Award Created for Environmental Toxicology Students

Recognition named in honor of influential former faculty member

Kristine Willett (left), William Benson and David D. Allen

Kristine Willett (left), William Benson and David D. Allen

OXFORD, Miss. – To honor a former faculty member and environmental toxicology research leader, the School of Pharmacy has created the William H. Benson Distinguished Graduate Student Award.

“I was honestly in disbelief when I first learned of the plans for the award,” said Benson, who served as a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the school for a decade. “I am just incredibly flattered and honored that it would even be considered.”

The award will recognize the most outstanding graduate student in environmental toxicology each year. Recipients will receive a plaque and monetary gift. Kristine Willett, professor of pharmacology, developed the idea for the award after realizing that other graduate programs had similar recognitions.

“Dr. Benson really spearheaded the environmental toxicology research program here at the University of Mississippi,” Willett said. “Many of his former students and mentees are still actively involved with our School of Pharmacy and provide networking opportunities for our current students.”

Benson joined the School of Pharmacy as a faculty member in 1988. He served as director of environmental and community health research at the school’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences before leaving in 1999.

The associate director for ecology at the Environmental Protection Agency fondly remembers his time at Ole Miss.

“The beauty of the pharmacy school was our ability to work across departments,” he said. “We worked together in the best interest of our students. It was so easy to work in a multidisciplinary culture because everyone pitched in. It was almost like a family, not a lab.”

Willett said that Benson continues to influence the University of Mississippi, despite being away from campus for nearly 15 years.

“As environmental toxicology-associated faculty members have prepared training grant proposals, Dr. Benson has volunteered his laboratories as internship locations for our students,” she said. “When I teach environmental toxicology, I use slide sets from short courses he has taught. Most importantly, he is always on the lookout for job opportunities for our students. At meetings, he enthusiastically encourages them and introduces them to other experts in the field.”

Benson said he hopes the award will give opportunities to deserving students who are dedicated to improving the state of Mississippi.

“I hope it goes to students who really believe in doing the right thing for the right reason,” he said. “I hope they work toward public, environmental good and that their work is beneficial to the people of Mississippi, while having impact on the nation and the world.”

To contribute to the William H. Benson Distinguished Graduate Student Award, send a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. For more information, contact development director Raina McClure at

Jeremy Rice Enjoying Career of Dreams

Civil engineering alumnus credits UM professors with helping launch him toward success

Jeremy Rice and Family

Jeremy Rice and family

Jeremy Rice has lots to smile about these days.

Enjoying his 15th year in the U.S. Army, the University of Mississippi civil engineering alumnus leads the Mechanics Group within the Army Propulsion Lab, a branch of the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at the Redstone Arsenal. He also recently finished his doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he and his family reside.

“It was a good situation,” said the Paris, Tennessee, native. “I was able to perform my doctoral research at the Army Propulsion Laboratories as a part of my official work duties. I completed my dissertation and degree in the spring of 2014.”

Rice came to Ole Miss after his high school chamber singers’ director recommended that he consider enrolling here. During a visit to campus in the spring of his senior year, he was absolutely blown away.

“I attended Ole Miss on an academic scholarship for tuition and books, and performed in the university’s Concert Singers and the Opera Theatre in order to pay my out-of-state tuition,” Rice said. “I completed my B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1997 and my M.S. in Engineering Science in 1999.”

Before going to work for the military, Rice was a graduate assistant in the Department of Civil Engineering. While he has many great memories from his years in the School of Engineering, Rice said four professors had a huge impact upon him.

“Dr. M.S. Abdulrahman had a particular way of making subjects like structural analysis and steel design interesting and entertaining,” Rice said. “When I think of my undergraduate years, he really stands out in my memory.”

Rice worked with Waheed Uddin as a teaching assistant for computer-aided design, and as a side project performed his very first material constitutive modeling work on an early pavement model of Uddin’s.

“I was slacking a little bit, and Dr. Uddin called me into his office after class and really called me out on my level of effort,” he said. “Looking back, he did that exactly at the right time, and it had a big effect on me and my future academic career.”

An “a-ha moment” came for Rice during an afternoon laboratory session with a new professor.

