Miss University Pageant Set for Wednesday

Winner advances to Miss Mississippi competition next summer

Last year's Miss University contestants

Last year’s Miss University contestants

OXFORD, Miss. – Fourteen University of Mississippi students will vie for the title of Miss University 2015 at the 66th annual pageant Wednesday evening (Oct. 22) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts. The event is hosted by the Student Activities Association and the Ole Miss Student Union.

The winner will advance to the Miss Mississippi Scholarship Pageant in June 2015 in Vicksburg. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. Miss University pageant are available at the UM Box Office in the Student Union for $10 with an Ole Miss student ID and $15 to the general public.

The pageant will be emceed by Anna Beth Higginbotham, reigning Miss University, and Jasmine Murray, Miss Mississippi 2014. Entertainment will feature students from Hinge Dance Company as well as both Murray and Higginbotham. Besides performing her talent from Miss America, Murray will speak about her reign as Miss Mississippi and her experience preparing for Miss America.

All contestants participate in a private interview with a panel of five judges the day of the pageant. The interview counts as 25 percent of their score. That evening, each contestant competes in the talent competition, worth 35 percent, and swimwear, worth 15 percent. Contestants will also take part in the evening wear competition, worth 20 percent, and an on-stage interview, worth 5 percent. Judges score each contestant on a scale of 1 to 10 in each phase of competition.

The contestants participating in this year’s pageant are: France Beard of Madison; Morgan Lindsey Burnett of Brandon; Carol Coker of Blue Springs; Taylor Cos of Hoover, Alabama; Katri Gilbert of Bellevue, Washington; Mary Randall Ivy of Oxford; Emmaline Johnson of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Taylor-Alice Mays of Arab, Alabama; Jade Mixon of Greenville; Grace Myers of Austin, Texas; Katherine Rollins of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Ivey Swan of Hattiesburg; Dana Wesley of West Point; and Rachel Westmoreland of Kennesaw, Georgia.

For more information, contact Bradley Baker, director of the Ole Miss Student Union at 662-915-1044 or tbbaker@olemiss.edu.

Outstanding UM Fraternity Members Win National Awards

Gregory Alston, Anish Sharma and William Fowler recognized as outstanding leaders, scholars

Gregory Alston

Gregory Alston

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi students were presented awards this summer by their respective fraternities in categories such as outstanding leadership and academics.

Gregory Alston, a Hattiesburg native and former ASB president, was awarded the Sigma Chi Fraternity Balfour Award for the Eta chapter. Recognizing the fraternity’s most outstanding member, the award goes to only one member of each Sigma Chi Fraternity chapter each year.

“Sigma Chi has given so much to me, not only through the friendships that I have made but also through the leadership values that Sigma Chi instilled in me,” Alston said. “It is a true honor to represent my fraternity in this way, and I am very appreciative and thankful for this award.”

Anish Sharma

Anish Sharma

Anish Sharma of Greenwood was awarded the Sigma Nu Fraternity Man of the Year award, which recognizes excellence in leadership. He also won the Scholar of the Year based on outstanding academics. The Sigma Nu Fraternity recognizes only one member to receive each of these awards.

William Fowler, a native of Destin, Florida, and the Phi Delta Theta president, won the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity Arthur R. Priest award. This award recognizes the most outstanding undergraduate Phi Delta Theta in the nation.

“It is a great honor to accept this award on behalf of my family and the men of Phi Delta Theta Mississippi Alpha,” Fowler said. “I would also like to sincerely congratulate Anish and Gregory on their well-deserved recognitions.”

William Fowler

William Fowler

Alston and Sharma were inducted into the University of Mississippi 2013-2014 Hall of Fame. Sharma and Fowler served on Alston’s 2013-2014 ASB Cabinet.

Everybody’s Tent Invites All Ole Miss Students to Tailgate

Tent will be open four hours before kickoff for four home football games

Everybodys Tent

Everybody’s Tent, hosted by the Ole Miss Associated Student Body, will be set up at four Ole Miss football home games this fall.

Everybody’s Tent, hosted by the Ole Miss Associated Student Body, will be set up at four Ole Miss football home games this fall.

