Gamma Iota Sigma Reactivated on Campus

GIS affiliation gives students more networking opportunities

The University of Mississippi’s risk management and insurance program in the School of Business Administration reactivated the Mu chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma this past fall.
GIS is the only international business fraternity for risk management and insurance students, and the goal of the organization is to promote student interest in the industry as well as encourage high academic and moral standards.
The Mu chapter of GIS at Ole Miss currently has more than 40 members. Junior and senior RMI majors on the executive committee of GIS are working to expand the organization.
Stephen Fier, assistant professor of finance and GIS faculty adviser, assisted in restarting GIS on the Ole Miss campus.
“We believe that our affiliation with GIS will enhance the RMI program’s visibility nationally and, more importantly, will allow us to offer our students additional opportunities that might not otherwise be available to them,” Fier said.
“The reactivation will provide our students with a number of benefits, including participation at GIS national conferences, a greater ability to network with individuals who are currently in the industry, as well as with RMI students from across the country, and access to GIS-specific employment and scholarship opportunities.”

Alumna Recognized by Million Dollar Round Table

Brown also named in Mississippi Business Journal’s top 50 under 40

Madeleine Brown

Madeleine Brown

Madeleine Brown (BBA 07), a vice president at Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance in Jackson, continues to excel in the risk management and insurance industry, just like she did in the classroom as an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi.

Brown said that through her course work, she learned the skills that would prepare her for the next stage in the professional world.

“I learned from my studies and course work how to properly identify corporate risk and communicate the appropriate solution to employees and employers.”

Brown noted Finance 542 as her most memorable course. She said this course taught her how to work within a group dynamic as well as hands-on application of skills.

“A large part of the course grade came from a challenging team project we had to complete by the end of the semester,” Brown said. “Completing the project taught me how to work in a team setting, evaluate corporate risk, prepare risk analysis reports, and set and meet deadlines.”

Today, Brown’s responsibilities at Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance include business development and portfolio growth among larger employers. She has distinguished herself in the RMI industry, receiving the National Association of Health Underwriters’ prestigious Soaring Eagle award in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Brown was also named a 2015 Million Dollar Round Table Top of the Table quality member, which is recognized as one of the most prestigious honors in the industry. She was also featured in Mississippi Business Journal as a 2015 top 50 businessperson under the age of 40.

“I was very proud of all of these achievements, as each represented a new milestone in the climb that has been my career,” Brown said. “I am most proud of the recognition I received last year as a Top of the Table Employee Benefits Insurance Producer by the Million Dollar Round Table association. This award recognizes a higher level of production for members that qualify for Million Dollar Round Table, not only nationally but worldwide.”

Brown said she has been humbled with her success in the industry and that this recognition will inspire her to strive for other goals and recognition.

“Achieving this award was a goal that I wanted to accomplish at some point in my career, and I was lucky enough to do it in 2015. I continue to be driven to further my career and assist employers with their employee benefit planning.”

Two Professors Honored for Teaching Excellence

Fier, Liebenberg show exceptional dedication to preparing students

Two University of Mississippi risk management and insurance program faculty members have earned awards for their commitment to creating a culture of academic excellence in their classrooms.


Stephen Fier

Stephen Fier, holder of the Liberto-King Professorship in Insurance and assistant professor of finance, received the UM School of Business Administration’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for 2015. Andre P. Liebenberg, Robertson Chair of Insurance and associate professor of finance, was honored with the American Risk and Insurance Association Excellence in Teaching Award at ARIA’s global conference in Germany.

Fier said his award is a testament to the rigorous, high-quality education the Ole Miss RMI program offers its students.

“I’ve always taken pride in the fact that the SBA and the Ole Miss RMI program recognize the importance of academic excellence,” Fier said. “One of our primary objectives is to prepare students so they can succeed professionally and ultimately become leaders in the risk and insurance industry. I enjoy working with our students both inside and outside of the classroom, and I take great satisfaction in their personal and professional achievements.”

Fier said he would be remiss if he didn’t acknowledge the constant support and guidance from Liebenberg, who won the same award in 2014 and 2010. Fier said Liebenberg has set the standard for teaching excellence in the RMI program.

“I am incredibly grateful to have been selected for this honor,” Fier said.

Full-time faculty members are eligible for the award. Each department within the business school can submit one nominee to the Office of the Dean, and the school’s executive committee selects the winner.


