Pharmaceutics Graduate Student Honored for 3D Printing Research

Jiaxiang Zhang awarded Best Oral Presentation at annual pharmaceutical meeting

Jiaxiang Zhang

OXFORD, Miss. – Jiaxiang Zhang, a University of Mississippi graduate student in the School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, was awarded Best Oral Presentation at the annual meeting of the Controlled Release Society in New York City last month.

Zhang’s presentation focused on combining 3D printing with hot-melt extrusion, a process that melts and mixes polymers and drugs into rod-like shapes. Once formed, the rods can be delivered immediately into a 3D printer to create personalized drug dosages in the forms of tablets, capsules and films.

“Without Ole Miss, I wouldn’t have gotten this award,” Zhang said. “I’m thankful that the university has the facility and equipment for these projects and for the unprecedented freedom to explore new ideas, materials and designs.

“This award is not only for me, but also to encourage young scientists who want to help improve the lives of others through this field.”

Mike Repka, Zhang’s adviser and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, has worked with Zhang for four years on his 3D printing research.

“Jiaxiang delivered an animated, yet clear, presentation that showed his interest in the topic and that he was deserving of this recognition,” said Repka, who is also director of the Pii Center for Pharmaceutical Technology. “His novel ideas have been great for our discussions and presentations at various conferences.”

After earning his pharmaceutical engineering degree from Northwest University in his home country of China, Zhang continues to grow his expertise. He hopes that this award, along with the resources within the School of Pharmacy, will help him solve problems facing the pharmaceutical industry.

“I was excited when I found out I got the award,” Zhang said. “The first thing I thought about was to inform Dr. Repka that our work was being recognized.

“He supported my research and inspired me throughout my study, from the big concepts to every single detail in the research. This affirms our academic efforts.”

The Inn at Ole Miss Granted Qualified Resort Status

Designation will allow hotel to offer full range of food and beverage options for events

The Mississippi Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control has granted qualified resort status for The Inn at Ole Miss. Submitted photo by Pablo Corona

OXFORD, Miss. – The Inn at Ole Miss has been approved for qualified resort status by the Mississippi Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control. The state granted resort status July 25 to the hotel and conference center on the University of Mississippi’s Oxford campus.

The shift in status was essential, given demand by customers and guests to have the option to serve all types of alcohol at special events held at The Inn, said Kirk Purdom, executive director of the Ole Miss Alumni Association.

Though The Inn was previously able to serve wine and liquor using third-party vendors, beer was not an option because the hotel, along with most of the university, is in the county, where beer sales are prohibited.

“This is a designation that is focused on enhancing the stay of our guests and alumni,” Purdom said. “It will specifically allow us to renovate our existing McCormick Cafe area, which we are in the early planning stage of, for guests of The Inn.

“We’ll also have the ability to serve beer in addition to wine and liquor at wedding receptions and other events held on the premises – an amenity that we believe will entice more families and groups to choose The Inn as they look to be able to eat, meet and sleep under one roof.”

A modern facility for use by alumni and friends of the university, The Inn at Ole Miss has undergone numerous renovations since its October 1951 opening as the Alumni House. To meet the demand for luxury accommodations in Oxford, a $21 million expansion was completed in 2008, boasting an eight-story all-suite facility complete with a new dining area, gift shop and more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Inn has 146 guest rooms and 133,199 square feet of hotel and event space.

“We are so excited to be granted qualified resort status by the state of Mississippi’s Department of Revenue,” said Gaye Bukur, the facility’s general manager. “This will allow us to better serve our groups and events, and any existing groups that are already booked at The Inn can now add beer to their bar service.

“We have always been proud that we are able to accommodate large groups in a variety of meeting rooms and guest rooms. Since taking over the food and beverage operation, we have been able to offer an approved list of caterers to choose from, and having resort status is what we needed to be able to give our guests a complete food and beverage option.”

For more information on booking an event at The Inn at Ole Miss, contact MaryGrace Vasilyev, sales manager, at 662-236-4834 or

Forensic Chemist Named 2018 Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus

Randall Clark earned his doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the School of Pharmacy

Randall Clark

OXFORD, Miss. – Randall Clark, a 1973 University of Mississippi graduate with a doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry, has been named the School of Pharmacy Department of BioMolecular Sciences’ 2018 Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award honoree.

Clark earned degrees in both biology and chemistry from Berry College in Mt. Berry, Georgia, before completing his Ph.D. under the direction of late Ole Miss professor Ronald F. Borne. He has spent his 45-year academic career at Auburn University, where he is a professor of medicinal chemistry, mentoring more than 50 master’s and doctoral students.

“It is truly an honor to be selected for this award,” Clark said. “Just receiving consideration for an award of this magnitude is a significant achievement.

“The previous recipients are all very successful individuals, and many, many very productive and talented people have passed through the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy.”

