Phytochemist Receives Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award

UM research professor recognized for 'enormous impact' on worldwide scientific community

OXFORD, Miss. – When it comes to illicit drugs, especially marijuana, Mahmoud A. ElSohly has tests to reveal how potent they are, whether they are contaminated, from where they might have come and whether someone is using them.

When it comes to legal drugs, ElSohly has a knack for formulating new ones. His name is on 31 patents issued in this country and abroad, and on 23 more pending patents. Companies have licensed several of those formulations, which include a prophylactic treatment for poison ivy dermatitis, compounds for treating malaria and cancer, and precursors to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, for treating a variety of conditions.
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Myrlie Evers-Williams’ Commencement Address Full of Memorable Moments

OXFORD, Miss. – Here are some memorable excerpts from Myrlie Evers-Williams commencement address at the University of Mississippi:

“As the sun began to come out, it reminded me of one word: belief. Work toward that belief and it will become a reality.”

“One other word that speaks to who and what you are and what you can become: power. You have the power within you. Do you realize just how powerful you are as individuals and as a group? You can bear and make change in this state, in the nation and in the world.”

“You have the power to do what is right, to do what is just. I ask you, ‘What rests in your hearts?'”

“Being able to look beyond your role at this campus and find your role in this world will not only impact you, but your states, nation and the world. I hope you realize and take seriously the role you will play.”

“I have a long relationship with this university. It changed my life very early as a young woman. I was largely unaware of the ills of society at that time. I thought my husband was out of his mind to seek a law degree from here. ‘It will never happen,’ I said to him.” He told me, ‘It will happen – if not for me, then for someone else who will come after me.’ We have been linked together for 50 years.”

“I want to see Mississippi rise from the very bottom to the very top. Educationally, this place is at the top. Emotionally, let’s be honest: that’s still being worked out.”

“I believe in you, in Mississippi, in America. May we find peaceful dialogue to deal with issues – not walk away from each other. Let’s come together where we can all be proud and all know we have paved the way for others with positive images of equality for all.”

“I have no regrets for what has happened, except one (referring to Medgar Evers’ assassination). That single event changed all our lives. Not just mine or my children’s, but many.”

“Once you graduate from here, you are truly on your own, Make your own decisions and live by them. Medgar Evers did, even when his family members didn’t initially believe in his vision.”

“This proud university has evolved for 165 years. I believe this class, more than any other before it, will have the opportunity to make everything good. I prefer to believe in the good of all humankind; that there are more people of good will than there are who do not feel that way.”

“Education is no longer a pathway to success; it is a prerequisite. Never has a college degree been more important – or more expensive.”

“Graduation is a time for us to reflect on the rich history of this university, and celebrate the excellence of an Ole Miss education.”

“You are more powerful than you think you are. Use that power for the betterment of all people. Be like the eagle. Fly high above the clouds of adversity. Use the storms to lift you higher and rise to greater heights.”

“Will you be an eagle or will you just be a bird hiding from the storm and waiting for it to be over? I truly hope you’ll use your strength as eagles to pass on the good works, good deeds this society needs. Dream the impossible. Don’t be intimidated by anything. Don’t let difficulties tie your mind or break your spirit. You have a bright future. Be strong.”

“We are all human beings. We are all children of God or whatever deity you wish to call upon. I believe in you, I hope you believe in yourselves, too. Not only for yourself, nor for the betterment of Mississippi but for all mankind. Soar! Soar . . . and be free!”

“Mississippi is considered to be the poorest state in the nation. As we push forward in education and human relations, I believe we will see very positive change in the near future. I’m back here to be a part of that change.”

“The state has made great progress, but let’s face it: we still have so much further to go.”

“Medgar did not want to die, but he believed so fully in what he stood for that he had to do it. Medgar’s death broke down the barrier of fear, yet we still see vestiges of racism. You don’t solve emotional feelings surrounding race in a century – probably not even in two centuries. It’s an evolving thing. We have to keep moving forward.”

