Famed Civil Rights Leader to Speak at Law Commencement

U.S. Rep. John Lewis recognized as one of the nation's equal rights pioneers

Lewis

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law welcomes U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as the featured speaker at the school’s graduation, set for 11 a.m. May 10 in the Grove.

Lewis will speak at the law school’s individual ceremony, which follows the main university Commencement at 9 a.m.

“Congressman Lewis is a hero of the civil rights movement,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “He is a great speaker, and I know our graduates will benefit from him being here.”

Lewis, often called one of the most courageous people of the civil rights movement, is known for his efforts in protecting and securing human rights and civil freedoms. He is a nationally recognized leader and was one of the main players in the March on Washington in 1963.

“Lawyers can accomplish a great deal to build a more fair, more just society, and my history is living proof of their ability to help transform America for the better,” Lewis said. “I feel very honored to be asked to deliver the commencement address at the University of Mississippi law school.”

Lewis is the winner of numerous awards, including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom, as well as the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence and the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

He is senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

“As a member of Congress, he has had an impact on the law and has worked to make sure that every citizen enjoys the rights and protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution,” Gershon said.

The law school will graduate 152 students at the ceremony, which includes the keynote speaker, an address by Gershon, and an address by Marcus Williams, the law school student body president. Mississippi Bar President Guy Mitchell will also speak to graduates.

For more information about the law school’s commencement, please visit the law school’s commencement page.

April Science Cafe Focuses on State’s Energy Production

MMRI director speaks on fracking April 22 at Lusa Pastry Café

April Science Cafe

April Science Cafe

OXFORD, Miss. – Energy production in Mississippi is the focus for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The spring semester’s fourth and final meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. April 22 at Lusa Pastry Cafe, 2305 West Jackson Ave. in Oxford. Greg Easson, director of Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute at UM, will discuss “Energy Production in Mississippi through Hydraulic Fracturing.” Admission is free.

“Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the process of enhancing the characteristics of an oil and/or gas well to increase production,” Easson said. “While hydraulic fracturing is not a new process, advances in technology have made it possible to drill horizontal wells through previously unproductive geologic units and fracture the rock to economically produce the energy resources.”

Easson’s 45-minute presentation will include a discussion of drilling and hydraulic fracturing history, environmental issues associated with the processes, water use issues and a discussion of activities in southwest Mississippi. The talk will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Easson earned his Ph.D. and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri at Rolla and bachelor’s degree from Southwest Missouri State University. Before assuming his present position in 2010, he was chair and professor of geology and geological engineering at Ole Miss. Easson has also worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

His research interests are in the various aspects of Gulf Coast geology, remote sensing and geographic information system development.

For more information about Oxford Science Café programs, go to http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/oxfordsciencecafe. For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, go to http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/physics_and_astronomy/ or call 662-915-5311.

Dissertation Wins Mississippi Historical Society Prize

Wendy D. Smith received $500 and biennial honor for her study of women's union attempt in Tupelo

The Mississippi Historical Society announced the winner of the 2014 Franklin L. Riley Prize for a doctoral dissertation on a topic in Mississippi history or biography March 6-8 at its annual meeting in Jackson. Pictured are Smith (left) and Elizabeth Ann Payne, board member and University of Mississippi history professor

The Mississippi Historical Society announced the winner of the 2014 Franklin L. Riley Prize for a doctoral dissertation on a topic in Mississippi history or biography March 6-8 at its annual meeting in Jackson. Pictured are Smith (left) and Elizabeth Ann Payne, board member and University of Mississippi history professor

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi doctoral program graduate has won a prestigious honor from the Mississippi Historical Society.

Wendy D. Smith, of Pontotoc, received the 2014 Franklin L. Riley Prize for her dissertation “‘Perfect Harmony’: the Myth of Tupelo’s Industrial Tranquility, 1937-1941,” which she completed for her doctorate in history in 2012. The prize, which carries a $500 cash award, was announced March 8 in Jackson during the society’s annual meeting.

“I am surprised and grateful to win this award,” Smith said. “I share this honor with (UM history professor) Dr. (Elizabeth) Payne, who both told me initially about the strike and served as my dissertation director thereafter.”

Smith’s dissertation focused on the 1937 cotton mill strike and an unsuccessful attempt by local women in the garment district to form a labor union.

“Before this, nothing had ever been written on this event,” Smith said. “Most people still don’t even know it ever happened.”

