Daniel Roberts Reflects Upon His Days with UM Black Student Union

Organization provided support, fellowship and opportunities for many African-American students

Daniel Curtis Roberts, a 2014 UM public policy graduate from Moss Point, now works as an account executive for Edelman, the world’s largest communications marketing firm,in New York. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – While others may have questioned Daniel Roberts’ decision to enroll at the University of Mississippi, the Moss Point native felt no apprehension about being on campus. And any doubts about whether he belonged soon disappeared, thanks to his involvement in the Black Student Union.

Black Student Union was a safe space for black students,” said Roberts, who graduated in 2014 with a degree in public policy leadership and a minor in political science. “It provided a place to talk about the challenges we saw on campus and strategize ways to address them.

“BSU allowed us to be ourselves and stay in touch with the culture that we experienced growing up, while navigating a predominantly white university. It taught us about the different hues of blackness and the varied experiences many of us have.”

Most importantly, the organization, which celebrates its 50th year in 2018, helped African-American students maneuver through campus while being unapologetically black, said Roberts, who lives in New York City.

“I appreciate BSU for that,” he said. “I continue supporting the university by playing an active role in the internship program. I work with the staff twice a year to speak with students who are interning in my city and help connect them with professionals in their fields of interest.”

Roberts said he had always told himself if he didn’t go to college on the East Coast, he’d go to the best school in Mississippi: Ole Miss. After being accepted to the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Trent Lott Leadership Institute and receiving a full scholarship, it was a no brainer.

“I didn’t have any apprehension, but there were a lot of people who questioned my decision because of the university’s history involving integration,” Roberts said.

Roberts is remembered by UM staff members as a leader who worked with purpose.

“Daniel was personally motivated to make a difference for the active students in the Black Student Union,” said Valeria Ross, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Leadership and Advocacy. “He wanted to contribute however he could.

“What I remember most about Daniel was the intentionality with which he approached his support for the Black Student Union. He was very creative and he helped students pursue, oftentimes, unique opportunities … definitely ones that many times the student had not considered.”

Roberts pushed the importance of networking, internships and planning for the next step beyond the undergraduate experience with members of the Black Student Union, Ross said.

“He was one of the Black Student Union leaders who I remember passionately pushing study abroad, summer internships, connecting with alumni, all in an effort to encourage intentionality in charting the student leader journey so that it would connect to the student’s overall future career and/or graduate school plans,” she said.

As a student, Roberts served as chief of staff to BSU President Quadray Kohlhiem.

“My most memorable moment in BSU was during the university’s 50th year of integration,” Roberts said. “Our school received a great deal of international media coverage – noting the progress we made – and brought monumental speakers including Attorney General Eric Holder and civil rights leader Harry Belafonte.

“During this time, BSU leaders played a huge role in sharing stories of progress, while pointing out areas that still needed addressing.”

An account executive at Edelman, the world’s largest communications marketing firm, Roberts’ work includes doing a mix of public relations such as crisis management, executive visibility and celebrity engagement for several major brands.

“Ole Miss prepared me for this path by providing me countless opportunities to engage in global thinking through studying abroad three times (Ecuador, Germany and South Africa) and interning with first lady Michelle Obama at the White House,” he said. “Those experiences led to me securing a full-time role at the White House where I worked in communications and legislative affairs before starting my current role.”

Roberts’ parents, Ruben and Debra Roberts, and sister, Rachael Roberts, still reside in Moss Point.

Honor Celebrates Legacy of ‘Doc’ Hollingsworth

Ole Miss Women's Council selects 2018 Legacy Award winner

Dr. Gerald M. ‘Doc’ Hollingsworth will receive the 2018 Legacy Award from the Ole Miss Women’s Council. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Dr. Gerald M. “Doc” Hollingsworth, a Mississippi native and University of Mississippi alumnus, has devoted a lifetime to taking care of his patients, monitoring the health of high school athletes, championing competition for intellectually challenged youth and providing major resources for his alma mater’s athletic programs.

For these reasons and more, he will receive the 2018 Legacy Award from the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy.

The prestigious award recognizes those who have a lifework of mentoring, leadership, scholarship and/or philanthropy – characteristics promoted and encouraged by the OMWC. All these are descriptive of Hollingsworth, who lives in Niceville, Florida. The physician and businessman has mentored many young people and attributes his own successful medical career to mentors in his life.

“Dr. Earl Fyke of Centerville, Mississippi, asked me to go on house calls with him and then shadow him at the hospital,” Hollingsworth said. “He was trying to encourage my interest in medicine.

“He actually demanded that I attend the University of Mississippi. I was already on the campus of another Mississippi university, and Dr. Fyke came and got me.”

Fyke provided the resources and necessities for Hollingsworth to attend Ole Miss and succeed.

“The other mentor in my life was Dr. Arthur Guyton – author of the world’s most widely used medical textbooks – who steered me to Harvard University for medical school after I finished Ole Miss,” Hollingsworth said. “Dr. Guyton and Dr. Fyke were the two most influential people in my life, as well as my mother, Irma Blakeney Hollingsworth, who gave me unconditional love and support and made me believe I could achieve my dreams.”

The OMWC will recognize Hollingsworth for being influential in the lives of many others.