Myrlie Evers-Williams Encourages 2013 UM Graduates to ‘Soar and Be Free’

Civil rights pioneer presented with Humanitarian Award; reflects upon painful past, acknowledges progress while calling for better world

OXFORD, Miss. – Declaring her belief in their individual and combined power, renowned civil rights activist and author Myrlie Evers-Williams challenged University of Mississippi graduating seniors to become active in making the state, nation and world a better place for all people.

“I believe in you, and I hope you believe in yourselves, too,” Evers-Williams said Saturday (May 11) as she delivered the main address at the university’s 160th Commencement. “Soar! Not only for yourselves, nor just for the betterment of Mississippi, but for betterment of all mankind. Soar, and be free.”
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History of Ole Miss Commencement on Display at Library

Exhibition features James Meredith’s 1963 commencement program

OXFORD, Miss. – There were no graduates when the University of Mississippi held its first Commencement in July 1849, less than one year after opening for its first classes.

The four-day event included “sumptuous banquets, a commencement ball…” and an address by Alexander M. Clayton, an original trustee of the university, said David Sansing, professor emeritus of history and noted Ole Miss historian.Read the story …

Myrlie Evers-Williams to Deliver UM Commencement Address

Civil rights pioneer to address 2013 graduates and families May 11 in the Grove

OXFORD, Miss. – Renowned civil rights activist and author Myrlie Evers-Williams is set to return to the University of Mississippi May 11 to deliver the main address at the university’s 160th Commencement.

Evers-Williams, who worked for more than 30 years to seek justice for the 1963 murder of her well-known civil rights activist husband, Medgar Evers, is a former chairwoman of the NAACP and is widely credited with restoring the organization’s reputation and saving it from bankruptcy. Most recently, she delivered the invocation at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, becoming the first woman to deliver a prayer at a presidential inauguration.

The Vicksburg native speaks to graduating students, their families and other guests at 9 a.m. in the Grove. This year’s graduating class includes nearly 2,500 spring candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees, plus more than 900 August 2012 graduates.

“Over the years, we have had many renowned and influential figures on campus for our commencement addresses, but it is hard to name many who match Myrlie Evers-Williams as inspirational leaders,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “Over her career, Ms. Evers Williams has demonstrated a tenacity and commitment to her ideals that serve as an example for us all. She is a powerful motivator, and her insights and experience should be valuable for everyone.”

Recipients of doctor of philosophy degrees are to be hooded by their major professors in a 7:30 p.m. ceremony May 10 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College ceremony begins at 4 p.m. at the same location.

A shuttle service for handicapped and elderly visitors is available Saturday before the main ceremony. Shuttles will pick up people needing assistance at the UPD tent in front of Coulter Hall on University Avenue and take them to the seating area. (Wheelchairs, if needed, must be provided by families.) Visitors needing assistance after the ceremony should tell their shuttle driver.

In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Tad Smith Coliseum. If the weather is threatening, a decision on moving the ceremony indoors will be made by 8 a.m. and announced through media outlets, text messaging and the Ole Miss website.

Following the main ceremony, individual schools and the College of Liberal Arts hold ceremonies at various times and locations to present baccalaureate, master’s, doctor of pharmacy and juris doctor degrees and awards. The schedule is as follows:

– College of Liberal Arts master’s degrees – 11 a.m., Fulton Chapel

– Patterson School of Accountancy – 11 a.m., Ford Center

– School of Applied Sciences – 11 a.m., Indoor Practice Facility

– School of Business Administration – 11 a.m., Tad Smith Coliseum

– School of Engineering – 11 a.m., Lyceum Circle

– School of Education and Bachelor of General Studies – 11 a.m., Grove

– School of Law – 11 a.m., Grove

– School of Pharmacy – 2:30 p.m., Indoor Practice Facility

– Meek School of Journalism and New Media – 2:30 p.m., Ford Center

– College of Liberal Arts – 2:30 p.m., Tad Smith Coliseum

In case of rain, the College of Liberal Arts master’s degree ceremony will be moved to 11 a.m. in Nutt Auditorium. The School of Education ceremony will be moved to 5 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum; Engineering, 11 a.m. in Fulton Chapel; and Law, 5 p.m. in the Indoor Practice Facility.

