MBA Students Sharpen Business Skills for Case Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UM Students Chosen to Perform with the Best in the Business

Dance and theatre students get opportunity to collaborate with David Dorfman Dance Company

David Dorfman spends time with UM students at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts earlier this semester.

David Dorfman spends time with UM students at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts earlier this semester.

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of 11 University of Mississippi students is set to perform an original 15-minute dance piece as part of David Dorfman Dance Company’s show “Prophets of Funk” at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts.

The collaboration is part of Ford Center’s programs in conjunction with the South’s Arts’ Dance Touring Initiative. The show is at 7 p.m. April 9. Tickets are $33 each and are available by calling the UM Box Office at 662-915-7411 or online. Special pricing is available for UM faculty, staff, students and retirees. Proper ID is required, and the number of discounted tickets is limited.

In January, dancers from David Dorfman Dance spent three days with Ole Miss dance and theatre students. Jennifer Mizenko, UM professor of theatre arts, says she is grateful to Norm Easterbrook, Ford Center director, for writing the grant that allowed this project to happen. The chance to construct choreography that will be incorporated into a professional performance is a first for the students and for Mizenko.

“What is unique about this opportunity is that the work is actually an extension of a piece the David Dorfman Company will be performing, and we will be performing with this professional company at the Ford Center,” Mizenko said. “It is always exciting to have a guest artist come in and set a work on the students, and we are excited for be a part of the whole production process, from rehearsal, to tech to performance in early April.”

The David Dorfman Dance Company was founded in 1985 and has performed in North and South America, Great Britain and Europe, while being based in New York. David Dorfman and the company’s dancers and collaborators have been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, three New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, an American Choreographer’s Award, the first Paul Taylor Fellowship from The Yard, and eight New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Awards.

“Prophets of Funk” has been performed 34 times in 24 venues, including The Joyce Theatre in New York, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival and a six-night sold-out run at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Beckett, Mass.

The students are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with a professional dance troupe, said David McKell, a freshman from Starkville who is part of the UM dance company.

“I feel that it is a wonderful opportunity not only to further our skills as dancers, but also to meet some wonderful people who are in the business,” McKell said. “It has been a wonderful learning opportunity. Everybody we met has been very willing to give advice and tell stories, which creates a wonderful atmosphere.”

Associated Student Body Inaugurates New Leaders

Newly elected 2014-15 Ole Miss Associated Student Body Officers

Newly elected 2014-15 Ole Miss Associated Student Body Officers

OXFORD, Miss.—With the outgoing members passing the torch, the 2014-2015 officers of the Associated Student Body at the University of Mississippi were installed Tuesday in a ceremony at the Lyceum.

The newly elected student leaders are Davis Rogers of Jackson, president; Emerson George of Tallahassee, Fla., vice president; Heather Neilson of Oxford, secretary; Madison White of Tuscaloosa, Ala., treasurer; Jared Akers of Brandon, judicial council chair; and Kelly Savage of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., attorney general.

Several noted past Ole Miss ASB officials are state senators Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, as well as former governor Haley Barbour.

Rogers, a junior in physics and biology, and George, a junior in political science and business, both addressed the audience, vowing to lead the administration and student body in making all students feel a part of Ole Miss.

“I feel confident knowing that so many members of this University, including students, administration, and families, care and place emphasis on the betterment of this campus,” said Rogers, who was impressed by the turnout,  “I am honored with the ability to represent the student body, and I look forward to the many positive changes we strive to make in uniting this Ole Miss family. ”

“I am extremely honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve the university through the position of ASB Secretary,” said Neilson, a junior in both nursing and integrated marketing communications. “Looking over and seeing the outgoing officials today allowed all of us to see what big shoes we have to fill.  I am thrilled to get to serve with the five others elected and know that each of us are going to strive daily to make this university a greater place than it already is.”

White, a junior in accountancy, was excited after having served as the interim treasurer for several months. “I am looking forward to working with a new group of people to make our university even better.”

“The inauguration yesterday brought to life a sense of responsibility and due diligence, that I have been waiting and preparing for over the previous month and a half,” said Akers, a junior in biochemistry,  “Overall, I am excited to see what we newly elected officers are able to accomplish throughout this term.”

Savage, a sophomore in broadcast journalism and Integrated marketing communications, was honored to be a part of the process and to serve in the role of attorney general, the only female to do so in the last seven years.

