Asian Art Expert to Discuss Significance of UM Museum Photo Exhibit

Angela Howard to lecture Tuesday on Dunhuang exhibit

The inside of a cave in Dunhuang, China, displays intricate paintings and a Buddha statue. Photo courtesy Angela Howard

OXFORD, Miss. – An expert on the Buddhist art of China will discuss what we can learn about the evolution of religion and culture of Central Asia through photographs of the intricate cave paintings of Dunhuang, China, during a lecture Tuesday (March 21) at the University of Mississippi Museum.

Angela Howard, professor of Asian art at Rutgers University, will speak at 5 p.m. in the museum’s Speaker’s Gallery. The event, held in conjunction with the museum’s “Dunhuang through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo,” is free and open to the public.

“The University Museum is very pleased to offer this lecture by such a distinguished international scholar,” said Robert Saarnio, the museum’s director. “Professor Howard’s teaching spans Chinese and Japanese art and has focused primarily on the development of Buddhist art in China, making her a perfect speaker to accompany this exceptional Silk Road photography exhibition.”

The exhibit features photographs taken of the caves in the 1940s by the Los. The nearly 500 caves are in the northwestern area of China, along the ancient Silk Road, and are a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. Each one features intricately painted artwork, dating to between the fourth and 14th centuries.

Joshua Howard, UM Croft associate professor of history and international studies and Angela Howard’s son, approached the museum staff about partnering for this event in conjunction with the exhibit of the Los’ photographs.

“Dr. Angela Howard is an authority on the Buddhist art of China and Central Asia, and she happens to be my mother,” Joshua Howard said. “When the University Museum was able to borrow the photographic exhibit on Dunhuang caves, which was facilitated by my mother’s contacts at Princeton University, I reached out to my mother to present a talk.

“Dunhuang is very much on her mind these days as she’ll also be teaching an on-site workshop there this summer sponsored by the Woodenfish Foundation.”

Angela Howard specializes in the Buddhist art of China and Central Asia and has studied the culture and area extensively. She said she plans to discuss “how the photos of the Dunhuang caves’ architecture and paintings enable us to reconstruct the type of Buddhism practiced at Dunhuang, a Chinese transformation of Indian and Central Asian traditions.”

The “Dunhuang through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” exhibit is on display through April 29.

The museum, at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free. For more information about museum exhibits and events, visit

Physics of the Sun Topic of March Science Cafe

Sabrina Savage of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center is third lecturer of spring semester

NASA astrophysicist Sabrina L. Savage will discuss ‘The Physics of the Sun’ March 21 at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The sun and solar flares are the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The spring semester’s third meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. March 21 at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. Sabrina L. Savage, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will discuss “The Physics of the Sun.” Admission is free.

“Because the Earth resides in the atmosphere of our nearest stellar neighbor, events occurring on the sun’s surface directly affect us by interfering with satellite operations and communications, astronaut safety and, in extreme circumstances, power grid stability,” Savage said.

“I will walk through our current understanding of why flares occur, show several examples of these fantastic explosions and describe the technology and instrumentation being developed at Marshall Space Flight Center to observe these phenomena.”

Savage’s 30-minute presentation will include why solar flares, the most energetic events in our solar system, are a substantial source of hazardous space weather affecting our increasingly technology- dependent society.

“While flares have been observed using ground-based telescopes for over 150 years, modern space-borne observatories have provided nearly continuous multiwavelength flare coverage that cannot be obtained from the ground,” she said. “We can now probe the origins and evolution of flares by tracking particle acceleration, changes in ionized plasma and the reorganization of magnetic fields.”

UM administrators and professors said Savage’s appearance should be most interesting.

“Dr. Savage shares fascinating yet understandable knowledge gained from her research at NASA,” said Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “Her discussion of solar flares and their effects upon the Earth should be most enlightening.”

This colorful graph depicts the many levels of solar radiation and flares emitted by the sun. Submitted photo

A native of Mobile, Alabama, Savage received her bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of South Alabama. She participated in the University of Wyoming’s Summer Undergraduate Research Assistantship Program, where she worked with the Red Buttes and  Wyoming Infrared observatories before receiving her master’s degree in Physics from UW in 2005.

Savage earned her Ph.D. in Physics from Montana State University as part of MSU’s internationally renowned solar physics research group. She then worked as a NASA post-doctoral fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, D.C., before assuming her current duties at Marshall Space Flight Center.

