UM Graduate Student Leads State’s Largest High School Chinese Program

Linfei Yi teaches two classes at Holly Springs High School

Victoria Nabors (left), T’khya Williams, Kelvisha Conner, Fredrekia Campbell and Kennytra Martin, all Chinese 1 students at Holly Spring High School, show off their Asian-themed paper cuttings at the school. UM photo by Linfei Yi

OXFORD, Miss. – When Linfei Yi began teaching Chinese at Holly Springs High School two years ago, the University of Mississippi graduate student had no idea it would quickly become the largest such program in Mississippi.

Besides Holly Springs, three Mississippi schools – Oxford High School and Lafayette High School in Oxford and St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Ridgeland – have Chinese language programs. The UM Department of Modern Languages is involved with the Lafayette and Holly Springs program through its partnership with Alliance for Language Learning and Educational Exchange Foundation.

The alliance works mostly to set up Chinese and Japanese programs within universities, but it also helps recruit graduate students into the university’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages programs. Native Chinese speakers are required to teach in one of the high schools while they pursue their degrees.

“It’s a wonderfully innovative way for the university to bring new academic programs to area high schools,” said Daniel O’Sullivan, UM chair and professor of modern languages. “Yi has been a model graduate student in our program and has made a positive impact at Holly Springs.

“She was a finalist last year in the graduate school’s 3MT (Three-Minute Thesis) Competition, and everyone in the department was very proud of her.”

Yi’s students also have traveled to Oxford to participate in the Moon Festival and to watch the Chinese Speech Contest, which was held Chinese New Year. These events and others are observed through the university’s Chinese Language Flagship Program.

“I have seen just how big of an impact Yi has had on her students,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s really inspiring.”

Yi has taught 62 students in two classes at the north Mississippi high school. Since its inception, two graduates have continued their Chinese studies.

Tiffany Nichols, a student in the Chinese language program at Holly Springs High School, writes her first ‘good luck’ poster with the Chinese brush. UM photo by Linfei Yi

“The most rewarding aspect of my teaching experience is always to see my students can speak more and more in Chinese and become more and more interested and curious about the language and the culture,” said Yi, a native of Guilin, China who earned her bachelor’s degree from Guilin University of Technology and her master’s degree from Guangxi Normal University.

Yi said students in her Chinese Level 2 class are the best example of this progress. She recalled how some of them initially wanted to take Spanish rather than Chinese, but couldn’t transfer out of the class.

“The first day of my Chinese 1 class, they were not happy at all,” she said. “But through the first year of learning the language, doing group projects and presentations on Chinese culture and attending events held by the Ole Miss Flagship Chinese program, the students took the initiatives to learn more.

“Now, I don’t have to worry about if they (as Chinese 2 students) will misbehave in the classroom, if they will delay their assignments or if some of them will fail a test because their performance in the class has shown their achievements day by day.”

Yi said she entered the modern languages and liguistics program because she wanted to continue to teach Chinese as a second language to English speakers.

“I wish to continue to work either as a language teacher or to promote cultural exchange between China and the U.S.,” she said.

Several of Yi’s Holly Springs students praised her efforts on their behalf.

“Ms. Yi is a very inspirational person,” said Kuelteria Crane, a senior. “She never gives up on teaching new things and opening our minds to new ideas. She is the greatest teacher and deserves to be recognized greatly.”

‘Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella’ Comes to Ford Center Tuesday

Tony Award-winning show features dazzling costumes and scenes from the classic fairy tale

Featuring dazzling costumes and musical numbers, the national touring production of ‘Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella’ comes to the Ford Center for a performance at 7:30 p.m. April 24. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” for one performance at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (April 24).

The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, from the creators of “The Sound of Music,” puts a contemporary twist on the classic fairy tale. Featuring dazzling costumes and scenes, the performance transports viewers back to their childhood through memorable moments, including the pumpkin, the glass slipper and the masked ball.

A live orchestra will perform some of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most beloved songs, including “In My Own Little Corner” and “Ten Minutes Ago.”

Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director, said she is excited to bring this funny and romantic Broadway experience to Oxford.

“Cinderella is such a fun story, and this is the same production that won a Tony when it was on Broadway in 2013,” she said. “We are sure that our audiences will enjoy it and have a magical time.”

