A Don of All Trades

Longtime pharmacy employee has many talents

OXFORD, Miss. – Whether at work or at home, Don Stanford is always looking for the next adventure.

Once featured on National Geographic’s website, this photo, shot by Stanford with a remote control camera, shows Stanford camped in a red oak.

Once featured on National Geographic’s website, this photo, shot by Stanford with a remote control camera, shows Stanford camping in a red oak.

“I really enjoy doing anything new or anything challenging,” Stanford said. “I’ll be right in the middle of those projects to try to shepherd things through and make things happen.”

Stanford is assistant director of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, part of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. He first began working with the school as a senior research technician in 1980.

“Don has been an integral part of our team for years,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “His talent is impressive on multiple levels.”

As assistant director of RIPS, Stanford oversees and directs the school’s infrastructure and research operations. He has organized a team that is responsible for facilities and information technology. The team is in charge of everything inside the school’s buildings, including research equipment.

Outside the School of Pharmacy, however, Stanford is just as ambitious. He said he loves to be outdoors and will “take any excuse to be outside.” A professional tree climber, Stanford has climbed trees that are 200 feet tall.

“For a while, I was going to the annual rendezvous for Tree Climbers International,” he said. “They held it in different places, in Oregon and Nebraska and Colorado. I would stay a week, and we would camp up in the trees.

“We would use a ‘tree boat’ to camp, which is a heavy-duty hammock that you sleep in. You use a harness to get up into the tree, and then you are anchored to a limb up above. When you sleep, you stay in that harness and never come out of it.”

In the past, Stanford has acted as a certified facilitator for various guided tree climbs.

“I’ve taken people up into trees – I always had extra equipment to rescue them if they got stuck,” he said. “People have their ceilings when it comes to heights. For some people it’s 20 feet off the ground, and for others it’s much higher.”

Stanford is also a member of an 800-acre hunting club in Lafayette County, though not for the reason one might think.

“I hardly ever hunt; it just gives me an excuse to go sit outdoors,” Stanford said. “I photograph the interesting things I see. I really enjoy nature photography.”

Stanford is known around the school for his interest in hot air ballooning. He began flying in 1979 after watching a PBS documentary about wildlife photographers using a balloon to photograph African animals.

After earning a commercial pilot license, which is required by the Federal Aviation Administration for passenger balloon pilots, Stanford flew at festivals in Canada and France. One of his most memorable flights was for a presidential candidate.

“In 1980 when Ronald Reagan was the Republican nominee for president, his campaign people hired me to fly at an outdoor rally in Columbus, Mississippi, where Mr. Reagan was to speak,” Stanford said. “The plan was for him to make his opening remarks; I would launch and fly over the stage while the audience was still applauding. Because it was very windy, we had to rush the launch and I interrupted Mr. Reagan in the middle of his opening remarks. He paused, looked up and said, ‘Wow!'”

Cohen Named Dean of UM College of Liberal Arts

The former Texas Tech psychologist will lead university’s largest academic division beginning Aug. 1

Lee Cohen

Lee Cohen

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has hired Lee Cohen, professor and chair of Texas Tech University’s psychological sciences department, to become the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He is set to begin his new post Aug. 1. 

Cohen, who will also teach psychology, said he’s excited and humbled by the selection and looks forward to beginning his work at UM.

“I know that the appointment of a new dean is an important decision and I very much appreciate being given the opportunity to lead the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi,” Cohen said. “I am excited to get to work and learn all I can about the college as well as the traditions, legacies and history of Ole Miss.

“I am also very much looking forward to building upon existing relationships and forging new ones within the college and across the university and local community.” 

Cohen has demonstrated exemplary personal and professional qualities as a leader and an educator, and the university’s faculty and administration look forward to his arrival, said Morris Stocks, UM acting chancellor. 

“We are extremely pleased that Dr. Lee Cohen will be joining the University of Mississippi,” Stocks said. “He has excellent qualifications that will serve him well as he leads the College of Liberal Arts into the future. Dr. Cohen will bring a deep understanding of the values of a liberal education, as well as focused energy and enthusiasm for the continued transformation of our university.”

