Pharmacy Student Going ‘Over the Edge’ for Fundraiser

Meghan Wagner will rappel down a building to raise money for Batson Children's Hospital

Meghan Wagner

JACKSON, Miss. – Meghan Wagner isn’t taking the traditional route to raise money for Friends of Children’s Hospital. The University of Mississippi third-year student pharmacist is rappelling down a 14-story building instead.

Wagner, from Grenada, will rappel down the Trustmark corporate office building in downtown Jackson on April 21 as part of the Over the Edge event, for which she has raised over $1,000. Friends of Children’s Hospital is hosting the event to support Batson Children’s Hospital, and the organization is aiming to raise $200,000.

“I’ve never been particularly afraid of heights, but as a small human being, 14 stories seems a bit daunting,” Wagner said. “I think excitement will win out, though, because it gives me courage to think about how brave all of the kids, families and staff at Batson are while trying to make the world a little bit brighter.

“When you compare it to what they conquer every day, I think I can take the plunge.”

Wagner plans to descend the 14 stories as a representative of the pharmacy student group PediaRebs, which focuses on pediatric pharmacy. She knows the group’s success stems from its mission to help kids in all stages of health.

“I have worked with kids for many years and have always been incredibly inspired by their unwavering confidence that they have the ability to make their dreams and goals come true,” Wagner said. “I hope to work as a pediatric pharmacist one day so I can be a part of the health care team that helps these kids achieve their goals, because without obstacles like illnesses or uncontrolled conditions, kids are unstoppable.”

“It’s great to see Meghan and PediaRebs support such a great cause,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Their passion for helping children will continue to impact pediatric health care in our state, and I’m excited to see the chapter continue to thrive in Oxford and Jackson.”

For more information about Over the Edge, visit Wagner is accepting fundraising donations at

Drug, Alcohol Education Attracts Support

Grassroots effort surpasses $1 million for UM's new William Magee Center

David Magee (front center) visits with members of UM chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity, including (front, from left) philanthropy co-chair Nick Egorshin of Hoover, Alabama; Campbell Hillard of Fort Worth, Texas; and philanthropy co-chair Miller Frazier of Clarksdale, at the group’s house. The fraternity’s members have increased their support of the university’s new William Magee Center for Wellness Education, putting fundraising efforts over the million-dollar mark. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – When William Magee, a University of Mississippi young alumnus, lost his battle with drug addiction, parents Kent and David Magee, of Oxford, shared his story and started an ongoing movement to help students.

Student organizations, alumni, parents, aunts, uncles, faculty, staff, friends, a foundation, a corporation and a church congregation have collectively given more than $1 million in a 12-month period to establish the William Magee Center for Wellness Education Endowment, with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of other young people with similar struggles. The goal is to build a minimum endowment of $1.5 million to support the center’s programming and operations.

The first student organization to make a major gift of $25,000 to the Magee Center, Sigma Nu fraternity, has followed up with another $50,000 commitment to take fundraising over the million-dollar mark. Another fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, hosted weekend events to increase its original $30,000 gift, and Phi Mu fraternity has stepped forward with a $25,000 gift.

“What has been so exciting about this campaign has been the level of engagement and support from our campus community,” said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. “I am especially impressed with our student-led support.

“Their willingness to contribute to the opening of the William Magee Center for Wellness Education indicates their interest in helping reduce the alcohol and other drug culture, and their desire to support educational efforts at the University of Mississippi.”

David Magee responded: “To pass our first milestone of $1 million in such a short time shows how much the Ole Miss family cares about providing the very best in alcohol and other drugs education to its students. The hard work from students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends has been amazing.

“Not a day goes by without someone new reaching out and saying, ‘I want to help.’ Our speed in achieving this first $1 million is energizing for the hard work ahead.”

Sigma Nu members made the gifts to pay tribute to William’s life, David and the family’s other son, Hudson, all Sigma Nu members. William Magee also was a member of the Sally McDonnell Honors College, the Croft Institute for International Studies and a letterman on the Ole Miss track and field team.

John Green, a Sigma Nu chapter adviser, said when David Magee shared the center’s mission with the chapter, it was a natural decision.

“When David described his vision for the William Magee Wellness Center and the impact it could have on the young men and women at Ole Miss, Epsilon Xi Chapter of Sigma Nu immediately agreed to be a partner in providing the center early support,” Green said.