“I understand the expectations of leadership that the University community has for all of the newly elected officials,” said Savage,  “As a freshman on campus, I looked up to the ASB leaders as examples of some of the most honorable Ole Miss students, and I am humbled to have the same opportunity.”

UM Pack-A-Thon Prepares More than 153,000 Meals to Fight Child Hunger

Annual event, held in conjunction with Feed the Hunger, drew more than 500 volunteers, raised $42,000

Ole Miss Students and members of the Oxford community help fill individual food bags to send to Kenya.  Over the past 4 years, Feed the Hunger has filled almost half a million bags in Oxford alone.

Ole Miss Students and members of the Oxford community help fill individual food bags to send to Kenya. Over the past 4 years, Feed the Hunger has filled almost half a million bags in Oxford alone.

OXFORD, Miss – The University of Mississippi community packed some 153,840 meals the weekend of Feb. 28-March 1 during Pack-A-Thon, a community service program organized by Feed the Hunger organization. The meals will be sent to Kenya to feed malnourished children.

Nearly 560 faculty, staff, students and members of the Oxford community – including a team of current students and recent graduates of the School of Business Administration – packed 140,000 meals during the weekend event at the university’s Jackson Avenue Center. The meals are enough to feed 641 children for an entire school year.

The business school team, co-chaired by Casey Hice, a senior education major from Newnan, Ga., and Kate Redding, a senior marketing major from Alexandria, Va., also raised $42,300 to support the effort. Hice and Redding said they have been part of the event since their freshman year, and in 2011 went to Haiti to donate meals they helped pack.

UM was the first college to participate in the annual event, and Ole Miss volunteers have packed more than 500,000 meals to support Feed the Hunger, or FTH, since 2011, they said.

Melinda Staples, FTH director of projects, was pleased with the university’s contribution to the success of this year’s efforts.

“Shout this information throughout the university and the community!” Staples said. “This is a great accomplishment and one I hope that Ole Miss and Oxford will continue to do in the years to come.”

Feed the Hunger provides rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables and vitamin powder to hungry children. These foods are donated by individuals and groups and packaged by volunteers during their food collection event, Pack-A-Thon.

According to UNICEF, a child dies of starvation every 3.6 seconds. These children are not only hungry for food, but other basic things such as good health care, education and protection from harm, lack of which is detrimental to a child’s emotional and spiritual being.

In view of this, FTH gives spiritual food: the word of God to those who have need of it.

“We partner with strategic Christian leaders around the world and come alongside of them to help them meet the spiritual and physical hunger in the needy and the lost,” Staples said. “FTH equips these leaders to feed spiritual hunger with tools like Bibles, community centers or church buildings, bicycles and micro-enterprise projects.”

The meals will be sent to Nairobi, Kenya, where FTH has a warehouse, and the money raised will be used to pay for the food ingredients and shipping costs, she said.

“Currently, we feed about 1,055 children a day in Kenya; children in the Kawangware slums and Kibera slums (the worst in the world), children in the Pokot region (heavy tribal fighting) and children in the South Horr and Lake Turkana region (tribal fighting),” Staples said.

Feed the Hunger is a 501(c) 3 organization founded in 1968 by J.L. Williams and his wife, Patt. It started as New Direction Ministries, became New Directions International and then Feed the Hunger. The organization feeds more than 8,200 children each day worldwide.

FTH feeds two categories of people: those who are hungry to be fed and those who are hungry to feed others. Olivia Rearick, a senior in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media from Glen Ellyn, Ill., who volunteered at this year’s Pack-A-Thon, said she is glad she contributed to feeding hungry children.

“It felt rewarding to volunteer in the pack-a-thon for the third time,” Rearick said. “Each year, it gets bigger and that makes me so happy.”

To the Ole Miss community, Staples said, “Thank you so much for making the event great. Lives are changed because of you; not only lives in Kenya but also the people that came to pack. You did it. Congratulations!”

Spring Concert Change

Nelly to headline Grove concert on Friday, April 4

Grammy Award-winning artist Nelly will headline the Spring Concert in the Grove on Friday, April 4 at 8:30 p.m.

