UM Development Welcomes Annual Giving Director

Wesley Clark brings passion-driven skill set to Ole Miss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UM Pharmacy Students to Present at Veterinary Conference

Both are leaders in campus Rebel Vets

Alexandria Gochenauer. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Ross. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mississippi Encyclopedia to Be Published in May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tutoring Startup Takes Top Prize at UM Business Competition

12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition celebrates another successful year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pharmacy Professor Wins Prestigious Elsie M. Hood Teaching Award

Students call John Rimoldi 'enthusiastic' and 'altruistic'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School of Pharmacy Begins Clinical Study of Antimalarial Drug

Volunteers sought to help researchers improve safety, efficacy of essential medication

Abbas Ali, a principal scientist in the UM National Center for Natural Products Research, works to develop insect repellents from natural products, part of the School of Pharmacy’s efforts to fight malaria. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Research Clinic is looking for students and residents in the Oxford and Lafayette County area to participate in a clinical study for the antimalarial drug primaquine.

The World Health Organization lists primaquine as one of the safest and most essential medications in the world. The study begins later this month and will coincide with WHO’s World Malaria Day observance April 25, which highlights the need for continued commitment to malaria control and prevention worldwide.

“We are eager to begin this research in hopes of getting closer to the very real possibility of one day eradicating malaria worldwide,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy.

Researchers in the school are continuing research on primaquine that has been ongoing there for 25 years in hopes of improving the drug and broadening its use. Preventative research such as this is crucial in making further advancements toward a final cure for malaria, said Larry Walker, director emeritus of the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research.

“In the long run, these studies will help us to better understand the safety and metabolism of this class of drugs, and perhaps make it more useful in the fight against malaria,” Walker said. “It may also allow us to apply the findings to newer drugs in this class.”

Malaria kills more than 1 million people per year and affects anywhere from 300 million to 600 million people annually, according to data compiled by UNICEF. Children under 5 are most susceptible to dying from malaria, and more than 40 percent of the world’s population lives in malaria-prone regions.

Primaquine is an inexpensive drug that is very effective against the liver stages of malaria parasites, Walker said. However, its use is limited because people with a genetic deficiency in a specific enzyme (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, or G6PD) have negative reactions to the drug that can cause severe damage to their red blood cells.

The UM School of Pharmacy is recruiting volunteers for a study of improved antimalarial drugs. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“This deficiency is very common around the world and in regions where malaria is prevalent, so many public health programs are reluctant to use primaquine,” Walker said. “If we could find a way to stop that reaction, the drug would be safer and could be used more widely.”

Primaquine is composed of two chemicals, or forms, that are difficult to separate, yet separating them is what Ole Miss researchers hope will help them discover how to make primaquine safer.

“Researchers have studied primaquine-type drugs for many years and developed methods for the separation and preparation of the two forms,” Walker said. “We’ve shown that both forms work in animal studies, but they are metabolized differently, and one has fewer side effects than the other.

“Ultimately, we want to determine whether the two forms of the drug are metabolized differently in humans, and whether one of them is safer.”

The clinical trials will begin by studying the metabolism of the two forms of primaquine in normal human volunteers without the G6PD enzyme deficiency. The drugs are being prepared by an Oxford company, ElSohly Laboratories Inc.

The pharmacy school is collaborating with the UM Medical Center on the project.

Ole Miss students in the pharmacy program are very interested to see what new advancements come out of this trial, said Alix Cawthon, a second-year pharmacy student from Abita Springs, Louisiana.

“Everyone is very excited to see the school participate in a human study,” Cawthon said.

Participants in the study must be healthy adults between 18 and 60 years old. The study requires participants to visit the research clinic several times over a four-week period. Monetary compensation is also available for those who participate.

This research is supported by the Defense Health Program under Award No. W81XWH-15-1-0704. For more information or to volunteer for the study, contact Kerri Harrison at 662-915-2103.

Alan McKay Named UM Pharmacy Alumnus of the Year

Honoree is dean emeritus of Shenandoah University School of Pharmacy

Dean David D. Allen (left) presents Alan McKay with the UM School of Pharmacy’s 2017 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award at the Alumni Weekend banquet. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – Alan McKay, founding dean emeritus of the Shenandoah University Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, has been named the 2017 University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

McKay accepted the award April 8 at the annual School of Pharmacy Alumni Weekend banquet.

McKay completed his master’s and Ph.D. in health care administration, now called pharmacy administration, at UM in 1980 under the guidance of Mickey Smith, then chair of the Department of Health Care Administration.

“Everybody at Ole Miss was like family and it took away the fear,” McKay said. “Mississippi has a way of accepting people and letting them feel comfortable with who they are.”

