Symposium to Highlight Eggleston Exhibit at UM Museum

Panel discussions to examine photographer's influence and experiences

Eggleston’s work is now on display at the UM Museum in the exhibit The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston.

Eggleston’s work is now on display at the UM Museum in the exhibit The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston.

OXFORD, Miss – “The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston” presented by the University of Mississippi Museum features 36 works from the fine art photographer in an exclusive exhibition of the museum’s permanent collection.

The exhibition, sponsored by Friends of the Museum, runs through Jan. 14, 2017. The public is invited to an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 6.

To further highlight Eggleston’s remarkable color and black-and-white photographs, the museum will host a symposium Oct. 7 at UM’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, featuring notable panelists across different disciplines.

“The University of Mississippi Museum and the Friends of the Museum are exceptionally pleased to present this convening of distinguished panelists and scholars, offering an exploration of the career and influence of the extraordinary William Eggleston,” said Robert Saarnio, the museum’s director.

The first panel at 10 a.m. will feature William Ferris, Maude Schuyler Clay and Megan Abbott, with Lisa Howorth as moderator. The second panel, at 2 p.m., with Ferris as moderator, will feature Emily Ballew Neff, Richard McCabe and Kris Belden-Adams.

The morning panel will approach Eggleston and his work from a perspective of those who have known him personally and have been significantly influenced by his images, Saarnio said.

“Enriched by anecdotes and personal reflections, the panel’s content will include consideration of formative influences and experiences, career highlights and the longitudinal development of an artist, as evidenced by this particular life in visual art and image-making,” he said.

“The afternoon panel will focus on the body of work across Eggleston’s career, with content including the influence of the work on the field of photography, its influence on other artistic and creative fields, the evolution of critical reception to Eggleston, how the work has had shifting meaning over time, and the meaning of the work today to contemporary audiences and contemporary practitioners.”

Howorth, a native of Washington, D.C., has called Oxford home since 1972. She and husband Richard Howorth opened Square Books in Oxford in 1979. After earning master’s degrees in library science and art history, she worked at Ole Miss as a reference librarian and an associate professor of art and Southern studies. She is editor of “The South: A Treasury of Art and Literature” and other books on Southern culture, writes for Garden & Gun and Oxford American magazines, and published “Flying Shoes,” a novel, in 2014.

Ferris is associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South and a history professor at the University of North Carolina. He is also the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at UM, where he served as a faculty member for 18 years. A longtime friend of William Eggleston and a collector of his work, Ferris donated all pieces that are on display at the UM Museum. He has written or edited 10 books and will sign his new photography book, “The South in Color,” inspired by Eggleston, at 5 p.m. Oct. 7 at Square Books

Acclaimed photographer, first cousin and Eggleston protege Clay served as a consulting adviser for the exhibition. In 2015, Clay’s own photography collection of portraits titled “Mississippi History” was produced by German photo book publisher Steidl. The publisher discovered her photographs while working with Eggleston on the multivolume set “Chrome” (2011) and “Los Alamos Revisited” (2012). Clay was the 2015 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Visual Arts.

Detroit native and author Abbott also guest curated the exhibition. As the former John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence, she has drawn her own inspiration from Eggleston’s work. Abbott is an Edgar Award-winning author for her novels “Queenpin,” “The Song Is You,” “Die a Little,” “Bury Me Deep,” “The End of Everything” and “Dare Me.” Her latest novel, “The Fever,” was chosen as one of the best books of the summer by the New York Times, People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and one of the best books of the year by several media outlets.

Neff , executive director of the Memphis Brooks Museum, spent nearly 20 years as curator of American painting and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where she organized numerous major exhibitions. Neff also served as director and chief curator of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma.

McCabe, curator of photography at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, has curated more than 30 exhibitions and is also a photographer whose work has been the subject of several exhibitions. He has also taught photography courses at Xavier University in New Orleans, the Pratt Institute in New York, Montclair State Institute in New Jersey and Fairfield University in Connecticut.

Belden-Adams, an assistant professor of art and art history at UM, earned a doctorate in modern and contemporary art history, specializing in the history of photography, at the City University of New York. Additionally, she earned an master’s degree in art history, theory and criticism from the School of Art Institute of Chicago. Belden-Adams is the editor of the book “Photography and Failure” (2017). Her scholarly work in art history and photography has been published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many journals.

University Partners with USM to Expand Jumpstart

UM literacy center plans statewide expansion through collaborations

Jumpstart recruits college students from a variety of academic majors to teach language and literacy skills in pre-k classrooms. Photo by Nathan Latil- University Communications

Jumpstart recruits college students from a variety of academic majors to teach language and literacy skills in pre-K classrooms. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A new collaboration between the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi will expand Jumpstart, a national organization that helps children develop the language and literacy skills needed to excel in kindergarten.

This ongoing effort to expand Jumpstart statewide is led by UM’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction. Last fall, the university announced a similar partnership when CELI staff helped expand Jumpstart into the Columbus area by partnering with Mississippi University for Women.

“We have a goal of having a Jumpstart presence at all IHL campuses statewide,” said Angela Rutherford, CELI director. “The University of Mississippi will be the ‘central hub’ for Mississippi Jumpstart as we help grow the program.”

