Ford Center Hosts Artrageous Interactive Performance

Audiences get to be a part of the sensory art experience

The Artrageous troupe combines a variety of art forms into its performances, including live painting, music, dance and life-size puppetry. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host Artrageous, billed as “the interactive music experience,” for one show at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 21).

The interactive performance incorporates a variety of art forms, and audiences experience live painting, music, dance and life-size puppetry, as well as getting to be part of the show.

The cast of artists, musicians, singers and dancers combine vocals, choreography and audience interaction to bring the patrons on a visual journey of art, pop icons and musical genres. The result is a gallery of finished paintings, making the performance a crossover experience.

“I would encourage you to bring your children and grandchildren to experience how much fun it can be to directly participate in the arts,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “This show is for the young and the young at heart.”

Tickets, priced at $30 for the orchestra, parterre and Tier 1 box seats, $26 for the mezzanine and Tier 2 box seats, and $22 for balcony seating, are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center.

For more information, visit

Several Construction Projects Progressing on Campus

Work includes new facilities for students, faculty and staff to learn and work

Site work has begun on the new STEM building along All-American Drive. This is one of several construction projects underway on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has enjoyed tremendous growth in recent years, and campus planners are working to create the best possible space for students to learn, discover and live.

Several construction projects are underway on campus that, when completed, will provide state-of-the-art facilities for students, faculty and staff. These projects include:

Ole Miss Student Union

A redesigned and renovated Student Union, which was built in 1976, includes a 60,000-square-foot addition on the north side of the original 97,600-square-foot structure. The expansion is the first phase to open and provides food court dining services.

Construction is continuing to complete the ballroom, support kitchens, loading dock and transportation hub, as well as a total renovation of the original building, which will be the home base for student activities. Completion of the project is anticipated in early 2019.

North Parking Garage

The new parking structure in the north area of campus behind Kinard Hall has opened. The seven-level parking garage provides 1,300 additional parking spaces for on-campus residents.

STEM Building

The university received a $25 million lead gift in 2015 from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation for construction of a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building in the science district. The building will provide 207,000 square feet of space for classrooms and laboratories.

Last year, the site was prepared for the massive project by removing the Smith Engineering Science Building, Central Heating Plant and Old Power Plant along All-American Drive. All existing utilities in the area also are being relocated.

Construction on the STEM building is scheduled to start in 2018. If this schedule is not interrupted, the facility can be built in 24 months, with an opening date in fall 2020.

Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field

The area behind home plate is being renovated to create a Dugout Club with club seating. A two-story Performance and Operations Center also will be added to provide player facilities. This work will be done in phases and completed by March 2018.

Garland, Hedleston and Mayes Renovation

These buildings, constructed in 1938 as men’s dormitories, are no longer viable as housing options, but they are appropriate for academic and administrative use. The buildings are undergoing a full renovation, including the replacement of windows, roofs and mechanical, electrical, fire-protection and plumbing systems.

The School of Applied Sciences is scheduled to move into the space by August 2018. A two-story addition will provide classroom space, and the north entrance will be updated with an elevator and stair connector. The south courtyards will be updated with more plaza space with an ADA entrance.

Johnson Commons East

Following its partner to the west, Johnson Commons East is receiving a full renovation. The upper floor will continue to provide banquet and large meeting spaces. The lower floor, formerly the Department of Human Resources, will be renovated to house the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Developmental Studies and the Center for Student Success – First-Year Experience.

Construction is expected to finish by August 2018.

South Campus Recreation Facility and Transportation Hub

The university acquired a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, the old Whirlpool factory, on 68 acres on the southwest edge of campus. Portions of the existing building will be repurposed to provide space for fitness activities, departmental offices, classrooms, food service and a hub for Ole Miss Campus Recreation and the Department of Parking and Transportation.

Renovations to the exterior will transform the manufacturing plant into an active destination for students. This project is ongoing and is expected to be complete in October 2018.

Indoor Tennis Facility

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is adding an indoor tennis facility to the east of the track-and-field stadium and south of the Manning Center. The building will contain six indoor courts for competitions, spectator seating, sports storage and bathroom facilities.

Letterwinner Walk and Bell Tower

The Letterwinner Walk will provide recognition space for every student-athlete who has ever represented Ole Miss. The plaques will be mounted on brick pillars organized radially around the final yards of the Walk of Champions on the north side of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. A bell tower also is being added to the plaza area.