“We are pleased the early financial commitment encouraged other Greek-letter organizations on campus to make financial commitments, which have totaled almost $250,000 from fraternities and sororities to date, with follow-up commitments to come from the Greeks in the future. We look forward to a long-term relationship between Sigma Nu and the William Magee Center.”

Phi Kappa Psi president Harris Jones, of Franklin, Tennessee, agreed that the center will be a significant resource.

“Substance abuse is not something that only affects addicts; it affects their friends, family and peers as well,” Jones said. “We focus so much on helping the outside community that we often forget about helping each other, so we want to pour into the Ole Miss community by providing education and resources to combat an issue that adversely impacts our community.

“We believe that a healthier Ole Miss community will ultimately be more prosperous and able to help the outside community in a greater capacity as well.”

The William Magee Center is slated to open in early 2019 at the university’s new South Campus Recreation Facility. A second Ignite Ole Miss crowdfunding campaign is underway, led by seniors Tucker Fox, of Cordova, Tennessee, and Savannah Smith, of Corinth – named Mr. and Miss. Ole Miss for the 2017-18 academic year – and the Class of 2018 senior class officers.

“After hearing the late William Magee’s story and the purpose of this, it was clear that being a small part of helping the William Magee Center come to life would be the best way to achieve our goal,” Fox said.

Senior class president Guy Thornton, of Hattiesburg, shared that officers agreed that wellness is a common denominator that affects every student in one way or another and that contributing to the center provides a meaningful way for the class to leave a legacy.

“We realize that wellness education is a real need here at Ole Miss,” Thornton said. “We want to do something to engage students with a center that promotes a holistic approach to wellness.”

Phi Mu president Erin Larkin, of McKinney, Texas, said, “The benefits from giving our support to this program are endless. There is complete peace of mind in knowing that the girls in Phi Mu will have somewhere to go if they have struggles, where they will feel supported and listened to, without judgment.

“It is no secret that many students on this campus feel constricted by the obstacles of alcohol and drug abuse, so to know that there are people working endlessly to create a safe place of holistic healing is beyond encouraging. With all of the recent tragedies in Greek life across the nation, I think it will also be the change that the college culture needs.”

Hephner LaBanc said she believes many have offered their financial backing for the William Magee Center because people value individual wellness, but so many individuals struggle to make healthy choices – especially during college.

“I have fully appreciated everyone’s willingness to talk about a traditionally taboo topic and then respond with support for a comprehensive initiative aimed at reducing the risk surrounding alcohol and other drugs,” she said. “I am incredibly thankful to those who have helped us develop an effective and sustainable intervention.”

In-depth planning and curriculum development for the student body is being completed, and the campaign to seek more funds will continue, David Magee said.

“This is only the beginning. This first $1 million ensures that this center is becoming a reality, on its way to opening in 2019. Important work is underway and it’s making a difference. With more resources, there’s so much more we can do.

“We hope and believe that others who care about this cause will continue to step forward. Ultimately, such support can help Ole Miss build a wellness center that’s on the cutting edge in supporting and educating students about alcohol and other drugs.”

“William’s Story” can be found at

The William Magee Center for Wellness Education is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations by mailing a check with the center’s name in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655.

For more information contact Brett Barefoot, development director, at or 662-915-2711.

Former Arkansas Senator Named UM Pharmacy Alumnus of the Year

Consumer advocate and children's rights champion Percy Malone wins honor

Percy Malone (center), who founded AllCare Pharmacy in 1972, is the UM School of Pharmacy’s 2018 Alumnus of the Year. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – State senator, state representative, pharmacist and University of Mississippi alumnus – of all Percy Malone’s titles, the one which he is proudest of is advocate.

The former Arkansas state senator and 1965 pharmacy graduate is the School of Pharmacy‘s 2018 Alumnus of the Year. He has spent his career fighting to represent the interests of those who may be otherwise overlooked: namely, children, sick or incapacitated people and those living below the poverty line.

Originally from the small Mississippi Delta town of Rosedale, Malone’s parents had little education, but a strong work ethic.

“I came from a meager background,” Malone said. “My mother told me, ‘The way out of poverty is through education.'”

As a sixth-grader, Malone began working as a soda jerk in his local pharmacy, Lewis Drug Store. It was there he decided he wanted to become a pharmacist. After graduating from Rosedale High School, he completed his pre-pharmacy requirements at Delta State University before coming to the School of Pharmacy.

“I had people tell me that I would never get into Ole Miss, and if I did, I would never get out,” Malone said. “I didn’t spend my energy trying to prove them wrong. I spent my energy on telling myself I could do it.”