Jumpstart opened its first Mississippi chapter in 2012 at Ole Miss. The program recruits undergraduate students from all academic disciplines and provides volunteers with specialized training and placement in pre-K classrooms where students provide support to existing education centers.

“Jumpstart is a great hands-on experience, and a lot of it,” explained Olivia Morgan, CELI literacy specialist and the state program manager for Jumpstart. “The experience is not just beneficial to education majors, but anyone who wants to work with children or have children of their own one day.”

Volunteers complete at least 300 volunteer hours in an academic year between training and teaching as part of the program. Students also receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award that can be applied toward education expenses.

“Children in Hattiesburg need this kind of exposure to rich vocabulary and social skills,” said Laura Beth Hull, the new site manager for the USM chapter and a graduate student in speech pathology there. “Jumpstart is here to help bridge that gap and our students want to be a part of it.”

As the site manager, Hull is working on recruitment and hopes to have 12 students working in two classrooms by the end of October.

Mississippi does not offer universal public pre-K education and state data suggests a significant need for it. A 2015 assessment conducted by the Mississippi Department of Education found that approximately 64 percent of Mississippi children do not possess the literacy skills needed for entering kindergarten.

As noted by Rutherford, literacy research suggests that children who experience quality early childhood education are more likely to be proficient readers by third grade.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, multiple studies show quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading. Studies also show communities could reap an estimated $7 return on every $1 invested in public pre-K education in the form of long-term cost savings.

CELI oversees more than 35 Oxford-based volunteers at three sites in north Mississippi, and the chapter serves more than 100 children. At the MUW chapter, more than a dozen volunteers serve more than 40 children in Columbus area. The new Hattiesburg chapter is expected to be operational by mid-October.

CELI hopes to identify new partnerships for the expansion of Jumpstart in the coming year.

UM Choir Contributes to World Day of Peace

Concert singers videotaped performance, sang on live stream for global telecast

Stella Mbugua and the University of Mississippi Concert Singers take part in a worldwide performance for World Peace Day. The choir's performance in Paris-Yates Chapel was live-streamed on the internet. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Stella Mbugua and the University of Mississippi Concert Singers take part in a worldwide performance for World Peace Day. The choir’s performance in Paris-Yates Chapel was live-streamed on the internet. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – As World Day of Peace was observed around the globe Wednesday (Sept. 21), the University of Mississippi Concert Singers joined their voices as part of a worldwide choral cry for peace that live-streamed on the internet.

Led by Don Trott, director of choral activities, the 50-member group participated in a worldwide effort to promote peace through the singing of a South African song titled “Ukuthula,” which translates into “peace.”

The live performance aired at 2:30 p.m. on USTREAM under the group designated “AVoice4Peace.’ A pre-recorded performance of the UM Choir will be added to many from around the world on a website called “AVoice4Peace” at

“The idea for this worldwide choral celebration of peace was that of Ken Wakia, the conductor of the Nairobi Chamber Chorus from Nairobi, Kenya,” Trott said. “This choir performed in the Ford Center last November as part of their USA tour and included a performance of ‘Ukuthula.’

“Ken and Kevin Fenton, choral director at Florida State University, came up with the idea to organize many, many choirs to come together in this worldwide choral cry for peace.”

“Ukuthula” (pronounced oo-goo-too-lah) is a prayer set to music. Loosely translated, the lyrics say, “In this world of sin, the blood of Jesus brings peace, redemption, praise, faith, victory and comfort.”

“It’s wonderful being a part of something so heartfelt and meaningful,” Trott said. “All the students have been very passionate about this experience, both in rehearsals and in performances. It’s really amazing to see them sing as a form of self-expression and connect in this beautiful, unique way.”

Stellah Mbugua, one of the members of the Nairobi Chamber Choir who came to UM on their tour, sang background on “Ukuthula” then. She is pursuing a Master of Music in choral conducting at UM this fall and has become the featured soloist for the UM Choir’s performance.

Mbugua, 27, said she initially was hesitant about being the soloist, even though the song’s message resonates deeply within her.

“I’ve never led this song before and was very nervous about doing so,” she said. “But as I’ve sung it, I felt this energy making me stronger and compelling me to sing.

“No matter where we are from, music truly connects us. This song brought together people from all over the Earth and turned us into once voice for world peace, which is something I really believe in.”

Besides the website, a documentary about the “A Voice 4 Peace” experience is being filmed, Trott said.

World Peace Day – officially The International Day of Peace – is observed annually on Sept. 21. It is dedicated to world peace, specifically to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Organizers hope that it will become the occasion for a temporary ceasefire in combat zones for humanitarian aid access.

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67PDF document of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September. The first Peace Day was observed in September 1982.

In 2001, the General Assembly adopted resolution 55/282PDF document, which established Sept. 21 as an annual day of nonviolence and cease-fire.

For more about the UM Concert Singers, visit

Hispanic Heritage Month Begins Monday at UM

Observance includes film series, lectures and music

hispanic-heritage-month-banner-with-lyceum-1200x444OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will present five contemporary films from Spanish-speaking countries and conduct panel discussions and a “Latin Dancing with The Stars,” among other events, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month on campus beginning Monday (Sept. 19).

