OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter surprised a number of alumni and friends recently, when he called to personally thank them for their financial support.
Vitter participated in UM’s fourth annual “Thank You Power Hour” along with academic deans, faculty and staff members who volunteered to spend an hour calling more than 480 university supporters to express their appreciation. The event was sponsored by the Office of University Development and the University of Mississippi Foundation.
“This year’s event was a bit of a contest,” said Angie Avery, the foundation’s annual giving coordinator. “The chancellor was in the lead for the most calls until he had to step away to attend to other university business. Nevertheless, the Power Hour was a fantastic opportunity for the Ole Miss leadership to personally experience our Call Center environment.”
Cobie Watkins, director of programs and alumni affairs at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, thanked the most donors, followed by Denson Hollis, senior director of development for the College of Liberal Arts, and Brooke Barnes, director of development for the Patterson School of Accountancy. Lionel Maten, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, took home this year’s spirit award, which is given to the most enthusiastic caller.
“Can you imagine former students receiving a call from the chancellor or from their favorite professors to thank them for recent contributions?” said Suzanne Thigpen, director of annual giving. “It really sends a powerful message to our donors. We have such involved and generous alumni and friends, so our message is always one of deep gratitude for this continued support.”
Private giving helps fund student scholarships, faculty needs, academic programs and external educational opportunities.
Typically, the Call Center is staffed by students who are paid to call donors each evening.
“We employ student callers to give alumni and friends the opportunity to hear about their experiences as students at Ole Miss today,” Thigpen said. “The students, in turn, benefit from career advice from alumni who have been passionate about improving experiences for current students and future generations.”