UM Internship and Career Fair Continues to Grow

Almost 300 students make connections at annual event

Taylor Ann Dean of Northwestern Mutual (center) discusses employment opportunities with a UM student at the recent Part-time Job and Internship Fair at The Inn at Ole Miss. Photo courtesy Garrett Fischer

OXFORD, Miss. – Scores of University of Mississippi business students got a jump start on their careers recently by networking with corporate decision-makers at the third annual Part-time Job and Internship Fair, sponsored by the university’s School of Business Administration and Career Center.

The event at The Inn at Ole Miss attracted more than 280 students and representatives from 32 companies, including FedEx Corp., AutoZone, Viking Corp., Enterprise Holdings, Trustmark Corp. and Northwestern Mutual.

“We had the largest employer and student turnout in the three-year history of this event, and the feedback from both students and employers was incredible,” said Wesley Dickens, coordinator of career preparation and internships for the business school. “The success of the event could not have been possible without the support of the Career Center and the business school’s administration.”

Created in 2016, the fair focuses primarily on internship opportunities, but the school recently partnered with the Career Center to add the part-time job component.

Participating companies filled the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom with decorated booths and tables featuring information about their businesses and special prizes.

“At Enterprise, we are always looking to speak with students and share different ways they can jump-start their careers,” said Natalie Miller, talent acquisition specialist with Enterprise Holdings. “We pride ourselves at Enterprise in helping students transition from student life to work life through our management trainee program and management trainee internship.”

Miller, an Ole Miss alumna, brought fellow team member Ronan McBrearty, also a UM alumnus, to help work the company’s booth.

“When I was a store manager with Enterprise, Ronan was the intern,” she said. “The unique thing about Enterprise is that we promote 100 percent from within, so we are all able to speak to the exact role that we are hiring for in the process.”

Students praised the school’s efforts to help connect them with potential employers.

“Working with the business school’s career preparation office was a very rewarding experience for me,” said Samantha Herbert, a senior from Huron, Ohio, majoring in management information systems. “Initially, I had no idea where to start looking for internships, but Mr. Dickens immediately got me started by critiquing my resume, looking for the right internships in the right places and assisting me with my application.

“My status went from ‘Alternate’ to ‘Primary.’ Eventually, I was offered an internship with International Paper because of the help and advice I was given.”

Recruiters praised the quality of talent available at the event.

“We want the best and brightest students for banking and for Trustmark, so that is why we recruit at schools like Ole Miss,” said Rita Floyd, first vice president and director of organizational development for Trustmark Bank. “Our corporate internship program hopefully piques students’ interest in banking and our management development associate program gets them trained and placed where they can be a productive, effective member of the Trustmark team.”

The Chief Emissary Officers, a student-leadership organization within the business school, served as hosts and ambassadors to help facilitate a dialogue between the students and companies.

“The Ole Miss Part-Time Job and Internship Fair was a huge success for the Lafayette-Oxford-University Volunteer Connection,” said Marlee Carpenter, volunteer coordinator for the organization. We gathered lots of interest from students who are genuinely passionate about building relationships, giving back and serving in the LOU community.

“Because of the fair, we have 40 new faces to match with nonprofit organizations.”

The fair continues to gain momentum in connecting business students with opportunities, said Meg Barnes, the school’s director of career preparation.

“We doubled participation of students in this year’s event,” Barnes said. “We look forward to expanding this fair based on this year’s response and the career outcomes.”

Gift Creates Women’s Council Scholarship

Couple honors the late Phyllis Shane by providing opportunities for others

The University of Mississippi has been an important part of life for (from left) Cheryl, Rachel and Michael Ducker. Photo courtesy Cheryl Ducker

OXFORD, Miss. – Mike and Cheryl Ducker have established the Phyllis Shane Ole Miss Women’s Council Scholarship Endowment in memory of Cheryl’s late mother with a gift of $125,000.

While attending the University of Tennessee Nursing School, Phyllis Shane, of Kingsport, Tennessee, met her future husband, James. Soon after, she put her dream of becoming a nurse on hold.

Once her children grew up and moved out, Shane decided to pick up where she left off and finish her degree. In 1994, at 60 years old, Shane graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Gulf Coast Community College and received a standing ovation from her peers.

Shane put an emphasis on education for herself and her children.

“Education was very important for my mother because it empowered women,” Cheryl Ducker said. “So giving to the Ole Miss Women’s Council was an obvious choice.”

Mike Ducker, who attended UM from 1971 to ’73, retired in August after a 43-year career at FedEx. At retirement, he was the chief executive officer and international president for FedEx Freight. He and Cheryl met in Memphis in 1989, and have a daughter, Rachel, who is an Ole Miss sophomore.

“The University of Mississippi is very close to our hearts,” he said. “A gift like this honoring Cheryl’s mother through the Ole Miss Women’s Council is a cause that Phyllis held very dear and is very meaningful to our family.”

Since the OMWC was created in 2000, the group has built a scholarship endowment worth almost $14.5 million. The $40,000 named OMWC scholarships, which have grown to be among the largest on campus, are awarded each year to both female and male students.

Thus far, 145 OMWC scholars, plus a cohort of eight freshmen for the 2018-19 academic year, are the beneficiaries of the program, which provides scholarships, mentoring, leadership development, travel and other cultural opportunities.

