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

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

Alumnus Plans Ahead to Spur Growth, Improvement at UM

Whitehead's gift will support generations of student-athletes

UM alumnus Greg Whitehead, left, meets with football Coach Hugh Freeze. Whitehead has established an endowment to provide ongoing scholarships for Ole Miss student-athletes. Courtesy photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Tampa Bay Ole Miss Club was fairly inactive when University of Mississippi alumnus Greg Whitehead became president two years ago. Today, with 121 active Alumni Association members, the Florida club is thriving.

The Ole Miss Alumni Association has had a club in the Tampa Bay area for several years, but it has taken off over the past two years,” said Port Kaigler, assistant director of alumni affairs. “We knew we needed to increase our presence in the Tampa Bay area and we have started to, thanks to Greg’s leadership and the work of his board.”

Board members of the Tampa Bay club are UM alumni Frenchie Barron, Jessica Gillum, Elizabeth McConnell, Erin and Ryan Pew, and Hayden Sutherland.

The owner of a Tampa-based sales and marketing company in the wholesale home furnishings industry, Whitehead likes to have a hand in improvement whenever possible. He knew he could help make the alumni club better, just as he constantly strives to enhance his own life by staying in shape and by expanding his knowledge through books, music and travel.

Now, he hopes to help improve athletics and, ultimately, academics at Ole Miss.

Whitehead has agreed to donate a portion of his estate to establish an endowment that will provide ongoing scholarships to Ole Miss student-athletes. This planned gift awards Whitehead membership in the 1848 Society, which recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts.

“I want to give back to my school that I love,” said Whitehead, a Zion, Illinois, native who moved to Mississippi with his family during high school. He played baseball for Itawamba Junior College for two years before transferring to UM, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“I fell in love with Ole Miss,” he said. “It has a special quality that can’t be put into words, something spiritual or even mystical. In addition to being the most beautiful campus in the country, it has a charm that can’t be quantified. It’s a place that keeps calling you back.

“Ole Miss is my family, so I’ve earmarked this amount for athletics because I believe a strong athletics department helps esprit de corps and reputation, which in turn help to increase enrollment, improve academics and foster growth and achievement in many areas.” 

Whitehead’s gift sets an example for others to follow, said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation.

“Many people feel the need to give to Ole Miss athletics in the present, and we are very grateful for those gifts, but it’s also important to know that a planned gift for athletics is another viable way to provide support,” Carter said. “Generations of our student-athletes will receive the return on this particular investment. Greg should feel very proud of that.”

For information on including the university in long-term estate and financial plans, visit or contact Sandra Guest, UM Foundation vice president, at 662-915-5208 or

Streets Endow Scholarship to Honor Longtime UM History Professor

Education fund named after Harry P. Owens, professor emeritus and Civil War scholar

Dr. Harry P. Owens. Photo by Robert JordanPhoto by Robert Jordan

Harry P. Owens. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A recent gift from two University of Mississippi donors will provide scholarship opportunities for future UM secondary education majors while honoring Professor Emeritus Harry P. Owens, who taught history at the university for more than 35 years.

The Dr. Harry P. Owens Secondary Education Opportunity Scholarship Endowment was created with a $25,000 commitment from Bill and Ginny Street of Alabaster, Alabama.

Bill, a senior vice president at ServisFirst Bank, started his post-college career as a social studies teacher in DeSoto County in 1978 after receiving his undergraduate degree in secondary education from UM.

“The thing that I got from Harry was learning how to listen,” Bill explained. “Even if someone is on a different side (of the aisle) than you, you should hear what they have to say because you might learn something useful. I credit him with my ability to do that.”

Bill was a nontraditional college student. After initially losing interest in his studies at UM in 1969, he left the university to serve in the U.S. Navy, where he became a submarine petty officer. After being discharged in 1975, he returned to the university with two new things: a new resolve for his studies and tuition money from the G.I. Bill.

