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) –

9. Construction Projects Continue to Transform Campus (4,006 views) –

8. UM Gets Custom Commencement Regalia (4,285 views) –

7. Ten Seniors Awarded Hall of Fame Honors (4,477 views) –

6. Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein’s Prediction (4,498 views) –

5. UM Student Union Remodeling Project Making Progress, Major Changes (4,671 views) –

4. Clayton Overcomes Addiction, Homelessness to Earn UM Degree (5,079 views) –

3. UM Welcomes Most Accomplished Freshmen Class Ever (6,621 views) –

2. UM Graduate Named to Forbes ’30 Under 30′ List (8,354 views) –

1. Watch Vaught-Hemingway Expansion via Construction Cam (53,759 views) –

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

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

Together, We Stood

UM administrators, faculty, staff and students showed unity, respect for diversity at campus gathering

UM community members joined hands in moment of prayer and reflection during the ceremony. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

UM community members join hands in moment of prayer and reflection during the ceremony. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

I’ve never been in the military or law enforcement, so I can’t say that I fully understand the strong bonds that I’m told exist among these public servants. Some say it’s the daily camaraderie that knits these men and women together. Others credit the presence of danger in crisis that forges these attachments. Which, of any of these, is responsible, I don’t know.

What I do know and can say for certain is that this past Thursday (July 21), I did see, hear and feel the strength in numbers as several University of Mississippi administrators, faculty, staff and students joined together to show unity and encourage respect for diversity in humanity.

The meeting, the first of several such planned, was led by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter. In the early evening hours, dozens of people gathered quietly inside the Paris-Yates Chapel. As the sun slowly began to set, these individuals sat together as one.

Vitter opened the solemn ceremony with reflections upon the epidemic rash of violence both in major cities around the nation and in terrorist attacks across the globe. He recognized the inherit conflict between African-American/Latino populations and law enforcement officials who have sworn to protect them.

“It has been an extremely difficult month in the U.S. as we have witnessed the loss of lives in Orlando, my home state of Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas,” Vitter said. “We also join the world community in mourning recent deaths in France and Turkey. We all hurt, we all mourn with those directly affected and we all worry every day about the safety of our own families, our communities, our nation and the world.”

While the evening’s focus was on reflecting and healing, Vitter issued a call for community conversations that move forward positive and permanent change.

“We must stand together, work together to find lasting solutions to the challenges that we face together,” he said.

Following the chancellor’s remarks, UM Staff Council President Sovent Taylor introduced representatives from the campus community. And although each individual represented differing ethnicities, cultures, languages, religions, creeds and philosophies, they stood as one while all present acknowledged our common ground as the tenets of the UM Creed were read.

The UM Gospel Choir rendered a beautiful a cappella rendition of “Get On Board,” a melodic call to temporarily set aside our differences in the interests of the common good. Don Cole, assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs, gave brief remarks in which he echoed Vitter’s call for the UM community to begin and maintain ongoing civil dialogue about the matters at hand.

“I may not have the answers,” Cole said. “You may not have all the answers. But together, we can and we will find the answers that we need.”

A solemn moment of silence preceded the tolling of chapel bells. As the chimes rang 16 times, we stood together, hand-in-hand, and collectively mourned with and comforted one another as we remembered the lives of the many victims killed in a wave of intense violence that appears to be sweeping across the nation.

Ethel Young-Scurlock, senior fellow at the Luckyday Residential College, offered the closing prayer before inviting members of the interfaith community to remain for a brief period of prayer and reflection. Smiles and warm embraces were exchanged as individuals both came into and departed from the building.

Throughout the evening’s activities, I felt awe as the combined members of the UM community “fleshed out” the words of our Creed. It was a beautiful sight to behold as compassionate and civil discourse unfolded, overshadowing obvious tensions and fears.

Recently, the UM Sensitivity and Respect Committee and university leadership issued a statement. Within this document appeared the following words:

“As an academic institution, we realize that education will serve as a key component to prevent future occurrences of such acts as well as serve as a healing mechanism for our community. We ask all members of our campus to join in applying the most effective tool of the educator – civil dialogue – in addressing the issues leading up to these disturbing events and processing our emotions and reactions to these tragedies.

However, civil dialogue will mean nothing if it does not lead to change for the better, and it will be our students who will be at the forefront of that change.

As Vitter stated in a recent post, ‘We are all bound together by the human need to be known, understood, and valued. At the University of Mississippi, we embody these mutual commitments to one another in the UM Creed, a part of which states our belief in fairness and civility and in the respect for the dignity of each person. I urge all members of the UM family to embody these beliefs as we reach out to one another in the coming days.'”

