UM Staff, Students Join MLK Day of Service

Volunteers gathering to improve area schools, assisted living facilities

Dr. Marvin King will deliver the keynote address at the MLK Day of Service on Jan. 19.

Marvin King will deliver the keynote address Jan. 19 at the MLK Day of Service .

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students and staff are leading efforts to improve living conditions in Lafayette County and Oxford during 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances.

The Lafayette-Oxford-University MLK Day of Service opening ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 19 at the Oxford Activity Center. Program participants include UM Dean of Students Melinda Sutton, Oxford Mayor George “Pat” Patterson and Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Jeff Busby. Marvin P. King Jr., UM associate professor of political science and African-American studies, will deliver the keynote address.

The senior fellow at UM’s Residential College South, King received his doctorate in political science from the University of North Texas after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He has co-authored or authored publications on racial polarization in the electorate, representation of the black electorate and the effect of race in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. King teaches undergraduate courses in Introduction to American Politics and African American Politics, and an undergraduate and graduate course in Politics of the American South.

Following King’s speech, three awards will be presented to outstanding LOU volunteers in student and community categories. Honorees include Victoria Burgos of Oxford, a UM student who implemented a pilot composting program on campus; Barbara Wortham of Oxford, GED program instructor at the Oxford School District Learning Center; and Matt Gaw and Mari Susan Massey of Oxford, United Way volunteers.

Other activities scheduled during the day include a service fair featuring representatives from local nonprofits and organizations, a book drive for local correctional facilities, a letter-of-appreciation writing campaign for three area civil rights leaders and activities at five local assisted living facilities.

“It is exciting that University of Mississippi students and staff are choosing to make a difference in the lives of others,” sad Coulter Ward, assistant dean of students for leadership and involvement. “Volunteering builds communities and strengthens relationships. To have our students take opportunities to participate in endeavors like these is awesome.”

UM staff involved in planning of MLK Day of Service events expressed enthusiasm about participating in such a worthy cause.

“Learning the larger history surrounding civil rights and MLK is important, but we see a need to educate our students about living leaders who made great movements right here in Mississippi,” said Haley Kesterson, coordinator of the letter writing campaign. “We hope to give proper gratitude to local leaders. We hope to educate students on the civil rights movement here in Mississippi and give them a local, current perspective about the continuous issue.”

Campus participation is crucial to the success of the observance, said Sarah Ball, director of Volunteer Oxford.

“This national day of service honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and commitment to transforming our nation through service to others,” Ball said. “The LOU MLK Day of Service offers community members a chance to engage in a variety of volunteer opportunities that are designed to give back to the community.”

A recreation administration major, Burgos was awarded a $3,000 grant from the UM Green Fund for the pilot composting project, followed by an additional $5,234 grant to continue and expand it. She has also volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and Camp Lake Stephens, a United Methodist Church facility.

A two-time recipient of the Learning Center Teacher of the Year award, Wortham is the Lafayette County Adult Basic Literacy Education program coordinator. Through her work with the GED Prep course at Burns United Methodist Church, she has helped an estimated 100 people obtain their GEDs.

Working together, Gaw and Massey were the first to assist local non-profits with fundraising, donating equipment and countless hours of volunteer time. Their work has been essential in the building of Lafayette County’s first Born Learning Trail in Avent Park.

For more information about LOU MLK Day of Service, contact Coulter Ward at or Sarah Ball at

Ole Miss’ Shackelford Wins 2014 Wuerffel Trophy

Graduate Linebacker Honored for Exceptional Community Service

Ole Miss Football vs Boise State during the 2014 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Ole Miss Football vs Boise State during the 2014 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – Former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel announced Tuesday that the winner of the 2014 Wuerffel Trophy is Ole Miss linebacker Deterrian Shackelford.

The All Sports Association presents the Wuerffel Trophy to the Football Bowl Subdivision football player who best exhibits exemplary community service.

“It’s hard for me to express how excited I am to announce Deterrian Shackelford as the 2014 Wuerffel Trophy winner,” said Wuerffel. “This young man truly exemplifies not only all that is good about football, but the important and positive aspects of life.”

Shackelford has two degrees from the University of Mississippi, a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in higher education, and has continued taking graduate classes this fall. The Decatur, Alabama, native has helped lead two mission trips to Haiti and Panama while also mentoring local youth. He has been actively involved in the Oxford community, helping lead efforts to fight hunger and raise funds for cancer research. He is also a highly sought-after speaker for school, community and church groups. The Rebels’ starting middle linebacker is a five-time selection to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, a two-time semifinalist for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award, a two-time member of the SEC Community Service Team, and all while currently helping Ole Miss to lead the nation in scoring defense, as the Rebels allow just 13.8 points per game to opposing teams.

This is the 10th anniversary of the Wuerffel Trophy, an award named after Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner who led the Florida Gators to the 1996 national championship, played six years in the National Football League and has received national recognition for his humanitarian and community service efforts with Desire Street Ministries, in New Orleans and around the country.

