UM Section of American Chemical Society Honored for Book Club Program

Group wins ChemLuminary Award for engaging activity

April Steen and Ryan Sessums (UM Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate students) participate in an ACS book club meeting.

UM chemistry and biochemistry graduate students April Steen and Ryan Sessums participate in an ACS book club meeting.

The University of Mississippi’s local section of the American Chemical Society has been awarded the 2015 ChemLuminary Award for its Common Reading Experience program.

The award, for “Best Activity or Program in a Local Section Stimulating Membership Involvement,” honors the Ole Miss section’s dedication to member development and outreach through book club activities. More than 60 people participated in the program that allowed members to meet and discuss the scientific, historic and social aspects of the books distributed to the club.

The books “Warmth Disperses, and Time Passes,” “The Alchemy of Air” and “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” consistently drew in at least 30 participants in the discussions, including many students and young faculty members.

Susan Pedigo and Nathan Hammer, faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, organized the program. The feedback from members has been extremely positive, and many members want to continue the program in coming years, said Jason Ritchie, councilor of the Ole Miss Local Section and UM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Pictured (left to right): Martin Rudd, Chair of the ACS Committee on Local Section Activities; Jason Ritchie (UM Chemistry), John Wiginton (UM Chemistry), Ed Movitz (UM Health and Safety), Donna Nelson, President of the ACS

On hand for the awards are (left to right) Martin Rudd, chair of the ACS Committee on Local Section Activities; Jason Ritchie, UM professor of chemistry and biochemistry; John Wiginton, instructional associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Ed Movitz, UM research and environmental compliance officer; and Donna Nelson, ACS president.

“It worked out very well,” Ritchie said. “Rather than coming to local section meetings and listening to guest lectures, members participated in a common reading experience and shared their thoughts and what they learned with each other. We learned that members really enjoyed this new social meeting model and were excited about continuing it.”

Ole Miss Local Section Chair Jared Delcamp, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, became involved in the local section during these book club activities.

“I found the book club program to be exceptionally useful in meeting ACS members I had previously had few interactions with,” Delcamp said. “Providing a central discussion focus through the provided books made approaching members I had not interacted with exceptionally simple.

“Through this program, I developed friendships across several Ole Miss departments while reading some interesting books.”

Through partnerships with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Ole Miss Local Section of the ACS advertised the activity through flyers, class announcements and emails to all graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in chemistry, as well as to area chemistry professors and scientists.

Isom Center, UM Pride Network Organize Inaugural LOU Pride Weekend

The inaugural LOU Pride Weekend will be held May 5 to 8.

The inaugural LOU Pride Weekend will be held May 5-8.

OXFORD, Miss. – The inaugural Lafayette-Oxford-University Pride Weekend is set for May 5-8 throughout the city of Oxford and the University of Mississippi.

The event, organized by the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, the UM Pride Network and other student groups, is designed to create inclusive and welcoming spaces for the LGBTQ communities of Lafayette County, Oxford and Ole Miss.

Here is the full schedule of events:

Thursday (May 5)

Code Pink – The weekend festivities begin at Proud Larry’s at 9 p.m. with a dance party, featuring UM student DJs Gogo and Special K, DJ Sgrotesque and DJ Such & Such. There will also be a special dance performance called “Square Secrets” by Hinge Dance Company, Hip Hop Rebs and Ole Miss Student Dance. The event is for ages 18 and older and there is a $5 cover charge.

Friday (May 6)

Lavender Graduation – This inaugural ceremony, held by the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement and other campus partners, will celebrate LGBTQ students graduating from the university this spring. The ceremony is slated for noon in the Ole Miss Student Union Ballroom.

GoDiva’s Eleganza Extravaganza Drag Show – Proud Larry’s will host this event, featuring drag performers Aubrey Ombre, Freaknasty, Krymson Scholar, Baby Holliday and GoDiva Holliday. The 9 p.m. show is for those 18 and older, and tickets are $5 at the door.

