State Higher Education Literacy Council Advances Teacher Preparation

Kellogg, Hardin grants fund training for elementary reading educators

Guyton Hall houses the Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Members of Mississippi’s Higher Education Literacy Council, a group of college and university literacy professors, are part of a statewide effort to help new teachers use cognitive and educational research in the classroom.

The project is funded by a $725,450 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, and a $60,000 grant from the Phil Hardin Foundation of Meridian.

The three-year project, which commences this fall, focuses on improving the quality of pre-service content and instruction at the college and university level. Goals include reducing the cost of retraining teachers after they enter an elementary classroom and of retaining teachers over time.

“The Higher Education Literacy Council’s full involvement in this project places Mississippi ahead of other states by acknowledging the challenges associated with teacher preparation,” said Angela Rutherford, the council’s president and director of the University of Mississippi’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction.

“This grant will enable us to build a replicable model for transforming teacher preparation in early literacy instruction. We are already getting calls from other states about our work here.”

Like all elementary teachers serving in K-3 classrooms, Mississippi elementary education professors also will receive training in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling. The Kellogg grant complements the LETRS training by providing campus-based coaching and seminars specifically designed for this higher education audience.

The Legislature has taken steps in recent years to improve children’s reading achievement in Mississippi.

“The grants provided by the Kellogg Foundation and the Hardin Foundation will make a tremendous difference in our state by helping to transform teacher preparation and improve literacy,” said Glenn Boyce, commissioner of higher education. “There is no doubt that early literacy instruction builds the foundation for all learning as children continue to progress through school.

“This project demonstrates the Higher Education Literacy Council’s commitment to ensuring all children are provided this foundation.”

“We are all very pleased to learn of the grant support provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to undergird the state’s commitment to increase literacy outcomes for Mississippi children,” said Ann Blackwell, recently retired education dean at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Blackwell and Thea Williams Black, of Tougaloo College, co-chaired a Governor’s Task Force Working Group that inspired the idea for professional development for early literacy professors.

Several Construction Projects Progressing on Campus

Work includes new facilities for students, faculty and staff to learn and work

Site work has begun on the new STEM building along All-American Drive. This is one of several construction projects underway on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has enjoyed tremendous growth in recent years, and campus planners are working to create the best possible space for students to learn, discover and live.

Several construction projects are underway on campus that, when completed, will provide state-of-the-art facilities for students, faculty and staff. These projects include:

Ole Miss Student Union

A redesigned and renovated Student Union, which was built in 1976, includes a 60,000-square-foot addition on the north side of the original 97,600-square-foot structure. The expansion is the first phase to open and provides food court dining services.

Construction is continuing to complete the ballroom, support kitchens, loading dock and transportation hub, as well as a total renovation of the original building, which will be the home base for student activities. Completion of the project is anticipated in early 2019.

North Parking Garage

The new parking structure in the north area of campus behind Kinard Hall has opened. The seven-level parking garage provides 1,300 additional parking spaces for on-campus residents.

STEM Building

The university received a $25 million lead gift in 2015 from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation for construction of a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building in the science district. The building will provide 207,000 square feet of space for classrooms and laboratories.

Last year, the site was prepared for the massive project by removing the Smith Engineering Science Building, Central Heating Plant and Old Power Plant along All-American Drive. All existing utilities in the area also are being relocated.

Construction on the STEM building is scheduled to start in 2018. If this schedule is not interrupted, the facility can be built in 24 months, with an opening date in fall 2020.

Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field

The area behind home plate is being renovated to create a Dugout Club with club seating. A two-story Performance and Operations Center also will be added to provide player facilities. This work will be done in phases and completed by March 2018.

Garland, Hedleston and Mayes Renovation

These buildings, constructed in 1938 as men’s dormitories, are no longer viable as housing options, but they are appropriate for academic and administrative use. The buildings are undergoing a full renovation, including the replacement of windows, roofs and mechanical, electrical, fire-protection and plumbing systems.

The School of Applied Sciences is scheduled to move into the space by August 2018. A two-story addition will provide classroom space, and the north entrance will be updated with an elevator and stair connector. The south courtyards will be updated with more plaza space with an ADA entrance.

