UM Journalism Students Sweep Public Relations Competition

Faculty member, graduates and university's professional staff also honored

Public relations students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media won every one of the awards presented in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition at the PRAM state conference April 10.  Award winners pictured here, standing, from left to right, are Cody Fullinwider, an integrated marketing communications major from Denver, Colorado; Courtney Richards, a journalism major from Austin, Texas; Nancy Hogan, a journalism major from Atlanta, Georgia; Alex Kohl, an IMC major from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Bridge Leigh, an IMC major from Hernando; Mara Joffe, a journalism graduate from Biloxi; Robin Street, lecturer in journalism who taught the students and also won a professional award; Lauren Raphael, an IMC major from Madison; and Clancy Smith, a journalism major from Saltillo.  Kneeling: Lindsay Langston, a journalism major from Dallas, Texas; Lauren Walker, an IMC major from Madison; Sydney Hembree, a double major in journalism and marketing and corporate relations from Kennesaw, Georgia; and MarKeicha Dickens, a journalism major from Olive Branch. Not pictured: Journalism graduate Melody Skinner of San Diego, California; and Mary Frances Tanner, an English major with a journalism minor from Mobile, Alabama. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell

UM public relations students who won awards in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition include (standing, from left) Cody Fullinwider, Courtney Richards, Nancy Hogan, Alex Kohl, Bridge Leigh, Mara Joffe, Robin Street, UM lecturer in journalism, Lauren Raphael and Clancy Smith. Kneeling (from left) are Lindsay Langston, Lauren Walker, Sydney Hembree and MarKeicha Dickens. Photo by Stan O’Dell

OXFORD, Miss. – Public relations students in the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media won every award presented in the recent Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition, including the prestigious Student Best in Show honor.

In addition, in the professional competition, faculty member Robin Street won the top award in her category, and Meek School graduates working in University Communications brought home four awards. All awards were presented during the PRAM state conference April 9-10 in Tupelo.

“We set two records in this competition,” said Street, a lecturer in journalism and public relations. “First, our students were the only university students in the state to be honored. Second, the sheer number of awards we won surpassed all previous years. That is a real tribute to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the Meek School.”

Journalism student Clancy Smith of Saltillo won both Student Best in Show and the top award in her category, called a Prism.

“Winning the Prism awards more than reassured me that my classes and projects have helped me develop the skills I will need for a career in public relations,” Smith said. “I am so grateful for the instruction I’ve received from all the Meek School faculty members.”

The students, all seniors except for two recent graduates, entered public relations campaigns they created as a final project in the advanced public relations class taught by Street. Each campaign required multimedia journalism skills including writing news articles, creating photos and video, and developing online and social media.

Five other students won Prisms in their categories: Nancy Hogan, a journalism major from Atlanta; MarKeicha Dickens, a journalism major from Olive Branch; Mara Joffe, a journalism graduate from Biloxi; Lauren Raphael, an integrated marketing communications major from Madison; and Lindsay Langston, a journalism major from Dallas.

Pictured at the PRAM Prism awards banquet are Oxford/Ole Miss chapter members, all University of Mississippi employees: (from left) Danny Blanton, director of public relations; Ryan Whittington, assistant director of public relations for social media strategy; Will Hamilton, public relations assistant; Erin Parsons Garret, communications specialist, UM School of Pharmacy; and Robin Street, lecturer in journalism and public relations.  Whittington, Hamilton and Street all won awards in the competition.

Pictured at the PRAM Prism awards banquet are Oxford/Ole Miss chapter members, all UM employees (from left) Danny Blanton, Ryan Whittington, Will Hamilton, Erin Parsons Garret and Robin Street.

A step below the Prism is the Excellence Award, followed by the Merit Award. The seven students winning Excellence Awards included Alex Kohl, an IMC major from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Cody Fullinwider, an IMC major from Denver; and Melody Skipper, a marketing and corporate relations graduate living in San Diego.

Also winning Excellence were Sydney Hembree, a double major in journalism and marketing and corporate relations from Kennesaw, Georgia; Mary Frances Tanner, an English major with a journalism minor from Mobile, Alabama; Bridge Leigh, an IMC major from Hernando; and Lauren Walker, an IMC major from Madison. Journalism major Courtney Richards of Austin, Texas, won a Merit Award.

In the professional categories, University Communications staff members won five awards.

A Prism award went to Ryan Whittington, assistant director of public relations for social media strategy, and producer/director Win Graham. An Excellence Award went to PR assistant Will Hamilton and communications specialist Dennis Irwin. Merit awards went to communication specialists Michael Newsom and Edwin Smith. Whittington, Newsom and Smith are all Meek School graduates.

“Our staff is a talented and hard-working team that always strives for excellence,” said Danny Blanton, UM director of public relations. “I’m very proud of the work they do and how it helps the university achieve its mission goals. These awards say a lot about the quality of the materials this group produces.”

For more information on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit http://meek.olemiss.edu or email MeekSchool@olemiss.edu.

UM Journalism Student Receives Hearst Honor

Clancy Smith honored for profile on U.S. Rep. John Lewis

UM Senior Clancy Smith placed fourth in the 2015 Hearst Personality Profile Competition.

UM Senior Clancy Smith placed fourth in the 2015 Hearst Personality Profile Competition.