OXFORD, Miss. – Everybody’s Tent, hosted by the University of Mississippi Associated Student Body, is just that: a place where any Ole Miss student is a welcomed tent member.

Everybody’s Tent will be set up in the grass along the Student Union Plaza, tucked as close to the Walk of Champions arch as possible. Free food, nonalcoholic drinks and entertainment will be provided from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 13). The group started in 2013 as a student-led, student-organized tailgate and was born from a student’s desire to help make everyone feel welcome in the Grove.

“Everybody’s Tent serves our community by creating an inclusive, welcoming environment for people from all walks of life,” said William Fowler, a senior majoring in integrated marketing communications and one of the founding members of Everybody’s Tent. “Since last year, Everybody’s Tent has become a hub for fans navigating the Grove on game days.”

Alumni, faculty, staff and friends are also invited to stop by Everybody’s Tent to meet students and welcome newcomers to the Ole Miss family. Members of the ASB cabinet will be on hand to distribute the popular “I am a Rebel” stickers.

Everybody’s Tent will be in the Grove for the following games:

  • Louisiana-Lafayette, Sept. 13, 11a.m-2 p.m.
  • Memphis, Sept. 27, times TBA
  • Tennessee (Homecoming), Oct. 18, TBA
  • Auburn, Nov. 1, TBA

ASB also plans to have directors and presidents from various campus organizations stop by to talk with new students interested in getting involved in Ole Miss student groups.

The group appreciates donations to help Everybody’s Tent continue to grow. Four different levels of sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, visit http://dos.olemiss.edu/org/umasb/ or like them on Facebook.

For more information about Everybody’s Tent, contact Fowler at wdfowle1@go.olemiss.edu.

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.

Business Plan Competition Open to All UM Students

Teams invited to present best business plan for solving Mississippi's most pressing problems

Blake Wilson, President and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council; Robin Robertson, Director of Organization Development and Corporate Communications at Sanderson Farms, Inc. and on the Board of Trustees for IHL; Governor Phil Bryant; Dr. Albert Nylander, Director of the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community

Blake Wilson, President and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council; Robin Robertson, Director of Organization Development and Corporate Communications at Sanderson Farms, Inc. and on the Board of Trustees for IHL; Governor Phil Bryant; Dr. Albert Nylander, Director of the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community

OXFORD, Miss. – This fall, Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning has launched the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge, which asks students to develop and present business plans to solve one of Mississippi’s pressing social problems.

Each of Mississippi’s public universities will participate in the competition, which will culminate in a statewide competition to be held March 12, 2015 in the Capitol in Jackson.

The goal of this event is to encourage students to develop ideas for solving Mississippi’s problems while learning important lessons about planning, teamwork and presenting ideas. The challenge also will serve as a showcase of talent and skill level.

“Mississippi’s universities are hotbeds of innovation, and this exercise underscores the valuable contributions these institutions make to the entire state,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “These students are the leaders of tomorrow, and I know they are up to the task of developing creative ways to address any challenge that is put before them.”

At Ole Miss, the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement and the School of Business Administration are playing lead roles in organizing the competition. The campus competition is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 7 at Insight Park. Teams will include up to six students with one faculty adviser. Each team will designate a team captain and co-captain.

“I believe Mississippi’s university students are capable of creating innovative business ideas and plans needed to address some of the state’s most pressing issues,” said Albert Nylander, McLean Institute director. “Hopefully this challenge will provide an opportunity to transform their ideas into action. With support from the university, we expect to see excellent student business plans from campus.”

The deadline for on-campus applications is Oct. 29. Teams can apply by sending the names of their team members, including the faculty adviser, captain and co-captain, to socialbusiness@olemiss.edu.

Teams will submit a business plan, including up to five pages, and develop an interactive presentation. Full details regarding the competition are available online. The winning team from each campus advances to the state competition.

Judges will evaluate all presentations based on nine topics: the overall business plan, social problem chosen, their business solution, a market analysis, financial analysis, social impact, business viability, formal presentation, and question-and-answer ability.

The prize for first place team is $1,000, and the runner-up team will receive $500.