Thursday was a good start. I join many others who sincerely hope that similar discussions leading to solutions and healing occur at future gatherings.

Together, we stood. Together, we will continue to stand. Together, we are the University of Mississippi.

Miss University Among 11 Ole Miss Students Vying for Miss Mississippi

Miss University Carol Coker will compete for the Miss Mississippi crown this week in Vicksburg. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Miss University Carol Coker will compete for the Miss Mississippi crown this week in Vicksburg.
Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

By the end of this week, someone new will hold the title of Miss Mississippi, and there’s a 25 percent chance it will be an Ole Miss student.

The 2016 Miss Mississippi pageant begins Wednesday (June 22) with preliminary rounds, and the excitement culminates at 8 p.m. Saturday as the top 10 compete for the crown in Vicksburg.

Carol Coker, the reigning Miss University, will represent the University of Mississippi among the 44 contestants.

Ten other Ole Miss students will vie for the crown, including Miss Pride of the South, Abigail Wilbanks; Miss Rolling Hills, Anna Katherine Hoops; Miss Turtle Creek, Anne Elizabeth Buys; Miss Heritage, Charley Ann Nix; Miss Northland, Dana Wesley; Miss Leaf River Valley, Ivey Swan; Miss Alcorn County, Kasey Pearson; Miss Meridian, Leah Gibson; Miss MidSouth, Macken’z Smith; and Miss Southern Heritage, Mary Katherine McCaa.

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!

Join Ole Miss Campus Recreation for the World’s Largest Swim Lesson

Children participate in a swimming lesson at the Turner Center Pool.

Children participate in a swimming lesson at the Turner Center pool.

Ole Miss Campus Recreation invites all children and their families to participate in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday (June 24) at the Turner Center swimming pool.

The free event is part of a worldwide effort to promote swimming safety and the importance of swim lessons, said Mark Garneau, University of Mississippi aquatics director.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintended, injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4, and Mississippi ranks third nationally for drownings, Garneau said.

In an effort to combat that statistic, Turner Center instructors will provide informational sessions on deep water survival, swim stroke refinement and pool safety. Time also will be provided for fun swimming for all participants.

This is the second year Ole Miss has participated in this event. Last year, about 200 children and their families took advantage of the free opportunity at the Turner Center.

Thousands of children around the world will participate in the event over the 24-hour period at an estimated 500 locations in more than 20 countries.

Ole Miss faculty, staff and students are encouraged to participate in the event, open to children at least 6 months old and their families.

Though registration is not required, an RSVP is helpful to Turner Center staff. To sign up, contact

Staff Appreciation Week Offers a Variety of Fun Events

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi Staff Council will celebrate Ole Miss staff members May 16-20 with Staff Appreciation Week.

The weeklong celebration will include learning opportunities, fun and active events and social gatherings. Staff members are also invited to access the Turner Center facilities free of charge during the entire week, just by showing a staff ID card.

Here is a full schedule of events:


“Plants that Work Well in Your Yard” – 10-11 a.m., Student Union, Room 404. Jeff McManus, director of Landscape Services, will present a fun and informative lecture on home landscaping, followed by a Q&A session.

Kick Off to a Healthy Staff Appreciation Week – 11 a.m.-noon, Manning Center. RebelWell will host light yoga in the Manning Center. Staff will exercise with some members of the Ole Miss athletics staff.

Maintenance Monday 4-5 p.m., Ole Miss Bike Shop. The UM bike mechanic will teach participants how to keep their bikes in working order to improve safety, comfort and speed. To register for the workshop, email

Aqua Aerobics 5:15-6:15 p.m., Turner Center pool. Staff members are invited to bring their swimsuits for this fun, high-resistance workout. This cardio workout, in deep or shallow water, will support the body to reduce the risk of muscle and joint injury.



Mississippi Blood Services Blood Drive 9 a.m.-4 p.m., the Circle. Mississippi Blood Services will have their coach bus in the Circle throughout the day for anyone that wants to give life and donate blood. All donors get a T-shirt and great prizes and giveaways will be available. To donate, bring a form of identification.

Learn First Aid and CPR 10-11 a.m., Yerby Center Conference Room. Learn the basics of first aid and CPR through a demonstration of safety procedures.

Zumba 4-5 p.m., Grove Stage (Rain location: Student Union, Room 405). Get in your exercise while dancing by participating in this group fitness event in the Grove. All you need is workout clothes and tennis shoes to join in on one of the most popular workout routines.

Aqua Aerobics 5:15-6:15 p.m., Turner Center pool. Come back to the Turner Center for round two of aqua aerobics to get some more cardio in before the end of the day.



Mississippi Blood Services Blood Drive 9 a.m.-4 p.m., the Circle. Mississippi Blood Services will be back for a second day, for anyone wanting to donate blood.