“Dr. Chris Mullen came in and demonstrated to us how you could predict stress fields using a technique called finite elements,” he said. “I had never heard of finite elements before that time, but left class that afternoon with a certainty that I wanted to learn that technique.”

Rice worked with Mullen as a research assistant throughout his tenure as a graduate student. Mullen had a large FEMA grant to evaluate the effects of a large earthquake upon campus buildings. Rice was one of several graduate students who worked with him on the project.

“I was able to develop valuable modeling and simulation skills, and got to see a lot more of the buildings on campus than most students,” Rice said. “I think I took every class that Dr. Mullen offered in those days, and still use that material every day in my professional career.”

The faculty member whom Rice credits with having the most lasting impact was Robert Hackett.

“Dr. Hackett helped me get my foot in the door in Huntsville by helping me to secure my first interview,” he said. “Several years later, we crossed paths again and had the opportunity to collaborate on some material modeling efforts of composite materials. This work led to my Ph.D. research, during which Dr. Hackett was a most valuable resource. I can definitely say that my collaborations with Dr. Hackett have been some of the most important throughout my professional career.”

The most fulfilling aspect of Rice’s work is seeing a project, to which he has made some contribution, transition into active service and help protect the young men and women serving in the Army.

“The greatest professional honors for me all seem to deal with some sort of writings,” he said. “I was awfully excited to get my first professional journal publication in the Journal of Applied Physics. Several years later, I was very excited to get my first publication outside of my primary field of expertise in the Journal of Combustion and Flame.”

Rice was asked to author several NATO mechanical property test standards, which are used in laboratories around the world. Recently, he was recruited to contribute a book chapter into an AIAA textbook on rocket motor mechanical design.

“A couple of times I have been asked to serve as the chairman for the Joint Army, Navy, NASA, Air Force Joint Propulsion Meeting, most recently in Washington D.C.,” Rice said. “This is a big annual technical meeting of rocket propulsion experts from the joint services, NASA, industry and academia, and is a big honor in our field.”

Rice married his college sweetheart, Jennifer, who also graduated from Ole Miss in 1997 with a degree in English. The couple has three sons: Elijah, 14, William, 12, and Joshua, 9; and a daughter, Ansley, 7. All four children are big Rebels and plan to attend Ole Miss.

A self-proclaimed outdoorsman, Rice and all of his children are very much into Scouting programs.

“We do a lot of camping, hiking, canoeing/kayaking and fishing as a family,” he said. “It also seems like I spend a lot of time on bleachers lately watching youth sports.”

Rice’s former professors said they are proud of his achievements and look forward to his returning to campus to share his experiences with their students.

“Most people here (other than Dr. Uddin) don’t know Jeremy was in the first class I taught for CE511 Structural Dynamics and was his M.S. adviser on earthquake response modeling of the Twin Towers,” said Mullen, professor of civil engineering. “The simulation of the towers shaking during an M8 event is probably the most-viewed animation of any model created here.”

Tejas Pandya Joins Mechanical Engineering

Assistant professor fitting in with faculty, students

Tejas Pandya

Tejas Pandya

A year ago, Tejas Pandya was in search of a great opportunity to pursue research and teaching. He stumbled upon a notice about a faculty position in the University of Mississippi School of Engineering and applied. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I was expecting a dynamic environment for conducting research with good labs and collaborating with accomplished senior faculty,” said the new assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “My experience has been very good. I find the faculty and administration is very supportive.”

Pandya teaches Introduction to Mechanical Design, Computer Aided Design and Structures and Dynamics Lab. He plans to offer a course on renewable energy systems.

“The Blast and Impact Dynamics lab is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment,” he said. “My research interests are in area of mechanical design, sustainable technologies with low carbon footprint and renewable energy systems.”

A member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Pandya enjoys reading, hiking, outdoors and photography, watching college football and tailgating. He and his wife, Monika, have a daughter, Vijaya, 2.

The Pandyas find Oxford is a vibrant town and an ideal place to work and live.

“My wife is an experienced fashion merchandiser and a field hockey player,” Pandya said. “We would love to see Vijaya play for the Ole Miss soccer team. She has already started kicking the soccer ball.”