Grammy Award-winning artist Nelly will headline the Spring Concert in the Grove on Friday, April 4 at 8:30 p.m.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Student Activities Association welcomes Grammy Award-winning artist Nelly to the Grove on Friday, April 4, at 8:30 p.m. A native of St. Louis, Mo., Nelly’s latest album “M.O.” was released in 2013. His chart-topping hits have included “Country Grammar,” “Hot in Herre,” and “#1.” His recent hits include “Hey Porsche” and “Cruise” with the country group Florida Georgia Line. He has also been featured on-screen in The Longest Yard and C.S.I.: NY. He is currently ranked as the fourth best-selling rap artist in American music history by RIAA and has sold more than 21 million albums.

Due to a death in the family, Jason Derulo, who was originally scheduled to appear, will not perform.

Joining Nelly are special guests Travis Porter and Fly Panda. The concert is free and open to the University community and guests.

For more information or assistance related to a disability, please contact the Ole Miss Student Union at (662)915-1044 or

Each performer’s publicity information is listed below:


Twitter: @Nelly_MO


Instagram: @Derrtymo


Travis Porter

Twitter: @TravisPorter



Fly Panda

Twitter: @FlyPandaFly



Inaugural Kevser Ermin Memorial Lecture to Focus on Bone Health

Noted researcher Kathleen Janz to speak April 3


Kesver Ermin Memorial Lecture

OXFORD, Miss. – The first Kevser Ermin Memorial Lecture in Health and Kinesiology, set for Thursday (April 3) at the University of Mississippi, will focus on the relationship between physical activity and bone health.

Kathleen Janz, a professor of community health and exercise physiology at the University of Iowa, will speak about jump-starting bone health at 7 p.m. in Bondurant Hall, Room 204C. The event is free and open to the public.

Scott Owens, UM associate professor of exercise science, said he is thrilled that undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty have an opportunity to interact with noted researchers in exercise and health fields through the memorial lecture.

“Dr. Kathleen Janz is an internationally recognized exercise physiologist with a wide -ranging research background in the importance of physical activity and health,” Owens said. “Most recently, she has been focusing on the relationship between physical activity and bone health in young people.”

Janz has been a lead researcher with the Iowa Bone Development Study since 2001. Her recent work has also focused on electronic monitoring of physical activity.

Kevser Ermin, an accomplished doctoral student at Ole Miss, is remembered for her tragic death while cycling near Oxford in October 2011. An academic, athlete and volunteer, Ermin was a daughter, sister, wife and aunt who cherished her family, both in Oxford and back in her native Turkey.

UM Programs Drive Record Freshman Retention Rates

Michelle Obama called for better student support programs, many of which already exist at UM

New UM freshmen practice 'Locking the Vaught' at the Class of 2016 Kick-Off Picnic Sunday evening in the Grove.  Photo by Nathan Latil - Ole Miss Communications

New UM freshmen practice ‘Locking the Vaught’ at the Class of 2016 Kick-Off Picnic Sunday evening in the Grove. Photo by Nathan Latil – Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – While many U.S. universities are losing 20 percent to 30 percent of their freshmen each year, the University of Mississippi is gaining attention for a revamped program that is helping 85.6 percent of its freshmen stay in college.

The high rate of college dropouts has prompted the Obama administration and experts across the country to look for ways to improve retention. In fact, the president has called for initiatives that in some cases are already in place at UM, where freshman retention rates have improved from about 81 percent to 85.6 percent since the creation of the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience.

The center’s director, Kyle Ellis, characterized the nearly five-point jump in freshman retention this year as “phenomenal.” Tailoring its work to the needs of each student has been the single biggest driver behind those record rates.

“Years of research with our freshmen revealed that the most common reasons for a freshmen to drop out are financial, social fit (friendships and homesickness), health and academics,” Ellis said. “And within each of those challenges are as many different issues as there are students. To be effective, the solution must be customized one-to-one for each student, and the problems must be identified early enough in the semester to avert disaster on the semester report.”

For many years, student retention efforts existed in parts within several different departments across campus. Last year, many of these programs were combined within the new center and a committee was formed to better coordinate all first-year programs and collaborate on piloting new ideas.

The center provides academic advising to about 80 percent of the freshman class, as well as undeclared students, and also coordinates several first-year student experience initiatives. It also has resources for veterans and members of the military, among other services.

The center’s leadership cites the new first-year experience course, EDHE 105, as a significant factor in the success of the program. The lesson plan and 391-page text for this course were developed entirely by university faculty and staff.

