UM Alumni Association Welcomes 2018-19 Officers

Augustus Collins to lead organization for coming year

UM Alumni Association 2018-19 officers (from left,) Kirk Purdom, Candie Simmons, Lampkin Butts, Leon Collins, Matt Lusco and Andy Kilpatrick. Photo by Jim Urbanek/UM Alumni Association

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Alumni Association introduced its elected officers for 2018-19 at its annual meeting Oct. 6 as part of Homecoming activities.

Augustus L. Collins (BBA 82), of Madison, was named president, a one-year term that changes each Homecoming. Collins is chief executive officer for MINACT Inc., a major job development and training corporation.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected to serve the Ole Miss family,” Collins said. “I look forward to supporting the university, our students, our alumni and friends.”

Before accepting his position with MINACT, Collins was adjutant general of Mississippi and served as the commanding general of both the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard. He was promoted to the rank of major general in March 2012.

Collins served on active duty in Operation Desert Shield/Storm, as well as commanding the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team during combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2006. He was promoted to brigadier general on May 10, 2005, while in Iraq, making him the first African-American to attain the rank of general in the history of the Mississippi National Guard.

“(Leon’s) heart is all in,” said Bobby Bailess (BBA 73, JD 76), of Vicksburg, the association’s outgoing president. “He and his wife, Debra, are the kind of people that you want to lead this association. Support Leon and Debra as they serve you.”

Matt Lusco (BBA 79), of Birmingham, senior executive vice president and chief risk officer for Regions Financial Corp., was named president-elect. Lampkin Butts (BBA 73), of Laurel, president and chief operating officer of Sanderson Farms Inc., was elected vice president.

Athletics Committee members include Andy Kilpatrick (BBA 87), of Grenada, and Candie Simmons (BBA 02, MBA 15), of Ridgeland. Kilpatrick serves as counsel for the Mississippi State Board of Architecture. Simmons serves as a senior vice president and geography marketing strategist for Regions Financial Corp. in Jackson.

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

Whitwells Support Ole Miss Students

Oxford couple makes major commitment to Magee Center

Ginger and Quentin Whitwell, of Oxford, are supporting their alma mater and future Ole Miss students through a gift to the William Magee Center for Wellness Education. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Ginger and Quentin Whitwell have found that living in Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi, gives them an opportunity to see the needs of college students “up close and personal,” inspiring their major support of the William Magee Center for Wellness Education.

“It’s personal,” Ginger Whitwell said. “The University of Mississippi is part of who we are.”

The Whitwells’ $100,000 gift will build on the endowment for the new William Magee Center for Wellness Education, which is intended to heighten the focus on drug and alcohol education and prevention. Opening in early 2019, the center will be housed in the university’s new South Campus Recreation Facility.

The two donors join other alumni, student organizations, friends, faculty, staff, a foundation, a corporation and a church congregation that have collectively given almost $1.3 million in an 18-month period to establish the Magee Center, with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of young people who struggle with substance misuse.

Reaching and exceeding a $1.5 million minimum endowment goal will undergird the center’s programming and operations for years to come.

The Magee Center is named for William Magee, a 23-year-old Ole Miss alumnus and former Sally McDOnnell Barksdale Honors College student who lost his life to an overdose in 2013. His parents, Kent and David Magee, of Oxford, are devoting efforts toward sharing their family’s experiences in order to help others and attract support for the center.

“Kent and David are longtime friends, and we think the world of them,” said Quentin Whitwell. “When we reconnected with them after several years, we were touched by William’s story and how they are working to make sure other individuals don’t end up faced with the same circumstances.

“We admire the Magees because they have found a powerful purpose despite their tragedy. Ginger and I are in the position to help support the Magee Center and efforts to provide more support to Ole Miss students, and we are pleased to do so.”

College students across the nation are using substances to fit in, manage anxiety, manage stress and help with sleep. Among the goals of the Magee Center is increasing students’ knowledge and skills related to responsible consumption of alcohol and medicines using harm-reduction approaches.

“Kent and I expected that sharing our son’s story would be received with empathy because almost everyone knows or loves someone who faces the challenge of addiction,” David Magee said. “However, we have been overwhelmed by the positive responses to the Magee Center and are grateful to Quentin and Ginger for this very generous gift.

“The Whitwells are deeply committed to seeing the Oxford-University community thrive and thus have embraced this center as a means of helping students.”

The center also will seek to engage students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and the Oxford community in alcohol- and drug-related issues and concerns – a goal the Whitwells embrace.

“The development of the Magee Center makes me proud of our university – that leadership would take a stand and address issues head on,” said Quentin Whitwell, a founding partner of the law firm Harper Whitwell PLLC and a government affairs operative. He and a partner formed The Talon Group, a lobbying firm, and Whitwell also served on the Jackson City Council, representing northeast Jackson as Ward I councilman, before moving his family to Oxford, which is also his hometown.

The gift will affect students on several fronts, said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor of student affairs.

“As we approach a new academic year, our efforts to re-educate students about the risks of alcohol and other drugs will be front and center,” she said. “Wellness education is never-ending and is deeply rooted in student success.

“I deeply appreciate the Whitwells generosity – their gift will help us educate students and serve those in need. Above all, this couple’s support will help us elevate William Magee’s story so other students can make healthy decisions and excel academically.”