During this time, he was highly influenced by the Civil War historian. According to Bill, he and the professor just “clicked” and they bonded over their extensive interest and knowledge of Civil War history. The professor became a mentor for the sailor-turned-teacher.

Owens and his wife, MaryLou, still live in Oxford.

Bill and Ginny Street of Alabaster, Alabama (Submitted Photo)

Bill and Ginny Street. Submitted photo

“The most telling thing I can say about Bill is this: The first time I met him, I was teaching a new course that I had never taught before about the military history of the American Civil War,” Owens said. “I remember that there was Bill and one other student, who, if ever I had a single doubt in my mind about a particular fact, I could look at Bill for confirmation. He knew that much.”

Owens recently attended a meeting with Bill, Ginny and leadership from the UM School of Education, after finalizing the gift.

“Bill doing this in my name is a most gracious thing,” Owens said. “This reinforces the idea that teachers count.”

After college, Bill took a teaching and coaching job in Horn Lake, where he was named the school’s Star Teacher after his very first year in the classroom.

Although no longer a student, he kept in touch with his favorite professor. The two men often conversed via phone or would meet up when Bill and Ginny would return to the Oxford for sporting events.

To the Streets, this scholarship is also a way for the couple to help students who struggle with the tuition demands of college. Without the G.I Bill scholarship, Bill said would not have been able to afford his Ole Miss education.

A needs-based scholarship, each year recipients of the award will receive tuition support after being selected by the UM School of Education Scholarship Committee. The scholarship will support Ole Miss students majoring in secondary education.

“Harry had a profound impact on me and we want to put his name on this (scholarship),” Bill said. “We want to give someone an opportunity that they might not get otherwise. That’s what this is all about.”

UM Alumni Association Welcomes 2016-17 Officers

New leaders announced at Homecoming

The new officers for the Ole Miss Alumni Association are (from left) Kirk Purdom, Leon Collins, Dr. Hal Moore, Bobby Bailess, Andy Kilpatrick and Deano Orr.

The new officers for the Ole Miss Alumni Association are (from left) Kirk Purdom, Leon Collins, Dr. Hal Moore, Bobby Bailess, Andy Kilpatrick and Deano Orr.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Alumni Association announced its officers for 2016-17 as part of recent Homecoming festivities on campus

Dr. P.H. “Hal” Moore of Pascagoula was named president, a one-year term that changes each Homecoming. Moore is president of Singing River Radiology Group. He serves on the board of directors of the Merchants & Marine Bank and formerly served on the boards of the Mississippi State Medical Association and Belhaven University.

“What a great honor it is to represent the Ole Miss Rebel nation,” Moore said. “There has never been a more exciting time at Mississippi’s flagship university, and I look forward to listening to, learning from and working with alumni, administration, faculty, students and other UM stakeholders during the coming year.”

Moore earned his Doctor of Medicine in 1976 from UM. He is past president of the medical chapter of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. He and his wife, Melanie, have three sons, Paul (BS 01, MD 05), John and Michael (BA 10, JD 13) and four grandchildren.

Outgoing association President Eddie Maloney (BS 78) of Jackson welcomed both a new chancellor and new Alumni Association executive director named during his tenure. Both Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter and Kirk Purdom (BA 93), the Alumni Association’s sixth executive director, joined the university leadership team this year.

“We have been blessed with great leadership teams,” he said. “It has been the experience of a lifetime meeting so many new friends.”

Bobby Bailess (BBA 73, JD 76), attorney and former president of the Warren County Bar Association in Vicksburg, was named president-elect. Augustus L. “Leon” Collins (BBA 73, JD 76), of Madison, chief executive officer for MINACT Inc., a job development and training corporation, was elected vice president.

Athletics Committee members include 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. Purdom also serves as treasurer.