Clark will deliver the Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Lecture at 11 a.m. Friday (Aug. 17) in Room 2066 of the Thad Cochran Research Center. His presentation is titled “Forensic Chemistry of New Psychoactive Substances: Regioisomer Differentiation in Cannabinoid, Cathinone and N-BOMe Drugs.”

“It’s a great privilege for our department to be able to recognize our alumni leaders in pharmaceutical sciences with the Joe Sam Distinguished Alumnus Endowment,” said Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. “Having Dr. Clark back on campus provides our students and current faculty with a unique opportunity to expand their professional network and learn about cutting edge research in medicinal chemistry.”

With a research interest in forensic drug chemistry, Clark has received more than $2.5 million in research funding over the last 10 years from the National Institute of Justice, the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. He has authored or co-authored more than 250 scientific publications.

Clark has served as the faculty chair of Auburn athletics’ drug testing oversight committee for the last 20 years. His research group has contributed more than 1,000 mass spectra of new druglike substances to the National Institute of Standards and Technology mass spectra database.

He is the recipient of Auburn’s Alumni Professorship, Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lectureship and the Sandra Kent Gilliland and David Louie Gilliland Endowed Professorship in recognition of outstanding research and teaching accomplishments. In 2012, he was awarded a New Zealand Government International Fellowship to present a series of workshops and lectures on forensic drug science.

John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology at the UM School of Pharmacy, served on the award’s selection committee and knew Clark was a perfect fit for the accolade.

“Dr. Clark is most deserving of this award,” Rimoldi said. “He has built a distinguished career at Auburn University and is a leading authority in forensic drug chemistry and analysis. 

“His commitment to student mentoring and graduate education in medicinal chemistry is remarkable and inspiring.”

The award’s namesake, Joseph Sam, was an influential part in educating future scientists in the field of drug development and discovery. He served as one of the first chairs of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, as well as dean of the university’s Graduate School and vice chancellor of research. In honor of his spirit and inspiration, the Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award was created in 2009.

“Dr. Sam was a constant figure in the labs and other pharmacy facilities,” Clark said. “He took a personal interest in all the graduate students in the program and provided encouragement to everyone. He and the members of the pharmacy family at Ole Miss made my four years in graduate school a most enjoyable experience.”

Welcome Month Offers Dozens of Activities for Students, Community

Expanded annual event scheduled through Sept. 14

Students dance the night away at the Silent Disco as part of 2017 Welcome Week festivities. Photo by Thomas Graning/ Ole Miss Digital Imagaing Services

OXFORD, Miss. – As the 2018-19 academic year draws near, members of the University of Mississippi community have plenty of activities to get them plugged in during Welcome Month, which runs through Sept. 14.

“The start of the year is always a special time for Ole Miss, with new students and faculty, new relationships and new classes,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “There’s an unmistakable upswing in the vibrancy of our campus when the student body returns in full force each fall; it’s truly energizing.”

Coordinated by the Ole Miss Student Union and Student Activities Association, the schedule features nearly 100 events and activities, ranging from movies in the Grove to fitness events.

“More programs and events are offered than ever,” said Bradley Baker, Student Union director. “We hope to welcome students to the Ole Miss campus with many ways to get involved and become engaged while here.”

Partners include the Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Center for Student Success and First Year Experience, Associated Student Body, Campus Recreation, Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Fraternal Leadership and Learning, National Panhellenic Council and Office of Leadership and Advocacy.

Among the scheduled events:

  • Thursday (Aug. 16): Splash Into Ole Miss, 7 p.m., Turner Center
  • Friday (Aug. 17): Ole Miss Theatre Audition Workshop, 1 p.m., Isom Hall, Room 110
  • Saturday (Aug. 18): New Student Kick-Off Picnic, 5:15 p.m., the Grove
  • Sunday (Aug. 19): Grove-In Movie Series, 8 p.m., the Grove
  • Aug. 20: Ball Pit with Strangers and Bungee Jump, 10 a.m. in the Circle and Galtney-Lott Plaza, respectively
  • Aug. 21: Get Involved Fair, 11 a.m., Lyceum Circle; and Fall Convocation, 7 p.m., The Pavilion at Ole Miss
  • Aug. 22: Silent Disco, 9 p.m., the Grove
  • Aug. 23: Cards Against Hypnosis, 7 p.m., Student Union Ballroom
  • Aug. 24: StudentsFIRST Meet and Greet, 11:30 a.m., Martindale Hall, third floor; and Welcome Back Concert, 8 p.m., the Grove
  • Aug. 25 – Pride Camp, 10 a.m., Bryant Hall
  • Aug. 27: LOU Day, all day on Galtney-Lott Plaza
  • Aug. 28: Creed Day, all day on Galtney-Lott Plaza
  • Aug. 29: ASB Day: all day on Galtney-Lott Plaza
  • Aug. 30: Throwback Thursday, all day on Galtney-Lott Plaza
  • Aug. 31: Flagship Friday, all day on Galtney-Lott Plaza
  • Sept. 5: Are You Ready? Dialogue Series: Let’s Start the Conversation, Bryant Hall, Room 209
  • Sept. 6: Rock Out the Grove, 6 p.m., the Grove
  • Sept. 9: Ole Miss vs. Southern Illinois: 3 p.m., Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
  • Sept. 11: Mini Destress Fest, time and location to be determined
  • Sept. 16: Fall Fair: Food and Fun with RHA, 4 p.m., Kincannon Hall yard
  • Sept. 28: Fall Favorites with Chicken-on-a-Stick, 11 a.m., Stewart Hall yard