Saturday (May 7)

The inaugural LOU Pride Parade will stroll through Oxford. The parade will begin forming at 2 p.m. in the Ford Center parking lot and begin at 2:30 p.m. The route moves from Presidential Debate Way to University Avenue, around the Courthouse Square and back to the University Depot by way of Jackson Avenue. All are welcome to march in the parade or line the route in support of the LGBTQ community.

Sunday (May 8)

LOU Pride Weekend will conclude with a final event at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Shelter on Van Buren will host “LGBTQ Shorts: Struggles and Celebrations of Being Out in the Deep South,” sponsored by the Crossroads Film Society and Oxford Film Festival.

For more information about LOU Pride Weekend, visit

Winners Show Intense Athleticism at Rebel Man Sprint Triathlon

Billy Tune, 37, and Michele Kisel, 35, claimed first place overall in their respective male and female categories at the 11th Annual Rebel Man Sprint Triathlon.

More than 200 participants registered for the April 3 event, hosted by the University of Mississippi Department of Campus Recreation. Ninety competitors were female, 121 male and seven participants were under age 18, all competing for the best time while showing amazing athleticism.

Each participant completed a 440-meter swim at the Turner Center natatorium, a 22-kilometer bike ride through the Ole Miss campus and Oxford, and a 5.5-K run through campus.

Kisel, resident of Cordova, Tennessee, led the female category and completed the race in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 32 seconds, followed by Damie Roberts, 38, at 1:18:48, and Liz Alford, 28, at 1:26:2.

Tune, from Memphis, completed the race in 1:7:2. Right behind him were Doug Earthman, 29, at 1:7:20, and Phillip Young, 30, at 1:7:36.

Ole Miss Campus Recreation hosts multiple events throughout the year to encourage campus and the surrounding community to stay active. For a full schedule of events and more information, click here.

UM Theater Students Draw Attention to Water Issues

Performance part of National Water Dance 2016

Department of Theatre Arts dance students are drawing attention to water issues such as the need for clean drinking water and rising sea levels.

Department of Theatre Arts dance students are drawing attention to water issues such as the need for clean drinking water and rising sea levels.

Dance students from the University of Mississippi Department of Theatre Arts are participating in National Water Dance 2016, which draws attention to water issues such as the need for clean drinking water and rising sea levels.

They will take that movement to Mud Island River Park in Memphis for a performance that’s free and open to the public, slated for 2:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday (April 16).

“The students participating are amazing,” said Jennifer Mizenko, UM professor of theater arts. “They’ve been rehearsing the movement material that will be used since the first week of February.”

Ole Miss students Cynthia Bauer, Taylor Blair Caton, Austyn Davis, Karen Anne Patti, Raymond (Ray J) Brown, LaDarius Lee, Kaleb Mitchell, Genevieve Walker and Drew Wheeler are participating in the event.

National Water Dance is a collective of dance artists and educators stretching from coast to coast, and its project focuses on the Mississippi River.

“We are creating a ‘movement choir’, a simultaneous, site-specific performance of dancers and movers of all ages and experience, to bring attention to the pressing issues of water in the United States,” the group’s mission statement says.

“National Water Dance believes that our environment is the most urgent issue of this generation and that artists need to take the lead in addressing it. As dancers, we want to use our bodies to create a community that cries out for action.”

The group says the Mississippi is often thought of as muddy but not appreciated for everything it does. The river links the nation together through its tributaries.

The group celebrates the wild areas along the river, but members also want to call attention to the threat of poisoning the river with chemicals through agricultural runoff from the farms alongside it. They also want to draw attention to the consequences of attempting to tame the river and make it go where mankind wants it to go.

A 15-person shuttle bus from Oxford to Memphis will be available for the performance. The cost to ride is only $2, which will be donated to the UM Green Fund. Riders are asked to register online here. The Memphis event will also be streamed live on the National Water Dance website.