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, go to For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit or call 662-915-7046.

Celebrate the Written Word at the Oxford Conference for the Book

Three-day event set for March 29-31

OXFORD, Miss. – For those who relish getting lost in a good story, the 24th annual Oxford Conference for the Book is an opportunity to gather with authors, editors and scholars.

On March 29-31, the conference at the University of Mississippi, which is free and open to the public, includes readings, panel discussions and lectures by award-winning writers and first-time novelists.

“Oxford is an incredible community for writers and readers alike,” said James G. Thomas Jr., conference director. “I’m happy that the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Square Books continue to partner to bring this diversity of ideas and wealth of talent to the community. There’s certainly something for everyone this year.”

Events will take place across the Ole Miss campus and in Oxford. The conference begins with a welcome luncheon at 11 a.m., sponsored by the Friends of the Library, in the Faulkner Room of the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the J.D. Williams Library, followed by a lecture by Jay Satterfield, special collections librarian at the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College, at 11:30 a.m.

Lisa Lucas. Photo courtesy Beowulf Sheehan

Satterfield, who was in Oxford for the 2015 Faulkner Conference, said some of the ideas he first presented then have new relevance for writers trying to navigate the shifting landscape of today’s publishing world, and he is looking forward to exploring those ideas in a new context.

“I will discuss the skillful and timely marketing strategies Random House employed to re-establish the Faulkner brand, a brand that would later help to cement Faulkner’s place in the American literary canon,” Satterfield said.

Other panels on March 29 and 30 take place at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, the University Museum and Southside Gallery. The closing day’s panels take place in the historic Lafayette County Courthouse.

Conference panels explore a wide range of topics, including nature writing, African-American cookbooks, the life and work of Harry Crews, working with an editor, literature as activism and the National Book Award. The full lineup and registration for social events is at

George Gibson, executive director at Grove Atlantic, reflects on the process between editor and author during his more than 40 years in the business during a panel at 1:15 p.m. March 29.

“I’m thrilled to be coming to the conference, as it brings together all the constituencies in the book world in a storied location in American letters,” Gibson said.

Lee Boudreaux

This year’s participants also include poets Ann Fisher-Wirth, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Beth Ann Fennelly, Carolyn Hembree, Alison Pelegrin and Rodney Jones; memoirist J. Drew Lanham; biographers Carolyn J. Brown and Ted Geltner; documentary filmmaker Tom Thurman; American studies professor Sharon Monteith; art historian Beth Batton; UM English professor Annette Trefzer; Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation; foodways writer Toni Tipton-Martin; Lee Boudreaux, editorial director of Lee Boudreaux Books; journalist David Shirley; novelists Peter Heller, Beth Macy, Hari Kunzru and Michael Farris Smith; and comedian-writers Trae “The Liberal Redneck” Crowder, Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester.

On the evening of March 29, the gala opening-night cocktail reception and dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Barksdale-Isom House, 1003 Jefferson Ave., with food provided by James Beard award-winning chef John Currence’s Main Event Catering.

The conference is parterning with the University Museum again this year to include a session paired with an art exhibition. On the afternoon of March 30, the museum will host a session with Carolyn J. Brown, who wrote painter Kate Freeman Clark’s biography, art historian Beth Batton, and co-curators of an upcoming exhibition on Freeman’s work, James G. Thomas Jr., associate director of publications at CSSC, and Annette Trefzer, UM associate professor of English.

George Gibson

An opening reception for the exhibition and book signing by Brown will follow the session.

As in years past, Thacker Mountain Radio will host a special Oxford Conference for the Book show at 6 p.m. March 30 at the Lyric Theater, 1006 Van Buren Ave., including conference authors and visiting musicians.

Two new special events are planned for this year. At 8 p.m. March 30, a screening of Tom Thurman’s documentary “Harry Crews: Guilty as Charged” is set for Lamar Hall, Room 129.

On the closing night, the conference brings the wellRED Comedy Tour to the Lyric Theatre. Earlier that day, Trae “The Liberal Redneck” Crowder, Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester will discuss their new book, “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto.”

The film screening and reading are free, but tickets are required for the comedy show.