The council is a group of female leaders and philanthropists committed to nurturing the development of students with a desire to contribute to create a caring, more ethical world. When their careers and personal lives allow, OMWC scholarship recipients are expected to give back to the innovative scholarship program.

Mike Ducker credits his UM education and experience for much of the success he has realized and believes it will have similar results for others. For this reason, he keeps a book of resumes from rising Ole Miss seniors who would be excellent candidates for open positions at FedEx Corp.

“After all, the brightest and best people from Ole Miss should be FedEx purple employees,” he quipped.

Ducker, who played football for the Rebels, and his wife continue to be engaged in the life of his alma mater. They attend all football games on the Oxford campus and travel to as many away games as possible.

To make a gift to the Ole Miss Women’s Council, send a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visit; or contact Charlotte Parks at or 662-915-3120.

For more information on the OMWC, visit

Historian to Lecture on the ‘Triumph of Abolitionism’

James Oakes to deliver Gilder-Jordan lecture Sept. 12

James Oakes

OXFORD, Miss. – A leading historian of 19th century America speaks Sept. 12 at the University of Mississippi on “The Triumph of Abolitionism” as part of the Gilder-Jordan Lecture in Southern Cultural History.

James Oakes, distinguished professor and chair of humanities at the City University of New York, has an international reputation for path-breaking scholarship. In a series of influential books and essays, he tackled the history of the United States from the Revolution through the Civil War. His early work focused on the South, examining slavery as an economic and social system that shaped Southern life.

His lecture, set for 7 p.m. in Nutt Auditorium, is free and open to the public.

By studying abolitionism, Oakes aims to clarify exactly what was at stake in the Civil War. The title of his lecture highlights his main point.

“Generally, historians consider abolitionism a failure, in part because they assume that what the abolitionists wanted was very different from what Lincoln and the Republicans wanted,” Oakes said. “But if you look carefully at what abolitionists actually hoped to do about slavery, it was not that different from what mainstream antislavery politicians actually did.”

According to Oakes, that meant the result over time was a shift in the sectional balance of power, as the number of free states steadily increased while the number of slave states hardly changed.

“The Civil War accelerated the shift, to the point where there were enough free states to ratify the 13th Amendment in 1865, hence the ‘triumph of abolitionism,'” Oakes said.

His pioneering books include “The Ruling Race” (1982), “Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South” (1990), “The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics” (2007) and “Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865” (2012). The latter two garnered the 2008 and 2013 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, an annual award for the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln or the American Civil War era.

His most recent book is “The Scorpion’s Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War” (2015).

Oakes not only will give the Gilder-Jordan Lecture, but will meet with Southern studies and history students. His visit comes as the university holds several campuswide events in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded persons of African descent in British North America.

“In asking his listeners to reconsider the history of how American slavery was abolished, Oakes will provide a new interpretation of American abolitionism’s triumph,” said Paul Polgar, UM assistant professor of history. “As our nation continues to grapple with the legacies of slavery, racism and inequality, the topic of his lecture will reveal how earlier generations of Americans confronted human bondage and formed agendas to battle the peculiar institution.” 

This is not Oakes’ first visit to Oxford, as he attended a conference here two decades ago, organized by Winthrop Jordan, who was the William F. Winter Professor of History and Afro-American Studies for more than 20 years.

“It was a terrific experience,” Oakes said. “I enjoyed reconnecting with Professor Jordan, meeting a number of fine historians for the first time and getting to see Oxford, which I thought was a lovely college town.”

An alumnus of Baruch College, Oakes holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been on the faculty of the CUNY Graduate Center since 1997 and the holder of the Graduate School humanities chair since 1998. Before joining the CUNY faculty, he taught at Princeton and Northwestern universities.

Previous Gilder-Jordan lecturers include Barbara Field of Columbia University, David Blight of Yale University, Grace Hale of the University of Virginia, Walter Johnson of Harvard University, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall of the University of North Carolina, Theda Perdue of UNC, Edward Ayers of the University of Virginia, and Rhonda Y. Williams of Vanderbilt University.

Organized through the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the African American studies program, Center for Civil War Research and the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History, the Gilder-Jordan Speaker Series is made possible through the generosity of the Gilder Foundation. The series honors Richard Gilder, of New York, and his family, as well as his friends Dan and Lou Jordan, of Virginia.

UM Updates Alcohol and Other Drugs Sanction Policy

The University of Mississippi has updated its Alcohol and Other Drugs Sanction Policy to reflect an emphasis on education, rehabilitation, and the health and safety of students and the larger university community.

The purpose of this update is to set forth the sanctioning philosophy and range of possible outcomes for students and recognized student organizations found in violation of any university alcohol or drug policy. It mirrors the value the university places on maintaining a safe and welcoming learning environment.

The updated policy will allow university officials to consider each student as a unique individual. Administrators also hope the revised policy will encourage conversations regarding health and wellness and a collaborative educational process regarding alcohol and other drugs with a harm-reduction and early intervention focus. 

“In implementing this update to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Sanction policy, we conducted a thorough review of current campus trends as well as best practices across higher education and decided upon an educational and restorative approach,” said Tracy Murry, director of the Office of Conduct Resolution and Student Conduct.