The Whitwells each enjoyed their undergraduate experience at Ole Miss, where Ginger Whitwell, a native of Forest, was an Ole Miss Ambassador, active on the Student Alumni Council and a member of Phi Mu sorority. Quentin Whitwell was Associated Student Body president, a Student Hall of Fame inductee and Sigma Nu fraternity member – like William and David Magee.

After graduation, Ginger earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern Mississippi, and Quentin earned a Juris Doctor from the UM School of Law.

“Ginger and I hope to see the Magee Center become a model for other universities and other college towns to mirror,” Quentin Whitwell said. “We are very pleased that student organizations at Ole Miss, and particularly our own sorority and fraternity, are participating in funding the Magee Center and helping address the seriousness of abuse and addiction.”

To honor their support, a large wellness classroom in the new South Campus Recreation Facility will be named for the Whitwells. Ginger Whitwell has a vision for what she wants the wellness classroom to provide.

“I hope it will be a safe place for students, a place where they feel comfortable talking about the issues they face and know those issues are important,” she said. “So many times, young people think they are going to be judged and keep problems to themselves.”

It’s natural for the Whitwells to be concerned about support to students, as they are the parents of daughter Davis, 18, who is a freshman this fall at the College of Charleston. Their son Gordon, 15, is a student and athlete at the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

“We talk forthrightly to our children about the issues of drugs and alcohol,” Quentin Whitwell said. “Our daughter recognizes the importance as a female leader of the need to be in control of situations that involve her.

“Our son spends so much time on fitness and understands the negative impact of drugs and alcohol on the body.”

Although the center has not opened, in-depth planning and curriculum development is underway as part of the initiative, and efforts continue to seek additional financial support to sustain the program, said Brett Barefoot, development officer for parent and family leadership.

“William’s Story” can be found at

The William Magee Center for Wellness Education is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations by mailing a check with the center’s name in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at

For more information contact Brett Barefoot, development director, at or 662-915-2711.

Major Gift to Help Support UM Band Recruitment

Former drum major, Tupelo native provides endowment for scholarships

UM liberal arts Dean Lee Cohen (left) and Ole Miss band director David Willson (right) thank Ed Pegues for his recent major gift in support of band scholarships. Pegues’ gift was announced at the spring concert of the Ole Miss Wind Ensemble. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Recruitment efforts for the Pride of the South, the University of Mississippi’s acclaimed marching band, recently gained support with a major gift for band scholarships.

Former Ole Miss drum major Ed Pegues, of Tupelo, has designated UM as the beneficiary of a planned gift that will establish the William E. Pegues III University Band Programs Endowment.

“We greatly appreciate Ed’s generous gift, which will impact the lives of our student musicians for generations to come while also enabling us to make significant improvements to our program,” band director David Willson said.

Pegues, who earned a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1977 and a master’s degree in 1983, said he hopes his gift will give the university an edge over other Southeastern Conference schools that are able to recruit band members easier because of their proximity to larger metropolitan areas.

“Unfortunately, Ole Miss is located in a less-populated area with fewer band students to recruit,” Pegues said. “It is my hope that my gift will allow Ole Miss to offer larger scholarships and recruit more talented band students from a wider area and increase both talent and numbers to match or surpass the other SEC school bands.”

Pegues started playing clarinet in sixth-grade band. As his love for band grew stronger, his talent increased, allowing him to be named to the Mississippi Lions All-State Band for three consecutive years in high school. He then auditioned for and won a full-tuition band scholarship to Ole Miss.

“I was the first in my family to enroll at Ole Miss,” Pegues said. “My three younger siblings followed me to Ole Miss, as well as three of my nieces.”

Pegues said his fondest college memories include his semester as drum major in 1976 and playing in the University Orchestra, “especially my experience playing in the orchestra for Ole Miss production of the musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and in the orchestra for the performance of Mozart’s opera ‘The Marriage of Figaro.'”

After college, Pegues worked as high school band director for four years in Carthage before returning to Ole Miss in 1981 to work on his master’s degree. He then taught high school band in Philadelphia until 1986, when returned to Tupelo and joined his family’s funeral business.

He and his brother, Greg, became the fourth generation to lead W.E. Pegues Funeral Directors, founded by their great-grandfather, Walter E. Pegues, in 1891.

“When I left band directing in 1986, my enjoyment for playing ended, but my love for listening to a good band never diminished,” he said. “To this day, I continue to buy season tickets to Ole Miss football games just to see and hear the Pride of The South perform every fall.”

Pegues also tries to attend spring concerts by the Ole Miss Wind Ensemble.

Besides seeking financial support for scholarships, UM fundraisers are working to secure private gifts to underwrite expenses associated with renovating the band’s practice field, said Ron Wilson, development officer for the band.

“This is a dire need,” Wilson said. “When it rains, the field becomes a marsh, which means our Pride of the South members have to march in the mud.

“We have needed to renovate the field for a long time and we can start to concentrate more on that project now, thanks to Ed.”

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

The William E. Pegues III University Band Programs 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

For information on supporting the Pride of the South, contact Ron Wilson at 662-915-1755 or

University Announces 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Alumni Association will honor recipients at Homecoming for achievement, service

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Alumni Association is honoring seven distinguished University of Mississippi alumni with its highest annual awards as part of Homecoming 2018.

Inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame for 2018 are: Thad Cochran (BA 59, JD 65) of Oxford; Howard L. Gerlach (BBA 66, MBA 77) of Fairfax, Virginia; Mac Haik (BBA 68) of Houston, Texas; Vernon R. “Randy” Kelley III (BBA 70) of Tupelo; and James Meredith (BA 63) of Jackson.

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

Warner Alford (BBA 60, MA 66) of Oxford will receive the Alumni Service Award for service to the university and the Alumni Association over an extended period. Shaquinta Morgan (BE 03) of Madison, Alabama, will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni who have shown exemplary leadership throughout their first 15 years of alumni status in both their careers and dedication to Ole Miss.

“The Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony gives us the opportunity to recognize some of the university’s most successful and notable alumni,” said Kirk Purdom, executive director of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. “These alumni have excelled in their careers and have done so much good for the university and their communities.

“We are excited to get them back to campus at Homecoming to recognize their achievements and show our appreciation.”

The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees at 6 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom of The Inn at Ole Miss. A ticketed dinner for the award recipients will follow at 7 p.m.

Anyone interested in attending the dinner should register in advance by calling the Alumni Association office at 662-915-7375 by Sept. 21. Cost of the dinner is $100 per person, or tables of 10 are available for $1,000.

Part of the proceeds from each seat will go toward the Herb Dewees Alumni Association Scholarship.


Thad Cochran

Cochran, who retired as Mississippi’s senior U.S. senator in April 2018, enrolled at UM in 1955. He earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in psychology and a minor in political science. He was elected president of his social fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, was a company commander in the Navy ROTC and student body vice president, and was selected for membership in Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honorary.

After earning a law degree from Ole Miss, Cochran studied international law for a year under a Rotary Foundation Fellowship at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He has been awarded honorary degrees from five other colleges and universities.

Before his election to Congress in 1972, Cochran practiced law in Jackson served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. He was first elected to the Senate in 1978 and was re-elected six times.

He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, a position he also held during the 109th Congress (2005-06) and 114th Congress (2015-16). Cochran was a senior member on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, having most recently served as its ranking member in the 113th Congress (2013-14), where he played a pivotal role in helping enact the 2014 farm bill.

Cochran’s wife of 50 years, Rose Clayton, passed away in 2014 after a lengthy illness. The Cochrans have two children and three grandchildren. In 2015, Cochran married Kay Bowen Webber in Gulfport.


Larry Gerlach

Gerlach was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating high school and was selected for a full scholarship under the NROTC program in 1962. After graduating from Ole Miss, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He served as a rifle platoon leader in Vietnam before being wounded. After recovering, he was sent for a second tour in Vietnam as a senior adviser to a Vietnamese infantry battalion.

Gerlach returned to Ole Miss on assignment as the NROTC Marine officer instructor and was promoted to the rank of major in 1975.

Gerlach’s final active duty assignment was to the Second Marine Division, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. There, he assumed command of 1st Battalion 8th Marines, which was deployed in May 1983 on a peacekeeping mission in Beirut. On Oct. 23, 1983, their headquarters building was attacked by a suicide truck bomber. The bomb leveled the building and killed 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers and wounded approximately 80 more. Among many other injuries, Gerlach’s most serious was to his spinal cord, which required nine months of recovery and rehabilitation.

He retired from the Marine Corps in 1985 and started a new career in 1986, mainly in acquisition and logistics. He first served as a federal contractor and later as a civil servant at Headquarters Marine Corps and the Defense Logistics Agency. He retired in 2008.

Gerlach and his wife, Patty, have two children and two grandchildren.


Mac Haik

Haik graduated from UM with a degree in marketing and sales management. At Ole Miss, Haik was co-captain of the football team, was selected by national leadership fraternity Omicron Delta Kappa and was voted Colonel Rebel by the student body.

Haik established Mac Haik Enterprises shortly after retiring from professional football, where he was selected as the first draft choice by the NFL’s Houston Oilers. Since its inception, MHE has grown from a start-up entity of two people to an organization with 11 affiliated companies that employs approximately 3,025 associates and generates revenues in excess of $2.2 billion per year.

Haik has personally been involved in consulting, brokerage and development of property worth more than $950 million.

Mac Haik Realty recently completed 3.1 million square feet of office, hotel, restaurant and car dealership projects in the Houston Energy Corridor. The original Hilton/Embassy Suites hotel project received the Deal of the Year award from Hilton, the only such award given in the country. Haik recently was recognized as Hilton Hotels’ Hilton Developer of the Year.

Mac Haik Automotive Group is the largest independent automotive group in Texas and the 15th largest independent automotive group in the United States. Mac Haik Chevrolet in Houston has been the recipient of the prestigious Dealer of the Year Award 15 years in a row. Mac Haik Automotive Group has won 15 Triple Crown Awards, awarded by Ford Motor Co. annually to approximately 21 dealerships out of over 3,300 nationally. Haik also received the Legacy Award from Bill Ford of Ford Motor Co. for outstanding sales, service and customer satisfaction rating and community service.


Rand Kelley

Kelley has focused his vision and talents on assisting the people of Northeast Mississippi in expanding their horizons and improving their quality of life for four decades. As a young man, Kelley left his home in Missouri to chase the dream of playing football at Ole Miss. While his time on the gridiron never flourished, his academic training resulted in a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance and master’s degree in urban and regional planning.