Arunachalam Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering, said Pandya is a welcome addition to the department.

“Dr. Pandya brings exceptional multi-national industrial experience that would be an asset for the Mechanical Engineering department,” Rajendran said. “Our students will greatly benefit through his teaching, which incorporates design methodology and tools that would bridge the gap between the classroom and industry.”

FOX8: Local ‘Idol’ contestant hopes dance with Jennifer Lopez is first of many moments


Michael Simeon on American Idol

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) – A University of Mississippi engineering major hopes to be the next American Idol, and Michael Simeon knows it’s not just about the song.

“Each performance has to have a moment,” Simeon said. “You have to have a moment that is going to be remembered by the people watching, and if you don’t have that, you’re just another OK singer.”

Simeon hopes his dance with Jennifer Lopez will be the first of many moments on his journey to becoming the next American Idol. The 21-year old from Lumberton, Mississippi, has traveled this road before, making it to the top 48 last season.

Click here to read the full story.

Four Find Freshmen Ventures Fantastic

Team of first-year engineering majors interviewed NASA officials in nation's capital

NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier (center) spent time with Ole Miss freshmen engineering students (from left) Reid Barber, Seth Gray, Dillon Hall and Ray Brown. (Submitted photo)

NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier (center) spent time with Ole Miss freshmen engineering students (from left) Reid Barber, Seth Gray, Dillon Hall and Ray Brown. (Submitted photo)

Like modern-day explorers out to discover the New World, four engineering students recently traveled to Washington, D.C., in search of the next big thing. For these freshmen in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the answer is the resurgence of NASA’s aerospace program.

Through the Honors College’s annual Freshman Ventures program, the students were among several teams. Each team tackled the question by setting up interviews with a variety of individuals and groups that could help them find deeper answers. The students organized everything from travel and lodging to contacting individuals with whom they interviewed.

After seeing a presentation of previous Ventures trips, Dillon Hall of Saltillo became interested in using this opportunity to explore his interests in pursuing a career in the aerospace industry. The mechanical engineering major formed a group with Reid Barber of Tupelo, Raymond Brown of Houston, Texas, and Seth Gray of Jonesboro, Arkansas.

The foursome met with both NASA representatives and individuals that held opposing views in an effort to have a more well-rounded research project.

“We had the opportunity to interview Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate at NASA Headquarters, and Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development,” Hall said. “We realize that the opportunity to interact with people like this as first-year students is almost unheard of at other universities.”

Each Ventures group is also required to prepare a visual presentation of their interviews and findings to show during a retreat later in the spring where all groups discuss their travel experiences. Each team’s presentation will be judged by Honors faculty and staff. The group with the best overall presentation is awarded a trip to New York City.

Before they were allowed to travel, the students were required to develop a plan for their time in Washington and what they hoped to achieve through their experience with the NASA representatives.
“The goal of our Ventures project was to learn about what NASA has planned for the immediate and long-term future in regards to technological development and space exploration,” said Barber, a computer science major. “We also wanted to learn more about NASA’s funding and special procedures, being part of the federal administration.”

Barber also expressed the group’s interest in learning about NASA’s relationship with other private companies, such as SpaceX, and how or if they collaborate. The experience allowed the students to gain skills that they believe will benefit them beyond graduation whether or not they choose a career in the aerospace field.

“I learned that the future of space exploration strongly depends on future engineers,” said Gray, a chemical engineering major. “Even though NASA has a stronghold on the space industry, it will be necessary for more companies to develop new ideas.”

Gray, who served as the group’s financial planner, said the opportunity to visit NASA allowed him to get a sense of potential career opportunities for engineers with the organization.

Brown, who was responsible for documenting the group’s activities in the nation’s capital, said the experience helped him better identify his future goals in the business world.

“While I am not planning to pursue a job in the space industry, I feel like the Ventures trip opened my eyes to the diversity of jobs in our economy,” the mechanical engineering major said. “My horizons are broadened about what entrepreneurs can do if they work hard enough. All in all, I was able to get a better sense of where private industry is headed in the next few decades.”

