UM Alumnus Featured on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Episode airs at 7 p.m. Monday on NBC

Josh Butler, pictured with is wife Katie, son Braxtel (right) and photograph of their son Dewey. Butler will compete on American Ninja Warrior on NBC Monday night. Submitted Photo

University of Mississippi alumnus Josh Butler will showcase both his athletic ability and inspirational story Monday (Aug. 7) on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”

Butler, a 2010 Ole Miss graduate originally from Jackson, has trained for the challenging obstacle course program over the last three years and auditioned three times before being asked to compete in the show’s ninth season.

“I have obstacles in my backyard that I built, I’m a member of a rock climbing gym and I’m a member at a regular gym, too,” Butler said. “I have always been active, though, and participated in pretty much every sport.”

However, Butler and his family have conquered many other obstacles over the last three years. In 2015, his wife, Katie, gave birth to their first son, Dewey, but he was born with an unbalanced translocation of chromosomes, causing breathing problems.

After 132 days in Vanderbilt’s Children’s Hospital, their son died.

The Butlers then decided to help care for other children. In 2016, they fostered their now-adopted 3-year-old son, Braxtel, who was born with chronic respiratory failure and breathed through a ventilator until recently.

The Butlers are also foster parents to three other children, who they hope to make permanent members of their family later this year.

“My wife and I are a team, and having a home health nurse at the house most days of the week helps us have a ‘break’ for things like training,” he said. “I wake up before everyone else to exercise and train. I also use my lunch breaks to fit in a workout.

“While Dewey was alive and in the hospital, it was a hard decision to leave his NICU room to train, but I knew that I needed to take care of my own health, too, to be the best dad to him.”

Butler said it has been his dream to compete on “ANW.”

“I love that the show showcases the whole person, not just the athletic side, by including their inspirational back stories,” he said. “I also want to share how faithful God is even in the midst of tragedy. He has a plan, and we trust him.”

Tune in to NBC at 7 p.m. Monday to hear more about Butler’s inspiring story and watch him compete for a $1 million prize.

Miss University to Compete for Miss Mississippi Title

Leah Gibson and 10 other Ole Miss students vie for the crown this week in Vicksburg

Miss University Leah Gibson and 10 other Ole Miss students will compete for the title of Miss Mississippi this week in Vicksburg. Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

By Saturday (June 24), judges will have worked their way through 44 contestants and crowned the 60th Miss Mississippi.

Miss University Leah Gibson and 10 other Ole Miss students are among the contestants. The diamond anniversary of the 2017 Miss Mississippi pageant begins Wednesday (June 21) with preliminary competitions throughout the week in Vicksburg.

The top 10 advance to compete for the crown beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Gibson will represent the University of Mississippi as reigning Miss University. A 2017 graduate, Gibson earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism in May.

Ten other Ole Miss students will also vie for the crown: Miss All-America City, Asya Branch; Miss Parade of Beauties, Blair Wortsmith; Miss DeSoto County, Charley Ann Nix; Miss Tupelo, Dana Wesley; Miss Riverland, Joy Addison; Miss Amory, Kasey Pearson; Miss Pine Belt, Lizzie Wicks; Miss Rolling Hills, Macken’z Smith; Miss Heart of the South, Mary Katherine McCaa; and Miss Southern Magnolia, Mary Margaret Hyer

The final round will air live on WLBT in Jackson, WTVA in Tupelo, WABG in Greenville, WGBC in Meridian, WLOX in Biloxi and WMC-TV in Memphis.

Be sure to tune in to cheer on all our Ole Miss contestants!

And the Echo Performs Sunday for Summer Sunset Series

Performances continue through June in the Grove

And the Echo is set to perform on the Grove stage Sunday (June 11) evening as part of the Summer Sunset Series. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum, in conjunction with Visit Oxford and other local organizations, is hosting live music in the Grove each Sunday in June for the Summer Sunset Series.