Acting Provost Noel Wilkin touted Cohen’s success as an administrator and also his distinguished career as a faculty member. 

“Dr. Cohen understands the important roles that faculty play on our campus and brings with him valuable experience that will serve him well as he assumes leadership of our largest academic unit on campus,” Wilkin said. 

Cohen holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of California at San Diego. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Oklahoma State University. For the past 15 years, he’s been a faculty member at Texas Tech. There, he has also served in administrative roles, which includes director of the nationally accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology, in addition to serving as chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences.

He has taught both undergraduate and graduate-level classes, and also has been involved in important research on nicotine addiction. He established a research program that explores the mechanisms that contribute to nicotine use, withdrawal and dependence. He said he has mainly been interested in identifying healthy alternative behaviors that complement smoking cessation efforts.

His wife, Michelle, is an occupational therapist and an assistant professor at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. The couple has three children: Ross, 12, Rachel, 9, and Rebecca, 3.

James Vaughan Reflects on a Distinguished Career

After 35 years at UM, F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering is retiring

When James G. Vaughan joined the University of Mississippi faculty more than 35 years ago, he couldn’t envision his academic career would become legendary.

CME Director James Vaughan, Peyton Randolph and Jarrett Davis, first recipients of the Mississippi Manufactures Association Scholarship, with MS Manufactures Association Director Jay Moon and Chancellor Dan Jones. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

CME Director James Vaughan, Peyton Randolph and Jarrett Davis, first recipients of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association Scholarship, with MMA Director Jay Moon and Chancellor Dan Jones.
Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

“I always knew that I wanted to teach, however, I ultimately decided that working for a few years in industry before starting my university career would be a good thing,” said the Fredrick A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “While working for a DOE prime contractor in Kansas City, Missouri, I received a telephone call from Dr. John Fox, then chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering asking if I would be interested in interviewing for a position in mechanical engineering to teach and develop a materials science program. I interviewed in the fall of 1979 and took the position in January 1980.”

After nearly more than three decades of dedicated service, Vaughan retired June 30.

“My post-retirement plans include spending a lot more time with my family, not working long hours into the night, reading books that are not textbooks, listening to music, spending some time outdoors in the yard and not worrying over the next five-year strategic plan/budget,” he said.

Vaughan earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and his master’s and doctoral degrees in materials science and engineering from Vanderbilt University. He joined UM as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and rose to the rank of professor in 1989. Two years later, Vaughan received the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award. In 1998, he was named F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor, the university’s highest rank for a faculty member.

“These two top university honors in teaching and research are most humbling,” he said. “I am the only University of Mississippi faculty member to date to have received both of these awards.”

During his storied career, Vaughan has worked with many colleagues and administrators.

“I have served under three chairs of the Department of Mechanical Engineering: Dr. John Fox, Dr. Jeff Roux and Dr. Raj,” he said. “Dr. Sam Wang served as intern chair for two years. Pretty amazing to have only three chairs in that time period and also only three deans. I worked with Dr. Allie Smith, Dr. Kai-Fong Lee and Alex Cheng. I just missed Karl Brenkert as dean but had the great opportunity to work with him as a faculty member for about eight years.”

Vaughan said Ellen Lackey, Raju Mantena, and Tryrus McCarty have all helped him along the way, with Lackey helping to co-develop the Composite Materials Research Group into the most recognized academic pultrusion research facility in the world.

Vaughan continuously demonstrated his commitment to education through excellence in teaching and supervision of graduate and undergraduate students.

“There have been far too many students to go back and recognize individually, but Ole Miss engineering has graduated some very impressive students over my years here that I am happy to still call my friend,” Vaughan said. “Just last week, I received several emails from five of our former graduate students having a small Ole Miss reunion at an international composite materials conference. It is such a great feeling to know that former students are doing so well in their own professions.”