The Riley Prize memorializes Franklin L. Riley, a UM history professor who was instrumental in establishing the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The prize is awarded biennially as merited for a doctoral dissertation on a topic in Mississippi history or biography completed within the previous two years.

The Mississippi Historical Society, founded in 1858, encourages outstanding work in interpreting, teaching and preserving Mississippi history. It provides annual grants to support programs of the Junior Historical Society and publishes books, maps and other materials aimed at educating the general public.

Membership is open to anyone; benefits include the quarterly Journal of Mississippi History, the monthly Mississippi History Newsletter and discounts at the Mississippi History Store.

For information on becoming a member, call 601-576-6849 or go to the MHS website, http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/admin/mhistsoc.html.

Award-winning Writer, Environmentalist to Present Earth Day Lecture

Rob Nixon to discuss 'slow violence' and its long-term impact on the earth and human beings

Rob Nixon

Rob Nixon

OXFORD, Miss. – Rob Nixon, the Rachel Carson and Elizabeth Ritzmann Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, will discuss the slow, yet violent, impact created by events ranging from toxic drift to climate change for the University of Mississippi’s Earth Day keynote lecture.

The lecture, which is part of the university’s 2014 Green Week celebration, is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday (April 22) in the Overby Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Ann Fisher-Wirth, UM professor of English, heard Nixon speak last year and knew he was a good fit for Earth Day events.

“I heard Professor Nixon speak at last year’s conference for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, a 1000-member organization with nine international affiliates,” Fisher-Wirth said. “His talk was so brilliant and far-reaching that I knew I would like to bring him to the University of Mississippi for our Earth Day Speaker’s Series.

“I hope that attendees will learn about the persistence of what he calls ‘slow violence,’ environmental violence that is inflicted on both the earth and human beings constantly, but that, since it is not sudden and catastrophic, is all too easy to ignore.”

Nixon asserts that because the destruction from these events is delayed destruction, it is typically not viewed as violence at all. Focusing on environmental activists from the global South, Nixon plans to link the emergencies of the long-term to creative efforts to infuse such emergencies with urgency.

“I hope that attendees will be inspired to further research, create awareness and take action,” Fisher-Wirth added.

Nixon is the author of four books, most recently “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor” (Harvard University Press 2011), which has been awarded an American Book Award and three other prizes. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and his writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Village Voice and The Guardian.

He has been a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a MacArthur Foundation Peace and Security Award.

The lecture is sponsored by UM environmental studies minor, the College of Liberal Arts, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, the Southern Documentary Project at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the English and history departments.

Nixon is the third annual Earth Day speaker. Sandra Steingraber, an environmental toxicologist, delivered the inaugural lecture, which featured the work and legacy of Rachel Carson, and addressed issues concerning fracking. Last year, Janisse Ray, environmental activist and poet, gave a talk about seed preservation, sustainability and biodiversity in agriculture.

Consciousness Conference Bringing ‘World-Class’ Experts to Campus

Philosophers and cognitive scientists to discuss human and animal consciousness April 27-30 in free events

conciousnessOXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi hosts the “Conscious Thought and Thought About Consciousness” conference April 27-30, bringing “world-class” philosophers and cognitive scientists to campus.

The event is scheduled for the E.F. Yerby Conference Center, and all events are free and open to the public.

Leaders in several fields, including philosophy and neuroscience, will converge on campus to promote cutting-edge work in hopes of creating better understanding of human and animal consciousness, its relation to the brain and how humans think about sentient beings, among other topics, said Donovan Wishon, UM assistant professor of philosophy.

“What’s particularly remarkable about this event is that it will bring together scholars with vastly different views about consciousness, thought and the methods we should use to come to grips with the mind, its workings and its relation to physical reality,” Wishon said. “What’s more, the conference is intended to educate the students and the general public about how philosophy, and the humanities in general, can work side-by-side with the sciences to answer fundamental questions about who we are and what our place is in the world.”

The event is sponsored by the UM departments of philosophy and religion, and psychology, and the university’s College of Liberal Arts, the Office of the Provost, University Lecture Series and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. It’s also co-sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Philosophical Association and the Mississippi State University Department of Philosophy and Religion.

For more information, click this link to a website devoted to the event. For assistance related to a disability issue, contact the UM Department of Philosophy and Religion at 662-915-7020.

