Finance Executive Mentors Students to Land Jobs with Personal Approach

Blair Bingham returns to UM this month to present tips for acing job interviews

Blair Bingham

OXFORD, Miss. – Finance executive Blair Bingham returns to the University of Mississippi this month to educate, inspire and direct students on how to develop and tell their story to stand out in the job interview process.

Bingham will speak on this approach at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in Conner Hall, Room 113, and at 11 a.m. Feb. 23 in Holman Hall, Room 30. All Ole Miss students are welcome to attend.

Bingham, chief financial officer for the Alabama Housing Finance Authority, helps college graduates develop their personal story for use in interviews. He guides clients through a process of examining their college and high school experiences to identify skills employers are looking for in job candidates.

He visited Ole Miss in September 2017 at the invitation of the business school’s advisory board, and his presentation was well-received. His talk last year was titled “Your Story and How It Gets You Hired,” and he received rave reviews from students who attended.

“More lectures like this one would be very helpful, not just for a business major, but for all majors, because it is beneficial for everyone to have good interviewing skills,” wrote one student in his/her evaluation.

“We are excited that Blair Bingham is coming back to enrich our students’ understanding and abilities in their career preparation,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “Our students greatly benefit from Blair’s expertise and enthusiasm, and we are glad that he will continue to add value to our efforts in careers and job placement.

“The business school is delighted to offer all UM students the opportunity to benefit from Blair’s knowledge and wisdom.”

Developing a personal story to prepare for interviews is a solid approach for graduates in all fields, not just business, Bingham said.

“Every graduate entering the workforce has a story to tell: their own story,” he explained. “That story is much more than reciting a resume. This hour is designed to show how to take your own experiences and make you a much more attractive candidate in the interview.”

Bingham earned a bachelor’s degree accountancy and a Master of Business Administration from Millsaps College. He lived in Jackson for 37 years, working in finance for the Mississippi Home Corp., WorldCom and Regions Bank.

While serving as the CFO of Mississippi Home Corp. for 10 years, Bingham interviewed numerous candidates for corporate positions. This experience led to an avocation in mentoring and coaching students to enter the work force quickly and with great success.

“We know we have a great product in graduates and we want to help land their dream job,” said Melanie Dowell, president of the Business Advisory Board. “The board established several outreach programs we call ‘Rebel Connect’ to help connect our graduates land their dream jobs.

“Through the devotion to Rebel Connect board members Bill Andrews and Stan Viner, we have launched what we expect to be a very integral part of our students’ career paths.”

Facility Gives UM Tennis Competitive Edge

Hester's major gift to Forward Together campaign helps offset construction costs

Bill Hester (second from right) lettered on the Ole Miss tennis team from 1967 to 1969. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A major gift to the University of Mississippi from attorney Bill Hester, of New Orleans, is helping give the Ole Miss tennis teams a competitive edge.

Hester, who started playing tennis at 6 years old and lettered at Ole Miss from 1967 to 1969, recently donated $100,000 to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss athletics. The gift will help offset construction costs associated with the new $11 million indoor tennis facility. 

An earlier $300,000 gift from Louis and Lucia Brandt of Houston, Texas, helped jump-start construction on the 52,000-square-foot, two-story building. Located southeast of the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletic Performance Center on Manning Way, the facility features six indoor tennis courts for practice and competition, grandstand bleacher seating for 300 spectators, fan amenities and a spacious lobby.

“The new indoor facility will help the coaches get better recruits and take this program to a whole different level, which everyone is looking forward to,” said Rebel tennis player Zvonimir Babić, a senior from Zagreb, Croatia.

Billy Chadwick, an Ole Miss Hall of Fame men’s tennis coach and longtime friend of Hester, agrees.

“The sport has grown,” Chadwick said. “The SEC is recognized as the premier tennis league in the nation. This new building will put us now in a position where we are competitive with the top teams in the nation from the facilities standpoint. It’s an absolutely fantastic facility.”

Hester grew up in Jackson, where he won the state high school championship two years in a row. After high school, he enrolled at Ole Miss – also the alma mater of his mother, Rosa, and sister Katie  – where he played freshman and varsity tennis for four years – the last two in the No. 1 position – and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1969.

