Chemistry Professor Lands National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Davita Watkins is department's fifth honoree and university's first African-American winner

Davita Watkins (right), assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, works with students Briana Simms and Duong Ngo in her lab in Coulter Hall. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi faculty member has won a prestigious National Science Foundation Career Award for her functional materials research.

Davita L. Watkins, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has received the grant to investigate the role of sigma-hole interactions in advanced functional materials that she develops in her laboratory. The five-year award is for approximately $500,000.

Watkins is the university’s fifth chemistry professor – and first female chemistry professor – selected as an NSF CAREER awardee, and the eighth NSF CAREER awardee in any discipline over the past decade from Ole Miss. She is also the first African-American to win this prestigious award at the university.

“Even now, it still feels surreal,” Watkins said. “The wonderful part about being a scientist and research professor is seeing your thoughts and ideas come to life.

“It’s encouraging and thrilling to know that the scientific community acknowledges the challenge that we are willing to face as scholars and values both the commitment and the work we are doing.”

Previous CAREER awardees from the UM chemistry department are Andrew Cooksy (1995), Nathan Hammer (2010), Amal Dass (2013) and Jared Delcamp (2015).

“I have some amazing and supportive colleagues, so it’s wonderful to know that I am in good company,” Watkins said. “I acknowledge the strides that women and underrepresented minorities are making in STEM.

“In review of the STEM workforce, minority women comprise fewer than one in 10 employed scientists and engineers. In turn, I do not take receiving the award lightly because I know that it transcends beyond me.”

CAREER Awards are among the most prestigious made by the National Science Foundation and are extremely competitive.

“We are so proud of Dr. Watkins for this accomplishment and look forward to the great science this award will enable,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor of research and sponsored programs. “The chemistry department has shown strong leadership in successful CAREER awards. We look forward to even more success across the university in this important NSF program in the coming years.”

The department has a long tradition of identifying and hiring outstanding teacher-scholars, said Charles Hussey, associate dean for research and graduate education and professor of chemistry.

“Even with this success, we could not have anticipated that we might find someone as extraordinarily talented as Professor Davita Watkins,” Hussey said. “Not only is she an outstanding person and emerging scholar, she is a gifted instructor too.

Davita Watkins is the university’s fifth chemistry professor – and first female chemistry professor – to win a National Science Foundation Career Award for her work. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“Professor Watkins does research in synthetic organic chemistry, which is one of the most difficult areas of the field of chemistry. This grant award will guarantee that she has the resources and support she needs to fully launch her career.”

Watkins’ research explores the operational efficiency of functional materials – ranging from solar-harvesting polymers to nano-sized therapeutic drug-delivery systems. Efficiency depends upon two factors: the nature of the constituting components – in this case, molecules – and the arrangement of those molecules to yield a useful overall composition.

“The ability to control these molecules and understand their organization into discrete nanoscale arrays that exhibit unique properties affords transformative advances in chemistry and material science,” Watkins said.

“The research focus of this CAREER plan is to establish guidelines towards developing molecules that absorb natural energy and produce/conduct electrical current. These molecules are unique in that they are programmed to self-organize and form structures that enhance those light-harvesting properties.”

The new knowledge gained from this research will lead to the development of more efficient organic-based materials and devices, thereby advancing the pursuit of technological applications, such as electronic devices and biomedical implants.

Watkins plans to collaborate with researchers at both Ole Miss and elsewhere in her research.

“Within the chemistry department, our research programs tend to overlap and we all work together on various projects,” she said. “My primary collaborators are Dr. Nathan Hammer (UM spectroscopist), Dr. Gregory Tschumper (UM computational/theoretical chemist) and Dr. Arnold Rheingold (crystallographer at the University of California at San Diego).”

Additionally, the project affords opportunities to train the next generation of scientists and engineers.

“Specifically, outreach initiatives are aimed toward increasing the number of females and minorities in chemistry-related fields by immersing rising high school seniors into a summer research program called Operation I Can Be,” said Tschumper, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “The program ensures continuation in scientific career fields by establishing networks and mentorship across disciplines; in turn, diversifying the future of the scientific workforce and culture.”

Watkins acknowledged her position as a role model for future scientists of color.

“Even thinking about it now, it’s overwhelming,” she said. “I hope to inspire my young scholars to chase after the science that excites them and always thank those who paved the way for them to do so.”

The NSF CAREER Award is funded under grant number 1652094.

For more information about the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, visit http://chemistry.olemiss.edu/.

