Jones Earns Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur Award

Annual recognition honors visionary graduate building unique business to aid security personnel

Henry Jones, recipient of the 2014 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship award.

Henry Jones, recipient of the 2014 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship award.

OXFORD, Miss. – Henry Jones, co-founder of Kopis Mobile, is the recipient of the 2014 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship award. The award, named for University of Mississippi alumni Jan and Lawrence Farrington, is given annually to a graduate who exemplifies the best of entrepreneurship.

Jones, a Richton native who earned his mechanical engineering degree from UM in 1995, calls the recognition “a big surprise and an enormous honor.”

“I know who the past honorees are; they are entrepreneurs who are working hard to grow businesses in Mississippi,” Jones said. “To be included in that group is humbling, and it is also a vote of confidence from peers who face the same challenges that I do as an entrepreneur.”

The Farrington Distinguished Award was created to honor successful entrepreneurs who carry on the tradition of the Farringtons in creating impactful businesses.

“Jan and Lawrence Farrington have been involved in entrepreneurship in the state of Mississippi for many years and have been an integral part in funding a number of businesses,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “They are keen business people who help other entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition, thereby providing valuable goods and services, as well as creating employment for Mississippi citizens. They give back their time as well to the university and are great ambassadors for the business school and the university.”

According to Jones, whose Flowood-based company creates apps and app-enabled equipment for use by law enforcement, private security personnel and the military, the experience gained at Ole Miss set him on a path to success. While studying at Ole Miss, Jones took advantage of opportunities to participate in student government and study abroad programs. The diverse exposure helped him earn a full scholarship to graduate school at Stanford University.

He also credits his time at Ole Miss with allowing him to build relationships with other entrepreneurs – relationships and friendships that continue to this day – as well as to learn from people as successful as the Farringtons.

“I truly appreciate what the Farringtons have done in creating this award,” Jones said. “What they do to support young entrepreneurs is meaningful to me and to others who also have a vision for a brighter future for Mississippi and are trying to create businesses as a way to make that happen.”

For the Farringtons, lending a helping hand is all part of their desire to give back.

“Lawrence and I want to do everything we can to encourage entrepreneurs in Mississippi,” Jan Farrington said. “We have so many bright, talented entrepreneurs in our state who have had the vision and tenacity to start their own companies. These businesses can and will make a difference in the future of our state if we can keep them here in Mississippi. Encouragement from the government, universities, organizations such as Innovate Mississippi, investors and individuals can help make this happen. This award was just a small way that we thought we could contribute.

“Recognizing successful Mississippians highlights examples of what is happening to brighten the future of our state. We not only want to celebrate these successes, but we also want to help and encourage our students to pursue their own visions and dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.”

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.

MBA Students Sharpen Business Skills for Case Competition

Rivalry among Southeastern Conference teams extends beyond athletics with second annual MBA event

From left, William Dunphey, Anastasia Verenita, Steven Murphy, Julian Sanchez,  and Dr. Samantha Fairclough, Faculty Advisor.

From left, William Dunphey, Anastasia Verenita, Steven Murphy, Julian Sanchez, and Dr. Samantha Fairclough, Faculty Advisor.

OXFORD, Miss. – A team of four University of Mississippi MBA students faced off with teams from other Southeastern Conference schools during the second annual SEC MBA Case Competition.

Steven Murphy, of Charleston, S.C.; Anastasia Varenita, originally from Chishinau, Moldova, but who grew up in Jackson; Julian Sanchez, from the New York borough of Queens; and Will Dunphey, of Picayune, represented Ole Miss. The competition took place April 3-5 at the University of Alabama, with all 14 SEC universities taking part. Though the University of Florida walked away with the top prize, each student who participated learned something to help them succeed in the future.

The student teams were given a current, real-world problem facing the banking industry. Each team analyzed the information, developed a strategy for addressing the problem and made oral presentations to a panel of judges.

“This competition provides two of the most important ingredients that help our students to learn and to be successful,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “The two things are the ability to get into a case and analyze it, and then the competition itself.

“The competition requires a broad-based analysis, so you are applying many business skills to solve problems, and you are doing it quickly. So, it’s not just a finance or a marketing niche; it’s more of an overall view. The competition allows students to compare themselves to others, which helps raise their game and sharpen their skills.”