“This update aims to address individual behavior by the best means available to the institution, which includes conversations with the student, assessment and creative sanctioning that will help a student understand and benefit from the educational process.”

Additionally, UM officials will be able to make decisions about off-campus incidents in the same manner as on-campus incidents. Implementing this change will ensure all students receive timely resources and support and reduce the time between incident and adjudication.

The updated policy replaces the Minimum Sanctions Policy, also known as the “Two Strike Policy,” which was developed and implemented in 2006.

The updated policy states:

Any student or student group found in violation of a university policy regarding the use of alcohol or other drugs shall be subject to a range of possible outcomes that include but are not limited to: expulsion, suspension, probation, suspension of a student groups’ social activities, community service and/or participation in an alcohol/drug education program for which there could be fees or fines.

To determine the appropriate sanction for a particular student or student organization, the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct will consider the totality of the circumstances giving rise or related to the infraction, along with the following factors:

  • the severity of the infraction,
  • the likelihood that alcohol and drug education will minimize the risk of repeat violations,
  • the scope of the damage or harm the infraction caused,
  • the likelihood that substance abuse/misuse education will encourage responsible behavior,
  • the benefits gained from restorative reconciliation where the student or student group: (i) accepts and acknowledges responsibility for the violation and (ii) works to rebuild trust with the university community through positive social behaviors, such as community service and other rehabilitative exercises, and
  • whether the removal of the student or student group from the university community on a permanent or temporary basis is necessary to sustain a healthy and safe campus environment.

The above sanctions are appealable using the university’s published student conduct process. Students who are suspended or expelled from the university should be aware that this action may impact the following:

  • tuition, residence hall costs and fees (suspension does not forgive financial obligations)
  • student financial aid
  • athletics participation and eligibility
  • health insurance (students are encouraged to contact their personal health care provider)
  • university housing
  • meal plan
  • use of university resources and access to university facilities
  • immigration status for international students
  • veterans and dependents of veterans
  • internships, assistantships and study abroad

The above list is not a complete list and does not include all potential consequences for suspension or expulsion.

The university may bring a charge under this policy against any student or student group committing any alcohol or drug-related offense that is otherwise sanctionable under the university’s conduct policy describing the authority and jurisdiction of the university’s conduct system. For students, such offenses include but are not limited to any drug-related crime, public intoxication and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the university is made aware of such offenses.

If the university brings a charge against a student based upon the student’s criminal conviction by any trial court of competent jurisdiction or other court proceeding that includes an admission or finding of guilt, the admission or finding may be accepted as a final factual determination that the student has violated applicable university policy and the sole function of the university’s conduct process will be to determine the appropriate university sanction under this and other university policies.

For more information, contact Tracy Murry at

Micah Everett Takes the Trombone to the People

Thursday performance incorporates serious and whimsical pieces along with multimedia elements

Micah Everett

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi associate professor of music will demonstrate the surprising range and impact of tenor trombone in “I Was Like WOW: Music for Trombone Alone and with Multimedia,” set for Thursday (Sept. 6) evening in Nutt Auditorium.

The 7:30 p.m. program by Micah Everett features music that moves from quirky playfulness to emotional resonance.

The concert will be quite different than a typical wind instrument solo recital in which a soloist is accompanied by piano for “most or the entire program,” Everett said.

“Instead, I will be on stage by myself for the entirety of the hour, performing either unaccompanied or with multimedia of various kinds,” he said.

In an unusual move, half the program includes multimedia elements. Several pieces feature additional audio tracks that add instrumentation and phasing to Everett’s performance.

“I Was Like WOW,” the piece for which the evening’s program is named, “is much more serious than the title might seem to indicate” because it combines “the trombone sound and various vocal and electronic effects with video clips of interviews with Iraq war veterans,” he said. The piece marries music to content and technology in a way that elevates a cultural conversation.

On the other end of the emotional spectrum, “Doolallynastics: A Brief Torture for Solo Trombone” by British composer Brian Lynn is “challenging yet silly,” Everett said. The substantial technical difficulty for the performer delivers a whimsical listening experience for the audience, he said.

“Micah Everett, who has been a member of our faculty since 2012, is one of our most active performers,” said Robert Riggs, music department chair. “He has been extremely successful in recruiting and attracting students to his low brass studio.

“His upcoming trombone recital, with its multimedia components, promises to be a colorful, unusual and highly enjoyable event.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for UM students, available through the Ole Miss Box Office, at or 662-915-7411, or at the door.

Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series to Focus on ‘Sports in the South’

First talk, examining protests in pro football, kicks off Sept. 5

Charles Ross

OXFORD, Miss – The Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi continues this fall with a focus on “Sports in the South.”

All lectures take place at noon on select Wednesdays in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory. They are free and open to the public.

Ted Ownby, the center’s director, said he is excited about this series of talks, both because of what the scholars will say and also because they will show a range of ways of thinking about sports and society.

“I think coming to these events might be especially intriguing for people who may think and talk about sports without having thought about it much as a scholarly subject,” Ownby said. “I hope fans and students of African-American women’s sports, and pro wrestling, and golf and football will come to hear about things they recognize, and we’re also hoping some people will come to the whole series.”