UM, Oxford Again Ranked Among Nation’s Best and Most Beautiful

University and its hometown pick up four new accolades

The University of Mississippi and Oxford have recently been recognized by several major publications for having the nation's most beautiful campus, the most unique tailgating experience and being among the nation's best college towns. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi and Oxford have recently been recognized by several major publications for having the nation’s most beautiful campus and most unique tailgating experience and for being among the nation’s best college towns. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and Oxford often rank at the top of annual lists of beautiful campuses and best college towns, and this fall has brought a new set of national accolades upon the area.

USA Today’s Reader’s Choice travel awards contest has named UM the nation’s most beautiful campus, while Thrillist named the university on its unranked list of the 20 most beautiful public college campuses. The NCAA recognized Ole Miss’ tailgating environment as the nation’s best. FanSided, which is run by Sports Illustrated and owned by Time Inc., named Oxford the second-best college town in the nation.

Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter, who moved to Oxford from Kansas in January, said there’s a magic here that quickly grabs visitors.

“Over the last 34 years, I have lived and served in a number of great university towns, and there is something truly special about Ole Miss and Oxford,” Vitter said. “Ours is a unique place with extraordinary people. All it takes is just one visit here and you quickly realize why it captures the hearts and minds of so many.”

The university was the only Southeastern Conference school and the only one in Mississippi chosen in USA Today and’s list of beautiful campuses. Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, came in second place and Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, came in third.

The USA Today/ ranking notes Ole Miss “comprises 2,000 acres of expansive lawns, wooded trails and historic architecture, like the Greek Revival-style Lyceum.”

Thrillist, which ranks UM alongside the universities of Michigan and Hawaii and other schools, praised the Greek revival architecture of the Lyceum and the beauty of the surrounding buildings.

“When you think of great collections of Greek architecture, only one place comes to mind: Mississippi. No?” Thrillist writes. “Well, the original campus building, the Lyceum, is a classic white-columned structure with massive brick wings that anchors an entire historic district within the campus.

“The Circle, as it’s known, looks more like an area you’d find in D.C. than Oxford, with long, brick buildings stretching throughout. And Ole Miss’ beauty isn’t limited to the architecture, as anyone who’s spent a Saturday tailgating in the Grove can attest.”

Jeff McManus, UM director of landscape services, said the university and his team is “humbled and honored” by recognition of the campus’ beauty. He thanked the administration, including the chancellor, Provost Morris Stocks and Vice Chancellor Larry Sparks for supporting his efforts.

“Our Landscape Services vision, on the ground, in the weeds and trees is to ‘Cultivate Greatness’ – to inspire our students, faculty and staff – to give them an environment in which they can grow and produce,” McManus said. “We set our standards high and today, we are especially proud to be Landscape Rebels.”

The NCAA recently released a video of college football’s most unique tailgates, with the Grove being ranked No. 1, referred to as “the Holy Grail of Tailgating.” Others listed include University of California’s Tightwad Hill, which lets fans view into the stadium and see the game for free, and the University of Washington’s Husky Navy and University of Tennessee’s Vol Navy, which both allow partying near the football stadiums on boats.

FanSided ranks Oxford as the country’s second-best college town, bested only by Athens, Georgia, home of the University of Georgia.

“Ole Miss is another school where enrollment somehow outnumbers the town it resides in in terms of population,” FanSided writes. “The enrollment may be hovering around 23,000, but go to one tailgate in Oxford, MS and you’ll think it’s 100,000. Students and non-students alike love their Rebels.”

Of all the reasons Oxford is getting such attention, the biggest is that people love to call the city home, said Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation. For decades, locals have been serious about making their growing community the best it can be, he said.

“Attention to detail, high expectations and adherence to a plan to be great is why we are what we are today,” Maynard said. “The university, the city and the county are all committed to making sure that the quality that we have now will remain quality into the future. The toughest challenge that our community faces is growing without messing up that which is Oxford.”

The area’s health care system, beautiful parks, artists and musicians, business owners, entrepreneurs and longtime residents have all helped attract new businesses and also new Oxonians, he said.

“Oxford is the place where great things can happen,” Maynard said. “People from all walks of life, some without any previous affiliation to Ole Miss or Oxford, are finding that they can come and be welcomed into the community.