Andre P. Liebenberg

Liebenberg received his award at ARIA’s global conference in Munich, Germany, this past August. The award, created in 2007, is given only when an exceptional candidate emerges. It recognizes excellence in risk management and insurance teaching.

“I was very humbled,” Liebenberg said. “One of my mentors (Rob Hoyt) from the University of Georgia, where I got my Ph.D., won the award in 2007. I’ve always thought of him as an incredible teacher and someone I really look up to as a scholar and teacher. It was very humbling to be recognized with an award he previously received.”

The honor comes with a rigorous set of qualifications. Requirements include a teaching portfolio with a statement of teaching philosophy, summaries of student evaluations for at least two recent courses, grade distributions for several recent courses, a list of previous teaching awards, and letters of recommendation from students and colleagues. 

Fier and Liebenberg said they’re pleased to be a part of the UM risk management and insurance program, which has an award-winning group of instructors. The success of the group speaks to the university’s ability to attract and retain excellent teachers who are focused on their students, they said. 

Ken Cyree, dean of UM’s School of Business Administration, said the two professors’ commitment to high-quality teaching is a big reason that the Ole Miss RMI program is the ninth largest in the country, and he greatly appreciates their dedicated service to students. 

“We are thrilled and thankful for the recognition of the outstanding teaching of our risk management and insurance faculty,” Cyree said. “Both Drs. Liebenberg and Fier are dedicated teachers and scholars who understand the importance of doing an excellent job in preparing our students, and this recognition is a reflection of their dedication.”


Shoalmire Adds Assets to RMI Program

Project coordinator expands scope, opportunities

Kathryn Shoalmire

Kathryn Shoalmire

As project coordinator for the risk management and insurance program at the University of Mississippi, Kathy Shoalmire (JD 88) brought 27 years of institutional experience into the position. After a year on the job, she shared some of the highlights of the last several months and her observations about the program.

“I have been impressed first and foremost by the leadership of the program both historical and present day,” said Shoalmire, who formerly worked as the childbirth educator and international board-certified lactation consultant at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. “Larry Cox (former RMI chair) and Camille Mitchell (former RMI project coordinator) did an excellent job laying the foundation for this program. Andre (Liebenberg, RMI chair) has built on that success and has taken the program to new heights.”

Shoalmire said she is amazed not only by the impressive credentials of the insurance advisory board members but also by their commitment to the program.

“The first meeting that I attended, we had board members from all over the state, Tennessee and California who came to a Wednesday afternoon meeting (lunch not included) that lasted for roughly two hours,” she said. “This showed me right off that there was something special about this program. I have continued to be impressed at the subsequent meetings by the attendance, leadership and desire to expand the RMI program. Their commitment is to the students, Ole Miss and the insurance industry.”

Shoalmire’s experience as a staff assistant in Washington, D.C., for Sens. John Stennis and Thad Cochran helped prepare her for her current responsibilities.

“I had worked in government, law and medicine and thought before I retired that I would like to try the academic realm,” she said. “I wanted something part time that allowed me flexibility to be self-directed and project focused. The job description seemed to fit, and after meeting with Andre and the interviewing team, I was sold on this job. I might add, I have not been disappointed. I don’t think that I have ever worked in a more professional environment.”

As project coordinator, Shoalmire handles the printing and mailing of RMI’s annual resume book, two RMI career fairs, the insurance symposium, golf tournament, plus four advisory board meetings. Regarding the career fairs, she said the highlight is the industry representatives’ enthusiasm about meeting the Ole Miss RMI students.

“The first career fair I organized was fall 2014,” she said. “I was nervous about how things would go, but during the second career fair in February 2015, I was relaxed and found myself feeling like a proud parent. I was able to go from focusing on my performance to watching as our students took a major leap in seeking to establish themselves in their chosen profession.”

From December through March, Shoalmire said she basically lived and breathed the insurance symposium.

“There is a great deal of effort that goes on behind the scenes,” she said. “Andre and the symposium committee from our advisory board secure the speakers. This year, we had an impressive lineup, which resulted in a record attendance. To see all the individual components come together to form a successful event is beautiful. I truly loved it.”

Her first academic year ended with the golf tournament, which gave her a fresh perspective on the game.

“I have a 20-year-old son who grew up playing competitive golf, so I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the golf course with him,” said Shoalmire, who played for a few years before he was born. “I see why some people refer to golf as a disease instead of a game. The golf tournament committee and Annandale (Golf Club) made this essentially an easy task. We had an excellent turnout, and my son got to play. I was very proud when I learned he won longest drive, estimated to be 340 yards.”

