Gift from Late Alumnus Supports the University’s Future

UM business and educations schools, athletics program to benefit from planned gift

Dick Atkins (center) enjoys an Ole Miss pre-game party with sister-in-law Mary Jo Morgan and good friend Lee Thurner of Corinth. Photo courtesy Don Morgan

OXFORD, Miss. – Friends and family members of the late Richard E. “Dick” Atkins, of Corinth, describe the University of Mississippi alumnus as “uncommonly gracious and generous.” These character traits are substantiated by Atkins’ desire to bequeath financial support to his alma mater.

The UM Foundation recently received a gift of $100,000 from Atkins’ estate, portions of which are designated to support scholarships within the School of Business Administration, the School of Education and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“It’s in his personality that he would want to give scholarships because that would help change lives for students, and helping people was always his heart’s desire,” said Atkins’ nephew, Jeff Brawner of Corinth. “He acknowledged that God had blessed him in his life and he felt it was his responsibility to try to bless others.”

Atkins, who played bass drum in the Pride of the South marching band, graduated from UM with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1965.

“Mr. Atkins’ gracious gift has enabled us to establish an endowment in his name,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “The Richard E. Atkins Memorial Scholarship will honor him in perpetuity while ensuring that generations of our students receive financial assistance to support their education. We greatly appreciate his gift.”

After earning his degree, Atkins returned to Corinth, where he taught junior high and high school students, first at Gift Community School and later in the Kossuth school system. While at Kossuth, he met and married fellow teacher Betty Gwyn Atkins.

“Dick Atkins obviously had a deep interest in quality education, and his gift will go a long way toward ensuring that we provide that to our students,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “We are very grateful for his foresight in naming the School of Education as a recipient of his planned gift.”

Changing careers in 1972, Atkins joined Gould Inc. – later to become Vendo Inc. – as personnel manager. After seven years, he began a third career as administrator at Alcorn County Care Inn, which later became Mississippi Care Center. He served in this capacity for 20 years, retired briefly and returned to work in 2001 as a director of acquisition and development for J&A Management, a property management company.

Atkins retired permanently in in 2009.

A tireless volunteer and community supporter, Atkins was a Rotarian, serving as president, and a Paul Harris Fellow. He served on the boards of directors of United Way, the American Red Cross, the Boys Club, the Corinth Welfare Association (president) and the Mississippi Health Care Association (vice president, secretary and treasurer).

Throughout his life, Atkins was an avid Rebel fan.

“We spent about the last 30 years going to football games,” said Don Morgan of Corinth, Atkins’ brother-in-law and close friend. “Every game day, we would get up before daylight and leave for Oxford and then spend the whole day in the Grove.”

 The two even spent six months designing and building a rolling cart that easily converts into a picnic table, a contraption that became the envy of their neighbor tailgaters.

“The thing about Dick that I remember mostly was that he was just so loyal,” Morgan said. “It didn’t matter what Ole Miss was doing, he was always so supportive.

“He was never negative about anything when it came to the school. He really, really loved Ole Miss. Dick was just a wonderful person, and we really miss him.”

Because of his loyalty, Atkins supported the university consistently through the years.

“On behalf of Ole Miss athletics, I’m grateful to devoted Rebel fans like Dick Atkins who want to see our program continue to excel and grow,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “Mr. Atkins’ gift to the Vaught Society will give our student-athletes and coaches the opportunity to succeed at the highest level.”

Atkins also was active in his church, where he gave financial support to many ministries and served as a deacon and later as an elder, a Sunday school teacher and a faithful 60-year member of the sanctuary choir.

Though Atkins had no children, youth in his community considered him a surrogate grandfather, often turning to him for a sympathetic ear, a comforting hug, wise advice or even an afternoon snack.

For information on designating a deferred gift to Ole Miss, contact Sandra Guest at 662-915-5208 or

Major Gift Will Assist Freshmen Entering UM

Buddy Shaw establishes scholarship to provide opportunities for Mississippi students

Ole Miss yearbook editor Buddy Shaw (left) and Jimmy Parkin, yearbook business manager, review the layout for the 1950 edition. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Throughout his life, University of Mississippi alumnus Buddy Shaw has been a giver. He has given of his time, his possessions, his money and his talents. His giving spirit even extended to being a matchmaker for his college roommate.

“Buddy Shaw is responsible for the wonderful life I’ve had,” said Betty Dunn of Nashville, Tennessee, the coed in question. “I met Buddy the first day I was on campus. I walked to the dormitory on move-in day, and he was there meeting all the girls.