Representatives of the center coordinate with all UM academic departments and faculty, the dean’s offices, the Department of Student Housing, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the Office of Financial Aid, among others, to ensure they identify student problems early and provide individual support.

“We’re really lucky in this university and this learning community to have support so broadly for these initiatives,” said Dewey Knight, associate director of the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience. “From the chancellor to the provost, to the deans, to all the Student Affairs workers, there is a culture that says this is something we need to do. This is something that is important to our students.”

Recently, first lady Michelle Obama issued a letter calling for better support systems for gifted students who might not have the financial means or built-in support networks to help them succeed in college. She used the example of young man named Troy, who was from New Orleans and survived Hurricane Katrina. Troy didn’t originally like school but blossomed during his high school years and now studies at Bard College. The first lady noted many colleges are taking steps to make sure these students graduate, but more need to join the efforts. She called for programs similar to many already in place at UM.

“These kinds of programs aren’t just good for these young people,” Obama wrote. “They’re good for all of us. Because after everything these kids will have overcome to get to college – and get through college – they’ll have all the skills they need to thrive in our businesses, and law firms, and labs. And that’s not just good for them and their families, it’s good for their communities and our country.”

Ellis and Knight point to the Ole Miss Opportunity scholarship program, in which a coordinator will be hired to work with students from freshman year through graduation, and the StudentsFIRST program, which is tailored for first-generation college students, as examples of initiatives the first lady is calling for that already exist here.

At UM, the Center of Student Success is just one of several departments with the goal of helping more first-year students succeed.

The FASTrack program, housed at Ventress Hall, is a learning community for first-year students that divides them into “cohorts” of 20 students or less, in which they take three classes together during the fall semester and three more during the spring. This helps build a sense of community and support from peers. Those FASTrack students typically get to know one other well and also study and socialize with one other.

The program has grown from 25 students in 2007, which was its first year, to 330 students in this academic year, said Stephen Monroe, assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Monroe heads up the FASTrack program.

“All students need a sense of community and support during the first year of college,” Monroe said. “FASTrack provides this foundation to students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Our students are responding with hard work and solid academic achievement.”

Each year, UM also awards 75 Luckyday scholarships, which range from $2,000 to $5,000 annually. In conjunction with that, there’s also the Luckyday Success Program, which assists students during their transition from high school to college. Luckyday is built on the idea that a strong foundation during the first year of college is the key to being successful at a university.

Scholars meet individually with the Luckyday staff every two weeks to talk about any academic issues or social problems they may be experiencing, said Senora Miller Logan, assistant director of Luckyday programs. This has helped retention efforts.

“In a relationship where (students have) built trust with us, they can talk freely about these issues and therefore those things won’t become an obstacle in their academic performance, and they can stay in college,” Miller Logan said. “A lot of the situations we discuss with them can be fixed easily, but to young people, those issues feel like the biggest thing in the world. Really, what they need is just someone they trust and can talk to to work those thought processes out.”

UM Family Law Moot Court Team Wins National Title

Win marks school's second championship this year

Student Coach Rhodes Berry, Eric Duke, Trey Lyons and Professor and Coach Sam Davis

Student Coach Rhodes Berry, Eric Duke, Trey Lyons and Professor and Coach Sam Davis

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law won its second national moot court championship this year, this time in family law. The win was secured March 1 by second-year students Trey Lyons and Eric Duke at the Gabrielli National Moot Court Competition at Albany Law School in New York.

The student pair defeated a team from Seton Hall School of Law in the final round. More than 20 other schools participated, including the LSU School of Law, Florida State University School of Law, New York Law School and Wake Forest.

“The family law national championship demonstrates concretely the depth of talent we have at the law school: many students capable of top-flight advocacy,” said Matthew Hall, senior associate dean for academic affairs and faculty adviser to the moot court board. “But it also shows the institutional commitment we have made to the students; we have multiple professors dedicated to providing students with the time and expertise needed to prepare for success on the national stage.”

For the competition, the students argue unresolved issues in family law by submitting a brief and through oral arguments the weekend of the competition.

Two preliminary rounds proceeded eliminations, and the 16 teams with the highest scores (50 percent brief and 50 percent oral argument) advanced. Scoring for the semifinals was based on 90 percent judges’ score and 10 percent brief score, and the finals were based solely upon the judges’ votes.

“We knew we had to beat them (Seton Hall) flat-out in oral argument,” Lyons said. “These judges and justices who judged the competition actually wrote the opinions of these cases. They were the absolute best captive audience you could hope for.”