The second installment of the “Hispanic Heritage Series,” the featured films all have English subtitles. The screenings are slated for Room 200 of the FedEx Student Athlete Academic Support Center, and all are free and open to the public.

“This series aims to promote an understanding of our global community,” said Carmen Sánchez, a UM modern languages instructor and one of the event’s organizers.

The group is pleased to offer opportunities to view these films “that would otherwise not be available to our community,” said Irene Kaufmann, UM lecturer in Spanish

The following Hispanic Heritage Month events are scheduled on campus:

– Monday (Sept. 19), 4 p.m., Student Union, Room 404 – Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff and opening lecture. Members of the UM community are invited to share Hispanic culture, life and influences.

– Thursday (Sept. 22), noon, Student Union Plaza – “Latin Dancing With The Stars” and “Union Unplugged.” At 5:30 p.m. in Bryant Hall, Room 209, a discussion titled “What Does Columbus Day Mean Now?” will cover the history of Columbian commemorations in the United States and the development of Hispanic Heritage Month.

– Friday (Sept. 23), noon, Lamar Hall, Room 555 – “Spanglish Reflections & Nuyorican Dreams: Latinos in the U.S. South.” This self-reflective talk features documentary photography that will take the audience on a cultural journey.

– Sept. 29, 6 p.m. – “Chico Y Rita” (“Chico and Rita”), directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando. This animated film features Cuban music and American jazz. Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba (“The Age of Beauty”) and famous Barcelona designer and artist Javier Mariscal have teamed up to make an animated love story that features the music, culture and people of Cuba. Chico is a dashing piano player and Rita is an enchanting and beautiful Havana nightclub singer. An epic romance unfolds as the pair travels the glamorous stages of 1940s and ’50s Havana, New York City, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Paris.

– Oct. 6, 6 p.m. – “El Esclavo de Dios” (“God’s Slave”), directed by Joel Novoa. Based on the actual events of a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, winner at many film festivals, this film follows Ahmed, trained since childhood as an Islamic terrorist and assigned to execute a suicide bomb at a synagogue; and David, a cold-blooded Israeli special agent who will stop at nothing to prevent the attack. But neither man is defined solely by his extremist views. Ahmed, posing as a doctor, lives happily with his wife and young son; though David’s marriage is on the rocks, he remains devoted to his wife and daughter. With time running out before the attack, David zeros in on Ahmed as a suspect, his investigation culminating in violent, if unexpected, consequences.

– Oct. 13, 4 p.m., Bryant Hall, Room 209 – “Embracing Experiences” panel discussion. Members of the UM community share their stories about Hispanic and Latin American culture and heritage.

– Oct. 13, 6 p.m. – “Ixcanul,” directed by Jayro Bustamante. The film was Guatemala’s official entry to the Academy Awards. The story takes place in the heart of a Kaqchikel Mayan community in contemporary times and is a favorite with younger audiences. Maria, a 17-year-old Mayan girl, lives and works with her parents on a coffee plantation in the foothills of an active volcano in Guatemala. An arranged marriage awaits her. Her parents have promised her to Ignacio, the plantation overseer. But Maria doesn’t sit back and accept her destiny.

– Nov. 10, 6 p.m. – “El Libertador” (“The Liberator”), directed by Albert Arvelo. The most expensive Latin American film ever produced, this movie profiles Simon Bolivar, the man who led Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Peru and Ecuador toward independence. The movie was shortlisted with other eight titles for the Best Foreign Academy Award. Rising Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramírez stars in this biopic of one of Latin America’s greatest figures, who fought more than 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in South America and rode some 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of those of Alexander the Great.

– Nov. 17, 6 p.m. – “Todos Se Van” (“Everyone Leaves”), directed by Sergio Cabrera. The movie is a celebration of freedom and a confrontation of the authoritarian Cuban regime of the 1980s, which led to one of the country’s worst economic crises. It’s based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Cuban writer Wendy Guerra. Eight-year-old Nieve is the object of her parents’ custody battle. Through her diary entries, Nieve reveals intimate details of a turbulent family life while painting a portrait of the social and political unrest in Cuba during a difficult time for the Castro regime.

The film series is made possible with the support of Pragda, the Spanish Film, SPAIN Arts and Culture, and the Secretary of State for the Culture of Spain. Locally, it is sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement, and Alpha Lambda Delta.

Other sponsors for the month’s events include the UM College of Liberal Arts and its departments of English, History, Political Science, and Sociology and Anthropology; the college’s interdisciplinary cinema studies minor program; the Croft Institute for International Studies; FedEx Student-Athlete Academic Support Center; Sarah Isom Center for Gender and Women’s Studies; and the Oxford Film Festival.

Organizers hope to build on last year’s success, said Diane E. Marting, associate professor of modern languages.

“After our success last year, we wanted to bring more films to campus,” Marting said. “There is such a diversity of peoples and cultures in Spanish America, and in these films one can see a little bit of that variety.”