Malone recalls that he was not prepared for college, but that his professors at Delta State and Ole Miss spent extra time with him. His sister, who worked at a factory, gave him a credit card to buy gas for his old car. When he left Ole Miss on weekends to work at Lewis Drug Store, his mother sent him back with enough food to eat for the next week.

“It wasn’t easy, but I had a lot of people helping me, and I credit that for being able to get a good education,” Malone said. “I’m not a self-made man.”

After graduating, Malone found himself in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, one Sunday afternoon, speaking with I.B. Fuller, owner of a local drugstore, about a job. Fuller was looking to pass down the business, and Malone was looking to set down roots. Soon thereafter, Malone had stock in his first pharmacy.

“I worked very hard for many years to say yes to patients who needed me,” Malone said. “If they called me on Thanksgiving or Sunday or at night needing medicine, I wouldn’t tell them I was busy. I would go.”

From there, Malone went on to become one of the state’s top pharmacy innovators. He founded AllCare Pharmacy in 1972, which has grown to more than 17 community pharmacy locations across Arkansas.

He had one of the first pharmacy computer systems in Arkansas and expanded his business to fill prescriptions for long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and correctional facilities, as well as specialty prescriptions for complex diseases.

As a pharmacist and businessperson, he focused on finding ways to be more efficient and patient-oriented. Malone’s concern for the consumer stemmed from the understanding his background had given him of not being able to afford medicine.

In an effort to do more for patients, he ran for state government, and in 1995, began his first of three terms as an Arkansas state representative.

“As a representative, Percy worked to bring generic drugs into Arkansas pharmacies, and the traditional pharmacists did not like that,” said Donna Malone, Percy’s wife. “But he fought and he prevailed, and now every drugstore in America has generic drugs available. He passed his savings on to the consumer.”

Percy Malone served three terms as an Arkansas state representative and five terms as an Arkansas state senator. Submitted photo

As one of the only people in the Arkansas Legislature at the time with a health care background, he also advocated to allow pharmacists to administer immunizations and worked to pass evidence-based medicine in the state.

Besides health care advocacy, Malone stumbled upon what would become his other focus while in the Legislature. On his first day as a state representative, Malone read a news article he couldn’t forget about an abused and neglected child. From then on, he made it his mission to introduce at least one measure per legislative session aimed at protecting children.

Along with his wife, he helped expand the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, where children could go to report abuse. Because of this, as well as the numerous child protection laws he initiated, the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas honored him with the first Senator Percy Malone Child Protection Award in 2010, which is given to someone in Arkansas each year.

He spent 18 years in the Legislature, eventually becoming a senator for five terms, befriending then-future President Bill Clinton and continuing to fight for the vulnerable. He also has been lauded for his work pioneering innovative health care solutions that benefit assisted and long-term care facilities and their residents.

“Being in the Legislature, I was able to speak the words of the people who couldn’t speak for themselves,” Malone said. “There are a lot of people that deserve a hand up and not a handout.”

Malone’s generous spirit and care for those in need is well-known throughout the state.

Misty Huerkamp, staff pharmacist at AllCare Pharmacy, is an Ole Miss pharmacy alumna and Arkansas native who grew up hearing about Malone.

“He pretty much goes by the name Percy, and everyone knows who you’re talking about,” Huerkamp said. “He has done so much for the profession of pharmacy and so much to serve those around him, giving to those who need help or a little encouragement.”

Another Ole Miss pharmacy grad, Lauren Lyles, met Malone in 2014 during her second year of pharmacy school at the National Community Pharmacists Association annual meeting, after which Malone became a mentor to her.

“Percy values more than anything doing what is right instead of doing what is convenient,” Lyles said. “He has given back to broken communities that have suffered from generational poverty, domestic violence and limited access to health care through his businesses, philanthropic efforts and legislative work.”

Malone credits his Ole Miss education and the people he’s encountered for helping him to reach a place where he can freely give back.

“Ole Miss gave me the opportunity to fail, and no one wants to fail,” Malone said. “It’s been a marvelous life, and I’m very fortunate to be able to give. My upbringing taught me that once you’re on top of the ladder, you don’t pull the ladder up behind you.”

Malone will be honored Saturday (April 21) with the Alumnus of the Year Award at the School of Pharmacy’s awards banquet and reunion dinner at The Inn at Ole Miss.

“The School of Pharmacy is humbled and honored to call Percy an alumnus,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “He is beyond deserving of this award, not only for his contributions to our profession, but for the way he embodies the Ole Miss spirit.

