‘Billion Dollar Buyer’ Tilman Fertitta to Speak at UM

Restaurant mogul set for May 5 event at Pavilion

Tilman Fertitta

OXFORD, Miss. – Businessman Tilman Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s Inc. and star of the CNBC reality show “Billion Dollar Buyer,” will share insights and advice Friday (May 5) at the University of Mississippi.

The 11:30 a.m. event at The Pavilion at Ole Miss is free and open to the public. The first 1,000 guests get a complimentary lunch and poster from the event, and will have an opportunity for Fertitta to autograph it personally.

The event is a collaboration between the university’ School of Business Administration, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, with assistance from Blake Tartt III, president and CEO of New Regional Planning, a real estate consulting firm in Houston, Texas.

“When we built The Pavilion at Ole Miss and opened the doors in January of 2016, our vision was to continue to make our university community the place to be for big time events,” said Ross Bjork, vice chancellor of intercollegiate athletics. “Mr. Fertitta’s message about self-made success will be inspiring for our students and community leaders so they can see firsthand that anything is possible if you take the right approach and have a plan.

“We are grateful to be in a position to host these top-flight events and partner with the School of Business, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and our friend Blake Tartt.”

Fertitta, whose company owns and operates more than 500 properties with more than 40 brands, including Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s and Rainforest Cafe, will talk about his success and how others can apply what he has learned.

“For our students to be able to interact with one of the major business leaders in the United States is enormously satisfying,” said Will Norton, dean of the UM journalism school. “We are grateful to Blake Tartt III for making the arrangements to have Tilman Fertitta at Ole Miss.”

With a reported net worth of nearly $3 billion on Forbes’s list of the “world’s wealthiest people,” Fertitta is a self-made success. He started in the food business in Galveston, Texas, where he worked at his father’s restaurant after school.

He began selling Shaklee vitamins before following his dream of owning restaurants. The second-youngest inductee into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, Fertitta began as a partner in the first Landry’s restaurant in 1980 and bought a controlling interest in the company in 1986. Landry’s went public in 1993, and he took it private again nearly 20 years later in a $1.4 billion deal.

“We are excited to have Tilman Feritta coming to campus to speak to our students, faculty, alumni, and friends,” said Ken Cyree, UM business dean. “Tilman is an outstanding example for our stakeholders of what hard work, ingenuity, business acumen, recognizing opportunity and executing business strategies can create in a company.”

This is the second year the Ole Miss business and journalism schools and athletics department have collaborated for a significant event to cap the school year. Last year’s event brought urban visionary Joel Kotkin to campus for a message on the importance of planning in urban environments and creating quality of life in dense development settings.

“We wanted to top last year with a personality who was both entertaining and enlightening,” said Tartt, a UM alumnus and chairman of the business school’s real estate advisory board. “Who better to captivate our audience than a market leader with a perspective that no one else has?

“I’ve known Tilman since childhood and have worked with him on real estate developments for over 30 years. He’s a rare blend of creativity and candor, vision and veracity.”

Besides his business ventures, Fertitta is the chairman of the University of Houston’s board of regents, and he recently donated $20 million to renovate the Cougars’ basketball arena at the Fertitta Center.

“I’m eager for the attendees to have the opportunity to experience Fertitta’s rare blend of wit and wisdom,” Tartt said.

Lunch is provided by sponsors Renasant Bank, Evans Petree P.C., White Construction and HottyToddy.com.

UM School of Pharmacy Named Smart Financial Value

Graduates enjoy lower debt, comparable salaries as national averages

The UM School of Pharmacy has been ranked 12th nationwide for financial value, based on average salaries and student load debt for graduates. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy has been named one of the best financial values in the country among pharmacy programs, based on a study by personal finance and loan refinancing company SoFi.

The School of Pharmacy ranked 12th nationwide and best in the Southeastern Conference, based on the ratio of its graduates’ average salaries to their average student loan debt.

The study used data from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy on first-year tuition and fees and student loan debt from more than 60 programs around the country, as well as from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on median salaries of 2016 graduates.

“Our focus as a school continues to be on value, which we measure by cost and quality,” said David Gregory, associate dean for student affairs at the School of Pharmacy. “We are grateful for this recognition and will continue to work to advance on the value scale for pharmacy education.”

