OXFORD, Miss. – A $125,000 gift from longtime University of Mississippi benefactors Ed and Jan Trehern will create monetary awards and a scholarship fund for the School of Education to recognize students who display a commitment to excellence in teaching and leadership.
The Griffin Family Endowment, established by the Pascagoula couple in March, was created in honor of Jan’s parents Ralph and Jerry Griffin, also of Pascagoula, and will fund the annual Griffin Family Education IMPACT Awards and the Griffin Family Scholarship.
“My mother worked in the Pascagoula public school system and my parents put me through the School of Education at Ole Miss,” said Jan, who received an elementary education degree from UM in 1978. “Education has been a priority in our family for a long time, and my husband and I wanted to do something here in their honor.”
In previous years, the Treherns have given major gifts totaling more than $1 million to support Ole Miss athletics facilities, including the Indoor Practice Facility, the basketball hospitality room at Tad Smith Coliseum and new baseball coaches’ offices.
The Griffin Endowment is the couple’s first major gift to the UM School of Education, the state’s largest producer of teacher and educational leaders. However, both Jan and Ed have a professional history with roots in education. Jan taught second grade in Pascagoula for five years after graduating from UM. Ed, who previously served as vice president of acquisitions for Delta Health Group, started his career as a high school football coach and business teacher.
“This was an honor and a surprise,” said Jerry Griffin, who taught in the Pascagoula public school system for 12 years. “I hope students will use this to help other people and pass it on to others as our children have.”
Beginning in the spring semester of 2014, exceptional education students will be identified by faculty within the School of Education as potential candidates for the IMPACT Awards. This will enable the school to honor undergraduate or graduate students who display leadership and high ability in instruction. In addition to recognition at the school’s annual awards ceremony each May, the four recipients will receive $1,000.
“Every year, we have excellent students who make a difference in schools, even before graduation,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “This helps us honor those students who step up. We’re very thankful to the Trehern family for their generous donation and support of our students and programs.”
The Griffin Scholarship, also worth $1,000, will be awarded at the beginning of fall semester later this year. It is intended to be awarded to an Ole Miss student from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, specifically from either Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties. The recipient must be rising junior or senior. Each year the School of Education Scholarship Committee will identify potential applicants.
“(Ralph and Jerry) always supported Jan and her desire to become an educator, even when it was financially difficult for them,” Ed Trehern said. “I’m glad we can honor them for all they’ve done for us and so many others.”