The IHL oversees all eight of the state’s public universities in one system to enhance the quality of life of Mississippians by meeting their diverse educational needs.

For more information on the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge, visit the McLean Institute’s website or contact Ryan Parsons at parsons@olemiss.edu.

Incoming Pharmacy Students Honored at White Coat Ceremony

Students recite Pledge of Professionalism at event

Dean David D. Allen congratulates Suman Ali on receiving her white coat at the Aug. 15 ceremony.

Dean David D. Allen congratulates Suman Ali on receiving her white coat at the Aug. 15 ceremony.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Class of 2018 participated in the school’s White Coat Ceremony Aug. 15 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The annual ceremony marks the students’ completion of their pre-pharmacy curriculum and entry into the professional program. The school has 120 first-professional-year students enrolled this fall.

“It is an honor to participate in our White Coat Ceremony,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “The event allows us to recognize our students’ commitment to professionalism and, in turn, recognize the commitment that the School of Pharmacy has to provide an innovative and quality education.”

Provost Morris Stocks delivered the ceremony’s keynote address.

“The White Coat Ceremony symbolizes the transition from pre-clinical to clinical education, but it also symbolizes much more,” Stocks told the students. “The bestowing of the white coat will serve as a reminder to you of the expectations that society has placed upon you. More specifically, it will serve as a reminder that you are embarking on a journey, and you are becoming a member of a profession that society holds to a high standard of trust and responsibility.”

Laurie Warrington Fleming, immediate past-president of the Mississippi Society of Health-System Pharmacists and clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, led the students in taking the Pledge of Professionalism. Leigh Ann Ross, the school’s associate dean for clinical affairs, presented each student with a copy of the pledge, which they each signed during the ceremony.

Allen and pharmacy student body president-elect Stephanie Sollis presented the coats. She urged her new classmates to be dedicated in all aspects of their education.

“You have all been dedicated in your studies by making it this far,” said Sollis, a native of Corning, Arkansas. “May the white coat remind you to continue that diligence in your studies to become the best pharmacists in the world. May the white coat also remind you to remain dedicated to the field of pharmacy. Strive to promote pharmacy, remain open to change and be willing to work to improve the profession.”

Stocks concluded by asking students to wear their white coats with “honor and humility,” while ensuring that the profession remains highly trusted by society.

For a list of the students (and their hometowns) who received their white coats, visit http://www.pharmacy.olemiss.edu/studentaffairs/whitecoat.html.

Three Incoming UM Freshmen Receive Carrier and Hill Scholarships

Scholars attracted to university's literary history, Honors College

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith

OXFORD, Miss. – Three freshmen entering the University of Mississippi this fall have received two of the university’s most prestigious scholarships in recognition of their exceptional academic and leadership records.

William Pate of Mooreville and Margaret “Maggie” Smith of Madison were selected for the Robert M. Carrier Scholarship, and Alison Turbeville of Jackson was selected for the Sally Vick Hill Scholarship. Both scholarship awards are valued at $10,000 per year for up to four years, for a total of $40,000.

Among the Mid-South’s oldest endowed scholarships, the Carrier was established in 1955 to “bring the state’s future leaders” to UM for “maximum scholastic and personal development.” Nominations for the award are made by UM admissions counselors, and trustees of the Robert M. and Lenore Carrier Foundation choose the recipients.

At Mooreville High School, Pate was named valedictorian and a National Merit Finalist. A four-year member of the Mississippi Lions All-State Band and an Eagle Scout, he was also named a Mississippi Economic Council All-Star Scholastic Scholar. Pate, who is the son of Mike and Nita Pate, plans to major in music education. He also plans to pursue performance opportunities playing the trumpet while teaching choir and band and hopes to go on to graduate school.

Will Pate

Will Pate

“I’m eager to dive into the honors program along with others who share my love for scholarship,” said Pate, who was attracted to the rigorous program offered by the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Smith, a graduate of St. Joseph High School and the daughter of Sam and Kate Smith, was drawn to Ole Miss for its rich literary history. An aspiring writer and English major, Smith was a recipient of the Scholastic Art & Writers Awards’ Gold Key and an American Voice Nominee, a member of the National Honor Society and mathematics honor society Mu Alpha Theta, as well as chapter president of the National English Honor Society. She was also a member of the high school swim team, theater and chorus group, and a lifeguard.