Faculty Chair Pays Tribute to UM Alumnus Don Jones

Brockman Foundation Endows Accountancy Position, Honors Longtime Friend

Don Jones and wife, Melissa M. Jones (center) stand with, from left, daughter-in-law Melissa G. Jones, son Dru Jones, son-in-law Kurt Autenreith and daughter Kelly Jones Autenreith at a surprise lunch held in Don Jones' honor earlier this year. Photo by Bill Dabney

Don Jones and wife, Melissa M. Jones (center) stand with, from left, daughter-in-law Melissa G. Jones, son Dru Jones, son-in-law Kurt Autenreith and daughter Kelly Jones Autenreith at a surprise lunch held in Don Jones’ honor earlier this year. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Family and friends say the late Don Jones loved the University of Mississippi from the moment he stepped on campus in the early 1960s.

“He just immediately embraced Ole Miss, became a part of it and was a leader on behalf of the university in so many ways,” said James W. Davis, Peery Professor Emeritus and Jones’ lifelong friend. “Every cause that we ever had, Donny supported financially and otherwise. He was involved with everything important that we ever did.”

“When Don enrolled at Ole Miss, he felt he had been given an opportunity and wanted to make the best of it,” his wife, Melissa Jones, said. “He had a deep love of the people associated with the university, the professors who guided and encouraged him while getting his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. He also had a love for the school and always wanted the very best for it.”

“He even had the Rebel brand on his golf club covers!” recalls Evatt Tamine, director of the Brockman Foundation, a charitable trust for which Jones served as financial adviser for more than two decades.

On April 12, 2016, less than two months before Jones died suddenly at his Oxford home, the Brockman Foundation surprised him with the news that the Donald D. Jones Chair of Accountancy Endowment had been established within the Patterson School of Accountancy on his beloved Ole Miss campus.

“Through Don’s work, finding investment opportunities and following through with them, the Brockman Foundation was able to build to the extent to where it can now make some substantial gifts,” Tamine said. “We are able to do the work we do, to a large extent, because of the work Don did over the years. So it seemed appropriate to do something that honored him.”

An initial gift of $2 million established the endowment that will support salary supplements, research and creative activity in an effort to attract and retain outstanding faculty.

“Because of this incredible gift, we will be able to ensure quality teaching, research and service for future generations of University of Mississippi students,” Dean Mark Wilder said, adding that the school intends to fill the chair in 2017.

“We are extremely grateful to the Brockman Foundation for its generosity and for continuing Don Jones’ legacy of involvement within the Patterson School. We are honored that the Don Jones name will be forever associated with the Patterson School faculty and our students.”

Davis agreed: “This gift is an immense honor. We knew he was a positive influence in the company, but we now know how much they appreciated his dedication, energy and ability to grow the company. They truly honored him in a way that was appropriate; they knew what he loved.”

Melissa Jones said her husband, who was overwhelmed by the gift, told her that he hoped it would keep the school at the forefront of nationally renowned accountancy schools and give students opportunities to excel.

“This was a very humbling experience and both of us were very grateful for the recognition,” she said. “Don felt strongly about the School of Accountancy and would tell anyone who would listen how important it was to him.”

In college, Jones was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, serving the fraternity in many capacities from pledge class president to chapter president. He was a member of the Interfraternity Council, Omicron Delta Kappa (president), Army ROTC, the ROTC band, a deputy brigade commander and a member of the Scabbard and Blade Society.

Named a distinguished military student, the McComb native was on the honor roll and was a member of the Delta Sigma Pi freshman honorary, Beta Alpha Psi accountancy honorary (vice president), Beta Gamma Sigma business honorary and Phi Beta Psi campus honorary.

He graduated cum laude in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and served as a graduate assistant for Davis while pursuing his master’s degree, which he earned in 1967.

At Ole Miss, Jones met Melissa Massengill, a 1968 graduate of the School of Business Administration. They were married on Dec. 23, 1967, and together raised a daughter, Kelly, and a son, Dru.

After graduation, Jones joined Arthur Andersen & Co. in Houston, Texas, as an auditor from 1967 to 1968. He then served a two-year stint in the U.S. Army as a second and first lieutenant, Finance Corps, before returning to Arthur Andersen until 1976.

Jones then had the opportunity to join Brown & Root Inc. in Houston from 1976 to 1981. There, he provided leadership in multiple capacities from internal audit manager to senior manager of the power division and finally as the senior manager of computer services. In 1981, he joined Universal Computer Systems Inc. in Houston, where he was the chief financial officer until 1995, when he became chief executive officer of Pilot Management Ltd. in Bermuda. He served there until 2008.

Jones was active in his church and was a member of the Mississippi Society of CPAs, Texas Society of CPAs, Georgia Society of CPAs and the Bermuda Chapter of Canadian Chartered Accountants.

He was an avid golfer, hunter and fisherman and a dedicated supporter of Ole Miss athletics, particularly football, baseball and basketball, all of which he would watch seated next to Davis, his friend of 51 years. Additionally, he enjoyed reading, history, telling stories and spending time with his children and five grandchildren.

“For Don to be back in Oxford, heavily involved with the university, and to have this gift made him a very, very happy man,” Tamine said. “He always felt one step closer to heaven in Oxford.”