OXFORD, Miss. – An article based on an interview with civil rights hero U.S. Rep. John Lewis has won honors in a Hearst competition for University of Mississippi student Clancy Smith and enhanced the reputation of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Smith, a senior from Saltillo, placed fourth out of 99 entries from 56 schools in the Personality Profile category of the annual Hearst Journalism Awards Program writing competition. That’s the highest finish for any UM student has since Ole Miss began entering the contest in the fall of 1975.

“This is a remarkable achievement when you recognize all the outstanding graduates that Ole Miss has produced in the elite media,” said Will Norton Jr., dean of the journalism school. “A Meek student placing this high shows that Ole Miss has outstanding professors who work diligently with students outside the classroom as well as in the classroom.”

The Hearst Foundation describes the program purpose as support, encouragement and assistance to journalism education at the college and university level. The program awards scholarships to students for outstanding performance in college-level journalism, with matching grants to the students’ schools.

Hearst Journalism Awards are considered the “Pulitzers of collegiate journalism.”

Smith cited UM adjunct instructor Bill Rose for his role in the award-winning story. Rose taught the class that produced the Delta Reporting Project on “Land of Broken Dreams,” which included the profile on Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia.

“His guidance allowed me to be competitive in a competition that is usually dominated by much larger schools,” she said.

Rose praised his student’s work on the project.

“Clancy Smith’s perceptive profile of civil rights icon John Lewis was a powerful, multilayered look inside the psyche of a man very nearly martyred for the cause,” Rose said. “In a story laden with symbolism, she told of a man who responded to hate with love, a man who clung to a gospel of hope and forgiveness even when beaten within an inch of his life.

“It was an artful story, taking readers through Lewis’ childhood then into the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s and finally to the halls of Congress.”

“I’m just so happy that the Meek School of Journalism and New Media is getting recognition for the wonderful program that it is,” Smith said.

Smith graduates in May and plans to attend the University of Alabama to pursue a master’s degree in public relations.

“The one thing I do know is that I want to continue writing in a way that improves the lives of others and helps keep the public knowledgeable about important issues,” she said.

UM Launches Partnership with African Universities

Ole Miss in Africa initiative includes education, research and exchange collaborations

University of Mississippi students enjoy a meal at a restaurant in Addis Ababa while hearing from AAU President, Dr. Admasu Tsegaye, about cultural relationships between various dances and Ethiopian cuisine.

University of Mississippi students enjoy a meal at a restaurant in Addis Ababa while hearing from AAU President, Dr. Admasu Tsegaye, about cultural relationships between various dances and Ethiopian cuisine.

OXFORD, Miss. – Long known as a mysterious continent seen only in movies or on the evening news, Africa is opening up for University of Mississippi students to study, experience and learn firsthand about international issues.

The UM Office of Global Engagement has launched a major international initiative to develop and establish a significant footprint in sub-Saharan Africa for the university. The new initiative, known as Ole Miss in Africa, has already produced functional partnerships with reputable universities in the eastern, western and southern regions of Africa.

The Ole Miss in Africa initiative will contribute significantly to the university’s strategic objective of “bringing the world to Mississippi and taking Mississippi to the world,” Provost Morris Stocks said.

“We are committed to broadening the university’s reach around the world,” Stocks said. “This will provide many more opportunities for our students to get real-world experience beyond the classroom and also allow our students and faculty to apply their knowledge to help solve global problems that affect us all.”

The initial African institutional partners include Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia; the University of Benin and Federal University of Technology-Minna, both in Nigeria; the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering in Burkina Faso; and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa.

Each of these institutions is partnering with UM for student and faculty exchange activities, research partnerships and educational collaborations. These collaborations include training students and faculty from these institutions at UM, and study abroad opportunities for Ole Miss students.

“In our present globalized world, the University of Mississippi takes the education of our students as global citizens very seriously. Therefore, the development of a strong presence in Africa will not only enhance the global reach of the University of Mississippi, but also contribute significantly to our ongoing comprehensive campus internationalization efforts” said Nosa O. Egiebor, UM’s senior international officer and executive director of global engagement.

The African initiative is being developed on the platform provided by a new United States Agency for International Development grant under the African-U.S. Higher Education Partnership Program. It is managed by the American Council on Education through the Office of Higher Education for Development in Washington, D.C.

Egiebor is the project director for the grant at UM.

The university has similar initiatives planned in Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Australasia.

UM Student Media, Students Score Big at Journalism Conference Awards

Group wins Onsite Championship Team category for fourth time in five years

University of Mississippi print and broadcast journalism students proudly display awards won at the Southeast Journalism Conference competition.

University of Mississippi print and broadcast journalism students proudly display awards won at the Southeast Journalism Conference competition.

OXFORD, Miss. – Winning top honors in several categories, University of Mississippi journalism students dominated the annual Southeastern Journalism Conference competitions.

The weekend conference, hosted by Georgia State University in Atlanta, had two separate awards ceremonies. Best of the South awards honored student work published or broadcast from November 2013 through November 2014. Onsite competitions involved students working on deadline in 17 categories.

Combined, UM students won 26 honors. Ole Miss also placed first in the Onsite Championship Team category for the fourth time in five years.

“We are so proud of our students,” said Patricia Thompson, Student Media Center director and assistant professor of journalism. “They devote many hours each week to their work, and winning awards is nice recognition for their dedication.”

Onsite competition first-place winners were Cady Herring of Olive Branch for photography, Sierra Mannie of Canton for op-ed writing (read her winning piece at http://thedmonline.com/field-of-schemes/), Ellen Whitaker of Vicksburg for design, and the team of Suduhamsu Upadhyay of Oxford and Gabriel Austin Crystal Springs for television reporting.