The Honors College strives to develop citizen scholars who are fired by the life of the mind. Giving students new to a university campus the chance to embark on a nontraditional learning experience allows them to do just that.

UM Ranks Among Nation’s Best Online MBA Programs

U.S. News & World Report lists university in Top 25

Graduates from the online MBA program share their exhilaration at 2014 commencement ceremonies.

Graduates from the online MBA program share their exhilaration at 2014 commencement ceremonies.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s online MBA program is ranked in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 list of 25 Best Online MBA Programs.

UM tied Ball State University for No. 16. Other SEC schools on the list include Florida at No. 4, Auburn (No. 10) and Mississippi State (tied with the University of Tennessee at Martin for No. 18). Indiana University, Temple University and the University of North Carolina all tied for No. 1.

“We are very proud of the success of the online MBA program and the recognition of the incredible value this program provides to our students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “The fact that they can continue working and provide for their families while furthering their education is a wonderful opportunity. It is especially satisfying to be able to help our men and women in uniform to further their education.”

Besides this overall ranking, U.S. News & World Report ranks UM as a top university in the areas of:

  • Faculty credentials and training rank: 49
  • Student services and technology rank: 53
  • Student engagement rank: 35
  • Admissions selectivity rank: 20
  • Peer assessment score (out of 5): 3.1

MBA logo

UM’s online MBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The program may be completed in two years by taking two courses in fall, spring and summer. There is no residency requirement and students are not charged nonresident fees. More than 70 percent of the online students complete the MBA program in two years.

“We strive to be accessible to students through both predetermined interactions such as weekly discussion board meetings, in addition to the ability to ask questions to the class or professor,” Cyree said. “We also have several opportunities for students to meet face-to-face to develop connections with their classmates. The courses are rigorous and demanding and are a companion to our on-campus program, and in many cases the same professor teaches online and on-campus.”

The online program’s student population is a combination of young professionals and experienced, successful professionals.

“They are located from coast to coast and abroad,” said Ashley Jones, director of MBA/MHA Administration. “We have bankers, engineers and entrepreneurs. Along with those in the fields of business and accounting, we have students in the field of medicine that include a surgeon, anesthesiologist and a pharmacist. All have different career goals, and they each bring learning opportunities to the class.”

For more information about U.S. News & World Report rankings, visit For more information about UM’s online MBA program, go to


Music of the South Concert Series Rocks It Out

Lee Bains III to perform Jan. 27 at UM

Lee Bains III

Lee Bains III

OXFORD, Miss. – Lee Bains III brings his distinct Southern rock and soul to the University of Mississippi for a solo performance Jan. 27 as part of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture‘s Music of the South concert series.

Bains, a songwriter from Birmingham, Alabama, who lives in Atlanta, recently released his second full-length album, “Dereconstructed,” with his band The Glory Fires. The album finds Bains wrestling with questions of identity, culture and history through a highly personal, politicized, localized and Southern lens.

The concert is set for 7 p.m. in the Studio Theater of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The venue has a capacity of 150 people. Tickets are available for $10 through the UM Box Office, 662-915-7411, and at the door.

The Music of the South Concert Series, which highlights intimate evenings with Southern performers, is a partnership between the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Ford Center that began in 2012.

The singer and guitar player first found out about the center while he was in school at New York University, studying Southern history and roots.

“Since adolescence, I’d certainly thought a lot about how I did and didn’t jibe with what I knew as ‘Southern,’ but it wasn’t until I was exposed to critical theory that I began to envision Southern identity as a thing to be interrogated and explored – and, ultimately, as a thing to dismantle into multitudinous identities,” Bains said. “My senior year, as I was preparing to write a paper that brought the writings of several post-colonial theorists to bear on Louis Rubin’s ‘I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition,’ I came across a slew of articles dealing with Southernness from any number of angles that had come out of Ole Miss and the University of North Carolina, and – to be perfectly and nerdily honest – was giddy that such places existed.”

Bains will also visit two Southern studies classes to discuss his musical influences and how he sees music as a vehicle for both personal expression and social commentary, as well as what role he sees for music in Southern society today.

