UM Museum, Ford Center Host Weekend of Holiday Festivities

Music, activities and a winter wonderland on tap to help families get into the spirit

The Holiday Village, featuring an enchanting array of edible structures, is open Dec. 1-15 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Mississippi Museum have a weekend of fun-filled holiday activities scheduled for the whole family.

The Ford Center invites families to an evening celebrating the holiday season Friday, (Dec. 1) with “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and “Handel’s Messiah.”

Gian Carlo Menotti’s renowned one-act opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” shows how faith, charity, unselfish love and good deeds can produce miracles. The performance is a collaborative project involving alumni, students and community members.

Ole Miss alumnus Paul Gamble will sing “Balthazar” during the performance and university opera theatre and dance students will perform in several roles. Six community guests also will join opera students in the Shepherds’ Chorus, including Oxford dentist Walker Swaney, emeritus music faculty Cynthia Linton, College of Liberal Arts project coordinator Patti O’Sullivan, theatre arts staff member Ed Neilson, alumna Sissy Neilson and Oxford attorney Jim DeLoach.

The second half of the night features “Handel’s Messiah.” The hourlong production includes performances by the UM Choir, a select orchestra and alumni guest artists as soloists, including Allison Stanford, Viola Dacus and Kyle Davis.  The orchestra of professional musicians and students is conducted by Selim Gray, professor of music and orchestra, and UM Choirs, conducted by Don Trott, professor of music and director of choral activities, also will perform.

These performances are made possible through funding by Nancye Starnes and the Kite Foundation.

Tickets for the show are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels, and $18 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for Ole Miss faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. Tickets also can be purchased online at

The UM Museum will host a Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day on Saturday (Dec. 2). The drop-in workshop, set for 9 a.m.-noon, will allow participants of all ages to create seasonal art, eat holiday snacks and learn about winter wonders, including holidays from around the world.

The museum also will have a sensory play area for the youngest artists, and all ages are welcome to participate.

Children create their own holiday-inspired art at last year’s installment of the UM Museum’s Santa’s Workshop. Submitted photo

“Santa’s Workshop is one of our favorite events as we celebrate the magic of winter, snow and holidays,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “We also hope to expand our horizons this year and look at what is happening around the world during the winter holidays.”

Santa does not attend the event, but participants can take a Flying Tuk sleigh ride between the museum and the Ford Center’s Holiday Village, a collection of locally-themed gingerbread houses.

“We are so thrilled to have the Flying Tuks partnering for rides to the Holiday Village again, as that was a highlight from last year’s event,” she said.

The museum’s Family Activity Days are sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and the Ignite Ole Miss campaign. For more information about Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day, contact McCauley at To keep up with museum exhibits and upcoming events, visit

The Holiday Village will feature 19 gingerbread houses, made entirely from edible confections. The Ford Center also is adding a miniature Christmas Village to celebrate holiday traditions from around the world.

The village is also open for group reservations, which can be scheduled by contacting marketing director Kate Meacham at 662-915-6502 or

Here is the full schedule of Holiday Village Hours:

Friday (Dec. 1) – 1-7:30 p.m.

Saturday (Dec. 2) and Sunday (Dec. 3) – 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday (Dec. 4) – 1-7:30 p.m. Guests can visit the village after the Oxford Christmas parade for hot chocolate.

Tuesday (Dec. 5) through Friday (Dec. 8) – 1-5 p.m.

Saturday (Dec. 9) – 1-5 p.m. The Oxford Civic Chorus will perform at 1 p.m., and Santa will be in the village from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday (Dec. 10) – Noon-3 p.m.

Monday (Dec. 11) through Friday (Dec. 15) – 1-5 p.m.

For more information, visit

UM Alumna Clara Turnage Receives Chronicle of Higher Education Award

Former DM editor honored for excellence in her in-depth and breaking news coverage

Clara Turnage

OXFORD, Miss. – Clara Turnage, an alumna of the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, received The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2017 David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists, a $3,000 prize given to the publication’s top intern each year.

Turnage, a New Hebron native, began interning for the Chronicle shortly after graduating in May. She was recognized for her breaking news coverage of the violence at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, her in-depth coverage of the firing of Texas A&M University’s provost and an article she wrote about mental health challenges faced by international students on U.S. campuses.