Johnson Commons East

Following its partner to the west, Johnson Commons East is receiving a full renovation. The upper floor will continue to provide banquet and large meeting spaces. The lower floor, formerly the Department of Human Resources, will be renovated to house the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Developmental Studies and the Center for Student Success – First-Year Experience.

Construction is expected to finish by August 2018.

South Campus Recreation Facility and Transportation Hub

The university acquired a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, the old Whirlpool factory, on 68 acres on the southwest edge of campus. Portions of the existing building will be repurposed to provide space for fitness activities, departmental offices, classrooms, food service and a hub for Ole Miss Campus Recreation and the Department of Parking and Transportation.

Renovations to the exterior will transform the manufacturing plant into an active destination for students. This project is ongoing and is expected to be complete in October 2018.

Indoor Tennis Facility

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is adding an indoor tennis facility to the east of the track-and-field stadium and south of the Manning Center. The building will contain six indoor courts for competitions, spectator seating, sports storage and bathroom facilities.

Letterwinner Walk and Bell Tower

The Letterwinner Walk will provide recognition space for every student-athlete who has ever represented Ole Miss. The plaques will be mounted on brick pillars organized radially around the final yards of the Walk of Champions on the north side of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. A bell tower also is being added to the plaza area.

When visitors look north toward the Grove from the Letterwinner Walk, through the opening in the bell tower, they will see the relationship between these two elements and the STEM building, National Center for Natural Products Research, Faulkner Garden, and Shoemaker and Faser halls, all organized along a north-south axis. The space will be even more striking from the Grove, with a clear view of and straight path to the stadium.

Faulkner Memorial Garden

This garden, in memory of author William Faulkner, is in design and will be a part of the STEM building construction contract. It will serve as a place of reflection but will be adjacent to the busy north-south pedestrian path between the Grove and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Walk of Champions will form its western edge, and it will be bordered by the STEM building to the west and the National Center for Natural Products Research to the east.

Two UM Faculty Win Inaugural National Science Foundation Fellowships

Ryan Garrick and Saša Kocić among 30 nationwide selected for competitive research program

Ryan Garrick, UM assistant professor of biology, examines insects as part of his research on the effects of environmental change. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi professors have been honored for innovative research in their respective fields by being selected for fellowships in a competitive new National Science Foundation program.

Ryan Garrick, assistant professor of biology, and Saša Kocić, assistant professor of mathematics, have been chosen for funding under NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The Research Infrastructure Improvement Track 4 program is designed to help junior investigators in EPSCoR-eligible states develop career-spanning collaborations through extended visits to other premiere research institutions around the nation.

Garrick will conduct his fellowship at Ohio State University, while Kocić will visit the University of California at Irvine.

Of 136 proposals considered by NSF in this competition, only 30 awards were made across 27 universities, for a funding rate of 22 percent. UM was among only three institutions receiving two fellowship awards in the competition.

Both recipients said they were pleasantly surprised by their selection.

“After many attempts to secure federal funding to support research and career development, during a time that appears to be a particularly difficult period for faculty doing basic research, finally having some success was a relief,” Garrick said.

“This award is certainly very special to me,” Kocić said. “Many people at University of Mississippi and beyond have helped me in that process. I am extremely grateful to all of them and glad that all that effort was not in vain.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter congratulated Garrick and Kocić for their achievements.

“We are so pleased to see the success of our researchers in this highly competitive program,” Vitter said. “Their tremendous achievements help drive discovery and creativity on our campus and enhance our undergraduate and graduate education.

“I congratulate Drs. Garrick and Kocić for how their innovation, collaboration and research bolster UM’s role as a Carnegie R1 highest research activity institution.”

The awards reflect the promise shown by both researchers’ work, said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

“That the university received not just one, but two awards in this crowded competition is especially gratifying and shows that the National Science Foundation sees the same great potential that we do in the research careers of both Dr. Garrick and Dr. Kocić,” Gladden said.

“NSF EPSCoR funding has helped to launch the careers of many successful researchers at Ole Miss and across the state, with more than $80 million in research infrastructure investments in Mississippi over the last 25 years.”