Charles Ross, chair of the UM African American studies program and professor of history and African American studies, kicks things off Sept. 5 with “Protests in Pro Football: The 1965 AFL All-Star Game and Colin Kaepernick.” In his lecture, Ross discusses how African-American players forced the 1965 AFL All-Star Game to be moved from New Orleans to Houston after experiencing discrimination in the segregated Southern city.

Fifty years later, Kaepernick began a protest against police brutality and discrimination in America by refusing to stand for the national anthem. Both events clearly illustrate that African-American players in pro football, then and now, were willing to take action to address inequalities in America.

Ross, a native of Columbus, Ohio, is the author of “Outside the Lines: African Americans and the Integration of the National Football League” and editor of “Race and Sport: The Struggle for Equality On and Off the Field.”

On Sept. 17, Farrell Evans explores the desegregation of golf in the South through the lens of his own journey as a golfer, journalist and student of the American South with “Between the Curling Flower Spaces: Race, Golf and the American South.” Evans intersperses literature, family stories, history, photography and art to demonstrate the centeredness of golf in the unfolding of the civil rights movement. The talk also reflects on the manners, rituals and etiquette of the game that made it perfect for the strict social order of the Deep South.

Evans is a former award-winning golf writer for Sports Illustrated and Golf magazines and The Forsyth, Georgia, native is executive director and cofounder of the Bridge Golf Foundation, a New York City-based nonprofit that uses golf to improve outcomes for young men of color.

Sept. 26 brings wrestling to the forefront when Charles Hughes of Rhodes College, Christopher Stacey of Louisiana State University at Alexandria and Chuck Westmoreland of Delta State University present “Three Histories of Pro Wrestling in the South.” In their talks, Stacey explores “Rasslin’ and Race in the Mid-South and Memphis Wrestling Territories, 1959-1992,” Hughes examines “Pro Wrestling’s Hip-Hop Wars: How Racial and Regional Politics Fueled Wrestling’s 1990s Boom” and Westmoreland focuses on “From Big Bill to Black Saturday: Professional Wrestling and Television in the American South, 1958-1984.”

A brief departure from the sports theme occurs for the first two lectures in October, when Janet Allured looks at “Methodist Women in the South: Agents of Progressive Change, 1939-2000” on Oct. 10. Allured focuses on the influential role that white and black Southern Methodist women played in social reform movements, not just in the South but in the nation.

A professor of history and director of women’s studies at McNeese State University, Allured teaches courses in the history of the New South, Louisiana, American women and the modern United States. She received her doctorate in history from the University of Arkansas in 1989 and is coeditor of “Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times,” vol. 1, with Judith Gentry, and “Louisiana Legacies: Readings in the History of the Pelican State,” with Michael Martin.

In her Oct. 17 talk “Taking the South with Me,” filmmaker Jing Niu discusses her artistic roots and influences in the American South and how her upbringing has influenced her career in the film arts through documentary work, journalism and fiction films.

Niu is a first-generation Asian-American who grew up working in take-out restaurants in the South and who would later, against the advice of her parents, become an artist and filmmaker. Before creating independent films in Los Angeles, she produced videos for Wired magazine, covering stories at the intersection of technology and lived experience.

Sports return Oct. 24, with Amira Rose Davis discussing “Sights Unseen: Black Women Athletes and the (in)Visibility of Political Engagement.” Davis’s talk gives a brief history of black women’s athletic activism while also discussing the ways black women athletes have been hypervisible but also oft-ignored symbols of various political struggles on and off the playing field.

Davis is an assistant professor of history and women’s gender, and sexuality studies at Penn State University who specializes in 20th century American history with an emphasis on race, gender, sports and politics.

The rest of the semester sees a shift to other topics, beginning Oct. 31, when Stephanie R. Rolph discusses her new book “Resisting Equality: The Citizens’ Council, 1954-1989.” She examines the ways in which organized white resistance to civil rights successes went beyond the defense of segregation to become a vital piece of a new American political landscape. Rolph is an associate professor of history at Millsaps College who earned her doctorate from Mississippi State University, where she specialized in the history of the American South.

On Nov. 7, Lisa Richman offers “‘Introducing America to Americans’: FSA Photography and the Construction of Racialized and Gendered Citizens.” Richman is interested in the ways images can reinforce, script or challenge the national imaginary of who is a citizen. Richman is a researcher and teacher at Adrian College with a doctorate in American culture studies from Bowling Green State University.

On Nov. 14, Jeff Washburn, UM doctoral candidate and history graduate instructor, presents “Whose Civilization Plan Was It? Chickasaw Manipulation of Federal Agents in the Early Nineteenth Century.”

Concluding the series on Nov. 28 is Patrick Elliott Alexander with “Writing to Survive, Writing to Revive: Death Row, Willie Francis and Imprisoned Radical Intellectualism in Ernest Gaines’s ‘A Lesson before Dying.'”

Alexander, a UM associate professor of English and African American studies and cofounder of the university’s Prison-to-College Pipeline Program, revisits the Jim Crow-era plot of Ernest Gaines’s novel “A Lesson before Dying” in the more contemporary carceral context of its publication. His lecture reconsiders the cultural significance of Gaines’s most acclaimed novel in light of its release during our post-civil rights era of racialized mass incarceration.