Other activities include a double-decker bingo tour, campus recreation hiring fair, laser tag, passport to diversity, free challenge course, game night, African-American male networking luncheon, wellness day, fraternal leadership discussion, Greek forum, women’s soccer and volleyball games, a barbecue, water polo, paddleboard yoga class and snow cone giveaways.

The UM Student Activities Association is formed by students to promote special events, Homecoming and musical entertainment. For more details and a full list of events, visit

Matching Gift to Benefit Medgar Evers Scholarship in Law

Alumnus, former professor challenges others to contribute to endowment

Tara Ellis (left), managing partner of Balch and Bingham, and UM law Dean Susan Duncan (right) congratulate Kye Handy, the first recipient of the Medgar Evers scholarship. Photo by Suzette Matthews/University Development

OXFORD, Miss. – John Robin Bradley, a native of Inverness, is challenging the University of Mississippi Office of Development to raise $100,000 for the Medgar Evers Scholarship in Law Endowment. In turn, he has agreed to match up to the total goal amount himself.

Bradley, law professor emeritus, wants the scholarship endowment to grow and hopes this unique approach to fundraising will make that happen.

Bradley established the endowment in 2008 with gifts of more than $100,000 to provide financial assistance to law students, with special consideration going to graduates of Tougaloo College, Jackson State University and Alcorn State University – all historically black institutions of higher learning.

“The law school has a history of more than 50 years of offering legal education to all people, this after a much longer history of excluding African-Americans from this opportunity,” Bradley said. “When I joined the law faculty in 1966, I took pride in being part of this then-new role.

“The results have been gratifying and valuable to students of all backgrounds, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to join others in being part of that. The law school is better for the change, as are our profession and state. A signal of the school’s continuing commitment to inclusiveness remains important even these many years later.”

Fundraising efforts are underway, with $10,000 already raised toward the campaign goal, said Suzette Matthews, development officer for the law school. The Balch and Bingham law firm of Jackson was first to respond with a $2,500 gift.

“Once the generous support of alumni and friends of the law school help us meet our $100,000 goal, Professor Bradley will then provide a match, resulting in a $200,000 gift for the school,” Matthews said. “We are very grateful to Professor Bradley for his great interest in the perpetuity of the Medgar Evers scholarship.”

Bradley, a graduate of Mississippi College and the UM School of Law, was in private law practice for four years before joining the faculty at Ole Miss in 1966. He has been a visiting professor at Florida State University and the University of Richmond, and he taught in a Cambridge summer session.

Besides teaching courses on contracts and corporations, he taught about and is an authority on workers’ compensation, having written extensively on the topic. He served as chair of the Administrative Law and Workers’ Compensation section of the Mississippi Bar and as chair of the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council.

His book, “Mississippi Workers’ Compensation” is a Thomson/West publication (with co-author Linda Thompson) that is widely used and cited by courts. First published in 2006, the treatise is published in a new edition annually that is supplemented and updated.

Bradley has taught thousands of students, including former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove; Bill Waller, chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court; and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.

Best-selling novelist John Grisham had his first class in contracts at the School of Law with Bradley and later took workers’ compensation from him. Likewise, Grisham’s son enrolled in the law school and his first class also happened to be contracts with Bradley.

In 2013, law students selected the professor as teacher of the year. Although Bradley retired later that year, he taught workers’ compensation courses for two more years and still supplements and updates his book annually.

“What is gratifying is watching students who come in not knowing the subject but then develop a really good touch and understanding of how to use it,” he said. “The maturation process, that’s what is really gratifying to me.”

Bruce Levingston, the UM Chancellor’s Honors College artist-in-residence, has known Bradley for many years and says the professor has a generous spirit and deep interest in the welfare of his home state.

“John Robin Bradley has always cared deeply about Mississippi and sought throughout his life, along with his wonderful wife, Laura, to make Mississippi a special place of opportunity for all people,” Levingston said. “His generous philanthropic support of scholarships and educational programs at the University of Mississippi will leave a lasting legacy that will nurture and inspire many generations to come.”

Bradley has served as president of the Lafayette County Bar, twice as chair of the university Faculty Senate and many times as a Faculty Senate officer.