He served in the U.S. Army almost three years before returning to Ole Miss for law school, receiving his juris doctorate degree in 1974. After law school, he joined The Kullman Firm in New Orleans, where he has practiced labor and employment law for more than 40 years.

Hester continues to play tennis regularly and competes annually in Southern and national tournaments. In fact, he and his late father, International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee W.E. “Slew” Hester, are four-time USTA National Finalists in father-son doubles.

“One of my most favorite tennis stories involves (Ole Miss alumna) Eleanor Shaw and the Hesters,” Chadwick recalls. “Slew used to play mixed doubles with Eleanor and won a Southern mixed doubles championship.

“I will say it was 35 years later when Bill played with Eleanor and again won a Southern mixed championship title, making Eleanor the only player to win a Southern mixed doubles title with both a father and son. The name Hester is synonymous with Mississippi tennis.”

Hester said the sport has changed significantly since his college days.

“Our coach, John Cain, was an All-American running back at Alabama, and at Ole Miss, he was primarily a football coach,” he said. “The so-called ‘minor sports’ of tennis, golf, track and field were all coached by a football coach. That was their sideline.

“Now, these sports have moved into the major category with full-time coaches and full-time assistant coaches, which was unheard of when I was in school.

“It’s much more competitive,” he continued. “In any given year, you’ll have five or six SEC teams in the top 15 of Division I schools. But when I was in college, I think USC won the championship every year that I was eligible to play, but that’s not the case now.

“In the four years that I played, we flew on an airplane one time: to the SEC tournament in Gainesville at the University of Florida. Now the team flies to tournaments and competitions all over the country. It’s totally different; it’s a big deal now.”

Additionally, when Hester played for Ole Miss, tennis was not a scholarship sport. . Now, it’s not only a scholarship sport but the competition is all year; hence, one reason for the new facility.

“By getting the new indoor, we can practice regardless of the weather conditions,” Babić said. “Help from supporters of the Ole Miss tennis program, like Bill Hester, has a tremendous impact on our tennis and actually our lives.

“The whole team is very grateful for the donations, and we hope to cheer our donors with some big wins.”

Chadwick said Hester simply has a giving spirit.

“I’m so glad he’s getting this recognition because it’s really well-deserved – not only for the fact that he gave us a nice gift, but through the years he has been one of those forces that just elevates the program and the entire university.

“I’ll never forget our matches against LSU: Bill and his wife, Lorraine, were always in the stands. It was great to see a smiling face in Baton Rouge and it meant so much to the team. They were, and continue to be, fantastic supporters and outstanding ambassadors for the university.”

To support Ole Miss athletics with a gift to the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at, call 662-915-7159 or visit

UM Center Hosts Symposium on Southern Music

Panelists to explore themes of culture, religion and regional identity in musical works

Wu Fei

OXFORD, Miss. – Music from the American South has made an indisputable impact on culture and politics in the U.S. and around the world, and an upcoming symposium at the University of Mississippi will examine the South’s most prominent and influential musical voices.

The Southern Music Symposium will address questions such as how musicians are creating “Southern” in their sounds and speaking to broader matters of national and international importance, and in what ways they build on the sounds of the past or provide the soundtrack for our common and divided present.

The Feb. 26 event in the Overby Center Auditorium is free and open to the public. Hosted by the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the symposium highlights musicians and feature presentations by prominent and emerging scholars of Southern music.

Randall J. Stephens, reader and associate professor of history and American studies at Northumbria University, will give a keynote address on religion and rock ‘n’ roll at 5:30 p.m. A Kansas native, Stephens writes and teaches about the American South, religion in the U.S., religion and politics, conservatism and popular music.

His lecture focuses on the interesting and surprising connections between rock ‘n’ roll music and Christianity.

“Many of the first-generation performers had roots in tongues-speaking churches or attended these regularly,” Stephens said. “Some of those are well-known performers like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and many more.

“I also will talk about how evangelicals, Catholics and others took aim at the new, wild genre and demonized its ‘savage jungle rhythms.'”