UM’s Eighth Annual Green Week Begins April 16

Campus, community organizations collaborate for weeklong series of sustainability-focused events

Green Week 1

The University of Mississippi’s eighth annual Green Week celebration, coordinated by the Office of Sustainability, is set for April 16-24.

Established in 2009, Green Week features a variety of interactive events that allow UM students, faculty, staff and Oxford residents to explore ways to live a more sustainable life and the importance of doing so.

“Green Week is a collaborative effort among university and community organizations to raise awareness about the importance of living in a sustainable way with a focus on humans’ relationships to the natural world,” said Lindsey Abernathy, project manager in the Office of Sustainability. “The schedule is designed to include a variety of topics, ranging from a panel discussion on the lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan – which will tie in social sustainability – to events like the Tree Trail Walk and the Earth Day Yoga Hikes, which combine wellness with environmental sustainability.”

A cornerstone of the Green Week schedule is the Earth Day keynote address, delivered this year by Linda Hogan, a Native American poet and author with a focus on environmental issues, indigenous culture and tribal history. Hogan will speak at 7 p.m. April 21 in the Overby Center Auditorium.

Events throughout the week are hosted by groups including the environmental studies minor, Department of Campus Recreation, UM Garden Club, Landscape Services and Sustainable Oxford. The event schedule includes:

Saturday, April 16
2:30-3:30 p.m. – Mississippi River Water Dance, Mud Island River Walk, Memphis

Monday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 19
10 a.m. April 18 and 1 p.m. April 19 – Tree Appreciation Walk, meet at Quad fountain

Tuesday, April 19
6 p.m. – “End of Suburbia” film screening, also featuring the short film “Food for Thought, Food for Life,” Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network and Sustainable Oxford office, 68 Highway 334

Wednesday, April 20
10 a.m.-2 p.m. – Sustainability Fair, Ole Miss Student Union Plaza

4 p.m. – “Something in Our Water: Perspectives on Flint, Jackson and Environmental Racism in America” panel discussion, Overby Center Auditorium

Thursday, April 21
11 a.m. – Brunch and Bloom free lunch, UM Campus Garden (behind Residential College South)

7 p.m. – Earth Day Keynote Speech: Linda Hogan, Overby Center Auditorium

Friday, April 22
7:30-9 a.m. and 5:30-7 p.m. – Guided Earth Day nature and yoga hikes, South Campus Rail Trail

Noon – Arbor Day Tree Planting, Lyceum Circle across from Brevard Hall. Take home an Ole Miss champion tree seedling while supplies last.

Sunday, April 24
6-8 p.m. – Sustainable Oxford Forum and Potluck, Powerhouse. Bring your best chili, gazpacho, soup, puree or juice blend to share.

Each event is designed to be informative and interactive. The Mississippi River Water Dance at Mud Island expands the scope of Green Week beyond the Lafayette-Oxford-University community. Presented by the UM Department of Theatre Arts with support from the UM Green Fund, the performance features student dancers using their art form to bring awareness to important water issues such as clean drinking water and rising sea levels. A shuttle from campus to Memphis is available.

The Tree Trail Walks, led by UM arborist Nathan Lazinsky, allow students, faculty and staff to develop a deeper understanding of the importance of trees on the Ole Miss campus. During this year’s Arbor Day Celebration, seedlings from the giant catalpa tree near the Ole Miss Student Union, a Mississippi Champion Tree, will be given away, allowing participants to take home a piece of the campus’ natural legacy.

The annual Sustainability Fair will feature local vendors and organizations such as farmers, campus and community groups, and local food vendors. Participants will have opportunities to earn prizes as they learn about resources for sustainable living.

“One of the most fun events is the Sustainability Fair that takes over the Union Plaza,” said Kelli Coleman, a junior biology major from Texas and 2016 Green Week Coordinator. “It’s a great way to learn about what is going on at Ole Miss and in Oxford and how you can get involved.”