When visitors look north toward the Grove from the Letterwinner Walk, through the opening in the bell tower, they will see the relationship between these two elements and the STEM building, National Center for Natural Products Research, Faulkner Garden, and Shoemaker and Faser halls, all organized along a north-south axis. The space will be even more striking from the Grove, with a clear view of and straight path to the stadium.

Faulkner Memorial Garden

This garden, in memory of author William Faulkner, is in design and will be a part of the STEM building construction contract. It will serve as a place of reflection but will be adjacent to the busy north-south pedestrian path between the Grove and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Walk of Champions will form its western edge, and it will be bordered by the STEM building to the west and the National Center for Natural Products Research to the east.

Special Collections Fall Lecture Series Begins this Month

Lunch lectures on varied topics slated throughout the semester

Jennifer Ford, head of Archives and Special Collections, prepares a copy of Shakespeare’s Second Folio for viewing at the J.D. Williams Library. The acquisition of this copy, published in 1632, is the topic of one of several lectures scheduled throughout the semester. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Libraries’ Department of Archives and Special Collections will feature guest speakers on a variety of topics during its Fall Lecture Series.

“I am so pleased Special Collections has such a distinguished panel of speakers scheduled for the fall,” said Jennifer Ford, the department’s head. “The presentations address subjects which are both thought-provoking and varied in nature, with something to appeal to everyone.”

The series run through November. Each lecture will be held at noon in the Department of Archives and Special Collections, on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library. All programs are free and open to the public. Guests are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch to the events.

For more information, contact Ford at or 662-915-7408.

  • Sept. 21 – “Mississippi in the Work of Sherwood Bonner.” Katie McKee, UM associate professor of Southern studies and English, will discuss Sherwood Bonner, a 19th century literary figure from Mississippi who is the subject of McKee’s forthcoming monograph.
  • Sept. 28 – “Tracking RFK Through the Delta: Digging Through Documents and Knocking on Doors.” Ellen Meacham, UM assistant professor of journalism, will discuss her research for the upcoming work “Delta Epiphany: RFK in Mississippi,” which focuses on Robert F. Kennedy’s historic trips to the Mississippi Delta.
  • Oct. 5 – “We Believed We Were Immortal.” UM journalism professor Kathleen Wickham will discuss her new book, “We Believed We Were Immortal: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss.” Wickham will discuss her research, which focuses on the work of 12 journalists during that time and the unsolved murder of French reporter Paul Guihard.
  • Oct. 10 – “From Shakespeare’s London to Faulkner’s Oxford: The Unlikely Journey of Edwin Booth’s Second Folio.” UM theatre arts professor Rhona Justice-Malloy will discuss the acquisition of Shakespeare’s Second Folio by the university. The acquisition of the folio, owned by actor Edwin Booth, was made possible in 2016 thanks to a donation from the Gertrude Ford Foundation.
  • Oct. 19 – “Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.” Pamela Junior, director of the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, will discuss the museum’s exhibits, history and future.
  • Oct. 31 – “The Bell Witch of Mississippi: Slavery and the Supernatural.” Amy Fluker, visiting assistant professor of history, will discuss the folk tale of the Bell Witch and its connections to Mississippi, the supernatural and slavery.
  • Nov. 8 – “Make Me a Hummingbird of Words: Salvos into the Word of Micro-Memoirs with Beth Ann Fennelly.” Mississippi poet laureate and English professor Beth Ann Fennelly hosts this session, part craft talk, part reading. She will share strategies that informed her new book, “Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs.” She crosses genres, combining the brevity of poetry and the truth-telling of nonfiction in her storytelling form.
  • Nov. 15 – “Living, Making, Being: Houses and Craft Production at a 14th Century Native American Village in Southwestern Virginia.” Maureen Meyers, UM assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, will discuss her excavations at the Carter Robinson site over the last decade. The excavation of six houses on 14th century mound and village site has yielded finds such as shell beads and gaming stones. Meyers will talk about households of people who lived at the site, craft production and what recent excavations have revealed.

Founder of Georgetown Memory Project to Speak at UM

Richard Cellini to discuss work Monday in public lecture

The tombstone of GU272 member Cornelius Hawkins (born 1825, died 1902) is in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Cemetery in Maringouin, Louisiana. Richard Cellini, founder of the Georgetown Memory Project, will discuss his work to track down GU272 members at 4 p.m. Monday in Barnard Observatory. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Richard Cellini, founder of the Georgetown Memory Project, will speak Monday (Sept. 18) at the University of Mississippi about how he helped identify descendants of slaves at Georgetown University.