“He said, ‘Betty, you sure are cute but I’ve already got a girl, so I want you to meet my roommate. I think you all are made for each other.'”

One blind date later and the then-Betty Prichard had met the man of her dreams, Winfield Dunn, to whom she’s been married for 66 years.

“So how about that? Do I owe my life to Buddy or not?” Betty Dunn exclaimed. “It’s been fantastic!”

Shaw hopes his recent gift of $110,000 to establish a scholarship at the university will similarly create fantastic lives for generations of Ole Miss students. The Norman E. Shaw Scholarship Endowment is available to full-time entering freshmen from Mississippi, selected on the combination of high merit and financial need.

“Mr. Shaw’s generous gift is a testament to how much he cared for the University of Mississippi and his desire to help improve the lives of those around him,” said Denson Hollis, UM director of development. “His gift will be very much appreciated for years to come.”

Recipients may retain the scholarship up to eight semesters while on good academic standing.

“I hope it will give people who really want to go to college and are bright students the chance to have a good education like Ole Miss gave me,” said Shaw, a 1950 UM graduate from Jackson who has lived in Corsicana, Texas, since 1968.

Shaw remembers the Sunday afternoon in September 1946 that he arrived on campus, having spent the summer after high school with his grandmother in Los Angeles, where he went sightseeing and danced to bands such as the Dorsey Brothers, Stan Kenton and Les Brown, featuring a 21-year-old singer named Doris Day.

Shaw enrolled at Ole Miss at the time hundreds of young World War II veterans were returning to college.

Buddy Shaw

“We swelled from 1,100 students to 3,100 and the men were 8-to-1 over the women. So we had no trouble getting dates with the ladies. Nobody but Blind Jim ever had more fun at Ole Miss than I did,” Shaw recalls, referring to James “Blind Jim” Ivy, a peanut vendor on campus known for his 60-plus years of enthusiastic loyalty to Ole Miss athletics.

Shaw plugged himself into campus life wherever possible. He was editor of the yearbook, a cheerleader who nearly froze on the sidelines of the Rebels’ win over Texas Christian University, and a member of the Cardinal Club and Kappa Alpha fraternity. He also performed with various university choirs and other singing groups.

He recalls good times with one group in particular: “Winfield Dunn, Sam Allman from Gulfport, Mississippi, John Gautier from Pascagoula, Mississippi, and I got together for hamburgers one night at the drive-in out on the highway and founded the world famous Kappa Alpha Quartet. We had more fun with that thing. We sang wherever anybody wanted to hear us.”

His senior year, Shaw was inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society and was named to the Hall of Fame.

“Buddy is a unique person,” Winfield Dunn said. “He is a great athlete in that he plays excellent golf and he is devoted to certain things in life.

“One of them is the printed word, and the most important that I know of, other than his church and his marriage, is the University of Mississippi. He loves Ole Miss and has had a very positive relationship with the university from the time he was editor of the annual until this very day.”

After college, Shaw took a job with Benson Printing Co. in Nashville, where he met the woman who would become his wife of 60 years, the late Gloria Davitt Shaw. The couple had two daughters.

Shaw was employed by Benson Printing for 18 years, becoming partner before moving the family to Corsicana. There, he worked as a partner and executive vice president with the world-renowned Collin Street Bakery, famous for its fruitcakes and, more recently, for Grandma Shaw’s Pecan Pie.

“My mother got to be legally blind and after Dad died, I moved her down here to Texas from Jackson and I said, ‘Mother, we need a good pecan pie recipe and yours is the best. Can we have it?'” Shaw said. “So we got together in my kitchen after church and she did a pinch of this and a pinch of that and I said, ‘No, Mother, we’ve got to make 500 of these things at once,so we better get it in the computer.”

The Collin Street Bakery sells more than $500,000 worth of his mother’s pecan pie each year.

Shaw retired in 1998, having served as a board member for Data Dallas Corp. and the Ole Miss Alumni Association. He also served as president of the Corsicana Country Club, the YMCA and the Chamber of Commerce.

The Norman E. Shaw Scholarship Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visit; or contact Denson Hollis at and 662-915-5092.

Chi Omega Chapter Makes Generous Gift to Benefit Women’s Health

First major private contribution to Ole Miss Student Health Center will enhance services

The Tau Chapter of Chi Omega has committed a major gift to the University of Mississippi Student Health Center to establish a women’s health initiative. Some of the members gather to mark the creation of extended health services for their fellow students. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Fellow students’ health and well-being have captured the attention of the University of Mississippi’s Chi Omega sorority chapter, which has committed $250,000 to establish a women’s health initiative extending the services of the campus Student Health Center.