Second-place onsite winners were Sarah Parrish of Mandeville, Louisiana, for copy editing, Payton Green of Pascagoula, for current events and Shawna (Mackenzie) Hicks of Athens, Alabama, for ethics. Lacey Russell of Tupelo won an honorable mention for feature writing.

In Best of the South, first-place winners included Upadhyay (best TV journalist), Adam Ganucheau of Hazelhurst (best special event reporter/editor for coverage of the James Meredith statue incident) and Herring (best press photographer).

“This means that Sudu and Cady, both sophomores, picked up first-place awards in both Best of the South and onsites,” Thompson said.

Taking second place were Clara Turnage of New Hebron (best feature writer) and Miriam Cresswell of Grenada (best journalism research paper).

Third-place winners are Lacey Russell of Tupelo (best news writer), Allison Moore of Brentwood, Tennessee (best news layout designer), Dylan Rubino of Tuscaloosa, Alabama (best sports writer), and NewsWatch (best college video).

NewsWatch placed fourth as best TV station. Other fourth-place finalists were Ian Cleary of Brandon (best editorial cartoonist) and Gabriel Austin of Crystal Springs (best TV news reporter). Sixth-place winners include Browning Stubbs of Memphis (best multimedia journalist), Amy Hornsby of Starkville (best advertising staff member) and The Daily Mississippian (best college newspaper and the only daily that won in this category).

Kendyl Noon of Bellaire, Texas, won ninth-best for TV feature reporter. TheDMonline.com won 10th place as best college website.

Judges chose from 523 entries from 33 universities in the Best of the South contest.

UM administrators extended their congratulations to Thompson, journalism faculty and the students.

“When our students are competing against students from other Southeastern universities on deadline and winning more awards than other students, I conclude that the adviser of the Student Media Center and the faculty are doing a good job of preparing these students to be media professionals,” said Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “My congratulations to the students, their professors and the adviser of the Student Media Center.”

Provost Morris Stocks concurred.

“Congratulations to Pat Thompson and her students,” Stocks said. “She has made the Student Media Center a model for the rest of the Southeastern schools.”

For more information about the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit http://www.meek.olemiss.edu.

USA Today Editor Honored with Silver Em

Fred Anklam Jr. worked on landmark series examining Mississippi schools, covered U.S. House for national paper

Fred Anklam Jr.

Fred Anklam Jr.

OXFORD, Miss. – Fred Anklam Jr., a senior editor at USA Today, has been chosen to receive the 2015 Samuel Talbert Silver Em Award from the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

The award will be presented at a dinner April 8 at the Inn at Ole Miss, starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available by contacting Paula Hurdle at 662-915-7146 or pchurdle@olemiss.edu.

The school’s highest honor in journalism, the award dates to 1958. Recipients must be Mississippians with notable journalism careers or journalists with notable careers in Mississippi – or both, which is the case with Anklam.

Though born in Kentucky where his father was an Army officer, Anklam spent his formative years in Vicksburg, where he graduated from St. Aloysius High School in 1972. After a year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he completed his college degree in journalism, with minors in anthropology and English, at UM. He was a staffer of The Daily Mississippian student newspaper and a member of Sigma Delta Chi, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

For six years after graduation, Anklam was a reporter for The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger where, as part of a team in 1982, he worked on a six-month investigation of Mississippi schools and a related special legislative session that led to a Pulitzer Prize.

“Of all the students we’ve had in journalism, he’s one I am so impressed with because of how humble he is. He didn’t let success go to his head,” said Will Norton Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “He uses his reporting ability for the betterment of his community.”

Anklam has many additional awards, including a 1981 first place from the Education Writers Association for investigative reporting on unsafe schools. Two more awards came from that group in 1982, followed by a Roy W Howard Public Service Award in 1983.

His career with Gannett News Service and, later, USA Today, began in Washington. In 1986, he was the first USA Today reporter assigned full time to cover the U.S. House. Starting in 1988, Anklam was tapped as an editor for the national newspaper. He has had roles as night national news editor, White House editor, news/international editor, news/chief operations editor and news editor.

Those roles led to his current position, where he supervises USA Today coverage at night and during the early morning hours, oversees production of the domestic editions and local inserted editions as well as the Tropics edition. He serves as backup to the Page 1 editor and directs coverage on all USA Today platforms, digital and print.

Charles Overby was executive editor of The Clarion Ledger when the Pulitzer was won. He was later a top executive for the newspaper’s parent company, Gannett, before being named CEO and chairman of the Freedom Forum.

“Fred has this great ability to be a nice guy, but a tough reporter,” Overby said. “He knows the right question to ask.”

Anklam’s spouse, Cissy Foote Anklam, is an independent museum consultant and is also an Ole Miss graduate. They have three adult children.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media was founded in 2009, funded with an endowment gift by Ed and Becky Meek. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in both journalism and integrated marketing communications on the Oxford campus and in coordination with satellite campuses. Because of the increasing variety of media careers, enrollment continues to rise in the Meek School, which has nearly 1,200 undergraduate journalism and IMC majors.

PREVIOUS SILVER EM HONOREES

1958 – George W. Healy Jr.

1959 – Turner Catledge

1960 – Kenneth Toler

1961 – John Oliver Emmerich

1963 – George McLean

1964 – William B. Street

1965 – Purser Hewitt

1966 – Hal C. DeCell

1967 – Paul Pittman

1968 – Hodding Carter Jr.

1969 – Willie Morris

1970 – T.M. Hederman Jr.