UM Multidisciplinary Degree Adds New Counselor

Audra Trnovec helping students navigate career path in new position

Audra Trnovec , new academic counselor in the UM Bachelor of General Studies program, works with Serenity Jones, a student in the program, on her schedule. UM photo by Larry Agostinelli

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – When she first started college, Audra Trnovec thought she wanted to be a cruise director like Julie McCoy on the ’70s television show “The Love Boat.” Although her career journey never took her out to sea, Trnovec’s path has had a few twists and turns.

The new academic counselor in the University of Mississippi’s expanding Bachelor of General Studies program, Trnovec ran outdoor adventure programs with two different universities for more than 20 years before making a change that would allow her to continue guiding students into unknown territory. The difference is that this journey winds up at their future careers.

“I like a challenge,” Trnovec said. “I guess that’s why I like my job. It’s similar to leading people in a ropes course. I’m helping students navigate academic and career decisions.

“It’s very rewarding when I get to see a student excited about completing their educational journey.”

Originally from northern Illinois, Trnovec attended Iowa State University to pursue a degree in recreation management.

“I found out that cruise directors had to work 18-hour days, so I changed my mind about that particular career goal,” she said.

Crediting her academic adviser for steering her in the right direction in her career and later suggesting graduate school studies, Trnovec said that she respected her adviser for asking her the tough questions.

“I had to really think about what I wanted to do with my life and analyze my skills,” Trnovec said. “I think having the opportunity to work in my field of study as a student also helped me to investigate opportunities and gain even more knowledge about the profession.”

It was her adviser who first mentioned the possibility of part-time work in the college’s recreation program. She took the job and worked as a student assistant in the program for the next three years.

“I was learning how to lead trips and handle equipment,” Trnovec said. “It really was the best job on campus for a student, and it helped me decide to pursue a career in student outdoor recreation.”

After completing her bachelor’s degree, Trnovec stayed on at Iowa State to complete a master’s degree in higher education and student development. Shortly after, she was offered a full-time position as the coordinator of outdoor recreation programs.

Part of Trnovec’s position included mentoring and guiding students through the undergraduate program, just as her mentor had done for her.

Audra Trnovec

“I wanted to help students prepare for their futures,” she said. “We worked on resumes, interview preparing, and training for not only our outdoor programs, but life.”

In 2001 Trnovec became the assistant director of outdoor recreation at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she oversaw the Seahawk Adventure program and helped facilitate travel programs, surfing workshops and fly fishing lessons.

After getting married, her next move was to Indiana State University, where she took a position in the college’s career center as a liaison for the College of Health and Human Services.

“This position allowed me to help students find ways to infuse career and life skills together,” Trnovec said. “I worked with faculty to help add professional and career services into their classes while we worked to help students after graduation.”

The next leg of her journey brought her to north Mississippi, when her husband, Bud Edwards, came to serve as the director of the UM Counseling Center.

“He went to Ole Miss and wanted to return home and help his community,” Trnovec said.

Upon coming to Oxford, Trnovec interviewed for a position as an academic adviser in UM’s Center for Student Success. She also began teaching the EDHE 105: Freshmen Year Experience course.

“This was a neat experience because along with teaching study skills and life management, there was a lot to learn about the campus and the university as part of this class,” she said. “As someone who was new to Ole Miss myself, I told my students that we were going to learn about all of this together.”

In the Center for Student Success, Trnovec worked with students who had yet to declare a major.

“This took a lot of guidance and working with the students,” she said. “I worked to help them find the right fit for their academic and personal goals.”

In March, another challenge came her way when Trnovec landed her new position with the Bachelor of General Studies program.

“I like the creativity of this degree program,” she said. “Our BGS students get to put together their varied interests and career goals in order to make a degree as unique as they are. I really believe in the viability of this major, and I love to help students plan their own career paths while earning this degree.”

With the addition of Trnovec, the BGS advising office has a great team assembled to guide students in their educational journey, said Terry Blackmarr, assistant to the dean in the Office of General Studies.

“Audra really complements and understands the nature of this program and the goals of our students,” Blackmarr said. “Her background in career services is bringing experience that helps our students throughout their career journey.”

When she is not working with students, Trnovec is a student herself, working on a doctorate in higher education at Ole Miss.

“My hobby is school,” she said. “I love learning and growing in my skills. I feel like I am right where I’m supposed to be.”

Annual Conference to Explore ‘Faulkner and Money’

July 23-27 event expected to draw hundreds from around the globe

William Faulkner’s typewriter, along with copies of a few of his best-selling novels and those of some of his African-American contemporaries, are on display at Rowan Oak. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – “Faulkner and Money: The Economies of Yoknapatawpha and Beyond” is the theme for the University of Mississippi’s 44th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, set for July 23-27.