Second Annual Sarahfest Kicks Off Sept. 25

Festival to feature indie musician Jessica Lea Mayfield and artist Claudia DeMonte

sarahfestOXFORD, Miss. – The Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi will showcase live music, film, art installations and more at its second annual Sarahfest arts and music festival, which runs Sept. 25-29.

Headliners include acclaimed indie musician Jessica Lea Mayfield and artist and activist Claudia DeMonte.

The festival provides participants with cultural events that are unique and educational, which foster community building and learning while offering a glimpse into the Isom Center’s work regarding gender and women’s issues, said Theresa Starkey, the center’s associate director.

“The festival is an opportunity for us to acquaint the community with the work we do at the center and have fun while we’re doing it,” Starkey said.

The five-day festival kicks off Sunday (Sept. 25) with a special edition of “Thacker Mountain Radio” at 7 p.m. on the lawn of Rowan Oak, featuring New Orleans musician Maggie Koerner, Memphis musician Marcella Simien and poet Raquel Flowers Rivera. The event is free and open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets or folding chairs.

In partnership with the Powerhouse Community Arts Center and the UM Museum, a monthlong exhibit of Claudia DeMonte’s work will be displayed at the Powerhouse in an exhibit titled “The Art of Making the Invisible Visible: A Retrospective.”

DeMonte’s interest in exploring women’s roles in society, perceived gender expectations and beauty standards resulted in this exhibit. More than a dozen pieces will be on display.

The artist will attend a reception at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Powerhouse in conjunction with the Oxford Arts Crawl.

Other appearances throughout the week include local musicians Gina Sexton, Anne Freeman and Kit Thorn, and UM graduate student Alicia Marie Venchuk performing at Proud Larry’s.

The festival will culminate with a Sept. 29 performance by Mayfield at Proud Larry’s. Mayfield is known for her distorted guitar tones, crashing drums and heavy riffs, reminiscent of early ’90s rock, while singing of emotions and confessions. Oxford’s Kate Teague will also perform at the 9 p.m. show.

The event is possible through partnerships with the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Proud Larry’s, Thacker Mountain Radio and the Oxford Film Festival and co-sponsorships from the UM Department of Art and Art History, University Museum, Rowan Oak, Department of Archives and Special Collections, and student organizations including FEMISS and OutGrad.

For more information about the Isom Center and the full schedule of events, visit

Overby Center’s Fall Lineup Includes Brokaw, Barbour and Mabus

Slate focuses on upcoming elections as well as race and history

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, internationally respected journalist Tom Brokaw and other notables make up the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics' fall programs schedule, which begins with a talk by Mabus Friday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, internationally respected journalist Tom Brokaw and other notables make up the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics’ fall programs schedule, which begins Friday with a talk by Mabus.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi will host 10 programs featuring well-known media members and political heavyweights, the first of which begins Friday (Sept. 16) and continues as momentum builds toward the presidential election.

The fall series begins with a speciadl appearance by U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at 6 p.m. Friday at the Overby Center.

Other programs include Tom Brokaw, longtime NBC correspondent; former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who also served chair of the Republican National Committee; Andy Lack, president of NBC News; and Stuart Stevens, a Mississippian who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Two programs include UM students who worked on projects in Africa and also among Mississippi’s Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes.

The fall offerings include a diverse set of speakers, said Charles Overby, chairman of the center.

“The fall lineup of programs ranges from serious to quirky, with a great array of interesting, accomplished personalities,” Overby said.

For the first program, Mabus will talk with Overby about his career. The Ackerman native, who graduated from Ole Miss in 1969, has a distinguished record of public service that may be matched by only one other Mississippian in history, 19th century statesman L.Q.C. Lamar. Mabus has served as state auditor, governor, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and as secretary of the Navy for the past eight years.

A reception follows the discussion.

The rich variety of speakers complement the university’s journalism programs, but also will draw attendance from the Oxford community, said Curtis Wilkie, UM Cook Chair and associate professor of journalism. The broad spectrum of guests is by design, he said.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, right, an Ole Miss graduate and former governor, will open the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics fall programs schedule with an appearance there Friday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. Photo by Robert Jordan

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, right, an Ole Miss graduate and former governor, will open the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics’ fall programs schedule with an appearance at 6 p.m. Friday. Photo by Robert Jordan

“We also want to emphasize an important word at Ole Miss: diversity, so that the programs and panelists are not dominated by a bunch of old white guys pontificating but deal straight-up with race, still a critical issue in our state,” Wilkie said.

There’s also an emphasis on attracting opposing political ideologies to enrich the discussion, he said.

“We try to be scrupulously nonpartisan, inviting guests from all kinds of political backgrounds,” Wilkie said. “We hope we’re provocative and provide the kind of commentary that would have been forbidden on this campus 50 years ago – when I was a student – and political forces in Mississippi imposed a ‘speakers ban’ at Ole Miss, which denied a forum to forbidden voices.”

Overby and Wilkie, who were journalists during the civil rights movement, will also appear on a panel Nov. 1 with political science professor Marvin King to discuss James Meredith’s “March Against Fear” in 1966. The discussion also features Aram Goudsouzian, author of “Down to the Crossroads” a book about the march.

