Award Recipients to be Recognized During Black Alumni Reunion Gala

Alumni Association to present slate of honors at sold-out event

Donald Cole

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Alumni Association is recognizing 13 distinguished alumni as part the University of Mississippi’s 2018 Black Alumni Reunion.

The awards include the Dr. Jeanette Jennings “Trailblazer” Award, The Rev. Wayne Johnson Community and Civic Award, the Alumni Achievement Award and the Celebrated Athlete Award.

The Alumni Association hosts a sold-out gala for the honorees at 6 p.m. Saturday (March 3) at The Inn at Ole Miss. Leadership, lifetime achievement and legacy awards also will be presented at the event. 

“The Black Alumni Reunion, as well as the gala, have grown tremendously,” said Kirk Purdom, the association’s executive director. “The 2018 awards gala will be our largest ever, and it offers an opportunity to celebrate history and honor some outstanding alumni, in addition to providing classmates a great opportunity to reunite.”

The Dr. Jeanette Jennings “Trailblazer” Award recognizes Ole Miss alumni who served a vital role in the progress of black faculty, staff, alumni and/or students on the Ole Miss campus. Jennings came to UM in 1970 as the university’s first black faculty member.

Jacquline Vinson

Donald Cole (PhD 85) and Jacquline Vinson (BBA 01, MA 10) are the 2018 recipients.

As the university’s assistant provost and associate professor of mathematics, Cole plays an active leadership role in policymaking, teaching, research and diversification at UM. More than 40 minority doctoral degrees in a variety of disciplines are attributed to his grants, teaching and mentorship.

Vinson is project coordinator for the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation IMAGE program and co-principal investigator of the Bridge STEM program. She was married to the late Theopolis P. Vinson and continues her husband’s legacy on the Ole Miss campus with a scholarship endowment in his name for minority students in the School of Education.

Dr. Rashad Ali

The Rev. Wayne Johnson Community and Civic Award recognizes exceptional service by Ole Miss alumni through commitment to their community in a civic, ministerial or volunteer capacity. An Oxford native, Johnson was instrumental in founding the Oxford Development Association.

This year’s recipients are Dr. Rashad Ali (MD 85), Barbara L. Howard (BA 92, MEd 94) and Reginald H. Turner (BBA 92).

Ali, who has more than 27 years of experience as an OB-GYN physician and is a highly regarded surgeon, is chief executive officer of the Family Health Center of Laurel. He continues to show his concerns for health care in Mississippi by collaborating with the nonprofit housing organization Community Connections Inc., and has contributed more than $250,000 to ensure that quality housing is available to qualified residents of south central Mississippi.

Barbara L. Howard

Howard is founder and director of Hearts Desire Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides educational resources to the community. One of her major projects is the Books to Prisons Ministry, where she provides Christian literature to prison libraries for incarcerated men and women. She is an assistant professor at Jackson State University and author of the books “Wounded Sheep: How to Calm a Storm” and “Wounded Sheep: How to Heal Church Hurt.

Reginald H. Turner

Turner has more than two decades of experience in academia as a professor, academic dean, chief academic officer, chief student affairs officer and, ultimately, as president of Westwood College-Northlake in Atlanta. He has earned numerous awards including Adjunct Faculty of the Year, Staff Member of the Year and Administrator of Year. Turner has been inducted into Morehouse College’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. International Collegium of Scholars and awarded a congressional medal for Outstanding Community Service.

The Alumni Achievement Award recognizes Ole Miss alumni for exceptional achievement in their chosen professional field. This award acknowledges the entrepreneurial spirit, corporate prowess and dedication to succeed exemplified by alumni or former students.

Rose Jackson Flenorl (BAEd 79) and Markeeva Morgan (BSEE 01) are recipients of this award.

Rose Jackson Flenorl

Flenorl has more than 30 years of experience in marketing, communications and corporate social responsibility, starting her career at IBM. She has worked in corporate communications for FedEx for 17 years and has earned numerous awards, including the FedEx Five Star, the Memphis Urban League J.A. McDaniel Award and the Dress for Success Woman of Courage Award. Flenorl was the first black female named to the student Hall of Fame and was chosen by Glamour magazine as one of the top 10 college women in the United States.

Markeeva Morgan

Morgan is a senior manager for avionics, guidance, navigation and control, and software at the Boeing Co. after serving nearly two decades in military and federal civil service. He is a PMI-certified project management professional who teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in management, leadership and organizational theory at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Morgan is pursuing a doctorate in systems engineering from George Washington University.

The Celebrated Athlete Award recognizes former Ole Miss student-athletes or coaches for success in the field of athletics after their UM tenure. This year’s recipients are Peggie Gillom-Granderson (BSW 80), Terrence Metcalf (BBA 16) and Robert “Ben” Williams (BBA 76).

Peggie Gillom-Granderson

Gillom-Granderson led the Ole Miss women’s basketball team to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women State Tournament Championships in 1978 and ’79. She is Ole Miss’ all-time leading scorer with 2,486 points and rebounder with 1,271 rebounds, and also served 16 seasons as an assistant coach to Van Chancellor. As an assistant coach for USA Basketball, she helped guide the 1999 U.S. Pan American Games team to a bronze medal and the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Terrence Metcalf

Metcalf, a fan favorite on the Ole Miss Rebel football team from 1997 to 2001, is assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Pearl River Community College. He was selected the 2001 SEC Most Valuable Lineman and was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American in 2001. Metcalf was inducted in the Class of 2017 SEC Legends. After playing seven seasons with the Chicago Bears, he finished his pro career in 2010 with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

Robert ‘Ben’ Williams

Williams played defensive tackle for the Rebels from 1972 to ’75 and led the team as co-captain in 1975. A three-time first-team All-SEC pick, he was voted first-team All-American in 1975 and named to the Ole Miss football Team of the Century in 1993. His 18 quarterback sacks in 1973 set a Rebel record. Williams was named to the student Hall of Fame, Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities and was elected Colonel Reb by the student body. After graduating, he compiled an outstanding career with the NFL Buffalo Bills.