Dewey Knight Awarded Transfer Champion Rising Star Award

Dewey Knight recognized for exceptional advocacy of transfer student success

Dewey Knight. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Dewey Knight. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students has honored Dewey Knight, associate director of the University of Mississippi’s Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, with its Bonita C. Jacobs Transfer Champion Rising Star Award.

The award recognizes individuals who avidly contribute to the success of students who transfer from community colleges or other institutions of higher learning.

“Dewey cares about each and every student,” said Kyle Ellis, director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience. “Dewey played a significant role in establishing new services and programs for our entering freshmen and transfer students.”

Knight participates in the development of transfer student programs, initiatives and courses, and works to find new ways to help transfer students thrive on campus.

“I am both humbled and honored to receive this award from the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students,” Knight said. “I accept it on behalf of my colleagues at the University of Mississippi, both faculty and staff, in recognition of the multiple initiatives we have developed and provide to ensure transfer students succeed and enjoy the most positive undergraduate experience available in higher education today.”

Knight recently co-chaired the Transfer Student Task Force, developed EDHE courses to aid transfer students in their transition to the university and supported a transfer student mentor program.

“Dewey Knight is a true advocate for transfer students on our campus,” Ellis said. “Transfer students, as well as the entire University of Mississippi community, have benefited from Dewey’s commitment to student success.”

For more information on the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, visit or follow @OleMissCSSFYE on Twitter.

UMMC Health Experts Entertain, Inform on ‘Southern Remedy’

Daily show helps Mississippians learn about and deal with variety of health topics

The five experts offer fresh, frank and sometimes funny discussions on current health topics every weekday on Mississippi Public Broadcasting's “Southern Remedy,” the station's flagship wellness program.

The five experts offer fresh, frank and funny discussions on current health topics every weekday on Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s ‘Southern Remedy,’ the station’s flagship wellness program.

JACKSON, Miss. – If there’s a remedy for what ails you, Dr. Rick deShazo will prepare a good-sized dose every Wednesday, but not before he delivers a primer on your health dilemma.

So will Dr. Jimmy Stewart on Thursdays and Dr. Michelle Owens on Fridays. Add to the mix Dr. Susan Buttross on Tuesdays and Debbie Minor on Mondays.

Led by deShazo, the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor and professor of medicine and pediatrics, the five experts offer fresh, frank and sometimes funny discussions on current health topics every weekday on Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s “Southern Remedy,” the station’s flagship wellness program.

You can hear them on MPB Think Radio from 11 a.m. to noon.

“We focus on health literacy and individual needs,” said deShazo, the original “Southern Remedy” radio host dating back to 2004. “We do have a general topic for each show, but it’s not a talk show. We let the audience drive it.

“That’s the key. We want to meet their needs, not our own needs.”

Judging from the number and variety of callers – most from Mississippi, but a good smattering from surrounding states – that’s exactly what happens.

“Hello, Mississippi! Welcome to ‘Southern Remedy!'” deShazo said on a recent Wednesday after the show’s folksy theme song faded at the stroke of 11. “It’s open mic! It’s all about you, so get your questions ready. Give us a call, and you will be heard.”

The program’s all-star lineup is anchored by deShazo, who covers “General Health,” a topic so broad that deShazo knows to expect the unexpected.

“I remember one caller telling me, ‘Dr. Rick, it sounds like you’ve had every disease you can have, including women’s diseases,'” he said.

Minor, professor and vice chair of the Department of Medicine, presents “Healthy and Fit.”

“The show is so much fun because I can go all over the place,” said Minor, a pharmacist by training. “I cover health promotion, health maintenance and disease prevention.

“We’ve explored what you do when life throws you a curveball that you can’t do anything about. How can you be healthiest in that setting?”

Buttross, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Child Development and Behavioral Pediatrics, uses her broad expertise to explore child and family relationships during “Relatively Speaking.”

“We discuss anything from children with autism or ADHD or dyslexia all the way up to blended families and divorce,” Buttross said. “We’ve had shows on hoarding and we talk about mood disorders. It’s just anything that can affect the family and family relationships.”

Stewart, professor of internal medicine and pediatrics with a focus on hypertension, covers the sometimes tumultuous child and adolescent years in his “Kid and Teen Health” segment.

“Pediatrics is one of those areas that gets overlooked, and there are specific things in pediatrics that are handled a lot differently than in the adult population,” he said. “We get a lot of questions about medications that kids are taking for chronic conditions, and immunization is a hot topic – why we immunize, and the possible side effects.”

And Owens, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, calls on her passion for improving the health status of all Mississippians, especially women and girls, in “Women’s Health.”

“We give women’s perspectives on issues that might affect them, such as gynecological or obstetrical women’s health,” Owens said. “But our show isn’t just that. Women also have heart disease and hypertension and diabetes.”

“We can address women’s health from a broader sense.”