“The far-reaching impact of Dr. Hollingsworth’s service and philanthropy will be felt for generations to come,” said Mary Donnelly Haskell of Oxford, OMWC chair. “He devoted almost 35 years to serving as the team doctor for Choctawhatchee, Ft. Walton Beach and Niceville high schools. He helped found the All-Sports Foundation of Northwest Florida and helped establish the first chapter of Special Olympics in Florida.

“‘Doc’ Hollingsworth, as he is affectionately called, also has generously provided private gifts to ensure that Ole Miss athletics programs have the resources to provide student-athletes with outstanding opportunities and facilities, as well as enhance experiences for Rebel fans.”

Hollingsworth said he believes in athletic competition on all levels for its many benefits.

“It develops the mind, body and personal confidence, giving athletes a sense of accomplishment. It expands participants’ horizons, helps them meet people and make friends – competition adds spice to life! In the awards given by the All-Sports Foundation of Northwest Florida, we have recognized high school, college and pro competitors, such as Danny Wuerffel, a Heisman Trophy winner.

“I also absolutely loved the idea of Special Olympics when I first heard of the organization,” he continued. “And when Charlie McFarland and I brought the competition to Florida, seeing the beaming faces of those young people was so moving. The participants competed for the joy of competition and that should be the primary goal of sports; it’s not just about winning.”

The April 14 Legacy Award sponsor reception and dinner will be in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, where the field is named for Hollingsworth. C Spire, the nation’s largest privately held wireless provider, is again the presenting sponsor for the event. Other sponsors will be announced soon.

Before he retired, Hollingsworth saw much success not only with his medical practice but also with automobile dealerships and a real estate company.

After completing a surgical residency at Duval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, he was a U.S. Navy flight surgeon from 1957 to 1959. The physician began his private surgical practice in Ft. Walton, Florida, in 1960. In 1968, he served as a volunteer physician with Project Hope in Da Nang, Vietnam, treating civilian battle casualties.

For many years, Hollingsworth also was a medical examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Legacy Award joins a list of other honors bestowed on Hollingsworth. The Ole Miss chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame honored him with the Amateur Football Award for contributions to the collegiate athletic world. The All-Sports Association of Northwest Florida honored him with its Community Service Award, and he was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame.

In 2015, the longtime donor committed $25 million – the largest gift in the history of Ole Miss athletics – to support the Forward Together campaign and create the Gerald M. Hollingsworth, M.D., Athletic Scholarship Endowment.

“I love the school so much,” he explained. “Ole Miss took a shy, awkward young fellow and turned him into someone with enough confidence to achieve the things I have achieved. I will never forget what Ole Miss has given for me, the educational foundation and the outstanding experiences.”

Hollingsworth named some of the “wonderful friends” he made through Ole Miss, including Charlie Conerly, John Vaught, Cob Jarvis, Jake Gibbs, Olivia and Archie Manning and family, Jim Weatherly, Robert Khayat, Warner Alford, Shirley and Eddie Crawford, Billy Mustin, Wobble Davidson, Pete Boone, Langston Rogers, John Cain and “so many, many other Ole Miss people whom I dearly love.”

The OMWC was established in 2000 by a group of female leaders and philanthropists. The council awards scholarships to both young women and men based on their academic performance, desire to give back to society and successful interview process. Council members are committed to nurturing the development of the students through mentoring, leadership development, cultural experiences and travel opportunities.

In its 17th year, the OMWC scholarship endowment stands at more than $13.1 million. The $32,000 named scholarships are awarded each year and have grown to be among the largest on campus. Thus far, 119 OMWC scholars, including 26 current students, have benefited from the program.

“This year we are so excited to award the OMWC Legacy Award to Dr. Hollingsworth, who has been a deeply committed philanthropic supporter of Ole Miss as well as a huge advocate of high school athletes on the Florida Panhandle,” said Roane Grantham of Oxford, the OMWC member chairing the Legacy Award event. “Because Hollingsworth Field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium bears his name, we will host this celebratory event in the South End Zone Club with an exclusive sponsor event just prior in the Field Club.”

Sponsorships, preferred tables and individual tickets are available for this traditionally sold-out event. For information concerning sponsorships ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, award dinner tickets or Rose Society membership, contact Nora Capwell with the OMWC at 662-915-2384 or ncapwell@olemiss.edu. Information on the Women’s Council can be found at http://www.omwc.olemiss.edu.

Ole Miss Alumni Association Welcomes 2017-18 Officers

Bobby Bailess begins term as president

New officers of the Ole Miss Alumni Association are (from left) Kirk Purdom, treasurer; Leon Collins, president-elect; Bobby Bailess, president; Matt Lusco, vice president; Deano Orr, Athletics committee member; and Andy Kilpatrick, Athletics Committee member. UM photo by Jim Urbanek

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Alumni Association announced its officers for 2017-18 on Saturday (Oct. 14) as part of Homecoming festivities at the University of Mississippi.

Bobby Bailess (BBA 73, JD 76) was named president, a one-year term that changes each Homecoming. Bailess is a lifelong resident of Vicksburg, practicing law there since 1976.

“I am so humbled and honored to serve the Ole Miss family,” Bailess said. “Natalie and I look forward to working with and getting to know more of the alumni, faculty, students and friends of this great university.”