The museum presents the popular synth-pop duo And the Echo at 5 p.m. Sunday (June 11). The Oxford-based group draws influence from ’80s bands such as Duran Duran and describes its style as similar to Depeche Mode with a smooth and emotive female vocalist.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to the free event and picnic in the Grove before the music.

The series also will feature Americana group Rocket 88 on June 18 and acoustic group Black Water Trio on June 25.

Other sponsors include the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Visit Oxford, the Ole Miss Student Union, Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce, and the divisions of University and Public Events and University Communications.

For more information, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu/summer-sunset-series/.

SEC Storied Premieres ‘The Rebel’

Former Ole Miss basketball star Johnny Neumann is the subject of film debuting May 30

OXFORD, Miss. – Former University of Mississippi basketball star Johnny Neumann is the subject of ESPN Films’ next chapter of “SEC Storied.” The installment, titled “The Rebel,” premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday (May 30) on the SEC Network.

Neumann led the nation in scoring in 1971 during his sophomore season – his only season – at Ole Miss.

He left college early to begin a professional basketball career and returned in 2013 to finish his studies. Neumann graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in general studies, with minors in journalism, recreation administration and legal studies.

The film includes interviews with Paul Finebaum, Woody Paige and Hubie Brown and is directed by Paul Carruthers.

For Neumann’s story, click here and be sure to tune in Tuesday to SEC Network.

Awards Ceremony Highlights UM Staff Appreciation Week

Annual celebration recognizes employees for years, excellence in service

UM employees enjoy sharing plants and stories during the annual plant swap during Staff Appreciation Week. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Most of us as University of Mississippi employees anticipate the arrival of annual Staff Appreciation Week. It’s somewhat like an extended break period from the regular routines we all engage in daily.

Starting Monday (May 15), staff members can choose from a variety of events to enjoy at their leisure. Of all the activities scheduled, perhaps the awards ceremony on Friday (May 19) is what those honored find most gratifying.

The program begins at 9 a.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts with recognition of all employees hired within the past year. Then, long-standing employees will be presented keepsakes in recognition of five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 30-plus years of service to the institution.

Before the program ends, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter will present a select few employees with Outstanding Staff Awards. Gazel Giles, Staff Council president, will also present service awards. Recipients of these honors are given monetary rewards as well as the traditional plaque.

Other activities scheduled during the week include:

  • Monday (May 15): lecture on “Plants that Work Well in Your Yard” at 10 a.m. in the Yerby Center Auditorium, an 11 a.m. kickoff to a healthy week in the Manning Center, bicycle maintenance at the Ole Miss Bike Shop starting at 4 p.m. and aqua aerobics at the Turner Center pool beginning at 5:15 p.m.
  • Tuesday (May 16): a blood drive at 9 a.m. in the Grove, a first aid and CPR class at 10 in Yerby Center auditorium, a 4 p.m. Zumba class in front of the Grove Stage and aqua aerobics again at 5:15 p.m.
  • Wednesday (May 17): the blood drive continues at 9 a.m., a 10 a.m. music and meditation service in Paris-Yates Chapel and a 2 p.m. introduction to belly dancing in the Yerby Center auditorium.
  • Thursday (May 18): a 10 a.m. plant swap in the Grove, a 12:30 p.m. yoga and yogurt in a location to be announced and aqua aerobics at 5:15 p.m.
  • Friday (May 19): the awards ceremony, an 11 a.m. staff lunch at Rebel Market and fun time beginning at 1 p.m.

As one who received my 10-year certificate in 2016, I urge everyone who can do so to attend Friday’s awards ceremony. Whether you’re being honored or not, showing support for your fellow employees will make both you and them feel great!

Don’t miss all the other great events either. Hopefully, I’ll see you around campus during the week!

