UM Student Named Independent Pharmacies Grant Recipient

Hoby Mullins honored with financial support from national trade group

Hoby Mullins

OXFORD, Miss. – Hoby Mullins, a first-year student in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has received a $1,000 grant from the 2017 EPIC Pharmacies student grant program.

Mullins’ accolade marks the fourth consecutive year a student from the UM School of Pharmacy has received the grant from EPIC Pharmacies. Jasmine Turner, who graduated in May, was named an honoree for 2015 and 2016.

EPIC Pharmacies is a national group of more than 1,400 independent pharmacies that annually provides grants to pharmacy students who plan to practice in independent pharmacy after graduation.

“I was very excited when I found out that I would receive the award,” Mullins said. “It is such a blessing to be able to receive money to help pay my tuition.” 

Mullins, of Roxie, plans to pursue his Pharm.D. and hopes to form lifelong friendships with his colleagues. The award also puts him closer to his long-term goal of operating his own pharmacy.

“This is very exciting for Hoby, and I’m proud of his hard work,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “I’m looking forward to seeing what he will accomplish during his time at the School of Pharmacy and in his career.”

Late Alumnus Funds the Pursuit of Knowledge

Corsale's major gift establishes scholarship for UM law students

Joe Corsale

OXFORD, Miss. – If you could ask Joe Corsale the secret to a successful life, he’d no doubt say it’s knowledge. The Saratoga Springs, New York, native sought knowledge whenever and wherever he could.

“He had a passion for learning anything and everything, from playing a guitar to using a computer to attending a three-week course in Maine where he learned the trade of building houses,” said Barbara Corsale, the late Joe Corsale’s wife.

It was perhaps his great love of knowledge that inspired Corsale to include the University of Mississippi School of Law in his estate plans, leaving the university a $100,000 gift to establish the Joseph N. Corsale Family Scholarship Endowment.

He earned his Juris Doctor from UM in 1964, but he used his degree only for a short time. There was too much to learn, too much to see, too much to do.

“You’d ask Joe, ‘Joe, what are you doing?’ and he’d say, ‘A little bit of this and a little bit of that,'” said Ken Reynolds, who became friends with Corsale when they were freshmen together at Western Kentucky University.

Among his many occupations and pastimes, Corsale was the owner of J.N. Corsale Jr. Real Estate Co., an insurance salesman, a licensed auctioneer, a school teacher, a gun broker, a city commissioner for Saratoga Springs and periodic seller of parimutuel tickets at the local horse track.

And there was, of course, the railroad – Corsale’s first and longest love. Long before law school, he worked on the railroad and when he retired after 55 years, he was the nation’s oldest freight conductor.

In addition to Corsale’s undergraduate and law degrees, the lifelong learner had diplomas from the State University of New York and the World Wide College of Auctioneering.

The new Ole Miss scholarship he established is available to first-year law students with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and with first preference given to students from New York.

“He wanted to give it to somebody who needed the money, people who are struggling, but not just to students who are there only for the sake of being a lawyer,” Barbara Corsale said. “He wanted it to go to students who want to work with people and who are interested in their community.

“You know, ‘What are you going to do when you get out? How are you going to put your talents to good use?’ He was very giving in his lifetime and he wanted to help someone in law school who would profit from a little bit of assistance.”

Throughout his lifetime, Corsale made frequent financial contributions to the Ole Miss law school and was a member of the Lamar Order, a designation given to those who make a minimum $10,000 commitment to the school, payable within 10 years.

“I think he chose the school for several reasons,” said Robert Khayat, UM chancellor emeritus and a classmate of Corsale. “I suspect that among well-respected law schools, Ole Miss would’ve been the right size and the right price with the right admissions standards.

Suzette Matthews (right), development officer for the UM law school, visits with Barbara Corsale at her home in Saratoga Springs, New York. Photo by Carol Mockbee

“I think it was the overall appeal of Ole Miss and Oxford, in the sparse population, in the way things move so slowly and in classes that were fun and teachers who were terrific.”

Barbara Corsale agreed, saying her husband, who had always wanted to experience the South, researched many schools before selecting Western Kentucky and then Ole Miss. But it’s likely his life would have taken a different track altogether if he hadn’t sustained a serious injury while working on the railroad.

“He fell off the trestle and broke his back,” Reynolds said, adding that during his physical therapy, Corsale became friends with a tobacco warehouseman from Cynthiana, Kentucky. “This gentleman told Joe that he was too smart and too dumb to stay working for the railroad; that he ought to go to college and get an education and make something of himself.”

Corsale intended to stay in Mississippi after law school. In fact, he was hired by an Oxford law firm. But when his father fell ill a few months into his employment, Corsale felt obligated to return to New York, where he began to work for an Albany law firm preparing briefs to be presented to the state legislature.

One day, on his way to work, Corsale stopped at a bank in Mechanicsville, New York, to invest in a certificate of deposit. There, he met and later charmed the bank’s vice president into becoming his wife.