Bailess was a three-year letterman for the Rebel football team from 1971 to 1973. He is a fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation and served as a member of the foundation’s board of trustees. He is past president of the Mississippi Bar Association, a member of the Lamar Order and a former chairman of the Law Alumni Board.

He and his wife, Natalie (BAEd 73), have three children, Russ (BBA 99, MBA 01), Katherine and Becca (BAEd 07), and four grandchildren.

“I know that Bobby and Natalie Bailess will serve Ole Miss and the Alumni Association with grace and enthusiasm,” said Hal Moore (MD 76), outgoing Alumni Association president, of Pascagoula.

Retired Maj. Gen. Augustus Leon Collins, (BBA 82) of Madison, chief executive officer for MINACT Inc., was named president-elect. Matt Lusco (BBA 79), senior executive vice president and chief risk officer for Regions Financial Corp. in Birmingham, Alabama, was elected vice president.

Athletics Committee members are Andy Kilpatrick (BBA 87), of Grenada, and Deano Orr (BBA 93), of Bartlett, Tennessee. Kilpatrick serves as counsel for the Mississippi State Board of Architecture. Orr serves as executive director of International Paper Foundation in Memphis.

Kirk Purdom, the Alumni Association’s executive director (BA 93), serves as treasurer.

Alumnus Credits UM Experiences for Role in James Beard Nomination

Hospitality management graduate Carlyle Watt lauded for artisan breads, local sourcing

Carlyle Watt cuts into a focaccia at the Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop. Photo by Brian Adams

OXFORD, Miss. – Carlyle Watt, a 2005 graduate of the University of Mississippi’s hospitality management program and a 2017 James Beard Award nominee in the Outstanding Baker category, returned to campus recently to participate in the 20th Southern Foodways Symposium.

In his first experience with the symposium, Watt attended lectures and tastings designed to reframe ideas about ethnicity and identity in the Latin American culture, the theme for this year’s event, held Oct. 5-7. He networked with hundreds of chefs and mentors involved with the Southern Foodways Alliance, a member-supported organization based at the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“We’re so proud of Carlyle for his Beard Award nomination,” said Dru Jones, chef and food specialist for Lenoir Dining, the campus restaurant run by students in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management. “It is a huge honor to be nominated, since these awards are often referred to as the ‘Oscars of food’ in the culinary world.”

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields. Only 20 semifinalists were named in this year’s national competition.

Watt has been head baker at Fire Island Rustic Bake Shop in Anchorage, Alaska, for five years, creating a selection of 15 or more artisan breads daily. Watt works closely with the area’s farmers and designs his menus accordingly, sourcing as much local, organic and sustainable product as possible.

A native of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, Watt learned to cook the traditional cuisines of the Carolinas from his parents and grandmothers. While attending Ole Miss, he cooked at Proud Larry’s, Oxford Steak Company and Bouré.

With his first James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Baker in tow, Carlyle Watt visits Lenoir Hall while in Oxford for the 20th Southern Foodways Symposium. Submitted photo

The hospitality management program curriculum at UM offers a foundation in liberal arts, business and operations management. The program’s curriculum is designed to enhance and strengthen students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, so that they can address, meet and adapt to the various needs of the hospitality industry in managerial positions.

Since the hospitality management degree program at Ole Miss exposes students to all facets of the industry, the chef himself mentors and advises students who find a passion for cooking while they consider which culinary school to attend after graduation.

After graduation and several cooking gigs across the Southeast, Watt attended the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Saint Helena, California.

“It was awesome, because I got to go to the accelerated program because of my degree,” Watt said. “If you have a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, dietetics or nutrition, you skip all the classroom stuff and go straight to eight months of intense kitchen training, and I was done.”

After culinary school, Watt moved to Alaska to pursue a career as a personal chef, but after a few years on the job decided to return to what he loved the most from culinary school: baking.

“I got a job as a night baker in culinary school for the school’s restaurant,” he said. “I would go to school until like 9 p.m. and go straight over to the bakery. Everyone, students and instructors, were gone, and I’d have the place to myself. I’d bake bread all night.”

As founding members of the Super Saturated Sugar Strings, Watt and his wife, Theresa, appreciate that Watt’s early baking hours afford them time to spend practicing and playing the alt-folk music they love, with Watt on vocals, guitar and percussion and Theresa on cello. Their six-member band can be seen at venues and festivals across Alaska, Colorado and Oregon.

Watt is one of three brothers who attended Ole Miss. Kenton Watt, a journalism graduate, is a development officer for Texas Christian University, and Bill Watt runs Carolina Lumber Sourcing in Charleston, South Carolina.

For more information about the UM Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, visit http://nhm.olemiss.edu/.

UM Town Hall Features Strategic Plan Unveiling

Chancellor, provost share vision for university's future, invite ideas for achieving goals

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter delivers the ‘State of the University’ address during the university’s second Town Hall event Wednesday (Oct. 11) at The Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Responding to ideas and hopes expressed more than a year ago at the University of Mississippi’s first-ever universitywide Town Hall, UM officials unveiled a new strategic plan for the institution’s future success Wednesday (Oct. 11) at the second Town Hall.

Similar to the inaugural event, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni attended the two-hour gathering in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom of The Inn at Ole Miss. Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter opened with a “State of the University” address.