UM students prepared by working closely with the team’s faculty adviser, Samantha Fairclough, UM professor of management in business administration. The students also participated in the 2014 Speaker’s Edge event, a transformative public speaking competition for Ole Miss MBA students, who spend a week-and-a-half working with world-class communication coaches to learn the skills of high-impact public speaking. The program culminated in a two-day competition, where students give three different presentations in front of a panel of judges, composed of industry business leaders.

The 14 teams were divided into four divisions Friday (April 4) before the Saturday competition. The Saturday morning sessions included divisional rounds that were judged by a three-member panel consisting of leaders and experts from Regions, the sponsoring company.

The four divisional winners advanced to a final round Saturday afternoon.

“This is a live, strategic competition where the students have less than 24 hours to solve a business problem and develop a plan,” said Brian Gray, associate dean of Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business. “We want to keep it as real as possible for the students and in line with what they will actually experience in their careers.”

The winning team received $10,000, second place took $6,000, third place got $3,000 and fourth place received $1,000. Additional awards were presented to individuals in each division for categories such as best Q&A and best presentation.

Regions, the SEC’s banking partner, was the competition sponsor. Regions also presented the case for analysis and provided company leaders and experts to serve as competition judges.

The first competition was held at the University of Missouri in 2013, and the University of South Carolina is scheduled to host the 2015 event.

Speaker’s Edge Competition Helps Hone Presentation Skills

Annual event challenges students to prepare, think and state their case before judges

Speaker's Edge graduate level winner, Phillip Clothiaux

OXFORD, Miss. – In today’s world, college graduates entering the workforce with well-developed speaking skills have a huge advantage. University of Mississippi students recently got an opportunity to hone their public speaking skills and vie for a championship during the 11th annual Speaker’s Edge Competition.

The program culminated in a two-day competition, where students present three different presentations before a panel of judges loaded with industry business leaders.

The program is open to graduate accountancy students enrolled in Accountancy 503, MBA students enrolled in MBA 603 and undergraduates in engineering, journalism and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence enrolled in Speech 105. In these courses, students spend a week-and-a-half working with communication coaches, who provide early preparation and a point person to answer questions and guide the students through the process.

Graduate student winners included Phillip Clothiaux, of Rogersville, Mo., who was named overall Speaker’s Edge champion; Julian Sanchez and Victoria Ragland, both of Jonesboro, Ark., who were first-place winners in the ethical dilemma and marketplace pitch categories, respectively; and Chris Conley, of Bradenton, Fla., who took first place in the informative category.

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Ole Miss Students Excel in MBA Case Competition

Team member wins Best Student Presenter Award in inaugural SEC event

UM case competition team

OXFORD, Miss. – A student team from the University of Mississippi’s MBA program recently participated in the inaugural Southeastern Conference MBA Case Competition in Missouri, bringing home the event’s Best Presenter Award.

All 14 SEC member universities participated in a real-time business case competition created by AT&T. MBA students created a proposal for the company to identify the best solution for the panel of judges.

The Ole Miss MBA team consisted of Jennifer Urban of Littleton, Colo., Thorne Williams of Birmingham, Ala., Dillon King of Madison and Bret Babcock of Liberty Center, Ohio, winner of the Best Presenter Award for Division 212. All four students completed their MBAs in May.

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Three Business School Faculty Awarded Endowed Positions

Van Ness is Moore Scholar of Finance, Dibrell and Bush named Gresham and Roberts lecturers, respectively

Robert Van Ness, the Bruce Moore scholar of Finance

Three University of Mississippi faculty members in the School of Business Administration have been awarded newly endowed positions within the school.

Robert Van Ness is the Bruce Moore Scholar of Finance, Clay Dibrell is the Gresham Entrepreneurship Lecturer and Tori Bush is the Donna Ruth Roberts Lecturer.

“It is an honor for a faculty member to receive an endowed position, and (it) allows us to enhance our academic reputation and reward meritorious faculty members,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the business school. “The School of Business is able to provide support for our faculty members due to the generosity of our donors, and these external funds provide the margin of excellence for what we are doing.

“These gifts will enhance the educational environments for generations to come, and through them leverage the donations to impact thousands of students.”