In 1976, he joined the Three Rivers Planning and Development District, assuming the role as executive director, overseeing a small budget serving eight counties. His vision has created numerous services and generated tremendous results. Three Rivers operates 10 different corporations that range in size from three counties to statewide, with a combined budget in excess of $193 million. Kelley initiated the formation of the PUL Alliance, a unique three-county (Pontotoc, Union, Lee) effort that was successful in attracting a major industry, a Toyota automotive assembly plant.

Kelley received the National Association of Development Organizations award for outstanding executive director of a multi-county planning and development organization in 1985, and later served as president of this national organization. He received the Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chairman award in 1988, was named one of North America’s top 50 economic developers in 2015 and received the U.S. Small Business Administration Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

Kelley lives in Tupelo with his wife, Bonnie. He is the father of two daughters and has one granddaughter.


James Meredith

Meredith was born in Mississippi in 1933 and raised on a farm with nine siblings. After graduating from high school in Florida, he served nine years in the Air Force before becoming the first black student at UM in 1962 and later organizing his lone “Meredith March Against Fear” in 1966.

He graduated from the university in 1963 with a degree in political science, then earned a master’s degree in economics from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and a law degree from Columbia University.

Meredith has authored 27 books and says that his published work is his greatest contribution to Mississippi and America. His first book, an account of his experience titled “Three Years in Mississippi,” was published in 1966.

Meredith married Mary June Wiggins in 1956 and had three children, John, Joseph and James. Mary died in 1979. In 1981, Meredith met and married Judy Alsobrooks, who had one son, Kip, from a previous marriage. James and Judy have one daughter, Jessica Meredith Knight, and share 12 grandchildren.

A tree farmer in Attala County and a Jackson businessman, Meredith continues to speak around the country.


Warner Alford

Alumni Service Award recipient Alford dedicated over half his life to the university. From his playing and coaching days on the football field to his administrative duties, Alford served his alma mater in many capacities, including 16 years as director of athletics.

Alford earned three letters as a guard on standout Rebel football teams from 1958 to 1960. He was co-captain of the 1960 undefeated national champion team and served as athletics director from 1978 to 1994.

During his years as athletics director, he helped expand athletic opportunities for both men and women at the university, increasing varsity sports from eight to 15. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium received a major facelift under his leadership, which included a new press box, 29 skyboxes and the addition of a lighting system, bringing night football to the Oxford campus. Other major facility additions included construction of a new baseball stadium and tennis center.

He later returned to Ole Miss and held positions as executive assistant for development for the UM Foundation and coordinator for external programs for the Trent Lott Leadership Institute, and worked with the Ole Miss First scholars program.

He served as executive director of the Ole Miss Alumni Association from 2004 to ’08, overseeing significant growth in the club program and the addition of the tower to The Inn at Ole Miss.

Alford was inducted into the M-Club Alumni Hall of Fame in 1999, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and the UM Alumni Hall of Fame in 2009.

A native of McComb, Alford is married to the former Kay Swayze, of Oxford. They have three children, Thomas Swayze Alford, John Warner Alford III and Phyllis Alford Daniels, and seven grandchildren.


Shaquinta Morgan

The Outstand Young Alumni Award recipient, Morgan moved to Washington, D.C., with dreams of working for the Environmental Protection Agency after finishing her chemical engineering studies at UM. That dream was placed on hold after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, within weeks of her moving there.

She began her engineering career by negotiating both a meeting and a job with the owner of a small water conservation company that wasn’t hiring. Morgan moved on to expand her expertise beyond water conservation to be inclusive of all aspects of energy management, expanding her professional career with some of the most respected energy service companies in the world, such as NORESCO and Johnson Controls.

A licensed professional engineer with mechanical engineering emphasis, a certified energy manager and a LEED accredited professional, Morgan joined the Philips Lighting End User Services team, where she is director of solution architecture for the United States. Her team designs complex lighting controls and data solutions for large entities within federal, state and local government, office and industry, retail and hospitality, and sports and entertainment segments across the United States.

A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Morgan also is active in the community and local schools. She serves on the boards of directors of Christmas Charities Year Round, the Connections Council to Huntsville Hospital and the Madison City Schools Growth Committee. She also serves on the advisory board to the School of Engineering.

Morgan lives in Madison, Alabama, with her husband, Markeeva, and their two daughters, Mallory and Sydney.

Law Student Carries on Legacy of Admired Attorney

Nathaniel Snyder named first recipient of Edmonson scholarship

UM law student Nathaniel Snyder (back row, third from left) is greeted in Oxford by friends and family members of UM alumnus Richie Edmonson. Pictured are (front row, from left) Kevin Smith, Bob Coffin, Jep Pollard, Scott Hollingsworth and (back row, from left) Harry Park, Richie’s brother Will Edmonson, Snyder, Roger Aldridge, Bradley Shultz and Richie’s brother Stephen Edmonson. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Richard Edmonson lost his life to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in 2015, but his memory is forever linked to the University of Mississippi. Nathaniel Snyder of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is the first recipient of a UM scholarship established to pay tribute to Edmonson.