“Our chapter is thrilled about our new philanthropy endeavor,” said Tracy Buchanan of Oxford, the Tau Chapter philanthropy adviser. “When we discussed it at a chapter meeting, the vote was unanimous to proceed.

“There was even one member who cried because she was so excited about us taking the stand for women’s health.”

Enrollment on the Ole Miss campus has grown by 62 percent over the past decade, increasing the need for expanded student services of all types.

UM Vice Chancellor of Development Charlotte Parks praised the chapter for making the first major private gift directed to the Student Health Center.

“Chi Omega members have shown exceptional leadership by recognizing a need within our campus community and committing to be part of the solution,” the vice chancellor said. “We want our students to embrace a spirit of service and philanthropy as an important part of their lives. The Chi Omega gift will greatly enhance health options for young women.

“In choosing to support a women’s health initiative as well as the university’s new William Magee Center for Wellness Education, the chapter has put its tangible imprint on the Oxford campus and our students’ health and well-being. Chi Omega has set an inspiring example for all of us.”

Chapter president Anne Watkins Tyson of Columbia, South Carolina, said members are eager to see their private support begin to help fellow students.

“When the idea of making a commitment for a women’s health initiative came about, all the members of Chi Omega were really excited and supportive,” Tyson said. “I think their interest in this project came from the fact that it will benefit women’s health across our campus. We are thankful that we get to play a little part in such a positive addition to our community.

“Sometimes donations are made and you never see where it goes, but with this project, we will be able to see long-term results. We will witness Ole Miss changed for the better for our daughters, friends, sisters, granddaughters and so on.”

With the growing enrollment, the university’s Student Health Center records almost 22,000 patient visits each year. Physicians, nurses and other staff provide acute care, diagnostic services and physical therapy for students. Referrals are made to other medical specialists when appropriate.

Dr. Travis Yates, director of the center, said the staff was “surprised and honored” to learn of the Chi Omega gift.

“This gift is just outstanding – a real honor – and it will enable the center to expand services for our female population,” Yates said. “We currently have a physician and a nurse practitioner who have a particular interest in women’s health needs.

“The gift could be used to help procure additional diagnostic equipment, expand our staff or possibly enlist the services of a gynecologist.”

The sorority’s gift directed to women’s health follows two others totaling $37,500 from the chapter and the Chi Omega House Corp. supporting the William Magee Center for Wellness Education, which will open in the university’s new South Campus Recreation Center during the 2018-19 academic year. The contribution was intentionally planned during a period that gifts to the center were being matched by Ole Miss athletics, bringing the impact to $75,000.

The Magee Center’s programming will provide a heightened focus on drug and alcohol education and prevention.

“How proud of Tau Chapter of Chi Omega am I, both as an initiate of this chapter and as Chi Omega’s former national president,” said Mary Ann Fruge of Oxford. “One of our national founding and guiding principles is philanthropy. Tau Chapter, joined by both collegiate and alumnae Chi Omegas across the country, take to heart the message of lending a helping hand where needed.

“Women’s health issues at Ole Miss are such a need. How commendable it is that Tau Chapter is coming forward in a bold and generous way to help meet this need.”

The sorority previously focused its attention on supporting Make-A-Wish, the Gardner-Simmons Home of Tupelo and scholarships. Named for Chi Omega members Margaret Gardner and Robin Simmons, who lost their lives in an accident, the Gardner-Simmons Home provided 26 years of service to young women in need before closing its doors in 2014.

According to Buchanan, the Tau Chapter will continue fundraising for Make-A-Wish but will add the women’s health initiative to its ongoing philanthropic projects.

“The chapter has wanted to do something on campus for a while,” she said. “For 26 years, our philanthropy was the Gardner-Simmons Home in Tupelo that was established after the Chi Omega (walkathon) accident in March 1987.

“When the Gardner-Simmons Home closed, we sought another initiative, in addition to supporting our national philanthropy of Make-A-Wish and fully funding several scholarships that were set up to memorialize Chi Omegas. Our goal was to identify something that would not only benefit the women of our chapter, but also the women of Ole Miss.”