For more information on the Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series or the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, visit

Couple’s Planned Gift to Support Two UM Endowments

Contributions to support scholarly work in Southern food and music

California couple Lynne Ann DeSpelder and Albert Lee Strickland are including in their estate plans support for two endowments supporting the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Lynne Ann DeSpelder and Albert Lee Strickland, of Capitola, California, have partnered on many projects throughout their lives and someday, even in death, their collaboration will continue when their planned estate gift supports two programs at the University of Mississippi.

The husband and wife will leave an estimated $1 million from their estate to Ole Miss, half to the John T. Edge Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance Endowment and half to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture’s Music of the South Endowment.

Other donors might find it morbid to speak of their death in a public news release, but much of this couple’s work and interests have focused on human mortality.

“Our work has mainly been in the area of thanatology, studies relating to death, dying and bereavement,” Strickland said.

Realizing that their unique talents and interests meshed – Strickland is a writer; DeSpelder, a teacher – the two co-authored the college textbook “The Last Dance: Encountering Death & Dying,” which was published in 1983 and is in its 10th edition. Additionally, they are members of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement, an invitation-only forum of members from many countries.

“We greatly appreciate Lynne Ann and Albert Lee’s vision in planning this generous gift as well as their ongoing commitment to the SFA,” 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 gift will honor their parents – Luther Leander Strickland, Bertha Emma Wittenburg Strickland, Bruce Erwin DeSpelder Sr. and Dorothy Jane Roediger DeSpelder – all of whom valued education in different ways.

“My parents were born close to the turn of the 20th century, raised on farms in Arkansas and told me stories about picking cotton,” Strickland said, adding that his mother graduated from high school and his father only had the opportunity to complete sixth grade. “Even so, he taught himself music and became a full-time music instructor with many students during his life.”

DeSpelder said her parents were both college graduates and became educators. Her mother taught first grade, and her father obtained a doctorate and was a professor of business administration at Wayne University in Michigan.

The appreciation for music that Strickland inherited from his father and the CSSC publications Rejoice! and Living Blues contributed to his desire to support the Music of the South Endowment, which is designed to ensure excellence in teaching subjects related to the influence of music on Southern culture.

“I was raised with Southern gospel music, as well as Southern foods, despite being a native Californian,” said Strickland who, starting at age 4, performed gospel music with his parents in churches throughout Southern California.

Recently, his professional interests have been combined with his lifelong involvement in music, resulting in invitations to perform musical concerts in Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy and Canada, as well as several locations in the United States. These performances focused on themes of death, dying and bereavement as expressed in traditional gospel and blues music.

A shared interest in Southern culture led the couple to Ole Miss, where they have attended the Southern Foodways Symposium and developed a close relationship with SFA Director John T. Edge and his colleagues.

“Our affection for Southern culture and for Ole Miss was strengthened by acquaintance with scholars like John Shelton Reed and Bill Ferris, the founding director of CSSC,” Strickland said.

“Albert Lee and I have long been interested in the intersection of food and culture,” said DeSpelder, also a native Californian, who once spent a year traveling the world, exploring foods of many countries and writing a weekly column about her discoveries for The Detroit News.

“Also, we have established friendly relationships with Ole Miss scholars – John T. Edge, Charles Reagan Wilson, Ted Ownby, Lee Cohen, Catarina Passidomo and Mary Beth Lasseter, among others – all of whom are involved in areas of study and community outreach that we find exciting and interesting.”

Ownby said the feeling is mutual: “I have enjoyed getting to know Lynne Ann and Albert Lee at SFA events over the years, and I appreciate the range of their interests in foodways and music and all sorts of topics. Their gift to the Music of the South endowment is an important step in helping us fund a professorship in music and Southern studies, which will be an exciting new addition to our program.”

Edge echoed Ownby’s sentiments: “Lynne Ann and Albert Lee are model SFA members: intellectually curious, engaged and generous. Their gift humbles me and helps secure a strong future for our institute.”

Sharing a similar admiration, Strickland noted, “Most, if not all, of John T.’s books and articles reside in our library and are a testament to the kind of scholarship we want to promote by contributing to the Edge Director Endowment.”

DeSpelder is an educator, author and counselor. As a psychology professor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, she developed and taught one of the first interdisciplinary courses on death and dying. Her first nationally published writing on death appeared in the November 1977 issue of New Age magazine.

Certified by the Association for Death Education and Counseling as a death educator and as a grief counselor, she was instrumental in developing that organization’s Education for Certification program.

Besides producing audiovisual and print resources for death education, she lectures both in North America and internationally to professional, corporate and community groups, and conducts training programs and in-service education for hospices, school districts and health care professionals.

Strickland is a writer whose interests have focused on death-related topics since the late 1970s. His published work includes articles on communication and death and children and death as well as several books on family studies and family life education.

He is a former editor of The Forum Newsletter, published by ADEC. A member of the Authors Guild, he is also working on a screenplay involving religious fanaticism, political shenanigans and nuclear Armageddon.

The John T. Edge Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance Endowment and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture’s Music of the South Endowment are open to gifts from individuals and organizations.