Besides Evers-Williams’ address, the main ceremony also includes remarks by the senior class president, recognition for the university’s outstanding teacher and announcements of the the Frist Student Service Awards and the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award.

Evers-Williams has been a frequent visitor to campus in recent years. In March 2012, she delivered the keynote address for the university’s “50 Years of Integration” observance, and she participated in a panel discussion of her late husband’s life and work April 5 at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

After her husband’s death in 1963 in Jackson, Evers-Williams moved her family to California, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Pomona College and ran for Congress. She worked as director of community affairs for the Atlantic Richfield Co., in Los Angeles and was appointed by Mayor Tom Bradley as a commissioner on the Board of Public Works. She also continued her work with the NAACP, rising through the ranks to become a member of the organization’s board before her election as chairwoman in 1995.

After her term as chairwoman, she founded the Medgar Evers Institute in Jackson and wrote her autobiography, “Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be,” in 1999, and co-edited “The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero’s Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches,” in 2005. She continues to lecture, write and work for equal rights for all people across the nation.

For more information on commencement activities, go to For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7234.

Sharyn Alfonsi Named Commencement Speaker for Journalism School

Alumna lands dream job 60 Minutes

Sharyn Alfonsi

Sharyn Alfonsi

OXFORD, Miss. – The first few months of 2013 seem to be pretty packed in terms of career highlights for veteran news correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi.

So far, the 1994 University of Mississippi graduate has landed her dream job as a contributor for Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports” and was chosen to deliver the keynote address at the 2013 graduation ceremony of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, slated for May 11.

While Alfonsi said she is honored to return this spring to Ole Miss, she wonders if it’s a mistake.

“I honestly haven’t gotten over the shock of the request. I still think a mistake has been made,” Alfonsi said with a laugh. “But I will admit that I am beyond honored, and even thrilled, that my alma mater wants me to come back as a guest speaker.”

Alfonsi is the school’s third commencement speaker, following in the footsteps of 2012 speaker Andy Lack, former NBC News president and CEO of Bloomberg’s multimedia group.

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Ole Miss Grad Fair Scheduled For March 5-7

All students walking in May encouraged to attend

Commencement is just around the corner and the University of Mississippi Office of the Dean of Students encourages all students who will be walking in May to participate in the 2013 Ole Miss Grad Fair, scheduled from Tuesday, March 5 to Thursday, March 7 in the Union.

The following departments and entities will be available during the Grad Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday:

–       The Office of the Registrar will explain necessary steps for degree application

–       Career Center professionals will help with resume and interview information

–       Personnel from the Ole Miss Book store will measure and take orders for caps and gowns

–       Herff-Jones will be available to take class ring and graduation invitation orders

–       Alumni Association will accept memberships

–       Officers from the Class of 2013 will provide information about the senior fundraising project

For more information about Commencement such as parking, transportation and schedules, please visit

Myrlie Evers-Williams

 “Any serious discussion of the civil rights movement’s future must deal with at least four moral and organizational imperatives: stewardship, inclusiveness, concern for the disadvantaged and rededication to nonviolence as both ethical and effective tools for struggle.” – Myrlie Evers-Williams

It was February1995. With these words, Myrlie Evers-Williams began her legendary tenure as chairman of the NAACP after defeating the incumbent by one vote.

The NAACP was in disrepair and plagued with financial difficulties, scandal and controversy. Evers-Williams’ positive reputation among civil rights activists made her election a cause for renewed optimism among NAACP supporters. Through her unwavering vision as a leader and with determined spirit, she is credited with spearheading the operations that restored the association to its status as the premier civil rights organization in America.

She became the first chairman-emeritus of that organization in 1998 when she retired to establish the Medgar Evers Institute, linking business, government and communities to further human rights and equality.

Evers-Williams is perhaps best remembered as the widow of Medgar Evers, the Mississippi state field secretary for the NAACP who in 1963 was gunned down in the driveway of his Jackson home. She waged a painstaking battle to keep her husband’s memory and dreams alive and valiantly lobbied to bring his killer to justice. Her diligence eventually paid off when the assassin was brought to trial for a third time and finally, in 1994, was found guilty of the murder, more than 30 years after the crime.Read the story …