“They are coming for many reasons, but they are staying because of the quality that is pervasive in our community.”

Alumni Association to Honor Distinguished Alumni at Homecoming

Group to be lauded at reception and on the field during Memphis game

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

Inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame for 2016 are: David E. Brevard (BA 78) of Tupelo; Dr. James L. Cox (MD 63) of Atlanta; Thomas C. Meredith (EDD 71) of Oxford; Thomas J. “Sparky” Reardon (BAEd 72, PhD 00) of Oxford; and Constance Slaughter-Harvey (JD 70) of Forest.

T. Michael Glenn (BBA 77) of Memphis will receive the Alumni Service Award for service to the university and the Alumni Association over an extended period. Patrick Woodyard (BA 10) of Nashville, Tennessee, is being honored with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees at 6 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner for the award recipients follows at 7 p.m. The honorees also will be recognized on the field during the Oct. 1 Ole Miss-Memphis football game.

David Brevard

David Brevard

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.

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.

Brevard is president and chief executive officer of B&B Concrete Co. Inc., a concrete materials supply company with plants throughout north Mississippi. He is also vice president of Concrete Industries Inc., a real estate firm with ready-mix concrete plant holdings in north Mississippi.

The 1974 graduate of Tupelo High School was a Carrier Scholar, a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and a member of the Hall of Fame at Ole Miss. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Virginia in 1981.

Brevard is active in the First United Methodist Church of Tupelo. He is a past president of the District

James Cox

James Cox

One Ole Miss Alumni Club and a past president of the UM Alumni Association. He served as chairman of The Inn at Ole Miss Campaign Committee; member of the Chancellor’s Trust and Pacesetters Committee for the Commitment to Excellence Campaign; member of the Campaign/Committee Chairs for the Momentum Campaign; and as an executive committee member for the UM Foundation. He received the Alumni Association’s Alumni Service Award in 2009.

Brevard is married to the former Shawn Robson Stewart of Glendale, Ohio. They have two daughters.

Cox was born and raised in Fair Oaks, Arkansas. He was recruited to Ole Miss by Johnny Vaught and from 1960 to ’64 played baseball and freshman basketball, was president of Alpha Epsilon Delta and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.

After turning down baseball contracts from the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, he enrolled at University of Tennessee Medical School in 1963. He received his medical degree in 1967 and was awarded outstanding student in his graduating class.

Cox trained in cardiothoracic surgery at Duke University. He spent the majority of his career as the first Evarts A. Graham Professor of Surgery and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes Hospital in St. Louis.

Tom Meredith

Tom Meredith

He is best known for his work in the field of cardiac arrhythmia surgery and the development of the eponymous “Cox-Maze Procedure” for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. He lives in Atlanta and serves as a senior consultant to eight medical device companies and on the board of directors of four of them.

Meredith has served as the head of three university systems and as a university president during his 41-year career in higher education.

He has been commissioner of higher education for Mississippi’s eight universities; chancellor of the University System of Georgia, responsible for the state’s 35 public colleges and universities; chancellor of the University of Alabama System; and president and professor of education at Western Kentucky University.

He also served as a vice chancellor at Ole Miss. Meredith holds a bachelor’s degree from Kentucky Wesleyan College, a master’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate from UM. He also completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and the Higher Education Roundtable at Oxford University. He has twice been selected as the Ole Miss School of Education Alumnus of the Year.

Sparky Reardon Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Sparky Reardon

Meredith’s wife, Susan (BA 72), and sons Dr. Mark Meredith (BS 97, MD 01) and Matthew Meredith (BA 00) are an Ole Miss family.

A 1968 graduate of Clarksdale High School, Reardon served the university in several positions within the area of student affairs. Most notably, he served as dean of students from 2000 to 2014. Before that, he served as coordinator of pre-admissions, assistant director of student activities, associate director of student services and associate dean of students.