She said she worked with other accomplished interns from around the country and was surprised to receive the award.

“Many of their interns come from Ivy League schools and have had multiple professional internships before this one,” she said. “It was an honor to work with the reporters and editors at the Chronicle, but receiving the Miller Award is just incredible.”

Turnage developed her passion for education reporting because of its importance in Mississippi. This led to her to initially seek the internship at the higher education newspaper earlier this year.

“I believe it is incredibly important to a state like Mississippi, where there are fewer large cities or economic drivers to lure big businesses, jobs and opportunities,” Turnage said. “The more educated the population is, the more our students and youth can achieve, which in turn benefits our state. If we wish to lower poverty rates, I think education is a good place to start.

“I knew that, at the Chronicle, I would get to provide articles that mattered to readers who cared. I thought them a little out of my range when I first applied, and I was incredibly honored to join their intern team over the summer.”

Turnage said she enjoyed her time interning for the publication, where other reporters and editors created a learning work environment and offered feedback and new perspectives. She said her experience covering the events in Charlottesville, while scary, gave her a journalistic focus that she credits to her time at The Daily Mississippian.

“It was a joy to watch Clara blossom as a young journalist in her four years at The Daily Mississippian,” said Patricia Thompson, assistant dean for student media at the UM journalism school. “She learned so much from the student editors who mentored her.

“Clara won top awards for her leadership as editor-in-chief, and for news reporting, feature writing, enterprise reporting, op-ed column writing and in-depth projects. She did stunning work that had a major impact on this campus and community. She worked hundreds of hours each semester, while at the same time maintaining a high GPA in her rigorous journalism and computer science classes.”

Turnage is telling important Mississippi stories as the education reporter for The Natchez Democrat. She primarily covers elementary and high school, while still covering higher education.

For more information about The Chronicle of Higher Education and Turnage’s work, visit

UM Launches Flagship Constellations to Tackle ‘Grand Challenges’

Multidisciplinary teams seek significant and innovative solutions

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter explains the UM Flagship Constellation initiative at its debut Nov. 17 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi unveiled its Flagship Constellations initiative, which includes multidisciplinary teams with the goal of creating solutions in the areas of big data, brain wellness, community wellbeing and disaster resilience, on Friday (Nov. 17).

Each team consists of faculty, staff and students through a collaborative effort to explore and solve complex issues through the diversity of ideas. The constellations also will include subthemes, allowing groups to work on multiple projects at once.

“These four constellations are made up of brilliant individual stars, yes, but it’s together that they can make their legendary impact,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “By working together, we can address compelling challenges where no single discipline has all the answers and where only deep insights from multiple points of view will discover solutions.”

Vitter also announced a donation of $1 million in support of this effort by Tommy and Jim Duff to create the Ernest R. Duff Flagship Constellation Fund, in honor of their father.

“With this gift, they are commemorating their late father’s love for Ole Miss, his alma mater,” he said. “This support will allow us to truly maximize and launch the potential of the Flagship Constellations.”

Big Data Team to Pursue Best Ways to Compile and Secure Data

The team will pursue the development of more creative and useful ways to analyze and visualize data to gain new insights and drive innovative research. Its work will encompass many industries, including medicine and health, engineering, security, business, policy and education.

The use of electronic medical records have already provided health care professionals with more information than ever, but there is more to health than what those records say, said Dr. Richard Summers, Billy S. Guyton Professor and professor of emergency medicine, physiology and biophysics at the UM Medical Center.

“The myriad of social and economic factors that impact patient’s disease states and general well-being are just now coming into focus,” Summers said. “It is possible that your health risks may be more associated with the numbers of your ZIP code than even the measures of your cholesterol.

“So a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and managing diseases in our populations is required in a way that draws on information from many varied sources.”

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media hosts Data Day each year to emphasize the importance of learning to apply data in both market research and the spread of information. The group is already engaged in several studies using big data, including the impact of Twitter on the political process.

Dr. Richard Summers (left) and Dawn Wilkins describe the efforts of the Big Data teams at the debut of the UM Flagship Constellations initiative. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“This Flagship Constellation provides opportunities for collaboration among content creators, those with deep backgrounds in data science and others with broad technological expertise to make assessments about the information people in our state are consuming and to find ways to ensure that they have what they need to make informed choices,” said Deb Wenger, assistant dean and associate professor of journalism.