Tickets are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center or online at https://olemissboxoffice.com/.

They are $75 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $69 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $63 for the balcony level. A 10 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. UM student tickets are $25 for the orchestra/parterre level and $17 for the mezzanine/balcony level.

Pharmacy Student Going ‘Over the Edge’ for Fundraiser

Meghan Wagner will rappel down a building to raise money for Batson Children's Hospital

Meghan Wagner

JACKSON, Miss. – Meghan Wagner isn’t taking the traditional route to raise money for Friends of Children’s Hospital. The University of Mississippi third-year student pharmacist is rappelling down a 14-story building instead.

Wagner, from Grenada, will rappel down the Trustmark corporate office building in downtown Jackson on April 21 as part of the Over the Edge event, for which she has raised over $1,000. Friends of Children’s Hospital is hosting the event to support Batson Children’s Hospital, and the organization is aiming to raise $200,000.

“I’ve never been particularly afraid of heights, but as a small human being, 14 stories seems a bit daunting,” Wagner said. “I think excitement will win out, though, because it gives me courage to think about how brave all of the kids, families and staff at Batson are while trying to make the world a little bit brighter.

“When you compare it to what they conquer every day, I think I can take the plunge.”

Wagner plans to descend the 14 stories as a representative of the pharmacy student group PediaRebs, which focuses on pediatric pharmacy. She knows the group’s success stems from its mission to help kids in all stages of health.

“I have worked with kids for many years and have always been incredibly inspired by their unwavering confidence that they have the ability to make their dreams and goals come true,” Wagner said. “I hope to work as a pediatric pharmacist one day so I can be a part of the health care team that helps these kids achieve their goals, because without obstacles like illnesses or uncontrolled conditions, kids are unstoppable.”

“It’s great to see Meghan and PediaRebs support such a great cause,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Their passion for helping children will continue to impact pediatric health care in our state, and I’m excited to see the chapter continue to thrive in Oxford and Jackson.”

For more information about Over the Edge, visit http://overtheedgeglobal.com/. Wagner is accepting fundraising donations at https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/meghan-wagner-2/overtheedgewithfriends

Ole Miss Theatre Presents ‘Macbeth’ this Weekend at the Ford Center

Performance is directed by Cynthia White of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater

UM students Riley McManus, as Macbeth, and Karen Ann Patti, as Lady Macbeth, perform in the Ole Miss Theatre production of ‘Macbeth’ this weekend at the Ford Center. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi theater students will bring Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” to life this weekend with a performance at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The classic Shakespeare tale, set in medieval Scotland, chronicles the rise and fall of the warrior Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, as they lust for power and grab an easy opportunity to kill the reigning king, leading to a civil war in the kingdom.

The Ole Miss Theatre production opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday (April 20), but there are multiple chances to catch the show throughout the weekend. Performances are also set for 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The production is led by guest director Cynthia White, from the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, whose expertise in Shakespearean tragedies creates a unique opportunity for both the student actors and audiences. White has directed several Shakespearean plays at regional theatres and universities across the country.

“I think it’s especially great that Ole Miss brought in a woman director for this large production at the Ford Center, since it’s important to give the students the opportunity to work with a wide range of professionals in their field – and after many years in the field, it still seems to be of note that I am a woman director,” White said.

Joe Turner Cantu, Ole Miss professor of theatre arts, taught White many years ago at Southern Methodist University. She has since directed him in two Shakespeare productions, and he recommended her to the department as a guest director because of her extensive knowledge.

“Last year I recommended Cynthia, first, because she is an exceptional director and, second, because I felt it would be great for our students to work with a professional female director,” Cantu said.

White hosted on-campus auditions in January and has cast 21 students in the production. The performance stays true to the story itself, but the design, costumes and lighting are influenced by the HBO drama “Game of Thrones.”

“In Shakespeare’s time, all the actors were men and costumes were basically their everyday Elizabethan clothing,” she said. “For our production, some of the warriors are women because some of the women in the theatre department are very good at working with the period weapons and because our world is more diverse than Shakespeare’s world was.”