“I remember saying to my daughter, Tammy (from a previous marriage), ‘I’ve got a date’ and she says, ‘With who?’ and I says, ‘He’s one of my customers at the bank’ and she says, ‘Does he have his own apartment?’ and I says, ‘No, he lives with his mother.’ … She looked at me and says, ‘What’s wrong with him?'” Barbara Corsale recalled, laughing.

“But they got along very, very well. He loved her and she loved him.”

After eight years as a lawyer, Corsale returned to the railroad and later became a general chairman of the United Transportation Union. He also worked with Walter Rich, president of the New York, Susquehanna and Western railroad, in labor relations between Cooperstown and Washington, D.C.

“He was funny and smart and always had a great big smile on his face,” Khayat said. “He really developed an affection for the school and its people. Occasionally he would make contact either in person, call or send a note. He always stayed in touch.

“Joe was really an Ole Miss person and identified with his university so closely that I know he was like an ambassador for Ole Miss wherever he went. That was his personality.”

Individuals and organizations may make gifts to the Joseph N. Corsale Family Scholarship Endowment by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting or contacting Suzette Matthews at 601-937-1497 or

Annual Miss University Pageant Set for Sunday

Participants competing for scholarships, spot in Miss Mississippi Pageant

Leah Gibson, Miss University 2017, will crown the new Miss University at the pageant Oct. 15 in the Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Thirteen contestants will be vying for the title of Miss University at the 69th annual Miss University Scholarship Pageant, set for Sunday (Oct. 15) at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The pageant, sponsored by the Ole Miss Student Union and the Student Activities Association, is set for 5:30 p.m. Tickets, priced at $10 for UM students and $15 for the general public, are available at the Ford Center Box Office and online at

The winner advances to the Miss Mississippi Pageant in June 2018 in Vicksburg. Miss University 2018 also gets a scholarship and other benefits, said Bradley Baker, director of the Ole Miss Student Union and pageant host.

“The winner will receive over $5,000 in scholarships and prizes from various sponsors for the Miss University Pageant,” Baker said. “This pageant not only provides scholarships but it empowers young women to achieve their dreams while serving as role models for their communities, states and the nation.”

Contestants complete an interview session with judges before the pageant, and the on-stage competitions include talent, evening gown, swimwear and on-stage question events.

These contestants for Miss University 2018 and their platforms are:

  • Shelbee Avelino, of Arroyo Grande, California; Seventeen Strong and Overall Wellness
  • Asya Branch, of Booneville; Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents
  • Madison Demotts, of Gulf Breeze, Florida; Move Mississippi
  • Emma Gaddy, of Moulton, Alabama; Dance For All
  • Kimberly Gordon, of Brooksville; Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Baylee Howard, of Corinth; Women in Engineering Proactive Work
  • Mary Margaret Hyer, of Hattiesburg; Advocate, Celebrate, Donate
  • Mary Randall Ivy, of Oxford; Listen Carefully: Healthy Hearing Awareness
  • Ciara Knapp, of Chatham, Illinois; Crowning Success: The Four Points Mentoring
  • Charley Ann Nix, of Batesville; Don’t Wait, Educate: A Bullying Prevention Program
  • Dana Wesley, of West Point; Language-Learning to Foster Understanding
  • Hannah Whitlock, of Pontotoc; Game On for Literacy
  • Blair Wortsmith, of Little Rock, Arkansas; Guiding Youth to Financial Freedom

For more information about the pageant, go to

Grant Supports Student Internships in East Asia

Freeman Foundation provides $100,000 for experiential learning initiative

Palmer Whiters (left) and William Bumpas, recent graduates of the UM Croft Institute for International Studies, completed a one-semester internship in China during their capstone year of the Chinese Flagship Program. The university has been awarded a grant from the Freeman Foundation to fund UM Experiential Learning in East Asia, an initiative to support internships in East and Southeast Asia. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Freeman Foundation of Stowe, Vermont, has awarded a $100,000 grant to the University of Mississippi for an initiative to support student internships in East and Southeast Asia.

The program, UM Experiential Learning in East Asia, will allow 18 undergraduates to complete a summer internship of at least eight weeks in summer 2018. Each recipient will receive $5,000 from the Freeman Foundation grant and an additional $2,500 provided by the university’s Office of Global Engagement and the successful applicants’ respective UM school(s).

“The Croft Institute has been the campus leader in promoting engagement with East Asia for the last 20 years, and this generous grant by the Freeman Foundation will allow us to add another important dimension to those efforts,” said Oliver Dinius, executive director of the Croft Institute for International Studies.

Dinius will administer the program and is working with Joshua Howard, Croft associate professor of history, Minjoo Oh, associate professor of sociology; and Blair McElroy, the university’s senior international officer, to design the application process, select award recipients and assist students as they prepare for their internships.

The goal of the Freeman Foundation’s grant is to help students gain real-life experience while interacting regularly with local populations. Established in 1994 by the estate of AIG cofounder Mansfield Freeman, the foundation’s general mission is “to strengthen the bonds of friendship between this country and those of the Far East” and “to stimulate an exchange of ideas in economic and cultural fields which will help create mutual understanding.”