For more information about Green Week and the Office of Sustainability, visit or email

Assistance Available Through Friends of the Children Fund

The Friends of the Children Fund provides financial support to University of Mississippi employees and full-time students whose dependent children require medical treatment for serious medical conditions.

Although no funding is available for medical expenses, the fund can provide partial support for costs such as airline tickets, meals, lodging or child care fees for other legal dependents who reside in your household.

“Funds are available to assist faculty, staff and students with nonmedical expenses associated with treatment of their dependent’s medical condition,” said Pamela Johnson, UM assistant director of benefits and compensation.

Created in 2003 by a group of UM faculty, staff and student volunteers, the fund exists to help members of the Ole Miss family whose children have extraordinary medical needs. Although the committee is no longer active, the goal is to distribute the remaining funds that were obtained through donations.

“This is simply an effort to exhaust the funds in a way for which they were intended,” Johnson said.

To apply for assistance, applicants need a document from a certified medical care provider, basic information on his or her situation, and specifics about the requested support. All information will remain confidential and is maintained in a secure location within the Department of Human Resources.

For more information on applying for assistance, email Pamela Johnson at

Some 1,500 Students Help Out During Big Event

About 1,500 students volunteered for Saturday’s Big Event, which involved service projects all over Oxford and Lafayette County. Photo courtesy of The Big Event.

About 1,500 students volunteered for Saturday’s Big Event, which involved service projects all over Oxford and Lafayette County. Photo courtesy of The Big Event.

About 1,500 University of Mississippi students volunteered Saturday (April 2) for sixth annual Big Event and took on service projects all over the L-O-U community.

The volunteers worked at 150 different sites around Oxford, working with homeowners, community leaders, religious leaders and elected officials to identify jobs that needed to be done. More than 300 UM students helped out Oxford and Lafayette County public schools alone.

Amanda Jones, Big Event marketing and PR co-director, also said it’s rewarding to see so many of her friends pitching in and giving back to the community.

“As the PR and marketing co-director, I really enjoyed being behind the camera for the event,” Jones said. “It’s really cool getting to watch my friends give back to the Oxford community and incredibly humbling getting to interview and talk to the project hosts about the impact the students are having on their lives.”

Volunteers helped revamp Oxford Elementary School’s garden ahead of spring planting. They also cleaned the playground and classrooms at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

At the entrance to Royal Oaks subdivision, volunteers applied fertilizer, pulled weeds, dug up plants and shrubs, used weed trimmers and mulched, among other chores. The Oxford Community Garden also got some TLC from the group. They took on many other projects across town and in Lafayette County.

The work done at a local food pantry was particularly inspiring, said Caroline Loveless, Ole Miss Big Event co-director. Helpers shelved donations from a recent food drive, while others collected more goods.

“Our project hosts range from community officials, community religious leaders, homeowners and even the mayor,” Loveless said. “We have over 300 Ole Miss students going to lend a hand at public schools all throughout the Oxford and Lafayette community. It is such an honor to for the students to serve people who have a similar passion for Ole Miss.”

Bruce Levingston Takes Mississippi Inspiration to Carnegie Hall

Bruce Levingston

Bruce Levingston

As the University of Mississippi’s Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence, Bruce Levingston introduces many influential artists to Mississippi, including our rich culture, our storied past and the artistry that has emerged from both.

In his upcoming April 4 performance at Carnegie Hall, Levingston will feature works inspired by two important Mississippians whose lives embodied the true essence of our state.

Levingston, a native Mississippian and renowned concert pianist, will perform solo premieres of works by composers Nolan Gasser and James Matheson, as well as works by Philip Glass. He is joined by bass-baritone Justin Hopkins for the New York City premiere of “Repast,” an oratorio based on the life of Mississippi civil rights figure Booker Wright with a libretto by National Book Award finalist Kevin Young.