Vaughan has received several awards from the School of Engineering, the university and many professional societies based on his outstanding teaching, research and service. From 1989 to 2009, he served as associate dean of the engineering school. Since 2008, he served as interim director and then founding director of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

“All CME employees and university administrators have worked hard to make this venture a success and all have been great to work with,” he said. “As I retire, I will greatly miss the staff of the CME and our daily debates as to how we can improve.”

Although recognition from the university, the engineering school and the mechanical engineering department have been rewarding, Vaughan said the most fulfilling achievement comes when former students see him on campus or in town and come over to say how much they appreciate his efforts to teach them about materials science or manufacturing, or his help to get them through difficult situations.

“Just this week, a student from 30 years ago saw my wife and me in Handy Andy’s eating and came over to thank me for helping him back in his days as a student,” he said. “I had not seen this former student in at least 25 years, but he came over to the table to ask if it was me, and he wanted to tell me thank you. Those comments from past students really can make your day.”

During 2015 Commencement activities, Vaughan received a citation commending him for his service.

“Dr. Vaughan is attributed as the single most important person in the creation and organization of the academic programs of CME,” said Chancellor Dan Jones, who presented the award. “He will be greatly missed by students and colleagues at the university.”

Spitzer Seizes Success

Mechanical engineering alumnus founded his own global investment firm

Richard Spitzer enjoys his success.

Richard Spitzer enjoys his success.

Destiny is largely determined by our choices. Richard D. Spitzer can certainly attest that continuing his family’s agricultural legacy would probably have been his future had he not decided to venture beyond the boundaries of the comfortable and familiar.

“I grew up on a big farm that was in my family for multiple generations,” said the native of Malden, Missouri. “I had a great set of cousins, the Tatums, in Oxford who convinced me Ole Miss was the place (to attend college). And so it was.”

After finishing high school, Spitzer enrolled at the University of Mississippi and majored in mechanical engineering. An exceptional student, he found his professors and their courses intellectually stimulating.

“Engineering school at Ole Miss was not easy,” he said. “There’s no party school in that world. Still, I had several favorites, including Dr. Karl Brenkert, Dr. John Fox, Dr. Sam Wang, Dr. Shields, Dr. James Vaughan and Dr. Jeff Roux.”

Roux, professor of mechanical engineering and former chair of the department, remembers Spitzer as an outstanding student.

“Richard was a very, very gifted guy,” Roux said. “He was the kind of person who saw being a mechanical engineer as an important goal to strive for. Still, his abilities were such that he was bound to be successful in whatever he chose to do.”

Spitzer also enjoyed his professors outside of engineering.

“Dr. Charles Alexander in the (Department) of Mathematics and Dr. Woods who was an economics professor in the business school,” Spitzer said. “All these professors were top-notch.”

Spitzer’s intellectual prowess also impressed then-graduate student Tyrus McCarty. The two became lifelong friends who continue to stay in touch since their days at UM.

“Richard was always an exceptional individual in every respect,” said McCarty, associate professor of mechanical engineering and assistant engineering dean for special initiatives. “He and I spent many hours in lively discussions that were thought-provoking and enlightening.”

During his undergraduate tenure, Spitzer was an active member of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Spitzer’s roles in both organizations later proved instrumental in getting him jobs at Texas Instruments and beyond.

The degrees that Spitzer earned include a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in1986 with honors and a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University, also with honors.

“Interestingly, Dr. Gerald Turner was the chancellor at Ole Miss back then, and is now the president of SMU,” Spitzer said.

Founder and CEO of the Spitzer Group LLC, he works predominantly with a closely held private equity group on acquiring and turning around or originating automotive and related business-to-business and business-to-consumer assets globally, including interests in India/Southeast Asia, Africa, China/Northeast Asia and the Americas. Reflecting upon his success, Spitzer said he thinks every step has had its moments.

“Graduating with honors at Ole Miss and SMU, getting my PE, winning awards at work, getting voted top 25 consultants in Consulting Magazine were all wonderful,” he said. “But nothing happens without help and support from family and friends.”