World Class Teaching Program Leads Nation in National Board Prep

North Mississippi teachers in UM program make up largest group seeking national board certification

Julie Gatlin, a Lafayette Lower Elementary School teacher and national board candidate, joined the World Class Teaching Program in August and hopes to pass her boards by the end of June.

Julie Gatlin, a Lafayette Lower Elementary School teacher and national board candidate, joined the World Class Teaching Program in August and hopes to pass her boards by the end of June.

OXFORD, Miss. – With a record group of 409 K-12 teachers from north Mississippi, the University of Mississippi chapter of the World Class Teaching Program has become the largest recruitment site for national board certification in the nation.

A continuing education program, the WCTP is designed for educators who seek to become National Board Certified Teachers, or NBCTs, by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, known as NBPTS, in Arlington, Va. The program is housed within the UM School of Education.

The program prepares teachers to pass a series of assessments and a portfolio review to earn the credential and a lucrative pay raise – the Mississippi Legislature funds an annual $6,000 salary raise for all K-12 teachers who earn and maintain the certification. UM’s chapter oversees sites operating in Batesville, Clarksdale, Fulton, Senatobia, Southaven, Indianola, Madison, Oxford and Tupelo.

“In the past year, we’ve concentrated on implementing our program within our partner school districts,” said WCTP coordinator Jackie Parker, who has run the program at UM since 2002 and was the 2001 Mississippi Teacher of the Year. “Our sites are being run in classrooms by mentors who already hold their NBCTs. We want the program to be imbedded in the culture of the schools.”

National board certification is a mark of distinction among teachers and research suggests that educators who complete the process produce better results. A Harvard University study found in 2012 that over the course of a school year, students of NBCTs gained the equivalent of two months more instruction in mathematics and one month more instruction in English than students of non-board certified teachers.

According to NBPTS data, the national first-time passage rate for teachers taking national boards is nearly 30 percent. Ole Miss WCTP candidates have a first-time passage rate of more than 50 percent, Parker said.

“The University of Mississippi has done a tremendous job with recruitment in becoming the largest site for teachers pursuing national board certification,” said Michelle Accardi, director of state policy for the NBPTS. “I wish every state would look at what Mississippi is doing with the World Class Teaching Program. If universities across the nation would support national board certification, it would be a better world for teachers and students.”

Throughout the year, Parker and mentors within the WCTP operate twice-monthly workshops or individual meetings for teachers to help prepare them to pass assessments in their subject area, pedagogy, classroom management and more. Within the assessments, teachers must create videos of themselves teaching in the classroom and prepare documents assessing their teaching abilities. Teachers must have at least three years of full-time experience to apply for the certification.

“I feel like this has made me such a better teacher,” said Brittany Furr, an NBCT candidate and sixth-grade language arts teacher at Madison Middle School. “The national boards have taught me how to teach using a variety of formats such as an article, story or video so I can use all these different tools to teach in a variety styles.”

The WCTP program at UM is one of five chapters of in the state. Other chapters are housed at Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Since August, all five chapters have worked together on a grant projected funded with $300,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and additional funding from the state Legislature to provide specialized training for both pre-service teachers and early-career teachers interested in national board certification. Mentor NBCTs are meeting with these educators twice a month at 10 sites across the state. The program is funded to continue through 2016.

NBPTS is redesigning the structure of the national board process to implement new research and make the process more accessible to working teachers, Accardi said . The redesign will be complete by 2017.

“I wanted to do this because I knew it would be challenging,” said Myra Cox, an information and communication technology teacher at Tupelo Middle School who has been working toward her NBCT certification since September. “The process forces you to really analyze yourself as a teacher and provides valuable information for me to bring back to the classroom and my students.”

UM Hosts Annual Green Week Celebration April 22-25

Author Rob Nixon to deliver Earth Day keynote lecture

UM Green Week

UM Green Week features an eco-fashion show and gala.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s sixth annual Green Week celebration kicks off on Earth Day (April 22) with the goal of opening a campuswide dialogue about sustainability.

Rob Nixon, author of “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor” (Harvard University Press, 2011), will deliver the Earth Day keynote lecture at 7 p.m. that day at the Overby Center. His session focuses on complex global issues related to sustainability, including “slow violence,” the slowly unfolding environmental effects that are often underpublicized or unnoticed.