1971 – Joseph R. Ellis

1972 – Wilson F. Minor

1973 – Mark F. Ethridge

1975 – H.L. Stevenson

1976 – William Raspberry

1977 – Joe L. Albritton

1978 – James A. Autry

1979 – James Nelson

1980 – Mary-Lynn Kotz

1981 – Curtis Wilkie

1982 – Harold Burson

1983 – John O. Emmerich

1984 – Hazel Brannon Smith

1985 – Charles Overby

1986 – W.C. “Dub” Shoemaker

1987 – Charles Dunagin, Larry Speakes

1988 – Edward Fritts

1989 – Rudy Abramson

1990 – Hodding Carter III

1991 – James L. McDowell

1992 – Rheta Grimsley Johnson

1993 – Dan Goodgame

1994 – Robert Gordon

1995 – Jere Hoar

1996 – Gregory Favre

1997 – Stephanie Saul

1998 – Lerone Bennett

2000 – Jerry Mitchell

2001 – Bert Case

2002 – Ira Harkey

2003 – Jim Abbott

2005 – Otis Sanford

2006 – Dan Phillips

2007 – Stanley Dearman

2008 – Ronnie Agnew

2009 – Stan Tiner

2010 – Terry Wooten

2011 – Patsy Brumfield

2012 – Greg Brock

2013 – W. Randall Pinkston

2014 – Fred Anklam Jr.

Ole Miss Women’s Council to Honor Charles Overby with Legacy Award

Tickets available for dinner featuring award-winning chefs

university of mississippi ole miss charles overby legacy award women's council first amendment free press oxford chancellor philanthropist leader mentor

Charles Overby

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy will honor Charles Overby, a champion of the First Amendment and the free press, with the 2015 Legacy Award this spring at the University of Mississippi.

Overby will receive the Legacy Award, presented by C Spire, at a dinner April 18 at Carrier House, home of Chancellor Dan and Lydia Jones on the Oxford campus.

“We are thrilled to honor Charles Overby with a tribute to the cities he has impacted through his professional, personal and philanthropic endeavors,” said Karen Moore, OMWC chair. “This event will be a sellout, so we are encouraging the Ole Miss family to get their tickets quickly.”

For 22 years, Overby was chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation that educates people about the press and the First Amendment. His service as CEO of the Newseum spanned 1997 to 2011, during which time he supervised the building of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. He also served as CEO of the Diversity Institute, a school created in 2001 to teach journalists and aspiring journalists while increasing diversity in newsrooms.

The dinner will be prepared by a culinary team based on locales important to Overby: Oxford; Nashville, Tennessee; and Washington, D.C. The trio of chefs will be led by John Currence, founder of the City Grocery Restaurant Group.

Currence opened his first restaurant, City Grocery, in 1992 in Oxford. Since that time, the City Grocery Restaurant Group has celebrated a number of openings, including Nacho Mama’s, Kalo’s, Ajax Diner, City Grocery’s catering company the Main Event, Bouré, Big Bad Breakfast and Snackbar.

Recipient of 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South, Currence was honored as Restaurateur of the Year and Chef of the Year by the Mississippi Restaurant Association in 1998. In 2006, he received the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Guardian of Tradition Award and won the 2008 Great American Seafood Cookoff in New Orleans.

Executive Chef Tyler Brown, recently named one of Esquire magazine’s Four New Chefs to Watch, leads Nashville’s acclaimed Capitol Grille restaurant. A farm-to-table enthusiast, Brown strives to serve cultural sustainability by paying homage to cooking practices of the past. During Brown’s tenure, the Capitol Grille has earned the coveted Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond designations, was voted one of America’s best restaurants by Gourmet magazine, appeared on the Food Network and was recognized at the James Beard House.

Scott Drewno serves as executive chef of The Source, the first Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group restaurant in the nation’s capital. Since opening, the restaurant has been honored with numerous accolades including three-star reviews from both The Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington awarded The Source “New Restaurant of the Year” in 2008 and “Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year” in 2011; Drewno received the coveted “Chef of the Year” prize in 2010. In 2012 and in 2013, Drewno was a semi-finalist for the “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” James Beard Award.

The Legacy Award of the Ole Miss Women’s Council recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions as philanthropists, leaders and mentors and brought about definitive, positive changes in the University, state and nation.

“This is a huge honor, and I am grateful to the Women’s Council for its exceptional philanthropic work,” Overby said. “My idea of perfection is sitting down with friends and enjoying a good meal and good conversation. Being at the chancellor’s home with these incredible chefs will provide a memorable evening for all involved.”

Overby earned a bachelor’s degree from Ole Miss and has been presented honorary doctoral degrees from Mississippi University for Women and Millsaps College. He is a member of the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame and has been inducted in both the student and alumni halls of fame at UM.

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics was established at Ole Miss with a $5.4 million gift from the Freedom Forum to honor Overby’s extensive professional contributions. He continues his involvement with Ole Miss students as an adjunct instructor for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

The Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy recognizes that meaningful lives and careers in and beyond college rely on strong relationships and nurturing support. Mentorship, therefore, is the cornerstone of OMWC scholarships, and almost 100 students have blossomed under this program. OMWC’s endowments total nearly $11 million, and each new scholarship is recognized in the Rose Garden near the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

C Spire is the presenting sponsor for the 2015 Legacy Award. FedEx Corp. is the platinum sponsor, and gold sponsors are FNC Inc. and Kimberley Fritts. Sanderson Farms, Two Rivers Ford, RJ Young, the Freedom Forum and the Mississippi Press Association are silver sponsors.