UM Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat said he believes Bradley’s teaching will leave a lasting legacy at the university.

“It was a very high-quality experience in his classroom,” Khayat said. “The lasting impressions students got from him were very positive and that will live on in the lore of the law school.”

To make a gift to the Medgar Evers Scholarship in Law, send a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visit; or contact Suzette Matthews at 662-915-1122 or

Larry Grantham Memorialized on Highway 27

Late Ole Miss, New York Jets football great was Super Bowl III champ with Joe Namath

Family and friends of former Ole Miss Rebels great Larry Grantham attend the dedication of a portion of Highway 27 in Crystal Springs in his memory. The group includes (from left) June Grantham, James Larry Grantham II, Debbie Greer, Kayla Grantham, Rick Williams, Ann Grantham Greer, LeAnne Grantham Williams, Carlene Grantham Ainsworth, Rep. Gregory Holloway, Sr. (R-Dist. 76), Mayor Sally Garland, Carey Grantham, Peggy C. Grantham, Susan Greer, James Larry Grantham III and the Rev. Chris Teasley. Photo courtesy Mississippi Department of Transportation.

OXFORD, Miss. – Before Eli, even before Archie, there was Larry Grantham.

The Manning family’s two-generational association with Ole Miss Rebel football, the NFL and Super Bowl championships is legendary. Yet the late Crystal Springs native’s track record was no less stellar. And as Manning Way honors their family’s legacy on the University of Mississippi’s campus, a portion of Highway 27 in Copiah County recently named in Grantham’s memory will do the same for his family.

Grantham died June 17, 2017. Exactly 13 month later, the Mississippi Department of Transportation made the dedication. The brief ceremony was the culmination of a request from state Rep. Gregory Holloway Sr. to the Copiah County Board of Supervisors that a portion of Highway 27 be designated in memoriam to the deceased football legend.

Following the supervisors’ approval, Holloway made the proposal as a resolution to the Mississippi Legislature, which approved the request as House Bill No. 1150 during its regular session in March.

“As Larry Grantham’s great niece, I feel so thankful that Uncle Larry has been honored with the highway being named after him,” said Rebecca Phillips, director of university and public events. “It’s a proud moment for our family, the University of Mississippi and for the whole state of Mississippi.”

Susan Greer, a niece of Grantham’s, spearheaded the effort to designate the highway in Crystal Springs in his memory. She made contact with Holloway, himself a lifelong fan of Grantham, who gladly helped push the measure through.

“Larry knew that if he had any hope of attending college, it would be up to him to get some kind of scholarship,” Greer said. “Ole Miss came scouting and eventually offered Larry a half-scholarship in baseball and a half-scholarship in football. After that, he was an Ole Miss Rebel for life.”

Born Sept. 16, 1938 in Gatesville, a small community near Crystal Springs, Grantham graduated from Crystal Springs High School. A football champion at Crystal Springs High School, which won the South Little Dixie Conference, he went on to play for the Rebels.

Larry Grantham was named All-SEC, a member of the SEC Team of the Decade and Ole Miss Team of the Century. Submitted photo

Grantham’s college highlights and honors included being named All-SEC, a member of the SEC Team of the Decade and Ole Miss Team of the Century, and induction into the Ole Miss Athletics Hall of Fame.

“Next to God and his family, nothing was more important to him than Ole Miss and his beloved Mississippi,” said Peggy Grantham, his widow. “Until his health prevented him from doing so, he attended every home football game at Ole Miss.”

After Ole Miss, Grantham played professional football for 13 years and was part of the New York Jets Super Bowl III championship team in 1969, was named the Jets MVP in 1970 and served as AFL Players Association Representative for 10 years. His Jets record of 43 takeaways still stands.

He was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and into the prestigious New York Jets Ring of Honor in 2011. Grantham was honored in 2016 when he presented the Super Bowl III gold football to his high school alma mater.

Grantham was preceded in death by his parents, Carl Cornelius Grantham and Mable Julia Whittington Grantham, and brother Ronald Grantham. He is survived by his wife, Peggy Carlin Grantham; daughter LeAnne (Rick) Williams; son Jamie (June) Grantham; stepdaughter Angie (Phil) White; seven grandchildren; three great-granddaughters; three sisters; a brother; a sister-in-law and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

Alumna Establishes Endowment in Sister’s Memory

Gift will fund scholarships and other assistance for students in School of Applied Sciences

A planned gift from sisters ZonaDale Taylor (left) and the late Bonita Lyons will help support the School of Applied Sciences. Photo courtesy ZonaDale Taylor

OXFORD, Miss. – Bonita Lyons’ giving spirit is evident in the sentiments shared on her Facebook page.

“Hers was a life of purpose disguised as work,” posted Cory Major, who worked with Lyons in her capacity as director of academic status and retention services for the University of Memphis, a position the University of Mississippi graduate held for 16 years until she retired in 2008.