Five days of lectures, panels, tours, exhibits and other presentations will explore the multifaceted economies of Yoknapatawpha County, the Faulkner oeuvre and the literary profession. Besides three keynote lectures, the conference program will include panel presentations, guided daylong tours of north Mississippi and the Delta, and sessions on “Teaching Faulkner.”

“This year’s theme was actually suggested a decade or more ago by one of the legendary figures of Faulkner studies, the late Noel Polk, who often mentioned how fascinating, and entertaining, a conference would be on Faulkner and money,” said Jay Watson, Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies and professor of English who serves as director of the conference.

“More recently, the program committee had contemplated building a conference around the slightly wider theme of Faulkner and economics. So two years ago, we decided to combine both the specific subject of money and the more general topic of economics and came up with ‘Faulkner and Money: The Economies of Yoknapatawpha.'”

This year’s subject is rewarding for a number of reasons, Watson said.

“First of all, William Faulkner spent his first 25 years or more as a serious writer of fiction in almost constant financial difficulty,” he said. “He had trouble supporting his extended family off his writing alone, and he worried all the time about money.

“His own financial arrangements, both personal and professional, his relationship to the literary marketplace and his search for other sources of income available to established writers all have the potential to shed important light on the profession of authorship in 20th century America.”

Additionally, and for some of the same reasons, Faulkner’s fiction is especially rich in economic content: money problems, elaborate business arrangements, convoluted bets and wagers, get-rich-quick schemes and con games.

“His people – and sometimes individual characters – run the gamut from enormous wealth to miserable poverty,” Watson said. “Many are unduly preoccupied with money, much like their creator.

“There’s a lot to learn from Faulkner’s work about the economics of rural and small-town life, of the South and of modern America. We’ll be exploring all of these issues in July.”

This bronze statue of William Faulkner near City Hall is a popular attraction for Faulkner enthusiasts visiting Oxford. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications.

The conference will begin with a reception at the University Museum, after which the academic program of the conference will open with two keynote addresses, followed by a buffet supper on the grounds of Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak. Over the next four days, a busy schedule of lectures and panels also includes an afternoon cocktail reception, a picnic at Rowan Oak, the guided tours and a closing party on Thursday afternoon.

The “Teaching Faulkner” sessions will be led by James B. Carothers, of the University of Kansas; Terrell L. Tebbetts, Lyon College; Brian McDonald, Lancaster, Pennsylvania School District; Charles Peek, University of Nebraska at Kearney; and Theresa M. Towner, University of Texas at Dallas.

Throughout the conference, the university’s J.D. Williams Library will display Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia. The University Press of Mississippi will exhibit books of interest published by university presses throughout the country.

Faulkner collector Seth Berner is organizing a display of his collection, with books for sale. Berner also will give a brown bag lunch presentation on “Collecting Faulkner.”

Also, collaborators on the Digital Yoknapatawpha Project, a database and digital mapping project at the University of Virginia, will present updates on its progress at a special conference session.

The conference early registration fee, good through June, is $150 for students and $275 for other participants. After July 1, the fee is $175 for students and $300 for others.

To register or for more information, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/events/faulkner/.

University Participates in Culture of Respect Program

Initiative aims to address and prevent sexual violence on campuses

The Division of Student Affairs will participate in the Culture of Respect Program aimed at developing strategies to address sexual violence. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is among 53 institutions to join the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators 2017 Culture of Respect inaugural cohort with the aim of addressing campus sexual violence.

As part of the two-year program, UM will examine and evaluate its existing policies, build effective prevention programs, create a strategic plan for addressing violence, participate in professional development and receive coaching from public health professionals.

“We feel like we already do a good job on response and prevention on our campus, but we are always focused on improving and serving our students, faculty and staff,” said Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, assistant director for violence prevention.

“The university upholds its commitment to a safe campus through several avenues, and Culture of Respect is bringing together more stakeholders than ever to ensure we are doing everything we can and maximizing existing resources.”

Institutions in the pilot program, launched in 2016, showed improvements in the six pillars of response and prevention: survivor support, clear policies, multitiered education, public disclosure, school-wide mobilization and ongoing self-assessment.

Throughout the program, institutions will learn from one other through online discussion boards and networking events.

“One of the core values of the Division of Student Affairs is “students first”; the Culture of Respect membership exemplifies our commitment to that specific value,” said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. “Continual assessment and improvement of professional practice is a hallmark of our university, but this initiative is especially important in our efforts to enhance student safety.”

For information about policies at Ole Miss regarding relationship violence and sexual assault, visit http://umsafe.olemiss.edu/.

