UM Class Analyzes New York In Film

Honors College class meets with cinema professionals, explores New York movie sites

Elizabeth Romary, a sophomore international studies major from Greenville, North Carolina, met actor Ethan Hawke at St. Bart’s Cathedral in New York where Hawke’s documentary “Seymour: An Introduction” was screened. Romary, who was in New York with her Honors College class, attended the event on her own time.

Elizabeth Romary, a sophomore international studies major from Greenville, North Carolina, met actor Ethan Hawke at St. Bart’s Cathedral in New York, where Hawke’s documentary ‘Seymour: An Introduction’ was screened. Romary, who was in the city with her Honors College class, attended the event on her own time.

OXFORD, Miss. – Few places become the backdrop for films as much as New York, and a University of Mississippi class traveled there during spring break to better understand how the city is portrayed in movies.

The 300-level class, taught by Alan Arrivée, assistant professor of cinema, and Timothy Yenter, assistant professor of philosophy, is made up of Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students. The class covers the portrayal of the city, from the early days of film in the 1920s to the years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The idea was to not only have students watch the films together, but talk about them and read what people from a wide variety of disciplines have to say,” Yenter said. “We want to see what novelists have to say, what film critics have to say and what film scholars and historians of culture have to say. We’re reading widely in order to get a sense of what others have brought to the discussion and also what we can bring to it.”

The class examines why so many films are set in the Big Apple. The representations of race and class in different genres is also part of the curriculum. The professors encourage students to reflect on whether they see themselves represented in the films and whether they see places they recognize.

“The two most obvious things that have come up in class are questions of how is space represented as being in New York City and in what way New York is represented as it was during the time of filming,” Arrivée said. “We also want to know in what way was New York artificially constructed to serve the plot, the theme and the goals of the filmmakers. Then, on top of it all, what incredible changes have taken place in the reality of the city over the course of the films we are studying.”

The Honors College provided funding for the course and the trip. It also funded another class this semester, which explored ethical issues surrounding antiquities and which also went to New York during spring break. The two special topics classes were the fruit of proposals for classes submitted by professors.

The Honors College tried the concept in 2013, and the winning proposal focused on the World Cup. Six Honors College students traveled to Brazil for the event in 2014.

Experiential classes are an excellent opportunity for students, said John Samonds, associate dean of the Honors College. 

“They not only saw New York and screened various films while they were up there, but they also met with film directors and others involved in the industry,” Samonds said. “We’re always so excited to be able to support endeavors like this. This kind of opportunity is one of many characteristics about the Honors College that we think makes this a very vibrant and attractive honors college.”

Rachael Cooper, a junior English major from Olive Branch, said the class has given her the chance to watch and analyze great films such as “On The Town” and “His Girl Friday,” which she might not have seen on her own. And the chance to see the places they were filmed has been invaluable.

“The New York trip allowed me to conduct hands-on research for my final project and also give me free time to explore the city and see some landmarks and locations from film and television,” Cooper said. “I think you develop a new appreciation for the famous and lesser known spaces in the city made famous by the films once you’ve had a chance to stand in those spaces yourself and see how huge, or tiny, they are in reality.”

Sean O’Hara, a junior computer science major from Jackson, said what stood out to him on the trip was the powerful attraction people have to the city and how that force pulls them to move there.

“For me, it was the interplay between the magnetic and idiosyncratic qualities of the city,” O’Hara said. “Almost everyone I met on the trip was from somewhere other than New York, but some unifying thread seemed to have brought them all together. I relate to that in many ways, and I think it’s just an innate quality of New York in that it embodies this perfect mess of society. It’s this ultimate icon for America’s beautifully random hodgepodge of people and culture.”

D.T. Shackelford and Darryail Whittington Win 2015 Sullivan Awards

UM McLean Institute honors student-athlete and alumnus alongside Chancellor Dan Jones

University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones, student Deterrian Shackelford and alumnus Darryail Whittington were named 2015 recipients fo the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

UM Chancellor Dan Jones, student Deterrian Shackelford and alumnus Darryail Whittington were named 2015 recipients fo the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi has named student-athlete Deterrian Shackelford and alumnus Darryail Whittington the winners of its 2015 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

They were honored with Chancellor Dan Jones on Tuesday (April 14) afternoon at the Celebration of Service at the Inn at Ole Miss.

The Sullivan Award is the university’s highest honor in recognition of students, alumni and community members who distinguish themselves with selfless service to others.

“Recognizing and celebrating service is crucial to the mission of the McLean Institute, which supports transformation through service,” said Albert Nylander, McLean Institute director. “The Sullivan Award is an opportunity to honor students and community members who have made our community a better place because of their humble service to others.”

Shackelford, a graduate student from Decatur, Alabama, is active in the community, often speaking to community, school and church groups. He has also helped locally in fundraising for cancer research and helped lead efforts to fight hunger.