An excerpt from the program shares the inspiration for this meaningful piece.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 desegregated places of public accommodation, including restaurants. To mark the larger struggle that preceded passage and to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of that milestone, the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi, along with Premiere Commission, conceived this original oratorio, set in civil rights movement-era Mississippi. ‘Repast’ tells the tragic, true and emboldening story of Booker Wright, owner of Booker’s Place nightclub and waiter at famed restaurant Lusco’s, who spoke out about the pains of segregation and lived and died in the Mississippi Delta town of Greenwood.

“Interviewed by NBC in 1966, Wright dared to speak the truth about attitudes towards race in that place and time. He ultimately had to leave the job that had drawn him attention, and eventually, just a few years later, lost his life. His vision and spirit live on in this powerful tribute by composer Nolan Gasser and poet Kevin Young, whose searing libretto was inspired by Booker Wright’s own inspiring and unforgettable words.”

Hardly Levingston’s first performance at Carnegie Hall, this appearance celebrates the 15th anniversary of his foundation, Premiere Commission, which promotes the creation and performance of new music and art in different mediums.

“Although I have performed at Carnegie Hall a number of times, it is always a tremendous honor and exciting experience,” Levingston said. “So many great artists, including Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Leontyne Price and even the Beatles have performed there that one is always aware of special spirits that fill the place.”

Levingston also will perform “An American Citizen,” a collaboration with “Repast” composer Nolan Gasser paying tribute to Mississippi artist Marie Hull and inspired by her painting of the same name.

Levingston lends these words from his recent book “Bright Fields: The Mastery of Marie Hull” to the program for his upcoming performance.

“During the Great Depression, Hull began an important series of portraits of African-Americans, tenant farmers and sharecroppers. In these works, she treated each subject equally, regardless of race, revealing the human drama, inner struggle and indomitable spirit of each figure. In 1936, she painted a portrait of John Wesley Washington, a local worker born into slavery in 1847. In this heart-rending work, Hull not only gives the portrait the complete name of her subject (almost never bestowed upon African-Americans at that time), but the overall title ‘An American Citizen.’

“This quiet, subtle and extraordinarily significant act of respect and social commentary by a Southern painter from this most ‘Southern’ of states remains, more than ever, a deeply resonant statement about who we are and can be, as a people. It is also a reminder of the powerful voice an artist may bring to his or her society, even in the most closed and difficult of times.”

Levingston said he is proud to bring these works about deserving Mississippians to a broader national audience.

“My hope is that people in and outside of our region learn more about our culture, who we are as artists, as people and as American citizens trying to embrace our own place in history and moving forward to make a positive impact on our society,” he said.

MS News Now: Implant restores woman’s hearing in time for boyfriend’s proposal

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) – On Wednesday, the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s ENT and Communicative Sciences Department shared a heartwarming video on their Facebook page.

One of their patients received a gift of a lifetime – and another huge surprise on top of an already emotional moment.

She was finally able to hear again thanks to a cochlear implant. But it’s one of the first things she heard after the implant was activated that made the moment even more special. Read the entire story.



Rebels for Haiti Needs Donations for Spring Break Trip

Several members and coaches of the Ole Miss Rebels football team will spend spring break in Haiti to continue their work to create a sustainable community in the village of Camp Marie, and donations are needed for the trip.

This is the third straight year that Ole Miss athletics representatives will work in Haiti. Last year, the team worked to provide a clean water supply to the village of 10,000 people.

This year, they plan to help create farmland and dig irrigation trenches so crops can once again grow in the drought-afflicted area.

The cost for each person $2,500, which includes airfare, ground transportation, lodging, translators, meals and medical insurance. The team is asking for donations to help send these student-athletes to make a difference in a nation in need.

Anyone can donate any amount at The team is about $10,000 short of covering its costs, and any donation is welcome.

Please donate to this great cause and help our team represent Ole Miss while changing lives of needy people.