Trying to update and maintain the RMI mailing list has been a challenging task for Shoalmire. 

“My first email was sent to about 1,600 people. Within an hour, I received a call from Sam, our IT person,” she said. “There were so many returned emails that I clogged the system. He gently explained that sending this many emails looks like phishing. I learned and have now culled the list to about 900.”

So far this year, Shoalmire has been busy helping to re-establish the chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, an international business fraternity for students of insurance, risk management and actuarial science. 

“Andre and Steve (Fier, assistant professor of finance) have asked me to take a more active role in working with the students,” she said. “I tend to be very people oriented, so that has been enjoyable. I have joined them for meetings and took a group of officers to the GIS conference in Chicago.” 

The chapter officers are enthusiastic and dedicated to getting the chapter moving in the right direction. 

It is a great privilege to be a part of this process, and I appreciate the confidence that Andre and Steve have placed in me,” Shoalmire said. As this year comes to a close, I am looking forward to deepening my relationship with our advisory board, sponsors, alumni, students and the industry representatives.”

A Starkville native, Shoalmire earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education with an emphasis in history and political science from Mississippi State University. Following a career in Washington, she graduated from the Ole Miss law school in 1988. Prior to working at Baptist, she worked for several years with Arnold, Bass and Associates, a science consulting firm that specialized in accident reconstruction. She recently passed a rigorous exam to renew her certification as an international board-certified lactation consultant. Shoalmire continues to do private consulting in her spare time. 


Two Young Alumnae Shine in Corporate World

Alivia Cooper and Anna Bendgen both 2014 graduates

Alivia Cooper

Alivia Cooper

Alivia Cooper (BBA 14) and Anna Bendgen (BBA 14) are quickly making an impression at their jobs.

Cooper, a marketing underwriter for Amerisure Insurance Co. in Tampa, Florida, started her undergraduate career as a chemistry major in hopes of pursuing a career in medical research. Unsure of what she wanted to do, she decided to change her major and joined UM’s School of Business Administration in spring 2012. Cooper chose to triple major in risk management and insurance, managerial finance, and banking and finance.

Along with succeeding in the classroom, Cooper was also a member of the Ole Miss rifle team for four years and participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials for a chance to compete at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

With three majors worth of knowledge, Cooper, a Louisville, Kentucky, native, realized during job training that she was immediately applying loads of information from her undergraduate degrees to her job at Amerisure. This helped her become the youngest individual to receive the University Associate Certified Risk Manager (UACRM) designation in January 2015 and then go on to achieve the Certified Risk Managers designation. Fast forward to November 2015, and Cooper was assigned as lead underwriter of Amerisure’s second-largest agency.

“Becoming an underwriter after completing my risk management and insurance degree has proved to provide me with an extremely solid foundation,” Cooper said. “Continually enhancing the coverage form knowledge that it takes to be an underwriter will prove beneficial in virtually all aspects of the insurance industry.”

Cooper’s first project as an underwriter was to implement a property coverage form into a new policy management system. Along with underwriters selected from across the country, she was selected to specialize in the coverage, test the system for errors and become a resource for other underwriters in her office who had questions about this particular form.

Most recently, Cooper was selected as one of three underwriters in the company to learn how to model wind risks throughout the country. Prior to her selection, all wind modeling had to be sent to a corporate consultant to have this task performed. Cooper is now able to perform this task for other underwriters in her office, mainly focusing on accurately pricing hurricane risks in coastal regions

Anna Bendgen

Anna Bendgen

Bendgen, a business continuity and risk administrator for Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee, knew when she started college that she wanted to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. During her junior year, she interned with Sedgwick in the risk management department and enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the risk management and insurance world. In fall of her senior year, a position opened with Sedgwick, and Bendgen was quick to apply.

Bendgen, a Munroe Falls, Ohio, native, said she uses knowledge she learned from the classroom every day at her job and that the communication courses and soft skills have helped her succeed quickly. Since starting her job in May 2014, she received the Risk and Insurance Management Society Rising Star of the Year award, an accolade given to risk professionals who have demonstrated exceptional initiative, volunteerism, professional development, achievement and leadership potential. Along with winning the national honor, Bendgen accepted the inaugural award at the society’s annual conference.

Currently, she is leading the effort to develop a workplace violence prevention and response training program and also is charged with maintaining and testing Sedgwick’s business continuity plans.