The Chi Omega Women’s Health Initiative accepts gifts from individuals and organizations. For more information, contact Brett Barefoot, development director for parents and family leadership, at or 662-915-2711. Checks can be sent to the University of Mississippi Foundation with the initiative’s name noted in the check’s memo line at 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or online at

Top Stories on Ole Miss News in 2017

Year-end review reveals significant, widely-read headlines

The Ole Miss softball team celebrates a huge win over LSU on May 13th, 2017 in the championship game of the 2017 SEC Tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

As 2017 draws to a close, we are pleased to share highlights of stories from Ole Miss News.  While we would quickly run out of room if we tried to share the more than 600 stories we produced in 2017, here is a nice sampling of great things that happened across our campuses: 

Be sure to check out our year in review in photos to see all these stories, plus so much more. 

Well, that’s it for 2017! Happy holidays and be sure to continue following us on Ole Miss News to stay up-to-date on all the exciting things happening at the University of Mississippi!

UM Youth Summer Camps Release 2018 Schedule

Outreach offers special option for holiday gifts, several new camps for K-12 students

Ole Miss student Maggie Craze (right) helps participants at STEM Camp for Girls launch paper rockets they designed and constructed. The camp is among several popular offerings available for next summer, and the Office of Pre-College Programs is offering gift certificates for the holidays. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Office of Pre-College Programs can help make holiday shopping easier this year by offering the gift of a fun, educational experience. Gift certificates are available for a slate of 2018 academic summer camps designed for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“These camps give students the opportunity to explore new academic fields and find out which area interests them the most,” said Ari Lugo, UM pre-college programs counselor.

Several community members jumped at the idea of giving a class last December, Lugo said.

“These academic experiences can help to jumpstart academic and lifelong careers,” Lugo said. “That’s an amazing gift.”

Registration is open for more than 25 summer programs offered to students in grades K-12 beginning in late May 2018 on the Ole Miss campus. There are monthlong, two-week and one-week camps to choose from. Some programs also offer options for students to stay on campus overnight or commute each day from home.

The popular “Rebel Quest” day camps for rising first- through sixth-grade students will host weekly sessions from June 4 to July 27. Each week includes a new theme to help shape learning opportunities and fun activities. Parents are encouraged to register as soon as possible as space fills up quickly for each week.

Academic one-week camps have increased for 2018. The new lineup was expanded to inspire students with different interests.

“We know that students can be very busy in the summer months and may not have a full month to dedicate to a program,” said Ellen Shelton, director of pre-college programs. “These various shorter camp options allow students to have an engaging academic experience and explore the Ole Miss campus with a smaller time commitment.”

Middle school students can enjoy the popular Game Development, STEM Camp for Girls, STEM Camp for Boys, Engineering Camp and many more. These one-week camps allow students to explore an academic field and make new friends while enjoying campus life.

The 2018 lineup of one-week camps for high school students has been expanded to offer even more classes for a broad range of interests.

“The Art of the Story” is a one-week camp set for July 23-27 that explores the work of Oxford’s most notable author, William Faulkner.

The “Young Naturalist” experience July 8-13 for rising 11th and 12th graders is for students who want to get their hands dirty. Those interested in environmental science and biology will be at the UM Field Station throughout the week conducting experiments and fieldwork.

The new “Young Women’s Empowerment” camp, also set for July 8-13, will explore the importance of women in leadership positions. Women leaders from various careers and walks of life will help lead discussions and guide students as they shadow them in their careers.

The full list of one-week camps can be found at

For high school students looking to get a head start on college, Summer College for High School Students and JumpStart program for incoming freshmen are now taking applications.

These camps allow students to come to campus for one month over the summer and get a head start on their college courses. Students can receive college credit in one of the numerous academic tracks to choose from, including computer science, engineering, health professions, pre-pharmacy, journalism, integrated marketing communications, intelligence and security studies, legal studies, liberal arts, or one of numerous intensive foreign language programs.

To find out more about the Office of Pre-College Programs’ Summer 2018 schedule, including a full list of classes, dates and costs, as well as gift certificate and payroll deduction information, visit, email or call 662-915-7621.

Committed Community Servants Honored at University

'Hickman girls' pay tribute to parents' lives, examples with two scholarships

Known while growing up as the ‘Hickman girls,’ Jenny Hickman Poole (left), Debbie Hickman Little and Lisa Hickman Tollison have created two scholarships at the University of Mississippi to pay tribute to their parents, Dewey and Will Hickman, pictured in the portraits. Photo by Heather Cosby Poole

OXFORD, Miss. – The late Dewey and Will Hickman were known for their committed service to the University of Mississippi and the state’s other universities, the Oxford-Lafayette County community and its economic development, local schools, their church and – most of all – their three daughters.