A linebacker for the Ole Miss Rebels football team, Shackelford has led two mission trips, one to Haiti and another to Panama. He has been a two-time member of the SEC Community Service Team and was the 2014 recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy, an award given to the FBS football player exhibiting exemplary community service.

Shackelford said he lives his life by trying to put other people before himself.

“It is always good to look at others before you look at yourself,” he exlpained. “That’s often missed in today’s society.”

Shackelford added that he returned from his mission trips with a new perspective.

“When you realize what America has, it’s a blessing,” he said. “I was able to see those people smile in the midst of despair and place value on the little things in life. Their joy system is on a whole other level. Now, I try to look at the joy in every situation. I expected to encourage them, but they encouraged me.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in higher education from UM and continues to take graduate courses.

Whittington has provided decades of service to the Lafayette-Oxford-University community, but helping others was ingrained in him at a young age.

“I grew up in a small community in south Mississippi,” he said. “When we saw or heard of anyone in our community who needed help, or drove by and saw that they were involved in a big project, we would stop and lend a hand.

“When my Dad was building our home, all of my uncles, cousins and neighbors would simply arrive, without being asked, ready to work. Not only were they ready to work, but when the lunch hour arrived, there would be food waiting for all, provided not only by my family, but by neighbors from around the community. There was always hard work to do, but it was working together that made our small community better.”

Whittington was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Oxford for more than 20 years, receiving the Kiwanian of the Year Award and the Legion of Honor Award. He has been a member of the board of trustees for the Oxford-Lafayette County Library for more than 30 years and a founding member of the Oxford-Lafayette Long-Term Recovery Committee, a group that provides assistance to families after natural disasters. Whittington is also a member of a similar organization, the Lafayette County Medical Reserve Corps, which provides training and education for health and environmental emergencies.

He began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity 30 years ago and has been involved in the construction of seven of the 14 Habitat homes in Lafayette County. Following his retirement from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in 2007, Whittington also helped as local facilitator of Mothers Against Drunk Driving by scheduling speakers and volunteers to register participants who are ordered by the court to attend meetings. He was also named Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year in 2005, is an active member of Oxford-University United Methodist Church and is a volunteer with Interfaith Compassion Ministry.

A Jackson County native, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1971. Following his service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in freshwater biology from UM. He and his wife, Joyce, have lived in Oxford for more than 40 years.

Whittington said he is honored to receive this award and encourages others to get involved.

“If you want to become involved in our community, to feel more like you are a part of what the community is, and even to show people how important an issue is to you, you are in a perfect place to do it,” he said, adding that just talking to people can present opportunities. “You can volunteer one hour, one time, or you can volunteer consistently. Volunteering is easy. Everyone has a gift, and there are plenty of people in our town and university who can help you find it.”

Chancellor Dan Jones also was honored at the event for his vision of transformation through service and lifelong example of enhancing the well-being of others.

Thirteen UM Students Selected for Chinese Program’s Capstone Year

Ole Miss places more students in the program than any other university

Ole Miss student Hattie Fisher, left, pictured with Co-Director of the Chinese Flagship Program Henrietta Yang, will enter the Capstone program this Fall to complete a semester of studies and an internship in China.

Ole Miss student Hattie Fisher, left, pictured with Henrietta Yang, co-director of the Chinese Flagship Program, will begin her capstone year this fall to complete a semester of studies and an internship in China.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students have once again ranked top in the nation, this time for placement in the Chinese Language Flagship Program‘s capstone year.

Thirteen UM students were among the 63 applicants selected from 12 universities to study in China beginning this fall. That’s more than any other university. Participating students were selected in March, and UM students rose to the top in the selection process. Three of the top five applicants are from Ole Miss.

“I was ecstatic to receive my letter of acceptance,” said Hattie Fisher, an Oxford resident majoring in international studies and Chinese. “It was a validation of the Chinese language skills I have worked for four years to acquire, as it showed that all my hard work had indeed paid off, and I was good enough to be accepted into this exclusive program to compete with the best of the best Chinese (language) students.”

The capstone year is a national program that allows students to immerse themselves in native culture by spending two semesters in China. The first semester puts participants in two classes with Chinese students. During the second semester, capstone students complete an internship at a Chinese company.

Fisher will begin her capstone year in Nanjing this fall and is eager to achieve native-speaker proficiency.

“I eagerly anticipate the internship portion of the program, which will give me an opportunity to experience Chinese workplace culture and simultaneously gain professional experience, which will ultimately make me competitive in both the Chinese and American job markets,” she said. “Capstone will allow me to continue my exploration of China and its culture and people, which I have fallen in love with over these four years.”

Erin Dyer, a chemical engineering and Chinese double major from Oxford, was ranked No. 1 among students accepted for the capstone year. She plans to join Fisher in Nanjing beginning in August.