Previous Legacy Award recipients include Netscape president-CEO and education visionaries, Jim and Donna Barksdale; “The Blind Side” mom and co-founder of the Making It Happen Foundation, Leigh Anne Tuohy; the heart and soul of America’s first family of football, Olivia Williams Manning, who has nurtured sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli Manning to be servant-leaders; and Mississippi’s “education governor,” champions for improved race relations and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, William and Elise Winter.

Tickets are $150 per person and available online at http://olemissalumni.com/events. For more information, call 662-915-2384 or email omwc@olemiss.edu.

NASA Speakers, Rocket Make Big Impression at UM

Space Launch System replica, key officials wow local audiences

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Perhaps the only thing as impressive as having three NASA officials speak Friday (Oct. 31) at the University of Mississippi was the 30-foot inflatable replica of the Space Launch System they brought with them.

During a daylong “show-and-tell” presentation themed “NASA/SLS Day at Ole Miss,” Todd May, who manages the agency’s Space Launch System program, visited campus to share with UM students advancements being made toward deep-space travel. Three other NASA officials, two of whom are UM alumni, accompanied him.

“NASA is building the capability to put humans back into deep space,” said May, who spoke at the Overby Center. “Our road to Mars goes through Mississippi. As the human race, we still want to explore and are working hard to make this thing happen.”

During his presentation, May spoke about how recent achievements are bringing deep-space travel closer than ever.

“The United States has been to Mars with land rovers several times and has left lots of things on its surface,” he said. “We’re learning a lot about Mars and how to live there once we get there.”

A “really big rocket” with next-generation technology is needed to accomplish NASA’s goal of interplanetary human traffic, May said.

“Actually, we already have a lot of the pieces already designed,” he said. “We’re halfway through a 17-point check system that began in 2012 and will, hopefully, culminate in a successful launch by 2017.”

Because Mars is 30 million miles from Earth, scientists predict it will take two to three years to get there and back, Mays said. Returning to the moon would be the necessary first phase.

After last Tuesday’s unmanned supply mission to the International Space Station ended in a much-publicized explosion, May’s timely words are helping restore confidence in the agency’s abilities.

“I love NASA and definitely want to work for them someday,” said Nicole Hughes, a general engineering and accountancy major from Tallahassee, Florida. “When I saw the inflatable rocket on campus, I was drawn to come hear this presentation. I’d love to participate in the space program in the future.”

Dudley Moore, a mechanical engineering major from Goodman, said he was impressed with May’s presentation and demeanor. “He is a very accomplished, but also a very humble individual,” Moore said. “Hearing him made me want to be a part of something big, like NASA’s deep-space program.”

The rocket replica, which was alternately displayed in front of Farley and Brevard Halls, made an even stronger impression.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Lila Agner, a mechanical engineering major from Jackson. “It definitely gets people’s attention. Lots of photos have been taken of it while it is here.”

NASA/Space Launch System Day activities were sponsored by the School of Engineering with support from the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Trent Lott Institute for Leadership and Public Policy. Other guest lecturers included David Hitt, senior writer-editor, and Markeeva Morgan, avionics hardware subsystem manager. Both UM alumni spoke at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and at the engineering school’s Brevard Hall, respectively.

“My talk to the Intro to Mass Communications students outlined how a newspaper journalism education from Ole Miss has served as a foundation for a career both in newspaper and beyond,” said Hitt, who discussed “Ole Miss Journalism: Launching the Write Stuff.” “As someone who has seen substantial change in the journalism industry over the course of my career, I discussed how elements of my journalism education prepared me in unexpected ways for a dynamic job market.”

Morgan, who also serves on the UM Engineering Advisory Board, said he always enjoys returning to campus.

“I’ve learned lessons that I believe could benefit the students if they pay attention to them now,” said Morgan, who spoke about “Real Talk: Life Lessons in Self Leadership.” “Hopefully, I encouraged them to be deliberate in their lives.”

Twila Schneider, NASA communications coordinator, also gave a guest lecture to Oxford Intermediate School students. Her topic focused on NASA’s journey to Mars and how students can be a part of that experience.

All the NASA officials had lunch with Honors College and engineering students in Brevard Hall. They later toured the university’s Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

The entire weekend was a huge success, said Ryan Upshaw, assistant engineering dean for student services.

“We were thrilled when Markeeva reached out to the School of Engineering with the opportunity to bring Mr. May to campus,” Upshaw said. “We know that his expertise will have an impact on everyone that has the chance to meet him while he is on campus.”

Ole Miss Announces 2014 Racial Reconciliation Week Activities

Second Annual Events Will Take Place Sept. 22-27

The Chucky Mullins statue stands in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The Chucky Mullins statue stands in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Athletics and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation have announced a slate of activities for the 2014 Racial Reconciliation Week, which runs Monday through Saturday (Sept. 22-27).

Racial Reconciliation Week began in 2013 with a week of events dedicated to promoting racial equity and encouraging dialogue on the topic.

Highlights from the week include the first on-campus screening of the “SEC Storied: It’s Time – Chucky Mullins, ” which details the story of former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins, and a campus panel discussion of race and pop culture. Additionally, the Winter Institute will celebrate its 15th anniversary.

The week kicks off Monday with a showing of the movie “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle of Turkey Creek” at 6 p.m. at Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics auditorium. The movie documents the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Evans and his neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians, and face Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice.

