Madison Couple Establishes Fund for Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra

Gift to support Ford Center programming and outreach efforts

The Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts in October, thanks to a $20,000 gift by Billy and Rebecca Long. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will bring the Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra to the University of Mississippi this fall, thanks to a generous gift from Dr. Billy and Rebecca Long of Madison.

The $20,000 gift established the FCPA Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra Fund. The Longs became interested in assisting the Ford Center through Cheryle Sims, a Ford Foundation board member and former patient of Long’s.

“Several years ago, she invited us to attend a ballet performance and introduced us to this wonderful facility,” he said. “Since then, we have gotten progressively more interested in attending various events. We realize what a wonderful venue the Ford Center offers to the greater Mississippi community.”

Last year, the Longs traveled to Russia and attended several opera, ballet and symphony performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg while also touring academies where young Russians are trained in artistic skills. The UM alumnus and longtime Ole Miss sports fan wanted to provide a way to bring these performers to the United States.

Billy and Rebecca Long visit St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Their $20,000 gift to the Ford Center will allow the Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra to perform in Oxford in October. Submitted photo

“We are excited about the future offerings at the Ford Center, and the intention to promote the performing arts to a wider audience,” Long said. “I hope that our interest in the Ford Center may spark an interest in our junior high and high school students to see live performances. 

“The Ford Center is an essential part of the university’s outreach to Oxford and the surrounding area, but also to our college students who wish to develop an appreciation for the performing arts, and even become a performer themselves.”

The performance is set for Oct. 3 and will include an outreach activity earlier that day for area students, said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director.

“It will be an international cultural event that will appeal to arts enthusiasts of all ages, and I believe our Oxford audience will embrace this group of talented young musicians and welcome them into our community,” she said.

To contribute to programming at the Ford Center, contact Angela Barlow Brown at 662-915-3181 or

University Museum Hosts Summer Drop-In Days

Themed events provide opportunities for learning and creativity

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum will host open studio drop-in days in July, allowing community members of all ages to create their own artwork.

“We designed the drop-in studios to help audiences of all ages build their own meaning and connection to our collections,” said Steven James Mockler, who works with Americorps VISTA. “We already offer tremendous family programming but saw this as an opportunity to open doors for more mature or unattached visitors.

“The projects are fun and open to all ages, but we’ve also designed them to have deeper layers that we hope will engage and challenge our visitors, too.”

From July 5 to 7, the museum invites families to “Celebrate American Art” with a Fourth of July-themed drop-in day. Families can explore the museum’s Seymour Lawrence Collection of Contemporary American Art and diversity by learning about immigrant background of American artists such as Georgia O’Keefe.

Participants also have an opportunity to view the collection in a new way by helping the museum complete a community diversity map and will draw patriotic self-portraits to celebrate American heritage.

The museum will host “Fitting in at the Museum” drop-in days July 24-28. Families will explore the museum’s newest exhibit of puzzles, “Love=Love” by Kent Rogowski. Participants will have an opportunity to help the museum put together a community project and will assemble their own puzzle piece work of art to take home from the studio.

The museum is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free. For more information, visit

University Participates in Culture of Respect Program

Initiative aims to address and prevent sexual violence on campuses

The Division of Student Affairs will participate in the Culture of Respect Program aimed at developing strategies to address sexual violence. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is among 53 institutions to join the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators 2017 Culture of Respect inaugural cohort with the aim of addressing campus sexual violence.

As part of the two-year program, UM will examine and evaluate its existing policies, build effective prevention programs, create a strategic plan for addressing violence, participate in professional development and receive coaching from public health professionals.

“We feel like we already do a good job on response and prevention on our campus, but we are always focused on improving and serving our students, faculty and staff,” said Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, assistant director for violence prevention.

“The university upholds its commitment to a safe campus through several avenues, and Culture of Respect is bringing together more stakeholders than ever to ensure we are doing everything we can and maximizing existing resources.”

Institutions in the pilot program, launched in 2016, showed improvements in the six pillars of response and prevention: survivor support, clear policies, multitiered education, public disclosure, school-wide mobilization and ongoing self-assessment.

Throughout the program, institutions will learn from one other through online discussion boards and networking events.

“One of the core values of the Division of Student Affairs is “students first”; the Culture of Respect membership exemplifies our commitment to that specific value,” said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. “Continual assessment and improvement of professional practice is a hallmark of our university, but this initiative is especially important in our efforts to enhance student safety.”