Like the Carrier Scholarships, the Sally Vick Hill Scholarship is designed to bring some of the state’s most accomplished students to the university.

Alison Tuberbville

Alison Turbeville

Turbeville is a graduate of Jackson Academy and the daughter of Karlen and Ben Turbeville of Jackson. A member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta and Chi Alpha Mu mathematics honor societies, she received the President’s Award for Educational Excellence and the Scott Branning Scholarship for personal integrity, respect for and sensitivity to others, and tenacity in dealing with circumstances in life.

Besides her sister and other family members attending the university, Turbeville cited the Honors College as a major reason for attending Ole Miss.

“I love Oxford and its people,” she said. “Ole Miss is a great school and environment, and I look forward to being independent and meeting new people in the fall.”

For more information about the Robert M. Carrier and the Sally Vick Hill scholarships at UM, visit http://finaid.olemiss.edu/scholarships.

Second UM Fulbright Scholar Named

Michael Shea plans to teach English, study literary and cultural connections in Argentina

Michael Shea

Michael Shea

OXFORD, Miss – Both a poet and a scholar, Michael Shea earned a Master of Fine Arts in May from the University of Mississippi. Now he is headed to Argentina as a 2014 Fulbright U.S. Student Award winner, the university’s second Fulbright Scholar of the year.

Shea will participate in the English Teaching Assistant program, which places Fulbright recipients in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETAs help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the United States.

A native of Clearwater, Florida, Shea is interested in the connections between Argentina and American literature and culture

“As a student of Spanish, it was the ability to contextualize my language skills through literature that allowed me to fully understand my new tongue,” Shea said.

With an English teaching assistantship to Argentina beginning in March 2015, Shea plans to establish a community poetry workshop where students will read poems by American poets and attempt to write their own works in English to encourage cross-cultural awareness and language acquisition.

“I hope to offer my students a similar experience by teaching English through poetry, while also fostering greater understanding between the two nations on a grass-roots level,” he said.

Shea also wants to establish a virtual reading series in which American poets will be invited to read their work via video chat programs to a live Argentine audience (and vice versa), creating an international dialogue.

This opportunity “will allow me to lay a strong foundation for future studies in global literature and translation,” Shea said.

“As a graduate student in our Master of Fine Arts program, Michael Shea has demonstrated a high level of talent, creativity and dedication,” said Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African-American Studies. “He’s been a model for our program and is extremely deserving of this distinguished honor.”

At UM, Shea was the senior editor of Yalobusha Review, the university’s literary journal, while coordinating the monthly Trobar Ric Reading Series.

In Argentina, Shea plans to seek out contemporary Argentine poets and translate their work into English, a project that will continue with the eventual goal of publication upon his return to the U.S. He also plans to pursue a doctorate in comparative literature, with a specialization in Pan-American poetics. Shea’s parents are Michael and Annie Shea of Clearwater.

“We are proud of Michael’s award and his vision and poetic sensibilities,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzales, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. “We hope that his sojourn in Argentina enables him to understand the depth of dilemmas facing humanity and that he retraces successfully the paths that the great Argentinian poets have trod.”

Shea is the university’s 14th Fulbright U.S. Student Award winner since 2000. Katie Shuford also won a Fulbright to Hungary this year. Last year, Ryan Ezelle won a Fulbright to serve as an English Teaching Assistant in the Dominican Republic.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Award are encouraged to contact Debra Young of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at onsa@olemiss.edu.

UM Students Get Hands-on Experience Digging in Rome

Classics department takes seven students on five-week dig at site dating to circa 600 B.C.

UM students Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch (left); Laura Dona, sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana; and Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, work at the S. Omobono field school in Rome. Photo by Hilary Becker.

UM students Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch (left); Laura Dona, sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana; and Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, work at the S. Omobono field school in Rome. Photo by Hilary Becker.