The 2017 Children’s Book Festival, held in conjunction with the Oxford Conference for the Book, will be March 31 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts, with more than 1,200 first-graders and fifth-graders from the schools of Lafayette County and Oxford in attendance. Chris Van Dusen, author of “If I Built a Car,” will present at 9 a.m. for the first-graders, and Chris Grabenstein, author of “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library,” will present at 10:30 a.m. for the fifth-graders.

Peter Heller. Photo courtesy John Burcham

The Lafayette County Literacy Council sponsors the first-grade program and the Junior Auxiliary of Oxford sponsors the fifth-grade program. All 1,200 children receive a copy of each book.

At noon March 31, the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library will host a poetry talk and lunch with poet Alison Pelegrin. Both the lunch and talk are free, but reservations are appreciated.

The Oxford Conference for the Book is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Square Books, University Museum, Lafayette County Literacy Council, J. D. Williams Library, Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writers Fund, Junior Auxiliary of Oxford, and the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library.

The conference is partially funded by the university, a contribution from the R&B Feder Foundation for the Beaux Arts, grants from the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Arts Commission, and promotional support from Visit Oxford.

Saturday Collaborations Unlock Possibilities for Marks Students

Weekend program brings middle schoolers to UM campus for tutoring, mentoring and fun

Ole Miss student-athletes mentor a group of fifth- to eighth-grade students from Quitman County Middle School during the weekend sessions on the UM campus.

OXFORD, Miss. – Most students regard Saturday school with dread and contempt, but a group of middle schoolers from the Delta community of Marks looks forward to its weekend tutoring sessions at the University of Mississippi.  For some of these students, the sessions have become life-changing.

For six Saturdays between February and April, 53 students from Quitman County Middle School travel nearly an hour by school bus from Marks to the Ole Miss campus for a day of tutoring and fun activities.

Bryce Warden, the AmeriCorps VISTA working in the UM School of Education, coordinated the initiative after attending a meeting last fall about the Marks Project, a 501c(3) organization dedicated to restoring the Marks community. He previously had helped launch a program that pairs college students with North Panola High School seniors to help them apply for college.

“I saw the benefit of those interactions, where students – many of them potential first-generation students – could find out what college life was really like and I was eager to create such an environment for the kids from Marks,” Warden said. “Now, these middle school students get to receive tutoring on a college campus, which they may have never seen.”

The students, ranging from fifth to eighth grades, were chosen for the program based on test scores and their need for additional learning assistance.

In the morning, 19 Ole Miss students from the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program work with the students for two hours in reading, language and math.

Kendall Kern, a freshman in the METP program from Lewisburg, tutors the students in language arts. She was eager to become involved in the program when she heard about it.

“I went down to Marks and really got to see the school and realized I needed to give back,” she said. “If I can do anything for them and provide a positive impact, that’s going to mean so much.”

Kern added that she’s learned from the experience, as well.

“Getting to have our own classroom time with them has really helped me with my teaching experience,” she said. “We’re able to teach interactive lessons and experiment with different teaching methods. I love all the amazing opportunities that METP and the School of Education provide us with.”

Although the educational component is the core of the program, Warden realized that the students needed activity time, too. He sought additional partnerships with Ole Miss Campus Recreation and the university’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for afternoon activities.

Each group is providing programming for three Saturdays, including physical activities in the Turner Center, student-athlete mentorship and a tour of the Field Level Club at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Manning Center.

Middle school students from Quitman County visit the UM campus as part of a spring program that provides academic tutoring and activities with student-athletes and Ole Miss Campus Recreation.

The Freeze Foundation, a charitable organization started by football Coach Hugh Freeze, has acted as liaison between the School of Education and the athletics department to provide student-athlete mentorships for the group. Alice Blackmon, the foundation’s executive director, serves as Marks Project co-chair of the tutoring and mentoring program.

After Freeze learned about the economic, educational and community issues in the Mississippi Delta, he wanted to become involved, Blackmon said.

“These issues weighed heavily on his heart,” she said. “He wanted to invest time in serving the children through building relationships and encouraging them in hopes of making a positive impact.

“We have served internationally in Haiti and Africa, but he was really passionate about shining a light into the communities that are right in our backyard in Mississippi.”

The program has been a double-sided ministry, also making a positive impact on the athletes, she added.

The Marks Project is an umbrella organization of all the volunteers within the Marks community. Jaby Denton, co-founder of the project with Mitch Campbell of Taylor, is working to revitalize the largest town in Quitman County by providing educational and recreational opportunities.