Mark Wilder, dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy, explained how the digital revolution has opened opportunities for individuals and companies that can identify creative new products or services.

“A recent Forbes article predicts the data analytics market to exceed $200 billion by the year 2020, creating great opportunities for businesses in Mississippi and beyond,” Wilder said.

From a student perspective, learning about data can increase job prospects upon graduation, but it doesn’t mean everyone needs to major in computer science.

“It does mean that in most jobs, across a wide range of disciplines, employers are looking for employees who have some technical abilities and experience working with big data,” said Dawn Wilkins, professor and chair of computer science.

“A new minor in digital media studies, or DMS, was recently created on the Oxford campus for exactly this purpose. The minor allows for an emphasis in computing, digital communications or digital arts.”

Brain Wellness Team Seeks Understanding of Brain Function and Impairment

The academically diverse team will engage in population-based research, clinical care, education and basic research to develop technologies and practices help prevent and promote recovery of brain impairment.

“As neuroscientists, we hope to not only understand the normal functions of the brain, but also what goes wrong in brain disease and after nervous system injury,” said Michael Lehman, professor and chair of neurobiology and anatomical sciences at UMMC. “With this knowledge, we hope to ultimately prevent and reverse the human suffering caused by conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, addiction and autism.”

This year, more than 41,000 Mississippians will suffer strokes, and 12,000 of those people will experience permanent disabilities as a result. The cost to the state for this care exceeds $1 billion.

“The brain wellness constellation positions the University of Mississippi to be at the forefront of ending this epidemic,” said Dr. Chad Washington, UMMC assistant professor of neurosurgery. “In fact, we are doing this already.

“Whether it is discovering new drugs to help prevent or treat strokes, improving recovery through novel methods in rehabilitation or making use of UMMC’s Telehealth network, we are improving the lives of Mississippians every day.”

The initial focus on the study of addiction will concentrate on the opioid epidemic, but the team hopes to ultimately understand addiction and drug abuse from a broader perspective.

Community Wellbeing Team to Foster Stronger and More Vibrant Communities

Rural communities, especially in Mississippi, face many challenges to their economies, personal and environmental health, food security, housing and infrastructure. Members of this constellation will work in communities to identify factors that are impeding upon quality of life and implement new programs and methods to foster stronger and more vibrant communities.

Major concerns both in the United States and around the world are lifestyle and behavior health issues causing premature births, fetal origins of adult diseases, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and disability.

“These issues don’t stand alone,” said Kate Centellas, Croft associate professor of anthropology. “They are very often coupled with limited access to appropriate and local care.

“Many of them disproportionately impact the poor and people of color. That means we not only face a health care crisis; we’re also facing a crisis of equality and lost potential.”

The central goal is to develop innovative methods in addressing these issues. The constellation is already working to implement telemedicine in Bolivia, along with two projects in Mississippi: one to help residents of the Mississippi Delta improve water safety, and another to help premature and low-birth weight children and mothers attempting to breast-feed these children.

“Working with the most vulnerable babies and offering state-of-the-art support to their families, the insights from this work will help to inform new models of care that span across the rural-urban continuum,” said Dr. Josh Mann, chair of preventative medicine at UMMC.

Disaster Resilience Team to Develop Technology and Tools to Reduce Impact of Catastrophies

The impact of disasters can be detrimental to a community or area. For example, Hurricane Katrina caused more than 1,800 deaths and an economic damage exceeding $200 billion in 2005. In the last decade, disasters cost $1.4 trillion worldwide and have affected 1.7 billion people.

“In our state, we are at increased risk for experiencing natural disasters,” said Stefan Schulenberg, professor of psychology. “We mark time by whether events occurred before Katrina or after, whether they occurred before Camille or after. We know natural disasters very well. They are part of our culture.”

The disaster resilience team will combine research from environmental and legal disciplines with material sciences, information technology and public health. Its aim is to develop the technology and tools to reduce the impact of natural, manmade and environmental disasters and to increase the sustainability of affected communities.

“Given our place and capacities, the University of Mississippi can be a test bed for studying disaster management and prevention,” said Richard Forgette, associate provost. “We are a diverse and critical mass of experts, research centers and support infrastructure centered on advancing knowledge in disaster resilience.”