Several dedications are planned throughout the week, including the Chucky Mullins Drive dedication on Friday. The university is renaming Coliseum Drive as Chucky Mullins Drive in memory of the late Ole Miss football player. The dedication will take place on the School of Law courtyard at 2:30 p.m. All 25 winners of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award have been invited to attend.

“Partnering with the Winter Institute for a week of reconciliation is an honor and privilege for Ole Miss athletics,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork said. “Our commitment to giving back to the community through our core values stands strong each day, and events like this further strengthen our purpose.

“This year has special meaning as we honor the legacy and spirit of Roy Lee ‘Chucky’ Mullins and all that he has contributed to the university and athletics. We are humbled to be a small part of the never-ending crusade of respect and dignity for all humankind.”

The Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement also will have a dedication on Wednesday, and the M-Club Hall of Fame will induct six new members on Friday.

Jennifer Saxon, assistant athletics director for student-athlete development who has played a huge role in helping spearhead the second annual slate of Racial Reconciliation Week events, said she is pleased with the ability to engage in positive conversation regarding the issue of race.

“I am thrilled that for a second year we can continue this week of impactful activities that showcases our relationship with the William Winter Institute,” Saxon said. “The institute’s work, not only locally, but nationally, speaks volumes about the progress we have made as we continue to educate in an effort to heal. We were able to create programming opportunities for the campus and Oxford community that highlight campus resources while engaging positive conversation.”

The observance culminates with the Ole Miss vs. Memphis football game on Saturday. During the game, both Racial Reconciliation Week and the Winter Institute will be recognized on the field, and the Nathaniel Northington Groundbreaker in Athletics Award will be presented to former Ole Miss head football coach Billy Brewer and former Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines.

Northington, who participated in the inaugural Racial Reconciliation Week in 2013, was the first African-American football player in the SEC. Northington broke the “color barrier” by becoming the first African-American to play any sport in the SEC when Kentucky played Ole Miss in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1967.The author of “Still Running,” Northington received the inaugural Groundbreaker in Athletics award.

“I cannot express what a great symbiosis is being created between athletics and the Winter Institute,” said Susan Glisson, executive director of the institute. “We’re already doing so much good work together, both on campus and off, and we’ve only just begun.

“Ross Bjork had a great idea to launch Racial Reconciliation Week last year and it lifts up our partnership to a level that folks can see. I’m thankful that we’re having a second Racial Reconciliation Week this year and I look forward to many more, symbolizing a long and fruitful partnership. ”

The university’s Winter Institute works in communities and classrooms, in Mississippi and beyond, to support a movement of racial equity and wholeness as a pathway to ending and transcending all discrimination based on difference.

The week’s full schedule includes:

Monday, Sept. 22

  • Movie: Come Hell or High Water: The Battle of Turkey Creek
    • Location: Overby Center Auditorium
    • Time: 6 p.m.
    • Moderator: Reilly Morse, president and CEO, Mississippi Center for Justice

Tuesday, Sept. 23

  • Campus Panel Discussion: Race and Pop Culture
    • Location: Overby Center Auditorium
    • Time: 6 p.m.
    • Moderator: Melody Frierson, youth engagement coordinator, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

Wednesday, Sept. 24

  • Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement Dedication & Reception
    • Location: Stewart Hall (Center)
    • Time: 2 p.m.
  • Integrated Community Service (Optional)
    • Location: Paris-Yates Chapel
    • Time: 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 25

  • Redefining the Welcome Table: Inclusion and Exclusion in American Foodways

Southern Foodways Alliance and William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

2014 Graduate Student Conference

  • Location: The Depot
  • Time: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • SEC Storied: It’s Time – Chucky Mullins
    • Location: Weems Auditorium, School of Law
    • Time: 6 p.m.
    • Moderators:
      • Deano Orr, Ole Miss linebacker (1990-1993) and executive director of IP Foundation
      • Micah Ginn, associate athletics director for sports production and creative services, Ole Miss Department of Athletics

Friday, Sept. 26

  • Redefining the Welcome Table: Inclusion and Exclusion in American Foodways

Southern Foodways Alliance and William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

2014 Graduate Student Conference

  • Location: The Depot
  • Time: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Chucky Mullins Drive Dedication
    • Time: 2:30 p.m.
    • Location: School of Law courtyard
  • Winter Institute 15th Anniversary Celebration & Open House
    • Time 4 p.m.
    • Location: Lamar Hall, Third Floor, Suite A
  • M-Club Hall of Fame Induction Reservations Required
    • The Inn at Ole Miss, Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom
    • Time: 6 p.m.

   Saturday, Sept. 27

  • Ole Miss vs. Memphis Football Game
    • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
    • Time: 6:30 p.m.

-UM-

Media Contact:

Jessica Poole

Jepoole1@olemiss.edu

662-816-3877

UM Enrollment Tops 23,000 Students for Fall Semester

State's flagship university sees improvement in freshman ACT scores, GPAs

Students gather for class outside of Holman and Connor Halls.

Students take advantage of beautiful weather by gathering for class outside Holman and Conner halls.

OXFORD, Miss. – Enrollment at the University of Mississippi surged this fall for the 20th consecutive year, making history with more than 23,000 students across all its campuses for the first time.

Preliminary enrollment figures show a total unduplicated headcount of 23,096, largest in the state. That’s up 805 students from last fall, or 3.6 percent. The figures include the largest freshman class ever for any Mississippi university, a class that sports the highest ACT scores and high school GPAs in Ole Miss history.