“It is a huge honor to be chosen to participate in the Chinese Language Flagship capstone program,” Dyer said. “I’m so excited to be part of a group made up of outstanding Flagship students from all over the country. The capstone year is the culmination of my Chinese studies, and I’m really looking forward to polishing my language skills and using Chinese in a real work environment.”

At Ole Miss, students complete double majors during their first four years, one of those majors being Chinese language.

“The goal is to train students to be global professionals,” said Henrietta Yang, co-director of the Flagship program and Croft associate professor of Chinese. “Our students are exceptional.”

Upon completion of the capstone year, students who achieve a superior level in their language proficiency receive certificates confirming that they no longer need testing to apply for government jobs requiring Chinese language skills.

UM has participated in the program for 13 years, and its students have dramatically improved their performance over that span. In the last two years, 22 Ole Miss students have been accepted into the capstone-year program, and all are expected to reach the superior level.

Other students accepted into the program this year are Connor Burley of Huntsville, Alabama; Henry Chen, Madison; Emily Chew, Memphis, Tennessee; Taylor Malcolm, Huntingdon, England; Mazie Merriman, Birmingham, Alabama; Steven Mockler, Ocean Springs; Callan Mossman, Collierville, Tennessee; Delton Rhodes, Demopolis, Alabama; Holly Smith, Austin, Texas; Maggie Spear, Kingwood, Texas; and Zach Whitehead, Belmont.

The Language Flagship is a national initiative to change foreign language teaching and learning in the United States, producing graduates with professional-level proficiency in their chosen language. The initiative offers programs in 10 languages across 22 colleges and universities.

UM is one of 12 Chinese Language Flagship institutions, along with Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, Hunter College, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Indiana University, University of Minnesota, University of North Georgia, University of Oregon, University of Rhode Island, San Francisco State University and Western Kentucky University.

For more information on the Chinese Language Flagship Program at UM, go to

University of Virginia President to Deliver UM Commencement Address

Teresa Sullivan to address 2015 graduates and families May 9 in the Grove

Photo by Jo Worthem/University Communications

Photo by Jo Worthem/University Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Teresa A. Sullivan, a respected sociologist and president of the University of Virginia, is set to visit the University of Mississippi on May 9 to deliver the main address at the university’s 162nd Commencement.

Sullivan has served as Virginia’s eighth president, the first woman elected to that position, since 2010. During her tenure, she has won praise for her consensus-building style of leadership and developed a financial plan to recruit and retain top faculty, restore the university’s Jefferson Grounds and provide scholarships for needy students. She has also guided the institution through two major controversies, her forced resignation and reinstatement by the university’s Board of Visitors in 2012, and a sexual assault scandal sparked by a 2014 Rolling Stone story that has been discredited and recently retracted.

A graduate of St. Joseph High School in Jackson, Sullivan speaks to graduating students, their families and other guests at 9 a.m. in the Grove. This year’s graduating class includes about 2,800 spring candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees, plus some 1,200 August 2014 graduates.

“Over the years, we have had leaders from many fields come to campus for our Commencement addresses, and I chose Dr. Sullivan for this year because she is a distinguished scholar and administrator who has Mississippi connections,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “She has been through some interesting times in her tenure as president of the University of Virginia, and she has provided valuable national leadership in dealing with some of the issues she has faced.”

Recipients of Doctor of Philosophy degrees are to be hooded by their major professors in a 7:30 p.m. ceremony May 8 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College ceremony begins at 4 p.m. at the same location.

A shuttle service for handicapped and elderly visitors is available, and guests who need this service are asked to park in the new garage beside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Hill Drive and Manning Way. (Wheelchairs, if needed, must be provided by families.) To request assistance, call 662-915-7235 or 662-915-5203.

In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Tad Smith Coliseum. If the weather is threatening, a decision on moving the ceremony indoors will be made by 8 a.m. and announced through media outlets, text messaging and the Ole Miss website.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan

UVA President Teresa Sullivan

Following the main ceremony, individual schools and the College of Liberal Arts hold ceremonies at various times and locations to present baccalaureate, master’s, Doctor of Pharmacy and Juris Doctor degrees and awards. The schedule is as follows:

– College of Liberal Arts master’s degrees – 11 a.m., Fulton Chapel

– Patterson School of Accountancy – 11 a.m., Ford Center (overflow viewing across the street in Nutt Auditorium)

– School of Applied Sciences – 11 a.m., Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center

– School of Business Administration – 11 a.m., Tad Smith Coliseum

– School of Engineering – 11 a.m., Lyceum Circle

– School of Education – 11 a.m., Grove

– School of Law – 11 a.m., Grove

– Bachelor of General Studies – 2:30 p.m., Grove

– School of Pharmacy – 2:30 p.m., Manning Center

– Meek School of Journalism and New Media – 2:30 p.m., Ford Center

– College of Liberal Arts – 2:30 p.m., Tad Smith Coliseum

In case of rain, the College of Liberal Arts master’s degree ceremony will be moved to 11 a.m. in the Jackson Avenue Center. The School of Education ceremony will be moved to 5 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum; Engineering, 11 a.m. in Fulton Chapel; and Law, 5 p.m. in the Manning Center.