Denton, who owns a farm in Quitman County, moved back to the community from Oxford in 2015. He started a youth group that year and realized many students were behind academically.

“Marks was a town where a wagon pulled by mules led the Poor People’s Campaign in D.C.,” Denton said. “It was the epicenter of the civil rights movement.

“Dr. (Martin Luther) King visited Marks, saw extensive poverty and realized something had to be done. 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the mule train, and we are doing everything we can to fulfill Dr. King’s dream to provide opportunities for residents and students.”

Cortez Moss, an Ole Miss alumnus and principal of Quitman County Middle School, identified educational needs and approached the Marks Project for assistance in recruiting teachers and tutoring students.

When Moss became principal in August, he recognized that students at the school, which received an “F” rating last year, lacked exposure and academic support, he said.

“Our school’s motto is ‘Our Education is Freedom,’ and I knew I needed to give them liberating experiencing that would make our vision come true for scholars and families,” Moss said. “My original intent was for academic support; however, in the planning process I realized that my scholars needed exposure.

“This truth was evidenced one Saturday (at UM) when one of the scholars did not recognize an elevator and found joy in just being able to ride an elevator.”

After only a few trips to the Ole Miss campus, Moss has seen improvement in his students.

“We’ve seen a lot of success with our scholars – socially, emotionally and academically,” he said. “Many of our scholars come back from the Saturday experience seeing Ole Miss as an opportunity. Ole Miss and college is now their goal. Many of them feel empowered by the experience.”

Mississippi Educator Wins Teacher Travel Fellowship

Award presented by UM Mississippi Geographic Alliance

Steven R. White

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Geographic Alliance at the University of Mississippi has named Steven R. White as its 2017 Travel Fellow. White teaches Advanced World Geography and Honors World Geography at Pearl High School in Pearl.

White, a National Geographic Certified Educator and MGA teacher consultant, has held numerous education leadership positions in the state, including officer positions in the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance. He was Rosa Scott High School’s Teacher of the Year 2012-13, the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year for 2003-04 and winner of the Jesse Palmer Award for Mississippi Social Studies Educator of the Year in 2015.

“We are thrilled that Steven is the 2017 MGA Travel Fellow,” said Carley Lovorn, assistant director of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance. “This is a very competitive fellowship, and Steven now joins a cohort of fellows who are dedicated to improving global awareness in the state.”

The MGA Travel Fellowship is awarded to Mississippi educators who are dedicated to bringing the world to Mississippi students and teachers. Students look to their teachers to help them understand the world, and yet Mississippi has the lowest number of passport holders and teacher salaries near the bottom in the country.

Mississippi’s top geography educators often cite a travel experience as integral to igniting their passion to teach others about our world. Fellowship recipients participate in educator-focused travel programs and then bring their experiences back to the state by sharing the education materials they create with all Mississippi teachers.

White will participate in the National Council for Geographic Education’s GeoCamp Iceland Institute. The institute is a graduate-level equivalent short course in geographic inquiry and field methods for educators who conduct professional development activities for teachers.

Participants will explore important geographic themes, including natural hazards and disaster prevention, human settlement and environmental adaptation, changing geopolitical spheres of influence, sense of place, and global environmental change.

“Years ago, as a high school student I dreamed of being able to travel to the Arctic Circle region to see the breathtaking views and natural wonders of Iceland,” White said. “In my upcoming trip I am excited about the awesome opportunity to hike to explore the amazing natural wonders that will challenge my teaching perspective and inspire my approach to creating classroom lessons about the human and physical geography of this amazing nation.”

White said he intends to share his research with students and colleagues.

“My goal is to create, engage and inspire students to become the effective global citizens of tomorrow,” he said.

In recent years, White has served on staff for the Pre-Service Geography Conference, a geography education conference for education students around the state. He also has served as a judge and scorekeeper for the state-level National Geographic Bee and is a three-time winner of educational and technology grants for enhancing classroom geography education.

He is past president and assistant director of the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies and team leader for public policy for the Mississippi Geographic Alliance. In 2013 he was one of eight in the nation to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award for K-12 educators at the National Conference on Geographic Education.

The Mississippi Geographic Alliance works to strengthen geographic literacy throughout the state. A member of the nationwide network of state alliances sponsored by the National Geographic Society, MGA uses workshops, online resources and other programs to help educators prepare students to embrace a diverse world, succeed in the global economy and steward the planet’s resources.