The event, set for 4-5 p.m. in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory, is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.

Cellini, a Georgetown alumnus, learned that in 1838, the university sold 272 slaves to plantations in Louisiana to pay off university debts. A computer scientist, Cellini wanted to use data to find out where these people and their descendants went. He, along with other Georgetown alumni, located 212 of the original GU272 members, along with more than 5,200 of their direct descendants.

“Richard’s research of the Georgetown slaves has facilitated a much-needed discussion regarding the specific benefactors of this long-standing institution in America,” said Chuck Ross, co-chair of the UM Slavery Research Group. “We continue to discuss the need for frank dialogue around race relations in this country; this project is another example of that need.” 

Cellini will discuss the Georgetown Memory Project, the group’s history, ongoing work with descendants and the relationship with Georgetown University. The work has sparked national interest.

Richard J. Cellini

Upon discovery of the descendants, Georgetown offered legacy admission. Melisande Short-Colomb is one of those descendants who has enrolled this fall as a freshman at Georgetown, according to the Washington Post. At 63, she is the university’s oldest undergraduate.

The event is sponsored by the UM Slavery Research Group, with support from the Office of the Provost and the College of Liberal Arts. The group invited Cellini to campus because its members are interested in slavery history at UM.

“The Georgetown Memory project is a terrific example of how learning more about slavery in our nation’s past can propel us forward as a society,” co-chair Jeffrey Jackson said. “It’s a great opportunity for those of us here at UM to learn more about the Georgetown University story that has captured the attention of the nation.”

The Slavery Research Group has collaborated with University Museums and the Center for Archaeological Research to conduct archaeological research at Rowan Oak to better understand the lives of enslaved workers who lived on the estate during the pre-Faulkner antebellum period. The interdisciplinary group also is working on other research and community events.

For more information, visit

UM Student First to Attain Degree through Complete 2 Compete

Statewide initiative aims to create brighter future and improve Mississippi economy

Debra Harris earned her Bachelor of General Studies degree from UM last month through the Complete 2 Compete Initiative. UM photo by Jessica Coker Hughes

OXFORD, Miss. – The first student in Mississippi to earn a degree through the Complete 2 Compete Initiative finished within days of the program launch by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Community College Board.

University of Mississippi student Debra Harris had a long college journey and was awarded a bachelor’s degree in general studies with minors in English, business administration and computer science last month.

Harris began at Ole Miss in 1977, but her college career was cut short when she joined the Navy. After a military career and starting a family, Harris returned to campus in 1996. She completed about two more years of college before her mother fell ill, causing her to leave the university once again.

“I had a lot of hours completed, but still no degree,” Harris said.

She heard about the Complete 2 Compete program on the radio. The website for the initiative launched in August to provide information and resources for Mississippi adults who have completed some college, but whose requirements fell short of earning a degree.

The program’s goal is to encourage those people to complete their degrees in order to improve their quality of life as well as positively affect the state’s educational attainment rate and economy. 

In Mississippi, more than 2,400 former students over the age of 21 have enough credits to potentially finish a bachelor’s degree without additional coursework. An additional 28,000 students have enough credits to potentially earn an associate’s degree with no additional coursework, and more than 100,000 former students can complete their degree with minimal additional coursework.

The purpose of Complete 2 Compete is to reach out to adults with some college coursework and encourage them to finish what they started. In return, families will be stabilized, the Mississippi economy will thrive and lives will be changed, program administrators said.

Harris completed the online application with the expectation that she’d need to complete more courses. However, just a week after her submission, UM Interim Provost Noel Wilkin called to inform her that she would be eligible for a degree without any additional coursework.

The decision was reached after a Complete to Compete coach and others on the Ole Miss campus determined the courses she completed would qualify her for a degree.

“As we were looking through Debra’s transcripts, it all started coming together,” said Audra Trnovec, Complete 2 Compete coach in the university’s Bachelor of General Studies office. “We reviewed her previous coursework and consulted with different departments on campus to correlate which classes could count toward graduation.”

She had successfully completed enough courses to earn minors in three different areas, allowing her to be eligible for her degree.

“I was speechless,” Harris said. “I was thinking it would be nice if I just needed one or two more classes. I was very excited.”

Harris, from Grenada, hopes to use her degree to pursue career opportunities in adult literacy.

“College degrees have incredible value to the individuals who have earned them,” Wilkin said. “The knowledge gained and the associated credential can open many doors.

“In Debra’s case, she had already done the work, gained the knowledge and was missing the credential. This program has the potential to find these cases and the potential to show people the paths available to finish their degrees.”