The team hopes to mitigate all types of disasters by understanding and addressing vulnerabilities.

Provost Noel Wilkin said he is excited about the energy Ole Miss faculty and staff have brought to the Flagship Constellations initiative.

“This collaborative initiative has the ability to advance our standing as an academic institution, to magnify the influence of our research on solving major challenges faced by society and to contribute knowledge that will changes the lives of people,” Wilkin said.

“I also hope that it will rekindle your confidence that our faculty and researchers have incredible potential to change the lives of others through their research. I look forward to the meaningful work that will be done and this difference we’re going to make in society.”

For more information about these collaborations, visit

UM Museum Unveils 2017 Keepsake Ornament

This year's design features popular 19th century scientific instrument

The UM Museum’s 2017 keepsake ornament featuring Barlow’s Planetarium is available for purchase. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum has unveiled its 17th annual keepsake ornament, a design featuring the Barlow’s Planetarium, part of the collection of antique scientific instruments on display at the museum.

The planetarium, also known as an orrery, has a storied history with Ole Miss. Designer Thomas H. Barlow of Lexington, Kentucky, who created and sold several of these instruments to universities and museums throughout the United States, made the university’s orrery in 1854.

The ornaments alternate annually between highlights of the museum’s 20,000-object permanent collection, campus landmarks and sites around Oxford, said Robert Saarnio, museum director.

“This mid-19th century astronomical model occupies a place of great prominence in the museum’s exhibition galleries and is a much-beloved historical artifact of countless museum visitors,” Saarnio said. “All ornament sales proceeds directly support programs of the University Museum, and we are very grateful to those campus and community members for whom these collectibles are eagerly-awaited annual Museum Store offerings.”

In the late 1850s, Chancellor F.A.P. Barnard, who also served as chair and professor of mathematics, astronomy and natural philosophy, purchased the orrery for the university. The orrery and other scientific instruments were used in classrooms and laboratories until they became obsolete in the 1870s.

The planetarium aligns the planets based on a specific date. At the museum, the date is set to Nov. 7 1848, the day the university first opened its doors to students.

The Barlow’s Planetarium commemorative ornament is available for $25, plus tax. It can be purchased in the Museum Store or by phone with a credit card at 662-915-7073. A flat $7 shipping and handling fee will be added to all orders to be shipped within the 48 contiguous states, and all sales are final.

Orders must be placed by Dec. 13 to arrive in time for Christmas Day.

Collectible ornaments from previous years still available in the Museum Store include the Old Skipwith House, Brandt Memory House, Ventress Hall, Lafayette County Courthouse, Oxford City Hall, the Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Jersey, Theora Hamblett House, Theora Hamblett’s “Christmas Trees,” Walk of Champions, Oxford’s Double Decker Bus and the Herakles Neck Amphora. All previous year’s ornaments are $20, plus tax.

Museum members and Friends of the Museum receive a 10 percent discount on all merchandise in the Museum Store. 

The University Museum is at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Holiday Hours for the Museum Store are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 10a.m.-6p.m. Saturdays.
Museum gallery visiting hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.

For information about events and exhibits, visit

Artist Randy Hayes to Discuss ‘Unwritten Memoir’ at UM Museum

Holly Springs native plans to explain how travels inspired his work

Randy Hayes, the artist behind the exhibit ‘Unwritten Memoir’ will discuss the inspiration behind his work Thursday (Nov. 16) at the University Museum. Submitted photo.

OXFORD, Miss. – Holly Springs native and artist Randy Hayes will discuss his “Unwritten Memoir” exhibit, on display at the University of Mississippi Museum, on Thursday evening (Nov. 16).

The lecture, set for 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. Hayes plans to talk about the inspiration behind his work and answer questions from audience members.

“Unwritten Memoir” opened in September. The exhibit, which includes photographs, objects and paintings, reflects visual memories of Hayes’ time spent traveling through Turkey, Japan and the American South from 2004 to present.

“The University Museum has been privileged to be exhibiting this fall the work of distinguished Mississippi visual artist Randy Hayes, in his exceptional exhibition ‘Unwritten Memoir,'” said Robert Saarnio, museum director. “We eagerly anticipate his guest artist appearance in which he will present an illustrated prologue in PowerPoint format, followed by a walkthrough of the galleries of his exhibition, in which dialog with the audience will be highly welcomed.”