In the short time since the weekday program began, Owens’ segment has vaulted to become MPB’s top-rated show, with Stewart’s show jumping to No. 2.

Although “Southern Remedy” can be enjoyable for hosts and audience alike, it’s dead serious when it comes to creating a healthier Mississippi.

“We do it to be of service and to increase health literacy, because we see so much suffering in this state,” deShazo said.

Hosts generally choose an opening topic and often pair it with a guest expert, but the callers are king when it comes to the questions.

“Our most repetitive question is about toenail fungus,” deShazo said. “We get a lot of coded questions about sex. They won’t come out and tell us they have a sex question, or an STD. We have to read between the lines.”

“One of our broader topics that’s really popular is feet,” Owens said. “We get tons of calls during that show, and a lot will come from men. They’ll say, ‘I know this is a woman’s show, but can you take my call?’

“Our show is labeled ‘Southern Remedy for Women,’ but we’ve found that our listening audience encompasses both women and men. So, we say it’s the show for women and the people that love them.”

Their studio at MPB headquarters, on the grounds of the Education and Research Center in Jackson, is cozy. A table is lined with microphones, and a large electronic board on a wall displays the first names of callers, their city and a few words about the nature of their problem.

It wasn’t always a multi-doctor lineup. The decision was made in August 2014 to expand to five days a week, an idea proposed by Jason Klein, MPB’s director of radio.

“It was a moment of deciding if I should come up with a new show, or expand a current show,” Klein said. “I thought the one that had the most potential was ‘Southern Remedy,’ and the one that would add the most to our mission was ‘Southern Remedy.’ I had to pitch it to everyone here and to UMMC, and I had to choose a producer. That was Jay (White), my best and most experienced producer.”

At the time, Buttross was hosting “Relatively Speaking” every Monday. Her show was wrapped into the expanded ‘Southern Remedy,” and “we were just blessed to have a real good group of people as hosts,” deShazo said.

He’s part of the weekly lineup, Stewart said, in part because “Dr. deShazo twisted my arm.

“When he started the original show, I’d come on several times as a guest. He asked me about being on the show when they started to diversify it. I thought it would be a good opportunity to reach out to the community and the state on topics people would be interested in.”

“To my knowledge, there is no other public broadcasting network that tackles health issues like this, or gives the public access to real advice from doctors on a daily basis,” White said.

On a recent show, deShazo invited Dr. Ross Thurmond, an internist and chief resident, to be his guest. Their topic: the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease linked to severe brain damage in babies of women who were pregnant when bitten, or who became pregnant soon after.

“That’s the great thing,” deShazo said. “We can bring on specialists for anything that’s hot.”

The hosts say their blend of chemistry, respect for each other and individual approach to health problems is good for listeners. That’s not to say their philosophies always match.

“We disagree on lots of things,” Minor said of her rapport with deShazo. “That’s why we love and respect each other so much.”

They’re also each other’s cheerleaders.

“We don’t usually get to hear each other’s shows, but Susan might send me a message to say she got to hear my show the other day, and that I did a great job,” Owens said. “To have someone seasoned offer encouragement and give me positive feedback is really meaningful.”

The hosts say their purpose is to genuinely help those who call in, and those who tune in.

“We’ve had incredible response, and a huge stream of emails and thank-yous,” deShazo said. “We’ve had a lot of people get health screenings and do a better job on their prescriptions because of the show.”

“There are so many brave listeners who have called in and made our show better by sharing their experiences,” Owens said, including women who are victims of domestic violence. “They really open up about something that was a horrible experience. They say to other people that there’s life after domestic violence, and that you can be happy again.”

The show’s audience and impact are still growing.

“Our listenership of ‘Southern Remedy’ has increased tenfold,” Klein said. “What the hosts have done is given life to their individual topics.”

To listen live to “Southern Remedy,” visit

UM Law Student Featured in National Jurist Magazine

Olivia Hoff is among 25 students selected for inaugural Law Student of the Year feature

Olivia Hoff

Olivia Hoff

A University of Mississippi law student is among 25 featured in the National Jurist magazine’s inaugural Law Student of the Year feature, showcasing the many talents and accomplishments of law students across the country.

Olivia Hoff’s name was submitted by the School of Law to be considered for one of the coveted 25 spots.

Hoff, a December graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in physics with a minor in mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi. She chose to attend the UM law school because of her interest in air and space law, and the opportunities offered by the Ole Miss program, including a chance to participate in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court.

“I am extremely honored the law school nominated me for this recognition and am grateful National Jurist magazine chose to accept their nomination,” Hoff said. “The news of my selection came as a bright spot amidst prepping for the bar exam.”

Hoff and fellow students C.J. Robinson and Ian Perry, along with their coach, Michael Dodge, competed in Washington, D.C., in the North American round of the Manfred Lachs International Space Law Moot Court competition, where they took first place in March 2015. The team advanced to the international round in October in Jerusalem, where Hoff and her teammates clenched first place in the final round, beating out Greece.