“He earned his influence by being a champion for vulnerable and forgotten people and has continued to use his time and resources for their benefit.”

Law Alumna and Adjunct Professor to Clerk on U.S. Supreme Court

Tobi Young hopes to apply her real-world legal experience while clerking for Justice Neil Gorsuch

Tobi Young

OXFORD, Miss. – Tobi Young, a 2003 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law and an adjunct professor, has been selected as a U.S. Supreme Court clerk for Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Young, who graduated with high honors, will serve during the court’s 2018-19 term.

“The law school is so excited for Tobi, who has been an excellent professor and mentor to our students,” said Susan Duncan, UM law dean. “She has had an incredible career thus far, and we know she will be excellent in this position.”

Young is the school’s first female graduate to clerk for the Supreme Court. W. Wayne Drinkwater, who graduated in 1974, clerked for Chief Justice Warren Burger during the 1975-76 term, and Judge Rhesa Barksdale, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, clerked for Justice Byron White during the 1972-73 term after graduating in 1972.

Coincidentally, Gorsuch also clerked for White, as well as for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Young first met Gorsuch while working at the Department of Justice. He helped oversee the Civil Rights Division, where Young worked initially as a trial lawyer and then as counsel to the assistant attorney general. Gorsuch later recommended her as a clerk to Judge Jerome A. Holmes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Gorsuch also was appointed to the Tenth Circuit in 2006.

“After my clerkship, my husband and I kept in touch with then-Judge Gorsuch during his 10 years on the bench,” Young said. “He would occasionally send us articles he wrote, and when we visited Denver, he always made time to join us for lunch or visit with us in his chambers.

“When I learned he was going to be announced as the next Supreme Court nominee, I joined a few former colleagues and traveled to D.C. to assist with his confirmation.”

Young recalls Gorsuch’s confirmation process as both exhilarating and exhausting.

“We worked around the clock for nearly three months,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to be at the White House when he was announced as the nominee by President Trump, and it was such an inspiring moment watching a mentor accept the nomination with such humility and humor.”

It’s common for newer justices to bring in former clerks and colleagues in their first few years on the Supreme Court. Gorsuch asked Young if she was interested in clerking for him, an idea that she hadn’t even considered.

But, as Young said, “How can you turn down an opportunity to clerk at the Supreme Court? It’s not a prospect I had ever pursued, but it was such an honor for him to have placed his trust in me. I’m excited to work for him, and lucky to have an amazing support system that enables me to be a mother and take this position.”

Young’s husband, Evan, who also is an adjunct professor at the Ole Miss law school and a partner at Baker Botts LLP, clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia during the 2004-05 term.

“Evan still frequently refers to his experiences at the court and with Justice Scalia, who also had a great affinity for Mississippi,” she said. “Being Justice Scalia’s clerk transformed his life and the way he approaches the practice of law.

“If he is still buzzing about his clerkship, there must be something magical to that experience.”

Young is general counsel in the Office of President George W. Bush, as well as general counsel and board secretary for the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Before that, she was an associate White House counsel under Bush.

“I am extremely grateful to President and Mrs. Bush for their example and for having given me the opportunity to work for and with them for over a decade,” she said. “Having practiced law in both the government and the private sector, I have experienced the profession as more than a theoretical puzzle. I hope this real-world experience will help me serve Justice Gorsuch well.”

Young excelled during her time at Ole Miss and was invited to give the Commencement speech for the 2016 School of Law graduation.

“I truly enjoyed my time at Ole Miss, and appreciate the support that has continued,” she said. “My professors taught me the fundamentals of the law, while also consistently emphasizing the importance of upholding the ethical expectations of our field – an area lawyers can never underscore enough. That’s a topic that Evan and I focus on with our Ole Miss students.”

This spring, Young and her husband are teaching a class together entitled “Uncle Sam Wants You?” which focuses on opportunities for and ethical responsibilities of lawyers who work at any level of government. As professors, the Youngs feel that not only teaching the curriculum, but also being a mentor to their students, is vital.

“We could not have been more impressed with the engagement level and the intellectual curiosity of this class,” she said. “We hope to continue being involved with the law school for many years to come.”

New Scholarship Memorializes a Legend

Fund honors Eddie Crawford's outstanding legacy at Ole Miss

The 1953 Ole Miss Rebels included (from left) Jimmy Patton, Eddie Crawford, Harol Lofton and Earl Blair.