Meredith was the first black student to enroll at Ole Miss, which sparked deadly rioting in 1962, and four years later he was shot while protesting segregation by walking through Mississippi. The talk comes on the 50th anniversary of Meredith’s march.

“The civil rights movement of 1966 was different than in earlier years,” King said. “Decreased harmony, fraying of purpose and less solidarity marked 1966, and the Meredith march exemplified all this tension. Our panel will highlight this tension through focus on the Meredith march.”

All Overby Center events are free and open to the public, and arrangements are being made to provide parking for all evening programs this fall. Parking for guests will be available in the lot next to the Overby Center for the duration of the event. With the exception of a Sept. 30 forum at Nutt Auditorium, events will be held at the Overby Auditorium.

Here’s a rundown of the discussions that follow Mabus’ talk Friday:

— Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. – “A Critical Eye on the Campaign” with Stuart Stevens, a leading Republican consultant who has been outspoken in his condemnation of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

– Sept. 30, 6 p.m., Nutt Auditorium – “Election Countdown” with Lack and Brokaw of NBC News, along with special guest Barbour. The political discussion will be moderated by Maggie Wade from Jackson’s NBC affiliate. The program is co-sponsored by Mississippi Today, the state’s online news operation.

– Oct. 11, 6 p.m. – “Mississippi Freelance” an irreverent monthly that poked fun at Mississippi politicians and exposed many irregularities 50 years ago, will be fondly remembered by its founders, Lew Powell and Ed Williams, Ole Miss graduates who went on to careers at the Charlotte Observer.

– Oct. 14, 9 a.m. – “The Embassy,” a new book about earlier turmoil in Liberia, will be discussed by its author, Dante Paradiso, an American Foreign Service officer posted to its capital, Monrovia, at the time.

– Oct. 19, 8 p.m. – “The Last Debate” will be shown on the Overby Center screen, to be followed by a public discussion.

– Oct. 27, 2:30 p.m. – “Mississippi Indians” will be discussed by Overby fellow Bill Rose and students on his team in the latest in-depth reporting assignment, an annual course that has produced a series of prize-winning magazines.

– Nov. 1, 6 p.m. – “The March Against Fear,” James Meredith’s idea that led to an assassination attempt on him and a fractious finish by competing civil rights leaders in 1966, will be recalled on its 50th anniversary by Goudsouzian, King, Overby and Wilkie.

– Nov. 2, 6 p.m. – “Ole Miss in Africa” will feature UM journalism students who traveled earlier this year to Zimbabwe and Namibia on a photo expedition and study of wildlife management.

– Nov. 15, 6 p.m. – “The Outcome” of the 2016 presidential campaign – and its impact on the future of the two major parties – will be the subject for a final discussion.

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Visits UM Law School

Students get opportunities to view proceedings, visit with judges

Judge Rhesa Barksdale, Judge Grady Jolly, and Judge Lesley Southwick made up the panel of Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges that heard cases at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Judge Rhesa Barksdale, Judge Grady Jolly, and Judge Lesley Southwick made up the panel of Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges that heard cases at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

OXFORD, Miss. – The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently conducted a session at the University of Mississippi School of Law, hearing cases and spending time with students in more informal settings.

Judges Grady Jolly, Rhesa Barksdale and Leslie Southwick made up the panel that heard cases at the school. UM is the only law school that the Fifth Circuit, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, visits on a regular basis.

“A big component of us visiting Ole Miss is to Judge Jolly’s credit,” Barksdale said. “He’s been on our court for 34 years, and he is the senior judge on our court. He wants to make sure that we sit here if we can at least once every three years so that while you’re here in law school, at least one time, you’ll see our court.”

Students got to sit in on cases throughout the day to experience how a federal appellate court works.

“So much of what the students get in law school is through classwork, through instruction, and actually seeing what they’re being taught, seeing how an appellate court actually operates at least in a courtroom environment, is a practical side to what they’re hearing in their classrooms that I think adds a fair amount to the experience and a benefit of law school,” Southwick said.

Besides seeing the judges, “they see people they more readily can identify with, and that’s the advocates, very good lawyers in most of these cases,” he said. “I think they can place themselves in that role and maybe get more comfortable with what it will be like in a few years trying to do what these lawyers are doing.”

While this is an experience that not all law students get, Ole Miss law students were able not only to view the process, but also to visit with the judges.

“I am thrilled that our students had the opportunity to visit with the judges in addition to observing the oral arguments,” said Deborah Bell, dean of the law school. “I appreciate how generous the judges were with their time, meeting with our students for lunches and question-and-answer sessions and in informal receptions.”

The court has been visiting UM since 1983 and is a popular destination among the judges, Jolly said.

“When it comes to Oxford, everybody wants to come,” Jolly said. “It’s a pleasant little respite from the ordinary routine of our court, and it’s a lovely little town to come to. We all feel very welcome here, and this law school runs the Fifth Circuit’s operational requirements with great efficiency.”

Both Jolly (LL.B. 1962) and Barksdale (JD 1972) graduated from the school and continue to have a close relationship with it. Barksdale, who graduated first in his class, attributes his successes to both his time at the school and his professors.