Music and Meditation – 10-11 a.m., Paris-Yates Chapel. Join the Staff Council for “The UM Family: A Celebration of Togetherness” that will include inspirational messages and music from talented staff members.

Belly Dancing 2-3 p.m., Student Union, Room 405. Learn a fun and quick choreographed belly dance with fellow staff members to stay active and increase confidence. Staff members will learn foundational moves of the Middle Eastern dance, including shimmies, hip drops, turns and traveling movements. You’ll laugh and sweat a lot!



Plant Swap 10-11:30 a.m., Student Union porch (Rain location: Union Lobby). Bring a plant (or three) and swap them with friends to add variety to homes with duplicate plants. To participate, make sure the plants you wish to swap are rooted and have a card with the common name and planting directions. This year, seeds can also be swapped by placing them in a labeled envelope or closed plastic bag for exchange.

Yoga and Yogurt 12:30-1:30 p.m., Student Union, Room 404. At this RebelWell event, a fitness instructor will teach participants “desk yoga,” which will help refresh you throughout the workday for those short on time. This 20-minute yoga instruction session will be followed by a complimentary yogurt retreat.

Aqua Aerobics 5:15-6:15 p.m., Turner Center pool. Join the Staff Council once again for core, arm and leg exercises at the Turner Center.



Staff Recognition Awards Ceremony 9 a.m., Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Chancellor Jeff Vitter, Director of Admissions Whitman Smith and the Staff Council honor employees who have served the university from five years to 47 years, as well as recognizing outstanding staff members. Door prizes will be awarded at the conclusion, but you must be present to win!

Staff Lunch 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Rebel Market. Join the Staff Council for lunch at the Rebel Market, inside Paul B. Johnson Commons.

Basketball Tournament 1-3:30 p.m., Turner Center. A three-on-three basketball tournament for staff members. To register, contact Sovent Taylor at by Wednesday (May 18).

Kickball 1-3:30 p.m., Intramural Fields. Throwback to your childhood with an exciting game of kickball. There will be two teams, with 10 members per team, but the winner will have all the bragging rights. Deadline to register is Tuesday (May 10). Email the registration form to

Karaoke 1-3:30 p.m., Student Union Lobby. Show off your talents and mingle with fellow staff members by belting out those tunes! A wide variety of musical selections is available, so don’t be shy. Prizes will also be awarded.

Bingo 1-3:30 p.m., Student Union Food Court. Everyone will receive one card for each unwrapped white elephant gift you bring, which is something you have at home that’s usable, but that you no longer need or want. Additional bingo cards can be purchased for $1, which proceeds benefitting the Children of Staff Scholarship Fund. For a bonus, bring your extra dollars for the Jar of Dollars, where each dollar you put in buys a chance to win all the money in the jar! This is optional, but someone has to win and it might be you!

Field Day 1-3:30 p.m., Intramural Fields and the Circle. Remember how great field day was in grade school? Relive those days with this event, hosted by RebelWell. Teams of five will compete in classic games such as the three-legged race, tug of war and a trike race. Register to compete by Wednesday (May 18).

‘Gravy’ Wins Second James Beard Foundation Award

gravypodcastjbfa-300x300The James Beard Foundation has honored “Gravy,” a product of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, as the nation’s best podcast.

In 2015, the foundation named Gravy, the SFA’s quarterly print journal and podcast, as its Publication of the Year. Gravy shares stories of the changing American South through the foods everyone eats.

SFA members receive the printed journal Gravy four times a year, while “Gravy,” a free 25-minute podcast, is available on the SFA website or through iTunes. Both serve up fresh, unexpected and thought-provoking stories of an American South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions and lovingly maintaining old ones.

It is an honor to win a James Beard Award for the second year in a row, said Sara Camp Arnold Milam, Gravy’s managing editor.

“Though our work is grounded in the U.S. South, we explore issues of universal relevance – including class, race, ethnicity, gender and labor – through the lens of food,” Milam said. “It is extremely gratifying to receive national recognition for Gravy.”

The SFA’s quest to dig into lesser-known corners of the region and give voice to those who grow, cook and serve daily meals couldn’t be bound by print. So, in 2014, SFA launched “Gravy” the podcast, produced and hosted by Tina Antolini, a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and a National Public Radio veteran.

Recent podcasts pondered the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel and Southern nostalgia. Another focused on the food world behind the scenes at Indian-owned motels.

“It is so gratifying to have these stories – and their subjects and the radio producers I’ve collaborated with – recognized,” Antolini said in her acceptance speech.

A member-supported nonprofit based at the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.

For more information on the SFA and Gravy, go to