Hayes has spent the majority of his artistic career in Seattle. His work has been featured in public and private collections around the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and the U.S. Department of State.

The exhibit will be available for viewing through Dec. 9.

UM Students Headed to Cuba to Study Dance

The students, from a variety of majors, will learn from the renowned Malpaso Dance Company

Osnel Delgado (front) of Malpaso Dance Company walks Ole Miss ‘Dance in Cuba’ students through a contemporary routine. The students will travel to Cuba next month to work with Cuban dancers as part of the study abroad program. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi theatre arts professor is giving eight students the opportunity of a lifetime to study modern dance in Cuba.

Malpaso Dance Company, one of the most sought-after Cuban dance companies, partnered with the Department of Theatre Arts and Mississippi: The Dance Company to instruct students in Oxford this month and for two weeks in Havana in December. Their work will culminate with a Jan. 27 performance alongside Malpaso at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Jennifer Mizenko had the idea of leading a class to Cuba about a year ago and has worked to put this course together since.

“I’ve always been fascinated by Cuba, since it’s been so off-limits for so long,” she said. “Cuban rhythms and dance are complex, sensuous and provocative, so putting all of this together is like bringing a huge dream to life.”

Once the idea materialized, she researched dance companies and found Malpaso, which proved to be a perfect fit for the program.

Mizenko approached Julia Aubrey, director of the Ford Center, earlier this year about the possibility of sponsoring a performance by the dance company. Aubrey was immediately supportive of the initiative, which directly supports the educational goals of the Ford Center.

“I believe arts collaboration is an important aspect of the mission of the Ford Center,” Aubrey said. “Since this project involved an enhanced cultural experience for the university students and our Ford Center patrons, I accepted her proposal to share resources and contracted with the international company to present Malpaso in January 2018.

“As you see, it has taken a year of planning to make this event a reality. We have opened our doors to the dance students and the Cuban artists for rehearsals and a performance that celebrates the importance of the arts as an international language understood by all peoples.”

Osnel Delgado, Malpaso’s artistic director, one of the company’s founders and professor of dance studies at the National Dance School of Havana, will teach participating students a new and original work during International Education Week, Nov. 13-17. The dance company will rehearse with students throughout the week and also visit other courses to promote international education.

Alexis Boucugnani, a sophomore theatre arts major from Athens, Georgia; Madeleine Bradley, junior exercise science major from Memphis; Maddy Friedman, freshman elementary education major from Madison, Wisconsin; Mary Lacy Lusk, junior general studies major from Troy, Alabama; Rachel McKellar, junior English major from Purvis; Makenzie Menaker, freshman general studies major from Mobile, Alabama; Lydia Myers, junior theatre arts major from Laurel; and Victoria Penegor, sophomore mathematics major from Breckenridge, Colorado, each auditioned for a slot in the two-week course.

Students will live with Cuban families for two weeks, Dec. 9-23, while studying in Havana. They will spend several hours rehearsing each day while also learning about the history of Cuban rhythm, taking a salsa class, visiting museums and touring Old Havana.

“I’ve been a dancer since I was 2, and I have trained in just about every style, but Cuban modern dance is really unique,” Menaker said. “I feel like I’m about to learn a whole new dance style that will add to my repertoire and help me grow as a dancer.”

Though students will study primarily dance technique, they also will be assigned reading while in Cuba and will be asked to reflect on how the movement they are studying reflects the country and its culture.

“I’ve always provided guest artists for my students, and I always want to challenge them with new things,” Mizenko said. “I wanted to step up the game and include an element of studying another culture and its customs, social mores, politics and also dance.”

Students also will have opportunities to work with Delgado’s parents and Cuban dance icons Esteban Delgado Betancourt and Idania Wambrug Rodriguez. Betancourt was a dancer with Danza Contemporanea Cuba for more than 15 years, and Rodriguez is a teacher at the National Dance School of Havana.

Mizenko hopes the students, who are from all different majors and backgrounds, will develop a greater understanding of professional dance and a choreographer’s vision, as well develop a greater independence and awareness of living and working in a different culture.