Snyder, who graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy in 2017, recently completed his first year at the School of Law using the Richard “Richie” M. Edmonson Jr. Memorial Scholarship to supplement his tuition.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be the first recipient of this scholarship and to know that I will be the first to carry on Mr. Edmonson’s legacy,” Snyder said. “His generosity has allowed me to pursue a career in law, a profession that Mr. Edmonson used to help others.”

Edmonson, of Madison, was a partner at Markow Walker law firm for 24 years and was an A-rated attorney by Martindale Hubbell.

“Richie was always very goal-oriented,” said Lisa Bane, Edmonson’s wife. “He would see something he wanted to accomplish and he would never give up until he had achieved his goals. He had a great drive and determination to succeed at everything he attempted.

“I think he would be very honored to know that this scholarship is helping other people reach their own academic goals at the university he loved so much.”

Edmonson chose UM for his college home, earning both undergraduate and law degrees. He excelled in academics, particularly in his pursuit of his legal education, and was active in Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Order of Omega, Mortar Board, Phi Delta Phi and the Mississippi Law Journal staff.

UM law student Nathaniel Snyder (center) is greeted in Oxford by brothers of the late Richard Edmondson, Will (left) and Stephen Edmonson. Submitted photo

In addition, the well-rounded student was active in intramural sports, with flag football as his favored activity.

After college, he enjoyed spending time with Lisa and their three daughters, as well as going mountain and road biking, running, hunting and whitewater rafting.

Fraternity brothers and family members sponsor a golf tournament in Oxford each year to raise money for the scholarship.

The Edmonson Scholarship Fund is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the fund’s name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit

For more information, contact Suzette Matthews, development officer for the School of Law, at or 662-915-1122.

Jessica Muñoz Receives Andrew P. Mullins Scholarship

Mississippi Teacher Corps alumna pursues doctorate in Spanish at UM

Andrew P. Mullins Jr. (left) with Jessica Muñoz, who is the recipient of the Andrew P. Mullins Jr. Mississippi Teacher Corps Alumni Scholarship. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Jessica Muñoz, a 2018 graduate of the University of Mississippi, is the third recipient of the Andrew P. Mullins Jr. Mississippi Teacher Corps Alumni Scholarship.

The award, which is designed to support Teacher Corps alumni who wish to pursue advanced graduate study at UM, will provide $2,000 in financial support for Muñoz, who will begin doctoral studies in Spanish at Ole Miss this fall.

The award was endowed in 2016 by Teacher Corps co-founder Andrew P. Mullins Jr.

“Dr. Mullins has been a really strong influence for me as far as what it means to teach,” said Muñoz, a Grass Valley, California, native. “He’s one of those people I could go to for any problem because he probably can give you advice or the number of someone to call to help.

“I felt like a lucky person to have had him as a teacher and to receive this scholarship now.”

The endowed scholarship is available to Teacher Corps alumni and may be awarded twice to individuals. Recipients may pursue an advanced degree in any field of their choosing on UM’s Oxford campus. The inaugural recipients of the scholarship award were husband-and-wife Derek and Kelly King, who first received the award in 2016.

“I’m glad that Jessica could be the third recipient of this award,” Mullins said. “She was a great teacher and a great student, and this scholarship is designed to help Teacher Corps alumni like her advance their education at the University of Mississippi.”

Throughout her time in the Teacher Corps, Muñoz taught in Panola County, first as a science teacher at North Panola Junior High School and then as a Spanish teacher at South Panola High School.

A graduate of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, she earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and Spanish before joining the Teacher Corps in 2016, a move that literally took her across the country to north Mississippi, sight unseen.

“I didn’t major in education in college, … ,but I knew that I really liked working with kids,” she said. “The Mississippi Teacher Corps really stood out to me because of its mission, vision and its structure, which gives you intensive training in the summer before beginning teaching in the fall.”

Founded in 1989, the Teacher Corps is an alternate-route teaching program that has placed more than 725 new teachers in critical-needs school districts throughout the state. The program is highly competitive and has attracted recruits from 239 colleges and universities around the country.

All participants receive job placement and two years of funding to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from UM. More than half of its alumni are still in education in some way.

The program is training its 29th cohort at Holly Springs High School, where incoming participants are trained by program alumni before entering the classroom.

Muñoz is working as a teacher this summer as part of UM’s Rebel Quest day camps, which provide summer learning for elementary-aged children. In the fall, she will teach undergraduate Spanish courses at UM as part of her graduate assistantship.

She hopes to finish her doctorate in five years and plans to stay in education in some way following graduation.

“I really enjoy teaching high school,” she said. “I imagine that in at least some capacity I will be back in the secondary education world. I am not sure if that’s tutoring or guest speaking or something else, but I am sure I will be involved.”

Seven Inducted into School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame

Ole Miss graduates honored for teaching, service and leadership

Tom Meredith (left), Sidney Henderson, Deborah McKinney, Kathleen Grigsby, Sylvia Ferguson, Bob Ferguson, Pam Smith and Ellen Shelton. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education recently inducted seven Mississippians into the fourth class of its Alumni Hall of Fame.

Collectively, this year’s inductees have committed more than 240 years to improving education from preschool through college in Mississippi and across the nation.

The 2018 inductees include Kathleen Grigsby of Jackson, Thomas C. Meredith of Oxford, Ellen Shelton of Oxford, Pamela Smith of Jackson and the late Dorothy Henderson of Oxford. Tupelo residents Bob and Sylvia Ferguson, co-winners of the school’s Outstanding Service Award, were also honored during the ceremony on campus in May.