“I received a clerkship with Justice Byron White on the Supreme Court of the United States, in large part due to it being suggested to me by three of my law school professors and their encouragement and assistance, so I owe a great deal to the law school,” he said. “I loved law school from the moment I started, and those three people changed my life.

“Professors here have an interest in their students. I’m not saying they don’t in other law schools, but they particularly do here. That’s always been a trait of the Ole Miss law school, so I’m extremely indebted to them, one of them being Robert Khayat.”

Barksdale also praised Bell’s leadership of the school.

“You’ve got a wonderful facility, a very dedicated faculty and very interested students I’ve observed in these past few years,” Barksdale added. “I think there’s a happy feel about the Ole Miss law school, one of interest, and one of faculty and students that really mesh well. I think it’s got a lot of really good things going for it.”

The school was recently ranked 24th nationally in securing federal judicial clerkships. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has several UM graduates as law clerks, Barksdale said.

“We have a close relationship with the law school who furnishes us the applications of the top students,” Jolly added. “We usually hire someone from Ole Miss because they encourage their students to clerk on a court of appeals and because they are fully capable of performing the work.”

Both Jolly and Barksdale noted that several of their former clerks have become Ole Miss faculty members.

Aside from hearing cases, the panel of judges met with several student groups.

“The Q&A session was a wonderful educational opportunity for our students,” said moderator Jack Wade Nowlin, senior associate dean at the school. “The judges shared their insights on a variety of topics, including the clerkship application process, what makes for good legal writing, common mistakes lawyers make in appellate advocacy and the role of the courts in the separation of powers.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, often referred to as the Fifth Circuit, is one of 13 federal appellate courts. The court’s home is the John Minor Wisdom United States Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans. The Fifth Circuit is authorized 17 active judges, but has 15 active judges and nine senior judges.

For more information about the UM School of Law, go to

UM Swahili Program Provides Exotic Option for Students

East African language is 11th offered at university

OXFORD, Miss. – Like hundreds of students each year at the University of Mississippi, Estelle Blair signed up last fall for Spanish 101. But when the Brandon native decided that Spanish was not for her, she found a dramatically different alternative to fulfill her foreign language requirements.

Neema Loy (left), a graduate teaching assistant from Tanzania, leads UM students in her Swahili language class in traditional Tarab dances. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Neema Loy (left), a graduate teaching assistant from Tanzania, leads UM students in her Swahili language class in traditional taarab dances. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Blair has joined a small, but growing, group of UM students studying Swahili. One of the university’s more uncommon academic offerings, the East African tongue is the 11th language taught by the Department of Modern Languages.

Although she took two years of French in high school, Blair’s decision to try Swahili was not totally out of the blue.

“When I was in high school, I took a trip with my family to Tanzania to go on a safari,” said Blair, a sophomore pursuing a major in biology with a minor in chemistry. “The people there were just amazing. Their attitudes and culture and their outlook on life were just amazing, and I just loved them.”

Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is the primary language of the Swahili people and a common language across eastern and southeastern Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique. It is the national language of Tanzania and Kenya.

Beginning its fifth year of operation, the Swahili language program is expected to enroll 26 students in two levels for the 2016-17 academic year. That’s far behind popular offerings such as Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and French, but the number of UM students studying Swahili is expected to grow significantly, said Don Dyer, UM chair of modern languages.

Crissandra George explores the area around Ngorongoro Crater in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes the world's largest inactive volcanic caldera, is noted for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife. George was among 12 UM students who visited East Africa this summer as part of a study abroad course. Photo courtesy Crissandra George

Crissandra George explores the area around Ngorongoro Crater in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera, is noted for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife. George was among 12 UM students who visited East Africa this summer as part of a study abroad course. Photo courtesy Crissandra George

“Swahili is really making some strides nationally,” Dyer said. “The most rapidly growing languages at American universities are Korean, Italian and American Sign Language, but Swahili is sort of an up-and-coming language.

“We are proud to be one of a small and elite group of universities in the country that offers courses in Swahili.”

Neema Loy, a graduate teaching assistant from Tanzania, teaches the four Swahili courses offered at UM. Studying the language can provide insights into life in another part of the world, Loy said.

“To learn Swahili is to learn the language of East African people,” she said. “You also learn their way of living: their food, music, religion and culture.”

It also provides opportunities to broaden one’s perspectives, said Gracie Snyder, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism.

“When I first signed up to take Swahili, I was only thinking about fulfilling the core requirements for my major of taking at least two years of a foreign language,” said Snyder, from Eastman, Georgia. “I had no idea that I would fall in love with learning this language and one day visit Tanzania just to study this language further.

“I would definitely recommend this language to everyone because not only is taking Swahili a great conversation starter, but learning this language has been one of the ‘funnest’ experiences I have ever had.”

The emphasis on daily life in East Africa transforms the university’s Swahili program from a mere language class to a cultural education, said Crissandra George, a sophomore from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

“So many language classes focus only on the grammar and vocabulary, but this class is so much more,” said George, who is majoring in Spanish and linguistics. “You learn the culture and history as well as the slang.”