The students were coached by Sam Davis, professor of law and Jamie L. Whitten chair of law and government. A handful of others helped the team, including Hall; Debbie Bell, associate dean for clinical programs; Jack Nowlin, associate dean for faculty development; and Scott DeLeve, public services law librarian. Rhodes Berry, the Moot Court Board’s appellate advocacy chair and a third-year student, also helped and accompanied the team to New York.

“I am extremely proud of them,” Davis said. “Rhodes deserves much of the credit because of his hard work, as well as the faculty members who did practice rounds.”

The competition honors the late Associate Judge Domenick L. Gabrielli of the New York State Court of Appeals, who supported moot court advocacy for many years.

“I know the single most important thing to take away from this is the way I present myself in the courtroom,” said Lyons, of Mooreville. “Dean Hall told us the best way you can ever win is by a hair’s worth of difference, not by being a bulldog. I learned he’s absolutely right.”

The School of Law’s Environmental Law Moot Court team also won its third national championship in four years this year at the Pace Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in White Plains, N.Y.

Public Policy Leadership Students Invited to Present at Conferences

Four UM juniors preparing to share their research, conclusions at national meetings

Alexandra Pena

Alexandra Pena

OXFORD, Miss. – Dynamic teachers and students who stretch their minds beyond their comfort zones are a winning combination at the University of Mississippi.

Such a match has produced four public policy leadership majors who have been invited to present papers at national conferences this spring. The papers were required writing last semester in the class PPL 300: Ethics and Public Policy, taught by award-winning faculty member Eric T. Weber.

Enrolled in the Lott Leadership Institute, the high-performing students are juniors in the College of Liberal Arts. They are Christine Dickason of Collierville, Tenn., Alexandra Pena of Washington, D.C., Rob Pillow of Madison and Will Reynolds of Ozark, Mo.

Dickason and Reynolds are slated for Eastern Michigan University’s fourth annual Undergraduate Conference in Philosophy, set for March 8-9, and Pena and

Rob Pillow

Rob Pillow

Pillow will present April 12 at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Undergraduate Conference.

Weber, associate professor of public policy leadership, says he’s not surprised when one or two of his students receive this kind of recognition, but four from the same course is unusually exciting.

“They’re great students, first of all, and they worked through an ‘intro-project’ process, in which they were tasked with planning their papers and getting feedback at an early stage,” he said. “They also picked practical and important topics to which our material clearly connected.”

Provost Morris Stocks applauded both Weber and his students for their success.

“I congratulate these outstanding students for their excellence and the national recognition they have achieved for themselves and the University of Mississippi,” Stocks said. “I also commend Dr. Weber for his enthusiasm and passion for teaching, a combination that empowers and inspires students to reach beyond the norm. This is truly another example of excellence at this university.”

Will Reynolds

Will Reynolds

Glenn Hopkins, dean of liberal arts, agreed.

“We are always pleased when the combined efforts of our faculty and students put the University of Mississippi on the national stage,” Hopkins said. “I congratulate Dr. Weber for guiding these exceptional students to this academic opportunity, and I have no doubt that they will be impressive representatives for us all.”

Pena’s research examined the federal public policy debate, including philosophical issues, related to the legalization of marijuana, defending her view that legalization is unethical. She credits her professor’s teaching style for helping her produce a paper worthy of recognition.

“It was a difficult class where you definitely needed to try hard, but Dr. Weber was always there to offer support,” she said. “His intro-project approach to writing was one example of a challenge, but I learned a new way to think and write about public policy.”

Christine Dickason

Christine Dickason

Each of these students has the potential for “great careers as writers, commentators and/or policy analysts and advocates,” Weber said.

Dickason, a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a finalist for the national Truman Scholars program, already is making her mark as a published writer. She has had more than 10 opinion pieces published in UM’s The Daily Mississippian, and one of her articles appeared in the online magazine CampusProgress and was republished in The Nation national magazine.

In her PPL class paper, titled “America’s Schools: Separate and Unequal,” Dickason concludes that “the government must intervene to ensure that America’s children attend school together.”

“I explored theories about the individual, justice and democracy from influential philosophers, such as Dewey, Kant and Aristotle, to determine if racial integration in public schools is a moral necessity,” she said.

Pillow’s research also considers the public education dilemma.