Each institution was allowed to submit only three applications. Garrick and Kocić each discussed the scope and goals of his particular research project.

Saša Kocić, UM assistant professor of mathematics, is continuing his study of dynamic systems and mathematical physics, which promises to help scientists better understand such diverse phenomena as heart function and stock market fluctuations. Photo by Thomas Graining/Ole Miss Communications

“Biodiversity, or the variety of species in an ecosystem, is declining in many areas of the world due to environmental change,” said Garrick, principal investigator on a project examining “Enhancement of technical and analytical skills for the application of genomics to research in molecular ecology and comparative phylogeography.”

With $110,413 over the next two years, he will collaborate with colleagues at Ohio State to understand how the numbers and genetic variability of four invertebrate species found in southern Appalachian forests change as their environment changes.

“This fellowship will enable research using genetic techniques to study how organisms have responded to past and present environmental change,” he said. “It will also generate new opportunities for sustained collaboration with the host institution.

“Findings will advance understanding of whether whole communities have the ability to respond to environmental change together, or as individual species. This information will aid in conservation and management of U.S. forest fauna.”

Kocić is the principal investigator on a project focusing on “Sharp arithmetic transitions and universality in one-frequency quasiperiodic systems.”

With his $161,681 two-year grant, he and a graduate student will initiate a new collaboration between the university and UC-Irvine, in particular with Svetlana Jitomirskaya, one of the top experts in dynamical systems and mathematical physics. The project will develop and apply state-of-the-art tools for studying dynamical systems, which will allow mathematicians to obtain new results by looking at systems at different spatial and time scales, revealing shared properties.

“Dynamical systems is a large area of mathematics that concerns the evolution of different systems and phenomena, ranging from the motion of celestial bodies to heart function to fluctuations in the stock market,” Kocić said. “The project is centered around a powerful tool called renormalization that acts as a ‘microscope’ and allows one to look at systems at different spatial and time scales, revealing properties of the systems that are universal, that is, shared by a large class of systems.”

There is a broad range of phenomena where these tools have led to an explanation. The transition between the liquid and gas phases – boiling and evaporation – is one familiar example.

A particular focus of this project will be on sharp transitions and universality in two types of systems: relatively simple systems that underlie more complicated systems, and systems arising from quantum physics, Kocić said.

“This project will lead to advancement of both areas, strengthen the research program in dynamical systems and mathematical physics at UM, and enhance its undergraduate and graduate education,” he said.

“This collaboration will be very important not only for my career and the field of research, but also for my current and future students, our dynamical systems group, the mathematics department and the whole of the University of Mississippi.”

Garrick’s fellowship is funded by NSF grant 1738817; Kocic’s by NSF grant 1738834.

The mission of EPSCoR is to enhance research competitiveness of targeted jurisdictions – states, territories or commonwealths – by strengthening STEM capacity and capability. EPSCoR envisions its targeted jurisdictions as being recognized as strong contributors to the national and global STEM research enterprise.

UM to Host Communitywide Rosh Hashanah Services

Observances Wednesday and Thursday open to all

The UM Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Oxford will host Rosh Hashanah observances of the Jewish New Year in two services at Paris-Yates Chapel at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Oxford will host the first local Rosh Hashanah observances of the Jewish New Year in a long time, if not the first ever, this week.

The holiday, which celebrates the Jewish New Year, is the beginning of a 10-day period of reflection culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Maya Glasser, a student rabbi from New York’s Hebrew Union College, will lead two services at Paris-Yates Chapel at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 20) and 9:30 a.m. Thursday (Sept. 21).

“Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are considered the holiest days on the Jewish calendar,” said Richard Gershon, UM law professor and spokesman for the Jewish Federation of Oxford. “The new year brings us the opportunity for a fresh start through repentance, prayer and charity.”

The holiday is observed as the birthday of universe, the day God created Adam and Eve, which is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. 

The first two days of Rosh Hashanah are called Tishrei 1, which begins Wednesday at sundown, and Tishrei 2, which is Thursday. Members of the Jewish faith observe Rosh Hashanah with services and candle lighting. A ram’s horn, called a shofar, is sounded at prayer services. 