After completing his master’s degree, McKay, feeling overwhelmed with school, work and family, decided to tell Smith that he wouldn’t be pursuing his Ph.D.

“And Mickey looked at me and he said, ‘McKay, I see smart people come and I see smart people go. The ones that make a difference are the ones who don’t give up,'” McKay recounted. “Everybody has to have somebody who believes in them.”

McKay received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Mercer University in 1975. After receiving his doctorate from UM, he became an assistant professor at Mercer University College of Pharmacy. He joined the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 1983 before moving to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice in 1990.

He began his penultimate position as founding dean of Shenandoah’s School of Pharmacy in 1995 and retired in August 2016.

“Starting a new school of pharmacy 22 years ago was a big challenge,” McKay said. “You can’t just tell people what you want done and what you think is important. Sometimes you have to demonstrate.”

Since retiring, he has continued to use his experience as the director of Shenandoah University’s Design Innovation Center and as a member of a task force charged with creating a new medical school in northern Virginia.

During the planning of the medical school, McKay wrote a curriculum proposal that focused on team-based education, known as a fusion curriculum. As part of his proposal, students from all health care disciplines would take a three-week break from their specialized curricula every semester and work together to solve health care problems using information technology and genomics, a practice called precision medicine.

“We are trying to intentionally incorporate into the next generation of health professionals an understanding and appreciation of two things: one, that technology is changing under your feet, and two, you’re not going to solve all the problems yourself,” McKay said.

Besides his visionary approach to health care education, McKay’s colleagues know him as a caring educator who is deeply interested in the well-being of his students. John Bentley, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration at UM, referred to McKay’s “transformative effect” on others.

“Part of it is role modeling,” Bentley said. “We see in Alan someone who has strong values, has a vision for where he wants to go and can see things beyond where a lot of people can see; but it’s also just taking an interest in people.

“Alan sees qualities in people and is able to help develop them.”

The winner of this award is chosen based on character, leadership and contributions to the pharmacy profession, said David D. Allen, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy.

“Alan McKay is one of the most insightful and forward-thinking pharmacy educators I’ve met, and an exceptional representative of the School of Pharmacy,” Allen said. “I’m very pleased we can honor him in this way.”

Pharmacy Student Wins Kappa Epsilon Foundation Scholarship

Alix Cawthon hopes to specialize in infectious disease pharmacy

Alix Cawthon

OXFORD, Miss. – Alix Cawthon, a second-year pharmacy student at the University of Mississippi, is the winner of a Kappa Epsilon Zada M. Cooper Scholarship.

A professional pharmacy fraternity founded in 1921 with the mission to serve women pharmacists, Kappa Epsilon champions women’s health issues. The fraternity’s foundation promotes scholastic and professional advancement among its members with awards, fellowships and scholarships such as the Zada M. Cooper Scholarship, a $750 award given to five students each year.

Cawthon became a member of the UM chapter of Kappa Epsilon as a sophomore in the early-entry pharmacy program. After a year, she became the organization’s secretary and this year serves as the Kappa Epsilon president.

“While Alix has demonstrated she can excel within the academic rigor of a challenging pharmacy curriculum, perhaps one of her most outstanding characteristics is the ability to accomplish so much academically with a humble and quiet approach, coupled with her service to others,” said David Gregory, associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Pharmacy. “She is well respected by the faculty, her fellow students and certainly by our administration.”

After completing her Pharm.D., Cawthon, an Abita Springs, Louisiana native, plans to complete at least one year in a hospital residency program, where she hopes to specialize in infectious diseases.

“Receiving this national scholarship will hopefully give me a leg up in the residency application process, and, of course, it also helps alleviate the burden of student loans,” Cawthon said.

Cawthon spent an extensive amount of time on the scholarship application, which required several essays about her career goals and how she will contribute to Kappa Epsilon in the future.

“Alix is a very bright young woman with innate abilities,” said Rachel Robinson, pharmacy practice professor and faculty adviser of Kappa Epsilon. “She has an intellectual curiosity that is indicative of her skills and willingness to learn.”

Kappa Epsilon presented the Zada M. Cooper Scholarships at the American Pharmacists Association annual meeting and exposition March 25 in San Francisco.

UM School of Pharmacy Prepares for Busy Weekend

Highlights include alumni golf tournament and awards, student competitions in Pharmacy Olympics

UM pharmacy student Ethan Casey (left), Andrew Smelser, Blake Burcham and Jonathan Doles, all of whom are in their fourth professional year of the program, show off their trophy from the 2014 golf tournament. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is gearing up for one of its biggest weekends of the year, as both alumni and students gather for a full slate of competition, fellowship and awards.