University to Provide STEM Experience for Young Women

$20,000 grant will support environmental education in the Oxford community

Young women watch as the structural integrity of their popsicle stick tower is tested during last year’s STEM Camp for Girls on the UM campus. A grant from LRNG will allow Ole Miss educators to expand on programs such as this to provide STEM opportunities for Oxford youth. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will offer an opportunity for young women in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community to experience hands-on science technology, engineering and math research while exploring their local environment. 

Ellen Shelton, director of pre-college programs for the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, has been awarded a $20,000 grant to support a project to reimagine traditional education, specifically for young women interested in STEM fields. 

Shelton’s proposal, titled “Green is the New Pink: Young Women Environmentalists in Action,” will focus on exploring environmental issues in a local context, beginning this fall. A collaboration among the Office of Pre-College Programs, the UM Writing Project and Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, the program will introduce real-world research strategies and generate curiosity about the natural environment, Shelton said.

“Even though Mississippi is predominantly a rural state, with more than 56 percent of students living in rural areas, we rarely take time to explore and appreciate the immediate environment beyond our classroom and office walls,” Shelton said. “The program’s intense focus on area birds, plants, and insects will reinforce the interconnectivity of all habitats and creatures in an environment.

“The participants will learn to explore the world around them; they will understand that great inquiry starts in the local space.”

In August, students in grades 8 to 11 can apply for the program and will participate in it on four Saturdays throughout the academic year. The cross-disciplinary partnership between English and science will allow students to conduct their own research, create a project and deliver a presentation.

Students will be guided through four field experiences of data collection, data exploration, analysis and interpretation of data, and drawing conclusions. In the fall, students will focus on migration patterns and the impact of birds in north Mississippi by visiting Strawberry Plains and exploring the forests, wetlands and prairies of the area. In the spring, students will observe plants and insects while learning how each help the local environment and how climate change affects plants. 

The award, a grant from the LRNG (short for learning) Educator Innovator Challenge, will connect learning with student interests. Shelton’s proposal was among only 10 chosen for funding, which will support 12 to 15 young women and their research into environmental inquiries.

This program is an extension of the STEM Camp for Girls, created several years ago at Ole Miss.

“Our goal in pre-college programs is to make spaces for all students to explore any opportunity that they wish,” Shelton said. “We are excited about this funding because our goal is to continue support for young women scientists as they move from Ecology Day Camp into STEM Camp for Girls to Green is the New Pink and then into more of our STEM summer offerings: Environmental Conservation Leadership Workshop, Code Monkeys Camp, Engineering Camp, Summer College or UM’s ARISE program.”

Scott Knight, director of the UM Field Station, is co-investigator on the grant and will work alongside Shelton with Oxford High School teacher Angela Whaley, Oxford Middle School teacher Martha Tallent and Lafayette Middle School teacher Katie Szabo to enhance education for students.

“Because science, engineering and math are often perceived as hard subjects, it can be a pretty tough sell to convince young people to consider careers in STEM,” Knight said. “This program will demonstrate, through hands-on participation, that while science can sometimes be challenging, the chance to discover something new is fun, rewarding and well worth all the hard work.”

Funding for the project comes from the support of the National Writing Project, John Legend’s Show Me Campaign, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Collective Shift.

J.D. Williams Library Hosts Opening Reception for Bicentennial Exhibit

Reception includes keynote address by UM alumnus and author W. Ralph Eubanks

Greg Johnson arranges an exhibit featuring the Mississippi Bicentennial at the Archives and Special Collections in J.D. Williams Library. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Department of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library will host an opening reception for the exhibit “Mississippi: 200 Years of Statehood” from 5 to 7 p.m. June 21.

The exhibit features a wide variety of items that defined Mississippi over the course of its history, including historical Mississippi textbooks, early territorial documents, 18th-century maps of the South by European cartographers, materials related to the women’s suffrage movement and civil rights movement in the state, sound recordings, Mississippi-themed sheet music and photographs of the state throughout the years.

The reception includes a welcome from Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, a video statement from former Mississippi Gov. William Winter and a keynote address by W. Ralph Eubanks, UM alumnus and author. The event will be held in the Faulkner Room within Special Collections on the third floor of the library. It is free and open to the public.

“The UM Libraries are deeply honored to participate and host an event on such an important anniversary for the state,” said Cecilia Botero, dean of libraries.

The opening reception is one of many events of the week that celebrates Mississippi’s bicentennial in the northern part of state. On June 19, the library will host a brown bag luncheon at noon in Special Collections featuring the publication of The Mississippi Encyclopedia with remarks by editors Ted Ownby, Charles Reagan Wilson and Jimmy Thomas, in addition to several contributors from the library.