Checks with the fund noted in the check’s memo line may be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655. Gifts can also be made online by visiting or by contacting Nikki Neely Davis, executive director of development, at 662-915-6678 or

University Hosts Third Annual Tech Summit

Leaders discuss key issues, vision for advancing Mississippi forward

At the third annual University of Mississippi Technology Summit, UM alumnus and technology pioneer Jim Barksdale, far left, led a panel titled “Future Opportunities & Challenges in Tech,” which discussed the current trends in technology and what the future might hold. That panel featured, second from left, Nishanth Rodrigues CIO of UM; David Steel of Samsung; John Felker with the Department of Homeland Security, NCCIC; Rob Carter CIO of FedEx; and Kevin O’Toole with Comcast. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.

OXFORD, Miss. – An array of business, government and industry leaders gathered Wednesday in Oxford to discuss the critical intersection of technology and education at the third annual University of Mississippi Technology Summit.

During the event at The Inn at Ole Miss, experts in a variety of fields shared visions of the current state of technology, the future of the ever-changing field and how Mississippi can be best poised to succeed in the ongoing technological revolution.

In his welcome remarks, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter highlighted the interest and commitment to technology shared by Tech Summit attendees.

“You represent a vast array of experiences, and that fits right into the goals of the summit,” Vitter said. “Together, we’re going to explore how we can work in tandem and connect. We can find solutions to problems and discover smart ways to reach our goals.”

Vitter commended U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, guest of honor at the event, for continuing to prioritize policy on the federal level that will help advance Mississippi and its residents.

Acknowledging the “wealth of brainpower” in the room, Wicker urged the group to think about what Mississippi and the university can be doing to be at the forefront of technology information.

“I hope that we build on the information and discussion we had today and come together with some action items to provide opportunities for job growth here in our state,” said Wicker, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. “It makes me so optimistic about what we can do.”

University of Mississippi student Elena Bauer speaks to the crowd at the 2018 UM Tech Summit about her time using technology – specifically virtual reality – to show children across Mississippi worlds they might not have ever seen before. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.

Continuing with the trend of technology’s impact on society and business, Rob Carter, chief information officer for FedEx, discussed the long road of innovation his company has traveled since 1978, when FedEx were envisioning systems that would harness the power of information, including the ability to electronically track a package. 

FedEx was able to develop groundbreaking tools and systems that had a profound impact beyond just the business world through building a culture around the idea of continuous innovation, Carter said.

“We connect people and possibilities around the world, and through that, businesses prosper, communities flourish and people thrive,” Carter said. “We think the connected world is a significantly enhanced world. We think it enables better health care, better education, better access to goods and services.”

The event reinforced the university’s commitment to strengthening STEM education. The summit also complemented many of the university’s recent efforts in this area, including growth of the university’s capacity to address future workforce needs and enhancement of its status as a Carnegie R1 Highest Research Activity institution.

UM’s launch of a transformative research initiative called Flagship Constellations, which seeks to inspire multidisciplinary solutions to some of the region’s and world’s complex problems such as big data and brain wellness, also aligned with the overall goal of the summit.

Some of the successes from these ongoing initiatives came full circle when seven Ole Miss students from a variety of backgrounds took the stage to share how they’ve used technology inside and outside the classroom.

Elena Bauer was born in Champaign, Illinois, but spent her entire childhood living across the United States and Freiburg, Germany. Through her time at Ole Miss and the McLean Institute’s Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative, Bauer has used technology – specifically virtual reality – to show Mississippi children worlds they might not have ever seen.

“We took a virtual reality tour to different places across the world,” said Bauer, of her time working with high students in the Mississippi Delta. “Virtual reality has proven to be an influential educational tool.”

Nick DePorter with LinkedIn speaks during a panel at the 2018 UM Tech Summit titled “Role of Education in Preparing the Workforce,” which discussed the ongoing efforts to prepare today’s students to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.

Bauer said she is passionate about exploring the new and innovative ways that technology can assist workforce development and community engagement across Mississippi. She is working with McLean to build a sustainable job-training program for the Clarksdale community.

Making his first trip to Mississippi, Michael Kratsios, White House deputy assistant to the president for technology policy, provided the lunchtime address. Kratsios shared how he looks at emerging technologies with a great sense of optimism, emphasizing how the U.S. must focus on areas of artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and connectivity. 

Kratsios concluded his remarks by acknowledging that challenges exist and contending that America remains the best place to drive technological innovation because of its culture.

“What makes the American R&D ecosystem unique is our government, industry and academia working in tandem for innovation,” Kratsios said. “It’s not top-down industrial policy.

“We’ve made our greatest discoveries because of our freedom to invent, explore and discover. This freedom, coupled with our strong free market ideals, is a recipe for continued technological leadership.”

Panels throughout the day focused on a variety of subjects.

UM alumnus and technology pioneer Jim Barksdale led a panel examining “Future Opportunities and Challenges in Tech,” which discussed trends in technology and what the future might hold. That panel featured Carter; John Felker, with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center; Kevin O’Toole, of Comcast; Nishanth Rodrigues, the university’s chief information officer; and David Steel, of Samsung.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour led a panel titled “Role of Education in Preparing the Workforce,” which discussed ongoing efforts to prepare students to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce. That panel featured Nick DePorter, with LinkedIn; Hu Meena, of C Spire; Ryan Miller, with the UM Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence; Mike Petters, with Huntington Ingalls Industries; and Noel Wilkin, the university’s provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Allyson Best, director of the UM Office of Technology Commercialization, led a panel on “Technology Applications in Government and Industry,” which discussed recent technology applications and the process of effectively moving discoveries into action. That panel featured Michael Adcock, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center; Kratsios; Art Morrish, with Raytheon; Willie Nelson, of the  U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command; and Olivia Trusty, from Wicker’s office.

“Every aspect of our research enterprise will benefit from this event,” Best said. “The opportunity to hear from leaders in industry and government provides valuable insight and helps us shape our strategies in order to maximize the impact of our efforts.”

For more information on the summit or any of the participants, visit

University Endowment Builds to All-time High of $715 Million

Strong investment returns, generosity of alumni and friends spurs growth

The University of Mississippi’s permanent endowment grew in its latest fiscal year to an all-time high, thanks to generous support from private donors. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s permanent endowment grew in its latest fiscal year to an all-time high of $715 million, thanks in part to the seventh consecutive year of new gifts of $100 million or more.

Private support totaled more than $115.8 million from 30,332 donors, giving the university essential resources to continue providing exceptional experiences for students, faculty, researchers, health care patients and providers, citizens served by outreach efforts, and visitors to all its campuses.

“Private investments are essential to fuel the work of our flagship university,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“The generosity of our alumni and friends ensures the university has resources needed to sustain and expand nationally prominent programs, and it enables us to deliver on our Flagship Forward strategic plan to improve learning, health and the quality of life in Mississippi. We remain grateful and inspired by their support.”

Total private giving to the Oxford campus grew by 6.5 percent over the previous year. Private support for academics increased more than 10 percent. 

Eighty-seven percent of the private giving will provide current funding for donor-directed areas or directly affect those areas, while the remaining 13 percent was added to the university’s endowment, which also grew through returns on its investment strategies.

State support as a percentage of total revenues available for the university’s operations was 12.4 percent, making private support all the more crucial.

“Ole Miss alumni and friends are making major investments that transform students’ lives and continually enhance the quality of our programs,” said Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development. “Gifts to higher education also have a far-reaching impact on the economy of Mississippi and beyond, and the resources ultimately improve the quality of life for everyone.”

Healthy growth of the university’s endowment reflected the increase in funds invested and managed for the university, said Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the UM Foundation. The endowment benefited from a 10 percent return on its investments.

Private giving helps UM maintain margins of excellence in a range of fields across all its campuses. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“The endowment has now reached the historic high of $715 million, and we are on our way to realizing our long-range goal of a $1 billion endowment,” Weakley said. “We are extremely grateful to our donors who provide this permanent stable funding that can be counted on year after year and will advance the university’s mission for generations to come.”

Some of the largest gifts included: $5 million for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College; $4.25 million for several programs including Bridge STEM, Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative, College Ready Literacy, Center for Mathematics and Science Education, First Generation Scholars, Principal Corps, Upstart in the School of Dentistry and more; $4 million for new endowed chairs in geriatrics and palliative care at the Medical Center; $2 million for the College of Liberal Arts‘ departments of mathematics and sciences; $2 million for professorships in surgery and pulmonology at the Medical Center; $1.5 million for expansion of pediatric care at the Medical Center; and gifts of $1 million or more for a faculty chair in the Patterson School of Accountancy, the Flagship Constellations, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss athletics.

Likewise, the Medical Center’s Campaign for Children’s Hospital campaign enjoyed a third successful year with $10 million raised, which brings the total giving in the campaign to more than $66 million toward its ambitious $100 million goal. This campaign supports the construction and renovation of facilities and recruitment of 30-40 doctors and researchers.

Work has begun on a new seven-story, 340,000-square-foot tower adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital that will also house the Children’s Heart Center.

Gifts to the campaign represent “an outpouring of love and support that runs deep and wide across all of Mississippi,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We have outstanding physicians and the best staff, and they have a passion for caring for patients. What we need now are the facilities to match that quality of care.”

Financial resources provided by alumni and friends of the university ensure students will have the tools necessary to be successful. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Ole Miss athletics also enjoyed a successful FY 2018 both on the field and in investments made by alumni and friends. Cash gifts exceeded $30 million for the fourth consecutive year. The Forward Together campaign stands at $176 million, with plans to complete this $200 million campaign in FY 2019.

“Rebel Nation represents one of the most loyal fan bases in college sports,” said Keith Carter, deputy athletics director for development and resource acquisition. “The support shown year in and year out allows us to enhance our facilities to help our student-athletes compete at the highest level, while also providing a high-quality experience for our fans.

“We express our thanks to loyal donors and fans, and we look forward to the upcoming year as we close out the Forward Together campaign and begin new endeavors.”

To make gifts to the university, go to for academics, for the UM Medical Center or for Ole Miss athletics.

Pharmacy School Remembers Anne Marie Liles as ‘Shining Star’ Teacher

School's director of experiential affairs passed away late last week

Anne Marie Liles (third from left) attends a musical performance with colleagues from the School of Pharmacy. Photo courtesy of Scott Malinowski

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy family is mourning the loss of Anne Marie Liles, director of experiential affairs and clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice, who died Thursday (Aug. 23).

Liles was beloved by students and colleagues. Student pharmacists, faculty and staff have expressed how much Liles meant to them as a mentor, friend and pharmacist, many of them noting her constant practice of going above and beyond in every aspect of her work.

“I could never have imagined the impact that Dr. Liles would have on my life,” said Dominique Dairion, a second-year student pharmacist. “Dr. Liles became my role model and one of my greatest supporters. She truly encouraged me to be my best and to get out of my comfort zone.”

Liles was a friend and supporter to all she met, never hesitating to reach out to students to make sure they were doing well, said Mikhayla Harris, a third-year student pharmacist.

“If she hadn’t heard from me in a little bit, she would check on me and see how I was doing,” Harris said. “She always made me feel like the school believed in me and wanted me to succeed.”

In July, Liles accepted the position of director of experiential affairs, a position for which Seena Haines, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, said she was “very well-qualified.”

“Anne Marie shared an intention to advance experiential programs that would maximize our strengths and harness the possibilities of practice experiences, preceptor development and interprofessional education,” Haines said. “Her long history as an academician and her involvement with curriculum assessment aligned very well with the experiential director role.”

Since transitioning into the position, Liles was working to improve program advancement and quality assurance.

“She had a great vision for academia in general, but especially experiential education,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “She did a great job of bringing together the academic and experiential aspects of the curriculum, and that was an important part of the goals she was hoping to achieve in the experiential education program.

“Anne Marie was a delightful person whom I’m going to miss a great deal.”

Anne Marie Liles

Liles was recognized by peers as a national leader in pharmacy practice and had recently been selected to chair the Pharmacy Practice Section of American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. The American College of Clinical Pharmacy announced earlier this month that Liles would be named a fellow of the organization at its October meeting, recognizing the excellence she demonstrated in clinical pharmacy practice.

She was also nationally known for her medication expertise in renal disease and had worked with the Indian government to advance its pharmacy practice in that area.

“She was passionate about everything pharmacy-related and extremely dedicated to her work,” said Kris Harrell, associate dean for academic affairs. “She was always willing to mentor some of the other more junior faculty members.”

After earning her Doctor of Pharmacy from Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy, Liles completed her residency training at the UM Medical Center in Jackson, working with clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice Lauren Bloodworth, as well as then-faculty members Harrell and Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs.

“As a resident, Anne Marie was one of the very best,” Bloodworth said. “I was thrilled to have the opportunity several years later to serve with her as a faculty member at Ole Miss. Throughout her career, she excelled in all things, and I am grateful to have worked with her so closely.”

Liles had a heart for community service and was the adviser for the student group Prescription for Service, helping student pharmacists serve patients in the community and ensure they received quality medical care. A Type 1 diabetic herself, Liles had a special interest in helping diabetes patients manage their condition.

In her role as clinical director of pharmacy health services, she counseled patients with diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases at the Ole Miss Student Health Center. She was instrumental in adding clinical pharmacy services to the health center, including working with a Cough and Cold Clinic that counseled and provided prescriptions to students with minor health concerns, leading wellness efforts and working with the annual immunizations.

“I learned a great deal from Anne Marie as a fellow pharmacy educator, but also from a personal perspective,” said Ross, who oversaw the health center’s clinical pharmacy services when Liles worked there. “She always thought of others, cared for others and supported others – whether it was a student, a patient, a friend or her family.

“How fortunate for our students to have such an outstanding role model.”

Victoria Miller, third-year student pharmacist, credits Liles with inspiring a research project that Miller presented at the American Pharmacists Association meeting earlier this year on evaluating college students’ knowledge of medication.

“I was immediately interested in this topic for my research because of the passion that Dr. Liles showed for helping students in Student and Employee Pharmacy Health Services,” Miller said. “She wanted to do anything she could to make students comfortable and knowledgeable about managing their health.”

Above all, Liles was dedicated to teaching the next generation of pharmacists and advancing pharmacy clinical services.

“She was an advocate for learning and she always encouraged students to understand why and how we treat patients with the pharmacotherapy that is available today,” fourth-year student pharmacist Dylan Ware said. “I will never forget the impact Dr. Liles made on me as student and future pharmacist by asking the questions of why and how.”

“Even when things felt overwhelming, she always reminded me that the patients were the reason for the hard work,” Harris said. “She always had an encouraging word to say to make you feel better. She made it her mission to do whatever she could to help you succeed.”

Outside of work, Liles enjoyed musicals and theater, often organizing groups of faculty and staff to see shows at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and when traveling to national pharmacy meetings.

“She and I bonded instantly because of her warm and welcoming nature,” said Dawn Bradley, the school’s operations coordinator who became close with Liles when they shared an office suite. “She was always positive in every aspect. I could talk for days about Anne Marie.”

Services for Liles were held Monday (Aug. 27) in Birmingham, Alabama. The School of Pharmacy is planning memorial services for later in the fall semester on both the school’s Oxford and Jackson campuses to celebrate Liles’ life and impact on the school.

“Anne Marie was dedicated, passionate, creative, balanced and selfless,” Haines said. “The loss of her presence on both campuses will be missed immensely.

“She is a true shining star and I will be forever grateful to have known and worked with her.”