The average salary for an Ole Miss pharmacy graduate is $120,269, which is just under the national median pharmacist salary of $121,500. However, UM pharmacy graduates have an average of $98,051 in student loan debt, almost 40 percent lower than the national average of $157,425 for pharmacy students.

This 1.2-to-1 ratio of salary to debt accounts for the program’s high rank in the SoFi study.

Starting salaries for UM pharmacy graduates are on the rise, which may be due to the shortage of health care professionals in Mississippi, especially in more rural areas. In 2015, the Mississippi Legislature addressed this issue by expediting licensure for rural practitioners.

Mississippi is ranked fifth nationwide in demand for pharmacists, according to the Pharmacist Demand Indicator.

“In order to continue to recruit student pharmacists to take on public health issues, we must be competitive in all areas,” said David D. Allen, pharmacy dean. “Being a good value in addition to being an outstanding program enhances our ability to attract the top students.”

UM Completes Renovations to Memory Garden

Fountain terrace offers place to meditate, remember and study

UM freshmen (from left) JC Pride and Cole Swayze, both of Jackson, and Diggs Truitt of Nashville, Tennessee, rest between classes at the Ole Miss Memory Garden. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has completed renovations to the Ole Miss Memory Garden, adding new brickwork patterns, additional seating and a tiered foundation that invites passersby into an ambiance of serenity and grace.

At the rear of Paris-Yates Chapel, the bench-lined terrace stands as a monument to students who lost their lives while enrolled at Ole Miss and welcomes anyone seeking a quiet place to pray, think, meditate or study.

The Memory Gardens’ fountain was made possible by the late Penn Owen of Como, who contributed $100,000 in memory of his mother, the late Mary “May” Davis Owen, a 1928 UM liberal arts graduate, also of Como.

“I’ve always thought Paris-Yates Chapel is really something special and the Paris family members were my mother’s great friends, going way back to Henry’s parents,” Owen said in 2015. “So I asked Henry if there was something I could do with this money around the chapel.”

Paris contacted Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat, who proposed a beautification of the existing terrace on the grounds of the nondenominational chapel, which is used for various events, including weddings, memorial services and honors programs.

“The fountain terrace is a beautiful addition to Paris-Yates Chapel,” Khayat said. “It’s an enhancement that we’ve wanted to bring to fruition for some time now.

“The Owens’ gift makes it possible and, for that, we are grateful, as will be the countless generations of students and others who enjoy this peaceful space.”

The Ole Miss Memory Garden is the brainchild of the Class of 2006 and Sparky Reardon, Ole Miss dean emeritus of students. Later, the Class of 2011 donated the garden’s four benches.

“Ole Miss is such a family-oriented place that when we lose one student, everyone is affected,” Reardon said. “The garden will provide a place where any member of the Ole Miss family may go to remember the lives of those who have gone before.”

Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the Memory Garden may contact Sandra Guest, vice president of the University of Mississippi Foundation, at 662-915-5208 or email sguest@olemiss.edu. Gifts also can be made by mailing a check to the UM Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, with Memory Garden noted, or by visiting https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/.

UM Sophomore Wins Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship

Mary Eveleen Brown honored for accomplishments, involvement with $2,500 award

UM sophomore Mary Eveleen Brown (center) is presented with the 2017 JAMAS Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship by (from left) Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration; Madison Turnage, daughter of JAMAS CEO Ben Turnage and an Ole Miss senior; Karen Turnage, Ben Turnage’s wife; and Don Duckworth, senior adviser with JAMAS Capital Management. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – JAMAS Capital Management, a private investment firm based in Jackson, has named University of Mississippi sophomore Mary Eveleen Brown as the recipient of the 2017 JAMAS Capital Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship.

A native of Brentwood, Tennessee, Brown got an early start in entrepreneurship at age 12, when she made and sold purses to raise money for a charity that provides plastic surgery to burn victims. In high school, she started an online business making and selling headbands to raise funds to attend camp.

Most recently, Brown immersed herself in a start-up jewelry business, which was “transformative in my understanding of the business environment of today,” she said.

“I discovered that the most crucial question in today’s business environments is, ‘Why do we do things this way?’ It encourages people to look at their business from a different point of view.”

Brown is majoring in integrated marketing communications with a minor in business administration. She has become involved in the Ole Miss community, serving on the Student Activities Association Executive Council, the Associated Student Body Marketing and Engagement Board, and the Student Alumni Council.