“We can see higher peaks, but to reach those peaks, we must continue having the important conversations about, ‘How do we go from great to greater?’ and ‘How will we get there?'” Vitter said. “The four pillars that emerged from the Flagship Forum last year are academic excellence; healthy and vibrant communities; people, places and resources; and athletics excellence.

“Our road map to the future focuses upon these four pillars.”

Audience members posed questions to Ole Miss administrators during a question-and-answer session following Vitter’s address.

Members of the UM community share ideas for the university’s future at the second Town Hall event Wednesday (Oct. 11) at The Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Also during the assembly, Provost Noel Wilkin unveiled the “Flagship Forward” strategic plan, born from the 550 ideas shared at the first Town Hall in August 2016. Wilkin outlined details about the transformative initiatives and goals around the four pillars.

Attendees were among the first in the university community to receive a copy of the new strategic plan.

“Each pillar has its own transformative initiative and specific goals,” Wilkin said. “For example, the academic excellence initiative is to accelerate and inspire solutions to society’s grand challenges. Our goals are to enhance the quality of academic programs, support faculty excellence, enhance student success and increase research and creative achievement.”

UM faculty and staff members discuss ideas and share feedback for the university’s future at the second Town Hall event Wednesday (Oct. 11) at The Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

During the interactive segment of the Town Hall, participants were asked to brainstorm future “headlines” they hope will be achieved within the next five years and beyond. By the end of the event, more than 150 “headlines” focused around the pillars and goals were shared.

Anne Klinger, a staff member in the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education who attended last year’s Town Hall, said she felt the new strategic plan definitely reflected ideas expressed last year.

“I think that the committee looked at all the great ideas submitted and narrowed them down to these achievable ideals,” she said. “I am inspired by many of them and I can’t wait to see where we are at by the next Town Hall.”

Students in attendance expressed similar hopefulness.

“The thing I most look forward to is achieving a goal within the people, places and resources pillar,” said Abigail Percy, a junior journalism major from Carthage. “I’d most definitely like to see more appreciation for theater and film.”

Logan Williamson, another junior journalism student from Byrum, said the academic excellence pillar is important to him.

“My hope is that as Ole Miss continues to grow, the campus culture will continue to evolve in order for everyone to rise,” he said.

The session was moderated by David Magee, longtime Oxford resident, Ole Miss alumnus and publisher of The Oxford Eagle.

“This is a moment when we all get to actively participate in the future of this great university,” Magee said. “We all love Ole Miss and everything that it has accomplished, but were poised to achieve more than we’ve ever dared to imagine.”

Vitter urged participants to recognize their responsibilities as Ole Miss Rebels and members of the state’s flagship university as they face the world’s many challenges.

“Being an Ole Miss Rebel means we stand up for one another, it means we do not shy away from difficult discussions, it means every voice matters and it means we move forward together in a shared vision for our future,” Vitter said.

Alumni Association to Honor Outstanding Graduates at Homecoming

Recipients will be recognized on the field during Vanderbilt game

Don Frugé

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Alumni Association is awarding seven distinguished University of Mississippi alumni with its highest annual awards as part of Homecoming 2017.

Inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame for 2017 are: Don Frugé (BBA 67, JD 70) of Oxford; Walton Gresham III (BBA 71) of Indianola; James E. Keeton (BA 61, MD 65) of Jackson; Tom Papa (BBA 57) of Jackson; and Mary Sharp Rayner (BAEd 64) of Oxford.

Former Gov. William Winter (BA 43, LLB 49) of Jackson will receive the Alumni Service Award for service to the university and the Alumni Association over an extended period. Candie L. Simmons (BBA 02, MBA 15) of Ridgeland will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees at 6 p.m. Friday (Oct. 13) in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner for the award recipients follows at 7 p.m.

Created in 1974, the Hall of Fame honors select alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or university through good deeds, services or contributions that have perpetuated the good name of Ole Miss.

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have shown exemplary leadership throughout their first 15 years of alumni status in both their careers and dedication to Ole Miss.

Frugé is chairman and CEO of Fruge Capital Advisors LLC, an independently registered investment advisory firm. He is also of counsel at the Fruge Law Firm PLLC, of Oxford.

A 1963 graduate of Meridian High School, Frugé received his Bachelor of Business Administration and Juris Doctor degrees from UM followed by a Master of Law degree in taxation from New York University in 1971. He joined the law faculty in 1971 and has continued to teach courses in estate planning, taxation and nonprofit organizations.

Frugé has served the university in a number of capacities, including professor of law, executive director of development, vice chancellor for university affairs, vice chancellor for university advancement, head golf coach and as president and CEO of the University of Mississippi Foundation. He serves as chairman of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation (2005 to present), a board member of the UM Foundation, a member of the Joint Committee on University Investments (1984 to present) and professor emeritus of law.

Frugé and his wife, Mary Ann (BA 66, MA 70), are active members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford.

Walton Gresham III

Gresham serves as president of Gresham Petroleum Co., secretary of Double Quick, secretary of Delta Terminal and director and member of the executive committee of Planters Bank & Trust Co.

He is active in his community and profession and is a past president of Delta Council, the Indianola Rotary Club, the Indianola Educational Foundation and the Indianola Chamber of Commerce. He is chairman of the Community Foundation of Sunflower County. Gresham is past president of the Mississippi Propane Gas Association and Mississippi Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. He also served as the Mississippi director to the National Propane Gas Association.