Dodge said he could see Hoff’s work ethic shine during the preparation for the moot court championships.

Ian Perry (left), C.J. Robinson, and Olivia Hoff

Ian Perry (left), C.J. Robinson, and Olivia Hoff

“There were several students who impressed me during my time teaching, but I can say that Olivia, and all the hard work and go-to gumption she exuded in her courses and extracurricular work, will leave distinct memories for me,” Dodge said.

Hoff moved to Washington, D.C., in summer 2015 to complete an externship with the Air Force JAG Corps at Joint Base Andrews. During the fall, she completed another externship, also in D.C., with the Department of Homeland Security’s Administrative Law Branch. She considers both these assignments among her greatest achievements

“She represents the best of what we try to cultivate in law school, and I have every confidence she’ll continue to do herself, and Ole Miss, a great deal of honor,” Dodge said.

A Gulfport native, Hoff is also a member of the Trial Advocacy Board, Phi Delta Phi, the Society for Law of Outer Space and Aviation, Public Interest Law Foundation and the Dean’s Leadership Council, where she helps mentor first-year law students, serves as an ambassador for the law school and gives tours to potential students.

National Jurist magazine, published quarterly, is one of the leading news sources in legal education. Besides delivering top-quality news, the publication shares information and tools useful to law students on its website.

UMMC Researchers Study Brain Changes in Depression

Scientists put heads together to unlock secrets that may lead to better treatments

Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are using post-mortem brain tissue to study biological changes in major depressive disorder. Working on the project are (left to right) Dr. Jose Miguel-Hidalgo, associate professor, Dr. Grazyna Rajkowska, professor and Dr. Craig Stockmeier, professor of psychiatry and human behavior.

Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are using post-mortem brain tissue to study biological changes in major depressive disorder. Working on the project are (left to right) Dr. Jose Miguel-Hidalgo, Dr. Grazyna Rajkowska and Dr. Craig Stockmeier.

JACKSON, Miss. – Depression is more than just sadness. Sufferers may lose interest in favorite activities or lose motivation to complete routine tasks. They may also lose some brain cells, say University of Mississippi Medical Center neuroscientists.

According to a study in the March issue of Neuroscience, people with major depressive disorder, or MDD, may have fewer glial cells called astrocytes in some parts of the brain’s hippocampus.

Glia, from the Greek for “glue,” were long thought to be just structural cells keeping everything stuck together. But Dr. Grazyna Rajkowska, professor of psychiatry and human behavior, was one of the first scientists to show a connection between fewer glia and depression.

“People thought depression had to do with neurons. No one thought about glia,” Rajkowska said. “The decrease in glial density is much more dramatic than the changes in neurons.”

“She’s the grandmother of glia and depression,” joked Dr. Craig Stockmeier, professor of psychiatry and human behavior.

But Stockmeier is also serious about studying the brain.

“Seeing the struggles and tragedy of mental illness in acquaintances and extended family is a deep personal motivation for my work,” he said.

For more than 15 years, Rajkowska, Stockmeier and Dr. Jose Miguel-Hidalgo, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior, together have studied the brain’s cellular and biochemical changes in mental illness, including this recent study.

The team collected brain tissue from 17 recently deceased people with a history of MDD symptoms, then matched each sample with a non-MDD control by age and gender.

Microscope image of astrocytes (dark) in the hippocampus.

Microscope image of astrocytes (dark) in the hippocampus.

The tissue was cut into sections 40 microns thick, thinner than most human hairs. Then the scientists identified astrocytes by treating the cells to look for glial fibrillary acidic protein, or GFAP, a protein they contain.

Astrocytes are glial cells that transport and recycle chemicals in the brain. Stockmeier compares their role to delivery and garbage trucks: if you take away the trucks or they aren’t working properly, then materials build up. Some of those materials are neurotransmitters such as glutamate and GABA, which send signals between cells.

Depression occurs when those signals are lost or hindered, Miguel-Hidalgo said.

“There are studies in animal models showing that when you kill glial cells, this causes depression-like symptoms,” Rajkowska said.

They found that MDD patients who were not taking medication had 26 percent fewer astrocytes in parts of the hippocampus than healthy subjects or those who were taking antidepressants.

The hippocampus is the brain area crucial to memory, learning and navigation. Learning and memory problems can occur due to chronic stress, which can also contribute to the development of depression, Stockmeier said.

However, they cannot determine if antidepressant use restored the astrocytes or prevented them from being lost in the first place. In either case, Stockmeier and Rajkowska think that treating depression earlier may lessen astrocyte pathology and protect neurons.

They also found that older subjects with depression had a greater area of GFAP immunoreactivity in part of the hippocampus. This could mean that cells get bigger or are more densely packed, which could limit the number of connections between cells and contribute to MDD, Stockmeier said.