Reardon received his bachelor’s degree in education from Ole Miss in 1972 and his doctorate in 2000. He also earned a master’s degree at Delta State University.

Reardon initiated the adoption of the Ole Miss Creed in 2000 and served as co-chair of the Creed Committee. He received the initial Thomas Frist Award for Outstanding Service to Students and was honored by the Class of 2008 with a scholarship in his name.

Reardon resides in Taylor and serves on several local, regional and national boards.

Constance Harvey Slaughter

Constance Harvey Slaughter

Slaughter-Harvey, former assistant secretary of state and general counsel, is founder and president of Legacy Education and Community Empowerment Foundation Inc.

Slaughter-Harvey was the first African-American female to receive a law degree from the university and first female African-American to serve as judge in Mississippi. The Black Law Student Association at the UM School of Law was named in her honor, and she received the Law School’s Public Service Award, becoming the first female and first African-American to be so honored.

She was an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College for more than 36 years. She is president of the Scott County Bar and prosecutor for Scott County Youth Court.

Slaughter-Harvey is the mother of Constance Olivia Burwell and grandmother of James A. Emmanuel “Tre” Burwell III.

Glenn, the Alumni Service Award recipient, is executive vice president of market development and corporate communications for FedEx Corp.

Mike Glenn

Mike Glenn

He is a member of the five-person executive committee, responsible for planning and executing the company’s strategic business activities. Glenn also serves as president and chief executive officer of FedEx Corporate Services, responsible for all marketing, sales, customer service and retail operations functions for all FedEx operating companies, including FedEx Office.

A native of Memphis, he earned his bachelor’s degree from UM and his master’s degree from the University of Memphis. Glenn previously served as a member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association Executive Committee and serves on the Athletic Committee. He was inducted into the UM Alumni Hall Of Fame in 2008.

The Outstand Young Alumni Award recipient, Woodyard is a 2010 graduate of the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish.

While at Ole Miss, Woodyard was inducted into the Student Hall of Fame and served as the ASB director of community service, and as philanthropy chair and vice president of Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Patrick Woodyard

Patrick Woodyard

After graduating, he pursued an opportunity through Peru Mission to work in microfinance in northern Peru. While there, Woodyard was introduced to a massive community of shoemakers, and with a vision to support the Peruvian footwear industry, he co-founded Nisolo in late 2011.

For his work with Nisolo, Woodyard recently was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, recognized as an “Innovator Changing the South” by Southern Living magazine and named a Global Accelerator Entrepreneur by the United Nations.

Woodyard resides in Nashville with his wife, Sally Ward (BA 10), and serves as a founding board member of the Nashville Fashion Alliance and the Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance.

For more information about the Ole Miss Alumni Association, visit

Local Senior Citizens Invited to Learn Something New this Fall

Variety of noncredit classes available through UM Communiversity Program

Oxford residents can learn more about taking and sending photos, texts, and much more during the UM Communiversity class, 'iPhone, iPad, iWhat?' offered Thursday (Sept. 8) in Weir Hall. Communiversity is a noncredit enrichment program open to the community with no tests, papers, or grades.

Oxford residents can learn more about taking and sending photos, texts, and much more during the UM Communiversity class, ‘iPhone, iPad, iWhat?’ offered Thursday (Sept. 8) in Weir Hall. Communiversity is a noncredit enrichment program open to the community with no tests, papers or grades.

OXFORD, Miss. – Senior citizens in the Oxford area who would like to try out a new hobby or learn a new skill are invited to check out the University of Mississippi’s fall Communiversity schedule, which is packed with a variety of classes that anyone in the community can try.

Senior citizens can take advantage of a special discount for people ages 55 and over.

“There are no tests, papers or grades,” said Sandra Sulton, UM Communiversity coordinator. “These classes are for those who want to have fun and learn something new.”

If you are still trying to figure out your iPhone or iPad, a special course for senior adults will be offered from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 8) in Weir Hall. The course, “iPhone, iPad, iWhat?” is designed to help users feel comfortable with basic settings and navigation of your devices. The cost is $45.