“The week of June 19th in north Mississippi is a very special one for the region, and Special Collections is proud to be able to contribute to the exciting programming schedule,” said Jennifer Ford, head of special collections. “We are deeply indebted to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, former Gov. William Winter and W. Ralph Eubanks for helping us to create such a great lineup of events in the archives that week highlighting the state’s bicentennial.”

On June 24, the Governor’s Concert in celebration of the bicentennial will be held on the Grove Stage headlined by country and Americana artist Marty Stuart. In addition, Special Collection’s bicentennial exhibit will have special public viewing hours from noon to 4:30 p.m. that day in honor of the festivities.

For more information about events at the J.D. Williams Library, contact Jennifer Ford at 662-915-7408 or archivesdept@olemiss.edu.

The official bicentennial exhibit reception for the library was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the Mississippi Development Authority.

To learn more about Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration, visit http://200.visitmississippi.org/.


Former Mississippi Governor William Winter comments on the significance of celebrating the bicentennial through the “Mississippi: 200 Years of History” exhibit at the J.D. Williams Library.

 

Gift Honors Life of UM Alumnus Stephen Moore

Phil Hardin Foundation expands educational opportunities at UM law school

Members of the Moore family were honored on the Oxford campus, including, front row from left, daughter Alison Moore Abney of Madison, widow Joan Moore of Meridian, daughter Melissa Moore Blackburn of Vicksburg and Hardin Foundation board president Robert Ward; back row, foundation board member Kacey Bailey, interim dean of law Debbie Bell, and foundation executive director Lloyd Gray.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The late Stephen Moore, of Meridian, was the epitome of a lifelong learner, always with a book in his hand. That, and his deep commitment to education, are reasons the Phil Hardin Foundation is honoring its board member and treasurer with a gift in his memory to the University of Mississippi School of Law.

The Hardin Foundation’s gift of $250,000 will support the Business Law Institute at the school, where Moore earned a Juris Doctor in 1971 and was active on the Mississippi Law Journal staff. That’s after receiving an undergraduate degree from Millsaps College and earning a fellowship with Duke University Graduate School.

The businessman’s name will always be linked with education.

“The reason Steve was elected to the Hardin Foundation board was because of his care and concern for education,” said Robert Ward, board chair of the foundation, also of Meridian. “This gift was made to order for his interests – perfect for what we wanted to achieve in his memory.”

The university applauds the foundation’s decision to honor Moore through higher education, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“The University of Mississippi values our extensive philanthropic partnership with the Hardin Foundation,” Vitter said. “We deeply appreciate the foundation’s many significant investments in a number of areas on our campus.

“This new gift to honor Stephen Moore’s life is particularly moving, as this alumnus was truly a champion for education, placing great energies and service toward enriching initiatives. His legacy will be expanded through students and faculty in our Business Law Institute.”

Dedicated to improving educational opportunities for Mississippians, the Hardin Foundation’s goal for the gift is to pay tribute to Moore’s almost 30-year service. This plan was put in motion weeks before his death in August 2016, when Moore was briefed on the foundation’s intentions and asked where he would want the gift directed, said Ward, who described his longtime friend as a man of “quiet dignity” who was respected by many.

“Steve and his wife, Joan, had a very meaningful experience while on the Oxford campus for Steve’s law school years, and they came to love Ole Miss more and more through the lives of their daughters and sons-in-laws who all graduated from there,” Ward said. “The Moores became immersed in the university community and their enjoyment of the culture increased with each passing year.”

Moore, a community leader, also was a former board member for the Meridian Public Schools, where he and Ward co-chaired a bond issue campaign in the early 1980s that resulted in $4 million for repairs and renovations for the schools.

“Steve would have been very pleased,” said his widow, Joan Moore, of the foundation’s gift to the law school. “He never planned to practice law but used his legal knowledge as a trust officer in the banking field and later as a financial planner. Steve always said that law school teaches people how to be critical thinkers.”

The foundation’s support will strengthen the Business Law Institute, an innovative program that places the faculty’s top business law experts in office space shared with students. The close proximity of faculty and students facilitates continuous access, collaboration and engagement, an educational model that maximizes active learning.

The institute also houses organizations in the student-run experiential programs: the Negotiation Board, Business Law Network and Tax Clinic. These offer negotiation competitions, professional outreach and real-world practice opportunities to develop students’ business law skills through hands-on activities and practice.

“The Hardin Foundation is interested first in improving educational opportunities at every level for Mississippians,” said Lloyd Gray, executive director of the foundation. “While we are committed to helping build programs, we also like to recognize and reward established programs that are effective.