OXFORD, Miss. – The late Eddie Crawford, of Oxford, is being memorialized with a scholarship fund in his name at the University of Mississippi. The legendary Ole Miss player, coach and administrator was touted as one of the university’s greatest ambassadors.

“Eddie epitomized everything good about Ole Miss and wore many hats during his 55-plus years of service to help our great university become what it is today,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “He was responsible for much of the groundwork that built the high level of success our athletics department now enjoys.”

The Eddie Crawford Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund will provide financial assistance to help student-athletes achieve success on the fields and courts of play as well as in the classroom.

Crawford, a native of Jackson, Tennessee, most recently served in a part-time role as special assistant to the athletics director. Before his “official” retirement in 2004-05, he was the senior associate athletics director the previous 12 years, after serving eight years as the associate athletics director for development and director of the Loyalty Foundation (now the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation).

He also provided leadership as interim athletics director at Ole Miss from April to June 1998.

Shirley Crawford said her husband felt fortunate and grateful to work in many different areas at Ole Miss and would be honored by the naming of this fund.

Eddie and Shirley Crawford

“He loved coaching, working with the student-athletes and seeing them become successful both on campus and beyond, so this fund is something he would be very proud of,” she said, adding that Crawford’s work allowed him to cross paths with countless alumni and friends who supported the university.

Now, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is calling on those alumni and friends to help continue Eddie Crawford’s legacy by making a gift to the endowment, Carter said.

“Eddie, with Shirley alongside, made improving Ole Miss athletics their life’s work,” he said. “Now it’s time for us to give back to permanently cement Eddie’s legacy while helping current student-athletes achieve the goals that Eddie worked for his entire career.”

The Crawfords’ longtime friend and early contributor, Bob Seibels of Montgomery, Alabama, said the honor is well-deserved.

“Eddie spent his life making Ole Miss better, and now we have an opportunity to continue his work,” Seibels said. “I cannot think of a more appropriate way to honor his memory than to give to this worthy cause.”

Crawford joined the athletics department in 1962 as head basketball coach, freshman football assistant coach and varsity scout. He was basketball coach from 1963 to 1968. He coached the offensive backfield and receivers before taking on full-time recruiting responsibilities for football in 1977.

Crawford was a star performer for the Rebels and UM’s last three-sport letterman, excelling in football, basketball and baseball from 1954 to 1956, and also participating in track for one season.

As the starting left halfback, Crawford helped lead Coach John Vaught’s football Rebels to back-to-back Southeastern Conference titles in 1954 and 1955, and had a three-year career rushing average of 6.4 yards per carry. In basketball, he started at forward for Coach B.L. “Country” Graham in a lineup that included All-Americans Denver Brackeen and Joe Gibbon.

Playing for Coach Tom Swayze, Crawford was an All-SEC center fielder in 1956, serving as team captain when the Rebels won the SEC Western Division and NCAA District III titles, advancing to the College World Series.

Following his collegiate career, Crawford was drafted by the New York Giants of the National Football League. He was an instant success with the Giants in 1957, playing as a first-team defensive back. However, a nagging shoulder injury from his college days limited his pro football career to that single season, even though Giants assistant Vince Lombardi was encouraging Crawford to return in 1958.

With his mind made up to retire from the NFL, Crawford entered the coaching ranks as an assistant at Greenville High School in 1958. He was named head coach at Greenville High in 1959 before returning home to Tennessee, where he was hired as Jackson High School’s coach and athletics director in 1960, a position he held until returning to Ole Miss in 1962.

Crawford is a member of four halls of fame, having been inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Jackson-Madison (Tenn.) County Hall of Fame in 1986.

In 1990, Crawford was honored by the Ole Miss Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame with its Distinguished American Award.

The Crawfords have two children, Kim and Kip, both Ole Miss graduates, and two grandsons, Slater and Logan.

To support the Eddie Crawford Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund, checks may be written to the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation or UM Foundation with “Eddie Crawford” in the memo line and sent to P.O. Box 1519, Oxford, MS 38655.

For more information on the Eddie Crawford Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund, contact Keith Carter at or 662-915-7159.

Documentary About UM Professor Premiering at Tribeca Film Festival

Filmmaker V. Scott Balcerek screening 'Satan & Adam' after two decades of work

Adam Gussow

OXFORD, Miss. – The film industry is achieving big things as this year’s 17th annual Tribeca Film Festival is set to premiere 75 new films. Adam Gussow, University of Mississippi associate professor of English and Southern studies, is among the stars of the festival and will attend the Friday (April 20) premiere of “Satan & Adam,” a documentary about his longtime blues duo, in New York City.