“She drew people to her and they left all the better for having known her. Some may forget what she said and what she did. But she will never be forgotten because of how she made us feel.”

Nyrone Hawkins, a student of Lyons’, wrote: “Doc, you are truly a special lady. Your spirit will always live within me. As I think back over our history together, I am truly blessed. You were the embodiment of Christ’s love. You took young people full of potential and showed them unconditional love … you were the picture of His love to so many of your children.”

Lyons of Memphis, Tennessee, received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education in 1969 from Ole Miss and a doctorate in education from the University of Memphis in 1977. She had no biological children, yet when she died in May 2017, she left a legacy among the young people she mentored and treated as her own, many of whom called her “Mom.”

Her legacy continues at Ole Miss, where generations of students will benefit from a scholarship endowment established in her memory.

With a $100,000 planned gift, Lyons’ sister, ZonaDale Taylor of Collierville, Tennessee, has established the Dr. Bonita Lyons and ZonaDale L. Taylor Legacy Endowment. Half the gift creates a scholarship for transfer students pursuing a degree in the UM School of Applied Sciences; the remainder is available as an emergency fund for students facing unforeseen financial crises.

“We always said we would do something together for Ole Miss,” said Taylor who earned a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in home economics at UM in 1961. “You always think you have a lot of time and, although we had never signed an agreement, we had often discussed what we wanted to do.

“After her unexpected death, I wanted to fulfill the actions that we had discussed because our time at Ole Miss was a very important phase in our lives.”

Like her sister, Taylor spent part of her professional career as an educator, teaching at Mississippi State University and later at McNeese State University. Over time, both educators witnessed financial crises among their students.

“My sister often worked with students with limited means who were struggling academically,” Taylor said. “As a result, she started a program early on, where she would pass the hat in the office when somebody couldn’t get a book or needed to pay a fee or had other unexpected expenses.

“Using that example, I’ve requested that Ole Miss use these funds to help those in similar situations who don’t necessarily have the higher grade-point averages. While advising students, we both worked with people who really wanted a degree and whose grades were average because they were either working one or more jobs, or they had children to support and they just couldn’t meet basic needs. They had ability but they just didn’t have much time to study. We discussed this need many times.”

The sisters, who grew up in New Albany, just 30 miles from the Oxford campus, would attribute their philosophy of giving to their parents. For example, their mother always emphasized the importance of helping others and of preparing for life by first obtaining a college degree.

Their father set an example of generosity by planting a larger garden in order to share food with older people in the community.

“We did things very differently, my sister and I, but our final goals were very much the same regarding the importance of education,” Taylor said. “We’ve always tried to provide assistance to the people who need help in attaining an education.”

On completing coursework for her degree from Ole Miss, Taylor had an immediate job offer.

“I was not even able to walk to get my diploma because I had started to work as a home economist for Mississippi Power Co. in Meridian before the ceremony,” she remembered.

“I loved my job. I had a little company car and went to several small towns near Meridian, visiting schools to present programs and also visiting homes to teach people how to use the features of an appliance that they had purchased from the power company.”

In 1964, after almost five years in Meridian, Taylor accepted a position in Birmingham, Alabama, writing articles about household equipment, housing and home furnishings for Progressive Farmer magazine. It was during this time that The Progressive Farmer Co. was developing a new magazine for urban residents, and she became one of the founding editors of Southern Living magazine, which boasts a circulation of 2.8 million.

A few years later she married and joined her husband, Charles, a chemical engineer with PPG Industries, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Taylor began working toward a master’s degree at McNeese State University.

Upon completion of this degree, she was recruited to teach at Mississippi State University, giving her husband an opportunity to pursue a master’s degree at his alma mater.

After completing his degree, the couple returned to Lake Charles, where she joined the Home Economics Department at McNeese and Charles returned to PPG. A few years later, they were transferred to Pittsburgh. There, she became manager of consumer and public affairs for Beecham Products USA, which would later merge with GlaxoSmithKline.

After retirement and 23 years in Pittsburgh, the couple moved to Collierville to be closer to her sister and their aging parents.

“We are deeply grateful to ZonaDale Taylor for her longtime interest in and support of higher education,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “ZonaDale has enjoyed an exceptional career, and we are proud to count her among the esteemed alumni of our great university.

“ZonaDale and Charles’s compassion for students who face financial crises will truly meet a need in (the School of) Applied Sciences, where we had very limited resources to assist in the past,” she said. “They have a true understanding of the impact that such a resource can have on a student’s ability to complete their education due to an unexpected change in their financial status.

“Many students transferring from community colleges face financial challenges as well. The Lyons and Taylor endowment will therefore be especially beneficial to these students and will help enable them to receive an education that will serve them well throughout their lives. We greatly appreciate ZonaDale’s generosity.”