Top 10 Stories on Ole Miss News in 2016

Year-end recap reveals which headlines had the most views

If you are a regular follower of Ole Miss News, then you probably have read most – if not all – of the 10 most popular stories in 2016. However, in case you missed anything – or simply want to read them again – here’s the list according to which stories had the most views:

10. UM, Oxford Again Ranked Among Nation’s Best and Most Beautiful (3,836 page views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/construction-projects-continue-transform-campus/

9. Construction Projects Continue to Transform Campus (4,006 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/construction-projects-continue-transform-campus

8. UM Gets Custom Commencement Regalia (4,285 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/um-gets-custom-commencement-regalia

7. Ten Seniors Awarded Hall of Fame Honors (4,477 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/ten-seniors-awarded-hall-of-fame-honors/

6. Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein’s Prediction (4,498 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/gravitational-waves-detected-100-years-after-einsteins-prediction/

5. UM Student Union Remodeling Project Making Progress, Major Changes (4,671 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/um-student-union-remodeling-project-making-progress-major-changes/

4. Clayton Overcomes Addiction, Homelessness to Earn UM Degree (5,079 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/ricky-claytons-diploma-hard-earned/

3. UM Welcomes Most Accomplished Freshmen Class Ever (6,621 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/um-welcomes-accomplished-freshmen-class-ever/

2. UM Graduate Named to Forbes ’30 Under 30′ List (8,354 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/55460-2/

1. Watch Vaught-Hemingway Expansion via Construction Cam (53,759 views) – https://news.olemiss.edu/vaught-hemingway-north-end-zone-expansion-underway/

Well, that’s it for 2016! Happy holidays and be sure to continue following us on Ole Miss News!

 

Ole Miss Students Partner with Oxford Church to Help Flood Victims

Ole Miss student and Oxford-University United Methodist Church Members visited Baton Rouge over Labor Day weekend to provide relief for flood victims.

Ole Miss students and Oxford-University United Methodist Church members visited Baton Rouge over Labor Day weekend to provide relief for flood victims.

Most people spend their Labor Day lounging around, enjoying the last days of summer. But eight determined University of Mississippi students spent their holiday weekend lending a helping hand to our Louisiana neighbors recovering from devastating floods that struck the area last month.

Connor King, Kate Prendergast, Bailey Grace Elkin, Ali Roberson, Carlie Vowell, Elizabeth Weathersby, Shannon Hendricks and Shelby Loftis made the trek to Baton Rouge on Sept. 2 in a van supplied by Oxford-University United Methodist Church. Church member Ashley Allen organized the trip, with King taking the lead to get students involved.

Allen was a victim of flooding in northern Louisiana in 1991, so she feels a special connection to those who have lost everything.

“It’s not easy to get back on your feet when everyone who would normally have your back are facing the same devastation,” she said. “I have several friends who currently live in Baton Rouge and saw how desperately people needed help. More than a check written, they needed real, physical help.”

She understood the need and didn’t hesitate to organize the mission trip with the help of Ole Miss students.

“They were all amazing,” she said. “The houses were hot and the work was dirty and smelly and hard. Although we were all wearing masks, I could see that they smiled through the work. I never heard a complaint, but encouragement and excitement over the progress we were making.”

Loftis, a sophomore accounting major from Nashville, said it was important to her to help others in need.

“It is tragic when something of this caliber happens, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it,” she said. “I just wanted to help out in any way I could.”

The group brought wheelbarrows, shovels, pry bars, hammers, scrapers drywall saws, gloves, eye protection and filter masks to help remove flood damage to two Baton Rouge homes. As a team, the crew stripped drywall, pulled out appliances and removed nails, screws and damaged trim so crews can begin the rebuilding process on damaged homes.

“I had never participated in a natural disaster relief mission trip before, and as soon as I found out that OU was going to Baton Rouge to help with flood relief, I knew I just had to go,” said Carlie Vowell, a sophomore international studies and economics major from Martin, Tennessee.

“It is so important to help those in need because you never know when you could be the next victim of a natural disaster. Attending this mission trip allowed me to experience an atmosphere and circumstances that I had never before experienced.”

The students and participating community members were provided a place to sleep, shower and eat by the First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge during their stay.

