Barksdales to Give $12.8 Million to Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College


Donna and Jim Barksdale

OXFORD, Miss. – Jim Barksdale, former president and CEO of
Netscape Communications Corp., and his wife, Donna, are
giving $12.8 million to the University of Mississippi to
support and enrich educational opportunities in the Sally
McDonnell Barksdale Honors College

“The generosity and commitment of the Barksdale family have
ensured that the University of Mississippi remains a
premier public education institution,” said Chancellor
Robert Khayat. “This recent gift to the Sally McDonnell
Barksdale Honors College will enable us to continue to
attract the state’s most high-performing students and
provide them with a vibrant center of academic excellence.
We are profoundly grateful to Jim and Donna Barksdale for
their continued support.”


This is Barksdale’s fourth major gift to the SMBHC, which
he, along with his late wife, Sally, helped establish in

“Due to the leadership of Chancellor Khayat and Dean
Sullivan-González, the Honors College has become a center
for academic excellence within the University of
Mississippi, and we are proud to be associated with the
fine faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Honors
College,” Barksdale said. “Through this gift we will expand
the range of educational opportunities provided by the
Honors College, and hope to convince some of Mississippi’s
brightest young minds to call Mississippi their home after

Administered over a five-year period, the funds are to be
used to help the college reach its target enrollment of
1,000 students, expand its course offerings, increase staff
and support student field experiences. A defining
characteristic of the SMBHC, the field experiences enable
honors students to learn and grow personally by traveling
and exploring the world.

“I’ve been so stunned; we are very happy and very excited
about this,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, SMBHC dean.
“This generous gift from Jim Barksdale will enable us to
continue providing an enriched honors experience, as well
as to bring in additional qualified students. We believe
there are many more high-achieving students in Mississippi
who want to enjoy what we offer.”

Part of the funds will also be used to increase the number
of Honors College scholarships from 14 to 21. The new
scholarships are to be awarded to freshmen entering this

“Being a member of the Honors College has truly been a
blessing for me, especially since most of my financial aid
is from the scholarship I’ve received through it,” said
April Smith, a sophomore accounting major from Crenshaw.
“The Honors College has given me so many opportunities I
would not have otherwise had. The professors are engaging,
and I feel challenged every day.”

Dustin Markle, an SMBHC graduate and Barksdale Scholarship
recipient, agreed.

“Personally, I can trace every positive academic experience
I had at Ole Miss to the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors
College,” said Markle, who graduated in 2007 with a degree
in biochemistry and is enrolled at the UM Medical Center in
Jackson. “From the first day as a freshman to the last day
as a senior, I was challenged personally and academically.
My experiences with the Honors College had a direct effect
on getting me where I am today. The Barksdale Scholarship
was a major factor that drew me to the Honors College and
Ole Miss. I appreciate the Barksdales’ generosity, which
has inspired me to strive to give back one day.”

The SMBHC was a key to UM’s successful quest to shelter a
chapter of the prestigious honor society Phi Beta Kappa. In
2005, SMBHC was named by Reader’s Digest as one of the
three finest honors colleges in the nation.

“Outstanding support from alumni, dedicated administrative
staff and superb faculty — this is the recipe for one of
the most successful honors colleges in the country,” said

After earning his bachelor’s degree from UM in 1965,
Barksdale held key leadership positions in some of the
world’s most successful companies, including FedEx and AT&T
Wireless Services. Along with providing funding to create
the SMBHC, Barksdale also established a scholarship program
at the UM Medical Center and founded the Barksdale Reading
Institute and the Mississippi Principal Corps, a program
designed to better train the state’s school principals.

The gift is part of the university’s MomentUM campaign, a
four-year initiative to raise $200 million. The campaign,
which ends in December, already has raised more than $160
million for scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty
support, a basketball practice facility, residential
colleges and a new law school on the Oxford campus. Also in
the plan is a cancer center at the Medical Center.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale
Honors College, including admission guidelines, call
662-915-7294 or visit