“As we educate and support the development of the next generation for responsible citizenship, we consider these global issues to be of critical importance to their preparation,” said Anne McCauley, assistant director of the UM Office of Sustainability. “Changing behaviors and habits are important, but equally important is understanding the larger context behind why we advocate for these changes. We hope Green Week brings to light both actions for individual responsibility as well as awareness of social, environmental and economic challenges that need to be addressed.

The week’s events include Business in the Green, during which representatives from International Paper, Project Green Fork and Toyota will share sustainable strategies and operational practices in the workplace. The event is set for 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.

Other events include the annual eco-fashion show and gala, which features outfits made from uncommon materials, and the annual Green Week Sustainability Fair. The fair will feature plastic bag knitting, an on-campus farmers market and displays from several university groups.

An Arbor Day tree planting and celebration in the Grove conclude the week’s activities on Friday.

“It is a week where we, as a community, can build our environmental conscience and strengthen our commitment to lowering our global impact,” said Kendall McDonald, a junior public policy major from Bay St. Louis who serves as the Office of Sustainability’s Green Week intern. “Green Week also plays an invaluable educational role by engaging those who have not previously been exposed to environmental issues.”

All events are free and open to the public. Green Week events are sponsored by the UM Office of Sustainability, Environmental Studies Minor, Students for a Green Campus, Landscape Services, the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation, Jim Keras Subaru, the College of Liberal ArtsSouthern Documentary ProjectCroft Institute for International StudiesSally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the UM departments of English and history, and the city of Oxford.

2014 Green Week Schedule of Events

Tuesday, April 22

Business in the Green – 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Oxford Conference Center

Earth Day keynote address – 7 p.m., Overby Center, speaker, Rob Nixon, “Slow Violence, Environmental Activism and the Arts”

Wednesday, April 23

Green Week Sustainability Fair – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Student Union Plaza

Udall Scholarship Workshop – 4 p.m., Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Room 311

Eco Fashion Show and Gala – 7 p.m., Bryant Hall

Friday, April 23

Arbor Day Tree Planting and Celebration – 11:30 a.m., Grove

For more information, contact Ann McCauley at green@olemiss.edu.

Program Coordinator Works Year-Round on Annual Botanicals Conference

Event draws participants from around the globe

Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor

OXFORD, Miss. – If the 13th annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals is as successfully staged as the previous 12, it will be due, in large measure, to the efforts of Jennifer S. Taylor, program coordinator in the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.

Putting the ICSB together “is a huge undertaking,” said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR’s assistant director and director of its FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Center for Excellence in Botanicals.

“It’s sort of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces,” he said. “Jennifer makes sure that, in the end, all those pieces fit together perfectly to ensure that everything comes off without a hitch.”

The conference has drawn as many as 250 participants from around the world to the Oxford Conference Center to discuss pressing topics affecting the botanical dietary supplement industry and the people who consume the supplements. Taylor’s job is to prepare year-round for each upcoming conference.

“I am the ‘event coordinator,’ ‘travel coordinator,’ ‘administrative coordinator’ and ‘speaker coordinator’ all rolled into one,” Taylor said. “My role is pretty intense.”

Taylor arranges venues and menus for the conference’s various activities and ensures that whoever needs to get paid for them receives payment. She manages hotel arrangements and shuttle services for conference participants and even helps some of them solve their flight issues. She also handles invitations and other correspondence with conference speakers and manages their itineraries and travel reimbursements.

During the actual event, she deals with the registration, check-in and other problems that invariably arise whenever and wherever large numbers of people gather for a series of carefully orchestrated events.

“Her job is like herding stray cats, but somehow she does it very well,” said Larry Walker, NCNPR director. “She manages to assist many of our NCNPR staff as well as many of our conference participants.”

This year, Taylor’s workload is even more intense because NCNPR also is hosting the American Society of Pharmacognosy’s annual meeting Aug. 2-4.

“We will be challenged this year because the ASP event is much larger than our ICSB,” she said. “It averages 500 attendees, but we have an amazing group of people at NCNPR, and everyone will pull together to really make this year a huge success.”

Topics for this year’s April 15-17 ICSB conference include various approaches for post-market surveillance, risk and safety assessment, and adverse event reporting for botanical dietary supplements and other natural products. To ensure that regulatory and manufacturing perspectives are shared, the program includes presentations from members of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, major trade associations and industry representatives, Taylor said.

The ASP meeting will explore natural products and their impact on human health, agriculture and the environment.

“Participants will review, discuss and explore the confluence of natural products research,” Taylor said. “Topics include past achievements, current status and future prospects in natural products discovery.”