“We are very pleased that students and families across Mississippi and throughout America continue to recognize the quality education and outstanding college experience we offer at the University of Mississippi, all at a very competitive price,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “Our faculty and staff work very hard to deliver the very best academic programs for students, and it’s truly rewarding to see those efforts being acknowledged with extraordinary interest in attending our university.”

The incoming freshman class swelled to 3,814 this fall, up 6.5 percent from 3,582 last year. Student retention also remains near record levels, with preliminary reports showing 84.6 percent of last year’s freshmen have returned to campus this fall, the second-highest retention rate in school history.

“While we’re very happy with the endorsement of so many new freshmen this fall, we’re particularly pleased with the success of the first-year programs we have in place to help freshmen adjust to the rigors of a world-class university,” Jones said. “Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college, so we try to give them all the tools they need to be successful during their time on campus and then as they launch their careers.”

Nearly two-thirds, 61.2 percent, of Ole Miss students are from Mississippi, including students from all the state’s 82 counties. The university also attracts students from across the nation and world. Overall, the student body includes representatives from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 92 foreign countries.

Ole Miss By the Numbers.

Ole Miss by the Numbers.

This year’s freshmen are better prepared for college course work, with an average ACT score of 24.3, compared to an average of 24.1 last fall. Their high school GPA increased too, from 3.46 to 3.49. Both measures have increased every year since 2010.

This year’s freshman class includes 57 class valedictorians, 52 salutatorians, 73 student body presidents, 83 Eagle Scouts and 10 Girl Scouts who achieved the Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting.

“Student leaders are an important component of our campus community,” said Morris Stocks, UM provost. “The University of Mississippi has a long history of attracting top students with demonstrated leadership skills. We have the wonderful opportunity to provide a leadership training ground and to influence these young people for a short but important period of time. We are thrilled that this freshman class is filled with future leaders.”

Minority enrollment totaled 5,488 students, or 23.8 percent. African-American enrollment is 3,285 students, or 14.2 percent of overall enrollment.

The student body also is diverse in age and national origin, ranging from four 15-year-old students to an 87-year-old pursuing a bachelor’s degree in French. Two of the 15-year-olds are dually enrolled at Oxford High School and the university. One of the other students, from Vietnam, has not declared a major, and the other is an international studies major from Lee County. The youngest graduate student is an 18-year-old from China who is pursuing a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences.

The university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College continues to expand, enrolling 1,210 students this fall, a more than 15 percent increase since fall 2012. The acclaimed Honors College has a record 373 incoming freshmen, with 54 percent being Mississippi residents. This fall’s honors freshmen have an average ACT of 30.2 and an average high school GPA of 3.93. The college’s facility on Sorority Row is undergoing a major expansion and renovation to accommodate its larger student body.

The university’s undergraduate schools of Accountancy, Engineering, Nursing, and Journalism and New Media all enjoyed double-digit growth. The number of undergraduate students in accountancy hit a record of 962, up from 869 last fall, and enrollment in the School of Journalism and New Media topped 1,000 for the first time – 1,044 this fall, compared to 886 last year.

Students travel across campus in between classes.

Students travel across campus between classes.

In the School of Nursing, based on UM’s Medical Center campus in Jackson, enrollment is up by 18.4 percent this fall, from 685 to 811 students. That follows a 28 percent spike last year. The dramatic growth reflects the school’s emphasis on lifelong learning, from the undergraduate level through its doctoral programs, said Marcia Rachel, the school’s associate dean for academics.

“Faculty members in the School of Nursing have worked hard to make sure all programs are current and relevant, and that the classroom and clinical experiences are distinctive, dynamic and engaging,” Rachel said. “We have excellent pass rates on national licensure and certification exams, and our reputation in the community is solid.

“In short, we are committed to our mission – to develop nurse leaders and improve health through excellence in education, research, practice and service.”

After seven consecutive years of growth, the UM School of Engineering ranks as one of the nation’s fastest growing. The undergraduate enrollment, which topped 1,000 for the first time in 2012, is 1,419 this fall, up from 1,285 last year.

“The UM School of Engineering has always been somewhat of a hidden treasure with small classes and personable faculty,” said Alex Cheng, the school’s dean. “But lately, more and more students from across the country and around the world are discovering just what we have to offer: a first-rate engineering education with the added liberal arts element, preparing our students for leadership positions in their careers.”

The numbers of students majoring in mechanical engineering, geology and geological engineering, and chemical engineering have more than doubled in the past five years. During that time, the school renovated many classrooms and laboratories, and moved its administrative offices into the renovated Brevard Hall. The university also added the Center for Manufacturing Excellence to complement and enhance existing engineering programs.

Another area experiencing rapid growth is the university’s professional pharmacy program, which leads to a Pharm.D. degree and professional certification. The number of students pursuing their Pharm.D. after earning a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences grew from 232 in 2013 to 290 this fall.

“The growth in our professional program is directly related to the quality pharmacy education that we provide,” pharmacy Dean David D. Allen said. “We’re proud of our program’s accessibility and affordability for both Mississippi students and out-of-state students. Not only do we have a tuition ranked in the country’s lowest 20 percent, but our graduates also have top scores for the national pharmacy licensure exam. I think students are additionally encouraged by our high job placement rate. Nearly 100 percent of our graduates are employed by the time they receive their degrees.”