For more information visit or contact Lovorn at or 662-915-3776.

For more information on the GeoCamp Iceland Institute, go to

Pharmacy Professor Co-Authors Winning Paper

Meagan Rosenthal focuses on ensuring consistent care across health care settings

Meagen Rosenthal

OXFORD, Miss. – Meagen Rosenthal, assistant professor of pharmacy administration at the University of Mississippi, is co-author of a report that won the 2016 Best Paper award from the journal Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy.

The paper, titled “Confronting inequities: A scoping review of the literature on pharmacist practice and health-related disparities,” reviews and summarizes research on interactions between pharmacists and patients from potentially marginalized groups, including illicit drug users.

“The consequences of health-related disparities to the population have been well documented,” Rosenthal said. “Pharmacists are front-line health care providers and, as such, have multiple opportunities to interact with these patients, and ultimately positively influence patient outcomes.

“I believe that pharmacists have a vital role to play in improving the outcomes of all patients.”

The paper focuses on disparities that stem from stigmas held by both patients and pharmacists that make health care access more difficult. For instance, if a patient is an illicit drug user they may be less likely seek medical attention for fear of judgement, while some disapproving pharmacists may be less willing to give care to these patients.

Such stigmas are associated with poorer health for patients.                                       

Rosenthal began collaborating with the paper’s co-authors, who work at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy in Ontario, while she was earning her Ph.D. at the University of Alberta.

The paper reveals that pharmacists already take steps to provide culturally competent care, but there is room for improvement.

“Meagen’s work in the field of patient experience is incredible,” said David D. Allen, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy. “She has already contributed a great deal to the study of patient outcomes.”

Rosenthal is particularly interested in creating consistent care across health care settings to help patients engage with their own treatment. The paper identifies new ways for pharmacists and patients to communicate to help achieve this goal.

“I was incredibly excited and honored to receive this award,” Rosenthal said. “To be recognized by such a prestigious pharmacy journal, which is read by the best and brightest in this area of research, is simply incredible.”

Local Schoolchildren Connect Through LOU Pen Pal Project

More than 800 students helped write letters in literacy-based event

Edy Dingus of the LOU Reads Coalition explains the Pen Pal Project to children at Lafayette Lower Elementary School. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – More than 800 children across Lafayette County received handwritten messages from other local children recently as part of the first-ever Lafayette-Oxford-University Pen Pal Project.

Co-sponsored by multiple organizations – including the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading at the University of Mississippi, the Lafayette County Literacy Council and the United Way’s LOU Reads Coalition – the project connected K-4 classrooms in the Lafayette County School District, Oxford School District and Magnolia Montessori School.

It kicked off March 2 as part of Read Across America Day and ended March 6, when the final letters were delivered.

“The Pen Pal Project was a way to engage children in a literacy-based activity that helped to expand their world,” said Edy Dingus, AmeriCorps VISTA for the LOU Reads Coalition and coordinator of the event. “What I think is so important for all children to realize is that their school is not an island to itself. Each student is part of a greater community.”

In each participating class, teachers received a packet with a form letter and instructions starting on Read Across America Day, which is the birthday of American writer and cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Many classes celebrated by reading a book aloud before writing a group letter to another classroom in the community.

In Rhonda Hickman’s second-grade class at Lafayette Lower Elementary School, children kicked off the event by reading “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” As part of their group message, the children created their own classroom mascot, an orange cat named “Mr. Whiskers” who always wears a jersey.

The group sent the letter, along with their drawings of Whiskers, to children at Magnolia Montessori School on the other side of town, who received the surprise package the following Monday and then wrote back.

“Thousands of classrooms across the nation celebrate Read Across America Day, but Edy Dingus with United Way had this wonderful idea to take it all a step forward,” said Ashley Parker Sheils, director of the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a new initiative that promotes community-based literacy programs. “These children live in the same county but may or may not collaborate with each other. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading wants to highlight programs like this.”

Each class that participated in the LOU Pen Pal Project prepared a group letter to a class at another school. Submitted photo

The Mississippi Campaign is part of a national network designed to support community engagement in literacy efforts by helping local organizations align their strategic goals. The program offers a framework centered on school readiness, summer learning and school attendance.

The campaign’s initial goal is to attract at least 10 Mississippi communities to join and adopt its framework.