She recently served on the sponsorship committee for RebelTHON/Children’s Miracle Network annual fundraiser, which raised more than $100,000.

“Mary Eveleen has demonstrated the motivation to create and succeed in new business opportunities while also serving her community,” said Ben O. Turnage, founder and CEO of JAMAS Capital Management. “We at JAMAS are proud to contribute to the success of this impressive young woman, who has a bright future as a pioneering business leader.”

Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration said, “We are very proud of Mary Eveleen’s accomplishments so early in her college experience and are confident she will continue to build on this success at Ole Miss and well beyond graduation.

“We are also thrilled that JAMAS Capital Management is funding this important scholarship that supports our Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and our entrepreneurship major.”

The $2,500 JAMAS Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship helps Ole Miss students pursue their education and goals to create successful businesses after graduation. For more information, visit http://jamascapital.com/.

UM Students Help Manage Investments for Tennessee Valley Authority

Ole Miss team places fourth in investment competition, gains real-world experience

UM students Christian May (left), Ian Soileau, Claire Fulkerson, Lamar Norsworthy and Makail Johannesson presented the team’s strategy and results to TVA officials at the Tennessee Valley Authority Investment Challenge in Nashville, Tennessee. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Twelve students from the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration’s portfolio management team recently represented the university in Nashville, Tennessee, for the Tennessee Valley Authority Investment Challenge.

The TVA’s investment program is one of the nation’s largest student-managed investment plans. It allows student teams to manage stock portfolios for the agency, giving them better understanding of investments through experience. Based on the portfolios’ performances, students are awarded prizes by the TVA.

For calendar year 2016, the Ole Miss portfolio team earned a return of 11.95 percent, which placed them fourth among the 23 participating schools. Only Trevecca Nazarene University, at 18.7 percent; East Tennessee State University, 18.6 percent; and the University of Tennessee, 16.7 percent, earned better returns over the year.

“It was a cool experience to immerse ourselves in a professional environment like the TVA conference,” said Makail Johannesson, a junior economics major from Red Lake, Ontario. “We learn a lot of content and fundamentals in the classroom, but there is no better way to grasp corporate culture than being a part of it.”

The strong performance was supported by Ole Miss’ portfolio holdings in T-Mobile, Chevron and AT&T, stocks which recorded gains of 65 percent, 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively, during 2016.

The students managed approximately a half-million dollars of the TVA’s funds by designing long-term investment strategies, making trades and providing performance reports to the agency.

The real-world experience will be valuable in helping the students compete professionally, said Ken Cyree, dean of the business school.

“We are pleased that these students have an excellent experiential learning opportunity through the TVA,” Cyree said. “We are also thankful that the competition provided an opportunity for the students to hone their presentation skills.

“The use of real funds helps add to the importance of decision-making, and the presentation of the results adds to the importance of being accountable for our decisions.”

Besides Johannesson, the team included Jocelyn Cropper, a junior managerial finance major from Cypress, Texas; Claire Fulkerson, a junior majoring in accountancy from Dallas; Ashely Glennon, a senior managerial finance major from Austin, Texas; Boyce Holleman, a senior from Jackson majoring in managerial finance and banking and finance; Blake Maum a senior from Chattanooga, Tennessee, majoring in banking and finance; Christian May, a senior managerial finance major from Memphis; Lamar Norsworthy, a junior accountancy major from Memphis; Kyle D. Snyder, a junior marketing major from Keller, Texas; Ian Soileau, a sophomore from Hernando majoring in mathematics and managerial finance; Tyler Whitmore, a senior in accountancy from Sherwood, Arkansas; and Grant A. Wiley, a junior from Dallas majoring in banking and finance.

Five of the team members – Fulkerson, Johannesson, May, Norsworthy and Soileau – presented their performance results and explained their strategy to the TVA executives.

Travis Box, UM assistant professor of finance, and Jonathan Daigle, adjunct instructor of finance, organized the team and serve as faculty advisers.

“The students studied the markets and conducted meetings all year,” Box said. “They presented their research, fought for their ideas, and it paid off.

“There is so much talent in this group, and I can’t wait to see what they are able to accomplish going forward.”

The money used for the challenge comes from the TVA’s Asset Retirement Trust Fund, established in 1996 to meet the financial obligations of decommissioning the agency’s non-nuclear power units. The Investment Challenge is part of a larger strategy to diversify the financial management of the Trust Fund.