“Our parents led by example, with the message being to us that demonstrating love and loyalty to each other is an important value,” said daughter Jenny Hickman Poole of Batesville.

Those daughters – known around Oxford as the “Hickman girls” – are expressing that affection and devotion by establishing two scholarships at Ole Miss to pay tribute to their parents. Poole and sisters Debbie Hickman Little and Lisa Hickman Tollison, both of Oxford, have funded the Will A. and Dewey C. Hickman Memorial Law Scholarship Endowment for full-time students in the School of Law who are Mississippi residents and have financial need.

The second scholarship is the Will A. and Dewey C. Hickman Memorial Scholarship Endowment designated for full-time students who are community college transfers and Mississippi residents with financial need; first preference will be given to students in the School of Business Administration.

“When we lost our parents, we knew we wanted to do something for these special people who did so much for others,” Poole said. “Their love for Ole Miss was so strong and such an important part of their lives that establishing something at the university in their names seemed appropriate.”

“Our parents left a wonderful legacy of dedication and service, which we want to memorialize with this gift,” Little said.

The designation of the new scholarships models the Hickmans’ paths in higher education. After losing his father at the age of 12, Will Hickman, a native of Monticello, attended Hinds Community College on a basketball scholarship while doing custodial work on campus. Meanwhile, Dewey Hickman graduated as salutatorian of Meadville High School and enrolled at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

“They educated three daughters, who earned degrees from Ole Miss, and were instrumental in educating their seven grandchildren,” Tollison said. “Although we were blessed, not everyone gets the same opportunity to receive a formal education. Our parents would be very pleased to know these scholarships will aid other young men and women.”

Will Hickman, a senior law partner with Hickman, Goza and Spragins, made far-reaching contributions as part of the leadership on the board of trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for 13 years, where he served a term as president. The IHL is the governing body for policy and financial oversight of Mississippi’s eight public universities.

His experience in desegregation and civil rights cases within public schools and with Ole Miss made his service “valuable” on the board of trustees during the Ayers case, a civil rights case that sought to correct inadequate funding for Mississippi’s three historically black universities, Little said. “My dad was an advocate for educational opportunities for everyone.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter praised the daughters for choosing to honor their parents through student scholarships.

“Dewey and Will Hickman were outstanding alumni who will always be part of this university,” Vitter said. “We are extremely grateful to their daughters for this gift of scholarships bearing their names and reflecting their parents’ strongly held belief in extending educational opportunities to others.

“Will Hickman provided transformational leadership and service to the IHL board that will be felt for generations of students attending Mississippi’s eight public universities. Likewise, Dewey Hickman was a source of unwavering support to her husband throughout this meaningful service and also worked tirelessly to strengthen Ole Miss, local schools and other institutions. Their generous spirit could be seen in that they often opened their home for Ole Miss events.”

Hickman also was uniquely poised to influence the community as the board attorney for the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, Oxford School District, Oxford-Lafayette County Hospital and Northeast Mississippi Electric Power Association. He was president of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and the North Mississippi Industrial Foundation, as well as chairman of the education committee of the Oxford Economic Development Foundation.

Will Hickman served in the U.S. 5th Army, commanded by Mark Clark, in the Italian theater during World War II, fighting all the way to France. Afterward, he enrolled in Millsaps College, where he met the love of his life, fellow student Dewey Cobb. After graduation they married, moved to the Oxford campus and lived in the “Vet Village” while Hickman earned his law degree from Ole Miss.

Dewey Hickman taught school in Abbeville for five years and earned a master’s degree in business administration from UM. They had planned to move back home to south Mississippi but chose to remain in their adopted hometown of Oxford.

Will Hickman served Oxford as mayor pro tempore and as an alderman for two terms. Appreciation for his contributions was recognized in 1986 when he was honored as Oxford’s Citizen of the Year. Hinds Community College named him Alumnus of the Year in 1988. He was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the university in 1996. The Ole Miss School of Law selected him as its 1998 Alumnus of the Year.

“They fell in love with Ole Miss and Oxford,” Little said. “They were the typical Southern couple, stately and courteous. Mom was the serious one, and Dad had an excellent sense of humor. He was a good man to have on your team.

“Dad always gave credit to Mom whenever he was recognized. Mom was the creative, behind-the-scenes person. She had a servant’s heart and wrote notes of encouragement to people all her life. They believed the family unit to be critical, with Dad often saying, ‘If you don’t maintain close family ties, you’ve lost something that will be difficult to regain.'”