In prayer, God is asked for peace, prosperity and blessings, and those who practice the faith also acknowledge God as the ruler of the universe.

Historically, many locals who practice the Jewish faith have traveled out of town for Rosh Hashanah services. It’s likely Rosh Hashanah services haven’t been held locally before, organizers said. 

“Synagogues in Memphis and Tupelo have always welcomed UM students to services for the high holidays and for sabbath services, for that matter,” said Jason Solinger, UM associate professor of English and faculty adviser for the university’s Hillel. “But we are fortunate to have such a beautiful chapel on campus, where students can gather closer to home.”

The on-campus event is open to everyone, not just those who practice Judaism.

“We would welcome members of the university and the broader Oxford community who wish to attend,” Gershon said. 

Parking is open for the Wednesday night event, and parking passes will be available for those attending the Thursday service. For more information about the services or parking, email the Jewish Federation of Oxford at

UM Disaster Mental Health Expert Offers Advice for Hurricane Survivors

Department of Social Work offers tips to those affected by recent storms

UM students help collect nonperishable foods as part of a campus drive. Getting involved in volunteer activities or events that help others is an excellent way to deal with the stress from a major disaster, mental health experts advise. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – With 1,409 students from Texas and 513 from Florida enrolled this fall, the University of Mississippi is the home away from home for many residents of the two states that sustained the greatest impact from hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Many students’ and even some faculty members’ homes and property were damaged or destroyed while they watched the storm’s news coverage and waited to hear from their family members back home.

“(It was) probably the worst week in my life,” said adjunct legal studies professor George Ackerman, who was at his home in Del Ray Beach, Florida, when Hurricane Irma made landfall. “We are perfect today and everyone accounted for here, but it was very bad.

“Ninety degree temperatures in our home, and the baby and kids as well as pets were doing very bad. I slept on the floor, and we jumped staying from house to house as there were no hotels. Finally, we got one after four days. The hurricane itself was frightening to everyone, but we move forward.”

While managing loss of property is often top of mind after a natural disaster, managing the psychological effects of an event of this magnitude can be an even more critical part of storm recovery.

The psychological impact for individuals who are directly impacted by disaster – those who have lost property or a loved one, or who have been injured or dislocated – puts them at risk for developing long-term psychosocial conditions, said Daphne Cain, disaster mental health expert and chair of the UM Department of Social Work.

“Post-disaster reactions and behaviors may appear to be symptoms of psychological distress,” Cain said. However, many of these reactions are normal for people responding to traumatic situations.

“Studies show some common reactions include symptoms of shock, exhaustion, disorientation, irrationality, racing thoughts, fear and anxiety, or uncontrollable emotions,” said Cain, citing a 2013 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Cain offered five important tips for students affected by the storms:

– Talk about it. Connect with social support systems, including family, friends, teachers and residence hall advisers. Visit the Student Health CenterPsychological Services Center or the Counseling Center.

First-year biology major Maggie Coulter,of Houston, Texas, puts effort into staying connected with her family in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“I call and check on my parents and grandmother every day,” said Coulter, whose family continues to work on repairing her grandmother’s home, which suffered substantial water damage from the storm.

– Take care and calm yourself. Avoid using alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and engage in healthy coping, including yoga, stretching, walking and deep breathing. Get the rest you need, drink plenty of water for hydration and eat healthy meals and snacks.

– Turn off social media, television and radio. Listening to and viewing coverage of the disaster can be traumatizing or re-traumatizing. Take a break from listening to and viewing coverage.

– Get back to your daily routines. Returning to your normal routine, including going to class, meeting deadlines, engaging with friends and with usual activities, are good ways to regain a sense of control and can help those affected feel less anxious.

– Get involved. You are not alone. Engage in positive activities such as discussion groups and volunteering activities that can help to create a sense of meaning and connectedness. Get involved in university-related volunteer opportunities.