For information about policies at Ole Miss regarding relationship violence and sexual assault, visit

Miss University to Compete for Miss Mississippi Title

Leah Gibson and 10 other Ole Miss students vie for the crown this week in Vicksburg

Miss University Leah Gibson and 10 other Ole Miss students will compete for the title of Miss Mississippi this week in Vicksburg. Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

By Saturday (June 24), judges will have worked their way through 44 contestants and crowned the 60th Miss Mississippi.

Miss University Leah Gibson and 10 other Ole Miss students are among the contestants. The diamond anniversary of the 2017 Miss Mississippi pageant begins Wednesday (June 21) with preliminary competitions throughout the week in Vicksburg.

The top 10 advance to compete for the crown beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Gibson will represent the University of Mississippi as reigning Miss University. A 2017 graduate, Gibson earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism in May.

Ten other Ole Miss students will also vie for the crown: Miss All-America City, Asya Branch; Miss Parade of Beauties, Blair Wortsmith; Miss DeSoto County, Charley Ann Nix; Miss Tupelo, Dana Wesley; Miss Riverland, Joy Addison; Miss Amory, Kasey Pearson; Miss Pine Belt, Lizzie Wicks; Miss Rolling Hills, Macken’z Smith; Miss Heart of the South, Mary Katherine McCaa; and Miss Southern Magnolia, Mary Margaret Hyer

The final round will air live on WLBT in Jackson, WTVA in Tupelo, WABG in Greenville, WGBC in Meridian, WLOX in Biloxi and WMC-TV in Memphis.

Be sure to tune in to cheer on all our Ole Miss contestants!

University to Provide STEM Experience for Young Women

$20,000 grant will support environmental education in the Oxford community

Young women watch as the structural integrity of their popsicle stick tower is tested during last year’s STEM Camp for Girls on the UM campus. A grant from LRNG will allow Ole Miss educators to expand on programs such as this to provide STEM opportunities for Oxford youth. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will offer an opportunity for young women in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community to experience hands-on science technology, engineering and math research while exploring their local environment. 

Ellen Shelton, director of pre-college programs for the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, has been awarded a $20,000 grant to support a project to reimagine traditional education, specifically for young women interested in STEM fields. 

Shelton’s proposal, titled “Green is the New Pink: Young Women Environmentalists in Action,” will focus on exploring environmental issues in a local context, beginning this fall. A collaboration among the Office of Pre-College Programs, the UM Writing Project and Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, the program will introduce real-world research strategies and generate curiosity about the natural environment, Shelton said.

“Even though Mississippi is predominantly a rural state, with more than 56 percent of students living in rural areas, we rarely take time to explore and appreciate the immediate environment beyond our classroom and office walls,” Shelton said. “The program’s intense focus on area birds, plants, and insects will reinforce the interconnectivity of all habitats and creatures in an environment.

“The participants will learn to explore the world around them; they will understand that great inquiry starts in the local space.”

In August, students in grades 8 to 11 can apply for the program and will participate in it on four Saturdays throughout the academic year. The cross-disciplinary partnership between English and science will allow students to conduct their own research, create a project and deliver a presentation.

Students will be guided through four field experiences of data collection, data exploration, analysis and interpretation of data, and drawing conclusions. In the fall, students will focus on migration patterns and the impact of birds in north Mississippi by visiting Strawberry Plains and exploring the forests, wetlands and prairies of the area. In the spring, students will observe plants and insects while learning how each help the local environment and how climate change affects plants. 

The award, a grant from the LRNG (short for learning) Educator Innovator Challenge, will connect learning with student interests. Shelton’s proposal was among only 10 chosen for funding, which will support 12 to 15 young women and their research into environmental inquiries.

This program is an extension of the STEM Camp for Girls, created several years ago at Ole Miss.

“Our goal in pre-college programs is to make spaces for all students to explore any opportunity that they wish,” Shelton said. “We are excited about this funding because our goal is to continue support for young women scientists as they move from Ecology Day Camp into STEM Camp for Girls to Green is the New Pink and then into more of our STEM summer offerings: Environmental Conservation Leadership Workshop, Code Monkeys Camp, Engineering Camp, Summer College or UM’s ARISE program.”

Scott Knight, director of the UM Field Station, is co-investigator on the grant and will work alongside Shelton with Oxford High School teacher Angela Whaley, Oxford Middle School teacher Martha Tallent and Lafayette Middle School teacher Katie Szabo to enhance education for students.