In the paper, the researchers suggest that the link between astrocyte loss and MDD involves stress-related corticosteroids. When this hormone builds up, it changes the communication and connectivity between cells, which may contribute to depression, Miguel-Hidalgo said.

“But can you quantify how biochemical changes in the brain relate to different behaviors?” Miguel-Hidalgo asked. For example, some depression types are associated with elevated corticosteroids and others with decreased levels, he said.

This is one of many unanswered questions regarding depression. Another is the causes of depression: they may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

“The brain can be affected by experiences and other systems in the body,” such as early-life events, drug and alcohol abuse or the microbiome, Stockmeier said.

The symptoms of depression are also quite variable.

Dr. Scott Rodgers

Dr. Scott Rodgers

“While most patients suffer from insomnia, some patients actually experience the opposite problem, hypersomnia,” said Dr. Scott Rodgers, professor and chair of psychiatry and human behavior. “The same is true for appetite. Most patients lose their appetite, but a significant number of people experience an increase in appetite.”

Furthermore, depression symptoms can be shared with other illnesses, Stockmeier said.

“There has been a call for more consistent diagnostic measures of depression, with a greater focus on common biological markers” he said.

A patient’s symptoms and history determine which treatments a clinician may consider; the more severe the symptoms, the more likely a medication will be prescribed, Rodgers said.

“There has been some promising work focusing on glutamate (as a biochemical target for new antidepressant medications),” he said. “Whether a new FDA-approved antidepressant class emerges as a result remains to be seen.”

The UMMC team’s study has a couple of limitations. Seventeen individuals is a small sample and only seven of those were using antidepressants near the time of their deaths. Further, cross-sectional studies like this provide only a snapshot in time, not the entire progression of a patient’s illness. You have less control over study conditions, Rajkowska says.

However, the study’s findings do help understand the brain pathology associated with depression.

“The brain is the most complex organ of the human body,” Rajkowska said. “With each research project, we are getting a bit closer to understanding how the brain is built and how it functions.”

Likewise, Miguel-Hidalgo sees researching the brain as a fascinating project.

“This search is an almost never-ending source of science and wonder,” he said.

This research was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health through its Center of Biomedical Research Excellence program.

Pictures of (Mental) Health Framed in Art Therapy

Therapist helps patients break free by creating artworks that help them control their feelings

Susan Anand, center, observes as third-year medical students Lauren Williamson, left, and Caitlyn Reed, try their hand at an art therapy exercise; both are in their psychiatry rotations.

Susan Anand, center, observes as third-year medical students Lauren Williamson, left, and Caitlyn Reed, try their hand at an art therapy exercise. Both students are in their psychiatry rotations.

JACKSON, Miss. – Sometimes the only way to draw people out is to give them something to draw with.

That idea is at the heart of Susan Anand’s work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center with people walled in by the pain of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other issues of mental health.

A registered, board-certified and licensed art therapist and part-time instructor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Anand says the act of creating – drawing, sculpting, painting, puppet-making – is the path to a safe place where those who feel powerless exercise control, where the emotionally tongue-tied are freed.

“They may not be able to talk about it, but maybe they can draw about it,” Anand said.

Anand discussed this liberating process during a presentation Feb. 10 at the First Sharjah Arts Therapy Conference in the United Arab Emirates. The symposium was at the University of Sharjah, where Anand’s sister is a translator.

In weekly art therapy sessions at UMMC, groups of around six outpatients referred by attending physicians or residents have recourse to improved mental health through clay, drawing materials, collage and paint. During a six- to eight-week period, they also use paper to fashion masks and puppets.

“When they make a puppet, they’re creating a character – whatever character they want,” Anand said. “The patient identifies the puppet’s strengths, gives the puppet a problem and determines how the puppet uses his or her talents to overcome it.”

Former art therapy patient J.K. decorated the outside of her mask with bright colors to reflect the happy face she shows to the world; but for the inside, she resorted to more somber blue -- the "color" of depression and of the apparent teardrop leaking from the mask's right eye.

Former art therapy patient ‘J.K.’ decorated the outside of her mask with bright colors to reflect the happy face she shows to the world; but for the inside, she resorted to more somber blue, the ‘color of depression’ and of the apparent teardrop leaking from the mask’s right eye.

In this way, the patients build resilience by solving problems through strengths they may possess.

“All art is a kind of self-portrait,” Anand said.

One bipolar patient designed a puppet with two heads. “She described one head as her monster self,” Anand said. “The other was the self she wanted to be.”

But another former patient in the group doubted the sessions could ever help her.

“I was very skeptical at first,” said J.K., whose name is withheld for privacy reasons. Within a week or so, she had changed her mind.

“We painted these papier-mache masks – the point was that we all have a face we present to others,” she said. “But on the inside, there are things we don’t want people to know. I painted my mask pink because it’s a happy color. But I painted the inside blue to represent sadness. Sometimes, when people suffer from depression, they want to hide that.”