A longtime volunteer leader, Gresham’s passion is to promote economic development and a better infrastructure in the Mississippi Delta and the state of Mississippi.

Gresham is married to the former Laura Ethridge (BAEd 71) of Oxford, and they have two daughters and five grandchildren. He is a lifelong member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, serving in all offices over the past 45 years in addition to being a licensed lay reader.

James E. Keeton

Keeton served as UMMC’s vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine from 2009 to 2015. He retired in January 2017 and holds emeritus status in these roles and as professor of surgery and pediatrics.

During his tenure, Keeton oversaw planning of and secured funding for a new, state-of-the-art School of Medicine building that is allowing UMMC to expand medical classes to train more doctors for Mississippi.

Keeton was instrumental in planning the construction of the $25 million University Heart Center, the $68 million Translational Research Center and a $23 million public-private project to create housing close to campus for students and faculty.

He shepherded the Medical Center through a $90 million, multiyear effort to implement an enterprise electronic health record that culminated in conversion from paper to computer records in a single day in June 2012.

Keeton was named the 2014 Distinguished Medical Alumnus by his peers. The award is given to an alumnus who made distinctive contributions to the field of medicine.

Keeton and his wife, Jona (MSN 90), live in Jackson and are parents of two children and grandparents to seven grandchildren.

Tom Papa

Papa was born and raised in Helena, Arkansas. He graduated high school from Subiaco Academy in May 1947 and joined the U.S. Navy. He went on to attend UM, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration. While at Ole Miss, Papa was an active member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

After graduation, Papa returned to Jackson to work for the Internal Revenue Service. Shortly thereafter, he began his private practice accounting career at Touche Ross & Co. Upon his retirement, Papa helped form the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, where he served as president for many years. In 1998, the Ford Foundation awarded the university $20 million to design and build the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Through his work at the foundation, Papa has been instrumental in the foundation’s support of the university, including gifts to the planned new science building and the UMMC Mind Center.

Papa lives in Jackson with his wife, Gayle. He is the father of two children and grandfather of four.

Mary Sharp Rayner

A native of Grenada, Rayner graduated from Ole Miss with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She taught history, speech and English for several years in the Jackson and Memphis public school systems. After she and her husband, Jim (MD 66), moved to Oxford, she worked in his ophthalmology practice as a front office manager.

Since moving to Oxford in 1971, Rayner has served on the founding boards of Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the first Oxford Little Theatre. She also served on the boards of numerous other local organizations. She has remained active in her collegiate sorority, Delta Delta Delta, serving in many advisory capacities locally and as a national officer. She served as president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association from 2002 to ’03 and was chair of the Ole Miss Women’s Council in 2007-09.

Rayner volunteers her time with several local organizations, her church, the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation board of governors and the Ole Miss Women’s Council. She remains active in the Ole Miss Alumni Association as a member of the board of directors.

Rayner and her husband have three children and four grandchildren.

William Winter

Alumni Service Award recipient Winter served as governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. Before that, he was elected to the offices of state representative, state tax collector, state treasurer and lieutenant governor. He served as chairman of the Southern Regional Education Board, the Commission on the Future of the South, the National Civic League, the Kettering Foundation, the Foundation for the Mid-South, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Ole Miss Alumni Association.

Winter was a member of President Clinton’s National Advisory Board on Race and was instrumental in the founding of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at UM. He was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

In 1998, Winter was the recipient of the Mississippi Bar’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His credentials within the academic community are longstanding: Jamie Whitten Professor of Law and Government at the UM School of Law (1989); Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College (1989); fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University (1985); and president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association (1978).

Born in Grenada, Winter served overseas as an infantry officer in the Pacific in World War II. An attorney in the Jones Walker law firm in Jackson, he is married to the former Elise Varner (BA 48). They have three daughters, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Candie L. Simmons

The Outstand Young Alumni Award recipient, Simmons is a senior vice president and regional marketing director for Regions Financial Corp. in Jackson.

A native of Ocean Springs, she is the youngest African-American on the bank’s Mississippi Executive Leadership Team and youngest senior vice president in Mississippi. In 2017, she was selected for Regions Financial Corp.’s prestigious Leaders at All Levels III Class.

Simmons was selected by the Mississippi Business Journal as a 2009 “Top 40 Under 40” and 2013 “Top 50 Leading Business Woman,” where she placed in the top 10. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., recently completing her second term as treasurer for her local chapter and was voted 2013 Soror of the Year.

Simmons was selected for the 2018 American Heart Association Executive Leadership Team and selected as a 2017 Champion of Change and a Woman Making a Difference in Madison County for the Madison County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Former State Supreme Court Justice Supports Law Students

Reuben Anderson hopes gift will help develop future leaders

Reuben and Phyllis Anderson. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Continuing his legacy of support to the University of Mississippi, retired state Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson’s most recent gift will provide scholarships for full-time law students.

Since becoming the first African-American graduate of the UM School of Law in 1967, Anderson and his wife, Phyllis, have committed more than $200,000 to the law school, to the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and to the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

“The law school gave me so much. If it wasn’t for the law school, I probably wouldn’t be a lawyer. The people I had contact with when I was there played a major role in my life and I want them to be remembered,” said Anderson, specifically naming Josh Morse, former law dean.