White said she is creating a hybrid world that has strong elements of medieval Scotland, including violence, manipulation and immorality, all of which reflect the present day.

“It is nearly impossible to tell the tale of Macbeth without noticing certain similarities with our current world,” she said. “And that’s what makes theatre powerful: we tell old stories that shed light on our contemporary lives.”

Tickets are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center or online at https://olemissboxoffice.com/. They are $21 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $18 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $15 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. All Ole Miss student tickets are $7.

Former Arkansas Senator Named UM Pharmacy Alumnus of the Year

Consumer advocate and children's rights champion Percy Malone wins honor

Percy Malone (center), who founded AllCare Pharmacy in 1972, is the UM School of Pharmacy’s 2018 Alumnus of the Year. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – State senator, state representative, pharmacist and University of Mississippi alumnus – of all Percy Malone’s titles, the one which he is proudest of is advocate.

The former Arkansas state senator and 1965 pharmacy graduate is the School of Pharmacy‘s 2018 Alumnus of the Year. He has spent his career fighting to represent the interests of those who may be otherwise overlooked: namely, children, sick or incapacitated people and those living below the poverty line.

Originally from the small Mississippi Delta town of Rosedale, Malone’s parents had little education, but a strong work ethic.

“I came from a meager background,” Malone said. “My mother told me, ‘The way out of poverty is through education.'”

As a sixth-grader, Malone began working as a soda jerk in his local pharmacy, Lewis Drug Store. It was there he decided he wanted to become a pharmacist. After graduating from Rosedale High School, he completed his pre-pharmacy requirements at Delta State University before coming to the School of Pharmacy.

“I had people tell me that I would never get into Ole Miss, and if I did, I would never get out,” Malone said. “I didn’t spend my energy trying to prove them wrong. I spent my energy on telling myself I could do it.”

Malone recalls that he was not prepared for college, but that his professors at Delta State and Ole Miss spent extra time with him. His sister, who worked at a factory, gave him a credit card to buy gas for his old car. When he left Ole Miss on weekends to work at Lewis Drug Store, his mother sent him back with enough food to eat for the next week.

“It wasn’t easy, but I had a lot of people helping me, and I credit that for being able to get a good education,” Malone said. “I’m not a self-made man.”

After graduating, Malone found himself in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, one Sunday afternoon, speaking with I.B. Fuller, owner of a local drugstore, about a job. Fuller was looking to pass down the business, and Malone was looking to set down roots. Soon thereafter, Malone had stock in his first pharmacy.

“I worked very hard for many years to say yes to patients who needed me,” Malone said. “If they called me on Thanksgiving or Sunday or at night needing medicine, I wouldn’t tell them I was busy. I would go.”

From there, Malone went on to become one of the state’s top pharmacy innovators. He founded AllCare Pharmacy in 1972, which has grown to more than 17 community pharmacy locations across Arkansas.

He had one of the first pharmacy computer systems in Arkansas and expanded his business to fill prescriptions for long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and correctional facilities, as well as specialty prescriptions for complex diseases.

As a pharmacist and businessperson, he focused on finding ways to be more efficient and patient-oriented. Malone’s concern for the consumer stemmed from the understanding his background had given him of not being able to afford medicine.

In an effort to do more for patients, he ran for state government, and in 1995, began his first of three terms as an Arkansas state representative.

“As a representative, Percy worked to bring generic drugs into Arkansas pharmacies, and the traditional pharmacists did not like that,” said Donna Malone, Percy’s wife. “But he fought and he prevailed, and now every drugstore in America has generic drugs available. He passed his savings on to the consumer.”

Percy Malone served three terms as an Arkansas state representative and five terms as an Arkansas state senator. Submitted photo

As one of the only people in the Arkansas Legislature at the time with a health care background, he also advocated to allow pharmacists to administer immunizations and worked to pass evidence-based medicine in the state.

Besides health care advocacy, Malone stumbled upon what would become his other focus while in the Legislature. On his first day as a state representative, Malone read a news article he couldn’t forget about an abused and neglected child. From then on, he made it his mission to introduce at least one measure per legislative session aimed at protecting children.

Along with his wife, he helped expand the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, where children could go to report abuse. Because of this, as well as the numerous child protection laws he initiated, the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas honored him with the first Senator Percy Malone Child Protection Award in 2010, which is given to someone in Arkansas each year.