Though travel is open between the United States and Cuba, the process of putting an entire course together remains more difficult than if traveling to other countries. U.S. citizens still need to secure visas through one of 12 reasons to travel to Cuba – in this case, education.

“‘Dance in Cuba’ is the first faculty-directed program to Cuba for the University of Mississippi, and the Study Abroad Office is proud to offer such a unique opportunity to our students,” said Blair McElroy, UM interim senior international officer and director of study abroad. “Professor Mizenko’s vision and enthusiasm for the program has been inspiring.”

The Study Abroad Office has worked closely with International Studies Abroad, a study abroad program provider that has assisted in implementing this program.

“ISA has been working on custom programs in Cuba for many years, so we were confident that they would be a strong partner to assist us with the logistics of the program,” McElroy said.

ISA has paired students with host families, assisted with securing travel visas, arranged transportation and planned educational excursions for the group.

International Education Week Showcases Opportunities Abroad

Events encourage students and faculty to engage in learning about and from other cultures

UM students Guangyi Zou and Yin Chang play the Chinese folk music duet ‘Molihua’ as part of the 2015 International Education Week. This year’s observance features demonstrations from Malpaso Dance Company of Cuba, among many other events. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Office of Global Engagement is participating in a joint initiative between the federal departments of State and Education to showcase benefits of international education and promote programs that prepare students for a global environment. 

The observance of International Education Week, set for Nov. 13-17, includes a variety of activities and opportunities for Ole Miss students, faculty and staff.

International education fosters personal growth and encourages students to seek opportunities worldwide, said Blair McElroy, interim senior international officer and director of study abroad.

“While a study abroad opportunity gives students the ability to take classes toward their majors while studying at another university, it also provides opportunities for thinking critically about different cultures, values, people and backgrounds, including one’s own,” she said. “Students grow more tolerant, empathetic and independent as a result of experiencing another culture firsthand.”

McElroy encourages Ole Miss students to learn from peers from other countries on campus.

“International students bring unique perspectives to the classroom, and many departments, offices and institutes on campus offer events and activities where all students can learn about other cultures from right here at Ole Miss,” she said.

All events are free and open to the public. Here is a full schedule:

Monday (Nov. 13)

Internships in Eastern Asia Information Session – Noon-1 p.m., Martindale Hall, Room 318. Representatives from the Office of Global Engagement and the Croft Institute for International Studies present funded opportunities for student internships in East Asia.

Italian in Salerno Presentation – 4-6 p.m., Peabody Hall, Room 202. Francesca Romana Memoli, of Accademia Italiana, and UM faculty members and Study Abroad advisers discuss opportunities to take Italian language courses in 2018 at Accademia Italiana in Salerno, Italy.

Malpaso Dance Company Lecture and Welcome Reception – 7:30-9 p.m. and 9-11 p.m., Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Fernando Saez, artistic director of the Malpaso Dance Company, will discuss works performed by the company, as well as how Cuban society expresses culture through dance. The company, which is working with students enrolled in the “Dance in Cuba” class, also will perform sections of its dances.

Tuesday (Nov. 14)

Film Screening: “Yangtze Drift” – Noon-1 p.m., Overby Center Auditorium. The film by Josh Rash of the Southern Documentary Project follows a path along the Yangtze River in China to investigate landscape, water and culture.

Lecture: “A Changing Cuba” – 7-8 p.m., Croft Hall, Room 107. Fernando Saez of the Malpaso Dance Company will deliver a lecture on the political and cultural climate of Cuba.

Wednesday (Nov. 15)

Conversational Cuban Spanish Discussion – 1-2 p.m., St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Malpaso Dance Company members discuss how dance reflects culture and spirit. Community members also will have an opportunity to practice their Spanish and learn more about Cuban pronunciation.

Malpaso Dance Company Lecture, Presentation and Farewell Reception – 7-8:30 p.m. and 8:30-10 p.m., Ford Center Studio Theatre. The Malpaso Dance Company will perform excerpts of its works, followed by an explanation of the significance by choreographer Osnel Delgado and artistic director Fernando Saez. Following the presentation, a farewell reception will be held for Malpaso beginning at 8:30. The company will return to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts for a Jan. 27 performance.