Spitzer said his wife, Dainty “DD,” and their daughter, Morgan, are fundamental to his sense of achievement.

“I’d say I’m most proud of my daughter getting elected president of the Academy of Finance at Memorial Senior High School in Houston,” he said. “She also got an internship this summer with Ernst & Young.”

When not working, Spitzer enjoys exercising, being with his family and spending time with other Ole Miss and SMU alumni.

Mike and Emily Williams Spread Wealth through Woods Society

Alumni couple's generosity helps create scholarships like ones they received as students

Mike and Emily Williams enjoy family time with their daughters.

Mike and Emily Williams enjoy family time with their daughters Samantha and Annie.

Fourteen years ago, Mike and Emily Williams both graduated from the University of Mississippi with bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering. Since then, they have raised two daughters and thrived in their avocations. And they continue to provide generous support for the School of Engineering.

As scholarship recipients, the Williams are appreciative of the assistance they received during college. Since graduation, they have contributed their time and money to ensure future generations of UM engineering students continue to receive the opportunities they did. They have established a scholarship fund for Ole Miss engineering students and continue to contribute to The Woods Society each month.

Mike Williams was born and raised in New Iberia, Louisiana, which he described as the “heart of Cajun and LSU country.” Despite his roots, he decided to attend Ole Miss.

“I really liked the small town feel of Oxford, the beautiful Ole Miss campus and the small size of the engineering school,” he said. “I also received more scholarship support from Ole Miss than from any other school which made my parents very happy!”

Emily Williams is originally from Portland, Oregon, but grew up in various towns across the Southeast. When it came time for college, Ole Miss was a simple choice. Emily was a National Merit Scholar in high school and was offered a full-tuition academic scholarship from Ole Miss.

“This generous scholarship and the beautiful campus definitely made my decision easy,” she said.

Both Mike and Emily said the education they received at Ole Miss has been instrumental throughout their lives and careers. After working for ExxonMobil, XTO Energy and other small companies in the upstream oil and gas industry, Mike is reservoir engineering manager at MorningStar Partners, a new oil and gas company in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Beyond the standard textbook engineering knowledge that is taught in every school, the professors at Ole Miss also taught us several intangible concepts that have been extremely beneficial, such as the importance of being able to work effectively in a team, the role economics play in engineering decisions and the concept of propagation of error and levels of uncertainty,” he said.

Post-graduation, Emily worked as an engineer for a few years, until she decided to go back to school to pursue a new degree. Enrolled at Texas Christian University, she is in the process of earning a bachelor’s degree in biology with plans to pursue a doctorate in immunology.

“The process of earning an engineering degree instills a very strong work ethic and ability to be a creative problem solver,” Emily Williams said. “These skills continue to serve me well as I am now back in school pursuing a new degree.”

“As scholarship recipients, clearly the Williams want others to benefit by studying engineering at Ole Miss as well,” said Kevin Gardner, engineering development officer at UM. “It is easy to see the love for Ole Miss by their early example of giving back soon after graduation. We are grateful to Emily and Mike for their purposeful generosity.”

Ole Miss Student Receives National Pharmacy Scholarship

Kelsey Stephens honored for leadership and commitment to profession

Kelsey Stephens (center) receives the Gloria Francke Scholarship from Lucy West, national APhA-ASP president, and Nick Capote, outgoing APhA-ASP president.

Kelsey Stephens (center) receives the Gloria Francke Scholarship from Lucy West, national APhA-ASP president, and Nick Capote, outgoing APhA-ASP president.

OXFORD, Miss. – Kelsey Stephens, a rising third-year professional pharmacy student at the University of Mississippi, has been awarded the $1,000 Gloria Francke Scholarship from the American Pharmacists Association Foundation Student Scholarship Program.

APhA student scholarships are awarded to students who “demonstrate school and community leadership, and a commitment to the future of pharmacy,” according to the organization’s website.

A Greenwood native, Stephens has served as professional year one, or PY1, liaison for the Ole Miss chapter of APhA-Academy of Student Pharmacists and as the chapter’s president-elect.