The School of Education Alumni Advisory Board selected honorees from nominations submitted earlier this year.

“Each of our Hall of Fame recipients is a model for our current students and alumni to emulate,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “With over two centuries of dedicated service among them, they represent the vast impact that educators can make over the course of their careers.”

Grigsby, the youngest person to be inducted into the education school’s Alumni Hall of Fame with 20 years of service, received both her bachelor’s degree in education in 1998 and her master’s degree in 1999 from UM.

She is the principal of Barack Obama IB Elementary School, formerly known as Davis Magnet IB Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi. The A-rated International Baccalaureate elementary school was the top-ranked elementary school in all of Mississippi in 2017.

“I still can’t articulate how much being inducted into the Hall of Fame means to me,” Grigsby said. “I’m grateful and thankful to everyone who selected me to be honored.”

Grigsby has a track record of transforming low-performing schools. She previously led Marshall Elementary School in Jackson from an F-rated school to a C-rated school in three years as principal.

Meredith, who has served more than 46 years in higher education, earned his doctorate from the School of Education in 1971.

Meredith progressed in roles throughout his career including high school teacher, high school principal, professor, vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi, president of Western Kentucky University, chancellor of the University of Alabama system, chancellor of the University of Georgia system and commissioner of higher education for Mississippi’s eight public universities.

“It’s a great honor,” Meredith said. “It is special to be honored by this school, but I’m more honored to just be recognized by this place because it is so special to me.”

Shelton, who is director of pre-college programs within the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education at Ole Miss, received a master’s degree in 1994 and a doctorate in 2000 from the School of Education.

Shelton is administrator of the online University of Mississippi High School, which has grown from 60 to 1,500 students in recent years. She has also served as an instructor at both high school and collegiate levels in past 26 years. In her role at UM, she has also mentored hundreds of K-12 Mississippi teachers through the UM Writing Project.

“I’m overwhelmed by this incredible honor,” Shelton said. “I hope I’m giving back a fraction of what I have been given by the School of Education.”

Smith, a longtime member of UM’s Education Alumni Advisory Board, earned her doctorate in higher education from UM in 2001. In 2004, she led the Mississippi Council on Economic Education as president for six years, increasing funding by more than 400 percent and teacher training by more than 250 percent.

She also served in several roles with the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, including chief public affairs officer.

Her husband, Jerome Smith, was inducted into the charter class of the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2015.

“I’m extremely humbled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Smith said. “I’m so thankful for this award. I hope to continue to do my part for the School of Education.”

Henderson, who died in 2015, is being inducted posthumously by special provision. She was the first full-time African-American to serve as a faculty member in the history of the UM School of Education.

She became a UM faculty member in 1978 and retired in 1998. With 43 years in public education, she began her career as a grade school teacher in Mississippi and Tennessee before settling down in Oxford. Henderson’s family accepted the award at the ceremony on her behalf.

“It is an honor to have my mother inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Deborah McKinney, Henderson’s daughter. “It’s an accumulation of everything my family has stood for. We’re very thankful and very grateful that she is being honored.”

The Fergusons, who have collectively dedicated more than 66 years to public education as teachers, coaches, principals and superintendents, received the Outstanding Service Award, which is a special recognition allowing UM to honor noneducation alumni.

After retiring in 1997, the couple established the Tri-County Educational Foundation in 2000, which is funded by charitable bingo operations in the northeast corner of the state. The foundation has donated almost $12 million – providing scholarships to 3,000 students at 33 different schools and almost $2 million to 114 Ole Miss students.

“I’m so flattered to be honored with this award, especially considering all of the people we are being honored alongside,” Sylvia Ferguson said.

“In my career, I have always been the one honoring people and acknowledging their success, so this is a little different for me to be the one being honored,” Bob Ferguson said. “We do appreciate the recognition though, even though that’s not what we do it for, but it certainly is appreciated.”

The previous Alumni Hall of Fame inductees include Suzie Adcock, Jahnae Barnett, Cecil Brown, Thomas Burke, Robert Depro, Laura Dunn Jolly, Robert Khayat, Milton Kuykendall, Carole Lynn Meadows, Judith Reynolds, Jean Shaw, Jerome Smith, Cathy Stewart and Theopolis Vinson.



UM School of Education Honors 2018 Practitioners of Distinction

Four education alumni recognized for providing exemplary service

Patrick Wilcher (left), LaTonya Robinson, Kevin Allemand and Whitman Smith. Submitted Photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education recently honored four alumni as 2018 Practitioners of Distinction.

This is the second year UM’s education school has recognized Practitioners of Distinction, early-to-mid-career professionals who have demonstrated measurable and positive service in education. The UM Education Alumni Advisory Board selected honorees from nominations submitted earlier this year.

The 2018 honorees are Kevin Allemand, a teacher at Hancock High School in Kiln; LaTonya Robinson, principal of Green Hill Elementary School in Sardis; Whitman Smith, director of admissions at the University of Mississippi in Oxford; and Patrick Wilcher, a mathematics instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gulfport.

“We call them the Practitioners of Distinction awards to recognize early-to-mid-career impact performers, providing exemplary service in the field of education,” said David Rock, UM education dean.