When the program began, 19 universities received investment funds of $100,000 each, totaling $1.9 million. The program has expanded to include 25 universities, with some $10 million being invested.

“The Investment Challenge is another example of the many great things the TVA provides people,” said Richard Howorth, an Ole Miss graduate, owner of Square Books in Oxford and chair-elect of the TVA’s board of directors. “This program is especially meaningful because it is an opportunity for the organization to help young people learn about the world of financial investment as well as broaden their interest in potential career paths.”

UM Development Welcomes Annual Giving Director

Wesley Clark brings passion-driven skill set to Ole Miss

Wesley Clark outside his office at Carriage House. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – For Florida native Wesley Clark, not even a promising career in law was worth giving up his passion for fundraising.

“I earned a law degree and passed the bar, but after a few years of practicing, I knew that I didn’t want to be a lawyer for my whole life,” Clark recalled. “I recognized my passion was in higher education and fundraising.”

Clark, who earned both a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a juris doctorate from the University of Florida, is taking the next step of his dream career by becoming the new annual giving director at the University of Mississippi Office of Development.

Gifts to the Annual Fund support every aspect of an Ole Miss education. Yearly contributions from more than 8,000 donors top $7 million for schools, colleges and programs across the Oxford campus. Alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff and students choose the area to which they designate their gift.

“I always hope to bring together people’s passions with areas of need and causes that matter,” Clark said. “Everyone has generosity within them that they want to fulfill. It’s a big part of my job to connect that drive to the needs of the university.”

Clark has no shortage of experience as he takes on this position. He began as a student worker in the Telefund program at the University of Florida before taking on professional fundraising positions at the University of Michigan, Humboldt State University and at his most recent workplace, Texas State University.

Each new experience has enhanced Clark’s fascination with the process and the purpose of fundraising for higher education.

“I love the balance between the rational side of strategic planning and the emotionally driven side that’s more creative and based on what people care about as human beings,” he said. “It creates significant leverage when people support a university because of the impact it has on the students and their futures. It’s not a one-time impact; it lasts forever.”

At Texas State, Clark spearheaded many profitable fundraising campaigns such as “Step Up for State,” a day of giving that raised more than $220,000 in support of diverse campus initiatives. He also managed direct mail appeals, the online giving portal, the fundraising call center and the faculty-staff giving campaign, which saw significant growth during his leadership.

“With experience at several respected universities, Wesley Clark brings outstanding expertise in annual giving, crowdfunding and day-of-giving programs to the Office of University Development,” said Robin Buchannon, associate vice chancellor for university relations. “We believe Wesley will be instrumental in developing new annual giving donors to help strengthen academic initiatives across our campus.

“Wesley’s strategic approach to annual giving – a bedrock of our fundraising efforts – will greatly benefit our schools and College of Liberal Arts.”

Clark and his wife, Angela, look forward to calling Oxford their new home.

“Once I saw the opportunity, we did our research and (Oxford) seemed like a perfect fit,” he said. “We love small-town communities and the connectedness that they allow community members to have.”

To learn more about supporting Ole Miss academic programs through the Annual Fund, contact Wesley Clark at whclark1@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2293.

UM Pharmacy Students to Present at Veterinary Conference

Both are leaders in campus Rebel Vets

Alexandria Gochenauer. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Two UM School of Pharmacy students are to speak this weekend at the Annual Veterinary Pharmacy Conference in Memphis, Tennessee, hosted by the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists.

Second-year pharmacy students Robert Ross and Alexandria Gochenauer, who are both interested in veterinary pharmacy, were recommended to speak at the April 20-22 conference by Erin Holmes, associate professor of pharmacy administration.

“Alex and Robert are very passionate about the practice of veterinary pharmacy and have developed a great relationship with ACVP,” Holmes said. “They’ve already written several articles designed for veterinarians, veterinary pharmacists and pet owners as part of the ACVP’s quarterly newsletter.”

Ross, a native of Homer Glen, Illinois, helped create the university’s student chapter of ACVP, called Rebel Vets, and is the organization’s president-elect. He will present at the conference on the treatment and prevention of diabetes in cats and dogs.

“I’m fascinated by the complexity of diabetes and how prevalent it is in our country,” Ross said. “I was interested to see that it’s very common in pets, just as it is in humans.”