Planned gifts award donors membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes those who thoughtfully provide for the university through bequests and deferred gifts.

For information on including Ole Miss in long-term estate planning, contact Sandra Guest at 662-915-5208 or

Additionally, the Dr. Bonita Lyons and ZonaDale L. Taylor Legacy Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or visit

Business School Closes Centennial Celebration at Jackson Event

Mississippi Department of History and Archives hosts alumni at 'History is Lunch'

Ken Cyree (left), dean of the School of Business Administration, chats at the event with fellow presenters Maj. Gen. Leon Collins, former adjutant general of Mississippi, and Candie Simmons, geography marketing strategist for Regions Bank. UM photo by Joe Ellis/UM Medical Center

JACKSON, Miss. – Some of the state’s most celebrated business and civic leaders of the past century took center stage at a recent celebration in Jackson, helping mark the centennial of the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration.

Ken Cyree, the school’s dean, was joined by alumni Maj. Gen. Leon Collins, former adjutant general of Mississippi; Dick Molpus, former Mississippi secretary of state; and Candie Simmons, geography marketing strategist for Regions Bank, for the Aug. 1 lunchtime event at the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium at Two Mississippi Museums.

Welcomed by Chris Goodwin, the program organizer for “History is Lunch,” the audience watched a 20-minute feature video, narrated by Cyree, that includes a compilation of alumni. Also on hand were copies of “Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years,” a 200-page illustrated history of the school published by Nautilus Publishing Co. in 2017.

“We were delighted at the great mix of regular attendees and people who came to ‘History Is Lunch’ specifically to hear the business school’s story,” Goodwin said. “Our series is built on programs just like this that examine a particular aspect of local Mississippi history, and the centennial publication makes this story even more special.”

“It was great to be a part of such meaningful and fun series on the history of the state,” Cyree said. “We had a terrific time working on the book, and it is fun to share it with people who are interested in our history and that of Mississippi.”

Graduates of the business school have become ambassadors, university presidents, technology innovators, financial leaders, sports legends, commodities pioneers, politicians and military leaders.

The book chronicles the century-long journey from the inaugural 1917 semester of the School of Commerce, guided by founding Dean James Warsaw Bell, through the 10 men who have led the school and culminating with Cyree, the 11th dean. It also tells the story of the men and women who passed through the doors as students.

“The Ole Miss business school taught me something that was extremely important,” said Simmons, who received a bachelor’s degree in 2002 and an MBA in 2015, and received the Outstanding Young Alumni of the Year Award in 2017.

Maj. Gen. Leon Collins (right) signs a copy of ‘Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years’ at the ‘History is Lunch’ event commemorating the centennial of the UM School of Business Administration. Photo by Joe Ellis/UM Medical Center

“It is not something you learn in the classroom or from a textbook, but you just learn it by building the relationships with people from day to day, and that key word and valuable asset I learned was ‘networking.’ The business school taught me to not be afraid to talk to people and share your career aspirations – especially when asked.”

“I have made thousands of decisions in my lifetime,” said Collins, incoming president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. “Some were good and some were bad.

“Enrolling at the University of Mississippi was one of the best decisions I have made. Ole Miss provided a quality education and a network of graduates to interact with over the years.

“As the incoming president of the Alumni Association, I would like to mobilize that network to help all students approaching graduation to secure their first job prior to graduation day. What better way to show your love for your university than to lend a helping hand to a future alum.”

Molpus, chairman of the Molpus Woodlands Group and 2013 inductee into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame, charmed the crowd in recounting how he failed his first test in college, in beloved professor Jimmy Davis’ class, to take a girl on a date, and she dumped him two weeks later.

Molpus discussed professors who opened his mind to new ways of thinking.

“In 1968, Professor Fenstermacher said in 25 years, cash would be obsolete and everyone would be using something called ‘credit cards.’ Then in 1969, Professor Runnelling spent a whole class on how outdated Mississippi’s economic development was by exploiting cheap labor and tax breaks to attract businesses to the state.”

In closing, Molpus stressed that the most important lesson he learned while an Ole Miss student was a sense of social responsibility in business.

“I was taught the best businesses do well for their bottom line, but those that help society as a whole stand the test of time,” he said.

Former UM Students Find Pathway to College Degree

Complete to Compete graduates honored at campus celebration

The University of Mississippi honored its first recipients of the new Bachelor of University Studies degree program Aug. 4 at the Jackson Avenue Center. Among the graduates honored at the event was Oxford police officer Hardie Meeks, accompanied by his wife, Katrenia, and their children Hayden, Ty, and Ani. Photo by Larry Agostinelli/UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Police officers, pro football players, substitute teachers, stay-at-home moms and Nissan employees are just a few of the professionals who took part in a special event Aug. 4 at the University of Mississippi’s Jackson Avenue Center.