“In this case, we feel this gift will help accelerate an initiative that has already proven its capacity to equip law students with exceptional preparation and hands-on experiences.”

Gray explained that the Hardin Foundation’s seven board members make long-term commitments – such as the service of Moore – and when members retire or pass away, the foundation has historically honored them in a way that is appropriate to their life and contributions. Several endowments have been created at Ole Miss for Hardin board members.

“Steve enjoyed his work on the Hardin Foundation board and was always pleased to see how the resources impacted educational opportunities,” said Joan Moore, a former speech and language therapist. “He particularly enjoyed traveling around the state to see the Hardin Foundation’s gifts in action.”

Among those involved the Hardin Foundation’s generous support of Ole Miss’ and Millsaps College’s faculty members when they sought to shelter chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organizations.

“Steve and I attended the ceremonies when Ole Miss and Millsaps College received their Phi Beta Kappa charters,” Moore said. “He was so proud that both institutions were able to recognize their students with this academic distinction.

“Steve was an advocate for learning – a true intellectual – and he read all the time. He majored in history and was so well-versed in history. He also loved the University of Mississippi.”

 The circle of Stephen Moore’s impact on his community widened with his service on the boards of the Meridian Community College Foundation, Kings Daughter’s Nursing Home, Care Lodge and Boy Scouts of America. He was an active member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, serving in numerous roles, as well as a trustee of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi.

Professionally, he was the trust officer for First National Bank of Jackson and then senior vice president and trust officer for Merchant and Farmers Bank and the Bank of Meridian. He retired as a financial planner at Revels Securities and Smith Barney.

“Steve was a very humble and quiet man,” his wife said. “When he said something, people listened. He loved our family and was my best friend.”

The Moores’ family includes two daughters and sons-in-law: Alison Moore Abney and husband, Luke, of Madison, and Melissa Moore Blackburn and husband, Jeb, of Vicksburg; and five grandchildren, Simms and Owen Abney and Caton, Ali and Emerson Blackburn.

The Hardin Foundation was created by Phil B. Hardin, an entrepreneur who built the highly successful Hardin Bakeries Corp. from a bankrupt business he purchased in the 1930s. In 1964, he founded the Phil Hardin Foundation, which is dedicated to improving education for Mississippians. It is one of the three largest foundations in the state and has provided Ole Miss with more than $3.4 million in support of the schools of Business Administration and Education, College of Liberal Arts and more.

The Stephen Moore Endowment for Business Law is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. A check with the fund’s name in the memo line can be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or made online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Suzette Matthews, development officer for the School of Law, at suzette@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1122.

UM Visiting Professor Receives Summer Scholar Award to Vassar

Jaime Cantrell will spend three weeks studying poet Elizabeth Bishop

Jaime Cantrell, visiting assistant professor of English and faculty affiliate to the Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, is studying American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Vassar University this summer. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi English professor is the recipient of a prestigious scholarship award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jaime Cantrell, visiting assistant professor of English and faculty affiliate at the university’s Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, has been selected as an NEH Summer Scholar from a national applicant pool to attend one of 24 seminars and institutes.

Cantrell will participate in “Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive,” a three-week program directed by Bethany Hicok at Vassar College. Each of the 16 educators selected to participate receive a stipend of $2,700 to cover their travel, study and living expenses.

“My reasons for participating in the ‘Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive’ NEH summer institute are interwoven,” Cantrell said. “Archival research encompasses both bodies of knowledge and embodied experiences, and I am interested in how framing ‘Bishop As Archival Theorist’ begs affective inquiries about our relationship as scholars to the literary archival past – even as it reveals reinvigorated attenuations to space, emotions and material method.”

Bishop was an American poet and author who served as a consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress in 1949-50 and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1956 and a National Book Award in 1970.

Although Cantrell herself is not a Bishop expert, she’s a 20th century Americanist.

“In my American lit large lecture courses, students close read Bishop’s ‘One Art’ and ‘In the Waiting Room’ alongside other post-1945 female poets and their works, including Adrienne Rich’s ‘Diving Into the Wreck’ and Sylvia Plath’s ‘Daddy’ and ‘Morning Song,'” Cantrell said.

In her literary criticism courses, Cantrell stresses to students that developing the analytical skills for reading theory deeply and considering how texts continue to resonate can be difficult.

“I think, perhaps, admitting or even confessing our inner amateurs is critically germane to the evolution of our profession and to the excellence of our pedagogy,” she said. “Like our students, we don’t come to the classroom – or in this case, seminar – to learn what we already know.”