Another time, she found a picture of a sinking ship, which resonated with her vividly, she said. “At the time, I felt like I was sinking.”

The sessions forced her to confront issues she had avoided.

“What that did for me was to ignite something inside of me; it awakened some part of myself that I had lost touch with,” she said. “I felt more willing to share. And it gave me confidence because I got a lot of nice feedback from the other participants. I just needed that. It fed me.”

Similarly, people in the throes of post-traumatic stress disorder – from mass shootings, for instance, or natural disasters – benefit by controlling or facing up to the narrative that shattered their lives.

“Art therapists are still seeing Sandy Hook families,” Anand said, referring to the 2012 mass shooting in Connecticut. “When trauma occurs, oftentimes people have difficulty using words to express what they feel.”

The images they paint, sketch or cut out can speak more eloquently for them, said Lindsay Avent, clinic coordinator of the department’s Behavior Health Specialties Clinic and a licensed professional counselor who leads group sessions in Anand’s absence.

Lindsay Avent

Lindsay Avent

“One guy went back to his childhood and drew his favorite chair,” Avent said. “That was his safe place.”

While attending an art therapy workshop, a clinician working on the Mississippi Gulf Coast produced a puppet in the shape of a hurricane and named it Katrina.

In fact, it was around 2005, following that massive storm, when Anand began tapping into the power of puppet-making in earnest. Through her part-time employment then with the community service organization Catholic Charities, she ferried her art materials down to the Gulf Coast, where people were reeling from displacement.

About three years later, art therapy group sessions for patients began at the Medical Center as part of the training for third-year psychiatry residents.

“I started with low expectations,” said Dr. Tarek Aziz, chief psychiatry resident. “What happened took me by surprise.

“Patients started talking about their hardships, because they knew that they were not alone. One of my current patients said, ‘When I do things with my hands, I can put worry to rest.’

“I saw the benefits of art therapy. And some patients can’t afford any other kind.”

Because art therapy is part of the residents’ training, the sessions have been offered at no charge for patients. Medical students in their psychiatry rotations are also encouraged to participate. When they do, the trainees create their own art alongside patients.

“They are able to express their frustrations the way the patients do,” Anand said.

Teaching art therapy courses in graduate training schools was relatively new in 1976, when Anand earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Indiana University.

“I didn’t know anything about art therapy until I read a book about it, and realized I could help people with it,” she said. Although such programs were rare then, she found one at New York University, where she earned her Master of Art Therapy in 1986; her thesis was on children with autism.

Clay sculpture created by one patient features literal expressions of emotions -- including "anger" and "fear."

Clay sculpture created by one patient features literal expressions of emotions, including ‘anger’ and ‘fear.’

A year later, she arrived at the Medical Center. Since then, she has added to the body of research that says art therapy is helpful not only for psychiatric outpatients, but also for those with illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

“Art therapy helps with pain management,” Anand said. “Part of that is about the pain of grief.”

While the outpatient clinic is for adults, Anand has also harnessed art therapy for children, including one 12-year-old victim of sexual abuse.

“Her painting was an animal covered with purple spots living in a cage in a zoo,” Anand said. “The child said the animal was sick. Finally, she admitted she was afraid she might be sick, too, with AIDS.”

It’s moments like these that practically write the titles of Anand’s presentations for her. One she calls “When Words are Not Enough.”

New UMMC Chief Brings Vast Experience to Post

Don Hutson to lead hospitals in Grenada and Lexington

Don Hutson, administrator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion, poses in his office.

Don Hutson is returning to Mississippi to lead UMMC hospitals in Grenada and Lexington.

JACKSON, Miss. – Don Hutson is coming back home – or at least, just a few hours down the road.

The Corinth native and veteran health care administrator has been named chief executive officer of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada and University of Mississippi Medical Center Holmes County in Lexington.

“We are thrilled Don is joining the UMMC family,” said Dr. Charles O’Mara, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs. “Don is an experienced hospital administrator with deep roots in northern Mississippi. He will be an outstanding addition to the team, and will have a big impact on the organization and the Grenada and Holmes County communities.”

Hutson, director of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Marion, Illinois, is replacing CEO David Putt, who will retire in June. Hutson will oversee operations at UMMC Holmes County, licensed for 25 beds, and UMMC Grenada, licensed for 156 beds.

“We are deeply grateful to David Putt for doing a superb job establishing the UMMC brand in Grenada, providing strong leadership in Lexington and his 20-plus years of service in the system,” including as CEO of University Hospitals, said Kevin Cook, CEO of University Hospitals and Health System.

In fiscal year 2015, UMMC Grenada had 2,636 adult and pediatric admissions plus 417 in the newborn nursery for a total 3,053 patients admissions. UMMC Grenada also had 30,799 clinic visits. UMMC Holmes County had 462 admissions, 16,010 outpatient visits and 5,717 clinic visits.