The 2014 Wuerffel Trophy will be presented to the winner at the All Sports Association’s 46th Annual Awards Banquet on February 13, 2015, in Fort Walton Beach. For more information on the Wuerffel Trophy, visit

About the Wuerffel Trophy:

The Wuerffel Trophy is college football’s premier award for community service. The All Sports Association presents the Wuerffel Trophy to the Football Bowl Subdivision football player who best exhibits exemplary community service, along with qualifying academic and athletic achievement. As the trophy namesake, Danny Wuerffel embodies the three categories of the award: Community Service, Academics and Athletics. Past winners of the Wuerffel Trophy are: 2013 Gabe Ikard, University of Oklahoma; 2012 Matt Barkley, University of Southern California; 2011 Barrett Jones, University of Alabama; 2010 Sam Acho, University of Texas; 2009 Tim Hiller, Western Michigan University; 2008 Tim Tebow, University of Florida; 2007 Paul Smith, University of Tulsa; 2006 Joel Penton, Ohio State University; and 2005 Rudy Niswanger, Louisiana State University.

Second Annual Egg Bowl Run Set for Monday

ROTC cadets to make the 100-mile run from Starkville to Oxford to deliver game ball

UM ROTC cadets on the first leg of the inaugural Egg Bowl Run in 2013. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

UM ROTC cadets on the first leg of the inaugural Egg Bowl Run in 2013. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

The advent of cooler temperatures signals the beginning of the holiday season and the chilly reminder that the annual Egg Bowl is right around the corner. This year, fans of the two Egg Bowl rivals have another event to look forward to before the main event’s kickoff on Saturday.

The second annual Egg Bowl Run takes place Monday (Nov. 24) as Army ROTC cadets from both the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University will cover more than 100 miles in two separate legs to deliver the game ball from Starkville to Oxford. Last year’s event was quite popular on social media. This year, members of the public may track runners’ progress in real time by visiting throughout the day, by following @UMEggBowl on Twitter or by following the hashtag #eggbowlrun on social media outlets.

2nd Annual Egg Bowl Run scheduled for Monday, Nov. 24.

Second annual Egg Bowl Run poster.

Not only is it an opportunity to honor cadets and veterans from all branches of our military during Military Appreciation Month, it’s a great way to support these programs. In fact, if you give to Ole Miss Army ROTC during the Egg Bowl Run this year, you’ll be eligible for some cool perks as well as be automatically entered to win the official Ole Miss game ball carried by cadets and signed by head coach Hugh Freeze. Other prizes include an opportunity to fire the cannon at Vaught-Hemingway during the Egg Bowl, joining the cadets and members of the Ole Miss football team during their walk through the Grove before the game and even the American flag flown over Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Check out the Ignite Ole Miss campaign site. They’ve already raised more than 15 percent of their goal, but with your help, they can easily reach $5,000 before the Egg Bowl Run kicks off early Monday morning.

If you aren’t able to give, go out and support our cadets along the route. They are estimated to arrive in front of the Lyceum around 9 p.m., and they’ll be making a quick loop around the Square before that time, so you’ll have plenty of time to grab a bite to eat before cheering them on during the last leg of their 50-mile journey.

UM Track and Field Champion Tailors Unique Degree through BGS Program

General Studies program allows for personal aspirations

Sam Kendricks, University of Mississippi senior, designed his own unique degree through Bachelor of General Studies.

Sam Kendricks, University of Mississippi senior, designed his own unique degree through the Bachelor of General Studies.

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – By now, just about everybody has heard about Sam Kendricks’ exploits – flying through the air at track and field meets all over the world – but only a handful know about his success designing an academic degree program.

In fact, that latter achievement has helped Kendricks, a University of Mississippi senior and reigning Southeastern Conference, NCAA and USA outdoor pole vault champion, excel in other areas during his time at Ole Miss. The degree program he helped design – his own – gave the 22-year-old from Oxford flexibility to compete as a student-athlete, train as an Army ROTC cadet and develop leadership skills.

Kendricks is part of a growing segment of UM students pursuing a Bachelor of General Studies, or BGS. These students want to take more control of their own career path and craft a plan of study that not only leads to a bachelor’s degree, but also helps them gain the knowledge and skills they feel will most likely help them excel at their own unique goals.

“An Ole Miss student was taking me on a tour of campus back when I was still in high school,” Kendrick recalled. “I remember something the student said that has stuck with me. ‘Ole Miss is whatever you put into it,’ she told me. I’m so glad that I have put everything I have into my time here.”

The university added the BGS program to its slate of undergraduate offerings in 2011. More than 500 students are constructing their own personalized college education by choosing from a wide variety of options to earn three minors and 30 hours of core courses. Students must successfully complete the courses for each minor with no grade below a C. They must also complete at least 30 hours of upper-level courses within their total requirement of 120 hours.

During the past three years as an Ole Miss student, Kendricks has followed a rigorous daily schedule that included early morning runs with his Army ROTC battalion, classes and course assignments, and afternoon training with the Ole Miss track and field team.