“But probably more than anything else, I think it’s important that the law school stay strong, attract Mississippians and develop our leaders for the future. They’ve always done that and a little help on the scholarship end can be beneficial. I think it’s important that we continue to attract people to stay in Mississippi and not leave.”

Anderson is a senior partner at the Phelps Dunbar LLP law firm in Jackson. He attended Jackson public schools and earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Tougaloo College in 1964 before enrolling in law school. In 1967, he was admitted to the Mississippi State Bar.

His professional experience includes serving as Mississippi associate counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. in 1967-75; a partner with Anderson, Banks, Nichols & Stewart, 1968-77; municipal judge for the city of Jackson, 1975-77; county court judge for Hinds County, 1977-82; judge for the Seventh Circuit Court District of Mississippi, 1982-85; Mississippi Supreme Court justice, 1985-90; and the Jamie L. Whitten Chair of Law and Government at UM, fall 1995.

“All of it can be attributed to the fact that I got a solid legal education at the Ole Miss law school,” Anderson said. “I’ve always thought the law school was a great institution. I think it’s world-class. It has a great faculty and leadership and a great incoming new dean.”

Dean Susan Duncan said she is grateful for Anderson and other alumni and friends who choose to support the school.

“We are so appreciative of Reuben Anderson and his support to the law school,” she said. “Gifts like his enable us to offer scholarships to our students, which help alleviate the financial burden of a legal education. Mr. Anderson is truly making a difference with his contribution.”

Anderson received a wealth of recognitions throughout his legal career. Among others, he is the first African-American to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court and the first African-American president of the Mississippi Bar, and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America.

He was inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame in 2009, the UM School of Law Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame in 1995. He was presented the Mississippi Bar’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and is the namesake for the Reuben V. Anderson Pre-Law Society at Tougaloo College. He also provided leadership as president of the state Chamber of Commerce in 2001 and as a member of the UM Foundation board of directors.

Anderson has served on the boards of directors of AT&T in Dallas; The Kroger Co. of Cincinnati; MINACT Inc. and Trustmark National Bank, both in Jackson; Mississippi Chemical of Yazoo City; Burlington Resources of Houston, Texas; and BellSouth in Atlanta.

Anderson is a member of the 100 Black Men of Jackson and the U.S. Supreme Court, the American, Mississippi, Hinds County, Magnolia, National and U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals bar associations.

The Andersons have three children – Vincent, Raina and Rosalyn – and two grandchildren, James and Anderson.

“We are at a time when private support is essential for law students and ultimately the stability of the law school itself,” said Suzette Matthews, the school’s development officer. “Mr. Anderson’s vision for the future will impact the lives of hundreds of law students and help to shape law practice in Mississippi in the future. We are deeply grateful for his generous support.”

Individuals and organizations may make gifts to the Reuben V. Anderson Law Scholarship Endowment by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/ or contacting Suzette Matthews at 601-937-1497 or suzette@olemiss.edu.

UM Enrolls 23,780 Students for Fall Semester

State's flagship increases Mississippi residents in freshman class

Freshmen throw up the Landshark sign during the University of Mississippi’s Fall Convocation. The university enrolled 3,697 freshmen this fall and 23,780 students overall. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has registered 23,780 students across all its campuses, the state’s largest total enrollment, for the fall semester. This includes a freshman class with a larger proportion of Mississippi residents than last year’s.

Enrollment at the state’s flagship university reflects a strategy aimed at balancing incoming classes to be more representative of its home state by concentrating recruiting efforts in-state and raising out-of-state academic requirements.

“We are so pleased to welcome our newest freshmen and transfer students who will contribute to our ever-increasing academic excellence, stellar learning environment and outstanding college experience,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “As we remain committed to offering a flagship education, we will also continue to manage our growth with great care.”

This year’s freshman class of 3,697 students includes a greater percentage of Mississippi residents, 45.4 percent – a 2.5 percent increase over last year. It also has a higher percentage of minorities, 21.2 percent, than last year’s entering class.

Growth in both areas reflects a strategy aimed at aligning enrollment with the university’s core mission of educating Mississippians, said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“We have focused on recruiting more Mississippi students, through our general admissions programs, our MOST mentoring program and hosting important programs such as the American Legion’s Boys State,” she said. “It is rewarding to see growth in these areas through our concerted efforts.”

To help accommodate an Oxford campus population that has increased by 62 percent over the past decade, the university has been renovating buildings and constructing new facilities. The university has some $400 million worth of construction recently completed, in progress or on the drawing board. 

In recent weeks, a new 1,500-space residential garage, the renovated Gillom Women’s Sports Center and the expanded Student Union food court opened, providing new options for students. The food court is part of an ongoing $59 million expansion and renovation project that will increase the Student Union’s size from 97,000 to 173,000 square feet by 2019.

The university also is working on a new recreation center and transportation hub, a $32 million project on the south end of campus; a $23.5 million renovation and expansion of Garland, Hedleston and Mayes halls, which will provide a new home for the School of Applied Sciences and new classrooms; and renovation of public spaces and offices in Johnson Commons East.

“In orientation sessions, we talk about the Ole Miss family,” Hephner LaBanc said. “If we’re going to keep that feel on campus, we have to manage our growth and make sure students can navigate our campus easily and have access to the academic and co-curricular spaces that make them feel comfortable calling this home.”