The special graduation celebration event honored adults who applied to the Mississippi Complete to Compete, or C2C, program and had previously completed the full slate of college coursework, making them eligible for the university’s newest undergraduate degree, the Bachelor of University Studies.

“Finally holding this degree is going to help me get off the line,” said Aspen Cannon, of West Point.

Cannon works full time on the assembly line at the Nissan plant in Canton, but was part of the drum line for the “Pride of the South” marching band and a music and business major at UM from 2004 to 2007.

“Life happened,” Cannon said, reflecting on leaving the university without completing his degree. Family obligations and student loan debt played a part of his decision to leave school, but he said he always regretted not getting his diploma.

At the celebration event, Cannon just happened to sit next to a former bandmate and friend whom he had not seen since leaving Oxford. Timothy Stine, from Millington, Tennessee, also left the university before finishing his degree.

After apply to C2C, Stine received an email from Ole Miss in the spring about the B.U.S. program, and he jumped at the chance when he found out that he met the requirements to receive this degree.

“I’m hoping having this piece of paper will give me better job opportunities,” Stine said. “I’m about to start sending out my updated resume.”

Former UM ‘Pride of the South’ band members Aspen Cannon (left) and Timothy Stine catch up with each other at a graduation celebration for the new Bachelor of University Studies program. Both left the university in the mid-2000s but found out this past spring that they had enough completed credits as part of the statewide Complete to Compete initiative to receive their degrees. Photo by Larry Agostinelli/UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education

The B.U.S program was created this spring to work in conjunction with the statewide C2C program that began in August 2017. C2C was created by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Community College Board to help adults who have been out of college for at least two years to finish their postsecondary degrees.

In less than a year’s time, UM academic advisers have received C2C applications from over 1,200 former students who had some college coursework, but had not completed a full degree program.

“The first thing I ask people interested in this program is, ‘Tell me your story,'” said Audra Trnovec, UM academic counselor and C2C coach. “I ask for the background on their educational journey so I can help them put together a plan to be successful.

Many C2C students have shared stories about the reasons surrounding the pause in their education.

“Some students needed to stop taking classes so that they could care for their children, some were supporting wives or supporting husbands; they might have been serving in the military or needing to financially take care of their families,” she said. “They all have a unique background and a unique goal.”

Fhan Cooper, of Crystal Lake, Illinois, played right tackle for Ole Miss during the banner 2014 and 2015 seasons, but he left Oxford for the NFL just a few credits shy of graduation.

“As a transfer student, I had a lot of credits, but my playing time was limited, and I needed to make the move to the pros,” Cooper said.

Jennifer Reeves (back row, middle) and her family drove nine hours from Houston, Texas, to celebrate her recent graduation from UM after a 20-year hiatus from college. Photo by Larry Agostinelli/UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education

Cooper, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and later traded to the Indianapolis Colts, is a free agent looking for his next opportunity.

“I want to be ready for what is next in my life,” he said, noting that he is considering coaching, scouting and training as his next career move.

“I’d like to earn my master’s degree in education so that I can become a good teacher. I think this will help me in a coaching role if I know how to teach concepts and information in an understandable way. And I think completing a degree shows people you take pride in what you do, and you value the work.”

During the past year, staff in the Office of General Studies have identified 150 C2C applicants who had completed all of the requirements for the new B.U.S. degree without taking additional courses. Many of these students had changed majors or completed the bulk of coursework but were never able to finish their chosen degree, so they were encouraged to consider the B.U.S. program.

“We just felt that these students did the work and deserved to be honored like other UM graduates,” said Terry Blackmarr, assistant to the dean for general studies. “One student is so excited to have earned his college degree that he invited 48 family members to the celebration.”

“We can already see that completing this degree means so much to these students, and it’s going to make a positive impact on their lives.”

Coffeeville native Jennifer Reeves, who lives in Houston, Texas, drove 600 miles to Oxford to be honored after 20 years since her enrollment.

As an English major in the early ’90s, Reeves married and moved away before graduating. Her husband became an engineer with Exxon Mobile, and his position took them around the globe. They lived in the Netherlands, Singapore and Thailand before landing in Houston. During that time, they added five children to their family.

“I made my mother a promise that I would finish my degree when I got married,” Reeves said. “I’m so happy that this program honors the credits I had already earned and gave me the opportunity to have my diploma.”

“The government, the state of Mississippi and Ole Miss, they don’t owe me anything. I feel that this program is just grace extended to people like me who were so close to finishing but needed a little extra assistance to get across the finish line.”

The B.U.S. program is available for students 21 and older, with a minimum of 90 degree-applicable credit hours who have not been enrolled in college in the past 24 months and have not earned another bachelor’s degree. All applicants must meet the university’s admissions requirements and apply to the C2C.

Designed to provide adult students with a flexible pathway to complete a baccalaureate degree, the program allows an individualized curriculum for a student to complete up to three emphasis areas that will position them favorably in their career.