From Stephens’ perspective, this makes the advent of Christian rock in the mid- and late-1960s all the more peculiar. 

Brian Foster, assistant professor of sociology and Southern studies, discusses his research at the recent TEDxUniversityofMississippi event at the Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/University Communications

“I ask: How did believers go from railing against the devil’s music to sanctifying it for youth outreach and holy entertainment?” he said. “How did hippie Christians infuse loud, plugged-in music with the message of redemption, the apocalypse and final judgment?”

Stephens is the author of “The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South” (Harvard University Press, 2010); “The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age,” co-authored with Karl Giberson (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011); and editor of “Recent Themes in American Religious History” (University of South Carolina Press, 2009).

He is completing his third book on religion and rock music for Harvard University Press. Stephens earned his doctorate in American history from the University of Florida, and master’s degrees in history from Emporia State University and theological studies from Nazarene Theological Seminary.

Brian Foster, UM assistant professor of sociology and Southern studies, will welcome attendees at 1 p.m., followed by a panel with student researchers. He then moderates the 2:30 p.m. scholars roundtable with Zandria Robinson and Charles Hughes.

Robinson, assistant professor of sociology at Rhodes College, is the author of “This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South” (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) who also wrote a 2016 Rolling Stone magazine article about how Beyonce’s “Lemonade” exposes inner lives of black women, as well as a New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture entry on “Southern Crunk and Hip-Hop Culture.”

Marco Pave

Hughes is director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College, and his acclaimed book, “Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South” (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), was named one of the Best Music Books of 2015 by Rolling Stone and No Depression magazines.

The Southern Music Symposium gives people a chance to both celebrate and turn a critical eye toward Southern music cultures, Foster said.

“I am especially interested in hearing how Drs. Robinson and Hughes are thinking about the contemporary landscape of Southern music, both in terms of new and emergent sounds and in the evolution of Southern visual arts,” Foster said.

Darren Grem, UM assistant professor of history and Southern studies, moderates a 4 p.m. panel with musicians from several genres, including rocker Lee Bains III, rapper Marco Pave and composer and instrumentalist Wu Fei.

“Like the broader symposium, we see this as a rare opportunity to bring together working musicians, scholars and the broader public to have a conversation about the past, present and future of popular and underground music,” Grem said. “We also see it as a chance to investigate notions of the ‘Southern’ and how musicians have constructed and challenged that regional identity while claiming it for themselves – as well as the social and political impact of doing so.” 

Bains, Pave and Fei will conclude the symposium with a free 8 p.m. concert at Proud Larry’s, at 211 S. Lamar Blvd. in Oxford.

For more information, go to

Natural Products Center Director Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Ikhlas Khan honored for work to develop standards for dietary supplements

Ikhlas Khan

OXFORD, Miss. – Ikhlas Khan, director of the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, is the winner of AOAC International’s 2018 Harvey W. Wiley Award, which recognizes lifetime scientific achievement.

AOAC International develops global quality standards for microbiological and chemical materials, ranging from food to pharmaceuticals in an effort to ensure public health. Khan, who has been with the university since 1992 and directed the natural products center since 2017, has spent much of his career developing standards for dietary supplements.

“I’m very pleased to receive this award,” Khan said. “AOAC is the top organization for chemical standards, and I appreciate this recognition of my work in this area.”

As part of the honor, Khan will deliver the Wiley Award address and chair the Wiley Award Symposium at AOAC’s annual meeting in August in Toronto.

The Harvey W. Wiley Award has been given to one person a year since 1957, with past recipients including scientists from government, industry and academic institutions from around the world.

Mississippi Universities Provide Key Support for Automotive Industry

UM Center for Manufacturing Excellence praised by automakers for providing skilled graduates

Students in a Manufacturing 254 class present their designs for a class project on the floor of the UM Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The automotive industry serves as a key driver in the state’s economy. More than 200 automotive manufacturers employ 20,000 workers, with annual vehicle production in the state exceeding 500,000.

Several university programs are helping the industry grow and flourish in the state.

The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi has partnered with Toyota and other automotive manufacturing companies to develop training programs and provide unique opportunities for students.