“Our goal is to recognize and celebrate groups that are promoting literacy in schools and in community settings,” Sheils said. “I hope children who participated in this event capitalized on the fun of reading and writing, but also that it planted a seed in them to learn that you may have friends in unlikely places, even in a small community.”

UM Engineers Without Borders Returns to West Africa

Following successful crowdfunding campaign, team advances infrastructure project in Togo

UM geology and geological engineering professor Bob Holt (seated) consults with graduate student Vera Gardner (standing, left) about soil samples during a 2016 Engineers Without Borders trip to Togo. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Entering its sixth year of helping people of the West African nation of Togo build a sound infrastructure, the University of Mississippi chapter of Engineers Without Borders is continuing its work to help drill and complete a deep water well for a rural village.

Two faculty and six students are in the impoverished country through March 20, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign on Ignite Ole Miss last year. With help from more than 100 donors, the group surpassed its $20,000 goal for the effort.

The money enables members of EWB and School of Engineering faculty members to spend 18 days in Africa supervising the drilling of a well to provide clean water in the village of Akoumape. Rotary International is funding the project.

“Although the drilling project has been well planned, it may face some challenges,” said Cris Surbeck, associate professor of civil engineering and faculty adviser for Ole Miss-EWB. “Last year, there were equipment issues. There is also the uncertainty of what may be buried underneath the surface once the drilling is underway.”

This year’s team includes Robert Holt, professor of geology and geological engineering; Paul Scovazzo, associate professor of chemical engineering and construction guru; Vera Gardner, a senior in mechanical engineering from Memphis; Zack Lepchitz, a graduate student in geological engineering from Keswick, Virginia; Luc Rebillout, a graduate student in computational hydroscience from France; Zach Bray, a senior in geological engineering from Iuka; Karl Brandt, a senior in civil engineering from Beverly, Massachusetts; and Benton Schenck, a senior in geological engineering from Earlyville, Virginia.

“Dr. Scovazzo, the grad students and I are going over first to assist the drillers at the site for the well,” Holt said. “In addition to supervising the drilling and making field adjustments to the well design, we will be collecting geological samples, monitoring the drilling of the borehole and casing installation, and conducting a pumping test to determine the aquifer properties.”

The well will be between 270 and 300 meters deep when it is completed.

“When it will actually be finished is uncertain,” Holt said. “Parts break. Repairs take time. We never know exactly what will happen during a drilling operation until it happens.”

The well will provide drinking water to a children’s hospital, which is being built by a nonprofit organization. EWB-Ole Miss is committed to drill the well and consult on the building of two water towers, a distribution pipe and a public tap stand.

Togolese driver Sewa (left) pumps water from an existing well while UM EWB team members (from left) Zack Lepchitz, Paul Scovazzo and Cris Surbeck read the label on the pump during last year’s EWB trip. Submitted photo

“It’s going to be an expensive effort requiring professional construction crews and electricians,” Surbeck said. “Several Rotary Clubs in Mississippi and Tennessee raised more than $100,000 for this particular project’s expenses.”

 The EWB-Ole Miss team made a long-term commitment in 2012 to work with rural villages in Togo to improve community infrastructure and health care. With five productive trips completed since that time, the EWB-Ole Miss team has built a school that provides a safe setting for dozens of children to learn and build better futures.

“All of these travelers, and countless other chapter members, have invested time, money and deeply committed efforts to see this project through to completion,” Surbeck said. “Faculty members donate all of their travel time without compensation.

“Participants are passionate about seeing this children’s hospital have clean water, which, in turn, will help health care workers care for sick children.”

The undergraduate students on this trip plan to write both a report for the national EWB organization and an article for publication in related academic journals, Holt said.

Susan L. Taylor Calls Women to Action at UM

Former editor of Essence magazine delivered Women's Empowerment keynote Tuesday night

Susan L. Taylor speaks passionately about women uniting to change the world Tuesday night in Fulton Chapel. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Delivering the third annual Women’s Empowerment keynote address for Women’s Month observances Tuesday evening (March 7) at the University of Mississippi, Susan L. Taylor discussed social challenges and urged women to action to help solve our nation’s problems.

The former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine and founder-CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement addressed more than 200 students, faculty, staff and community members in Fulton Chapel.

“There’s real work to be done by women,” Taylor said. “We have to be organized, focused, disciplined and have a clear vision. We have to stand up for what’s right.”