Besides Sullivan’s address, the main ceremony also includes remarks by the senior class president, recognition for the university’s outstanding teacher and announcements of the Frist Student Service awards and the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award.

Sullivan grew up during the desegregation era in the South, first in Little Rock, Arkansas, until she was 13, and then in Jackson. She was valedictorian of her class at St. Joseph, the first high school in the state to integrate. She earned her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University’s James Madison College and her doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago.

She began her career as a sociology instructor at the University of Texas and quickly advanced to become executive vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University of Texas System. Before being tapped for the Virginia presidency, she was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan.

In fall 2012, she launched a major initiative to develop priorities for the University of Virginia’s future that included soliciting input from 10,000 alumni, parents, students, faculty and staff. This effort produced a new strategic plan for the university, the Cornerstone Plan.

A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sullivan serves as vice chair of the Council of Presidents for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. She also provides leadership as the Association of American Universities representative on the board of directors for the American Council on Education.

“I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Sullivan, and I came away impressed with her commitment and loyalty to the people she works with,” Jones said. “It is truly an honor to welcome someone with her knowledge and experience to campus, and doubly so because of her Mississippi ties. Our graduates can learn a lot from her experiences.”

Because of campus construction projects, parking and transportation options have changed on campus. Guests are encouraged to check out parking and driving instructions here. A map showing Commencement venues, information booths, shuttle stops, parking areas and restrooms is available at

For more information on Commencement activities, go to For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7235.

A Letter from Chancellor Dan Jones

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Dear Ole Miss Family,

Several days ago I wrote to you about the decision by the IHL Board not to renew my contract to serve as Chancellor. Last week, Dr. Jim Borsig, Commissioner-elect for the Board, approached me with a “compromise offer.” The Board was willing to extend my contract for 21 months if I committed to retire in June of 2017. My performance or effectiveness up to that date would have no impact on whether I could continue to serve as Chancellor after June of 2017.

Over the last several days, Commissioner Borsig and I have continued conversations, and this week we traveled to meet individually with a number of Board members. In doing so, I hoped to determine if Board members would consider an extension that would allow me to serve as Chancellor without the outcome of my leadership predetermined. From these meetings it has become clear that the Board is not willing to do so.

I feel strongly, as do most of my advisors, that serving two years as a lame duck would make it difficult to recruit and retain key leaders and continue our momentum in private giving. More importantly, it is clear from the Board’s position that the Board would not support my leadership during any extension. For the University to thrive and succeed, the University needs a leader who has the support of its governing board, which I clearly do not enjoy. For these reasons, it is in the University’s best interest for me not to accept the Board’s offer.

I cannot sufficiently express the gratitude Lydia and I feel for the amazing outpouring of support for us personally and for our beloved University. We will leave our position in September with a deep love for this place and, most especially, the people of the Ole Miss family. Let me encourage all of you to follow closely the search process for the next Chancellor. The IHL Board will make a better decision knowing that you are engaged and that they are accountable to all constituents of the Ole Miss family.

Let me also encourage us all to follow our creed and treat Board members with civility and respect. I encourage any communication to the IHL Board members to be in that spirit. During the last few days, Commissioner Borsig has dealt with me in a candid and transparent fashion. Please remember that he was thrown into the middle of a difficult situation and was not involved in any of the decisions about my future.

My decision not to accept the Board’s offer may disappoint some of you. Please know the decision is made in the best interest of Ole Miss and out of love and respect for her. Lydia and I look forward to our last few months of service to the University and opportunities to visit with you.


Dan Jones,


UM Electrical Engineering Alumnus Named Gates Cambridge Scholar

Dozie Ibekwe was a junior entry into the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College

UM electrical engineering alumnus Dozie Ibekwe (left) of Nigeria is a 2015 Gates Cambridge Scholarship recipient.

Electrical engineering alumnus Dozie Ibekwe (left) of Nigeria is a 2015 Gates Cambridge Scholarship recipient.

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi electrical engineering alumnus is among this year’s recipients of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Chiedozie “Dozie” Ibekwe is the second UM graduate to win the full scholarship to the University of Cambridge. Sam Watson, a 2008 graduate with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics, physics and classics, was the first UM recipient in 2009.

“I knew that I had just gotten a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ibekwe said. “I’ll study for a Master of Philosophy in public policy. After Cambridge, I will utilize my manufacturing and supply chain management expertise to advise African policymakers on crafting and executing effective industrial policies to boost manufacturing and diversify African economies.”