“I am honored to join the UMMC team and serve alongside its dedicated professionals to deliver world-class health care to the Grenada and Lexington communities,” Hutson said. He will join the hospitals March 7, assuming his duties after a short transition period.

“On a personal level, (wife) Sandy and I are thrilled to return to Mississippi to be closer to our family in Corinth and in Oxford,” he said. “We know firsthand how much the state of Mississippi has to offer and are eager to re-establish our home there.”

Hutson, who has two children, taught himself to play the guitar after he turned 40 and strummed from time to time at the Marion hospital.

“I’m a big country music fan, and I love to play music,” he told The Southern Illinoisan newspaper in a recent interview. “Sandy and I often are on the porch swing, me with my guitar doing a little front porch picking.”

He shared with the newspaper a story from his days at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Union City, Tennessee.

“I was in one of the wards, and a nurse asked me what I was doing there,” Hutson told the newspaper. “She told me that usually the CEOs don’t visit. I wanted her to know I was not uppity or too good to be there, and that I put my pants on one leg at a time like everybody else.

“She said, ‘Oh, we know you do. We just want to make sure you know you do.’ That has stuck with me.”

Hutson holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ole Miss and received his Master of Healthcare Administration from Baylor University. He served in the Army from 1985 to 2006, including service in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

Medical Center director of the Marion hospital since 2013, Hutson managed an annual budget in excess of $300 million and led a medium-sized rural health care system including a Health Care Center in Evansville, nine community-based outpatient clinics, and three administrative and clinical annexes.

Hutson was administrator and chief executive officer of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford from 2008 to 2012 and administrator and chief executive officer of the Union City hospital from 2006 to 2008. In 2003-06, he was chief operating officer of Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart, Ga.

From 2000 to 2003, he served as chief operating officer for the U.S. Army Health Clinic in Tokyo, which provides primary and specialty care for the 12,000 federal health system beneficiaries in greater Tokyo.

“On a professional level, I am eager to be a part of a team of professionals working diligently to enhance the health and well-being of the people of Mississippi,” Hutson said.

Orthodontist Parlays Small Town Opportunities into Big-Time Practice

Chandra Minor is an humble trailblazer in the state's health care landscape

Dr. Chandra Minor, right, discusses treatment options with Divya Patel of Flowood.

Dr. Chandra Minor, right, discusses treatment options with Divya Patel of Flowood.

JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi has 1,361 practicing dentists. Of those, 78 are orthodontists. Of those, 14 percent are female. Of those, only one is African-American: Dr. Chandra Minor, a 2012 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry.

Being the only African-American female orthodontist practicing in the state isn’t the only thing that’s special about Minor. Her drive, determination and focus have made her a standout since high school.

“Neither one of my parents worked in the health field, but they always encouraged me to do my best,” Minor said. “That’s how they influenced me to go into health care.”

In high school, Minor took part in Beta Club, the Student Government Association and Health Occupation Students of American, and was a member of the yearbook staff. She was even named Miss Hazlehurst High School during her senior year.

“Chandra has had her head on straight the whole time,” said Dr. Gaarmel Funches, director of community education and outreach and assistant director for multicultural affairs at UMMC. “She is one of the few students who went from the high school program all the way through the outreach programs to being accepted into dental school.”

Funches is referring to EXCEL and Medical Cooperative Program, or MEDCORP, that Minor participated in as a high school and undergraduate student. EXCEL was funded by a federal Health Careers Opportunity Program grant through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Minor was a perfect example of the student the EXCEL program was designed to assist: underrepresented students from rural areas. She grew up in a rural community just outside Hazlehurst.

“I grew up in a little community called Byrdtown, off the Gallman exit (on Interstate 55),” she said. “I’m a country girl. Pretty much all my family lives in the same community.”

With the program, Minor was on the Alcorn State University campus in Lorman the summer before her sophomore and junior years at Hazlehurst High School, being introduced to classes she would have to take if she pursued a career in the medical field. The summer workshops and an allied health program in high school sparked her interest in health care.

“The allied health program introduced us to the health field, more like nursing though, really,” Minor said. “We had rotations at our local nursing home, learning to do things there.

“In the EXCEL program, I shadowed all sorts of professionals: nurse anesthetists, physicians, dentists, optometrists.”

Minor, right, receives assistance from Kara Lindsey in Minor’s Pearl clinic, Smile Design Orthodontics.

Minor, right, receives assistance from Kara Lindsey in Minor’s Pearl clinic, Smile Design Orthodontics.

Minor attended the MEDCORP summer programs during her undergraduate studies at Alcorn. The programs prepare students for the rigors of the medical or dental school curriculum. Students take core courses for science majors during the first two years, then are taught test-taking and study skills during the final two years in preparation for the MCAT or DAT.