The school’s annual Alumni Weekend is set for Friday and Saturday (April 7-8), complete with class reunions, a golf tournament, a cookout and an awards banquet. Meanwhile, student teams will be facing off against one another in the annual Pharmacy Olympics, which run through Sunday.

Scott Thompson, assistant director of the Alumni Association, plans the Alumni Weekend each year.

“The best part of putting the Alumni Weekend together is that I get to connect with alumni who are eager to invite their classmates back to campus,” Thompson said. “The brochures and emails we send can only do so much, but a personal phone call, email or social media message from a friend can do so much more.”

Alumni from all graduating classes are invited, and this year’s event includes reunions for the classes of 1957, 1967, 1977, 1987, 1997 and 2007. Attendees form teams to compete in the golf tournament, which raises money for student scholarships.

“We are so grateful to the alumni who work to make the golf tournament and the whole Alumni Weekend a success,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “It’s wonderful to see the Ole Miss pharmacy family come together and our students appreciate being able to meet and seek advice from practicing pharmacists.”

As part of the banquet on Saturday night, the school will present the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award to Alan McKay, founding dean emeritus of Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy. McKay graduated from the Ole Miss pharmacy school in 1980 with a master’s and Ph.D. in health administration, now called pharmacy administration.

For a complete schedule or to sign up, visit http://rebelnetwork.olemissalumni.com/events.

Meanwhile, the Pharmacy Olympics kick off Friday with a talent show at the Thad Cochran Research Center, followed by a trivia night in downtown Oxford. Sport competitions on Saturday include tennis, basketball, ping-pong and volleyball at the Turner Center. The events conclude Sunday at Avent Park with flag football, a water balloon toss, a donut-eating contest and kickball.

Each Pharmacy Olympics team consists of students from the same year, from a team of Early Entry pre-pharmacy students to fourth-year students in their final year of the professional program.

UM pharmacy students compete in a Pharmacy Olympics event. Submitted photo

Student body officers organize the event, which is the culmination of a yearlong effort by each class to earn points through community service and other competitions. Another portion of the Olympics is the Pharmacy Fitness Challenge where students and faculty earn points all semester by logging their workouts.

“The competitiveness between the classes is probably the highest I have seen it since I came to Ole Miss,” said Regan Tyler, a second-year pharmacy student from Collierville, Tenn. and president-elect of the pharmacy student body. “Students from each class have been getting together to practice, and the first- and second-year students already have nearly 8,000 fitness points.”

Faculty members and friends of the school donate snacks, water and Gatorade for the competitions, and students coordinate the entire event, said Chelsea Bennett, the school’s assistant dean of student services.

“Our students work very hard, so it is always great to see them having fun during Pharmacy Olympics,” Bennett said. “I hope the alumni find time to stop by for some fun and reminisce about their own Pharmacy Olympics days.”

Henry Harris, a first-year pharmacy student from Olive Branch, said he is excited to participate in his first Pharmacy Olympics.

“I’ve heard that it gets very competitive, but I’m confident that my class will ultimately win the weekend,” he said.

UM Natural Products Center Director Wins Prestigious Botanical Award

Ikhlas Khan honored for scientific community-building

Ikhlas Khan

OXFORD, Miss. – Ikhlas Khan, director of the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississppi School of Pharmacy, was honored Monday (April 3) night with the 2016 Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award from the American Botanical Council.

The presentation came at the 17th annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals, hosted by NCNPR this week at the Oxford Conference Center.

The American Botanical Council focuses on using science-based and traditional information to promote and educate about the responsible use of herbal medicine. The Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award is given to an ABC member who exceeds expectations in promoting community and collaboration among those passionate about furthering the study of botanicals.

“All of us here at ABC are profoundly grateful to Dr. Khan for countless invaluable and exemplary contributions to the organization’s nonprofit educational mission, publications and programs,” said Mark Blumenthal, namesake of the award and founder of the ABC.

Previous winners include entrepreneurs, authors, activists and herbalists. Khan, who was instrumental in establishing the annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals, is the first scientific researcher in the organization’s history to receive the award.

Khan’s research interests are in drug discovery from natural products and developing standards for botanical purity. He helped establish a partnership between the Ole Miss natural products center and the FDA dedicated to assessing the safety and chemical makeup of dietary supplements.

The UM Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences that houses the center has partnered with ABC for many years in the Botanical Adulterants Program, which educates the herbal and dietary supplement community about ingredient and product adulteration. Khan serves on the ABC advisory board and, in 2009, won its Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award.

Khan said he was happily surprised to receive the Community Builder Award and honored to be in the company of the award’s previous winners.

“Building a global scientific community is very important for educating about botanicals,” Khan said. “Science alone cannot solve a problem. You have to work with manufacturers, herbalists, regulatory agencies – every stakeholder has to play a role.”