With the help of RMI professors Stephen Fier and Andre Liebenberg, both Cooper and Bendgen were able to seek out scholarships and internships to help find which area of insurance was right for them. “The passion they have for the subject matter they teach is infectious, and the amount of time and energy they invest in helping their students succeed is inspiring,” Bendgen said.

Innovate Mississippi’s Startup Weekend Returns to Oxford

Workshops help participants move from ideas to viable business plans

Volunteer coaches and professionals help advise emerging entrepreneurs throughout the course of the weekend.

Volunteer coaches and professionals help advise emerging entrepreneurs throughout the course of the weekend.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Insight Park and School of Business Administration are co-hosting Startup Weekend Oxford, set for Feb. 12-14.

The weekend will feature Innovation Boot Camp, Discovery Luncheon and Startup Weekend activities. The beginning of the weekend will give participants experience with assembling business models, with the end of the weekend resulting in pitching these business models to potential investors.

Innovation Boot Camp is a two-hour workshop beginning at 3 p.m. in Holman Hall, Room 38, designed to help students develop viable business and product ideas. Students are able to have one-on-one communication with faculty and brainstorming sessions with other participating students. The boot camp is the Startup Weekend kickoff event for students.

The Discovery Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 12 at the Oxford Conference Center and features guest speaker Garret Gray, president and CEO of Next Gear Solutions of Oxford.

Later that evening, the Startup Weekend activities commence. Over the course of 54 hours, participants have an opportunity to create a viable business. Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, this three-day event brings together entrepreneurs, programmers, coders, developers and other business-minded individuals to form ideas and create business plans.

“Startup Weekend is an opportunity for startup enthusiasts to collaborate and go from concept to creation over a weekend,” said William Nicholas, UM director of economic development and organizer of the event. “It is a real pleasure to be surrounded talented people with a passion for entrepreneurship.”

Participants begin by taking 60 seconds to pitch their ideas to the group of attendees. All attendees vote for their favorite ideas, and the winning ideas are selected to build upon for the weekend. The group then divides into smaller teams, and each team spends the remainder of the weekend focusing in on a single business idea to develop.

Clay Dibrell, associate professor of management and holder of the William W. Gresham Jr. Entrepreneurial Professorship, is also the CIE’s executive director. He said he is excited to see members of the campus, community and state entrepreneurial-focused organizations work together to make this event possible.

“It is thrilling to see people who come to Startup Weekend with just an idea, and then over the weekend, you can see these potential entrepreneurs turning the corner from an idea to starting a new venture,” he said.

Stephen D. Johnston, CEO and board member of SmartSynch Inc. in Jackson, is the guest speaker on Friday night. His expertise at leading his company from start-up to a global technology leader for cellular-based smart grid communications will inspire participants in their quest to succeed as entrepreneurs.

During the course of the weekend, volunteer coaches will assist the teams and provide advice. A panel of professionals evaluates each group’s business development and their chances of real-world success.

“It is a highly beneficial partnership between Ole Miss entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship entities outside of the university,” Dibrell said. “Our common goal is to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem which allows Mississippi entrepreneurs to successfully stay in Mississippi.”

Insight Park staff members, the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and employees of Innovate Mississippi organize Startup Weekend Oxford.

Registration is open to the public. Tickets for students are $25 and $50 for nonstudents. Click here to register.

UM Ranked Among Nation’s Best MBA Programs

Campus and online programs rise in prestigious Businessweek and U.S. News listings

Holman Hall

Holman Hall

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Business Administration has risen significantly on Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2015 list of Best MBA programs.

UM ranked No. 69 this year in the second year that Bloomberg Businessweek has compiled the list. This is up seven places from its No. 76 position a year ago. Bloomberg compiled data from more than 13,150 students, 28,540 alumni and 1,460 recruiters. The university ranked highest in the student survey and job placement areas of the five-part survey.

“We are excited about the ranking, and it indicates the wonderful work of our faculty and staff in recruiting exceptional students and creating meaningful educational opportunities,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM business school. “The ranking will help our academic reputation, but is more of a reflection of what is already happening in the school and MBA program.”

The Ole Miss MBA program is an exceptional value for students, said Ann Canty, associate professor of management and faculty director of the MBA program.

“Students get an outstanding educational experience from an internationally accredited and highly respected business school at an affordable cost,” Canty said. “Most MBA programs are much more expensive.”

Cyree attributed much of the business school’s success to hiring talented faculty who understand its mission of providing high-quality teaching and research, as well as the engagement of its MBA board who have diligently worked to create an environment of learning the soft skills – such as speaking, writing and job-seeking – to help bolster solid academic preparation.