“My paper is about the moral consequences of a segregated school system and its effects on the learning process,” he said. “Basically, years later (since integration) we still have segregated schools, only it’s not enforced by man’s law but rather by natural and economic laws. I cite many philosophical and ethical theories in an attempt to present the problem in a new light.”

Reynolds chose to research moral theories about liberty, basing his study on the “harm principle,” a political theory attributed to John Stuart Mill, a 19th-century British philosopher, economist and moral and political theorist. The theory is relevant to topics such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy proposal to ban the sale of many sweetened drinks.

“Mill outlined that the acceptable use of government coercion should be only to prevent harm to others, which has come to be known as the harm principle,” Reynolds said. “I chose this topic because the principle provides the basis of much of libertarian philosophy, and I am very much interested in the workings of libertarianism.”

Reynolds said he is “extremely excited” at having been chosen to present his paper at the conference and considers the experience as another step in his career preparation.

“I am hoping to one day work in the government relations department of a private company,” he said. “Ole Miss has consistently provided a high-quality education that is necessary for me to achieve my career goals.”

Dickason, too, expects her conference exposition to boost her career expectations.

“It will be an incredible opportunity for me to network with peers and learn from the critiques that I will receive from scholars at the conference,” she said.

Following graduation in spring 2015, Dickason plans to complete a master’s degree in public policy.

“I hope to be able to craft and influence education policy on a national scale that will work to remedy the inequality perpetuated within the existing education system,” she said.

A member of the Honors College, Pena also hopes to make a difference on a broad scale. Her long-term goal is to move back to D.C. and work for the government to help shape agriculture policy as it relates to food and nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

“It’s an awesome confidence booster that my paper has been chosen for presentation,” she said. “I have dyslexia, and school has never been easy, but this really shows me that if you try hard and work at it, you can be just as good as anyone else.”

Pillow said he is “honored and excited” to be an invited conference speaker, an opportunity that takes him closer to his long-term career goal. He hopes to become an economic adviser to address social and economic problems at the grass-roots level, including struggling towns in the Mississippi Delta.

Weber, who joined UM in 2007, received the College of Liberal Arts Cora Lee Graham Outstanding Teacher of Freshmen Award in 2011, followed in 2012 by the prestigious, campuswide Frist Student Service Award. He has published three books, with a fourth under way, and he is executive director of the Society for Philosophers in America, among numerous other achievements.

For more information, visit

UM Pharmacy Student Advances to National Competition

Kayla Snow to attend APhA's National Patient Counseling Competition in March

Kayla Snow

Kayla Snow

OXFORD, Miss. – After winning a local patient counseling competition sponsored by the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists, a University of Mississippi pharmacy student will advance to a national competition later this month.

Kayla Snow, an Okolona native in her second professional year of pharmacy school, will attend APhA’s annual meeting March 28-31 in Orlando, where the next level of competition takes place.

“I was so excited to find out that I had won and would have the opportunity to advance,” she said.

Held last fall, the local competition provided students with different counseling scenarios. Participants were given a prescription and 10 minutes to research the drug. Their resulting performances were videotaped and judged equally on content and presentation.

“Kayla did a stellar job performing in the local competition,” said pharmacy administration doctoral student Joseph A. Dikun, the APhA-ASP chapter’s co-adviser. “She delivered a clear, poised and professional counseling session among a field of worthy competitors. I was impressed with her ability to maintain control of the counseling session, always ensuring to deliver the most appropriate counseling points without forgetting the importance of being understanding and empathetic.”

Through this experience, Snow said she had learned how integral patient counseling is in the pharmacy profession.

“It’s so important to be able to effectively communicate and establish trust with a patient,” she said. “Counseling is a perfect opportunity to have a conversation with patients to equip them with the knowledge they need while also showing genuine care.”

Snow is using the skills lab in which she is enrolled to help prepare for the national competition.

“Practicing is the key to feeling prepared,” Snow said. “Each week, I have to prepare notes for patient counseling in our skills lab. This is so beneficial because I am constantly being exposed to new classes of medications and have to think about the best way to approach a new counseling session.”

Snow has a “great opportunity to shine” at the national competition, Dikun said.

“(Kayla’s) ability to speak to patients at their level will serve her well as she represents the School of Pharmacy at the national competition and in her future endeavors,” he said. “I, among others, look forward to working with Kayla over the next few weeks to assist her in preparing for the competition.”