UM has received more than 150 applications through the program since its launch last month. Students who enroll under the program are also eligible to be considered for a one-time grant to eliminate past-due balances on accounts at previous institutions or to pay application fees for re-enrolling in courses.

“I am so pleased to hear that the first degree has been awarded through the Complete 2 Compete initiative,” said Glenn Boyce, Mississippi commissioner of higher education. “Debra represents what the project is all about. I congratulate her and hope that the thousands of former students like Debra will all take advantage of this opportunity.

“I look forward to the continued success of Complete 2 Compete as many more Mississippians benefit from this life-changing program.”

For more information, visit

Cyrus Chestnut Quartet to Perform at Ford Center

Thursday show is first in the 2017-18 Jazz Series

The Cyrus Chestnut Quartet performs Thursday at the Ford Center. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host a night of jazz Thursday (Sept. 14) with the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet.

Chestnut, a Baltimore native and soulful jazz pianist, blends contemporary, traditional and gospel jazz styles with soulful sounds and a mix of Latin and samba. His style allows him to explore a wide range of emotions with his music, all while keeping it under the jazz umbrella.

The performance is part of the 2017-18 Jazz Series, made possible by a gift to the Ford Center from Marty and John Dunbar.

“We are looking forward to opening our first Jazz Series with the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “We are truly grateful to the Dunbars for their generosity. It’s a great addition to our season and a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

Chestnut also will conduct a master class at noon Wednesday (Sept. 13) in Nutt Auditorium. The class is free and open to the public.

The New York Times praised Chestnut’s performance at a previous concert: “His brand of crisp articulation and blues inflected harmony evokes another era … multifaceted and dynamic. … Mr. Chestnut was the evening’s star and he brought charisma to the role.”

Tickets are $25 for the orchestra, parterre and tier 1 box levels, $20 for the mezzanine and tier 2 box level and $18 for balcony seating. All tickets are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. Tickets can also be purchased online at

Annual Program Educates Students on Sexual Health and Related Topics

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, Office of Violence Prevention and Office of Health Promotion are co-sponsoring Sex EDxtravaganza, a program on sexual health, consent, gender identities and healthy relationships, on Sept. 11-13.

The event will focus on three goals: decreasing sexually transmitted diseases, preventing sexual violence and decreasing gender-related violence, all important topics for college-aged adults.

On Monday (Sept. 11), student organization FEMISS will host a screening of the documentary “Jackson,” which follows three women in a debate about women’s health and the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. The film by Maisie Crow debuted in 2016, winning numerous awards at film festivals. The screening begins at 6 p.m. in Lamar Hall, Room 129, and a discussion will follow.

The Office of Violence Prevention and Rebels Against Sexual Assault will co-sponsor a Consent Carnival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 12) in the Circle. The goal is to educate students about affirmative consent by playing games and talking with peer educators.

The observance closes out with Wellness Wednesday: Sexual Health Education, sponsored by the Office of Health Promotion, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Galtney-Lott Plaza. The event will serve as a respectful approach to sexual health and sexual relationships, with the goal of engaging students to make informed choices regarding sexual health. Education and campus resources will be available.

For more information, visit

Journalism Professor Releases Book Detailing 1962 Integration

Kathleen Wickham examines the work of 12 different journalists in 'We Believed We Were Immortal'

UM journalism professor Kathleen Wickham has penned a new book, ‘We Believed We Were Immortal,’ focusing on the work of journalists who covered the university’s 1962 integration. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi journalism professor explores the careers of American journalists in her new nonfiction book “We Believed We Were Immortal: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss.”

Kathleen Wickham’s book, published by Yoknapatawpha Press, details how each journalist covered a different part of the integration crisis, from Gov. Ross Barnett’s opposition to James Meredith’s enrollment to the reaction of African-Americans in Oxford. Wickham details the challenges these journalists faced, including beatings, snipers and opposition from the governor.

She also examines the unsolved murder of French reporter Paul Guihard, the only journalist killed during the civil rights movement. The story of Guihard, who was shot in the back during the campus  riots in 1962, struck Wickham as personal.

“I had worked as a reporter for 10 years in my native New Jersey,” Wickham said. “I wrote stories that sent some crooked politicians to jail. I wrote stories about organized crime. I wrote a lot of stories that public officials did not like. But I never felt like my personal safety was compromised.

“If Guihard had been killed in Birmingham or in Selma, I’m not sure it would have been so personal to me, but it happened on a path that I walked almost daily to go to class, and so it became personal.”