Ibekwe enrolled in UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College through its Junior Entry program and was ranked as the university’s best graduating engineering student in December 2011. He is slated to earn his Master of Professional Studies in supply chain management from Pennsylvania State University in August.

He has been employed by General Electric since graduating from UM, beginning as a lean manufacturing engineer in GE Energy’s aeroderivatives division in 2011. Since then, he has been a process improvement leader in GE Power and Water, a sourcing project manager on the Chevron Big Foot Project of GE Oil and Gas, a manufacturing operations leader for blowout preventers and a supplier quality engineer for GE Nigeria.

“My career goal is to use manufacturing, with localized supply chains, to drive development in Africa,” said Ibekwe, now lead buyer in the pressure control division of GE Oil and Gas in Houston, Texas.

Ibekwe is “a superb example of a citizen scholar,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, UM Honors College dean.

“Dozie studies, he analyzes and then he acts,” Sullivan-González said. “As an engineer or as a policy analyst, he has a gift for seeing how things can be better, and he consistently turns his own talents toward those efforts. We are immensely proud of what he has accomplished already and of what he plans to accomplish.”

At Ole Miss, Ibekwe was a summer research intern at both the Jamie L. Whitten National Center for Physical Acoustics and the University of Southern Mississippi. He won an award for best undergraduate research presentation at a state conference for the former and researched the development of a new technique in facial recognition at the latter.

“Professor Paul Goggans has been the most influential teacher in my life,” Ibekwe said. “He challenged me to be curious about the world. He always thought that I was capable of a lot more if I really applied myself.”

Ibekwe said William Shughart’s engineering economics class was the most important course in his undergraduate career.

“It got me thinking about the economics and sustainability of engineering and infrastructure projects,” he said. “Professor Shughart has been an excellent mentor, especially as I try to figure out possible solutions to Africa’s problems.”

Ibekwe also acknowledged several UM administrators who helped him achieve his goals.

“Ms. Toni Avant, the career center director, has been my go-to person for career coaching, still advising me to this day,” he said. “I had a strong support system through the Increasing Minority Access to Graduate Education program, led by Ms. Jacqueline Vinson and Ms. Stephanie Brown.”

Faculty and staff members in the School of Engineering said Ibekwe’s latest accomplishment is part of his destiny and the lasting legacy he is building.

“The selection committee of the 2012 Outstanding Senior Leadership Award knew he’d bring honor to the School of Engineering as a professional,” said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean for undergraduate academics. “Once again, Dozie’s exceeding our expectations.”

Other honors and recognitions Ibekwe received include Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Distinguished Scholar Award, National Society of Black Engineers Fellow, ExxonMobil Scholar, Board of Corporate Affiliates Scholar, John G. Adler Engineering Scholarship, Outstanding Engineering Senior Award and GE African American Forum Icon Award.

“Eventually, I hope to become a Nigerian policymaker,” Ibekwe said. “In addition to addressing infrastructure challenges that hinder manufacturing, I am interested in engaging the Nigerian private sector to develop the manufacturing capabilities and human capital in Nigeria.”

His leadership experiences include the UM International Student Organization, serving as treasurer; Toastmasters International; GE Houston Club, in which he served as treasurer; Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, where he served as director of education; GE African American Forum, serving as professional development committee co-chair; GE recruiter at the National Association of Black Accountants annual conference; and GE/Alpha Phi Alpha College-to-Corporate Program. Ibekwe has volunteered at Second Baptist Church in Oxford, the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication, Thompson Elementary School in Houston, Engineers Without Borders and the Rotary Club of West Houston.

In his spare time, Ibekwe enjoys playing soccer as a goalkeeper. He won the UM Intramural Outdoor and Indoor Soccer Championships and was a runner-up in the Oxford City League. He plays in the Houston Football Association.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship, open to citizens of any country outside the United Kingdom, provides a full-cost scholarship to Cambridge for a post-graduate degree. Established in 2000 through a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Cambridge Trust has selected more than 1,300 scholars from some 100 countries. It makes 95 awards each year, 40 to applicants from the U.S. and 55 to applicants from other countries.

For more about the scholarship, visit

Honors College Class Explores ‘Who Owns The Past?’

Classics class visits Metropolitan Museum of Art, Christie's and other antiquities sites over spring break

A Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College classics class studying antiquities took an educational trip to New York over spring break.

An Honors College classics class studying antiquities took an educational trip to New York over spring break.

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi class focusing on “Who Owns the Past?: Ethics in Archaeology” recently traveled to New York to learn about the financial, legal and political considerations in the ongoing international battle to properly preserve ancient artifacts.

Hilary Becker, a UM assistant professor of classics, teaches the 300-level class made up of Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students. Over spring break, the class visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art, and Christie’s Department of Ancient Art and Antiquities, among other educational attractions in New York.