The Department of Social Work’s mission is to prepare competent and ethical social workers, for scientific inquiry and practice, who are leaders committed to social and economic justice, diversity and the enrichment of the quality of life at every level of society. For more information about social work at Ole Miss, email

Special Collections Fall Lecture Series Begins this Month

Lunch lectures on varied topics slated throughout the semester

Jennifer Ford, head of Archives and Special Collections, prepares a copy of Shakespeare’s Second Folio for viewing at the J.D. Williams Library. The acquisition of this copy, published in 1632, is the topic of one of several lectures scheduled throughout the semester. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Libraries’ Department of Archives and Special Collections will feature guest speakers on a variety of topics during its Fall Lecture Series.

“I am so pleased Special Collections has such a distinguished panel of speakers scheduled for the fall,” said Jennifer Ford, the department’s head. “The presentations address subjects which are both thought-provoking and varied in nature, with something to appeal to everyone.”

The series run through November. Each lecture will be held at noon in the Department of Archives and Special Collections, on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library. All programs are free and open to the public. Guests are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch to the events.

For more information, contact Ford at or 662-915-7408.

  • Sept. 21 – “Mississippi in the Work of Sherwood Bonner.” Katie McKee, UM associate professor of Southern studies and English, will discuss Sherwood Bonner, a 19th century literary figure from Mississippi who is the subject of McKee’s forthcoming monograph.
  • Sept. 28 – “Tracking RFK Through the Delta: Digging Through Documents and Knocking on Doors.” Ellen Meacham, UM assistant professor of journalism, will discuss her research for the upcoming work “Delta Epiphany: RFK in Mississippi,” which focuses on Robert F. Kennedy’s historic trips to the Mississippi Delta.
  • Oct. 5 – “We Believed We Were Immortal.” UM journalism professor Kathleen Wickham will discuss her new book, “We Believed We Were Immortal: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss.” Wickham will discuss her research, which focuses on the work of 12 journalists during that time and the unsolved murder of French reporter Paul Guihard.
  • Oct. 10 – “From Shakespeare’s London to Faulkner’s Oxford: The Unlikely Journey of Edwin Booth’s Second Folio.” UM theatre arts professor Rhona Justice-Malloy will discuss the acquisition of Shakespeare’s Second Folio by the university. The acquisition of the folio, owned by actor Edwin Booth, was made possible in 2016 thanks to a donation from the Gertrude Ford Foundation.
  • Oct. 19 – “Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.” Pamela Junior, director of the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, will discuss the museum’s exhibits, history and future.
  • Oct. 31 – “The Bell Witch of Mississippi: Slavery and the Supernatural.” Amy Fluker, visiting assistant professor of history, will discuss the folk tale of the Bell Witch and its connections to Mississippi, the supernatural and slavery.
  • Nov. 8 – “Make Me a Hummingbird of Words: Salvos into the Word of Micro-Memoirs with Beth Ann Fennelly.” Mississippi poet laureate and English professor Beth Ann Fennelly hosts this session, part craft talk, part reading. She will share strategies that informed her new book, “Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs.” She crosses genres, combining the brevity of poetry and the truth-telling of nonfiction in her storytelling form.
  • Nov. 15 – “Living, Making, Being: Houses and Craft Production at a 14th Century Native American Village in Southwestern Virginia.” Maureen Meyers, UM assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, will discuss her excavations at the Carter Robinson site over the last decade. The excavation of six houses on 14th century mound and village site has yielded finds such as shell beads and gaming stones. Meyers will talk about households of people who lived at the site, craft production and what recent excavations have revealed.

FedEx Founder Fred Smith Issues Challenge at Honors Convocation

Annual fall event also featured Silicon Valley icon Jim Barksdale

Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx, delivers the keynote address Tuesday evening during the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Fall Convocation in the Ford Center. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Legendary FedEx founder and CEO Frederick W. Smith challenged University of Mississippi honors students Tuesday (Sept. 12) to continue having academic conversations with the aim of developing workable solutions to national and global problems.

Smith was the keynote speaker for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College’s Fall Convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Celebrating the college’s 20th anniversary, the program also featured Silicon Valley icon and Ole Miss alumnus Jim Barksdale, who introduced Smith.

“If this country is to continue being recognized as the leading nation on the global scene, then we must use rational thinking and political compromise to fix our problems,” Smith said. “I think that the answers are going from young minds such as those found in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“Even as students, when you search for good ideas, it can lead to big things.”