“Of course we could not do this without the intentional effort to recruit the best students, and our staff has been instrumental in raising the bar for admissions, which helps enhance our success,” he said. “Most importantly, it is rewarding that our graduates will benefit from the MBA degree and this ranking helps indicate the value that is obtained through earning an Ole Miss MBA.”

MBA_LogoTypeUM also recently was ranked among the Top 14 online MBA programs by U.S. News. The 36-hour online program, designed for working professionals, 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.

“Support from the MBA Alumni Board makes our program unique,” said Del Hawley, associate professor of finance and senior associate dean of the business school. “The board is made up of alumni who work at successful businesses, such as FedEx, Auto Zone and KPMG. Members come to campus several times a year and work one-on-one with our students.”

Alumni also lead professional development workshops for students with the goal of making Ole Miss MBAs stand out.

“They want Ole Miss graduates to have a polished resume in their hand, to walk with confidence into an interview and to be a valued employee in their company,” said Ashley Jones, director of MBA administration. “Recent exit interviews with students indicate the MBA students are successful in their job search. According to interviews conducted with May and August graduates, 67 percent had jobs prior to degree completion. The average compensation was $63,000.”

For more information about Bloomberg rankings, visit

For more information about UM’s online MBA program, go to

Memphis Businessman Pledges $2 Million to Journalism, Business Schools

John Glass pays tribute to his 'Pop' through faculty chair in Meek School

Longtime UM donor John Glass, center, holds a photo of his father, the late William Quintard Glass. John Glass is paying tribute to his father’s influence with a named faculty chair in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. On hand to thank Glass for his support are UM Foundation President/CEO Wendell Weakley, left, and School of Business Administration Development Officer Adam Lee. Part of Glass’ gift also will benefit the business school. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Longtime UM donor John Glass, center, holds a photo of his father, the late William Quintard Glass. John Glass is paying tribute to his father’s influence with a named faculty chair in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. On hand to thank Glass for his support are UM Foundation President/CEO Wendell Weakley, left, and School of Business Administration Development Officer Adam Lee. Part of Glass’ gift also will benefit the business school. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – When businessman John D. Glass talks about his father – a hard-working business owner of a printing company and publisher of a newspaper – the love and respect can be heard each time he recalls a memory.

A longtime benefactor of the University of Mississippi, Glass has established two new endowments, including a named faculty chair to pay tribute to his father’s life. The William Quintard Glass Chair of Journalism in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media is a nod to his father’s long career at the helm of Glass Printing Co. and The Newbern Tennessean newspaper in Dyer County.

John Glass of Memphis, Tennessee, has committed a planned gift of $2 million to establish the faculty chair and to create the John D. Glass Endowment for Business Excellence in support of the university’s School of Business Administration. Previously, Glass funded a faculty support endowment in his name and a speaker series in his father’s name, both for the business school.

“I have always loved my father and the University of Mississippi,” Glass said. “I could not think of a better way to remember both. Think about it – his name will be linked forever to Ole Miss. I am proud to make this gift. I remember when Pop and I were hugging each other for the last time, he whispered into my ear, ‘Son, I love you, and have you said your prayers?’ These are the words I hold dear.

“My Pop only had a fifth-grade education. His father died when he was young, leading him to quit school and work to help support his family. Even with this background, he was a great believer in college and always encouraged me to give my best efforts. As a result, I have earned undergraduate, master’s and law degrees, all because of him.”

While $500,000 of his new planned gift is directed to the business school, where Glass earned his undergraduate degree, the remaining $1.5 million secures a named chair-level faculty position in the journalism school. Building faculty support continues as a top priority for UM, which boasts the largest student enrollment among Mississippi’s public universities and needs to add around 215 faculty members over the next three years, Ole Miss leaders have said.

Named faculty positions offer prestige and salary supplements needed to recruit top faculty members.

Will Norton, dean of the journalism school – an academic unit experiencing rapid growth with undergraduate enrollment soaring 26.6 percent, from 1,044 students in fall 2014 to 1,322 this year – expressed appreciation for Glass’ decision to fund and name a faculty chair for his father.

“It means a great deal to the Meek School and the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics when an accomplished professional makes a significant donation to pay tribute to a longtime journalist,” Norton said.

“John Glass is not only honoring his father, but he is also helping assure that future students benefit from outstanding professional instruction. We are deeply grateful for this tremendous gift and feel that Mr. Glass’ father would be proud to have his name permanently linked with the preparation of future journalists.”