Robert Ross. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Ross is weighing his career options but is interested in the possibility of working in a veterinary hospital.

“I see this conference as a great opportunity to be able to meet people with similar interests from around the country,” Ross said.

Gochenauer, of Republic, Missouri, also played a key a role in establishing Rebel Vets and has served as its secretary for two years.

“I was lucky to be offered this opportunity, and I am very excited to break into the world of veterinary pharmacy,” Gochenauer said.

She will present on cancer therapeutics in cats and dogs, focusing on available drugs and treatments for the disease in these animals. Upon graduation, Gochenauer hopes to complete a veterinary pharmacy residency and eventually work in a veterinary teaching hospital.

“These students’ working knowledge of veterinary pharmacy sets them apart as speakers for the upcoming conference,” Holmes said. “As a new organization in the School of Pharmacy, I’m very excited for the opportunities that are emerging for the Ole Miss Rebel Vets, and I could not be prouder of all they have accomplished.”

The Mississippi Encyclopedia to Be Published in May

Celebratory events kick off May 20 on the Oxford Square, continue through summer

OXFORD, Miss. – Work on a project that began at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture in 2003 has concluded at long last. The Mississippi Encyclopedia, a mammoth collaboration that includes more than 1,600 entries and 1,451 pages, goes on sale in May.

The first encyclopedic treatment of the state since 1907, the volume features work by more than 700 scholars, who wrote entries on every county, every governor and numerous musicians, writers, artists and activists. Published by the University Press of Mississippi, the encyclopedia should appeal to anyone who wants to know more about Mississippi and the people who call it home, said Ted Ownby, director of the center and the volume’s co-editor.

“Any good encyclopedia has detailed, thorough, smart information on topics people want to find,” Ownby said. “So, from a journalist or traveler to a scholar or teacher to a kid doing a school project, everyone should find ways to use the book.

“But holding it in their hands, they should find all sorts of things they hadn’t thought to look up. We think it’s revealing that the work starts with ‘Abdul-Rauf, Mahmoud (Chris Jackson)’ and ends with ‘Ziglar, Zig,’ and both of those entries seem likely to surprise a lot of readers.”

The encyclopedia will be especially helpful to students, teachers and scholars researching, writing about or otherwise discovering the state, past and present, he said. It includes solid, clear information in a single volume, offering with clarity and scholarship a breadth of topics unavailable anywhere else.

The Mississippi Encyclopedia is the result of numerous collaborations – between the University Press of Mississippi and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, among the numerous supporters who contributed to or helped organize the project, among the 30 topic editors from around the state and far beyond it, and among the authors, an intriguing mixture of scholars.

The Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History supported the project, and the university’s history department and School of Law joined the Southern studies program in encouraging advanced students to write for it. Early support came from the university and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Each entry in The Mississippi Encyclopedia provides an authoritative but accessible introduction to the topic discussed. It also features long essays on agriculture, archaeology, the civil rights movement, the Civil War, contemporary issues, drama, education, the environment, ethnicity, fiction, folklife, foodways, geography, industry and industrial workers, law, medicine, music, myths and representations, Native Americans, nonfiction, poetry, politics and government, the press, religion, social and economic history, sports and visual art.

Senior editors Ownby and Charles Reagan Wilson and associate editor Ann Abadie began work on the project when Wilson was center director.

“Seetha Srinivasan, then the director of the University Press of Mississippi, approached the center about editing a state encyclopedia as other states were beginning to do,” said Wilson, professor emeritus of history and Southern studies. “The center’s advisory committee was supportive, and we began this long effort, which is now coming to fruition.”

Odie Lindsey, who now teaches at Vanderbilt University and is author of “We Come to Our Senses” and other works of fiction, began working on the project as managing editor in 2006.

James G. Thomas Jr., the center’s associate director for publications, was managing editor of the center’s New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture from 2003 to 2013. Before that project ended, he began working on The Mississippi Encyclopedia project.

Several events are planned to publicize and discuss the book. Events will commence at the Oxford City Hall, 107 Courthouse Square, at 3 p.m. May 20 with an event for the encyclopedia’s contributors, who will have an opportunity to speak briefly about their contribution to the book.

A signing and reception will follow at 5 p.m. at Off Square Books.

A celebration reception is set for 6 p.m. June 13 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and a kickoff event is slated for Aug. 17 at the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson, as well as visits to independent bookstores and cultural organizations across the state.