“Satan & Adam” is the story of two emerging musicians who not only found each other, but their passion for blues, on the streets of Harlem. After 23 years of closely following the lives of Gussow and Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee, filmmaker V. Scott Balcerek has finally finished the story of the acclaimed blues duo.

“It’s remarkable,” Gussow said. “I think it’s a film about a lot of things. First, I think it shows the potential of someone who looks old and broken down. It’s obviously about New York and the racial strife of the 1980s and ’90s.

“And in the end, I think it’s testifying to what Dr. King called ‘beloved community’: the ‘true interrelatedness’ of the human family.”

Gussow began his musical career when he picked up the harmonica at age 16, and he continued to play through his adolescence and into his college years. As a young white harmonica player, a Princeton graduate and Columbia graduate school dropout, Gussow was driving through the streets of Harlem in 1986 when he found “Satan,” an African-American guitarist and local legend.

The two men bonded over their love of music and immediately found their rhythm as a blues duo. They began as street musicians in Harlem in 1986 before taking their talents further as a touring act, playing at clubs across New York, until they were finally “discovered” in 1991.

They issued their first album, “Harlem Blues,” which was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award for traditional blues album, in 1991.

Promising young filmmaker V. Scott Balcerek found the duo in the fall of 1995 and instantly had the idea to make them the subject of his newest project. Balcerek’s other projects include the short documentary “Street Songs,” which received a Student Academy Award, and the acclaimed LeBron James documentary “More Than a Game.”

“Satan & Adam” was initially going to be filmed over the span of a few years, following the duo as they trailblazed their way through the New York music scene.

Although Balcerek started filming the musicians in the ’90s, he begins the documentary with original footage of the two men from the mid-’80s, in a moment when New York was rippling with racial tension and musical expression. More than two decades later, Balcerek’s efforts are complete.

“We’re all incredibly excited to be going up to New York,” Gussow said. “We’ll be there for the screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20 and 21 – they’re all sold out, too. We’re really hoping for the best-case scenario with it.”

The Tribeca Film Festival, founded in 2001 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, has evolved into a cultural event that brings together visionaries across industries and diverse audiences. It celebrates the power of storytelling in a variety of forms.

As a platform for creative expression, independent filmmaking, and immersive entertainment, Tribeca champions emerging and established voices, discovers award-winning filmmakers and creators, curates innovative experiences, and introduces new technology and ideas through premieres, exhibitions, talks and live performances. This year’s festival runs April 18-29.

See for a list of showings.

Botanical Experts Gather in Oxford for International Conference

UM School of Pharmacy and NCNPR welcome 280 conference attendees

Attendees at the 18th annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals had more than 75 presentations from which to choose, on topics ranging from the history of cannabis as medicine to dietary supplements’ effect on the liver. UM photo by Whitney Tarpy

OXFORD, Miss. – Scientists and visitors from around the globe gathered in Oxford this week (April 9-12) for the 18th annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals.

Organized and hosted by the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, the conference welcomed 280 registrants from universities, government and business institutions who explored the topic of synergy between natural products and human health. Participants discussed current research topics related to natural products research, development, safety, quality and regulations.

“With the NCNPR being internationally known for its botanical products expertise, the conference is a great opportunity to bring natural products experts to Oxford,” said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR director. “ICSB continues to be instrumental in facilitating conversation related to botanicals among scientists and industry leaders.”

Steven Tave, director of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, served as a special guest speaker at the conference’s opening session. John Finley, the national program leader for human nutrition at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, followed Tave with the keynote address.

Numerous internationally recognized experts and researchers in the field of botanicals presented at the conference, including attendees from Australia, Central America and Africa, as well as representatives from U.S. Pharmacopeia, Procter & Gamble, DuPont and Waters Corp.

“Over the past 18 years, this conference has really evolved into a symposium on basic medical research and botanicals,” said Joseph Betz, director of the Dietary Supplements Methods and Reference Materials Program at the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. “The scope has increased, the quality of presentations from international researchers has increased, the distance people are willing to travel has increased, so it’s just gotten better every year.”

Steven Tave, director of the FDA Office of Dietary Supplement Programs, speaks during the conference’s opening session. UM photo by Whitney Tarpy

Attendees had a chance to socialize and explore the Ole Miss campus and Oxford community. Events included dinner each evening with different local and international cuisines, an afternoon picnic with competitive field games and tours of NCNPR facilities and the School of Pharmacy’s medicinal plant garden.