“This is an opportunity to look at ethical dilemmas, using current events and case studies involving antiquities and ancient sites,” Becker said. “There are cases like the famous Elgin Marbles that once graced the Parthenon, but they’re in London now. The fact that they’re in London means millions of people can see them each year, but the Greeks think they should be in Athens because they would attract people there, and the marbles are also part of their heritage.”

The Honors College provided funding for the course and the trip. It funded another class this semester, a cinema studies course on New York City in film, which also traveled there during spring break.

The archaeology class’ visit to New York gave students an opportunity to see antiquities and also to explore questions of who can or should “own” these objects and care for them. The sessions in New York, as well as the ongoing class discussions, expose students to the wide range of legal and ethical issues over ownership of cultural heritage.

Preservation issues have recently made global headlines. The terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is looting artifacts and selling them on the antiquities market and also destroying cultural sites in the process. The money they make from the looting of historically important pieces helps to fund their terrorist operations.

ISIS is only one group responsible for plundering historical sites. Scholars, curators, archaeologists and others are battling this problem by trying to ensure artifacts are scientifically excavated with care to preserve information about the dates and locations in which those pieces were found. This information is often lost when artifacts are illegally and haphazardly removed.

“You can buy a cuneiform tablet through eBay, but it could be that it was looted by ISIS and, very indirectly, you could be funding ISIS,” Becker said. “Everyone agrees we don’t want to fund ISIS. That’s the worst case, but at the very least, if you have an undocumented object without a pedigree, far too often, it was probably looted from some site and it’s now devoid of context. … If you have that object out of context, you lose most of the information about it.”

The class also met with Nancy Wilkie, a professor emerita at Carleton College who serves on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee for the U.S. State Department. The committee advises the president and the State Department about cultural heritage and protects sites and archaeological objects around the world that are at risk of being looted.

Wilkie also gave a public lecture March 25 in Bryant Hall. She discussed looting and efforts to return those objects to their native countries.

The two classes were the fruit of proposals the professors submitted to the Honors College. The first was in 2013 and focused on the 2014 World Cup.

The experiential classes are an excellent opportunity for students, said John Samonds, associate dean of the Honors College. The college’s officials hope to continue funding  special topics courses each semester.

“We want them to engage with the world, not just spectate,” Samonds said. “We try to develop these experiential courses that allow students to grapple with issues, particularly with the classics course. There weren’t just issues of archaeologists taking things from Greece or taking things from Peru 150 years ago and displaying them in other museums. This is going on right now.”

Samantha Lund, a senior from Biloxi majoring in international studies and French, said the class has helped her understand the increasing focus on where artifacts came from, in addition to their actual financial value.

“There are countless unforeseen consequences to the discovery, distribution and legitimization of artifacts that influence a number of aspects of a nation’s identity and reputation,” Lund said. “Both public and private institutions will go to extreme lengths in order to prove legitimate provenance for a particular artifact and also to mediate conflicting claims of property rights.”

Jessie Smith, a sophomore liberal studies major from Jackson, called the trip “unforgettable,” particularly the opportunity to visit Christie’s auction house warehouse. There, the class met with experts from the antiquities department and carefully walked around golden tea sets and other artifacts.

“I’m still in shock that we got to very carefully pass around a small, scarab-shaped piece of carnelian with a soldier carved in intaglio on the other side (circa 500 B.C.),” Smith said. “This experience of holding such amazing and ancient objects in our hands was something that many other trips could never provide. I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity.”

Pharmacy Administration Student Wins ‘Three Minute Thesis’ Challenge

Sujith Ramachandran takes 'Peoples' Choice' award during annual conference in New Orleans

UM pharmacy administration student Sujith Ramachandran (second from left) was one of the winners at the competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools held in New Orleans. He’s congratulated by  Donna West, Christy Wyandt and John Kiss.

UM pharmacy administration student Sujith Ramachandran (second from left) was one of the winners at the competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools held in New Orleans. He’s congratulated by Donna West, Christy Wyandt and John Kiss.

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi student’s “Three Minute Thesis” was the audience favorite at the recent Conference of Southern Graduate Schools annual meeting.

Sujith Ramachandran, a pharmacy administration student from India, won the “Peoples’ Choice” award during the competition in New Orleans. Audience members, rather than judges, selected his “Honey, We Drugged the Kids!” as the best and most interesting presentation.

“It was an amazing feeling to be standing up there with the best students from across the South,” Ramachandran said of his honor, which included a $250 cash prize. “I also feel like it was a very good conclusion to my thesis project. My department helped me put all of it together, from the project to the final presentation, and Dean Kiss helped me take it to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. So it was a rewarding experience for everyone involved.”

Ramachandran’s entry was based on his master’s thesis project, titled “Determining physician and patient characteristics that predict the use of atypical antipsychotics in children with mental health disorders.”