Glass hopes the holder of the William Quintard Glass Chair of Journalism can mentor UM students, as his father mentored him. After an almost-50-year career in the trust area of banking with Union Planters, First Tennessee and Morgan Keegan, Glass and a business partner formed Sentry LLC, a private wealth management firm in Memphis.

“Because of Pop’s guidance, I chose to pursue a banking career from 1960 to 2009 in the trust department,” he explained. “He told me this area was the best way to learn how to make and manage money; that turned out to be very good advice.”

Ken Cyree, dean of UM’s School of Business Administration, saluted Glass for sharing his resources.

“John Glass continues to enjoy an incredible career and stands as an excellent role model in ‘giving back,'” Cyree said. “He doesn’t take his successes lightly, maintaining a strong belief in ‘paying it forward’ to express his dedication to a father, who passed on valuable life lessons, and to his alma mater, which prepared him for his career.

“The impact of Mr. Glass’ investments in the business school will be far-reaching, helping to assure students are taught to be business leaders and visionaries.”

Glass grew up in Newbern, Tennessee, and joined the Ole Miss student body, where he says he learned, in addition to academic study, “to get along with people and how to conduct myself in public.”

“When I arrived on campus, I felt as though I was ‘home.’ If you love home, you always come back,” said Glass, who also has a home in Oxford and attends athletics and other events. “I’m thankful for everything – every opportunity – that I was given. I want to bless Ole Miss for what it’s done for me.”

When giving credit to Ole Miss and his father, Glass also makes a point of thanking God.

“My Heavenly Father has blessed me more than I could ever imagine. He has been more than abundantly good to me. Everything I have comes from Him for reasons known only to Him. I want to give back to Him what He has graciously given me. It is much better to serve than to be served.”

Glass hopes his gifts provide educational opportunities that students embrace. When asked what he would tell today’s college students, he said, “Make good grades and persevere – never think about quitting. College is a real opportunity; try diligently and stay with it.”

Glass said his father encouraged him to do the same by using a unique illustration: “When I graduated from Ole Miss, Pop took me into the kitchen and turned on the water. He said, ‘This is you in college.’ Next he turned off the water. ‘This is you out of college; get a job and get off my payroll.’ As you can see, both the University of Mississippi and my Pop have blessed me over and over again. I am giving back to them because they graciously gave to me.”

Glass’ planned gift gives him membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university opened its doors. The society recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts. For more information, call the UM Foundation at 800-340-9542 or 662-915-5944, or visit

Prominent Guest Speakers Highlight Annual Insurance Symposium

Annual event helps connect students and industry professionals

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The state insurance commissioner and industry leaders are among the speakers headlining the University of Mississippi’s annual Insurance Symposium. The event, hosted by the School of Business Administration, is set for Wednesday and Thursday (March 18-19) at The Inn at Ole Miss.

The school’s Risk Management and Insurance Program offers many opportunities for students to meet and interact with professionals through internships and special events. The annual symposium also brings professionals and students together through education.

“Our program is delighted to once again host such distinguished industry leaders at our symposium and we are proud to showcase our program, the university and our state to our industry guests,” said Andre Liebenberg, the school’s Robertson Chair of Insurance and associate professor of finance. “The strength of our speaker lineup is the result of excellent work by our advisory board members who guide our program and lead our fundraising efforts.

“We are honored to serve the regional insurance industry in this manner and know that the 200-plus industry participants and all the student attendees will value this opportunity to learn from today’s thought leaders.”

The insurance program at Ole Miss is the nation’s seventh-largest, and almost 100 percent of engaged students are placed in the insurance industry upon graduation, Liebenberg said.

Early bird education sessions begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday, followed by sessions throughout the afternoon. A welcome reception at the Oxford-University Club concludes the day.

Thursday’s activities begin with breakfast at The Inn at Ole Miss, followed by a welcome session featuring Mike Chaney, Mississippi commissioner of insurance. The day’s education offerings include a session with Robert Hartwig, an economist and president of the Insurance Information Institute, and another with Glenn Renwick, chairman, president and CEO of Progressive Insurance.

Robert Khayat, UM chancellor emeritus, is slated to speak at the symposium luncheon, and educational sessions will continue throughout the afternoon.

Registration for the symposium is $200. Online registration is available at For more information, contact Kathy Shoalmire at 662-915-2830 or at

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