Poole said the words that come to mind when describing her parents are “commitment, hard work, determination, giving and family.”

That family also includes their three sons-in-law: Ray Poole, Larry Little and Grady Tollison.

Dewey Hickman was named Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Oxford. She taught business communication at Ole Miss for a year. She was active in the community and the First Presbyterian Church for many years. Leadership positions included chair of the Easter Seal Campaign, secretary of the Lafayette County Library Board, member of the V.F.W. Auxiliary and the Oxford Army Advisory Committee and president of the Cosmopolitan and Oxford Garden clubs.

“Our parents were heavily involved in all our activities,” Poole said. “They drove us to everything – cheerleading, Girl Scouts and more. They gave so much of their time and resources to the community but they were always present for their daughters.”

Both the Will A. and Dewey C. Hickman Memorial Law Scholarship and the Will A. and Dewey Hickman Memorial Scholarship Endowment are open to accept gifts from individuals and organizations. Send checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund(s) noted in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online at

For more information contact William Kneip, development officer for the College of Liberal Arts, at 662-915-2254 or

Pharmacy Professor Becomes Graduate School Associate Dean

Robert Doerksen is former director of medicinal chemistry graduate program

Robert Doerksen

OXFORD, Miss – Robert Doerksen, associate professor of medicinal chemistry, is the new associate dean of the University of Mississippi Graduate School. As of Monday (Dec. 11), he will manage the Office of the Graduate School and assist with expanding graduate education initiatives.

A faculty member in the School of Pharmacy since 2004, Doerksen has mentored graduate students for many years. He spent the last year as the director of the graduate program of the medicinal chemistry division within the school’s Department of BioMolecular Sciences.

Doerksen said he has long been interested in graduate studies, even spending time as an undergraduate reading about the history of higher education in Western society.

“Since then, I have loved the idea of how important and valuable it is to educate students to the highest level in a wide range of subjects,” Doerksen said.

As part of his new responsibilities, Doerksen also will supervise key staff members in the Graduate School, coordinate the Graduate Council and help ensure all aspects of graduate education run smoothly, including recruitment, admissions, finances and records.

“We must focus on improvements in quality, quantity and diversity of graduate students and of graduate degree programs, while also enhancing the sense of community and commitment across campus for administrators, faculty, students and staff,” he said.

In addition to his work at Ole Miss, Doerksen has experience with graduate education at various institutions, including Regent College, University of New Brunswick, University of California at Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania and National Pingtung University of Science and Technology in Taiwan.

During his time at the pharmacy school, Doerksen has twice won the school’s Faculty Service Award, as well as the Faculty Instructional Innovation Award. In July, he was recognized as one of the school’s four Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

“I expect that Robert’s extensive experience as a graduate student mentor will be transformed into fresh ideas and programs coming out of the Graduate School,” said Kristie Willett, chair of the biomolecular sciences department. “The Graduate School and its initiatives to recruit, support and reward our graduate students are essential to the success of an R1 university like the University of Mississippi.”

Although Doerksen said he has “very much enjoyed” teaching professional and graduate courses, he will greatly reduce his teaching responsibilities to focus on the new position.

“I will always be involved in the informal teaching that goes with being an adviser to members of my research group, including postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate students,” Doerksen said. “This is the kind of teaching that I think is at the heart of a great university.”

Doerksen was selected based on his experience teaching and mentoring graduate students, as well as the “breadth and depth of his vision for graduate education” at UM, said Christy Wyandt, interim Graduate School dean.

“Robert has been a key member of our faculty for many years, as can be seen by his record of service, teaching and research success,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “He has a clear commitment to graduate education that will serve the university well.”

Doerksen aims to continue the success of the Graduate School and seek out ways it can contribute to the university and to society.

“I don’t want to overlook the importance of maintaining a well-functioning graduate school with its many moving parts,” Doerksen said. “At the same time, I dream of ways that we can improve graduate education at the University of Mississippi.”

Applied Sciences Honors Students of the Month

Quitley Lee and Jangwoo Jo recognized for academic excellence

The UM School of Applied Sciences has named Jangwoo Jo (left) as its Graduate Student of the Month and Quitley Lee as Undergraduate Student of the Month for November. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences has named Jangwoo Jo of Seoul, South Korea, as its Graduate Student of the Month and Quitley Lee of Tupelo as Undergraduate Student of the Month for November.

Jo is pursuing a doctorate in nutrition and hospitality management. After completing his undergraduate degree at Seoul National University in fashion, clothing and textiles and working for six years in the fashion industry, he earned his master’s degree in hospitality and retail management at Texas Tech.