Headed by Mansfield’s grandson, Graeme Freeman, the foundation donates approximately $50 million annually to programs such as study abroad scholarships for Asian and American students and the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia, which has supported the Croft Institute’s efforts to strengthen teaching about East Asia in Mississippi for more than 15 years.

The grant will provide students with life-changing opportunities to work and experience life in East Asia, Howard said. Participating students will “be able to put their learning into practice – whether it’s in the field of engineering, accounting, language studies, just to name a few examples – and become global citizens in the process,” he said.

This grant will allow the Croft Institute and the other participating units on the Oxford campus to deliver on the university’s commitment to greater internationalization and support for experiential learning, two core goals set by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Provost Noel Wilkin. Students chosen for UM Experiential Learning in East Asia will learn how a foreign culture affects the work environment and help prepare them to succeed.

“International experiences give students the skills they need in an increasingly global workplace, such as intercultural communication skills, self-awareness, knowledge of current events and their impact upon the world, and open-mindedness,” McElroy said.

Interested students should find their own internship and apply for the UM-administered funding with a specific proposal. The program welcomes proposals for internships in all parts of East Asia, although priority is given to sending students to countries that are at the heart of UM’s long-standing engagement with East Asia: China, Japan and South Korea.

Oh, a native of Korea, is excited about the potential of this grant reinforcing UM’s recent commitment to Korean studies.

“I hope that many students will take advantage of this opportunity to complete internships in Korea, deepening our engagement with one of the most culturally and economically dynamic places in the world,” she said.

The program is open to undergraduate students from all schools and majors on the Oxford campus. The only restriction is that they must be enrolled as full-time Ole Miss undergraduate students in the semester after completing their summer internship.

Individual awards are designed to offset costs that may otherwise discourage students from interning abroad, including airfare, accommodations and meals. The program will begin accepting applications in mid-October.

Interested students should visit for details about the application process and deadlines. For more information, contact William Mahoney, Croft’s coordinator for career planning, at

Alumni Association to Honor Outstanding Graduates at Homecoming

Recipients will be recognized on the field during Vanderbilt game

Don Frugé

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Alumni Association is awarding seven distinguished University of Mississippi alumni with its highest annual awards as part of Homecoming 2017.

Inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame for 2017 are: Don Frugé (BBA 67, JD 70) of Oxford; Walton Gresham III (BBA 71) of Indianola; James E. Keeton (BA 61, MD 65) of Jackson; Tom Papa (BBA 57) of Jackson; and Mary Sharp Rayner (BAEd 64) of Oxford.

Former Gov. William Winter (BA 43, LLB 49) of Jackson will receive the Alumni Service Award for service to the university and the Alumni Association over an extended period. Candie L. Simmons (BBA 02, MBA 15) of Ridgeland will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees at 6 p.m. Friday (Oct. 13) in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner for the award recipients follows at 7 p.m.

Created in 1974, the Hall of Fame honors select alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or university through good deeds, services or contributions that have perpetuated the good name of Ole Miss.

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have shown exemplary leadership throughout their first 15 years of alumni status in both their careers and dedication to Ole Miss.

Frugé is chairman and CEO of Fruge Capital Advisors LLC, an independently registered investment advisory firm. He is also of counsel at the Fruge Law Firm PLLC, of Oxford.

A 1963 graduate of Meridian High School, Frugé received his Bachelor of Business Administration and Juris Doctor degrees from UM followed by a Master of Law degree in taxation from New York University in 1971. He joined the law faculty in 1971 and has continued to teach courses in estate planning, taxation and nonprofit organizations.

Frugé has served the university in a number of capacities, including professor of law, executive director of development, vice chancellor for university affairs, vice chancellor for university advancement, head golf coach and as president and CEO of the University of Mississippi Foundation. He serves as chairman of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation (2005 to present), a board member of the UM Foundation, a member of the Joint Committee on University Investments (1984 to present) and professor emeritus of law.

Frugé and his wife, Mary Ann (BA 66, MA 70), are active members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford.

Walton Gresham III

Gresham serves as president of Gresham Petroleum Co., secretary of Double Quick, secretary of Delta Terminal and director and member of the executive committee of Planters Bank & Trust Co.

He is active in his community and profession and is a past president of Delta Council, the Indianola Rotary Club, the Indianola Educational Foundation and the Indianola Chamber of Commerce. He is chairman of the Community Foundation of Sunflower County. Gresham is past president of the Mississippi Propane Gas Association and Mississippi Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. He also served as the Mississippi director to the National Propane Gas Association.

A longtime volunteer leader, Gresham’s passion is to promote economic development and a better infrastructure in the Mississippi Delta and the state of Mississippi.

Gresham is married to the former Laura Ethridge (BAEd 71) of Oxford, and they have two daughters and five grandchildren. He is a lifelong member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, serving in all offices over the past 45 years in addition to being a licensed lay reader.

James E. Keeton

Keeton served as UMMC’s vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine from 2009 to 2015. He retired in January 2017 and holds emeritus status in these roles and as professor of surgery and pediatrics.

During his tenure, Keeton oversaw planning of and secured funding for a new, state-of-the-art School of Medicine building that is allowing UMMC to expand medical classes to train more doctors for Mississippi.

Keeton was instrumental in planning the construction of the $25 million University Heart Center, the $68 million Translational Research Center and a $23 million public-private project to create housing close to campus for students and faculty.

He shepherded the Medical Center through a $90 million, multiyear effort to implement an enterprise electronic health record that culminated in conversion from paper to computer records in a single day in June 2012.

Keeton was named the 2014 Distinguished Medical Alumnus by his peers. The award is given to an alumnus who made distinctive contributions to the field of medicine.

Keeton and his wife, Jona (MSN 90), live in Jackson and are parents of two children and grandparents to seven grandchildren.

Tom Papa

Papa was born and raised in Helena, Arkansas. He graduated high school from Subiaco Academy in May 1947 and joined the U.S. Navy. He went on to attend UM, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration. While at Ole Miss, Papa was an active member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

After graduation, Papa returned to Jackson to work for the Internal Revenue Service. Shortly thereafter, he began his private practice accounting career at Touche Ross & Co. Upon his retirement, Papa helped form the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, where he served as president for many years. In 1998, the Ford Foundation awarded the university $20 million to design and build the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Through his work at the foundation, Papa has been instrumental in the foundation’s support of the university, including gifts to the planned new science building and the UMMC Mind Center.

Papa lives in Jackson with his wife, Gayle. He is the father of two children and grandfather of four.

Mary Sharp Rayner

A native of Grenada, Rayner graduated from Ole Miss with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She taught history, speech and English for several years in the Jackson and Memphis public school systems. After she and her husband, Jim (MD 66), moved to Oxford, she worked in his ophthalmology practice as a front office manager.

Since moving to Oxford in 1971, Rayner has served on the founding boards of Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the first Oxford Little Theatre. She also served on the boards of numerous other local organizations. She has remained active in her collegiate sorority, Delta Delta Delta, serving in many advisory capacities locally and as a national officer. She served as president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association from 2002 to ’03 and was chair of the Ole Miss Women’s Council in 2007-09.

Rayner volunteers her time with several local organizations, her church, the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation board of governors and the Ole Miss Women’s Council. She remains active in the Ole Miss Alumni Association as a member of the board of directors.

Rayner and her husband have three children and four grandchildren.

William Winter

Alumni Service Award recipient Winter served as governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. Before that, he was elected to the offices of state representative, state tax collector, state treasurer and lieutenant governor. He served as chairman of the Southern Regional Education Board, the Commission on the Future of the South, the National Civic League, the Kettering Foundation, the Foundation for the Mid-South, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Ole Miss Alumni Association.

Winter was a member of President Clinton’s National Advisory Board on Race and was instrumental in the founding of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at UM. He was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

In 1998, Winter was the recipient of the Mississippi Bar’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His credentials within the academic community are longstanding: Jamie Whitten Professor of Law and Government at the UM School of Law (1989); Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College (1989); fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University (1985); and president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association (1978).

Born in Grenada, Winter served overseas as an infantry officer in the Pacific in World War II. An attorney in the Jones Walker law firm in Jackson, he is married to the former Elise Varner (BA 48). They have three daughters, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Candie L. Simmons

The Outstand Young Alumni Award recipient, Simmons is a senior vice president and regional marketing director for Regions Financial Corp. in Jackson.

A native of Ocean Springs, she is the youngest African-American on the bank’s Mississippi Executive Leadership Team and youngest senior vice president in Mississippi. In 2017, she was selected for Regions Financial Corp.’s prestigious Leaders at All Levels III Class.

Simmons was selected by the Mississippi Business Journal as a 2009 “Top 40 Under 40” and 2013 “Top 50 Leading Business Woman,” where she placed in the top 10. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., recently completing her second term as treasurer for her local chapter and was voted 2013 Soror of the Year.

Simmons was selected for the 2018 American Heart Association Executive Leadership Team and selected as a 2017 Champion of Change and a Woman Making a Difference in Madison County for the Madison County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

UM Medical Center Partners in Fight to End Child Hunger

Hospital joins Children’s HealthWatch with funding from the Kellogg Foundation

Dr. Justin Davis (center) confers with resident Dr. Eric McDonald in the Pediatric Emergency Department of the UM MEdical Center. Davis, assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine, is co-investigator of a research project exploring child hunger. UMMC photo by Joe Ellis

JACKSON, Miss. – Come January, some parents of children seen in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Pediatric Emergency Department will be asked a revealing, two-pronged question – and given help, depending on their answers.

The verbal queries: “In the last 12 months, have you worried about food in your household running out before you have money to buy more?” And, “Within the past month, did food run out, and you didn’t have money to buy more?”

Their answers will add to a critical pool of data that will be used to gauge food insecurity affecting children treated in the Pediatric ED. Those numbers represent just one factor influencing child health outcomes, and one more area where policy influence is needed to improve their lives.

UMMC has been chosen as a new expansion site for Children’s HealthWatch, a Kellogg Foundation-supported project that collects data – typically in pediatric emergency rooms – to fuel research into factors that shape child health outcomes. Dr. Bettina Beech, professor of population health science and pediatrics and dean of the John D. Bower School of Population Health, and Dr. Justin Davis, assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine, are co-principal investigators for the local research project.

Being named an expansion site is affirmation of the Medical Center’s research prowess and the Kellogg Foundation’s desire to target its grant dollars where they have the chance to effect change, Beech said.

“Here, we have plenty of opportunities to make a difference,” said Beech, also executive director of the Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities at the Jackson Medical Mall.

Mississippi ranks last in the nation in child food insecurity, or what the federal government defines as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the inability to get nutritious food because of a lack of transportation, money or sheer availability.

Children’s HealthWatch is a Boston-based nonpartisan network of pediatricians, public health researchers and children’s health and policy experts that gathers data from hospitals in seven cities: Boston; Baltimore; Little Rock, Arkansas; Minneapolis; Philadelphia; and new sites Jackson and Battle Creek, Michigan.

It’s a unique organization focused on improving the health and development of all children, particularly young children who often aren’t included in public policy discussions, said Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, the nonprofit’s executive director.

“We’re trying to bring together science and policy in an attempt to allay hardships among families,” she said.

UMMC was chosen as an expansion site for multiple reasons, she said.

“We don’t have anyone who focuses on population health like Dr. Beech, and she has an incredible advisory board,” de Cuba said. “And Dr. Davis’ interest in driving more research … They’re a really impressive pair.” 

Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba

Children’s HealthWatch also considered needs in the community, such as not being able to afford food, housing and utilities. Beech and Davis “know the neighborhood disparities,” de Cuba said. “We can hopefully drive some change with the combination of their experience and expertise.”

Trained research assistants will use a random selection process to approach parents in UMMC’s Pediatric Emergency Department and confidentially ask them to join the research cohort, Davis said. The research assistants will complete a minimum 800 interviews annually.

“What’s exciting for us is that we feel like our population in the emergency department will help us better understand social determinants” that relate to hunger, Davis said.

Families coping with food insecurity will receive information on local food banks and other resources, Beech said.

Because UMMC has the state’s only children’s hospital and Pediatric Emergency Department of its type, Davis said, information gleaned will be unique.

“This will give us access to data that we couldn’t get locally,” he said. “It will give us the ability to understand where our children are at, and what we can do to help them.”

Data will be recorded electronically and securely and will be used in different forums, such as policy advocacy and other work that could improve children’s health outcomes, Davis said.

One of the most powerful studies performed by Children’s HealthWatch, Beech said, was development of the trademarked, two-question Hunger Vital Sign screening tool used by all its sites.

“Typically, those questions aren’t asked in a clinical system,” Beech said. “UMMC is moving in a very progressive direction to consider factors not addressed in the usual health care situation so that we can address the factors that affect health outcomes.”

The Hunger Vital Sign screen also is used at UMMC’s Adolescent and Young Adult Health Clinic at the Jackson Medical Mall. The goal: identify social, economic and environmental factors that leave children hungry, sick or continuously unwell, and give the family resources to break that cycle.

Dr. Bettina Beech

UMMC won’t just collect local data for use by Children’s HealthWatch. “We take part in the research as well, and we publish it with the whole Children’s HealthWatch group,” Beech said. “We can also include questions of local interest that other sites might not include.”

“What we’re moving to is a deeper dive on the questions,” de Cuba said. “As Dr. Davis sees a trend in the emergency room, or Dr. Beech sees things in the community, they can generate local data and be able to comment on local issues.”

Beech and Davis are pondering their own questions addressing health literacy and the concept of numeracy, or the ability to reason and apply simple numerical concepts. One example is understanding labels on food or over-the-counter drugs.

“Can you figure out how many calories are in one serving based on the amount of food?” Beech asked. “How much medication should be used for a child of a certain weight?

“It’s not just ‘Can I read?’ but ‘Do I understand very complex information?'” Beech said. “We’ve found that is an independent factor, regardless of someone’s education level.”

Another potential question would gauge perceptions of crime and how it influences behavior in terms of health, Beech said. “If you’re concerned about criminal activity in your neighborhood, will that impact the amount of exercise you get?” she asked.

“We don’t plan to stop there,” Davis said. “We will harness data to help address interventions that we can employ.”

Davenport Gift to Support University’s ‘Seat of Knowledge’

UM alumnus designates J.D. Williams Library in estate plans

UM alumnus Bill Davenport has designated the J.D. Williams Library as recipient of his planned gift because of the library’s central role on campus. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi was once known as the campus where everybody speaks. Even today, despite smart phones and ear buds, Ole Miss retains its reputation as a place where professors know students by name and strangers are just friends who haven’t yet become acquainted.

That personable atmosphere goes a long way. In fact, for at least one alumnus, it was the catalyst that inspired a $200,000 gift to the J.D. Williams Library.

A personal letter set Bill Davenport, associate dean of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas School of Dentistry, on a path to making a legacy gift.

“A number of factors went into this decision,” said Davenport, a Corinth native. “First and foremost, I loved Ole Miss. It opened up a whole new vista to a small-town country boy. I loved the school and the students, and the majority of the professors were truly motivating and inspiring. I always wanted to give something back.

“As everyone says, you can’t really describe your attachment to Ole Miss after going to school there.”

Davenport, who’s active in the Ole Miss Alumni Association and has made other contributions to the university, said he began to consider a major gift after he received a letter from the late Charles Noyes, then chair of English, when the Friends of the Library philanthropy was being organized.

“The library is the cornerstone of the university and is truly the most visible icon for education and life-long learning,” Davenport said. “The personal letter was what convinced me as it included comments regarding my time in his sophomore literature course.

“I was hooked. I never figured out how Dr. Noyes even remembered me.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter expressed gratitude for Davenport’s planned gift.

“The J.D. Williams Library is a hub of excellence for our university,” Vitter said. “It enables the superb quality of education that our students receive. As one of our most highly-valued resources, it can have a tremendous transformative effect on turning students into scholars and scholars into informed citizens who will make an impact on our world. ”

William Davenport

In high school, Davenport thought he wanted to become an electrical engineer until he took chemistry under an engaging teacher. He entered Ole Miss as a chemistry major but changed his focus once again after taking a required biology elective taught by the late Georgia St. Amand, whom he says was extremely inspiring.

“After that course, chemistry lost its luster to me, so I switched to biology,” Davenport remembers. “As a biology major, I encountered her husband, Dr. Wilbrod St. Amand, also in the biology department, who became a great mentor and friend to this day.”

Even then, UM’s personable atmosphere influenced Davenport’s life: His relationship with the St. Amands, as well as having the opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant in the biology labs, guided his decision to become an educator.

Davenport graduated from Ole Miss with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology in 1969 and 1971, respectively. He taught biology at Arkansas State University for a year before enrolling at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, where he earned a doctorate in 1976.

While completing his doctorate remotely, Davenport joined the UM Medical Center faculty and taught the first seven dental school classes from 1975 to 1982 before transferring to the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry in New Orleans, where he taught for the next 20 years.

“Serendipitously, in 2002, the opportunity came to come to UNLV in Las Vegas and help start the new dental school,” he said. “Salaries were very good, benefits even better. Thinking I would work a few years in Vegas and move on, but I blinked and here I am 16 years later.”

Davenport said he designated his planned gift for the library because he believes it is the center of knowledge, initially for the entering student and secondarily for the lifelong learner.

“The library is the seat of intellectualism,” he said. “I hope that my gift will provide the library with funds to contribute to the ever-changing technology and methodology that will attract and benefit the students that will be tomorrow’s leaders.”

Private gifts provide critical support to the library, more than ever as public institutions constantly struggle with budget issues, said Cecilia Botero, library dean. Gifts such as Davenport’s help the library cover costs associated with digital and paper subscriptions and increasing numbers of journals used as resources by students on a myriad of different career paths.

“I am so grateful that Dr. Davenport chose to support the library with his generous gift. It will help sustain our services in countless ways,” Botero said.

Though distance has kept Davenport from returning to campus, he fondly remembers his days at Ole Miss.

“I was there in Archie’s heyday. What could be more exciting than that!” Davenport exclaimed, adding that being in the Grove during football season was a special time as was participating in the Army ROTC band, being active in his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, eating at Grundy’s and Mistilis, and bowling at Kiamie’s.

For information on designating a deferred gift to Ole Miss, contact Sandra Guest at 662-915-5208 or To support the J.D. Williams Library, contact Angela Barlow Brown at 662-915-3181 or

Science Day Returns to UM Field Station

Researchers to host LOU community on Saturday, Oct. 7

The University’s Biological Field Station Photo by Robert Jordan

OXFORD, Miss. – Researchers from a variety of disciplines will share insights about their work and the environment of northeast Mississippi this weekend during Science Day at the University of Mississippi Field Station.

The event, set for from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 7), is designed for visitors ages 5 and up.  A $5 contribution per person will help to cover the cost of supplies for the day’s activities, including a beverage and snack for Science Day visitors.

“Science Day at the University of Mississippi Field Station has always been a fun and educational experience for all those who are curious about the natural world,” said Marjorie Holland, UM professor of biology and one of the coordinators of this year’s event.

Holland started Science Day in the 1990s and is leading this year’s revival of the educational afternoon after a hiatus of more than a decade.

“This year, presenters and demonstrations provide insights into current research underway throughout Oxford and give visitors a chance to chat one-on-one with investigators,” Holland said. “We look forward to welcoming numerous visitors to the station.”

The afternoon will include activities such as nature walks, demonstrations, exhibits and tours, offering a variety of options for participants.

Ole Miss faculty, staff and graduate students from the College of Liberal Arts, University Museum and School of Engineering, and well as from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Sedimentation Laboratory, are scheduled to speak about their respective fields.

“Science Day provides a wonderful opportunity for the college to share ‘nature’s lab’ with the community,” said Jan Murray, associate dean of College of Liberal Arts, which hosts the event.

“Our (presenters) and others have eagerly volunteered to share what they do with the families and community groups who visit on Science Day,” she said. “We hope you will join us for a day of exploration, observation and fun.”

The UM Field Station is a research facility that support studies in aquatic and terrestrial ecology. To reach the Field Station, go east on Highway 30 to Littlejohn’s store, turn north onto County Road 215 for 2 miles, then east for 6 miles on County Road 202 to 15 Road 2078.

For more information and pre-registration, contact Lele Gillespie at or call 662-915-1514. To learn about the Field Station, visit

UM Students Win Top Award from Southern Public Relations Federation

Lantern Award recognizes It Starts with (Me)ek campaign

A UM journalism school anti-stereotyping campaign won a top award from the Southern Public Relations Federation. Among the 31 students who served on the campaign committee under the leadership of senior lecturer Robin Street (right) are (front row, from left) IMC major Kaitlin Childress, of Brandon, and IMC graduate student Bianca Abney, of Moss Point, and (back row, from left) IMC majors Kendrick Pittman, of Kosciusko, and Zacchaeus McEwen, of McComb, and journalism graduate student Chi Kalu, of Nigeria. Photo by Stan O’Dell

OXFORD, Miss. – A campaign created by students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi has won a top award from the Southern Public Relations Federation.

The winning campaign, It Starts with (Me)ek, was created and implemented by a team of 31 students led by senior lecturer Robin Street. It asks students to “just pause” before stereotyping others.

Judges for the competition repeatedly praised the “great job” the team did.

“Our students worked for months to plan and implement all the components of the campaign,” Street said. “They spent every Wednesday night in class and countless additional hours working on their individual tasks and assignments.

“I was so proud to see all their hard work and true dedication be recognized.”

The award, called a Lantern, was presented in the internal communications category at the Southern Public Relations Federation conference held Sept. 26 in Tupelo. Awards are presented at three levels in multiple categories, with the Lantern being the highest level of category award.

It Starts with (Me)ek was a week of speakers, programs and communications encouraging inclusion and respect while rejecting based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, mental health, religion or other factors. Ole Miss alumnus Shepard Smith spoke at two of the events.

Student committee members enrolled in an integrated marketing communications course created the campaign. They planned events, videos, communications, competitions and social media posts.

Scott Fiene, assistant dean for curriculum and assessment and assistant professor, directs the IMC program at the school and attended the awards ceremony along with Street and several of the students.

“Our student team entered in the professional category,” Fiene said. “So they were judged, not by student criteria, but by professional standards. I noticed that they were the only students to win a professional award that night.

“The award exemplifies how well all our faculty prepare our students for their careers in journalism, public relations and integrated marketing communications.”

For more information on the UM journalism school, visit

Gift Preserves Wendy McKinney’s Memory at UM

Endowment will provide scholarships for pharmacy students

John McKinney and UM pharmacy Dean David D. Allen hold a plaque commemorating the Wendy and John McKinney Model Pharmacy in Faser Hall. McKinney’s sons are (from left) Chris, Alex and John. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Karen Redmond is seated on a swivel stool at the soda-fountain counter of Burnham Drugs in Moss Point, enjoying a plate lunch and a chocolate shake. The local woman and her husband, David, are regular customers of this timeless place.

With cozy red-vinyl booths, a checkered floor, Coke floats made with hand-dipped ice cream and servers who’ve never met a stranger, it could just as easily be 1950 as 2017.

“I love the hamburgers and my husband loves the ham sandwiches,” Redmond says. “I don’t know what it is that makes them so good.”

A cook who doesn’t mean to eavesdrop says in passing, “It’s the love we put in them.”

The cook is Deenora Payton of Moss Point. After 19 years at Burnham, she’s a supervisor and she knows most everyone she serves. As if on cue, she exclaims, “Hi Bridgette!” to a woman who just entered the store.

“I automatically know what they want,” Payton says, smiling. Just like she always knew that Wendy McKinney would want an unsweet tea with “pink sugar” (Sweet ‘n Low) and lemons and sometimes a BLT.

McKinney, who had owned Burnham Drugs with her husband, John, for the past 25 years, died in May, just five weeks after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer. In her honor, her husband established the Wendy McKinney Pharmacy Scholarship Endowment with a $100,000 personal gift to the University of Mississippi, along with memorials contributed by many of their friends.

The McKinney Scholarship will be available to eligible full-time pharmacy students, with first preference given to Mississippi residents.

“She would be humbled by this gift and she would like the fact that it’s going to help students in need,” said John McKinney, a 1986 School of Pharmacy graduate. “But she would want it to be in someone else’s name because Wendy loved helping people anonymously; she did not want to be put in the limelight. She would help others without expecting anything in return.

“At a meeting at Ole Miss one day, Dr. Marvin Wilson (professor emeritus of pharmacology) was talking about a student who had to drop out of school because she was struggling financially. Wendy wrote a check on the spot to cover that student’s finances and her only criteria was that he couldn’t tell her where it came from. Wendy just loved to do things for other people. She was a very caring, giving person.”

Established in 1902, Burnham Drugs is a Moss Point institution. The entrance of the red-canopied store-front introduces visitors to shelves brimming with pottery, picture frames, throw pillows, perfumes, decorative plates, candles, jewelry, holiday décor and other accessories for the home.

Though Wendy McKinney was first a pharmacist, having graduated from the UM pharmacy school in 1986, she knew love is often expressed through giving and had become passionate about the drugstore’s gift shop area.

“She had great taste, so if you needed a gift and you didn’t know what to get somebody, you could come in and talk to Wendy,” said Stacey White of Moss Point, a frequent customer. “She helped me pick out something for my daughter for Christmas one year. She took it to the side, wrapped it and had it all ready for me.

“I loved Wendy. Wendy was one-of-a-kind. She was funny and she loved Ole Miss; we have that in common because I love Ole Miss also. But yeah, she was just an all-around great person.”

Visitors who continue through the gift shop, along the aisles of over-the-counter medications, beyond the pharmacy and past the display of greeting cards, will find the office of Sandy Lucas. The Pascagoula native has worked as office manager for the McKinneys for seven years and considers them close friends.

“She was the love of his life and you saw it every day,” Lucas said. “He would say, ‘I’m going to pick my bride up and we’re going to lunch.’ Everything was, ‘My bride’ or ‘My love,’ and you didn’t see one without the other. They always went places and did things together.

“You know you have that ideal in your head where, when you’re married, you want to be treated like a queen and you want to treat him like a king. … They had that relationship.

“I’m glad I got to see that side of him – to know how much he really did love her. She knew it too. There was never any doubt that it was a hundred percent genuine love. Everybody knew it.”

John and Wendy McKinney renewed their wedding vows in 2008 at Dantzler Memorial Methodist Church, 25 years after eloping while they were students at Ole Miss.

Marie Harkey, the McKinneys’ accountant, attended the ceremony. She remembers, “John was looking up at her walking along the balcony and he was just grinning.”

“Wendy and I had a fairytale romance but it was real,” John McKinney said. “We truly loved each other. Not to say we didn’t have our moments, but we truly adored each other.”

John McKinney is from Meridian; Wendy, from Selmer, Tennessee. They met at Ole Miss. When she left a seat open next to her on the first day of their second semester of pharmacy school, he took advantage of it: “I sat down next to her and I never got up.”

John and Wendy McKinney. Submitted photo

From then on, the two were inseparable. They worked odd jobs together to pay their way through pharmacy school. After graduation, they moved to Meridian, where he worked as a pharmacist for Eckerd Drugs and she became director of the pharmacy at East Mississippi State Hospital.

“I thought it was quite an accomplishment for her to be able to do that in her 20s,” John McKinney said.

Five years later, they were presented an opportunity. At 28 years old, with $200 down, the couple borrowed more money than they ever imagined they would and bought Burnham Drugs.

“We thought we would just see how far in the financial process we could go before someone would tell us no,” John McKinney recalled. “And no one ever told us no.

“I remember the day we signed the contracts to buy the drugstore. We went by and looked at the rows of pain relievers and thought, ‘Man, we’ll have to sell a lot of Tylenol to make the loan payment.'”

Twenty-five years, three children (Alex, Chris and John, a current UM student who changed his major to pharmacy in honor of his mother) and four grandchildren later, the McKinneys own seven other pharmacies, a medical supply company, a funeral home and some industry-related companies in Virginia and Florida.

John and Wendy McKinney built a life together. But Lucas vividly remembers the day the nucleus of the love that fills the air – and the burgers – at Burnham Drugs took a fatal blow.

“It came out of left field, and it’s just sad that they worked their entire life to get to the point where they could travel and do what they want,” Lucas said. “Now they can’t. I think John’s angry, but there are so many people who have so many positive stories about her that it’s helping him heal.

“One of our customers showed John a picture of Wendy with a longtime customer who was autistic. Every time she came in to Burnham, she had to talk to Wendy. Wendy just brought that out of people. She made you comfortable. She made you feel good. She was just a happy person who was taken away way too soon.”

As a leader in her community, Wendy McKinney had active roles in the PTO, Moss Point Active Citizens, American Heart Association and numerous other organizations. She was a member of UM’s Vaught Society, Rose Garden Society, the School of Pharmacy’s 1908 Society and the Ole Miss Alumni Association.

In 2013, she was recognized by the School of Pharmacy as a distinguished alumna for outstanding service to her community after Hurricane Katrina.

In her free time, she loved mentoring young women, reading, watching Ole Miss sports, preparing for Christmas and doting on her children and grandchildren.

“She was such a sweet person with a really big heart,” Payton said.

At Ole Miss, Wendy McKinney’s spirit of giving will continue for generations through the scholarship fund.

“What an outstanding way to remember such a giving person,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “A scholarship is, after all, a gift in its own right. The McKinneys are special people and close, personal friends of mine whom I’ve known since I started at Ole Miss.

“Wendy’s passing was difficult for me, as it must have been for the many other lives she touched. She and John both have had a history of real compassion for others. I am extremely grateful to know them and am thankful for their generosity and service over the years.”

Individuals and organizations may make gifts to the Wendy McKinney Pharmacy Scholarship Endowment by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting or contacting Port Kaigler at 662-915-2712 or