Thursday (Nov. 16)

World Culture Showcase – 12:15-2:15 p.m., Old Athletics Building. The Intensive English Program hosts a cultural showcase with opportunities to meet Ole Miss international students and learn more about them and their cultures.

Transformation through Education Abroad – 6 p.m., Bryant Hall. Study Abroad alumni discuss their experiences abroad through photo presentations. Tea, coffee and refreshments will be provided.

Friday (Nov. 17)

Fulbright Panel – Noon-1:30 p.m., Farley Hall, Room 121. Bob Cummings, director of writing and rhetoric; David Holben, professor of nutrition and hospitality management; and Laura Johnson, associate professor of psychology, share their Fulbright experiences through a panel discussion. Lunch will be provided and faculty are encouraged to attend and learn more about opportunities available for international research and teaching experiences through the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Cultural Cafe – 2-4 p.m., Brevard Hall, Woods Lounge. This social venue serves as a place for students, scholars, faculty and staff to have casual conversations while enjoying free coffee, tea and snacks.

The week of opportunities is presented in partnership with the Office of the Provost; the College of Liberal Arts; the Croft Institute for International Studies; the departments of Modern Languages, Nutrition and Hospitality Management, and Theatre Arts; the Center for the Study of Southern Culture; and the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

For more information about International Education Week, visit or

Slavery Research Group to Present Map Project

New online resource to be unveiled at Oxford-Lafayette County Heritage Foundation meeting

This map of Oxford from 1862, along with many other maps of north Mississippi, is available for online access. Members of the UM Slavery Research Group will demonstrate how to access these maps Nov. 13 at the Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center.

OXFORD, Miss. – A partnership between the University of Mississippi Slavery Research Group and the Oxford-Lafayette County Heritage Foundation and has resulted in a new online resource that will make historic maps of Oxford and Lafayette County available to the public.

An unveiling of the online maps will be presented at the heritage foundation’s annual meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 13) at the Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center. The session is free and open to the public.

The Slavery Research Group has partnered with heritage foundation, the UM Center for Archaeological Research, the city of Oxford and the UM Geoinformatics Center to form the Historic Maps Project. The group has discovered and pulled together maps of Oxford and Lafayette County dating from 1835 to the present, including Civil War-era and early 20th century maps.

“Some of these maps were only recently discovered and made available to us, so we are excited about sharing these with the broader university and Oxford-Lafayette communities,” said Jeffrey Jackson, associate professor of sociology and co-chair of the Slavery Research Group.

The project involves the digitization and online display of these maps, which are aligned and layered onto each other so they can be used for research purposes to better understand the area and its history. The group plans to add more maps and historical information in the future, and the LOU community is invited to help add material to the online resource.

“These maps are just the beginning,” Jackson said. “We want to invite the community to add more maps, more historic information and more local history to this database so that it can be used as a tool for research on local history and a resource for local citizens interested in learning more about their own family histories and how they are related to the broader history of north Mississippi.”

The maps are housed on the Burns-Belfry website, and a tutorial detailing how to navigate the site will be conducted at the meeting.

The meeting is open to the general public and everyone is invited to attend. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information, visit

BodyTraffic to Perform at Ford Center, Host Workshops this Week

West Coast troupe renowned for blending traditional choreography with contemporary dance styles

Dance troupe BodyTraffic, renowned for combining traditional choreography with contemporary dance styles, is hosting student workshops and performing this week on the UM campus. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts the internationally recognized dance company BodyTraffic for one performance Thursday evening (Nov. 9).

Ticket for the 7:30 p.m. show are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $22 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office.

Founded in 2007 by Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett, the West Coast dance troupe of six dancers has performed for sold-out audiences in theaters and festivals around the world. BodyTraffic, renowned for innovating traditional choreography into contemporary dance styles, was named “the company of the future” by the Joyce Theater Foundation, one of Dance magazine’s “25 to Watch in 2013” and “Best of Culture” by the Los Angeles Times.

“BodyTraffic is wonderful company that is a leader in the Los Angeles dance community,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “They are able to adapt their programs to work with different groups.

“It’s very important to us to be able to bring companies like BodyTraffic to the Ford Center for more than just a performance. It’s an invaluable experience for Ole Miss students and a way for members of the community to experience the arts in a more in-depth and meaningful way.”