While in the midst of finalizing agendas and plans for the ICSB event and beginning similar work on the ASP meeting, Taylor also is serving as Khan’s administrative assistant.

“He oversees approximately 30 people at any given time, so I assist them, as well as him, with any clerical needs they have, such as travel, purchasing, correspondence, payroll, reimbursements, etc.,” she said.

A Myrtle native, Taylor joined the NCNPR staff in fall 2006.

“I worked for Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly at the NIDA Marijuana Project,” she said. “At the NIDA project, I was a senior secretary working with project coordinator Linda Spears. She taught me a lot about the project and my job duties. A lot of my success should be credited to her.”

Taylor began working for Khan in summer 2010.

“That’s when I became a program coordinator,” she said. “I still do the clerical jobs of a senior secretary, but I help coordinate an international conference too. It takes a lot of us working together to be successful.”

Working with all those people, as well as being allowed to grow in work-related knowledge and responsibilities, are the aspects of the job that Taylor likes most.

“There are so many wonderful individuals that I get the pleasure of interacting with every day,” she said. “Even though our group tends to change frequently with visiting scholars and postdocs coming and going, we are like an enormous family. When someone leaves, we try to keep in touch with (him or her).

“I have been fortunate to work for two amazing bosses, Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly and Dr. Ikhlas Khan. They both have inspired me to be the best at what I do.”

The annual ICSB is supported by a cooperative agreement between the NCNPR and the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau to Visit UM

Expert science teacher from Washington to discuss effective teaching

teacher

Jeffery Charbonneau

OXFORD, Miss. – Jeffrey Charbonneau, the 2013 National Teacher of the Year, will visit the University of Mississippi Wednesday (April 15) to address Ole Miss teacher candidates and faculty members on the importance of effective teaching.

A science teacher at Zilliah High School in Zilliah, Wash., Charbonneau was appointed to his position by President Barack Obama on April 23, 2013, after being named Washington Teacher of the Year. He has spent the past year touring the country, sharing his experiences and personal philosophies on teaching with educators and students from a variety of backgrounds.

Charbonneau will lead a forum with UM student teachers at 11 a.m. at the Jackson Avenue Center. Mississippi Teacher of the Year and UM alumnus Josh Lindsey, an English teacher from Hancock High School, will give opening remarks at the event. An open session for students, educators and UM faculty and staff will follow at 2 p.m.

On Wednesday (April 16), Charbonneau will visit students and faculty at the UM DeSoto Center.

The National Teacher of the Year visit to UM has been a tradition at the School of Education since 2011 to support a goal of exposing aspiring teachers to innovative and successful educators from different parts of the country. This year, freshmen fellows from both the UM and Mississippi State University chapters of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program will attend the event.

“Our student teachers will be leading their own classrooms in the near future, and this offers them the chance to meet and interact with one of the best teachers in the nation,” said David Rock, UM education school dean. “This is an incredible opportunity for our candidates and educators across the region.”

Charbonneau teaches high school-level science, including chemistry, engineering and physics. During his 12 years at Zilliah High School, he has increased participation in the sciences among students,  resulting in a 20 percent increase in available courses, including 24 courses offered with college credit. Since 2008, he has directed a free high school robotics challenge, which has exposed more than 1,000 Washington state children to a variety of STEM-based skills and principles.

Charbonneau is a graduate of Central Washington University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with honors and a master’s degree in teaching. He also holds a national board certificate in Adolescence and Young Adult Sciences from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The National Teacher of the Year Program started in 1952 and is a national honors program focusing public attention on teaching excellence. Each year, the national teacher is chosen from among state teachers of the year by a selection committee representing the major national education organizations, and is introduced by the president, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.

For more information about the National Teacher of the Year program, visit http://www.ccsso.org/ntoy.html.

University Honors Burns Family with Building Dedication

State-of-the-art residence hall, team meeting room named in honor of accountancy alumnus

Roland Burns with wife, Sheryl, son Derek, Ole Miss Accountancy Professor Jimmy Davis and son Tyler stand in front of the newly dedicated Burns Hall. Roland and Derek shared Davis as a professor while at Ole Miss, and youngest son, Tyler will be taking a class Davis is teaching this fall.

Roland Burns with wife, Sheryl, son Derek, Ole Miss Accountancy Professor Jimmy Davis and son Tyler stand in front of the newly dedicated Burns Hall. Roland and Derek shared Davis as a professor while at Ole Miss, and youngest son, Tyler will be taking a class Davis is teaching this fall.