“Because science, engineering and math are often perceived as hard subjects, it can be a pretty tough sell to convince young people to consider careers in STEM,” Knight said. “This program will demonstrate, through hands-on participation, that while science can sometimes be challenging, the chance to discover something new is fun, rewarding and well worth all the hard work.”

Funding for the project comes from the support of the National Writing Project, John Legend’s Show Me Campaign, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Collective Shift.

University Museum Hosts Bicentennial-themed Activity Day

Activities will be centered around Mississippi's 200th year of statehood

Steven James Mockler, an Americorps VISTA with the UM Museum, and Emily Hargrove, a graduate student working at the museum, help children with fun activities. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum celebrates 200 years of statehood June 24 with the Made in Mississippi Summer Family Activity Day.

Children and their families are invited to attend the drop-in session celebrating Mississippi’s Bicentennial from 10 a.m. to noon. Guests can participate in activities inspired by different cities in Mississippi that have left a lasting impression on the arts scene over the last 200 years of statehood.

“We are very lucky to live in a state with such a rich artistic history,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “During this fun family day we will explore a wide range of Mississippi artists through a gallery search and art activities.

“There will be something for everyone, as we will even have a Mini Mississippi Oxford play area for ages 0-3.” 

The event is free and children of all ages are welcome to attend. A Buie Babies play space for younger children is also available.

Oxsicles will be on hand, selling the company’s signature handmade popsicles at the event.

For more information about the University Museum and event, visit

Following the activity day, the Governor’s Concert will begin on the Grove stage with performances by Marty Stuart, Mac McAnally, Steve Azar, Vasti Jackson, Shannon McNally, David Lee, the Mississippi Bicentennial Symphony Orchestra and the Mississippi Bicentennial Singers. The free concert starts at 6:30 p.m.

For a full schedule of events, visit

J.D. Williams Library Hosts Opening Reception for Bicentennial Exhibit

Reception includes keynote address by UM alumnus and author W. Ralph Eubanks

Greg Johnson arranges an exhibit featuring the Mississippi Bicentennial at the Archives and Special Collections in J.D. Williams Library. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Department of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library will host an opening reception for the exhibit “Mississippi: 200 Years of Statehood” from 5 to 7 p.m. June 21.

The exhibit features a wide variety of items that defined Mississippi over the course of its history, including historical Mississippi textbooks, early territorial documents, 18th-century maps of the South by European cartographers, materials related to the women’s suffrage movement and civil rights movement in the state, sound recordings, Mississippi-themed sheet music and photographs of the state throughout the years.

The reception includes a welcome from Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, a video statement from former Mississippi Gov. William Winter and a keynote address by W. Ralph Eubanks, UM alumnus and author. The event will be held in the Faulkner Room within Special Collections on the third floor of the library. It is free and open to the public.

“The UM Libraries are deeply honored to participate and host an event on such an important anniversary for the state,” said Cecilia Botero, dean of libraries.

The opening reception is one of many events of the week that celebrates Mississippi’s bicentennial in the northern part of state. On June 19, the library will host a brown bag luncheon at noon in Special Collections featuring the publication of The Mississippi Encyclopedia with remarks by editors Ted Ownby, Charles Reagan Wilson and Jimmy Thomas, in addition to several contributors from the library.

“The week of June 19th in north Mississippi is a very special one for the region, and Special Collections is proud to be able to contribute to the exciting programming schedule,” said Jennifer Ford, head of special collections. “We are deeply indebted to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, former Gov. William Winter and W. Ralph Eubanks for helping us to create such a great lineup of events in the archives that week highlighting the state’s bicentennial.”

On June 24, the Governor’s Concert in celebration of the bicentennial will be held on the Grove Stage headlined by country and Americana artist Marty Stuart. In addition, Special Collection’s bicentennial exhibit will have special public viewing hours from noon to 4:30 p.m. that day in honor of the festivities.

For more information about events at the J.D. Williams Library, contact Jennifer Ford at 662-915-7408 or

The official bicentennial exhibit reception for the library was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the Mississippi Development Authority.

To learn more about Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration, visit

Former Mississippi Governor William Winter comments on the significance of celebrating the bicentennial through the “Mississippi: 200 Years of History” exhibit at the J.D. Williams Library.


Gretchen Bunde Named Kramer Award Outstanding Teacher

Students nominated composition and rhetoric instructor for her excellence in teaching

Jane Magruder Walman, who represents the family of the Kramer Endowment (left) is pictured with Kramer Award recipient Gretchen Bunde and Chair of the Department of Writing and Rhetoric Robert Cummings. Thomas Graning/University Communications.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Writing and Rhetoric awarded the X.A. Kramer Jr. Award for Outstanding Teacher to Gretchen Bunde.