Visit http://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/ for more details and a full schedule.

Tutoring Startup Takes Top Prize at UM Business Competition

12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition celebrates another successful year

Winners of the Gillespie Business Plan Competition are pictured with the judging panel: (front row) William Yates III, CEO of Yates Construction; Sam Bertolet, partner with Pontus Andersson in Myra Mirrors, the second-place winner; Lee Ingram, first-place winner; Austin Darnell, third-place winner; John Oxford, director of external affairs for Renasant Bank; and Lawrence Adams, Jimmy John’s franchise owner in Jackson; and (back row) Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration; Emmet Seibels, co-founder of Versus Health in Nashville; Johnny Maloney, co-owner of Cowboy Maloney’s; Clay Dibrell, professor of management and CIE co-director; Richard Gentry, associate professor of management and CIE co-director; and Josh Mabus, owner of the Mabus Agency. The competition finals were April 7 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. UM photo by Cobie Watkins

OXFORD, Miss. – An online enterprise that helps University of Mississippi students find tutors for their college studies took first place in the 12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition, hosted by the UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Lee Ingram, a master’s candidate in accountancy from Madison, wowed judges with his presentation for Collegiate Tutoring, a tutoring matchmaking service he started in 2014. Its largest clients are two Greek organizations, and the service has assisted more than 200 students, bringing in revenues of more than $50,000 to date.

“Ole Miss is such a fantastic place for students to pursue entrepreneurship,” Ingram said. “There is so much support available from people like Owens Alexander at the CIE, as well as professors like Clay Dibrell and Rich Gentry.

“My goal with Collegiate Tutoring is to help students see that entrepreneurship is a viable career option. I hope to set an example for students looking to take a risk and bet on themselves and their business idea.”

Ingram won $10,000 and a year of free office space at the Innovation Hub at Insight Park, the university’s business incubator.

Pontus Andersson, a senior from Ridgeland, took second place and $5,000 for his company, Myra Mirrors, which developed a software system that integrates apps into surfaces and mirrors. Third place and $2,500 went to Manalsu Athletics, founded by Austin Darnell, a junior from Wake Forest, North Carolina.

“We looked at other smart home spaces,” Andersson said. “We realized that while home automation had been covered by the likes of Nest, Google, Apple and Amazon, few companies had attempted it with furniture.”

Darnell founded Manalsu Athletics in September 2015 with a theme of “Designed for a Life in Motion” after raising $11,000 on Kickstarter for his first product, a high-end style of men’s underwear. He hoped to place in the competition to receive additional funding to expand into other styles of durable men’s activewear.

“We are so proud to be able to provide this unique opportunity for our students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has quickly become one of the many great programs in the business school, and we look forward to seeing what these students are doing to meld together creativity and business.”

The Gillespie Business Plan Competition is the center’s signature event of the year, said Rich Gentry, associate professor of entrepreneurship and strategy and CIE co-director.

“We saw students who have put in a tremendous effort to develop their business and their pitch,” Gentry said. “As in years past, the winner is a successful student we are excited to see benefit from our program.”

The competition is conducted in three rounds. This year’s first round was a review by doctoral candidates of 48 proposals for student businesses.

The second round included 15 participants who gave eight-minute presentations to a committee of 16 local and regional business owners and community leaders, and the final round featured six participants who each gave an eight-minute presentation to a panel of nine judges. The final round was conducted April 7 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.

Besides the winners, the final six competitors also included Sujit and Sangeet Adhikari of Dhading, Nepal, whose company, Adhikari Brothers, would produce bamboo as a substitute for wood; Alicia Hydeman a sophomore from Dallas, whose company, Lulu Jax, focuses on women’s apparel for extremely petite women – Hydeman is 4 feet 10 inches tall – and Nathaniel Snyder, a senior from Elburn, Illinois, whose company, Purifico, produces a super-hydrophobic chemical coating designed to improve sanitation on bathroom surfaces.

UM alumnus Hunter Carpenter (second from left), is congratulated by Jan Farrington (left) Lawrence Farrington and Dean Ken Cyree upon being announced as recipient of the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The presentation came after the Gillespie Business Plan Competition at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. UM photo by Stella Connell

Following the announcement of the winners, Lawrence and Jan Farrington presented Hunter Carpenter, a partner in Redbird Capital Partners in Dallas, with the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year award.