“It is an attempt to understand physician decision-making in the area of pediatric mental health,” he said. “My thesis is basically an insight into what causes physicians to prescribe new-generation antipsychotics (such as Abilify or Seroquel) to children under the age of 18.”

Twenty-six students from major universities throughout the South competed in the 3MT finals. Each has won his or her university’s title. Ramachandran qualified for the contest by winning the UM competition in November.

UM administrators congratulated Ramachandran on winning the honor.

“The competition was very intense in that the best students from other 26 major schools, such as the University of Virginia, Auburn University and the University of Kentucky, were represented,” said John Kiss, dean of the UM Graduate School. “Sujith’s win also is a testament to the interesting and vibrant graduate programs we are building at our university.”

Provost Morris Stocks said Ramachandran’s honor adds to UM’s reputation for academic rigor.

“Any recognition of UM research, particularly from fellow scientists, speaks to the high caliber of our students and our formidable faculty,” Stocks said. “Mr. Ramachandran’s achievement at the CSGS annual meeting is another bragging point for our already renowned standing as Mississippi’s flagship university.”

Ramachandran, who completed his master’s degree last year, is a doctoral candidate and is working on his dissertation.

“I hope to finish my Ph.D. within the next year or two,” Ramachandran said. “I plan to join the pharmaceutical industry after my graduation, but my long-term goal is to work in the health policy arena to help fix the problems with health care cost and quality.”

The Three Minute Thesis competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by doctoral students. Developed by the University of Queensland, the exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a nonspecialist audience.

“Our 3MT program has done a great job of highlighting our graduate level studies as well as promoted interdisciplinary research,” Kiss said.

For more information on the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, go to For more information on the 3MT competition, see

Teaching Program Fellows Study Education Policy in Nation’s Capital

Spring break trip offers policy perspective for education students

METP fellows in from the of the U.S. Department of Education. The group includes (left to right): Brenna Ferrell of Ocean Springs, Lydia Hall of Madison, Emily Reynolds of Brandon, Kaye Whitfield of Birmingham, Ala, Katianne Middleton of Selma, Ala., James Wheeler of St. Johns, Fla., Abigail Sudduth of Flowood,Shelby Knighten of Gauthier, Ben Logan of Sherman, Kaypounyers Maye of Gulfport, Rachel Parbs of Southaven,, Anna Claire Kelley of Madison,Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Abigail Null of Corinth.

METP fellows gather in front of the of the U.S. Department of Education. The group includes (left to right): Brenna Ferrell of Ocean Springs, Lydia Hall of Madison, Emily Reynolds of Brandon, Kaye Whitfield of Birmingham, Alabama, Katianne Middleton of Selma, Alabama, James Wheeler of St. Johns, Florida, Abigail Sudduth of Flowood, Shelby Knighten of Gauthier, Ben Logan of Sherman, Kaypounyers Maye of Gulfport, Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Anna Claire Kelley of Madison,Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Abigail Null of Corinth.

OXFORD, Miss. – Fifteen University of Mississippi sophomores from the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program spent spring break in Washington, D.C., getting a close-up view of how education policy is crafted and administered at the national level.

Throughout the 2014-15 academic year, the cohort has studied education policy issues on a variety of levels as part of specialized seminars designed for METP participants, or fellows.

“This year, our goal is to help fellows understand how policy decisions at the national and state level directly impact schools,” said Ryan Niemeyer, the program’s director. “We’re training students to be exceptional educators. This means equipping them with content knowledge and a pedagogical understanding of teaching. But it also means producing educators who recognize how governing bodies operate and how they can have a voice in policy discussions.”

Established in 2012 with nearly $13 million from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson, METP is one of the nation’s most valuable teacher education scholarships, designed to attract the best and brightest into the field. The program, which has a partner chapter at Mississippi State, includes four years of tuition, room and board, books, study abroad professional development and more.

METP fellows (left to right) Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Shelby Knighten of Gauthier stand in front of the Washington Monument in the District of Columbia.

METP fellows (left to right) Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Shelby Knighten of Gauthier visit the National Mall.

During the trip, fellows toured the U.S. Capitol and met U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker. The group also visited the U.S. Department of Education, where they met with Melody Musgrove, a Mississippi native who directs the department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

On the first night, the group spent an evening discussing state and national education policy with Melody and her husband, former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, at their home in the district.

“I thoroughly enjoyed our evening with the Musgroves,” said METP fellow Ben Logan, a Sherman native who is majoring in both mathematics education and public policy leadership. “We gained an interesting perspective when we able to sit and discuss education policy with Gov. and Dr. Musgrove.”

Throughout the group’s stay, they also visited Arlington National Cemetery, Chinatown, Ford’s Theatre, the Library of Congress, the National Mall, multiple Smithsonian exhibits and more.

“We’ve jumped feet-first into education policy issues this year,” said fellow Rachel Parbs, a Southaven native majoring in English education. “So far, this program is going above and beyond my expectations. Our cohort is bonding and we’re getting to travel. I’m really looking forward to what’s next.”