Bunde, an instructor in composition and rhetoric, was nominated by numerous students for her long history of excellence in teaching.

“Gretchen dedicates herself to improving the writing and thinking of her students,” said Alice Johnston Myatt, assistant chair of the Department of Writing and Rhetoric and chair of the awards committee. “Her work as an exemplary writing instructor goes beyond the classroom.”

Bunde also leads a teaching circle to support professional development of teachers and serves on several committees, including curriculum, assessment and planning, Myatt said.

“I was surprised and humbled to receive the Kramer award,” Bunde said. “The DWR is filled with extraordinary educators, and I know that working with them makes me a better teacher every day.

“I’m so glad to know that my students can tell how much I care and genuinely enjoy teaching them how to become better writers.”

In their nominations, students highlighted that Bunde instilled confidence in their writing abilities, encouraged active learning and built a community in her classroom.

“With the frequency of each paper, I was able to expand my writing abilities with practice,” one student said. “The way in which she organizes her assignments helps me to create and develop good papers.”

Another student highlighted the safe environment Bunde creates for open dialogue.

“She always had group discussions and encouraged everyone to respond,” the student wrote. “She would ask us to respond to recent events in pop culture and the world around us, and then asked us to propose a solution.

“It really made me think about myself and the choices I had made in the past that may have not been the best.”

The award includes a $1,000 stipend and engraved crystal memento.

Bae Magruder established the Kramer award in 1986 in memory of her brother, X.A. Kramer Jr. The Kramer endowment supports the university’s writing and rhetoric program.

Nominations for the award open Feb. 1 of each year for instructors who taught in the preceding calendar year.

And the Echo Performs Sunday for Summer Sunset Series

Performances continue through June in the Grove

And the Echo is set to perform on the Grove stage Sunday (June 11) evening as part of the Summer Sunset Series. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum, in conjunction with Visit Oxford and other local organizations, is hosting live music in the Grove each Sunday in June for the Summer Sunset Series.

The museum presents the popular synth-pop duo And the Echo at 5 p.m. Sunday (June 11). The Oxford-based group draws influence from ’80s bands such as Duran Duran and describes its style as similar to Depeche Mode with a smooth and emotive female vocalist.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to the free event and picnic in the Grove before the music.

The series also will feature Americana group Rocket 88 on June 18 and acoustic group Black Water Trio on June 25.

Other sponsors include the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Visit Oxford, the Ole Miss Student Union, Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce, and the divisions of University and Public Events and University Communications.

For more information, visit

Carolyn Brown Returns to UM Museum to Discuss Kate Freeman Clark

Author to sign books at reception following lecture

‘The Gardens’ by impressionist Kate Freeman Clark is part of ‘Lasting Impressions: Restoring Kate Freeman Clark,’ on display at the University Museum. Carolyn Brown will discuss the artist and her work Thursday at the museum. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Author and scholar Carolyn Brown returns to the University Museum to further discuss her recent book, “The Artist’s Sketch: A Biography of Painter Kate Freeman Clark,” at 6 p.m. Thursday (June 8).

The lecture and reception that follows are free and open to the public. Brown, who was part of a panel discussion on the artist in March, will sign copies of her books at the reception.

“The University Museum has been exceptionally pleased to have had its exhibition ‘Lasting Impressions: Restoring Kate Freeman Clark’ coincide with the publication of the new Clark biography, ‘The Artist’s Sketch,’ by author Carolyn Brown,” said Robert Saarnio, museum director.

“We anticipate the upcoming lecture by Ms. Brown to represent a unique opportunity for the audience to learn about the artist’s life, and the in-depth research undertaken in the course of this groundbreaking work of biographical scholarship.”

The book details the unexpected story of Clark – who flourished in art circles and then withdrew – as well as the town of Holly Springs discovering what a treasure she and her work are to the community.

Brown previously published two award-winning biographies of Eudora Welty and Margaret Walker before beginning her research on Clark.

“Extensive excerpts of writings by Clark – including a fascinating essay about a summer with William Merritt Chase at Shinnecock – brings alive the story of a young and aspiring woman, who at the request of her mother, never sold a painting and signed her work ‘Freeman Clark’,” said Martha R. Severens, curator of the Greenville County Museum of Art in South Carolina.

Books will be available for purchase at the museum for the event and are in stock at the Ole Miss Bookstore on Jackson Avenue. For more information, call 662-915-7073 or email