He joined the UM doctoral program after working for an international grocery store chain in Memphis.

“Every time I ask Jangwoo to do anything related to his field or not, he handles the responsibility beautifully,” said Georgianna Mann, assistant professor of nutrition and hospitality management. “If there is something he does not know about, he is more than willing to go out of his way to learn and is so appreciative of the learning experience.”

Among his many scholarly interests, Jo is focused on bringing analytical techniques from other disciplines to the hospitality industry, including application of data envelopment analysis and activity-based costing to restaurant menu analysis. He also is researching the application of text-based, big-data analytics to online reviews for the medical tourism industry.

Ultimately, Jo wants to continue a career in research and teaching when he completes his terminal degree.

Lee is in her final year of undergraduate studies in social work at the university’s Tupelo regional campus, having completed her associate degree in psychology at Itawamba Community College.

“Quitley was elected by her peers to serve on the Student Social Work Organization both her junior and senior year and currently serves on as president,” said Shane Robbins, UM instructor in social work. “She also serves as a student representative on the community Stop-the-Hurt Committee and is helping lead a silent auction at their April conference to raise money for child abuse prevention

“As the president of SSWO, she led an effort to raise over $1,300 through several fundraisers. She is leading and organizing efforts to help fund four outreach events this fall, including gift baskets for the elderly at a nursing home neighboring the Tupelo campus and community service projects for the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services in Lee County, the local domestic violence shelter and blankets for the area homeless population.”

Lee, a nontraditional student, has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout her academic career at Ole Miss and plans to begin work next fall on a graduate degree in social work at Union University.

The School of Applied Sciences calls for nominations by faculty and staff throughout the school to recognize students for extraordinary scholarship, leadership and service. Nominations should be emailed, along with a nomination form, by the fifth of each month to

For more information about the School of Applied Sciences, visit

University Researchers Discover Key Ingredient for Skin Care Line

Products include UM's patented aloe vera extract

David Pasco (left) and Nirmal Pugh have studied the chemistry of aloe for many years. Their work led to the discovery of aloeride, an immune-enhancing extract patented by the university. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Scientists at the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research spend much of their time working to discover new pharmaceutical products, botanical dietary supplements and agrichemicals. Once in a while, however, discoveries made at the center benefit something a little more cosmetic.

Among other things, ongoing NCNPR research on botanicals led to the launch of a skin care line called Sustainable Youth brand products, owned by Woodcliff Skincare Solutions Inc. The key ingredient is Alasta brand aloe product, a patent-pending ingredient that includes aloeride, an immune-enhancing extract patented by the university.

“Aloeride’s activity is predominantly derived from aloe’s bacteria,” said Nirmal Pugh, principal scientist at NCNPR who worked on the discovery of aloeride with other Ole Miss researchers. “As with all plants occurring in a natural state, aloe has communities of bacteria.

“Aloe’s beneficial bacteria produce immune-enhancing components that we concentrated to create the aloeride that Woodcliff uses in Alasta.”

At the time of the discovery, Pugh was working as a graduate student with David Pasco, now the associate director of the UM natural products center.

Pasco, who has studied the properties of aloe for more than 20 years, observed that the active components in aloeride were beneficial for skin health. That information was used to guide clinical studies and product development for aloeride.

Sustainable Youth brand products contain a compound discovered and patented by researchers at the UM National Center for Natural Products Research. Photo courtesy Woodcliff Skincare Solutions Inc.

Once NCNPR published the team’s findings, a cosmetics industry executive approached the center about licensing the extract. After licensing aloeride, cosmetic expert formulators combined it with other ingredients to create Alasta brand aloe product, which can be applied topically.

“This kind of discovery is indicative of the commercial and medical potential of natural products, and is just one example of the impact of NCNPR’s research,” said David D. Allen, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy.

Alasta brand aloe product is at the center of all Sustainable Youth brand products, said Mary Coon, a brand development consultant with Woodcliff.

“The Sustainable Youth collection includes five innovative, clean, anti-aging skin care products, all made with organic and natural ingredients purposefully selected for their ability to enhance Alasta’s properties for healthy-looking skin.”

University officials are “thrilled” to see the product line on the market, said Allyson Best, UM director of technology management.

“We appreciate Woodcliff’s commitment to transforming this UM discovery into a commercialized product,” Best said. “This is another great example of maximizing the impact of our research enterprise.”