“I felt it was important to participate in this trip because this was something that we could spend our time doing that would actually impact our world,” said Weathersby, a sophomore finance major from Greensboro, North Carolina. “Even though the wake of this disaster was so large and seemingly impossible for us to help, we were able to help a few people and make a difference for them.”

In two days of work, the team demolished two houses to prepare them for the next phase, Allen said. She added that she’s already planning to make two additional relief trips later this year.

“While those two houses are a tiny drop in the bucket of the work left to be done, that’s two families who got the help they desperately needed,” she said.

Join Ole Miss Campus Recreation for the Annual Glow Fun Run

Glow-Run-FINAL-214x300The University of Mississippi Department of Campus Recreation is gearing up for the third annual Glow Run, coming up Sept. 1 on campus. Everyone is invited to participate.

The free 4-K fun run begins at 9 p.m. in front of the Lyceum, but festivities begin at 8 p.m., with a Zumba fitness session. Campus Rec will provide free glow sticks and glow bands to all runners, and the first 100 participants to arrive get a free T-shirt.

The fun run is not timed, and all walkers and runners age 14 and up are welcome.

To register for the run, click here. For more information, email ttdavis@go.olemiss.edu.

Guyton Drive Closed to Through Traffic

The three-way stop sign at Guyton Drive and Fraternity Row has moved to Fraternity Row and West Road. Guyton Drive no longer connects to Fraternity Row. New stop signs have been installed at Rebel Drive and Fraternity Row and at the four-way stop at Rebel Drive and the north entrance to Guyton Drive, including the rerouted road going to the back of Kinard Hall.

Ford Center’s Fall Lineup Filled with Variety

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of shows this fall. Photo by Kevin Bain.

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of shows this fall. Photo by Kevin Bain.

The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts has a season schedule that does not disappoint, featuring something for everyone, including children’s shows, a critically acclaimed comedian and musical performances.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up this fall:

– “The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth Tour” by Lewis Black, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 – For the first time ever, the Ford Center will host a comedian. Lewis Black, known as the “King of Rant” for his comedic yelling, will discuss the madness of life, including current events, politics, social media and everything else that irritates him.

Tickets are $50 for the orchestra and orchestra pit level, $40 for the parterre, mezzanine and balcony levels and student tickets are $20, thanks to the Student Activities Association.

– “Fame – The Musical,” national touring production, 7:30 p.m. Sept.29 – This musical, developed from the Academy Award-winning movie and Emmy-winning television series that followed, explores the ups and downs of young artists trying to catch their big break in music, dance and theatre.

Tickets range from $57 to $69.

– Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 – This Grammy-winning group is known for is niche in capturing styles of music from around the world. Their variety of works includes everything from French Renaissance dances and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 to Brazilian favorites and American classics.

Tickets range from $22 to $30.

– “The Princess and the Pea,” Virginia Rep on Tour, 3 p.m. Oct. 8 – The beloved tale by Hans Christian Anderson is brought to life for children and adults alike as this musical tells the story of acceptance, love and true happiness.

Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children.

– Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” University of Mississippi Choirs with Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 – This musical collaboration based on medieval Latin poems is one of the best-known cantatas of the 20th century, as it has risen to be as popular among concertgoers as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. You’ve likely heard the theme “O Fortuna” in countless commercials and movie trailers, but this live combination of musical styles will be a treat for the ears.

Tickets range from $19 to $25.

– “Miracle on 34th Street,” 3 p.m. Dec. 3 – This classic holiday tale is a favorite for the whole family. Based on the 1947 movie, the musical tells the story that begins as Kris Kringle fills in for Santa Claus at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Tickets range from $34 to $46.

Meanwhile, the Ford Center will also host its annual Gingerbread Village from Dec. 1 to 16, so stop by and get lost in a candy wonderland before the show!

Tickets to all events can be purchased online here or at the UM Box Office, inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

For the full lineup of scheduled events, visit http://www.fordcenter.org.