He said he always enjoys playing in Oxford, especially since The Glory Fires’ first album, “There is a Bomb in Gilead,” was recorded in nearby Water Valley.

“Plus, being there is something like transcending the line between art and reality. Walking through the Square, it’s hard not to think about Jefferson, and the Yoknapatawpha County courthouse and Quentin Compson,” Bains said. “William Faulkner shaped and has continued to challenge my own mission in writing, particularly in his devotion to writing about his particular place.”

Previous Music of the South performers include Caroline Herring, Randall Bramblett, Valerie June, Blind Boy Paxton and John “JoJo” Hermann, the Water Liars, Amy Andrews, Tyler Keith and the band Feufollet.

UM Launches Professional Doctorates in Math, Higher Education

Three-year doctoral program designed for working teachers, administrators

Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate

Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi now offers professional doctorates in the fields of mathematics instruction and higher education.

The UM School of Education‘s new Doctor of Education program is designed for secondary mathematics teachers or college administrators who already hold a master’s degree and wish to pursue doctoral studies with an emphasis on professional practice.

The Ed.D. is designed to be completed part-time over three years and both emphases require at least 48 hours of post-master’s credit, including a “Dissertation in Practice,” which will be a major research project focused on solving real-world problems in Mississippi education.

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 a knowledge forum where institutions work together to improve doctoral education that affects practice,” said Amy Wells Dolan, associate dean of the education school, who has worked with CPED as a UM representative since 2011. “Our institution has long attracted students who seek doctoral study for the purpose of professional practice. Establishing an Ed.D. program with CPED principles makes us more responsive to those students’ needs and goals.”

While the Ed.D. program’s initial focus is mathematics education and higher education, it could soon expand to other fields such as English education or educational leadership. Both emphases will share a joint core of educational research courses that are completed alongside other graduate seminars in either mathematics education or higher education.

The fundamental difference between the new Ed.D. and UM’s existing Ph.D. programs in these fields is that the Ed.D. is designed to help teachers and administrators advance existing careers, whereas the Ph.D. is intended to prepare graduate students for new careers in collegiate teaching and research.

“We believe the Ed.D. will better serve doctoral students in higher education who are currently administrators and see themselves advancing on this path,” said John Holleman, coordinator of higher education. “The professional doctorate utilizes a consultancy model allowing students to develop research and assessment skills and then directly apply them to an ongoing, real world environment.”

The program is also designed to make doctoral study more accessible to teachers and administrators across Mississippi. One plan in the works could include cohort sites for both emphases at the Oxford  campus and at the Medical Center in Jackson, as well as other areas where a demand can be identified.

“We are looking to provide maximum opportunities for mathematics educators who want to stay classroom-based in their careers,” said Allan Bellman, associate professor of mathematics education. “This program will allow teachers to identify something that they want to improve, design a solution and apply it. The research will have a direct impact on their practice and even practice across their whole district.”

The application deadline for the first cohort of both Ed.D. tracks is April 1. For more information about curriculum and admissions, visit

UM Staff, Students Join MLK Day of Service

Volunteers gathering to improve area schools, assisted living facilities

Dr. Marvin King will deliver the keynote address at the MLK Day of Service on Jan. 19.

Marvin King will deliver the keynote address Jan. 19 at the MLK Day of Service .

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students and staff are leading efforts to improve living conditions in Lafayette County and Oxford during 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances.

The Lafayette-Oxford-University MLK Day of Service opening ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 19 at the Oxford Activity Center. Program participants include UM Dean of Students Melinda Sutton, Oxford Mayor George “Pat” Patterson and Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Jeff Busby. Marvin P. King Jr., UM associate professor of political science and African-American studies, will deliver the keynote address.

The senior fellow at UM’s Residential College South, King received his doctorate in political science from the University of North Texas after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He has co-authored or authored publications on racial polarization in the electorate, representation of the black electorate and the effect of race in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. King teaches undergraduate courses in Introduction to American Politics and African American Politics, and an undergraduate and graduate course in Politics of the American South.