He chose three very distinct minors to craft his Ole Miss degree. The first, a minor in mathematics, was nearly complete after taking strenuous freshman and sophomore course loads while he was still undecided about the direction he might be headed career-wise.

“Math is something I’ll always use and have to fall back on,” Kendricks said. “It provided a structure that helped format a foundation of study for me. I hope I will be able to build on this further in the future.”

As he continued learning and growing as a competitive athlete, Kendricks realized that he has a talent for helping to motivate and train others. He then decided to begin his second minor field in the university’s recreation management program.

It was in these courses that one of his favorite instructors, David Waddell, shared more about leadership.

“He again brought home the idea that becoming a leader and manager is about the work and creativity that you put into the job,” Kendricks said. “After my athletic career is over, I want to use my education to coach, instruct, inspire and equip others with the skills to succeed.”

For his third area of study, Kendricks chose to minor in military science leadership. As a cadet in the Ole Miss Army ROTC officer-training program, he was already taking several of the required courses and had plans to be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army upon graduation. He will continue to train with the Army after graduation and to prepare as a leader if he is called to active duty.

“I have been so lucky to have all of the experiences I have had at Ole Miss,” Kendricks said. “My classes have prepared me for my future just like my athletic training is preparing me for the next level of competition. I’m happy that my education fits my goals and interests so well. I’ve learned so much, and I look forward to using what I’ve learned to continue chasing my dreams.”

His dedication will pay off next year as he graduates with his BGS in May and competes professionally around the world as a member of the Nike USA track team, all while beginning his career as an Army officer.

“So many of the students we see who are attracted to the Bachelor of General Studies degree program are creative, motivated and really thinking outside of the box – just like Sam,” said Terry Blackmarr, assistant to the dean of general studies. “Their career goals are unique, and they feel a variety of classes will better prepare them to achieve those aspirations.”

For more information about the BGS degree and a full listing of available minors at UM, visit studies.

UM Pharmacy Team Moves on to State Competition

Plan to provide affordable medications advances in Mississippi Social Business Challenge

Team Rural Health In-House Pharmacy won the UM on-campus portion of the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge. (Left to Right) Nicholas Keeling, Stephanie Sollis, Dr. Erin Holmes, Andrew Smelser and Sonja Falvey. Not pictured: Kandis Backus.

Team Rural Health In-House Pharmacy won the UM on-campus portion of the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge. The team includes (from left ) Nicholas Keeling, Stephanie Sollis, faculty adviser Erin Holmes, Andrew Smelser and Sonja Falvey.

OXFORD, Miss. – A student team from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is taking its plan to provide rural Mississippians with better access to affordable medications all the way to the finals of a statewide business challenge.

Team “Rural Health Clinic In-House Pharmacy” won first place in the university’s on-campus portion of the Institutions of Higher Learning Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge, conducted Nov. 7. Besides advancing to the state competition, the team won $1,000. The “Magnolia State-High Throughput Experimentation” team won second and received $500.

Six teams of students presented a business solution to help solve one of the state’s pressing problems in front of five judges. These business plans responded to one of the nine goals outlined by Blueprint Mississippi to enhance economic opportunity for Mississippi.

“We took on this project to address the health disparities and the poor health outcomes in the Mississippi Delta,” said Nicholas Keeling, captain of the winning team. “We are really looking forward to moving on with this project and feel like this will make a difference in the lives of the patients and the communities in the rural areas of Mississippi.”

Besides Keeling, of Jackson, the team included co-captain Sonja Falvey of Jackson, Stephanie Sollis of Corning, Arkansas, Andrew Smelser of Huntsville, Alabama, and Kandis Backus of Jackson. The team’s faculty adviser is Erin Holmes, associate professor of pharmacy administration and research associate professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Each team submitted a five-page written business plan, a short presentation and a tabletop display for the judging.

The winning team’s goal is to “establish an in-house discount pharmacy in Marks, Mississippi, and creating a relationship between the pharmacist and patient can provide patients immediate access to affordable medications for their chronic conditions.”

“It was exciting to see these teams use traditional business models to put forth solutions to social challenges that we all care about,” said Ryan Parsons, McLean Institute project manager. “I think all of the teams we saw have the potential to see these ideas through and have a real impact on Mississippi.”

Judges included Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson; Clay Dibrell, executive director of the UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and associate professor of management; Bethany Cooper, corporate recruitment and talent management coordinator for FNC Inc.; Randy Leister, president of BancorpSouth-Oxford; and Jon Maynard, president and CEO of Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation.

Based on the overall business plan, social problem, blueprint goal, market analysis, financial analysis, social impact, business viability, formal presentation and questions and answers, the judges scored each team’s business plan, presentation and display.

The statewide competition is slated for March 12, 2015 in conjunction with Universities Day at the Capitol. For more information on Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge, visit the website at

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

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 or like them on Facebook.

For more information about Everybody’s Tent, contact Fowler at

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

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

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