To help accommodate the growing student population, the university has opened Rebel Market, a totally new dining facility in Johnson Commons, replacing the old cafeteria, as well as several satellite eateries across campus. Construction began this summer on a new residence hall in the Northgate area of campus, and Guess Hall is slated to be demolished soon to make way for two new five-story residence halls on that site.

Construction is continuing on a new facility for the School of Medicine, which will allow the university to increase class sizes, helping train more physicians to serve the state’s health care needs. A major expansion is underway at Coulter Hall, home of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and a new water tower is nearly complete near Kinard Hall. Work to renovate and modernize locker rooms and other fitness facilities at the Turner Center should wrap up by the end of the fall semester. Also, a three-year project will begin soon to expand and modernize the Student Union.

For more information on enrollment and programs at UM, go to http://www.olemiss.edu.

Couple Provides Major Support for Fastest-growing Program

John Thomas family creates endowed faculty position for marketing communications major

John and Mary Thomas with Chancellor Dan Jones.

John and Mary Thomas with Chancellor Dan Jones.

OXFORD, Miss. – A new and forward-looking degree at the University of Mississippi will have an endowed chair, thanks to a forward-looking alumnus and his spouse who want others to experience the same inspired boost to their careers as he did.

“This gift is about helping Ole Miss students by investing in the best and brightest professors, those who will ensure the legacy of this great school is passed on through the generation of our children and their children after that,” said John B. Thomas, who with his wife, Mary, created the John and Mary Thomas Chair in Integrated Marketing Communications in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

The Thomas family gift is part of the Barnard Initiative, a faculty support campaign named for Frederick A.P. Barnard, UM chancellor from 1856 to 1861 and later chancellor at Columbia University. The Thomases’ gift will be partially matched by Abbott Laboratories for a total $1.5 million contribution. Annual income from the endowment will enhance the compensation of a leading IMC faculty member in perpetuity.

A 1985 UM graduate, John Thomas recently retired from Abbott Laboratories, where he was vice president for investor relations and public affairs, as well as president of the Abbott Fund, which provides grants to promote science, expand access to health care and strengthen communities globally. Headquartered in North Chicago, the pharmaceutical and medical supply company had 91,000 employees in 150 nations until early 2013, when Abbott Laboratories split into two separate, publicly traded companies: Abbott and AbbVie. The Thomases live in Glenview, Illinois, with their two daughters and son.

“John was an exceptional student,” said Will Norton, dean of the journalism school. “His integrity and transparency were matched by intellectual depth and rich spiritual insight. To me, this is the reason for his uncommon stewardship. Gratitude, whether based on reality or not, is a quality of a person’s character. John exemplifies character and integrity in everything he does. I am so delighted to have known him as a student and now as an alumnus with a wonderful family.”

UM Chancellor Dan Jones applauds the Thomases for their vision and generosity.

“John Thomas is an Ole Miss graduate who pursued exceptional opportunities and achieved remarkable professional and personal success,” Jones said. “We are deeply grateful that through his journey, he never forgot his alma mater and the generations of students who will follow in his footsteps. John and Mary have chosen to make significant investments in an academic discipline and a university they love. The results will come as outstanding faculty members teach and mentor our students, preparing them to perform in an ever-changing global community.”

Integrated marketing communications, or IMC, takes a holistic approach, recognizing that each contact a consumer has with a product or service, intended or incidental, has an influence in forming consumer opinion. Contacts may be through traditional channels, such as press releases and advertising, but also through an array of other means arising in the digital era. Practitioners focus on research, accuracy, consistency and clarity in messaging.

The degree in the Meek School was approved by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning in late 2010 and was first offered to students in 2011. It has more than 500 undergraduate majors, making it the fastest growing degree program on campus and perhaps in UM history. Scott Fiene, assistant professor of integrated marketing, calls the growth “phenomenal,” reflecting the degree’s value in the marketplace.

“It’s a really solid degree,” he said. “It’s an integrated marketing communications degree, but it also comes with a minor in business administration. The business minor resonates with parents, and there is incredible cooperation with the School of Business Administration. Our students are required to take classes there, and some business students are required to take IMC classes. In the industry, there’s a major need for graduates from an IMC program, but there aren’t a lot of undergraduate programs of this kind, nationally.”

Norton and faculty of the Meek School designed the degree to which the Thomases and other alumni and friends have responded with much enthusiasm.

“The spectacular growth and popularity of the IMC program in the Meek School speaks to the hard work that Dr. Norton and others have put into ensuring that Ole Miss remains one of the premier schools in the country for journalism and communications students,” Thomas said.

The faculty endowment follows two previous initiatives supported by the Thomases. A 2013 gift endowed the Thomas Family Speaker Series to help underwrite the cost of bringing leading specialists for campus visits. In 2011, the couple funded the Thomas Family Scholarship Endowment, which will assist its first student with tuition and expenses during the 2014-15 academic year.

“Mary and I consider our gifts an investment in the future of Ole Miss and the Meek School,” Thomas said. “We both strongly believe in the merits of a rigorous education in journalism – both traditional reporting and writing as well as in-depth studies in the new media that are reshaping the way people communicate.”

Mary Thomas, who also had a career in professional communications, said the whole family is happy about the gift. “It has been great for us to see how important the university is for John,” she said. “He’s a testament to what Ole Miss can do for young people. It makes us feel good to be part of it.”

Gifts of all sizes are strengthening faculty support at Ole Miss. Individuals and organizations interested in providing a gift of any size to support faculty can send a check with the Barnard Initiative and academic area noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677; call the Office of University Development at 662-915-3937; or visit online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.