“This is my favorite conference,” said Wendy Applequist from the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. “It has a diverse attendance that keeps it interesting, but it’s small enough that you can see most of the talks that interest you and meet most of the people you’d like to meet. It’s simultaneously international and intimate.”

The National Center for Natural Products Research was founded in 1995 to research, develop and commercialize potentially useful natural products. NCNPR collaborates with academia, government and the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries to create natural products that can be used to improve human health and agriculture as crops, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and agrochemicals.

For more information on programs at NCNPR, visit

Pharmacy School Introduces Application Option for Rising Sophomores

Advanced Standing Program offers qualified students seat in professional program

Ole Miss pharmacy students work in a skills lab on the Oxford campus. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is providing university freshmen a new way to secure their spot in its professional pharmacy program with the Sophomore Advanced Standing Program.

The program allows qualified UM freshmen to earn a guaranteed seat in the School of Pharmacy’s professional program, thereby avoiding the competitive selection process for regular entry admission that normally occurs during a pre-pharmacy major’s junior year. Upon completion of three years of pre-pharmacy courses and one year of professional courses, students also will receive a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Upon earning the B.S.P.S., student pharmacists then complete three additional years of the professional program before earning a Doctor of Pharmacy, or Pharm.D., and sitting for the national licensure exam to practice pharmacy.

Chelsea Bennett, the school’s assistant dean for student services in Oxford, said that the Sophomore Advanced Standing Program is an excellent opportunity for Ole Miss freshmen to enter the professional program and take advantage of other benefits the school offers.

“We have some exciting plans in place for our new Sophomore Advanced Standing students,” Bennett said. “They’ll have opportunities to take part in site visits, shadow pharmacists and be involved in our pharmacy student body events and professional organizations.”

This program is ideal for freshmen interested in pharmacy who did not enroll in the Early Entry program before they began their first year at Ole Miss.

“We are thrilled to offer another opportunity for aspiring pharmacists to join our program,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “These high-achieving students will benefit from our amazing faculty and facilities as they prepare for this diverse profession.”

The deadline to apply is May 1.

Eligible UM freshmen must be enrolled in a minimum of 14 hours per semester during their freshman year, have completed freshman science courses for the B.S.P.S. degree requirements by the end of July and hold a 3.25 GPA or better in their attempted courses. A minimum composite ACT of 25 is also preferred.

To apply or for more information, visit

Pharmacy Student Elected Speaker of National Professional Society

Third-year student pharmacist Regan Tyler named to Phi Lambda Sigma's Executive Committee

Regan Tyler

OXFORD, Miss. – Regan Tyler, a third-year student at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, was elected as Phi Lambda Sigma’s speaker of the house during the organization’s national meeting, held in conjunction with the American Pharmacists Association annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Phi Lambda Sigma is a pharmacy leadership society that aims to develop leadership qualities among student pharmacists to strengthen the future of the pharmacy profession.

In Tyler’s new role on the Executive Committee, she will control the annual PLS House of Delegates meeting, serve as a voice for student pharmacists on the committee during monthly conferences and attend the annual Executive Committee retreat in June to discuss its mission for the upcoming year.

“Honestly, I was in shock,” Tyler said of being elected. “It really did not hit me that I had been elected until the current speaker of the house asked me to return to the podium to dismiss the House of Delegates as my first ‘act of duty.'”

A native of Collierville, Tennessee, and president of the Ole Miss pharmacy student body, Tyler knew she wanted to serve PLS at the national level after the organization provided her with many opportunities to grow as a leader. She noted that attending the organization’s retreats helped her fine-tune her public speaking and learn more about her leadership style.

As she approaches her final year of pharmacy school, Tyler plans to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry as a medical science liaison or the medical information field. She believes her role as speaker will help her achieve her professional goals as she meets other leaders in the pharmacy profession.

“Regan is very deserving of this national recognition and responsibility,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “She does a wonderful job leading as student body president, and I’m excited to see how she will impact the future of pharmacy.”

Ole Miss is actively involved in PLS. Fourth-year student pharmacist Kathy Lee Barrack serves as president of the local chapter, making her a House of Delegates member, and School of Pharmacy alumna Jillian Foster is the organization’s parliamentarian.

The school’s chapter also initiates between 20 and 30 students and several faculty members each spring.