OXFORD, Miss. – A crowd of nearly 100 students, faculty and staff participated in a ceremony hosted Friday (April 4) by the University of Mississippi to honor Sheryl and Roland Burns of Frisco, Texas, for their legacy of support with the naming of a premier campus residence hall and the new football team meeting room in the Manning Performance Center.

The Burnses have given generously to support both academic and athletics programs, with their recent $2 million gift elevating their lifetime giving to more than $5 million. Roland Burns, a 1982 graduate who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in accountancy, says it is humbling to see his family’s name on the building.

“It is not anything I ever thought I would see,” Burns said. “It is a really attractive building and there is a lot of history here (on this campus). We are so proud to be associated with Ole Miss and the School of Accountancy; it has been such an outstanding program.”

The Public Accounting Report, the independent newsletter of the accounting profession, recently rated UM’s undergraduate accountancy program as No. 4 in the country (behind Texas, Illinois and Brigham Young) and the master’s and doctoral programs at Nos. 5 and 8, respectively. The accountancy programs are No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference.

Burns Hall, which has been temporarily known as Ridge South, stands on the site of the former Miller Hall. Burns Hall opened in August 2012 and is one of three new residence halls on that site. The four-story structure houses 272 students and provides a shared courtyard and many of the amenities requested by students, including private bathrooms, microwaves, refrigerators in each room, study rooms, community kitchens, laundry facilities and lounges with TVs on each floor.

“Today, the residence halls are an extension of the learning experience, and when we talk about the Ole Miss family, it’s important that we know our family comes home here every night,” said Brandi Hephner Labanc, UM vice chancellor of student affairs. “We see this as a wonderful extension of our academic environment, and we are grateful to the Burnses for being involved in the living learning experience here.”

With a growth in enrollment on the Oxford campus from 9,412 in the fall of 1982 to 18,423 in fall 2013, much has changed since Burns graduated. The former Kincannon Hall resident noted that the housing looks quite different than when he was a student here.

It was a visit from UM Provost Morris Stocks, who at the time was the new dean of the School of Accountancy, and Debbie Vaughn, senior executive director of development, that reinvigorated Burns’ connection to the university. They visited Burns in Texas, where he is president and chief financial officer of Comstock Resources Inc. Stocks asked Burns to create an intern program in his company’s financial reporting department that would provide opportunity for Ole Miss undergraduate students.

“Morris got us interested by showing us the success the (accountancy) program is having on the national level, and that gave us a deep sense of pride,” said Burns, who transferred from Mississippi State after his freshman year to join the then-new accountancy school in its first year of programs set apart from the School of Business Administration.

“Being a part of something new made all of us know we were part of something special. Giving back through the internship program and in other ways is really rewarding to us, and we are grateful to be included as part of the Ole Miss family.”

This was the second time in a year that a campus building has been named for a Patterson School alumnus. Another of the Ridge residence halls was named last spring for alumnus Lucian Minor.

“There is much to celebrate today, as we are so grateful to Roland and Sheryl for their continued dedication to the university,” said Chancellor Dan Jones. “They support us financially and today, they are lending us their name, and what a great thing for the university to be associated with their name.”

Stocks praised the Burnses for their holistic approach to support for the university.

“The Burnses have continued to support our school and our university in many ways, including the Burns Chair in Accountancy,” Stocks said. “Outside of the major public accounting firms, (Roland) has also recruited more accountancy students to our program and formed an internship program at his company that is critical to our program. The Burnses’ lend constant moral support to our efforts to transform lives. We are a better place because Roland chose to attend Ole Miss.”

During a ceremony held earlier in the day, Ole Miss Athletics honored the Burnses with the naming of the team meeting room. That naming took place in conjunction with the ribbon-cutting for the newly- renovated Indoor Practice Facility, now called the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.

“Sheryl and Roland support excellence in academics and support academics in athletics equally, making sure that we move forward together,” Jones added. “They are making a big difference in the lives of students in their local community and here. We are so grateful to them.”

Along with family friends, the Burnses were joined by their sons Derek, an Ole Miss graduate student in accountancy who earned a bachelor’s degree here in 2013, and Tyler, an Ole Miss freshman majoring in biology with a minor in accountancy. Their daughter, Stephanie, is a graduate of Southern Methodist University.