To date, the UM chapter of METP has recruited 32 students from nine states with an average ACT score of 29.1. Each graduate makes a five-year commitment to teach in a Mississippi public school after graduation. Next year, METP plans to take a group abroad to study education issues from an international perspective when the fellows visit multiple countries within the United Kingdom.

“It was so encouraging to meet people who care about education issues and have ideas for the future,” said fellow Brenna Ferrell, an English education major from Ocean Springs. “Each experience we’ve had in the program has made me more excited to enter the classroom and make a difference.”

UM is interviewing applicants for METP’s third cohort, which will enroll this fall.

UM Chemistry Department Modifies Bachelor’s Curriculum

Undergraduate degree program offers traditional and pre-med emphasis

UM chemistry majors (from left) Ashley Williams, Sarah Sutton and Katelyn Allen conduct undergraduate research.

UM chemistry majors (from left) Ashley Williams, Sarah Sutton and Katelyn Allen conduct undergraduate research.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Mississippi has begun offering two different pathways for students seeking a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

“Our B.S. in Chemistry degree has been modified to have two tracks for students to choose from,” said Nathan Hammer, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “The first option is a traditional chemistry track that prepares students well for graduate school in chemistry or a career in the chemical industry. The second track has a biochemistry emphasis and is specifically designed for students who wish to go on to medical school or graduate school in biochemistry.”

The department has a suggested four-year course outline with electives that count toward the degree and are required for medical school admissions. These requirements are covered by the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT. The modified degree went into effect this spring.

“Both tracks are certified by the American Chemical Society and are among the most rigorous in the country,” Hammer said.

By modifying its B.S. in Chemistry degree, the department better serves the growing number of pre-med students who wanted a rigorous bachelor’s degree in the physical sciences, he said. These students typically enjoy chemistry, physics and math, but eventually wish to serve others in a medical profession.

“Prior to modifying our B.S. degree, these students had two options,” Hammer said. “The first was to satisfy our previous B.S. (in) Chemistry degree requirements and then take additional biology and biochemistry classes. The second option was to pursue our B.A. (in) Biochemistry degree and supplement it with calculus-based physics, additional advanced math courses and additional advanced chemistry courses.”

Most students opted to pursue the B.S. degree and take additional biochemistry and biology courses. Creating a B.S. in Chemistry degree track incorporates these additional biochemistry courses as well an advanced biology elective.

“We have substituted these courses for other chemistry courses that are useful for a career in chemistry, but not helpful in preparing for the medical profession,” Hammer said. “We have essentially taken what our best and brightest pre-med students have been doing on their own the last few years and crafted a degree that serves them. We have approximately 20 students total that are pursuing the new B.S. (in) Chemistry degree with the biochemistry emphasis. Most of these are pre-med students associated with the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.”

As a result of the additional students pursuing a B.S. degree each year, more space is needed for physical chemistry and inorganic chemistry laboratories. Coulter Hall’s new research annex includes a state-of-the-art molecular spectroscopy research lab that will serve CHEM 337 classes. CHEM 402 will be moved to a larger room that will be able to serve the larger number of students each year.

Since students in the new emphasis will be receiving a well-rounded chemistry degree, they will be taking courses in every area of chemistry and will have opportunities to take classes from almost every faculty member in the department, Hammer said.

“In their freshman year, they will take two semesters of general chemistry from Greg Tschumper, Steve Davis, Maurice Eftink, Jason Ritchie, Kerri Scott, Murrell Godfrey, John Wiginton, Jim O’Neal or Gerald Rowland,” Hammer said. “Students will take two semesters of organic chemistry in their sophomore year from Dan Mattern, Jared Delcamp or Davita Watkins.”

They will also take a number of advanced classes, including physical chemistry from Hammer, analytical chemistry from Amal Dass and Jim Cizdziel, biochemistry from Susan Pedigo, Randy Wadkins and Mike Mossing, and inorganic chemistry from Ritchie, Jonah Jurss and Walt Cleland.

“Students will also be required to perform original research with a faculty member in chemistry during their senior year, which could be with any research active faculty member,” Hammer said. “For this reason, this new degree track is especially popular with pre-med honors students who can get senior research credit for their honors thesis.”

Charles Hussey, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is enthusiastic about having two undergraduate degrees within the department.

“The new Bachelor of Science degree with emphasis in biochemistry is more versatile than our existing Bachelor of Arts degree in biochemistry,” he said. “It not only prepares students to compete for postgraduate opportunities in the pre-health professions, but also provides them with a solid foundation in advanced chemistry. With this foundation, they are well equipped for graduate studies in biochemistry as well as the research-based M.D.-Ph.D. programs offered by elite medical schools.”

For more information about the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, visit or call 662-915-7301.