Minor was encouraged to pursue dentistry by her personal dentist, Dr. Carla Rushing, a 2003 School of Dentistry graduate.

“She pushed me and said that this is a great field, especially for women, if you want to have a family. So I went for it.”

Minor graduated in 2004 as valedictorian of her class at Hazlehurst High School and went on to earn a degree in biology from Alcorn State University. She was then accepted into the School of Dentistry.

“Being accepted into dental school was a surreal moment,” she said. “I worked hard. I always tried my best in school, but I was grateful for the opportunity. I understood that they only accept a small number of students in comparison to the number of applications they receive.

“Of course, it was difficult. It was a challenge, but I made it. It was the same with residency.”

Minor completed her orthodontics residency at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and began her practice in 2014. She maintains an even more rigorous and dedicated pace in her business than in her academic career, alternating between Vicksburg, Pearl and McComb during the week and every other Saturday.

“Running a business is the most challenging and difficult part,” she said. “I stay here late most nights. When I get home, sometimes I eat. Sometimes I just pass out.

“My mom has really helped me a lot during this time of starting my business. I’m grateful for her.”

Minor is not the first African-American orthodontist to practice in Mississippi. That honor went to the late Dr. Theodore Jones, who served on the UMMC faculty from 1974 to 1984. Jones was chair of the Department of Orthodontics in 1978-81.

“I met Dr. Jones my last year of dental school,” Minor said. “Students had to do an externship, a private practice rotation. I did mine at his office in Jackson. I went a couple of other times to visit with him and shadow.”

She learned of his death during the first few weeks of her residency at Howard.

“I am happy to carry on his legacy,” Minor said. “I want people to know that he was the first black orthodontist in Mississippi. It’s important to say ‘female’ (when referring to Minor) because I must acknowledge him as a pioneer.”

Other African-American females have graduated from the School of Dentistry and pursued specialties in orthodontics; however, Minor is the first to return to Mississippi to practice.

“I’m really happy that she came back to practice orthodontics in Mississippi,” said Dr. Wilhelmina O’Reilly, assistant dean for student affairs and professor of pediatric dentistry and community oral health. “I think it helps with health disparities when patients see ethnicities such as themselves.

“She’ll be a role model and make kids think ‘We can do this.'”

For Minor, there is no place she’d rather be than in Mississippi. As a recipient of the Robert Hearin Scholarship, practicing in Mississippi was a requirement after she completed training.

“I accepted the scholarship with the thought, ‘Where else would I live? Mississippi is home,'” she said. “Of course I’m going to live in Mississippi. Most of my family is here.”

With regards to being a role model, Minor is modest.

“It’s hard for me to think of myself as a role model. I’m still just little ol’ me. I feel blessed to be here. It’s an honor and a privilege.”

Innovate Mississippi’s Startup Weekend Returns to Oxford

Workshops help participants move from ideas to viable business plans

Volunteer coaches and professionals help advise emerging entrepreneurs throughout the course of the weekend.

Volunteer coaches and professionals help advise emerging entrepreneurs throughout the course of the weekend.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Insight Park and School of Business Administration are co-hosting Startup Weekend Oxford, set for Feb. 12-14.

The weekend will feature Innovation Boot Camp, Discovery Luncheon and Startup Weekend activities. The beginning of the weekend will give participants experience with assembling business models, with the end of the weekend resulting in pitching these business models to potential investors.

Innovation Boot Camp is a two-hour workshop beginning at 3 p.m. in Holman Hall, Room 38, designed to help students develop viable business and product ideas. Students are able to have one-on-one communication with faculty and brainstorming sessions with other participating students. The boot camp is the Startup Weekend kickoff event for students.

The Discovery Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 12 at the Oxford Conference Center and features guest speaker Garret Gray, president and CEO of Next Gear Solutions of Oxford.

Later that evening, the Startup Weekend activities commence. Over the course of 54 hours, participants have an opportunity to create a viable business. Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, this three-day event brings together entrepreneurs, programmers, coders, developers and other business-minded individuals to form ideas and create business plans.

“Startup Weekend is an opportunity for startup enthusiasts to collaborate and go from concept to creation over a weekend,” said William Nicholas, UM director of economic development and organizer of the event. “It is a real pleasure to be surrounded talented people with a passion for entrepreneurship.”

Participants begin by taking 60 seconds to pitch their ideas to the group of attendees. All attendees vote for their favorite ideas, and the winning ideas are selected to build upon for the weekend. The group then divides into smaller teams, and each team spends the remainder of the weekend focusing in on a single business idea to develop.

Clay Dibrell, associate professor of management and holder of the William W. Gresham Jr. Entrepreneurial Professorship, is also the CIE’s executive director. He said he is excited to see members of the campus, community and state entrepreneurial-focused organizations work together to make this event possible.