After 27 years as chief editor of Essence and the visionary credited with building the brand, Taylor left publishing to devote her life to building an organization that is devoted to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty among African-Americans. The National CARES Mentoring Movement, which Taylor founded in 2005 and serves as CEO, is a community transformation crusade dedicated to “changing the predictable futures defined for our young who are struggling along the margins and living with the indignity of poverty,” she said.

The National CARES Mentoring Movement is the nation’s fastest growing mentor-recruitment organization. In 58 U.S. cities, CARES affiliates recruit, train and deploy caring adults to schools and a variety of youth-serving organizations that need black volunteers to serve as mentors, tutors, reading buddies and role models.

Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, said she hopes that all members of the university community will respond to Taylor’s appeal.

“Ms. Taylor’s message was motivational, encouraging and inspirational,” Mead said. “Having engaged with Mrs. Taylor and learned more about her life, including the trials and triumphs, we should all be more determined to fulfill our purpose.”

Students and others in attendance said they were moved by Taylor’s words.

“I’ve always admired Ms. Taylor’s words and works,” said Leah Gibson, a senior broadcast journalism major from Starkville and reigning Miss University. “My admiration goes all the way back to my childhood when copies of Essence magazine were always coming into our house and being read.”

“She definitely motivated me to keep on working,” said Martha Thompson of Oxford. “I’m definitely inspired to continue teaching everything we know to the people of the community in which I live.”

Five awards were also presented during the evening’s ceremonies. Recipients and their awards were Brittany Brown, a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Quitman, the Breakout Award; Dominique Scott, a senior sociology major from Dallas, Texas, the Phenomenal Woman Award; Alexis Pam, a sophomore biology and journalism major from Sumrall, a Hidden Figures Award; Lynette Johnson, executive associate director in the Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, a Hidden Figures Award; and Toni Avant, director of the UM Career Center, Women’s Inspirational Award.

For a full list of sponsors and UM Women’s Month calendar of events, visit


John Bentley Named Pharmacy Administration Chair

New leader received 2016 UM Faculty Achievement Award

John Bentley

OXFORD, Miss. – John Bentley, a professor of pharmacy administration at the University of Mississippi, has been named the new chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration in the School of Pharmacy.

Bentley received his Ph.D. in pharmacy administration from the UM pharmacy school in 1998 and began working as an assistant professor in the department upon graduating. In 2011, he received his doctorate in biostatistics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Donna West-Strum, the previous chair, became one of the university’s two associate provosts for academic affairs on Jan. 1.

“John’s leadership and vision for our department combined with his drive and attention to detail has made him the ideal person to continue and grow the strong reputation of our group,” said Erin Holmes, associate professor in the pharmacy administration department.

The Department of Pharmacy Administration studies the cost, access and quality of pharmaceutical products and services. Key issues include pharmaceutical marketing, patient and provider interactions, health outcomes, and the evolving role of pharmacists in delivering quality health care.

Bentley has received numerous awards for his research and teaching, including the 2016 UM Faculty Achievement Award, the Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award from the university’s Graduate School, and the School of Pharmacy Student Body’s Friend of the Student Award.

As chair, Bentley will reduce some of his teaching hours and continue to conduct research.

“There is no doubt that John was the absolute right pick for this position,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “Pharmacy administration has a history of exceptional leadership, and John upholds that with his experience, his work ethic and his ability to listen to his colleagues.”

Bentley said he holds a set of core values he learned when he was a student, such as treating everyone with respect, valuing the perspectives of others and the importance of civil discourse.

“We work very collaboratively and try to foster a great deal of respect and mutual support amongst our faculty and graduate students,” he said. “We try to create a culture where it’s OK for people to challenge each other.

“Our department gets along very well, but that doesn’t mean that we always agree with each other. It was fostered in me as a young faculty member that disagreements are about the matter at hand and never about the person.”

The department has been so well managed that the primary goal is to build upon its success, Bentley said. The department won the 2016 Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education Award and has a rich history of faculty teaching, service and research awards.

“This is such a great group of highly motivated people that I don’t want to be in their way,” Bentley said. “They’re going to do good work, and I want to facilitate that success.”

The confidence goes both ways; the department’s faculty voiced support for Bentley’s transition to chair.

“John has been a pillar of the Department of Pharmacy Administration for many years,” said Lori Ward, assistant professor of pharmacy administration. “We know that he will continue to be a great example and lead our department to greater heights.”