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Ole Miss MBA Students Travel to New York City

Group to tour New York Stock Exchange, network with business executives

OXFORD, Miss. – Students from the University of Mississippi MBA class are preparing to experience the thrill of being in the middle of the high-energy New York Stock Exchange.

Peter Costa, a governor and senior floor official of the NYSE, invited the MBA students to come to New York to tour the exchange floor, experience the closing bell, meet with other New York executives and participate in tourist activities.

Costa visited Oxford in September as the keynote speaker at the MBA’s Spark Symposium. He has kept in touch with the 2013 MBA students ever since his visit, which led him to offer the students an invitation to this Big Apple experience.Read the story …

Entrepreneurs sought for Gillespie Business Plan Competition

Executive summaries due Feb. 17

OXFORD, Miss. – On ABC’s reality series “Shark Tank,” competitors pitch their ideas, hoping to become the next big innovator. The University of Mississippi will identify its next heavyweight entrepreneur this spring by having students put their big ideas on paper in the Gillespie Business Plan Competition.

The annual competition, organized by the UM School of Business Administration, is designed to foster entrepreneurship by encouraging students to develop their business ideas. Over the years, many innovative Ole Miss students gained their entrepreneurial start and subsequently launched successful companies from the competition, including Vino del Sol, a wine importing business located in Argentina.

Last year’s winners were Ryan Rigney for Utah Raptor Games; Whitley Miley for Hooves for Hope and Josh Riggs for Mynewcouch.
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Students Harness Power of Verbal Communication

Speaker's Edge winners earn awards, scholarship money

OXFORD, Miss. – Nervousness, sweaty palms and butterflies in the stomach were common at the Speaker’s Edge competition at the University of Mississippi, but at the end of the two days, students were more confident in their public speaking abilities.

The competition recognizes that communication is a vital part of the business world and features a six-to-eight minute informative speech; a six-to-eight minute marketplace pitch, in which MBA students share their best business ideas with industry leaders; and an “ethical dilemma,” for which they have 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech. This year, graduate accountancy students also participated.Read the story …

UM Competition Helps Students Hone Art of Public Speaking

Annual Speaker's Edge competition set for Jan. 10-11

OXFORD, Miss. – Public speaking may be the No. 1 fear of most people, but University of Mississippi students learn to conquer those fears during Speaker’s Edge, a transformative public speaking competition.

Students in the Master of Business Administration program spend 10 days working with world-class communication coaches, studying the skills of high-impact public speaking. They learn the strengths and weaknesses of their own personal styles and learn to adapt their messages to different audiences and different situations.

The program culminates in a two-day competition, set for Jan. 10-11, 2013, where students present three different presentations before a panel of judges comprised of industry business leaders.

“Speaker’s Edge teaches the value of the spoken word – personally and professionally – and gives students the confidence and ability to enter a greater, global conversation,” said JoAnn Edwards, director of forensics at the university’s Lott Leadership Institute.

Speaker’s Edge has been a hallmark of the MBA curriculum and is in its 10th year, and last year the competition expanded to include students from the Center for Manufacturing Excellence. The CME program brings together the schools of Engineering, Business Administration and Accountancy to provide students with technical skills involved in successful manufacturing along with an understanding of accounting, communication, human resources, leadership, management and marketing.

The intense-yet-fun competition recognizes that communication is a vital part of the business world and includes a six-to-eight minute informative speech showcasing the student’s ability to communicate technically complex information to a non-technical audience; a six-to-eight minute marketplace pitch, in which students share their best business ideas for a product or service with industry leaders; and a limited preparation “ethical dilemma,” for which they have 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech.

The MBA competition is cohosted by the School of Business Administration, Lott Leadership Institute and Extreme Arts and Sciences. The CME competition is co-hosted by CME, the Lott Leadership Institute and Extreme Arts and Sciences.

The MBA students receive three hours of credit, and it is required for graduation.

Just as important as the students who are trying to out-talk their peers are the judges who decide if they’ve done a good job from a competitive perspective. Last year, 60 judges from across the country witnessed the energy of Speaker’s Edge, which gives students an opportunity to network across the industries and become better professionals.

Past judges have included Dottie Berry, vice president for strategy planning and analysis at FedEx Services; Bill Chiles, president and CEO of Bristow Group Inc.; and Bill Andrews, director of marketing communications for Viking Range. Professionals interesting in judging can fill out an online form.