He spent 18 years in the Legislature, eventually becoming a senator for five terms, befriending then-future President Bill Clinton and continuing to fight for the vulnerable. He also has been lauded for his work pioneering innovative health care solutions that benefit assisted and long-term care facilities and their residents.

“Being in the Legislature, I was able to speak the words of the people who couldn’t speak for themselves,” Malone said. “There are a lot of people that deserve a hand up and not a handout.”

Malone’s generous spirit and care for those in need is well-known throughout the state.

Misty Huerkamp, staff pharmacist at AllCare Pharmacy, is an Ole Miss pharmacy alumna and Arkansas native who grew up hearing about Malone.

“He pretty much goes by the name Percy, and everyone knows who you’re talking about,” Huerkamp said. “He has done so much for the profession of pharmacy and so much to serve those around him, giving to those who need help or a little encouragement.”

Another Ole Miss pharmacy grad, Lauren Lyles, met Malone in 2014 during her second year of pharmacy school at the National Community Pharmacists Association annual meeting, after which Malone became a mentor to her.

“Percy values more than anything doing what is right instead of doing what is convenient,” Lyles said. “He has given back to broken communities that have suffered from generational poverty, domestic violence and limited access to health care through his businesses, philanthropic efforts and legislative work.”

Malone credits his Ole Miss education and the people he’s encountered for helping him to reach a place where he can freely give back.

“Ole Miss gave me the opportunity to fail, and no one wants to fail,” Malone said. “It’s been a marvelous life, and I’m very fortunate to be able to give. My upbringing taught me that once you’re on top of the ladder, you don’t pull the ladder up behind you.”

Malone will be honored Saturday (April 21) with the Alumnus of the Year Award at the School of Pharmacy’s awards banquet and reunion dinner at The Inn at Ole Miss.

“The School of Pharmacy is humbled and honored to call Percy an alumnus,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “He is beyond deserving of this award, not only for his contributions to our profession, but for the way he embodies the Ole Miss spirit.

“He earned his influence by being a champion for vulnerable and forgotten people and has continued to use his time and resources for their benefit.”

Award-Winning Poet, Essayist to Deliver Earth Day Keynote Address

Camille Dungy to close UM Green Week celebration April 22

Camille Dungy

OXFORD, Miss. – Camille Dungy, award-winning author and poet, is the University of Mississippi’s 2018 Earth Day keynote speaker. She will close the 10th annual UM Green Week celebration with her talk, “It’s All Environmental Writing” at 7 p.m. April 22, Earth Day, in the Overby Center Auditorium.

Dungy will read several of her own poems and excerpts from her essays and then contextualize her work within the framework of contemporary environmental writing. She also plans to elaborate on how the decisions we make when engaging in readings about the environment become statements about our relationships to it.

“As a woman of color, I find it is particularly important to share my voice on conversations related to environmental concerns because one of the most powerful things about writing is to be able to tell a truth that is yours, but that is likely also shared by other people,” Dungy said. “Good literature makes us carefully and imaginatively pay more attention to the world, meaning I must also pay attention to people and all the ways we interact in the environment around us.”

Dungy is a professor of environmental poetry and English at Colorado State University. She is a poet and essayist whose work focuses on the environment and is also an avid environmentalist.

She is best known for her work as editor of the anthology “Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry” (University of Georgia Press, 2009). “Black Nature” is the first collection of American nature writing that focuses on poetry written by African-Americans, and “it significantly challenges the propagated belief that black people have little or no creatively intellectual connection to the natural world,” Dungy said.

“The key to success is persistence,” she continued. “The struggle to care for the planet and our cohabitants demands persistence.”

Dungy is also the author of four collections of poetry, “Trophic Cascade,” “Smith Blue,” “Suck on the Marrow” and “What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison.” She debuted in prose in 2017 with the release of “Guidebook to Relative Strangers” (W.W. Norton, 2017), and has been featured in “Best American Poetry,” “The 100 Best African American Poems” and nearly 30 other anthologies.

She is the recipient of an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, two NAACP Image Award nominations and a California Book Award silver medal.