“We have a lot of grandparents enroll in this class so that they can communicate with their grandkids through their cellphones,” Sulton said. “They want to learn to take photos and send them and to keep in contact via their phones, computers and iPads.”

The opportunity to learn more about computers and computer programs such as Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint will be offered 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 13, 15 and 20 in the computer labs in Weir Hall. The cost for all three sessions is $85.

“Digital Photography Basics” will be led by award-winning UM photographer Robert Jordan. The class meets 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 and 9-11:30 a.m. Oct. 15. The cost is $85.

Topics in this class include efficient use of manual modes, quick-shooting techniques for more professional-looking shots and, most importantly, how to have fun with your camera. The instructor will touch on post-production editing and enhancing images, as well as hardware options for archiving and printing.

If sewing is a hobby you always wanted to explore, check out two classes being offered this fall by Oxford artist Andi Bedsworth. Learn more about the basics of using your sewing machine with “Sewing 101: Introduction to Using a Machine,” offered from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 12 in Lamar Hall, Room 133. The cost is $59.

“I’ll show you what all the buttons and knobs on your sewing machine are for,” Bedsworth said. “You’ll learn how to sew in zippers and button holes, thread your machine, change out your bobbin and all those little things that may be intimidating when you take your machine out of the box.”

Bedsworth’s next course in the series, “Sewing: Basics and Beyond,” will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 17, 18, 24 and 25, and Nov. 1. The cost is $145 for all five sessions and will show participants how to use patterns, make simple garments and upgrade their sewing skills.

Ann Saxon from Oxford’s Knit1 store will lead the “Knitting for Beginners” class from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 20 and 27 and Nov. 3, 10 and 17 in Lamar Hall. This class will cover beginning knit and purl stitches, how to cast on and bind off, and increasing and decreasing. The cost is $45.

New this year are the “Happy Holiday Hour” lecture-and-learn classes held during the noon hour for those who want to explore new decorating ideas for this holiday season, but are short on time. The classes cost $10 each.

Kicking off the series on Oct. 26 will be tutorials for taking the perfect Christmas card photo with photographer Robert Jordan. The class meets in the HR Training Room at Insight Park.

If you have always wanted to have a Christmas tree like the ones you see on Pinterest, stop by the Oxford-University Depot on Nov. 16 for the “Tips for Trimming Your Tree” class.

On Nov. 30 at the Depot, Whitney Pullen from Oxford Floral will show you how to transform your mailbox into a festive decoration that your whole neighborhood will enjoy.

The final holiday hour class will be, “Designing a Christmas Tree for the Birds.” This class will demonstrate what beautiful elements to use in decorating a tree that can later be moved outside for the birds to enjoy. This will be taught Dec. 14 at the Depot.

The fall Communiversity class schedule is full of many more great classes, including the popular CPR certification and Safe Sitter courses, public speaking and self-defense for mother and child.

To find out more, visit or call 662-915-7158.


UM Honors Five at School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame Induction

Honorees lauded for teaching, service and leadership

The 2016 UM School of Education Hall of Fame includes (left to right): Robert Depro of Sikeston, Missouri; Suzie Adcock of Jackson; Cathy Stewart of Oxford; Jahnae Barnett of Fulton, Missouri and Cecil C. Brown, Jr. of Jackson.

The 2016 UM School of Education Hall of Fame inductees are (left to right): Robert Depro of Sikeston, Missouri; Suzie Adcock of Jackson; Cathy Stewart of Oxford; Jahnae Barnett of Fulton, Missouri; and Cecil C. Brown Jr. of Jackson.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has inducted its second class of alumni into its School of Education Hall of Fame. Collectively, the group has more than 178 years of experience, commitment and public service to education.

The 2016 honorees are Suzie Mills Adcock of Jackson; Jahnae H. Barnett of Fulton, Missouri; Charles Robert Depro of Sikeston, Missouri; Cathy Stewart of Oxford; and Cecil C. Brown Jr. of Jackson. Brown received the School of Education’s first-ever service award for noneducation alumni.