“It is thrilling to see people who come to Startup Weekend with just an idea, and then over the weekend, you can see these potential entrepreneurs turning the corner from an idea to starting a new venture,” he said.

Stephen D. Johnston, CEO and board member of SmartSynch Inc. in Jackson, is the guest speaker on Friday night. His expertise at leading his company from start-up to a global technology leader for cellular-based smart grid communications will inspire participants in their quest to succeed as entrepreneurs.

During the course of the weekend, volunteer coaches will assist the teams and provide advice. A panel of professionals evaluates each group’s business development and their chances of real-world success.

“It is a highly beneficial partnership between Ole Miss entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship entities outside of the university,” Dibrell said. “Our common goal is to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem which allows Mississippi entrepreneurs to successfully stay in Mississippi.”

Insight Park staff members, the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and employees of Innovate Mississippi organize Startup Weekend Oxford.

Registration is open to the public. Tickets for students are $25 and $50 for nonstudents. Click here to register.

Six Freshmen Honored for Leadership, Academic Excellence

Omicron Delta Kappa honor society presents annual awards

(Left to Right) Olivia Dear, Christopher Feazell, Dillon Hall, Alexis Smith, Loden Snell

This year’s honorees include (left to right) Olivia Dear, Christopher Feazell, Dillon Hall, Alexis Smith and Loden Snell.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society has honored six students for their academic performance, leadership and community involvement.

This year’s recipients of ODK Freshman Leader Awards are Olivia Dear of Madison, Seth Dickinson of Mantachie, Christopher Feazell of Mendenhall, Dillon Hall of Saltillo, Alexis Smith of Picayune and Loden Snell of Ridgeland.

“These six students are among many outstanding freshmen here at the university,” said Ryan Upshaw, ODK adviser and assistant dean for student services in the School of Engineering. “Our society is excited to be able to recognize their outstanding contributions during their first year on campus. We also look forward to their potential membership in our society later in their college career.”

Dear, a graduate of Madison Central High School, is president of ASB Freshman Council and serves on the Chi Omega sorority philanthropy committee. A member of Lambda Sigma honor society, she is a Provost Scholar and on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll. An English and journalism major, she volunteers with Leap Frog, Hermitage Gardens and the Oxford Humane Society.

“I’m really grateful to receive the ODK Freshman Leader Award,” Dear said. “It was a really motivating award to get, and now I am excited to spend the next three years engaging in activities that serve the student body even more.”

Dickinson attended Mendenhall High School. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Trent Lott Leadership Institute and is an Honors College Freshman Senator. A public policy leadership major, he is a recipient of a Lott Scholarship and is an Ole Miss Ambassador, member of Delta Psi fraternity and on the Dean’s Honor Roll. He volunteers with Brookdale Oxford retirement community.

Seth Dickinson

Seth Dickinson

Feazell, an accountancy major, attended Mendenhall High School. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Luckyday Success Program, National Association of Black Accountants, Undergraduate Black Law Students Association and Lambda Sigma honors society. He is a LuckyDay Scholar, on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll, a Rebel Quest counselor and a volunteer tutor for business calculus.

A graduate of Saltillo High School, Hall is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Center for Manufacturing Excellence, Engineering Student Body Leadership Council, Engineers Without Borders Design Committee, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Delta Psi fraternity. A mechanical engineering major, he is a CME ambassador and a volunteer with Green Grove Initiative and Oxford City Market.

Smith, a graduate of Picayune Memorial High School, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, and is an Honors College Freshman Senator and community service co-chair for International Justice Mission. She is a recipient of an Honors College scholarship and a member of the Chi Omega scholarship committee. An international studies major, she is a writer for the Daily Mississippian and a volunteer with Oxford Humane Society and More than a Meal.

A graduate of Saint Joseph Catholic School, Snell is a public policy leadership major in the Trent Lott Leadership Institute and recipient of a Lott Scholarship. He is also a member of ASB Freshman Council, Residence Hall Association, College Republicans and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, an ASB senator and Stockard Hall Council President. He volunteers with the Big Event and Green Grove Recycling.

Omicron Delta Kappa is a 100-year old leadership honor society that has initiated more than 300,000 members at since its founding. The society has more than 285 active chapters at colleges and universities across the United States.

50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act: Still Fighting for the Vote

This discussion panel is set for Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m.

This discussion is set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25.

Come join a discussion with attorneys and scholars about the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This engaging event is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 25) in Weems Auditorium, Room 1078, of the University of Mississippi School of Law.

This act made it easier for blacks to register to vote by eliminating literacy tests, poll taxes and other requirements that were used to restrict black voting. However, in 2013 the Supreme Court struck down a core provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, just as numerous states were passing restrictive voter identification laws that some claim are likely to suppress the turnout of black and poor citizens.

Panelists for the discussion are Brad Pigott, former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi; Derrick Johnson, executive director of the Mississippi NAACP; and Michele Alexandre, UM professor of law.