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of seven University of Mississippi students recently participated in an educational trip of a lifetime, five weeks of learning in Rome and helping with an archaeological dig at a site that dates to about 600 B.C.

Hilary Becker, UM assistant professor of classics, took the students to the Area Sacra di S. Omobono archaeological field school.

The multi-year excavation project is organized by the University of Michigan and the University of Calabria, under the aegis of the Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale. During the program, UM students were introduced to the methods of field archaeology, including excavation techniques, artifact processing and the latest in documentation technology, including three-dimensional modeling.

“I’m very proud of their contributions,” Becker said. “It’s a testament to their abilities that they arrived with basically no knowledge of field archaeology, but during the program they developed the skills and experience that allowed them to understand all the different facets of work at an archaeological excavation and also how to handle the different jobs. Sometimes, it’s hard to learn these skills out of a textbook, but being on site allows students to make lasting connections between the technique and the materials.”

The students dug near the Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill. The excavation site, which dates to 600 B.C., was utilized as a Roman sanctuary that remained in use for more than 800 years. It was eventually transformed into Christian churches, the latest of which still stands.

Since the site has been active for such a long time, there is a rich accumulation of artifacts and remains of many building phases. As a result, excavators have to dig to a depth of about 21 feet to reach some of the earliest materials.

“To able to see remains of the sixth century B.C. in Rome is difficult because the city is a continually occupied place,” Becker said. “Millions of people still live there and one cannot simply destroy what’s on top in order to see what lies beneath. There are only a few areas where archaeologists have been able to go that deep. We were extremely lucky to be working there.”

This is the first year the UM classics department has conducted any faculty-led trips abroad, said Molly Pasco-Pranger, associate professor and chair of classics who also brought six students to Rome for a 10-day course earlier this summer.

“We can give them a very strong foundation in the languages and in the history and the art and archaeology here on campus, but both getting to the site in Rome and seeing its topography and the remains in person is incredibly valuable,” she said. “Learning the theory of archaeology is one thing, but getting the dirt under your fingernails is another.”

Several students received financial support for their trip from the Mike and Mary McDonnell Endowment in Classics. They kept an Internet blog that chronicled their work in words and photos.

Laura Dona, a sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana, said being there was like “being able to reach behind the glass in a museum.”

“We were able to learn hands-on how archaeology is performed alongside amazing teachers,” Dona said. “It was an irreplaceable experience that taught me more in five weeks than I have learned in years.”

Zack Lawrence, a junior classics major from Tupelo, said, “S. Omobono taught me to understand what lies just below our feet and to probe what evidence there is in search for context, and I brought away a willingness to explore the unknown and to be unafraid to explore new ideas in search of answers.”

Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, said she learned more about the different areas of archaeology, including stratigraphy, zooarchaeology, topography, bioarchaeology, surveying and other skills. But the trips around Rome to other important excavation sites, as well as museums, were also inspiring.

“Overall, it was an unforgettable experience that I’m very glad I participated in,” Norton said. “Not only did I learn a lot more about archaeology and Roman history than I ever could in a classroom, I was able to get some real experience working in the archaeological field and found out it’s something I would like to continue doing.”

Andersen Marx, a senior history and classics major from Oxford, said the experience opened his eyes to possibilities in the field.

“The dig at S. Omobono taught me that one can interpret history not only through primary literary sources, but also through actual physical evidence,” Marx said. “After our stint at the excavation, I came to realize there is still more archaeological work available in Italy. There are still ruins and artifacts left to discover.”

The professionalism the UM students displayed while working at the site made an impression, said Mahmoud Samori, a doctoral student in ancient history at Brown University who was the field school’s area supervisor.

“I realized one morning towards the end of the field school that I’d felt all for the last hours as if I’d been digging with colleagues instead of students,” Samori said. “The student-teacher dynamic had evaporated, leaving only a handful of archaeologists excavating with a deadline. It was a great pleasure to excavate with the team from Ole Miss and I was proud to watch them transform from cautious students into confident archaeologists.”