Learning Swahili can yield benefits for a variety of academic majors, said George, who spent part of her summer studying abroad in Tanzania with Snyder and a group of UM students.

“A lot of environmental research and studies are done in Tanzania and regions surrounding it, thus helping science and engineering majors,” she said. “Also, anthropology, linguistics or really any social science is perfect to study here. The culture and language make it unique to study especially abroad.”

Gracie Snyder (left) and Crissandra George attend a rooftop dinner in Zanzibar, an archipelago off the east coast of Tanzania, where the group learned about Tarab traditions, which are a mix of Arabic and Swahili cultures. Snyder and George were among 12 UM students who visited East Africa this summer as part of a study abroad course. Photo courtesy Crissandra George

Gracie Snyder (left) and Crissandra George attend a rooftop dinner in Zanzibar, an archipelago off the east coast of Tanzania, where the group learned about taarab traditions, which are a mix of Arabic and Swahili cultures. Snyder and George were among 12 UM students who visited East Africa this summer as part of a study abroad course. Photo courtesy Crissandra George

Loy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Swahili from the University of Dae es Salaam in her native country, is pursuing a master’s degree in modern languages with an emphasis on Teaching English as a Second Language. She also serves as faculty adviser for the Swahili Club, which meets weekly during the academic year.

The club offers members and visitors opportunities to meet and have conversation with native speakers from Tanzania and Kenya, as well as activities to learn about Swahili culture.

“We also try our best to bring the actual Swahili world to the learning process, for example: doing real cultural activities in Swahili Club, cooking and dancing,” Loy said. “We also promote collaborative learning by video chatting with learners from other universities.”

The goal is to make learning the language fun, she said. The approach is a success, her students agree.

“Having a native-speaking teacher here at Ole Miss makes it a great place to learn this language,” Blair said. “The university continuously challenges us to grow as a person and a student, and this is just another example.”

Blair, George and Snyder each won one of the department’s language awards at last spring’s Honors Day. Although learning a new language is hard work, the experience of learning Swahili is unlike any other, Snyder said.

“I never thought in a million years that taking a language course would impact my life so greatly and influence the type of career I would want to enter into upon graduation,” she said. “Coming into college, I thought that I wanted to be a sports journalist, but learning Swahili has made me think about possibly working for an embassy one day or pursuing journalism that will allow me to use Swahili.

“Learning Swahili has shown me just how much effort and willingness it takes to learn a language, but how rewarding it can be to know that you are learning something that can help you relate to others around the world.”

Blair also has plans to use the language after graduation. Her goal is to attend medical school and become a physician, and she hopes to work with Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides medical care for some of the world’s poorest people.

“My desire is to work somewhere in eastern Africa,” she said. “I want to learn the language so I’ll never need a translator.”

To learn more about the program, go to or contact Loy at or 662-915-1295.

Melody Musgrove Joins Graduate Center for Study of Early Learning

Former U.S. Department of Education administrator to serve as co-director and associate professor

Melody Musgrove is the new co-director of the UM Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Melody Musgrove is the new co-director of the UM Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Melody Musgrove, an accomplished public education leader and advocate, has joined the University of Mississippi faculty as co-director of the Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning and associate professor of special education.

Housed within the UM School of Education, the center was established in 2015 to provide research and collaborative leadership to advocate for more quality pre-K education programs throughout the state. The center is financially supported by the Phil Hardin Foundation of Meridian.

“The combination of working with the graduate center and the chance to teach at this university is a very appealing opportunity,” said Musgrove, a Mississippi native. “I believe that Ole Miss is on the move in the field of teacher education and I am excited to be part of that.”

Before joining UM, Musgrove served as director of the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education from 2010 to 2016. OSEP oversees the administration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a law that ensures educational services and opportunities for children of all ages. The $13 billion program provides grants, monitoring and technical assistance to states.

Musgrove, who also served as state director of special education with the Mississippi Department of Education, started her career as a classroom teacher. This is Musgrove’s first major faculty appointment in higher education.

In her new role, she will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in education and work alongside the center’s other co-director, Cathy Grace. As collaborative leaders, the two will work to provide professional development for pre-K teachers, conduct research on the importance and impact of early learning, and provide public and political advocacy for the expansion of early childhood education statewide.

“I am thrilled that a person of Dr. Musgrove’s experience and long-term commitment to Mississippi’s children will be joining the center,” Grace said. “Her wealth of knowledge relative to meeting the needs of all children, especially those with special needs, will allow the center to broaden the opportunities we will offer.”

The Graduate Center was established as a continuation of the School of Education’s efforts to prioritize the training of pre-K educators in Mississippi.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, several studies show quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics. Studies also show an estimated $7 return on every $1 invested in public pre-K education in the form of long-term cost savings.

Mississippi offers no statewide early childhood education in public schools.

Musgrove holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s degree in special education from the University of Southern Mississippi and a bachelor’s degree in education from Mississippi College.

“We have a responsibility to raise awareness of the importance of early learning both in general education and in children with disabilities,” Musgrove said. “Dr. Grace has done a great job with this already, and I am excited to be part of that good work.”