the new dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law. She is scheduled to join the university Aug. 1, pending approval by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Education.

“I am thrilled and deeply honored to be joining a law school with such a rich tradition and positive momentum,” Duncan said. “I look forward to being part of the Ole Miss family and am excited to help take the law school to new heights.”

Duncan joins UM from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, where she served as interim dean from 2012 to 2017 and on the faculty since 1997. The Louisville, Kentucky, native is widely recognized in the field for her entrepreneurial approach, ability to connect to various aspects of the practice of law, deep understanding of national trends and opportunities, energetic fundraising and commitment to working across campus.

“We are extremely pleased to have such an accomplished scholar and practitioner to lead the law school,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Ms. Duncan is well-respected by students and faculty alike and has a proven track record of successful leadership, particularly in the area of fundraising. She will be instrumental in guiding our law school to higher rankings and a greater role in Mississippi.”

Duncan has received numerous honors and recognitions. The Kentucky Bar Association presented her with the 2016 President’s Special Service Award, and in 2014, the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law Alumni Council presented her with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Also in 2014, Duncan was named one of the top 20 people to know in the field of education by Business First. In 2010, the Louisville Bar Association presented her its Distinguished Service Award.

Debbie Bell, who has served as interim dean at UM for two years, will continue in that role until July 31.

“We are grateful to Debbie Bell for her outstanding leadership of the law school for the past two years,” said Noel Wilkin, interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “She was able to galvanize our commitment to law education and guide our school through a challenging period of transition. She did this with determination, professionalism, confidence and an unwavering commitment to law education.”

Duncan holds a J.D. from the Brandeis School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She has lectured internationally, including at the University of Montpellier, France, University KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Johannes Gutenberg University, in Mainz, Germany, at the University of Leeds, England, and the University of Turku, Finland.

Besides numerous scholarly presentations, she has authored or co-authored dozens of publications on a variety of legal topics.

At the University of Louisville, Duncan was well-respected as a caring, committed leader as well as an accomplished fundraiser, dramatically increasing donations from Brandeis alumni and overcoming budgetary challenges that preceded her. In 2016, her fundraising efforts were recognized with the William J. Rothwell Faculty Award from the Office of Advancement.

“In addition to her accomplishments as an academic, she has a proven ability to work with law faculty, staff, students and alumni to accomplish shared goals,” Wilkin said. “This ability is more important than ever, given the current issues faced by law schools, and we expect Ms. Duncan will help our school achieve new and unprecedented success.”

Pulitzer Winner Jon Meacham to Give UM Commencement Address

Presidential historian to address graduates May 13 in the Grove

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Jon Meacham will give the University of Mississippi’s 2017 Commencement address May 13 in the Grove. Photos courtesy Royce Carlton.

OXFORD, Miss. – Pulitzer Prize-winning author, presidential historian and one of America’s most prominent public intellectuals Jon Meacham will deliver the University of Mississippi’s 164th Commencement address May 13 in the Grove. 

Meacham, a former editor of Newsweek and a contributor to Time and The New York Times Book Review, speaks to graduates and their families at 9 a.m.

Also a regular guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he is respected for his great depth of knowledge on current affairs, politics and religion. He possesses a rich understanding of the way issues impact American lives and also why each event’s historical context is important. 

Having Meacham on campus for such an important event in the lives of students and their families is a “tremendous honor” for the university, Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. 

“It is an amazing opportunity for our graduating students to hear from a person of his caliber – a highly accomplished, prize-winning author and renowned presidential historian,” Vitter said. “Mr. Meacham joins a long list of distinguished Commencement speakers who have graced our flagship university with their insight and knowledge over the years. We look forward to welcoming him to Ole Miss and Oxford.”

A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Meacham earned an English literature degree from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He serves as a distinguished visiting history professor at his alma mater and also a visiting distinguished professor at Vanderbilt University.

He has written multiple New York Times bestsellers and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House” (Random House, 2008). His most recent presidential biography, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush” (Random House, 2015), debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list. 

Meacham has also written other national bestsellers on Thomas Jefferson, the relationship between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and on the Founding Fathers and the role of their relationships with God during the creation of the nation. He is working on a biography of James and Dolly Madison. 

“The Long View” column in The New York Times Book Review, which “looks back at books that speak to our current historical moment” and being a contributing editor at Time keep Meacham busy these days. He also was Newsweek’s managing editor from 1998 to 2006 and editor from 2006 to 2010. He is “one of the most influential editors in the news magazine business,” according to The New York Times. 

He appeared on Ken Burns’ documentary series “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” and Fox News Channel aired an hourlong special on Meacham’s “Destiny and Power” in 2015. He has appeared on various other current affairs TV programs and news shows. 