Crowdfunding Campaign to Fund Literacy Program

Communication Sciences and Disorders' 'Ready to Read' fundraiser to benefit children

UM communication sciences and disorders graduate students Emily Reedy (in red), of Pontotoc, and Lauren Stantz (in blue), of Houston, practice reading skills with area youth in preparation for the upcoming Ready to Read Literacy Program. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – The speech-language pathologists who operate the University of Mississippi’s Speech and Hearing Center are bringing their expertise to a communitywide literacy program designed to improve children’s reading skills before they reach third grade.

“We know that if kids aren’t reading on grade level by the time they get to the third grade, they are four times more likely not to graduate high school,” said Suzanne Ryals, Oxford School District early childhood reading development director.

Opportunities are limited for many first- and second-graders to continue advancing their reading skills over the summer, Ryals said. Faculty in the UM Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders, recognizing the deficit of programming geared toward this particular age range, have launched an initiative to fund a summer and after-school literacy program addressing the problem.

A 30-day Ignite Ole Miss crowdfunding campaign is being launched to provide financial resources for the “Ready to Read” program. Those interested in contributing to the campaign can choose from six levels of giving: $25 Sight Word Level; $50 Phonics Level; $75 Chapter Book Level; $100 Novel Level; $250 Graduate or $1,000 Ph.D. Level. Contributions to the campaign will directly benefit program participants by covering the costs of materials, books and scholarships.

The Ready to Read summer camp will serve rising second- and third-grade children and will operate for six weeks, June 4-July 27, from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily.

“Before camp begins, the children will be scheduled for a reading diagnostic assessment, followed by a series of criteria-referenced assessments where the child’s skill level in five different areas – phonological awareness, phonetics, word attack skills, reading fluency and reading comprehension – will be identified,” said Brad Crowe, UM Speech and Hearing Center co-director and clinical instructor. From these assessments, each child will have a list of reading goals that will be taught during camp.”

Following the summer camp, the speech-language pathologists and graduate clinicians hope to provide an after-school reading program for children with reading disabilities.

“Since we can identify children at risk for reading disabilities with greater reliability than ever before, we would like to offer a preventive program for kindergarten and first-graders in the long term,” Crowe said.

One clinical faculty member will be present at all times to supervise up to four graduate students as they provide individualized and small-group instruction to the children, said Ann Michael, interim chair for CSD.

“First, the faculty member will observe the instruction and interact with the student and the child,” Michael said. “They will then meet with each graduate student to review each child’s achievement for the day and work with the graduate student to modify the child’s plan as needed for the next day.

“This process will ensure the children receive quality services and that the graduate student is pushed to develop critical thinking and research skills in order to transform the lives of others.”

Gloria Kellum, CSD professor emeritus and vice chancellor emeritus for university relations, explained the camp’s importance to UM graduate students studying to become speech-language pathologists.

“It has long been known, and the research is very clear that a child with any type of speech, language or hearing difference is going to have reading challenges, so speech-language pathologists need to be educated about that,” Kellum said. “Part of our program is to educate SLPs and audiologists on the necessary role of early speech and language intervention for children to be sure that they are hearing, speaking correctly and learning the language skills.”

“We have the skill set to work with children who have reading difficulties,” said Lisa Ivy, literacy program director, speech-language pathologist and clinical instructor with the Speech and Hearing Center. “We know that the sounds that we use to talk are the same sounds we match with letters when we are sounding out words, and that helps with reading.”

The camp is centered on themes, such as ocean animals, community helpers and insects. The camp clinicians also make time for science experiments, snacks, crafts and playground time.

“We will read books together and discuss vocabulary,” Ivy said. “The children will have breakout sessions where they work on their individual skills. Then we may read as a group.”

Kelle Sumrall, a seventh-grade science teacher at Lafayette Middle School, understands firsthand the critical importance of early literacy for future educational success. Her son Ben attended three weeks of literacy camp during last summer’s pilot program.

“As a teacher and a mother of someone who struggles with reading, I think the program does a wonderful job of attending to my child’s needs and helping him grow, build better self-esteem and be more successful,” Sumrall said.

“Ben loved the themes of the week. He was very excited about what he was going to take, what they were going to talk about and what they were going to do each day. That was one of the things that got him really excited about going.

“When SLPs are running this program, they have a better grasp of what to connect to the child, and they get to know the child personally. They realize their strengths and weaknesses, so that they can develop the program to better suit the needs of the child.”

For more information about giving to this campaign, visit Those who prefer to contribute by mail can do so by writing the program’s name in the check’s memo line and sending it to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655.

For more information about attending the literacy summer camp or after-school program, contact Ivy at or 662-915-7950.