Francke was a nationally renowned leader in pharmacy. She served in a number of significant roles, some of which included acting as assistant director of the APhA Division of Hospital Pharmacy, serving as a drug literature specialist and serving as the honorary president of APhA. She was also the owner and operator of Drug Intelligence Publications.

Joseph A. Dikun, Stephens’ APhA-ASP adviser, said he knew that she was the perfect fit for this scholarship because she exemplifies the same leadership that Francke did.

“It has been a pleasure to watch Kelsey grow as a leader over these past few years,” Dikun said. “Since she began her service to APhA-ASP, she has completely invested herself into the success of the chapter.”

Through her leadership positions in APhA-ASP, Stephens has worked with the pharmacy student executive committee, as well as with her fellow chapter members to help develop new projects and operations within the APhA-ASP chapter. Some of those include Generation Rx, Operation GameDay, fundraising events, a table etiquette dinner and Operation Breathe.

“(Kelsey) has been a shining example of picking up the torch to ensure that the work of past leaders has not been done in vain through her dedicated service to improve our APhA-ASP chapter,” Dikun said. “As a result of that service, she has created a valuable member experience and provided care to the local community.”

Stephens said she is thankful for APhA’s focus on “advocacy, responsibility, organization and communication skills.” She said she hopes her experience in APhA-ASP will help her bring about change locally and nationally while helping to improve patient care.

“I am truly honored to be selected as the 2015 Gloria Francke Scholar due to her legacy as an outstanding female pioneer in the profession of pharmacy,” she said. “I aspire to influence the pharmacy profession in the same manner as Gloria Francke.”

UM History Professor Named Distinguished Lecturer

Jarod Roll is third UM faculty member chosen for honor by the national organization

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi history professor Jarod Roll, who teaches about modern America, the South, religion and the working-class experience, has been named a 2015-2016 distinguished lecturer by the Organization of American Historians.

Jarod Roll

Jarod Roll

“The distinction came as a complete surprise to me,” said Roll, an associate professor at UM. “It is certainly an honor to be listed among so many terrific historians, and also very humbling. I look forward to sharing my work and insight into the historian’s craft with the audiences this program is intended to reach.”

The OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program is a speaker’s bureau dedicated to American history, which helps groups identify and contact leading historians who can share their expertise. The lecturers speak across the country each year, visiting both college campuses and undergraduate and graduate student conferences. They also appear at public events sponsored by historical societies, museums, libraries and humanities councils. The group named 48 OAH Distinguished Lecturers for 2015-2016.

Ted Ownby, UM professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and UM Professor of History Emeritus Sheila Skemp previously served as OAH distinguished lecturers.

Roll wrote “Spirit of Rebellion: Labor and Religion in the New Cotton South,” which won the Herbert G. Gutman Prize, the Missouri History Book Award, and the C.L.R. James Award. He’s also coauthor of “The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America,” which received the H.L. Mitchell Prize from the Southern Historical Association.

His current project, “Poor Man’s Fortune: America’s Anti-Union Miners,” explores the long history of working-class conservatism in base metal mining.

Some of Roll’s lectures are “The Other Lost Cause: Southern Labor and Working Class History,” “Missouri Miners Breaking Bad: How the ‘Show-Me-State’ Got Its Name,” “Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America” and “The Alchemy of America’s Lead Rush: When Miners Turned Hard Rock into Gold.”

Joseph P. Ward, professor and chair of the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History at UM, said the honor for Roll is no surprise. 

“This is a fantastic honor for Professor Roll, who in his short time on our faculty has already built upon his strong reputation as a scholar and teacher of modern American history,” Ward said. 

The group, which was founded in 1907 and is headquartered at the historic Raintree House on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus, is described as the world’s largest professional association dedicated to American history and scholarship. It has more than 7,800 members from the United States and abroad.

UM Offers Hybrid Doctorate in K-12 Leadership

Doctoral program designed for working principals, district administrators

Education-CPED-graphic[1] copy

UM School of Education launches a Doctor of Education degree in K-12 leadership in a hybrid format, combining online coursework and traditional seminars.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is accepting applications for a new doctoral program specially designed for senior-level K-12 administrators.