Incoming freshmen posted an average ACT score of 25.04. The class’ average high school GPA of 3.59, up from last year’s 3.57, is a university record.

This year’s first-time students include 85 class valedictorians, 69 salutatorians, 89 student body presidents, 107 Eagle Scouts and 20 Girl Scouts who achieved the Gold Award, the organization’s highest youth honor.

The expanded Ole Miss Student Union, which opened for the fall semester, features dining options including Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, Qdoba, Which Wich and McAlister’s Deli. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The freshman class also includes 10 recipients of Stamps scholarships, among the largest and most prestigious at Ole Miss. The Stamps Family Charitable Foundation is a national scholarship program that selects recipients for the awards based on their strong leadership potential, academic merit and exceptional character.

UM is among only 33 universities nationally in the Stamps program, and one of only six institutions with at least 10 scholars.

“Our university has a long history of attracting and developing outstanding student leaders and scholars,” said Noel Wilkin, interim provost. “We offer them valuable educational experiences and help them recognize and hone their talents.

“I look forward to seeing what this talented group of freshmen can accomplish. I fully expect them to have a tremendous influence on our local and global communities during their time here and beyond.” 

The university’s efforts to help new students adjust to college life and be successful – including FASTrack and the Freshman Year Experience program – also continue to pay dividends. Student retention remained near record levels, with 85.2 percent of last year’s freshmen returning to campus to continue their studies this fall.

Though the university receives an impressive number of nonresident applications, 12,399 for the fall semester alone, the majority of Ole Miss students, 60.2 percent, are from Mississippi, including students from all the state’s 82 counties.

The university also attracts students from around the nation and world. Overall, the student body includes representatives from every state and 86 foreign countries.

Minority enrollment totaled 5,526 students, or 23.2 percent. African-American enrollment is 3,011 students, or 12.7 percent of overall enrollment.

With an expanded building, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College grew to 1,512 total students this fall, compared to 667 students just 10 years ago. Honors students are spread across 75 academic majors, ranging from biology to chemistry and from engineering to integrated marketing communications.

This fall, the Honors College limited its freshman class to 429 new students, with 57 percent being Mississippi residents. The class recorded an average ACT of 31.1 and an average high school GPA of 3.97.

“We continue to be impressed by the caliber and the grit of our honors students,” Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “They demonstrate the willingness to take risks and engage tough questions as citizen scholars. We could not be prouder.”

UM students Denesia Lee and Priscilla Sertorio discuss a business class project in the Circle. They are among 23,780 students enrolled this fall at the university. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The university’s Provost Scholars program enrolled 831 talented freshmen with an average ACT of 28.64 and an average GPA of 3.84. The Provost Scholars program, which recruits and rewards high-achieving students with special seminars, workshops and other academic opportunities, includes 2,657 scholars from across campus.

The program, launched in 2010 with 394 students, has enjoyed rapid growth as the university attracts high-achieving students from across the state and nation.

“We are pleased that we now have over 2,600 students enrolled in our Provost Scholars program, which is geared toward offering valuable educational benefits to well-prepared students,” Wilkin said. “This and other programs are effective ways to help a larger university feel small for every student.”

Both the university’s accounting and journalism schools also welcomed larger student bodies this fall.

In the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, undergraduate enrollment increased 4.9 percent, growing from 1,486 students in fall 2016 to 1,557 this year.

Enrollment in the Patterson School of Accountancy grew 4.6 percent, to 1,442 students this fall, compared to 1,379 last year.

“The Patterson School of Accountancy is excited about having our 12th consecutive all-time enrollment high this fall,” said Mark Wilder, the school’s dean. “We have high-quality programs that are consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally which are very attractive to students.

“In addition, our career opportunities are outstanding, with Ole Miss accountancy students receiving internships and full-time job offers throughout the state, region and nation.”

Fall enrollment at the university’s Medical Center is in line with national trends related to increased employment opportunities. Thanks to increased space in the new School of Medicine building, which opened in August, the school admitted a record class of 155 first-year medical students, up from 145 last year.

School officials plan to admit 165 medical students next year as part of a strategy to meet a goal of training 1,000 new physicians by 2025. Overall School of Medicine enrollment increased from 577 in 2016 to 597 this fall.

“Medical students in Mississippi have trained in the same spaces since 1955,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “A lot has changed since then and this new building is a state-of-the-art reflection of that change.

“The additional space will accommodate larger classes and help address the state’s need for more physicians. More physicians equal better health and greater economic impact in towns across Mississippi.”

Also at the Medical Center, the new John D. Bower School of Population Health, one of only three such programs nationwide, admitted its first cohort of five Ph.D. students in biostatistics and data science.

Much of the university’s success is due to the work and dedication of faculty and staff who deliver the very best academic programs at a competitive price, Vitter said.

“By focusing on excellence and accessibility, we have been able to create tremendous opportunities for all Mississippi students who qualify and for future scholars from around our state, the country and world,” he said.

For more information on enrollment and programs at UM, go to http://www.olemiss.edu.