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

For more information on research programs at the center, visit

Using an exclusive selection of proprietary technologies, Sustainable Youth from Woodcliff Skincare Solutions has developed a collection of topical anti-aging formulas that offer a unique, differentiated experience. Each product features the clinically-proven Alasta active complex, rich antioxidants and a natural preservative alternative, resulting in a 99.7 percent organic proprietary formulation with synergistic effects.

For more information on Sustainable Youth brand products, go to

New Scholarship Pays Tribute to a Faculty Member’s Service

Fund honors late chair emerita of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

During her retirement reception in 2016, Lennette Ivy and her husband, James, smile as UM Provost Noel Wilkin (left) discusses her longtime service to the university. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – A new scholarship within the University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences will honor the late Lennette Johnson Ivy, professor and chair emerita of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Established by her husband, James Ivy, and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the scholarship, once endowed, will provide travel support for first- and second-year graduate students, as well as faculty, attending state and national conferences. The funds also will support the department’s annual Fall Institute Lecture.

“The endowment will provide historical context to and long-term recognition for the contributions that Dr. Ivy made to the department and focuses on support to help students be successful professionals,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of School of Applied Sciences.

“The funds will help students majoring in communication sciences and disorders to have the opportunity to travel to professional conferences and to help provide support to bring nationally recognized leaders to present at the CSD Fall Institute, a student-led continuing education event.”

Gloria Kellum, vice chancellor emerita of university relations and professor emerita of communication sciences and disorders, described Ivy as “a loving and happy person” who always had a smile, a tear or a hug to share when most needed.

“I had this wonderful relationship with her,” Kellum said. “First I taught her as a student, then I worked with her as a colleague, but best of all, she was my friend.”

Ivy joined the Ole Miss faculty in 1990 as a part-time clinical supervisor. During the course of her 26-year career, she served the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders as a clinical supervisor in speech pathology, assistant professor, associate professor and interim chair.

“She was that person who had a deep appreciation,” Kellum said. “She had that extra oomph to her because she was extremely committed to being the very best that she could be.”

Under Ivy’s leadership, enrollment in the department’s undergraduate and graduate programs grew significantly, with more than 56 graduate students and 400-plus undergraduates. In 2011, the graduate program was reaccredited nationally under her watch, and master’s degree graduates in speech-language pathology experienced a 100 percent employment rate.

The department also saw significant increases in the number of full-time faculty, clinical supervisors and clinical services offered for speech, language and hearing impaired individuals in north Mississippi.

Ivy obtained a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation to establish a preschool laboratory and specialty clinic for hearing-, speech- and language-impaired children, as well as transition class for kindergarten children with speech, language and hearing disorders that interfere with literacy skills. She also established an in-house server and computer lab.

“Lennette supervised students and she was able to establish wonderful relationships with students, so she was really able to have a lot of empathy, but at the same time a high standard,” Kellum said. “She also had wonderful networks nationally that have benefited the program by expanding our opportunity to work with diverse groups.”

James Ivy, of Oxford, said he is proud not only of the contributions his wife made to the university and community at large but also looks forward to the potential impact the endowment will have on the School of Applied Sciences, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and its students.

“Lennette’s main goal was to always make sure her students were exposed to as much of the profession as possible,” Ivy said. “She wanted Ole Miss students to be the best out there. She would be honored and humbled at the same time.”

A native of Booneville, Ivy earned her doctorate in audiology and speech pathology from the University of Memphis, a master’s degree in communication disorders from Ole Miss and a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Mississippi Valley State University.

Formerly a certified teacher in Mississippi, she also was a licensed speech-language pathologist, held an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech-language pathology and was an awarded dyslexia screening consultant. Ivy also worked as a speech-language pathologist in the Oxford School District, PRN speech-language pathologist at NovaCare (Heritage Manor) in Holly Springs and a graduate research assistant at the University of Memphis.

A respected clinician and teacher in her field, Ivy was the principal investigator on at least seven federally and state-funded projects totaling more than $418,818 She made presentations at more than 26 professional conferences and symposiums, and also co-authored at least six peer-reviewed journal articles and two book chapters.

“Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Lennette Ivy knew that she had a genuine care for people and valued the relationships and friendships in her life,” said Matthew Porchivina, development director for the School of Applied Sciences. “This endowment will hopefully reflect and do justice to the dedication and passion she put into the university.”

Individuals and organizations may make gifts to the Lennette Johnson Ivy Legacy Fund by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting or contacting Matthew Porchivina at 662-915-1584 or