Allemand received his bachelor’s degree in education from UM in 2005. He is completing his 13th year at Hancock High School teaching U.S. government, economics, Mississippi studies, world history, geography, ACT preparation and advanced placement U.S. government and politics.

He distinguished himself as an exemplary alumnus by creating an undergraduate-level research seminar on the American civil rights movement and instituting a “Look Around Mississippi” trip for students. The event is a four-day trek across 20 Mississippi towns and cities to see firsthand antebellum, Civil War, civil rights, musical and literary landmarks.

“I come to Ole Miss close to 10 times a year from the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Allemand said. “It still feels like home every time. Being honored by the School of Education is almost like your family saying you have made them proud.”

Robinson received her bachelor’s degree in education from UM in 1998 and her master’s degree in 1999 and is in UM’s Doctor of Education in educational leadership program. She began as an elementary school teacher early in her career and then advanced to become an award-winning principal at Oxford Elementary School and Della Davidson Elementary School in Oxford.

She was named the district’s Administrator of the Year in 2016, the same year her school was in the No. 1 ranked school district in the state.

In 2017, she began as principal of Green Hill Elementary School in Sardis, a D-rated school that she hopes to transform into a high-performing school through her exemplary leadership skills.

“Being honored by this award has been overwhelming,” Robinson said. “It’s amazing. You don’t really expect to be doing something that other people pay attention to. I have just been doing what is right and doing it for the children. I’m very humbled.”

Smith, UM director of admissions, received his bachelor’s degree in education in 1989 and his master’s degree in higher education in 1994 from UM.

During his tenure, he has led record application, admission and enrollment growth, and conceptualized and implemented the new student convocation at the university.

“I’m humbled and floored and still surprised that I have been honored by this award,” Smith said. “There are so many people that are School of Education alums who have very accomplished careers. It means that somebody feels that I represent the University of Mississippi and the School of Education that other people can look to as an example. It’s a huge deal.”

Wilcher received his bachelor’s degree in 2003 and his master’s degree in 2004 from UM. He has been a mathematics instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College since 2006.

While he was an undergraduate at Ole Miss, the UM faculty named him Outstanding Student in Mathematics Education, and he was later honored as Outstanding Master’s Student in Secondary Education. Wilcher also served as a basketball coach for 10 years, but then decided to devote his career full time to teaching in 2016.

“I’m not sure if there’s anything more special than being honored by your alma mater,” Wilcher said. “It’s very humbling that after 14 years, I still mean something around here – especially in education because we kind of have to be the unsung heroes a lot.”

The School of Education Practitioners of Distinction award was established in 2017. Its charter class included Shelley Clifford of Atlanta, Jessica Ivy of Starkville, Jay Levy of Canton and Wanikka Vance of Chicago.



Bowlin Named Inaugural Ed Krei Chair of Accountancy

Distinction honors professor's excellence in teaching and research

Kendall Bowlin (at podium) teaches a class in the UM Patterson School of Accountancy. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy has named Kendall Bowlin as the inaugural holder of its Ed Krei Chair of Accountancy.

An associate professor and UM alumnus, Bowlin joined the faculty of the accountancy school in 2008 after earning a doctoral degree at the University of Texas. His primary teaching and research interests are in the field of auditing.

Before his doctoral studies, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the UM School of Business Administration and a master’s degree in accountancy from the Patterson School in 1998 and 1999, respectively. He worked four years as an auditor with Ernst & Young in Memphis, Tennessee.

“Being named the first Ed Krei Chair of Accountancy is a tremendous honor, and I am grateful for Mr. Krei’s generous support of our school, faculty and students,” Bowlin said. “The success that our students and faculty have had, and continue to have, is a result of the wonderful financial support and friendship provided by Ed Krei and other alumni.”

Barbara and Ed Krei, of Edmond, Oklahoma, established the Edward Krei Lectureship in Accountancy in 2009. In 2015, they generously elevated their endowment to the chair level, with more than $1.5 million committed to sustaining and strengthening the school’s faculty.

The endowment provides salary supplements, research and creative activity support, and other funding deemed appropriate by the dean.

“We are deeply grateful to Barbara and Ed Krei for establishing the Krei Chair of Accountancy at Ole Miss,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “Ed has enjoyed an exceptional career, and we are proud to have him as an alumnus and also as a member of the Patterson School Hall of Fame.

“We are humbled by the Kreis’ generosity. Their vision to support our faculty will enable the Patterson School to continue building on its strong teaching and mentoring tradition, a trademark of our program and a key reason for the successes that we enjoy.”

All three degree programs at the Patterson School are among the top 10 in the 2017 annual national rankings of accounting programs published by the Public Accounting Report. The undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs are all ranked No. 8 nationally.

The master’s program leads the Southeastern Conference in the rankings and the undergraduate program is second in the conference. One or more Ole Miss accountancy programs have led the SEC in the rankings in each of the past seven years.

Bowlin’s appointment to the chair is well-deserved, Wilder said.

“Dr. Bowlin is enjoying an outstanding career at Ole Miss,” he continued. “He is one of the bright young minds in our profession and is a national leader in auditing research. His presence on our faculty has enabled us to attract other top faculty and doctoral students to the Patterson School.”