Rome Group shot

UM students, from left: William Hudson, a junior chemical engineering and classics major from West Point; Andersen Marx, a senior history and classics major from Oxford; Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo; Zack Lawrence, a junior classics major from Tupelo; Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch; Mackenzie Breeland, a junior international studies, French and classics major from Ocean Springs; and Laura Dona, sophomore classics and anthropology major from Monroe, Louisiana. Photo by Hilary Becker.



UM Student Receives Udall Scholarship Honorable Mention

Kendall McDonald, a junior public policy major from Diamondhead, is among 50 national honorees

Kendall McDonald

Kendall McDonald

OXFORD, Miss. – Kendall McDonald , a public policy leadership major at the University of Mississippi who has worked on campus environmental issues while maintaining a 3.96 grade point average, recently was awarded a prestigious Udall Scholarship honorable mention.

McDonald, of Diamondhead, is a junior enrolled in the university’s Sally McDonell Barksdale Honors College and works as an intern in the Office of Campus Sustainability. She has helped operate the UM football game day recycling program, which involved establishing a new partnership with an international recycling company. She also oversaw the production of UM’s Green Week, including the construction of an 8-foot cube of waste educational exhibit.

She studies environmental issues, including participating in an experimental class about the lower Mississippi River. A member of Delta Gamma sorority, she is also active in campus environmental campaigns and “green” student groups.

“Being named an honorable mention to the Udall scholarship, which signifies the top 20 percent of applicants nationally, is very encouraging to me,” McDonald said. “It affirms that I am on the right path in pursuing environmental advocacy and it also places me within the larger network of Udall scholars and honorable mentions. I am so grateful for the support this network provides, and for the opportunity and assistance provided by the Office of National Scholarship Advisement.”

McDonald is the daughter of James Steven McDonald, of Lexington, Kentucky, and Shellye McDonald, of Diamondhead. She is the university’s third student to be recognized by the Udall Foundation. Taylor Cook was named a Udall Scholar in 2012 and Alecia Waite was named a Udall Scholar in 2008.

This year, the Udall Foundation’s 14-member independent review committee picked 50 students from 47 colleges out of more 489 candidates nominated to make up the 2014 scholars class. The foundation, which was established by Congress in 1992, makes its selections based on the students’ commitment to careers in the environment, American Indian health care or tribal public policy, leadership potential, academic achievement and record of public service. Scholars received up to $5,000 for tuition, room and board or other educational expenses. The committee also awarded 50 honorable mentions and those students receive access to the Udall Alumni Network.

McDonald’s application for the Udall Scholarship was supported by UM faculty members and employees, who wrote letters endorsing McDonald’s achievements.

Anne McCauley, UM assistant director of the Office of Sustainability, said McDonald is deserving of the recognition.

“Kendall McDonald is a talented individual who I have truly enjoyed working with and getting to know,” McCauley said. “Though she is intelligent, creative and a natural leader, she is humble and service-oriented. I trust her to represent the Office of Sustainability when she meets with student groups as well as staff members on campus. She has proven herself as capable as a professional colleague, which is exactly how I regard her.”

Joseph “Jody” Holland, UM assistant professor of public policy, said that as one of his students, McDonald completed an extensive research project that examined the barriers and opportunities for building recycling plants in Mississippi. But McDonald is also a well-rounded student who does more than just focus on work in the classroom, Holland said.

“She exemplifies a well-rounded student, who participates in multiple areas of service work on campus and in the community,” he said. “While being a full-time student, Kendall has volunteered for nine service projects over the years at Ole Miss and around the community. Her efforts are constantly focused around environmental policy and contemporary policies issues. As a student worker, she has work closely with the Office of Sustainability in many capacities. Even with that, she still maintains her academic performance as a top scholar.”

David Rutherford, UM associate professor of public policy and geography and executive director of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance, said McDonald is “an outstanding student but is also committed to work that improves the planet’s environment at local to global scales.”

“One of my classes in which Kendall enrolled is titled ‘Global Environmental Issues,’ and she demonstrated a strong desire to understand these issues and earned an A for the course,” Rutherford said. “Her performance in the course not only demonstrated high-level skills in reading, understanding and writing but also showed her insightful thinking about contemporary issues and her discerning identification of action steps needed to develop solutions.”