Following King’s speech, three awards will be presented to outstanding LOU volunteers in student and community categories. Honorees include Victoria Burgos of Oxford, a UM student who implemented a pilot composting program on campus; Barbara Wortham of Oxford, GED program instructor at the Oxford School District Learning Center; and Matt Gaw and Mari Susan Massey of Oxford, United Way volunteers.

Other activities scheduled during the day include a service fair featuring representatives from local nonprofits and organizations, a book drive for local correctional facilities, a letter-of-appreciation writing campaign for three area civil rights leaders and activities at five local assisted living facilities.

“It is exciting that University of Mississippi students and staff are choosing to make a difference in the lives of others,” sad Coulter Ward, assistant dean of students for leadership and involvement. “Volunteering builds communities and strengthens relationships. To have our students take opportunities to participate in endeavors like these is awesome.”

UM staff involved in planning of MLK Day of Service events expressed enthusiasm about participating in such a worthy cause.

“Learning the larger history surrounding civil rights and MLK is important, but we see a need to educate our students about living leaders who made great movements right here in Mississippi,” said Haley Kesterson, coordinator of the letter writing campaign. “We hope to give proper gratitude to local leaders. We hope to educate students on the civil rights movement here in Mississippi and give them a local, current perspective about the continuous issue.”

Campus participation is crucial to the success of the observance, said Sarah Ball, director of Volunteer Oxford.

“This national day of service honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and commitment to transforming our nation through service to others,” Ball said. “The LOU MLK Day of Service offers community members a chance to engage in a variety of volunteer opportunities that are designed to give back to the community.”

A recreation administration major, Burgos was awarded a $3,000 grant from the UM Green Fund for the pilot composting project, followed by an additional $5,234 grant to continue and expand it. She has also volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and Camp Lake Stephens, a United Methodist Church facility.

A two-time recipient of the Learning Center Teacher of the Year award, Wortham is the Lafayette County Adult Basic Literacy Education program coordinator. Through her work with the GED Prep course at Burns United Methodist Church, she has helped an estimated 100 people obtain their GEDs.

Working together, Gaw and Massey were the first to assist local non-profits with fundraising, donating equipment and countless hours of volunteer time. Their work has been essential in the building of Lafayette County’s first Born Learning Trail in Avent Park.

For more information about LOU MLK Day of Service, contact Coulter Ward at or Sarah Ball at

Nutrition Clinic Begins Weight Management Classes in January

Classes open to the public and include weekly group meetings, cooking demos and one-on-one consults

Janie Cole gives a tour of a local grocery store.

Janie Cole gives a tour of a local grocery store.

OXFORD, Miss. – Janie Cole, registered dietitian and adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management at the University of Mississippi, leads a group of six through an Oxford grocery store.

She hands out a “Grocery Store Shopping guide that provides tips such as “Plan ahead and make a list” and “Don’t be on your phone while shopping. It gets you off task.” Cole tells the group to examine and compare nutrition facts for deli meats, bread, cereal and bacon.

In one of the aisles, Cole says, “Pay attention to calories, sodium content and saturated fat.”

The grocery store tour is a part of the weight management program organized by UM’s Nutrition Clinic, which is devoted to helping the community with weight loss, eating disorders and other nutrition issues. The program offers weekly group meetings, food record analysis, cooking demonstrations, tastings and one-on-one consults.

“Walking through the store and comparing labels helps the participants make healthy choices,” Cole said, regarding the grocery store tour. “Oftentimes, they are pleasantly surprised by what is considered a healthy choice.”

The program started in 2011 after the clinic got requests to begin a weight management class. But people take the class for reasons beside weight loss, Cole said.

“They want to eat better, improve their overall health and basically have a healthier lifestyle in general,” she said.

And the classes are improving lifestyles. The program has consistent success in lowering weight, blood sugar and cholesterol, and improving energy levels.

“This class is different from others available in that we teach you how to eat healthy without eliminating your favorite foods,” Cole said. “It’s so simple, but it works.”

The weight management classes begin Jan. 21 at Lenoir Hall and are open to the public. The fee for the 12-week course is $150. Participants can register for the classes by calling the UM Nutrition Clinic at 662-915-8662 or by emailing