“Our alumni board of directors selected our 2016 alumni award recipients for their distinguished careers as educational leaders and practitioners,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “Each of these five alumni are models for our current university students and graduates to emulate.

“We believe there is no more important or greater area of service in our state and nation than in the practice and advocacy of education.”

The ceremony was May 13 at the Inn at Ole Miss. Honorees were selected after being nominated by their peers and colleagues earlier this year.

Adcock, who graduated from UM in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, has taught in both public and private schools for more than 31 years and is still teaching. She serves as the lower elementary school librarian and media specialist at Jackson Academy.

Her service work includes the direction of “Read for Need” service projects, which have benefited school libraries that have burned and the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. In addition, she has served on the UM School of Education’s alumni advisory board in various capacities throughout the years, including the presidency.

“I’m so humbled by this honor because I know so many teachers who should be in this spot; I really do,” Adcock said. “I am a teacher because I genuinely love what I do. I do everything that I do for my students. They are my heart. They really are.”

Barnett, who earned a master’s degree in business education from UM in 1967 and a Ph.D. in higher education in 1972, is president of William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, a position the alumna has held for more than 26 years. Before her presidency, Barnett was a vice president and a department chair at William Woods.

When Barnett received her doctorate, she was only 24 years old and was the youngest individual to receive a Ph.D. from Ole Miss at that time. She was also the first female president of William Woods, an institution that has grown from a few hundred students to more than 3,000 during her tenure and grown from college to university status.

“I cannot imagine anything more rewarding that your peers, your colleagues and your academic institution saying that you’ve done exactly what you were supposed to do in your life,” Barnett said. “We just had our own alumni weekend at William Woods where we inducted some alumni into the hall of fame, and I knew exactly what that meant to them because of this honor.”

Depro, who earned a master’s degree in secondary education from UM in 1970, has taught history and social studies for more than 50 consecutive years and has taught more than 10,000 students in his career. From 1966 to 2000, he served as a social studies teacher and departmental chair at Sikeston Senior High School. He still teaches as an instructor in history at Southeast Missouri State University’s Sikeston campus, as part of a dual enrollment program with area high schools.

Among his other professional accomplishments include being named the Missouri Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year in 1988.

“This is an honor that I never even in my wildest dreams thought that I would receive,” Depro said. “There are a lot of really good teacher out there; I teach with some of them every day. I accept this on behalf of all really good teachers.”

Stewart, who is a three-time graduate of UM, earned a bachelor’s degree from Ole Miss in elementary education in 1978, as well as a master’s degree and doctorate in curriculum and instruction in 1981 and 1995, respectively. Besides serving 20 years as an elementary teacher in the Lafayette County School District, Stewart also served as an adjunct professor at UM and as the founding director of the university’s World Class Teaching Program and director of the UM Writing Project.

She and her husband own and operate Wild Rose Kennels, the much-acclaimed breeder of British and Irish Labradors.

“I knew in first grade that I wanted to be a teacher,” said Stewart. “I never changed my mind and I never wavered. My advice for future teachers is to never quit learning and to always be open to learning a better or different way to do and improve the way you teach.”

Brown, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English and mathematics from UM in 1966, has been a public and private sector leader in Mississippi for more than 25 years. A Certified Public Accountant and the owner of his own accounting firm, Brown’s public service includes a stint at Mississippi State Fiscal Officer and a 16-year tenure as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, where he served as the chairman of the House Education Committee for seven years.

More recently, Brown was elected to serve as the state Public Service Commissioner in 2016.

“I’m very thankful for this award,” Brown said. “My hope is that somehow children will continue to benefit from the work that I have been able to contribute in service to education. They are the most important thing.”

The School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 2015, when UM inducted its charter class of three alumni: Milton Kuykendall of DeSoto County, Judith Reynolds of Clinton and Jerome Smith of Jackson.