The World Economic Forum named Meacham a “Global Leader for Tomorrow,” and he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a fellow of the Society of American Historians and chair of the National Advisory Board of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University. 

Noel Wilkin, UM interim provost and executive vice chancellor, said he looks forward to hearing the respected author and historian speak. 

“Commencement is a significant event for our students that commemorates their accomplishments and the development that they have experienced while at our institution,” Wilkin said. “I am pleased that Jon Meacham will be with us to celebrate this occasion and share his perspectives and insights on this significant day.”

Donors Underwrite Southern Foodways Alliance’s ‘Gravy’

Major gift will allow UM center to continue telling stories of the region through its food

Brook and Pam Smith at Castle & Key Distillery, where the couple are partners, outside Frankfort, Kentucky. Photo by Steven Freeman

OXFORD, Miss. – Knowing the unifying qualities of food, Brook and Pam Smith of Louisville, Kentucky, have pledged $1 million to support “Gravy,” a podcast produced by the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi.

“Folks in different places appreciate when someone from one cultural segment takes the time to dine with others from a different cultural segment,” Brook Smith said. “It’s a show of respect and appreciation for a culture that may be different from their own, and that’s what we seem to be missing in our country today.”

Whenever the Smiths travel, they try to meet members of the Southern Foodways Alliance along the way. A member-supported nonprofit institute of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the SFA sponsors scholarships, mentors students, stages symposia, collects and shares oral histories, and produces and publishes books, podcasts and films.

On a recent trip to visit Pam’s family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Smiths detoured to Hemingway, South Carolina, where Scott’s Bar-B-Q, praised by The New York Times, attracts customers from hundreds of miles away.

“My whole life has been barbecue,” said pitmaster Rodney Scott, who just opened his own barbecue restaurant in nearby Charleston, South Carolina. “I grew up doing it, hanging around it and hanging around other people that do it. And there’s just no other way to bring people in quicker. It’s like a beacon sign; it just draws them right in there.”

That spirit drew in the Smiths. So did the storytelling work of the SFA.

“‘Gravy,’ which was awarded publication of the year in 2015 by the prestigious James Beard Foundation, shares stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat,” said John T. Edge, SFA director. “‘Gravy’ showcases a South that is constantly evolving.

“We use food as a means to complicate stereotypes, document new dynamics and give voice to the often unsung folk who grow, cook and serve our daily meals.”

Edge is grateful for the Smiths’ generous gift.

“This sort of long-term commitment offers funding stability so that the SFA can take risks to tell stories in new and bold ways,” Edge said. “At a moment when ‘Gravy’ recently delivered its 1 millionth download, Brook and Pam have invested deeply in our most scalable and sharable effort.

“They are long-time members of the organization who know and respect the role that food plays in the cultural life of our nation.”

Smith found success in the surety bonding business. He’s also a wine and distillery owner as well as a philanthropist with an interest in organizations that focus on improving life for young people and those like the SFA, which inspires communities to invest in their culinary customs and, in so doing, establishes lasting, cross-cultural relationships.

Smith also has an ongoing commitment to Appalachian Kentucky and recently established a private philanthropic fund focused on economic development in the region that includes an interest in development driven by local mountain food traditions and small-scale farming.

He and Pam have three sons: Reed, 21; Mac, 18; and Grayson, 16.

Before establishing the Smith Family Gravy Boat Fund, the Smiths donated $250,000 in 2014 to support the SFA’s Smith Symposium Fellows program, which invites individuals whose work promises a positive impact on the South to be guests at the SFA’s fall symposium.

Brook Smith trusts his gift will boost operating funds, enabling the organization to better document, study and explore the diverse food cultures of the American South.

“Food starts conversations,” he said “You get into who makes it and where the products come from. It’s an ice breaker.

“People talk about the weather, but talking about barbecue is a lot more interesting.”

Private gifts are crucial to the university’s well-being and especially to programs such as the SFA, which depend on donor support to operate, UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“We are tremendously grateful to receive generous donations, especially from such passionate supporters as the Smiths,” Vitter said. “It speaks to the impact of our university programs, not just in the state, but across the country and around the world.

“The Smiths’ gift will ensure that many more people will be enriched by the SFA for years to come. These kinds of contributions are a vital part of our university’s sustained growth, reach, impact and success.”

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to support the Southern Foodways Alliance or the Center for the Study of Southern Culture by mailing a check with the endowment noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or contacting Nikki Neely Davis, development officer for the CSSC at 662-915-6678 or nlneely@olemiss.edu.

Download “Gravy” for free from the iTunes store and the SFA website. For more information, visit http://www.southernfoodways.org and follow on Twitter @Potlikker.