Bowlin’s research focuses on the strategic aspects of interactions between auditors and client managers. He is particularly interested in the ways in which institutional features of the audit environment affect the auditor’s ability to anticipate and respond to the manager’s possible tendencies toward financial misreporting.

Ed Krei

“I very much appreciate Mr. Krei’s and Dean Wilder’s confidence in appointing me to hold the Krei Chair, and I hope to justify their confidence through a devotion to our students, our alumni and my colleagues in the Patterson School,” Bowlin said.

“The establishment of the chair represents continued and growing faculty support from our alumni. This support allows the Patterson School to recruit and retain high-quality faculty, who will, in turn, commit to the development of our students and accounting leaders of the future.”

Krei enjoyed an outstanding career as managing director and board member for the Baker Group in Oklahoma City. The Baker Group is an institutional fixed-income firm that serves community banks throughout the nation. For 21 years, he has represented the Baker Group, helping client organizations develop strategies and plan for the future.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accountancy from Ole Miss in 1973. He said the endowment is meant to provide an “eternal flame,” commemorating the education he received.

“I think the Patterson School is an excellent investment because of its faculty members,” Krei said. “Their passion is so evident, and they really excite students about their field. And now, with the speaking engagements I have, I find myself emulating what I learned from them.”

The Kreis met at UM as freshman members of the Pride of the South Marching Band. Barbara Krei graduated from what is now the School of Applied Sciences and has enjoyed a career as a speech pathologist in the Putnam City Schools in Oklahoma City.

“The Kreis’ investment in our faculty will provide benefits for many generations of future Ole Miss accountancy students,” Wilder said.

The Ed Krei Lectureship in Accountancy 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., University, MS 38655; or visit

For more information on ways to support the Patterson School of Accountancy, contact Denson Hollis, executive development director, at 662-915-5092 or

Former Drum Major Still Helping Lead the Band

Alumna's gift supports Ole Miss Pride of the South, seeks to help recruit top student musicians

Layne McGuire

OXFORD, Miss. – As former drum major for the University of Mississippi Band, Layne McGuire is used to having people follow her lead. In supporting the band with a recent gift, she hopes to inspire others to do the same.

“I was approached about making a gift to the university beyond my usual giving,” McGuire said. “When I found out the option of a scholarship was doable, I wanted to pursue it. I know from working with David Willson (University Bands director) that scholarship money is always a challenge.

“This was a way to give back to something that has given me so much.”

Named in honor of her parents, the Vincent G. and Maxine McGuire Band Scholarship will be available to full-time entering freshmen band members, with first preference given to students from Oxford.

A resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, McGuire plays alto saxophone and serves as treasurer of the Charlotte Concert Band. She also rings and serves as secretary of the Charlotte Bronze Handbell Ensemble. 

“The college band experience is totally different from high school, and I have many friends who tell me they would have kept playing had they continued after high school,” she said. “I think part of the reason that I still play is that I never stopped. So I hope the scholarship helps recruit a student who might otherwise decide to put their horn away.”

Willson said the Pride of the South could not exist without private support like McGuire’s.

Pride of the South drum major Layne McGuire (center), graduate assistant Pam Crump Jackson (left) and band member Angela Davis-Morris prepare to play at an Ole Miss football game at the University of Tennessee. Submitted photo

“We live in a state that has a small band population compared to most SEC schools and we have eight universities, 15 community colleges, four private schools and out-of-state schools competing for musicians, and trust me, they know the market,” Willson said. “Without being competitive in the marketplace, we cannot compete with even modest quality.

“The mid- to upper-level players are essential to having the large marching band and excellent basketball pep bands. The Ole Miss Band operates with one of the lowest budgets in the conference, and private donations help us maintain a margin of excellence.”

McGuire graduated from Oxford High School before continuing her education at Ole Miss. She was an accomplished student, and her membership in the UM band segued into a scholarship and, by the time she graduated, she was the drum major. 

“I have been in band since the sixth grade and it was such a huge part of my college experience,” McGuire said. “I loved band and my band directors were some of my biggest influences.”

In college, McGuire also was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and the Air Force ROTC.

“Layne was one of the first students I met on campus, and I hold her in the highest regards,” Willson said. “Layne had a clear understanding on the state of the band and helped guide me through the first three years. Her love for this band is enough to motivate anyone around her to do the same.”

McGuire graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1990 and a master’s degree in history in 1992. She taught junior high and high school math in the South Panola County School District before returning to UM to earn a master’s degree in accountancy in 1999.

She has since worked as a consultant for the accounting firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers, BDO USA, Ernst & Young and Dixon Hughes Goodman, and leads the community banking internal audit and regulatory compliance practice in the Carolinas for RSM US.

The Ole Miss Band has had a tradition of excellence since 1928. In 2014, the Pride of the South Marching Band reached its largest enrollment in school history at 315 members.

“The gift Layne McGuire established will directly support students in the Pride of the South Band, and we are extremely grateful for her generosity,” said Denson Hollis, executive director of development. “The band is an integral part of the university’s fan experience and elevates the level of enthusiasm and school pride wherever it performs. Gifts to the band directly affect its ability to grow and thrive.”

The Vincent G. and Maxine McGuire Band Scholarship 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., University, MS 38655; or visit

For more information on ways to support the Pride of the South, contact Denson Hollis at 662-915-5092 or