The longer Wickham lived in Mississippi, the more interested she became in the stories of these reporters and their commitment, especially Guihard.

For the last five years, Wickham has researched the press’s role in major events, such as integration.

“These reporters were driven to seek the truth and inform the public about what was going on in Oxford in 1962,” she said.

The preface was written by Bob Schieffer of CBS News, who covered the campus riots as a reporter for Texas radio station KXOL.

Wickham will be available to sign copies of the book at 5 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 12) at Off Square Books in Oxford. Shewill also will sign books at Novel bookstore in Memphis at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 and at Lemuria Books in Jackson at 5 p.m. Sept. 21.

GreenServ Airing Again on ‘World’s Greatest’

Greenserv, a medical waste company, and its employees will be featured on ‘World’s Greatest’. Submitted photo

Oxford business GreenServ Inc. was featured last month on “World’s Greatest,” a television program that highlights the best companies, products and services around the world.

The medical waste and compliance firm, started by University of Mississippi alumnus John Alford and business partner Will Fountain, have seen an overwhelmingly positive response from the community and potential customers since the show aired July 10.

“I have had dozens of people who have commented on the program both locally and nationally,” Fountain said. “The show seems to have given us some legitimacy in market for our young business that is rapidly growing.”

The company services Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee, but this program has spread the word about GreenServ’s national mail-back program, allowing them to service the entire United States and Alaska, Fountain said.

The filming was completed in just one day and viewers of the program get to see both the success of a local business and the process of medical waste sanitation and disposal.

“Having someone else acknowledge that what you’re doing is not only working, but working well, boosts company morale and confidence and self-esteem of us and our employees,” Fountain said. “God continues to bless GreenServ with great employees, customers and opportunities.

“We will be able to utilize this program for morale and marketing purposes for many years to come.”

In case you missed the first airing, the “World’s Greatest” episode featuring GreenServ will air again at 5 a.m. Monday (Aug. 28) on DirecTV channel 305 and Dish Network channel 350.

Religion Course Open to LOU Community

Free sessions focus on comparing Christianity and Islam

Professor Mary Thurlkill will open her religion class to community members this fall. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi professor is opening her fall religion course to people in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community, inviting them to come learn what both the Bible and the Quran teach on several topics.

The class, REL 300: Comparative World Religions: Bible and Quran, meets from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays at various religious establishments across Oxford.

The course is divided into four themes: sacred stories, ritual and performance, community and ethics, and death and afterlife. Mary Thurlkill, associate professor of religion, will discuss what both religious texts say about these topics.

This is the first time Thurlkill has opened the course to the community, but she hopes to try this format more in the future.

“It is one of our department’s main goals to encourage the academic study of religion,” Thurlkill said. “I hope such a class will appeal to a wide range of students interested in learning more about Christianity and Islam.”

She also said she wants to provide an opportunity to learn in a community setting, which she does not often get to do as a medieval historian.

“My natural habitat is a library surrounded by old, arcane texts,” she said. “What better ‘service’ to the community might we offer than an opportunity to engage in such dialogue and conversation?”

Besides Thurlkill’s lectures, the course will include videos and guest speakers.

One of those speakers in September is John Kaltner, religion professor at Rhodes College. Kaltner has published several books on introducing the Quran to readers more familiar with the Bible and will present some of his work about what the texts say about Moses, Abraham, Jesus and other notable figures.

The course will follow the semester schedule for students registered through the university, but it will run 12 weeks for nonstudents.

The first and last meetings of the class will be for Ole Miss students only. However, beginning Aug. 29 through Thanksgiving break, community members can attend the course at no charge. At each meeting, a reception from 5:30 to 6 p.m. will serve as a break for students and an opportunity for fellowship for all participants.

“Community engagement plays an important part in our university’s mission,” said Steven Skultety, associate professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. “Professor Thurlkill’s innovative class serves as a wonderful example of how faculty in higher education can better serve the citizens of our city and state.”

UM students will complete scholarly readings and assignments as well as design and host an “Interreligious Dialogue Conference” in November, which also will feature guest speakers.

“I have students from a wide range of majors already registered for the class, and I’ve tried to tailor the course a bit to their various skill sets,” she said. “For example, some students will be responsible for marketing and advertising the conference while others will document the sessions and provide podcasts for community groups.”

Space is limited at some of the venues, so community members interested in taking the course should register by contacting Thurlkill at or 662-202-7536.