Each summer, the NEH supports these enrichment opportunities at colleges, universities and cultural institutions to allow faculty to work in collaboration and study with experts in humanities disciplines.

Cantrell said her strong desire to participate in this NEH summer seminar extends beyond pedagogical practices and into her own scholarly interests.

“As an interpreter of the humanities, I believe the slippages, overlaps and ambiguities between those (unstable) identities – teacher and researcher – are where radical potentialities lie,” she said.

Cantrell’s recognition speaks to her own achievement and those of the Ole Miss English department, said Ivo Kamps, UM chair and professor of English.

“Selection to NEH seminars is highly competitive, and it is to Dr. Cantrell’s credit that she has been chosen,” he said. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is perhaps the most important national agency to support the scholarship of English professors, and we are proud that the NEH has selected visiting professor Jaime Cantrell for one of its prestigious summer seminars.”

Cantrell also teaches specialized cross-listed courses in English and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, including Queer Theory, LGBTQ Literatures, Introduction to Gender Studies, Gender and Culture and Women in Literature.

She earned her master’s degree in women’s studies from the University of Alabama and her doctorate in English literature with a graduate concentration in women’s and gender studies from Louisiana State University. She has been awarded library and research grants from Cornell University, Duke University and the NEH.

Cantrell is the author of essays and reviews appearing in Feminist Formations, The Journal of Lesbian Studies, Study the South, Notches: (re)marks on the history of sexuality, “This Book is An Action: Feminist Print Culture and Activist Aesthetics” (UIP Press, 2015), “The Bohemian South: Creating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk” (UNC Press, 2017) and the Journal of Homosexuality.

She co-edited “Out of the Closet, Into the Archive: Researching Sexual Histories” (SUNY Press, Queer Politics and Cultures series, 2015). “Out of the Closet, Into the Archives” is a 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best LGBT Anthology.

The approximately 537 NEH Summer Scholars who participate in these programs of study will teach more than 93,975 American students the following year.

For more information about the UM Department of English, visit http://english.olemiss.edu/.

For more information about the Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, go to http://sarahisomcenter.org/.

University of Mississippi to Purchase Property from Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi

Property provides UM with improved space allocation, addresses growth needs

The University of Mississippi and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi announced Thursday, June 15 that they reached a purchase and sale agreement for the existing hospital property located at 2301 South Lamar Blvd. in Oxford.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi are pleased to announce they have reached a purchase and sale agreement for the existing hospital property located at 2301 South Lamar Blvd.

The acquisition of the property will allow the university to address current space allocation challenges as well as future growth needs.

“The university is always examining how best to nurture and manage growth associated with strong demand for our academic programs,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We will continue to focus the heart of campus on our core, academic functions.

“The purchase of this property allows us to provide improved space for our support units and other functions that serve external constituencies. It will also be a major factor in helping us effectively address our capacity for future growth.”  

Baptist North Mississippi is an acute care facility serving the northern third of Mississippi. One of the fastest-growing hospitals in the region, the new replacement hospital has been in planning since 2009. The new five-story hospital will have more comprehensive medical and surgical services to serve those in need and offer more convenience to patients and visitors.

“This was a very easy decision for us,” said Jason Little, president and CEO of Baptist Memorial Health Care. “We have been part of this community for nearly 30 years, and we have enjoyed a great relationship with the university during that time. We are proud to be able to help advance the university’s mission however we can.”

The new hospital represents one of the largest economic development projects in the history of Oxford and Lafayette County and will further position Baptist North Mississippi as a regional referral center, providing greater accessibility for patients and space to expand services for generations to come.

“On behalf of the Board of Aldermen and the city of Oxford, we are pleased with the Baptist North Mississippi and the University of Mississippi’s purchase and sale agreement,” Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson said. “We think it will serve our growing community well.

“This is a smart use of existing space, and we look forward to this transition. We are proud of these major milestones in our community.”

“This sale signifies a great partnership between the University of Mississippi and Baptist North Mississippi,” said Jeff Busby, president of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors. “I think this will be a huge asset to this community, and I appreciate Baptist keeping us informed throughout this process.

“We are excited about both the opening of the new hospital and also the transformation of the Baptist property by the university.”

The agreement includes a lease-back to allow Baptist North Mississippi sufficient time to complete the move into its new facility, which is currently under construction. Baptist North Mississippi’s new hospital facility — expected to open in November 2017 — is located on an extension of Belk Boulevard that connects South Lamar Boulevard with Old Taylor Road, south of Highway 6.

“Throughout this process, our top priority was finding a new owner that would use the property for a cause that would benefit our city, and we believe the university is a perfect choice,” said Bill Henning, administrator and CEO of Baptist North Mississippi. “We look forward to seeing how the university will transform the facility and the positive impact it will have on our community.”