During the celebration, Tony Ammeter, associate provost for the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education and dean of general studies, addressed the graduates.

“It is our hope that the courses you took and the degree you now hold better your life,” he said. “You represent the best work of UM and even though for some of you, it may have been a while ago, we hope Ole Miss has helped you become a leader – a leader who especially understands that success isn’t about the riches you gain, but the people you help.”

Since the program was new this year, this celebration event will make way for future B.U.S graduates to be honored during the university’s official commencement exercises in May, when graduates will walk alongside Bachelor of General Studies students to receive their diplomas.

“Since the university hosts only one commencement ceremony per year, and we were unable to confer degrees for the B.U.S. students until that date had passed, we decided for this year only to host this special event to encourage and celebrate these new graduates who had already waited so long to hold their degree,” Blackmarr said.

Former Ole Miss students who are interested in learning more about this program can visit

Professor Uses NSF Grant to Study Interpersonal Communications

Graham Bodie and colleagues study conversations about everyday stressors, levels of support

Graham Bodie

OXFORD, Miss. – Graham Bodie believes that if people can feel that they’re being heard during times of stress, their lives will improve. With that in mind, he is working to find the best way to teach critical listening skills that could enhance lives.

A visiting professor of integrated marketing communications at the University of Mississippi, Bodie is conducting his research through a three year-grant from the National Science Foundation.

UM received the grant from the NSF’s Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences as part of a collaborative effort to study what happens during conversations about everyday problems. Penn State University and the University of Minnesota also were awarded grants in support of the collaboration, which seeks to clarify how discussing everyday stressors with others conveys support and leads to different emotional outcomes.

Bodie’s work will look at how a listener’s supportive comments influence the way a person talks about their stressful experience.

“My academic background is in how humans process information and how they behave as listeners, particularly within the context of talking about stressful events,” Bodie said. “What do we say that allows others to better understand their unique stressors and ultimately to cope with those events?

“How should we best train people in this capacity? What can listening to others teach us about ourselves, our society and our world?”

Bodie previously conducted research on listening and the social cognitive foundation of human communicative behavior. This project will expand on the nuances of what people do when they offer support to others, a facet that he said has not been thoroughly explored.

“Although there is work on specific features of supportive messages, it tends to be hypothetical, asking participants to imagine they receive support,” Bodie said. “Likewise, although there is work that pairs people together to talk through stressful events, most of this work explores general impressions of the conversation – how supported they felt after the conversation.”

This grant will allow Bodie to work with data from four previous studies, which includes more than 450 videotaped conversations of a person describing a stressor to another, while the listener provides support.

The research conducted with this grant fits in with the university’s Community Wellbeing Flagship Constellation research initiative, where researchers identify factors that impair the well-being of individuals and work to implement programs to build stronger, more vibrant communities.

“Dr. Bodie and his team’s recent National Science Foundation grant award demonstrates the opportunities we have to increase knowledge and improve practice and policy through cutting-edge research,” said John Green, constellation team leader and director of the UM Center for Population Studies. “As an active part of the Community Wellbeing Flagship Constellation and a committed member of the steering committee, Dr. Bodie is contributing to the University of Mississippi’s leadership in scholarly endeavors that will improve people’s lives.”

The research will examine how variations in these particular types of interactions result in differences in how the distressed person continues to express their thoughts and feelings throughout the interaction.

“What is missing is an understanding of how messages unfold over the course of a conversation to regulate the emotions of a person in distress,” said Denise Solomon, principal investigator and professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State. “Our project will focus on studying the conversation linkages between one person’s supportive messages and the other person’s cognitive and emotional responses in an effort to map those dynamic patterns.”

The investigators will analyze every element of these conversations and develop strategies to show how emotion and cognitive processing are affected during the course of an interaction. The researchers have predicted that distressed individuals who are responsive to high-quality supportive messages during an interaction leave the conversation with an improved emotional state and a new understanding of their issue.

“The main prediction is the interaction between support quality and how disclosers talk about their event,” Bodie said. “I feel like if people can feel heard in times of stress, their lives will improve, and I want to know how we can best teach these skills toward bettering our lives.”

The researchers hope their findings will ultimately be able to assist support providers and counselors, while also leading to additional research to determine why some individuals or relationships show different levels of responsiveness during supportive conversations.

“The novelty in this research is mapping responsiveness within interactions onto important conversational outcomes, which opens the door to new questions about why those patterns differ between people and between relationships,” Solomon said.

“We also envision that the tool kit we develop can be used to illuminate the dynamics of other types of consequential conversations, such as in conflict negotiations or attempts to influence a partner’s health behavior.”

Other investigators on the project include Susanne Jones, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Minnesota, and Nilam Ram, professor of human development, family studies and psychology at Penn State.

Funding for this research was provided through grant no. 1749474 from the NSF Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences.