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 swim@olemiss.edu.

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 green@olemiss.edu.

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 sovent@olemiss.edu 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 sovent@olemiss.edu.

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 http://www.southernfoodways.org/.

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 http://sarahisomcenter.org/lou-pride-weekend/.

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 http://greenweek.olemiss.edu/ or email green@olemiss.edu.

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 pkjohnso@olemiss.edu.