The dance company will also be on campus for two days before the performance, hosting master classes for Ole Miss students in musical theater, jazz, tap and contemporary dance. Additionally, BodyTraffic will host workshops for 21 United, a Down syndrome advocacy and awareness group based in Oxford, as well as an elementary school class from Holly Springs.

The troupe appeals to new audiences as well as dance enthusiasts with their works from choreographers including Kyle Abraham, Hofesh Shechter, Barak Marshall, Richard Siegal and Victor Quijada.

For more information about tickets and upcoming performances, visit

Triplets Inducted into Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society

Juniors Ann Weston, Katherine and Will Sistrunk each earned the honor

Triplets Katherine, Will and Ann Weston Sistrunk were inducted into Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Sunday, October 29. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi chapter of Phi Kappa Phi honor society inducted 270 new members Sunday (Oct. 29), including three juniors from the same family.

Ann Weston, Katherine and Will Sistrunk, triplets from Springfield, Missouri, were inducted into the most selective interdisciplinary honor society at the university. All three are members of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“The invitation to be a member of Phi Kappa Phi is a great accomplishment and it is especially exciting to be inducted with my siblings, as I owe much of my success to the guidance and support of Katherine and Will,” Ann Weston said.

Ann Weston is a public policy leadership major and is seeking minors in Spanish and intelligence and security studies. She plans to pursue a career in global health policy upon completion of graduate school.

Also a public policy leadership major and a pre-nursing student, Katherine is minoring in Spanish and society and health. She wants to combine her love for public policy with a career in a health-related field.

Will is majoring in biology and pursuing minors in chemistry and society and health. He plans to attend medical school after graduating from Ole Miss.

“Being nominated for Phi Kappa Phi is an awesome honor and reward for me academically,” Will said. “It also is a reflection of the great opportunities I have had at Ole Miss, from advising in the Honors College to meeting with professors who are always willing to help. I am excited for all that Phi Kappa Phi has to offer.”

To receive an invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi, juniors must have completed at least 72 credit hours and rank in the top 7.5 percent of their class. All three made the cut.

Deb Wenger, Phi Kappa Phi chapter president and assistant dean for partnerships and innovation in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, said this is the first time she is aware of triplets inducted into any chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.

The Sistrunks come from an Ole Miss family. Their parents, William and Camille Sistrunk, are university alumni and Mississippi natives, and when it came to the three choosing a college, UM was always a consideration.

“As we were considering colleges, we initially had varying ideas on where we wanted to go and what we wanted to study,” Katherine said. “At first, I thought it was a definite possibility that we would end up at different schools. But, as we continued to visit other universities, Ole Miss kept calling us back.

“Ever since we were little, we have called Mississippi our second home. Ole Miss has brought us friendships and memories, and we ultimately chose Ole Miss because it was not only where our family went to school, but because it felt like home.”

UM was where the three siblings felt most comfortable and could each pursue the major of their choice.

“We are all very close but independent and different in our own ways, and it was a great thing that we each decided Ole Miss was the right place for each of us,” Katherine said. “Aside from Ole Miss having so many outstanding academic and extracurricular opportunities in which to participate, choosing Ole Miss was like coming home, and I couldn’t image what my college experience would have been like without my family by my side.”

But it wasn’t just the culture and the legacy aspect that drew them in. The Sistrunks said the scholarships offered through Ole Miss were the most generous of any institution to which they applied.

“Ole Miss has been everything we expected and much more in providing an excellent academic environment in which our kids are thriving, and we are very grateful for that,” the triplets’ father, William, said. “We are excited that they are planting roots in Mississippi.”

The university has since allowed each of them to academically perform to the best of their abilities.

“I am motivated to achieve by the desire to one day be able to be a successful professional and say that I am an alumni of the University of Mississippi, and with that, hopefully give back to the university that has given me so much,” Ann Weston said.

Ultimately, their independent achievements allowing them to come together in Phi Kappa Phi has made the family closer than ever.

“To me, my sisters being at the same college has been a great resource and comfort,” Will said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. However, I know wherever they go, they will succeed.”

Their mother, Camille, agrees.

 “My husband and I are very proud of Ann Weston, Katherine and Will,” she said. “We are very blessed that they are happy and healthy kids and students who have always academically challenged themselves and each other.”