In August, the UM School of Education launches a Doctor of Education degree in K-12 leadership in a hybrid format, combining online coursework and traditional seminars on weekends to support the needs of working principals, superintendents and district-level administrators.

“You can think of the hybrid Ed.D. as a terminal degree with a built-in consulting group,” said Doug Davis, associate professor of educational leadership and director of the program. “Each cohort member will have different goals for his or her own school or district. Participants will have access to not only our faculty but other experienced leaders in the cohort who will help each other achieve their goals.”

The Ed.D. requires six semesters of part-time study over three years and all graduates will complete a “Dissertation in Practice,” which will allow doctoral students to align research with the institutional goals of their home school and/or district.

The coursework comprises 57 graduate hours including research methods, program evaluation, organizational leadership, finance, law and more.

“The Ed.D. is an exciting opportunity for education leaders,” said David Rock, dean of the School of Education. “We know that positive change doesn’t happen without quality leadership in schools. The School of Education is dedicated to providing better doctoral programs for these individuals. “

For admission into the program, applicants must hold an advanced degree in educational leadership with a graduate GPA of at least 3.5. Applicants must also possess a competitive score on the Graduate Record Exam, a school administrator’s license and full-time employment in an education leadership position at the school or district level.

Multiple financial aid options are available, including the use of bank hours awarded to schools from UM. Depending on the needs of the program’s first cohort, weekend seminars may be offered at different locations throughout the state.

The new program is the result of an ongoing collaboration with the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, or CPED, a consortium of more than 80 institutions undertaking an examination of professional doctorates in education.

“CPED is allowing colleges and universities to work together to advance doctoral education designed to affect practice,” said Amy Wells Dolan, associate dean of education, who has worked with CPED as a UM representative since 2011. “Many doctoral students seek out terminal degrees for the purpose of professional practice. This allows us to be more responsive to those students’ objectives.”

The Ed.D. differs from the existing Doctor of Philosophy degree in K-12 leadership, which is designed for full-time study and allows doctoral students to focus more on individual research interests.

For more information about the Ed.D. in K-12 Leadership, visit http://education.olemiss.edu/academics/programs/ed_leadership_edd.html.

UM Students Land Fulbright and Boren Scholarships

Prestigious awards will allow three recipients to travel and study abroad

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi students, members of both the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, have been awarded prestigious scholarships to teach and study abroad.

Joseph Troisi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Jordan Troisi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Jordan Nicholas Troisi of Wasilla, Alaska, and Colby Woods of Olive Branch were awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Awards to teach English as a second language, and Steven James Mockler of Ocean Springs received a Boren Scholarship to fund his capstone year in the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

The awards are not surprising because the University of Mississippi prepares students to pursue their ambitions outside the United States, said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Honors College.

“These successes are evidence that the University of Mississippi nurtures students who are not afraid to test themselves at a global level, and that, here at UM, they will learn skills they’ll need in order to succeed in meeting those challenges,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

Troisi, a graduate student seeking a master’s degree in modern languages, also is the coordinator of recruitment and admissions for the Honors College. He plans to spend a year, and possibly more, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, teaching English and conducting research on Turkish higher education. During his time at UM, he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and an honorary inductee into Order of Omega. He plans to pursue a doctorate in international education upon his return from Turkey.

Troisi said he would have not applied or been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship had it not been for the faculty, staff and students of the Honors College.

“Receiving the Fulbright is not an end but a beginning, an unwritten book in which all of the Fulbright Scholars will write chapters,” Troisi said. “Ultimately, one year from now, as I am boarding a plane back to the United States, I want to be able to say that I made a difference in Turkey and that Turkey made a difference in me.”