UM Alumna Takes Comedy on the Road

Kendall Ketchum tours with former 'SNL' cast member Darrell Hammond

Ole Miss alumna Kendall Ketchum performs her comedy routine at KAABOO’s comedy club in Del Mar, California. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi alumna Kendall Ketchum has performed her comedy routines for a decade in New York City, but she’s recently taken her talent from dive bars to a tour with former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Darrell Hammond.

Ketchum, who studied theatre arts at Ole Miss, earned her bachelor’s degree in 2006 and moved to New York shortly after, intent on breaking into comedy.

“It was always going to be New York,” she said. “I always wanted to be on ‘Saturday Night Live.'”

For a girl from Yazoo City, the cultural transition was not as difficult as one might think, thanks to a close network of other Ole Miss graduates. She immediately tried her hand at stand-up comedy.

“I completely bombed,” she said. “I would get up there and it would just be the sound of crickets. It was horrible.”

Ketchum took a break from stand-up to join the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv group and training ground for comedians that once included such heavyweights as Amy Poehler.

About five years ago after regaining her footing through improv, Ketchum began doing stand-up again. She performed successfully at big-name venues such as Gotham Comedy Club and Caroline’s on Broadway, which eventually became her home base.

The focus of Ketchum’s comedy is not jokes, but storytelling. She is known for her brand of Mississippi-meets-New York humor as she describes cultural differences and how each handles different situations.

Ketchum met Hammond while she was preparing new material for a show at Caroline’s.

“I was sitting in the green room by myself and I felt a presence of someone walk into the room,” she said. “I look up and it’s Darrell. He asks if he could sit with me, and I said, ‘sure,’ but I thought, ‘OK, don’t pester him. Just keep staring at your material.'”

The two ended up talking about New York delis and other random topics when he asked her to watch the show with him. She did, and they sat and whispered about different styles of comedy, including her own unique style.

“I did my set and when I got offstage, he was gone. We didn’t exchange contact information, so I thought that was that.”

Just a few days later, she received a call from Hammond, who had gotten her information from someone at Caroline’s.

“I met with him, and he wanted me to open for his set in New York,” she said. “He was intrigued that I was Southern and that I went to Ole Miss.”

The two began touring in September and have been working together since. Ketchum has performed with Hammond in Del Mar and San Francisco, California; Jacksonville, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Salt Lake City; and Tempe, Arizona.

“Kendall can be anything she wants to be, go anywhere she wants to go,” Hammond said. “Her comedy is appealing to everyone of all ages, Republican and Democrats alike. Being able to strike across the board like that is key.”

Ketchum said Hammond, who has a similar comedic style of storytelling, helps her with writing and ideas.

“It’s just been so great to learn from him, but I always thought my mentor would be someone a few steps ahead of me, not an ‘SNL’ legend,” she said. “He’s the best impressionist, but what people don’t know is he is the nicest person on the planet.”

Ketchum said she is excited to have gotten a break after years of hard work and, sometimes, frustration.

“I had been doing comedy in some not-so-fun places and I’m still performing in the back of dive bars,” she said. “It was nice to be thrown a bone a little bit, even though it felt out of the blue, even now.”

UM Foundation Welcomes New Development Officer

Port Kaigler brings new opportunities to School of Pharmacy

Port Kaigler

OXFORD, Miss. – For Port Kaigler, being an Ole Miss Rebel is not just a career move, it’s a family tradition. This legacy, established by his parents, was cemented for the University of Mississippi’s newest development officer when he visited his older brother at UM.

“There’s a lot of red and blue in our family,” Kaigler recalled. “We didn’t really know anything else growing up. I visited my brother when he got here in ’96 and knew where I was going from day one.”

Kaigler, who graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2010, will help raise funds as development officer for the UM School of Pharmacy. Kaigler hopes the next chapter of his Ole Miss story will produce a legacy of excellence that helps take the pharmacy school to greater heights.

“The ultimate goal is for the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy to be the top in the nation,” said Kaigler, who also earned a master’s degree in higher education from UM. “We already are No. 24 in rankings published by U.S. News & World Report and No. 9 in total research funding and we only want to go up.

“The way to do that is to attract the highest quality students by offering the best teachers and the best facilities.”

Kaigler’s career has revolved around service to the university. He began as an undergraduate, working in the camps and conference services office of the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, where he remained until he was hired by the Ole Miss Alumni Association seven years ago.

Through his work with the Alumni Association, Kaigler built a network he hopes will prove fruitful in his new position.

“A lot of what you hear from development work is a greater need for private giving,” Kaigler said. “I thought that the relationships I have built would transition very well into helping the university raise money.”

In his time at the Alumni Association, Kaigler helped cultivate a stronger relationship between the university and its 74 alumni clubs by handling integral aspects of their operations, such as communications and endowment efforts. He also managed the Rebel Road Trip throughout the Southeast with Coach Hugh Freeze and Athletics Director Ross Bjork, as well as sports travel for Ole Miss alumni and friends.

“We are thrilled that Port will be working for our program and are confident that his experience and skillset will play a significant role in advancing our mission,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Port’s passion for the education of students will be a driving force behind the continued success of the Ole Miss pharmacy school.”

Kaigler and his wife, Kelley, also an Ole Miss graduate, have a daughter, Rowan, 7, and a son, Davenport, 4.

To make a gift in support of the UM School of Pharmacy, contact Kaigler at 662-915-2712 or by email at port@olemiss.edu.