The CME offers a unique undergraduate program that allows students to tailor academic experiences to match their career goals and life objectives, incorporating coursework from the schools of Accountancy, Business Administration and Engineering to give graduates a fundamental understanding of all the disciplines involved in modern manufacturing. This multidisciplinary approach has earned praise from several industries, and graduates of the program attract multiple job offers commanding higher pay than their counterparts from other programs.

Twelve Ole Miss students have formed a campus chapter of the Collegiate Automotive Manufacturing Society. The chapter began in fall 2015 as a result of an idea presented by Ryan Miller, programs manager for the CME and the group’s adviser.

A member of the Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association board of directors, Miller suggested to the CME students that they found a collegiate engineering-business-accounting honors society with the state group as the parent association, with a goal of connecting automotive manufacturers with millennials and trying to help the manufacturers better understand them through more direct contact.

At Mississippi State University, the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems remains a driving force in the growth and maturity of the U.S. automotive industry, pioneering the use of high-performance materials to design cars that offer a premium driving experience while maximizing travel distance from multiple sources of energy.

MSU researchers are pushing the limits of automotive engineering through the development of a self-driving, all-electric sport utility vehicle.

Engineered by a team at MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, the “Halo Project” supercar is designed to showcase MSU’s expertise in automotive engineering and the latest automotive technology. The supercar utilizes an on-board NVIDIA supercomputer that allows the vehicle to navigate on- and off-road terrain without human intervention.

The new vehicle and accompanying research have the potential to accelerate the societal benefits of autonomous vehicles through the creation of safer roadways and accessibility to independent automotive transportation for people with disabilities.

The project builds on a series of MSU automotive research projects, including the “Car of the Future,” an all-electric hybrid that combines superior efficiency, sporty handling and advanced technological features. MSU student, faculty and staff research teams have long been recognized for excellence in projects like “Car of the Future,” competitions such as EcoCAR, and other initiatives that have pushed innovation.

Besides research and development, MSU’s CAVS Extension works with manufacturers across the state such as Nissan, Toyota and their suppliers to make Mississippi manufacturing stronger and more competitive through technology assistance and professional development in areas such as lean manufacturing and Six Sigma. CAVS-E has been a part of every new model launch at both Nissan in Canton and Toyota in Blue Springs through modeling and simulation.

Clients of CAVS-E have reported nearly $6 billion in economic impact along with more than 4,000 jobs created or retained through CAVS and Mississippi’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.

UM Wraps Up Annual Speaker’s Edge Competition

Winners presented awards at ceremony delayed by inclement weather

MBA students Corey Price (left), Ferderica Cobb and Jonathan Dowell swept the awards at the annual UM Speaker’s Edge competition. Price took third place in the Ethical Dilemmas and Marketplace Pitch categories; Cobb grabbed first in Ethical Dilemmas and second in Marketplace Pitch, as well as the overall championship; and Dowell took second in Ethical Dilemmas and first in Marketplace Pitch. UM photo by Stella Connell

OXFORD, Miss. – After a rare snow day pre-empted he final day of the 15th annual Speaker’s Edge competition at the University of Mississippi, the School of Business Administration recently got participants back together to present awards and wrap up the event.

Nearly 100 students participated in this year’s edition of Speaker’s Edge, which was dominated in the awards by three students from the on-campus Master of Business Administration program.

In the Ethical Dilemmas category, Ferderica Cobb, of Canton, took first place, followed by Jonathan Dowell, of Port Gibson, in second, and Corey Price, of Birmingham, Alabama, in third. In this category, participants presented their best solutions to workplace challenges where suggestions of sexual harassment, bribery, appropriation of intellectual property, plagiarism, per diem abuse and inappropriate office behavior were presented.

In the Marketplace Pitch completion, Dowell came in first, followed by Cobb and then Price. These presentations were persuasive arguments regarding technology, innovation productivity, leadership and strategy. Dowell’s winning pitch advocated using battery technology to close the performance gap between renewable energy and fossil fuels.

Cobb’s stellar performance in both categories earned her the title of overall winner for the competition, which includes a $1,000 prize.

“Speaker’s Edge was a great experience – receiving feedback from the coaches, moving from room to room, presenting our speeches to judges, competing with classmates – I enjoyed the intensity of it all,” Cobb said. “The event challenged me in new ways, and I will take those skills with me into the professional world.

“Everyone’s ideas were so interesting, and I knew there were strong presentations from my classmates. I did not expect to win. I was humbled, and it is a huge honor to be the 2018 winner.”

This year’s edition of Speaker’s Edge kicked off Jan. 11, featuring 97 students from the UM School of Business Administration and Patterson School of Accountancy. More than 50 judges from all over the Mid-South volunteered their time to help at the event.

“Speaker’s Edge provides students an opportunity to develop the communication and presentation skills that are vital to success in business and other leadership settings,” said Walter Davis, faculty adviser to the MBA program. “Students often point to the Speaker’s Edge experience as a highlight of their MBA or Master of Accountancy program at Ole Miss.”

Plans called for a new Team Pitch category at this year’s event, but snow and ice across much of north Mississippi forced the cancellation of the final day of competition, including the Team Pitch presentations.

“It is disappointing that Mother Nature prevented us from the opportunity to review these presentations, but this something to look forward to in next year’s competition,” said Ashley McGee, director of the MBA program.

The Speaker’s Edge competition was started by Ole Miss alumni in 2003. The event brings together industry professionals, retirees, working alumni and students, requiring students to adapt their message to different audiences.

In preparation, participants spent a week-and-a-half working with volunteer communication coaches to discover the strengths and weaknesses of their own personal presentation style in front of multiple judges.

“One great thing about Speaker’s Edge: When you see a student move through fear and become the confident speaker they will be for the rest of their lives,” said Joan Andrews, a Speaker’s Edge coach from the College of East Texas.

The annual event helps students find their own voice and grow more confident in their presentations, said JoAnn Edwards, speech instructor, director of forensics and special projects manager at the UM Lott Leadership Institute.

“The outcomes are beyond valuable – they are vital,” Edwards said. “The act of teaching, guiding and coaching that process is, for me and for all the coaches and judges who give of their time and talents, pure joy.”

The Speaker’s Edge competition is a critical program that helps Ole Miss students position themselves for success as they move into the professional world, said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration.

“The competitive nature of the program allows our best student presenters and speakers to get even better while honing the skills of those students who are less confident in this environment,” Cyree said. “We greatly appreciate the dedicated coaches, instructors and judges who are involved in making this an exceptional opportunity for our students.”

University Accepts Challenge of Alabama Restaurateur

Major gift supports future of Southern Foodways Alliance, honors longtime director

John T. Edge (center) spends time with (from left) UM development officer Nikki Neely, Sharon Vitter, Nick Pihakis and UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter. The university has matched a $1 million pledge by Pihakis to support the work of the Southern Foodways Alliance and honor Edge’s leadership. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has matched a recent $1 million pledge from Alabama restaurateur Nick Pihakis to the Southern Foodways Alliance as a way to demonstrate mutual appreciation of the alliance’s work and the leadership of longtime director John T. Edge.

Pihakis, cofounder of Jim ‘n Nick’s Bar-B-Q and principal in the Pihakis Investment Group, has been a staunch and generous supporter of the SFA for the past 13 years, believing – like the SFA – that community is built as people cook and share meals together.

The SFA has mentored and educated countless students, staged dozens of symposia, published award-winning podcast episodes and journal issues, collected more than 900 oral histories, and produced more than 100 documentary films.

“I wanted the University of Mississippi to recognize John T.’s significant work throughout his tenure at the SFA, but I also hope my gift will provide income for the recruitment and retention of outstanding leadership going forward and ensure that quality teaching, research and service will be available for future generations of Southern studies students,” Pihakis said.

The Birmingham, Alabama, native said his gift honors Edge’s upcoming 20-year anniversary as director. It also establishes the John T. Edge Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance Endowment, which, when vested, will stand at $2.5 million. The equivalent of $2 million is already in hand; $500,000 remains to be raised.

“We happily accept this funding opportunity and greatly appreciate Nick’s generous gift, his commitment to the SFA and his continued support,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “John T. and the SFA have worked tirelessly through the years, building a program through the study of food that has made a deeply transformative impact within the UM academic community and within the lives of our students, alumni and friends.”

The SFA operates on a $1.4 million annual budget that will likely reach $1.8 million in three years, and the major part of the budget is contributed by private donors such as Pihakis, a two-time James Beard Award semifinalist and an entrepreneur who has helped grow the careers of chefs and restaurateurs from Birmingham to New Orleans to Charleston, South Carolina, and throughout the South.

To date, the SFA has endowed two positions that contribute directly to Ole Miss students. The SFA raised the majority of endowment funds for the academic position held by Catarina Passidomo, assistant professor of Southern studies and anthropology. Additionally, the SFA raised all the outside funds – $1 million from Pihakis – for the filmmaker and documentary instructor position held by Ava Lowrey.

Edge earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Southern studies from Ole Miss in 1996 and 2002, respectively.

During his tenure as SFA director, Edge also has served as a contributing editor at Garden & Gun and a columnist for the Oxford American. For three years, he wrote the monthly “United Tastes” column for The New York Times. In 2017, Penguin published his latest book, “The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South.”

Edge said he is deeply honored by his friend’s gift and believes it will help support the future of the organization.

“Until now, the SFA has not raised money to endow a position that directly funds our work and positively impacts our budgets,” said Edge, who had made a career documenting, studying and exploring the diverse food cultures of the American South. “That was purposeful. We believed it was important that we contribute, first, to the study of food culture on the University of Mississippi campus.

“Now that the SFA has made those investments in the academic community, and in University of Mississippi students, we turn our attention to SFA leadership.”

The endowment ensures that, in the future, when Edge retires or takes a teaching role, the SFA’s fully-funded leadership position will be called the John T. Edge Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance. When the endowment vests, it will support the salary of the SFA director position occupied by Edge.

“The impact of this generous gift is significant and important,” said Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Endowed positions such as this one are critical as we advance as an R1 institution.

“Specifically, these positions help us attract the strongest possible people to our university and directly contribute to or support the scholarship and teaching of our faculty.”

The John T. Edge Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations who want to contribute to the remaining goal of $500,000.

Checks supporting the SFA may be mailed with the endowment noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Gifts can also be made online by visiting or by contacting Nikki Neely, development officer for the SFA at 662-915-6678 or

Prospective Graduate Students Invited to Expo

Feb. 16 event to include tours, information about opportunities and lunch

OXFORD, Miss. – Graduate school is a big investment that can be exciting and often stressful. But the staff at the University of Mississippi Graduate School can guide students in the right direction.

The Graduate School will host its Graduate School Expo on Friday (Feb. 16). This event is designed to showcase the advanced degree programs offered at Ole Miss and to provide participants with information to assist them throughout every stage of this process.

The expo is set for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Prospective students are welcome to come with enthusiasm, and questions about admissions, acceptance, matriculation, research and funding opportunities.

“Those who come to the expo will have a chance to hear about the wide number of excellent opportunities for graduate education at the University of Mississippi and meet students and professors from the program that most interests them,” said Robert Doerksen, associate dean of the Graduate School.

Participants will have an opportunity to engage with Graduate School staff, speak with current graduate students, visit the academic departments of their choice, discuss research opportunities and program specifics with faculty, tour campus and enjoy a complimentary lunch.

“We are excited to host undergraduate students from colleges and universities in our region at our expo,” said Christy Wyandt, the school’s interim dean. “It provides a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our graduate programs.”

Interested students are strongly encouraged to register for the expo. To register, visit https:// The forms are on the left sidebar.

The deadline to register for this event is Tuesday (Feb. 13). Registered participants will receive an email with the final agenda and event location details closer to the date.

UM is included in the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification and offers nearly 100 master’s, specialist and doctoral programs. The diverse graduate community is composed of outstanding faculty and students from around the globe.

For more information, contact Brenteria Travis, manager of graduate admissions at

NewsCheck Developers to Discuss Combating ‘Fake News’ at UM

Startup team to present potential of blockchain technology in new media world

OXFORD, Miss. – So-called “fake news” has been a widespread topic of discussion since the 2016 election cycle, and news organizations, businesses and government bodies have accelerated their efforts to identify and discredit false information being spread through social media and other electronic means.

On Thursday (Feb. 15), NewsCheck principal Robert Hendrickson will present “Using Blockchain, AI and Human Review to Combat Fake News.” Free and open to the public, the lecture is set for 7 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium, sponsored by the university’s interdisciplinary minor program in digital media studies.

Hendrickson and members of his team plan to share how his company’s content management solution empowers consumers to know when to trust content, and to be confident to share with others, said Robert Cummings, the university’s executive director of academic innovation and associate professor of writing and rhetoric.

“This event is an exciting opportunity for the University of Mississippi,” Cummings said. “Fake news is an existential threat to journalism and public relations, and of interest to students in those fields”

Hendrickson and his team started NewsCheck, a startup business that helps clients combat fake news, in 2017. The company uses blockchain technology, which involves a distributed database stored on multiple servers that provides a secure, traceable means of recording transactions, storing information and more.

Most famous for its use by Bitcoin cryptocurrency, blockchain is drawing attention for its potential in a variety of other fields. Hendrickson’s talk will allow Ole Miss students and other attendees to learn more about blockchain technology and how it can affect the future of journalism.

For more information about the UM interdisciplinary minor program in digital media studies, go to

Pharmacy Faculty Create Podcast to Inspire Pharmacists

'PharmacyForward' features interviews with profession's leaders

Laurie Fleming (left), Josh Fleming and Stuart Haines record an installment of the ‘PharmacyForward’ podcast series the School of Pharmacy’s space at the UM Medical Center in Jackson. Photo courtesy Stuart Haines

OXFORD, Miss. – In the first few weeks of 2018, a small group of faculty from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy launched “PharmacyForward,” a podcast featuring interviews with experts and leaders about pharmacy practice, patient care and health care delivery in every setting.

The podcast, which has a tagline of “Transforming Knowledge into Action,” is dedicated to engaging and motivating pharmacists. The school’s Division of Pharmacy Professional Development produces the episodes, which are geared toward veterans and newcomers in the field.

The idea emerged from a statewide focus group of pharmacists who were looking for new ways to address professional development needs and unique educational programming, said Stuart T. Haines, professor of pharmacy practice and the division’s director.

“What emerged was a need to cover topics on practice management, how to advance our practices and how to interact with people,” Haines said. “Pharmacists have a lot of knowledge about diseases, but they don’t always know how to put that knowledge into practice.

“We want to tap into the insights from the movers and shakers in pharmacy today. With a podcast, we can reach any pharmacist in the world who wants to listen.”

In its debut series, three “PharmacyForward” episodes focus on relationship-building in different settings. Featured guests have created advanced practices in different regions of the country and have held leadership positions in organizations such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and American Pharmacists Association.

Featuring a variety of guests, one of the podcast’s main goals is to build a community of pharmacists that can work together and share their successes and struggles, said Josh Fleming, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice. 

“Listeners can expect to gain knowledge about many crucial pharmacy topics that will help them move ideas from thoughts into practice,” Fleming said. “Our hope is that listeners will pick up on tools, tips and suggestions from other pharmacists on how to advance their practice, no matter what stage of their career they’re in.”

Faculty won’t be the only ones working on the podcast. Second-year ambulatory care pharmacy residents and student pharmacists are also part of “PharmacyForward.”

“I hope that students and residents alike will benefit from hearing about real-world experiences from a variety of pharmacists with different specializations,” said Laurie Fleming, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice. “I believe that many of the topics will be helpful to them as they enter new practice settings, and I hope they’ll take the opportunity to discuss the podcasts with their preceptors.”

“PharmacyForward” sets its sights on giving listeners what they need to build advanced pharmacy practice areas, and Meagan Brown, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice, sees the main goal in the podcast’s name.

“Our mission is to spread knowledge and ideas about people and places that are doing great work,” Brown said. “I hope listeners will be motivated to make improvements that continue to move the profession forward.”

Podcast episodes will be published once a month and are available at