UM Law Students Win Southeastern Tax Competition

Team tops field of SEC law and accountancy programs for inaugural championship

UM second-year law students Kyle Carpenter (left), Devin Mills and Patrick Huston won first place in the inaugural Southeastern Regional Tax Challenge presented by the University of Missouri schools of Law and Accountancy. Photo courtesy University of Missouri

OXFORD, Miss. – A team of students from the University of Mississippi School of Law won first place in the inaugural Southeastern Regional Tax Challenge presented by the University of Missouri schools of Law and Accountancy.

All Southeastern Conference universities were invited to send teams of law and accountancy students to participate in the Feb. 11 competition.

The Ole Miss law school team of Kyle Carpenter, from Jackson; Patrick Huston, of Milton, Florida; and Devin Mills, of New Albany, brought home first place after two days of competition. They also won Best Presentation, and Devin Mills won second place in the Best Presenter category.

“It was an amazing opportunity that would not have been possible if not for professor Green and all the other professionals involved,” Mills said.

Each team was given a set of facts that dealt with the potential acquisition of an up-and-coming pharmaceutical company by a venture capital company. The team had two weeks to prepare its oral and written presentations for the judges – attorneys, accountants and professors from throughout the Southeast – who acted as clients.

The presentations broke down each possible acquisition method, along with the pros and cons, and also focused on the tax consequences of each acquisition method.

“It was a nice opportunity for students to think about a real-life transaction that happens quite regularly,” said Karen Green, UM professor of law who coached the team. “The students were given only about 10 days to prepare, so they were under the pressure of researching the acquiring company’s options and preparing their oral and written presentations.

“They weighed all the different options from both the tax law and the corporate law sides, and they had to prepare projections of the tax benefits depending on which way the transaction was structured. They really did a great job.”

Teams were allowed only two practice sessions. To help her team prepare, Green enlisted the help of Oxford tax attorneys Jack Nichols, Gray Edmondson, Josh Sage and Brandon Dixon, along with law school faculty members Donna Davis, Richard Gershon, K.B. Melear and Jason Derek, to quiz the students and challenge their arguments.

On the first day of competition, the team competed twice before different panels of judges. After the scores were compiled, they were notified that they were one of the top four teams and would advance to the final round.

This was the first time the UM School of Law has competed in a tax law competition.

Dennis Moore Named as Silver Em Honoree

Annual award is most prestigious journalism honor given by UM

Dennis Moore

OXFORD, Miss. – Dennis Moore, whose career in journalism has led him back to Jackson as co-editor of Mississippi Today, has been tapped as this year’s Samuel Talbert Silver Em recipient by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.

The award, named for an early department chairman and leader in journalism education, is the most prestigious journalism honor the university bestows. Moore is the 58th honoree in the recognition limited to native Mississippians or journalists who have spent a significant part of their careers in the state. Selection is based on careers exemplifying the highest ideals of American journalism.

“Dennis’ career is an expression of the quality of his performance as an undergraduate at Ole Miss,” said Will Norton, dean of the university’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “He has performed at an exceptional level of excellence.”

Moore began his reporting career after graduation at The Clarion-Ledger, but his experience started earlier at The Germantown News in Germantown, Tennessee.

“I made a blind call to the editor and asked if I could work there,” Moore said. “She said I was welcome to drop in on production nights, but they could not pay.”

He went, worked and learned. More experience was gained through an internship with Southern Living magazine.

In Jackson, Moore, a movie fan, was allowed an extra assignment to write one review per week. When the city landed the International Ballet Competition, he was assigned to provide coverage, gaining more exposure and experience to writing about the arts and entertainment.

His success took him to The Orlando Sentinel to direct its arts coverage and edit the newspaper’s award-winning Sunday magazine, Florida.

USA Today was next, and Moore advanced to managing editor of the Life section. In that role, he traveled and routinely met with celebrities, including forming a real admiration for Steven Spielberg and being nervous before talking with Mick Jagger. He was also pleased when John Grisham reported that his mother had appreciated a story Moore had written about the author.

Moore lists his interview with Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her work in “The Help” as his favorite actor interview.

An abrupt change came when Moore became breaking news editor for USA Today. In that role, he guided the coverage of Ebola in Africa and the United States, the violence and protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the trial of a Boston Marathon bomber and the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Moore was with USA Today during the development of its internet presence. In his newest position, he joined Fred Anklam, also a USA Today veteran, previous Silver Em recipient and Ole Miss graduate, in launching an all-digital news service based in the state capital and devoted to nonpartisan reporting on Mississippi issues.

Mississippi Today is “true startup from creating a website to hiring reporters to introducing the new concept to readers,” More said. The online publication has seed grants from several national foundations with the purpose of informing the public about education, health, economic growth and culture.

The Silver Em presentation will take place during the Best of Meek dinner April 5 in the ballroom of the Inn at Ole Miss. For more information, contact the Meek School at meekschool@olemiss.edu.