“Lawrence and I are both interested in encouraging young entrepreneurs in Mississippi, especially those associated with the University of Mississippi,” Jan Farrington said. “This yearly award provides the opportunity to honor successful entrepreneurs, and also to provide encouragement and inspiration to our students with an entrepreneurial spirit.

“Hunter’s career grows more impressive each year. He not only exemplifies a very successful entrepreneur, but also a person who shares his time and talents to help others. He has served on the UM Foundation Board for many years and is currently the chair of its investment committee.”

A four-year letterman on the Ole Miss men’s basketball team, Carpenter earned his bachelor’s degree in 1999 from the UM Patterson School or Accountancy, his master’s in accountancy in 2000 and a Juris Doctor from the UM School of Law in 2003.

“It is an honor to receive the award from the Farringtons,” Carpenter said. “They are special people to Ole Miss and to me, and have long carved a path as special entrepreneurs and investors in the South.”

Pharmacy Professor Wins Prestigious Elsie M. Hood Teaching Award

Students call John Rimoldi 'enthusiastic' and 'altruistic'

John Rimoldi lectures to a group of UM pharmacy students. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, is the winner of the 2017 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award.

This award recognizes one Ole Miss professor each year who embodies teaching excellence and exceptional student engagement. Students and faculty submit letters of nomination, and honorees are usually nominated many times over before winning.

“I am deeply humbled to be in the company of past Elsie M. Hood award recipients, many of whom I know and consider to be teaching champions in their field,” said Rimoldi, who accepted the award April 7 at the university’s annual Honors Day Convocation. “It’s heartwarming to know that many students over the years took time out of their demanding schedules to write a letter of nomination.”

Third-year pharmacy student Meredith Oliver, one of Rimoldi’s nominators, praised his “infectious” enthusiasm and his ability to connect lectures with real-world health issues.

“The entire biomolecular sciences department exudes a childlike spirit of discovery and innovation that I believe is a direct result of his leadership and innovative pharmaceutical research,” Oliver said. “His passion for medicinal chemistry engenders respect and instills a fierce curiosity in his students.

“In thinking about pursuing a career in academia myself, ​Dr. Rimoldi’s teaching certainly​ serves as a model for me.”

Rimoldi has taught in the pharmacy school since 1995. His previous teaching honors include the UM Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship, the UM Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring, three Pharmaceutical Sciences PY1 Teacher of Year awards and two consecutive three-year terms as a Distinguished Teaching Scholar in the School of Pharmacy.

“John is one of the very best educators that we have at the university and is highly deserving of this award,” said Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, which houses the division of medicinal chemistry. “His commitment to student learning is really unparalleled.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (right) presents the 2017 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award to John Rimoldi during the Honors Day ceremony at the Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

In presenting the award, Chancellor Jeff Vitter called Rimoldi a “standout among other professors.”

“(He) is known as a professor who not only engages his students with the curriculum he teaches, but also leaves a lasting impact, which steers students towards lifelong learning,” Vitter said. “He is the standard we all should aspire to for teaching excellence and student engagement.”

Rimoldi is vice president and co-founder of Paradox Pharmaceuticals Inc., which develops new drugs for treating cancer and heart disease in humans and animals. He has published close to 70 research and teaching publications on synthetic, medicinal and environmental chemistry.

“John’s passion for teaching is contagious and his dedication to connecting with students contributes to the unique, close-knit environment of our school,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “He’s one of the most exceptional educators I’ve had the pleasure to work with.”

Besides being a professor of medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology, Rimoldi has served as a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College faculty since 2013. He is a research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, director of research and graduate affairs in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences and director of the Chemistry and DM/PK Core Laboratory associated with the university’s NIH-COBRE program grant.

“Dr. Rimoldi’s altruistic approach is welcoming in an increasingly competitive academic environment,” said Dennis Carty, a doctoral candidate in pharmaceutical sciences. “He always finds time for those in need of academic or life guidance. I’m honored to have been mentored by such a great intellect and friend.”

The late Ron Borne, professor of medicinal chemistry and winner of the 1972 Elsie M. Hood award, mentored Rimoldi, who said he wished Borne could share this moment with him.

“I sincerely believe I am the beneficiary of each classroom experience or lecture,” Rimoldi said. “It’s easy to be passionate about the things you enjoy and love to do.”