Colby Woods. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Colby Woods. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Woods, a 2014 UM graduate in international studies and German who studied abroad as an undergraduate, plans to return to Germany to teach English and take classes at local university. As an undergraduate, he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the Chancellor’s Leadership Class and Freshman Focus, and received a Taylor Medal. Woods developed a passion for teaching while working with the Sunflower County Freedom Project, a nonprofit organization that uses education to empower middle and high school students in the Mississippi Delta.

The Fulbright Scholarship presents an opportunity to continue what he has already started, Woods said.

“When I left Germany, there was still so much I wanted to see and accomplish,” Woods said. “Every day in Germany will present new challenges, especially with my high expectations for the year, but I’m really looking forward to it. I hope to use this opportunity to its fullest potential.”

Steven Mockler

Steven Mockler

Mockler, a 2015 graduate in Chinese and international studies, will use the scholarship to complete his capstone year in China. A member of Phi Kappa Phi and Order of Omega, he spent the fall of 2014 studying at Middlebury C.V. Starr School in Kunming, China. Upon his return from China, Mockler plans to fulfill his commitment to government service and give back to his community by volunteering with AmeriCorps VISTA.

The goals of the Boren Scholarship complement the work Mockler has done at UM and his career goals, he said.

“For a group that’s never met me, that doesn’t know me like my family, friends and professors do, to say they believe in me and trust me to be cultural ambassador for the United States and a future federal servant; well, it’s a huge vote of confidence and immensely satisfying, to say the least,” Mockler said.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Boren Scholarship recipients receive up to $20,000 to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the national security arena of the federal government for at least one year.

Students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Award or a Boren Scholarship or Fellowship are encouraged to contact the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at onsa@olemiss.edu.

‘Pig and Small’ Wins CELI Read Aloud Book Award

UM literacy center honors South African author for tale of unlikely friends

CELI literacy specialist Olivia Morgan reads Pig and Small to children at Willie Price Lab School at UM.

CELI literacy specialist Olivia Morgan reads ‘Pig and Small’ to children at Willie Price Lab School at UM.

OXFORD, Miss. – A children’s tale about an unlikely friendship between a pig and an insect unfolds in the pages of “Pig and Small,” winner of the 2015 Read Aloud Book Award, presented by the University of Mississippi’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction.

South African author and illustrator Alex Latimer created “Pig and Small” in 2013 and the book was released in the U.S. in 2014 by Peachtree Publishers. A committee of UM graduate students, north Mississippi teachers and CELI faculty and staff selected Latimer’s book for the award in May. The book will feature the CELI Read Aloud Seal on its cover.

“Each year we look to honor a book that, when read aloud, provides a positive and enjoyable learning experience for students,” said CELI literacy specialist Angie Caldwell, a member of the committee. “CELI’s Read Aloud seal marks a book that is funny and engaging, while also providing students with important lessons that they can carry with them for years to come.”

Established in 2007, CELI is part of the UM School of Education and provides professional development, research and service to reading teachers throughout Mississippi. The institute has awarded the Read Aloud Book Award since 2010 with financial support from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson. The goal of the award is to promote reading aloud to young children to cultivate a love of reading and a deep appreciation of storytelling.

A children's tale about an unlikely friendship by South African author and illustrator Alex Latimer.

A children’s tale about an unlikely friendship by South African author and illustrator Alex Latimer.

“This was a great book to teach diversity,” said Kim Homan, a committee member and teacher who shared the book with 22 of her first-graders at Pontotoc Elementary School. “We don’t have to be the same to get along and be friends. The students were quick to pick up on this theme.”

In the text, main characters Pig and Bug constantly run into the same dilemma: they can never quite figure out how to play together. With Pig being too large and Bug being too small, the pair cannot ride a tandem bike or play catch. However, by the tale’s end they do find several activities to enjoy together.

“This has been a favorite in our classroom,” said committee member Sarah Siebert, a preschool teacher at Willie Price Lab School. “We’ve even had parents asking for the title.”

Thirty-four books from seven publishers were submitted for the 2015 award. Latimer’s book received the highest praise from teachers and more than 200 children in north Mississippi. All Read Aloud submission books were later donated to teachers in critical-needs schools throughout north Mississippi.