In 2016, The Chronicle of Higher Education named Ole Miss the nation’s eighth-fastest growing college among both public and private institutions in its Almanac of Higher Education, moving up from 13th in 2014. The ranking is based upon enrollment growth from fall 2006, when the university enrolled 14,497 students, to fall 2016, with 24,250 students registered. Enrollment at the university has increased for 22 consecutive years.

“As the university continues to address the level and scope of our growth, we must manage the need for quality space,” said Larry Sparks, UM vice chancellor for administration and finance. “The acquisition of this property allows us to efficiently and cost-effectively address that challenge especially when taking into account the cost of new construction versus renovation. This purchase is good business and gives us capacity that has an economy of scale.”

The university, which has been planning for additional needed space on campus, will pay $22 million for the 15-acre site. Through effective resource management, the university is in a position to capitalize on the opportunity to purchase the Baptist North Mississippi property, which includes a 428,000-square-foot building, a parking garage with 670 parking spaces, 250 surface parking spaces and 75 underground parking spaces. The purchase of the property provides almost seven times more space than similar costs for new construction.    

The agreement was approved by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning at its June 15 meeting. Now the purchase agreement will be submitted to the city of Oxford and Lafayette County for their option to match under their right of first refusal. They will have 30 days to respond.

 

Center for Population Studies Releases State Health and Hunger Atlas

Map addresses food insecurity and poor health outcomes around Mississippi

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies has developed an extensive reference guide to poverty, hunger and chronic health problems in the state, the Mississippi Health and Hunger Atlas.

Modeled after the Missouri Hunger Atlas, the resource is the first iteration of its kind in Mississippi and in the South. This atlas addresses high rates of food insecurity and poor health outcomes, two important issues in the state.

“Alarmingly, while national food insecurity trends are declining, Mississippi’s rates are rising,” said Anne Cafer, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology and co-coordinator of the atlas project.

“For the last 15 years, Mississippi has consistently ranked among the top two states with the highest food insecurity rate. Mississippi also consistently ranks poorly for a number of demographic, economic and health statistics when compared to national thresholds.”

This project is also headed by John Green, professor of sociology and anthropology and director of the Center for Population Studies, and Rachel Haggard, an Ole Miss graduate student from San Diego.

Cafer worked on the Missouri Hunger Atlas, which has proven useful to an array of community organizers and legislators. Wanting to bring the concept to Mississippi, she quickly found support from community and university stakeholders.

With the help of Green and Haggard, the Mississippi Health and Hunger Atlas was initiated and completed in less than four months.

“The atlas seeks to shed light on county-level variations for a variety of these demographic, health and hunger indicators,” Green said. “Examining these indicators at a county level, patterns, normally overshadowed by standard macro, national, level analysis begin to emerge.

“This atlas is intended to offer a tool for improving assessment of need and performance to promote improved practices and decision-making related to hunger and health in Mississippi.”

The developers have five goals for the atlas:

– Raise awareness regarding the extent and depth of food insecurity and health disparities and needs in Mississippi

– Spread knowledge of what public and private programs are doing to reach vulnerable populations

– Reveal geographic patterns in the state

– Provide need and performance measures that can be updated on a regular basis

– Aid public and private stakeholders to assess their performance and provide a means for improving better resource delivery to the Mississippians they serve

Meeting to discuss the Mississippi Health and Hunger Atlas in the UM Department of Sociology and Anthropology are (from left) Clifford Holley, Rachel Haggard, Anne Cafer and John Green. Submitted photo

“In this atlas, health and hunger indicators are mapped and used to assess need – such as food security rates, obesity rate, etc. – and performance – including SNAP enrollment and primary care physicians per 100,000 people,” Cafer said. “The economic and demographic data are also mapped to provide additional information on county level context surrounding health and hunger.”

“This visual, spatial analysis helps community stakeholders, policymakers, researchers and other practitioners target their efforts and resources to places most in need,” Green said. “Additionally, each county has a separate page, which provides their exact rates and rankings for each of the variables.”

Efforts to produce the atlas were supported by public agencies such as the Mississippi Department of Human Services and the members of the UM Department of Pharmacy Administration.

“It is through partnerships and collaboration that efforts to reduce hunger and health disparities in Mississippi are possible,” Haggard said. “The atlas is a compilation of hard work from these partners and faculty and students as well as the resources provided by the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi.”

The Mississippi Health and Hunger Atlas is available at http://socanth.olemiss.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/154/2017/05/Hunger-Atlas-2017.pdf.