Considered one of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, Smith founded FedEx more than 46 years ago. He recounted how his global corporation began with a paper he wrote as a student at Yale University. Smith’s idea went on to revolutionize the transportation industry and beyond.

“We singlehandedly created the overnight delivery system,” Smith said. “We also invented the ability to track and trace shipments while in transit, pioneered the unique wireless technology to keep in touch with all our service people and spearheaded transportation deregulation, which made it easier for growing companies to get goods and services to market.”

While citing the company’s assets and achievements, Smith maintained that its people are the real key to FedEx’s success.

“The FedEx culture is that people plus service equals prosperity,” Smith said. “The Purple Promise of every employee is ‘I will make every FedEx experience outstanding.'”

Barksdale credited Smith with changing traditional business operations from the industrial model into a technological society.

“FedEx has such a stellar reputation because it was led by this man of such great integrity and incredible executive leadership acumen,” he said.

Smith, in turn, praised Barksdale as “one of the great resources of American history.”

“This Honors College is named for one of the greatest philanthropists and advocates for education that I have ever known,” Smith said. “She was a true American hero who lived her life for the betterment of others.”

Smith’s visit represented an extraordinary moment for UM students, Honors College Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

“Mr. Smith is one this country’s most important and innovative corporate leaders,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “I am thrilled that our students had the opportunity to hear and interact with such an impactful figure in his field.”

Sullivan-Gonzalez also praised Barksdale and his family for their contributions to the Honors College.

“Jim is a pioneer and leader in the technology world and a great friend of education and the University of Mississippi,” he said. “A noted alum of our business school, Jim’s career achievements and the commitment of his time, energy, passion and resources to elevating the quality of life in his home state are truly remarkable.”

With an annual income exceeding $60 billion, FedEx employs more than 400,000 workers in 220 countries. With a fleet of 650 cargo aircraft and thousands of delivery trucks, the company delivers more than 13 million shipments daily.

Former State Supreme Court Justice Supports Law Students

Reuben Anderson hopes gift will help develop future leaders

Reuben and Phyllis Anderson. UM photo by Bill Dabney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annual UM 9/11 Memorial Run Set for Monday

First responders and general public invited to offer support and participate

The University of Mississippi ROTC programs’ 9/11 Memorial Run is set for Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 at 5:30 a.m. The event is annually held in remembrance of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s ROTC programs host the annual 9/11 Memorial Run at 5:30 a.m. Monday in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. 

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on New York and Washington. The run, which is in remembrance of the victims and the first responders who came to their aid, begins in front of the Lyceum steps and continues to the Oxford Square and back. 

All local first responders and the public are invited to the run, which is open to anyone who wants to either participate or show their support by encouraging the runners. 

“The Memorial Run is dedicated to remembering the lives that were lost during the 9/11 terror attacks and also the brave men and women who responded to the attack,” said Scott Caldwell, recruiting operations officer for UM’s Army ROTC. “The 9/11 Memorial Run helps remind members of the local community of the importance of coming together in times of crisis.”

The university’s Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force ROTC programs host the event each year. Ole Miss is one of the nation’s few universities to have all four branches of military service represented on campus, Caldwell said.

The run is an important event that brings together all the ROTC military services and local first responders, he said.

This year’s event will feature commemorative T-shirts and a display of 3,000 flags in honor of the victims, among other improvements to the program, said Army ROTC cadet Donald Lorbecke, a senior mechanical engineering major from Madison, Alabama.

“The 9/11 run has been showing the bond between military, firefighters, police and the Ole Miss community,” Lorbecke said. “Every year, we have an impressive crowd that shows up and does the 2 miles to the Square.” 

The ROTC groups look forward to the event each year, said Joshua Duff, Army ROTC cadet battalion commander and a senior public policy leadership major from Pontotoc.

“It is an event mainly organized by cadets, and we take great care in ensuring the significance of this event is recognized,” Duff said. “This event is a time for us to honor the memories of the lives lost that day and pay tribute to the service of the men and women who responded so bravely.

“Also, it is a time for us to reflect on the importance of our future service to this great country and what it is that we are fighting to preserve.”