“Camille is an electrifying speaker and it is a privilege to bring her to campus as this year’s Green Week keynote speaker,” said Ann Fisher-Wirth, professor of English and director of the UM environmental studies minor. “I know her talk will be challenging and exciting.”

Green Week is a week of events to celebrate the environment and the sustainability efforts in the area and strengthen the presence of sustainability at Ole Miss and in the Oxford community. The week starts Monday (April 16) and ends Sunday (April 22) with the keynote address from Dungy.

The Earth Day Keynote Address is sponsored by the UM environmental studies minor and the Office of Sustainability. It is free and open to the public. For more information about Green Week and this year’s events, go to http://greenweek.olemiss.edu/.

For more information about Dungy, visit her website.

Nanomedicine Topic for Semester’s Final UM Science Cafe

Chalet Tan to discuss how nanotechnology is transforming diagnosis, imaging and treatment of diseases

Chalet Tan

OXFORD, Miss. – The use of nanotechnology in the diagnosis, imaging and treatment of human diseases is the topic of the University of Mississippi’s next monthly Science Cafe.

Chalet Tan, associate professor of pharmaceutics and drug delivery and research associate professor in UM’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, will discuss “NanoMedicine: Less is More” Tuesday (April 24) at the fourth and final Science Cafe of the semester. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. Admission is free.

Tan’s 30-minute presentation will explore how nanoscale drug delivery systems can improve the efficacy of anticancer drug therapies while minimizing their detrimental side effects, a research area being pursued in her laboratory.

“Nanomedicine is transforming the detection, diagnosis and treatment of human disease,” she said. “Fifty years ago, physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard P. Feynman proposed the concept of the nanosurgeons and nanodevices, where he urged researchers to develop nanosystems capable of interacting with the body at the cellular and molecular level.

“Today, nanotechnology has become a vital force behind the development of nanomaterials and their applications in medicine.”

Tan’s talk should be most interesting, said Marco Cavaglia, professor of physics and astronomy and organizer of the Science Cafe programs.

“Dr. Tan’s research is timely and engaging,” Cavaglia said. “She is a highly recognized scientist and her research on nanomedicine is published in top journals.

“Dr. Tan enjoys transmitting her research in a way that appeals to the general public. We are going to have fun and I hope that many people come to know her and enjoy her presentation.”

A postdoctoral fellow in cancer biology and therapeutics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, Tan earned her doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Georgia. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Shanghai Medical University (now Fudan University) in China.

Tan’s primary research interest in her laboratory focuses on the synthesis and evaluation of novel long-circulating nanocarriers for the delivery of microRNAs and small-molecule anticancer drugs. By combining approaches in pharmaceutical sciences and cancer biology, she aims to construct robust nano-sized drug delivery systems with broad applicability to improve the efficacy of anticancer agents.

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, go to http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/oxfordsciencecafe. For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/physics_and_astronomy or call 662-915-7046.

University Sets STEM Fest for Weekend

Multiple open houses, demonstrations and lectures planned for Friday and Saturday

OXFORD, Miss. – In celebration of scientific investigation and its benefits and in support for publicly funded science, the University of Mississippi is hosting a two-day focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics this weekend.

The university’s STEM Fest, scheduled for Friday (April 20) on the Oxford campus and Saturday (April 21) at the UM Field Station, is co-sponsored by several STEM entities on campus, the College of Liberal Arts, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and the Office of the Chancellor. All events are free to the public.

“The promotion of STEM education is at the forefront of plans for the future at the University of Mississippi,” said Marco Cavaglia, professor of physics and astronomy and one of the co-organizers of the weekend.

“This festival will celebrate achievements in all areas of STEM,” said Jan Murray, professor of art and another festival co-organizer. “The Oxford community and K-12 families are especially welcome.”

Scheduled activities begin at 2 p.m. Friday with a panel discussion on opioids at the Overby Center Auditorium. That will be followed by open houses at the department of Physics and Astronomy, Mathematics, and Chemistry and Biochemistry; the School of Engineering; the National Center for Physical Acoustics; and Kennon Observatory.

The Society of Physics and Astronomy Students will showcase the “physics of baseball” from 3 to 5 p.m. at Swayze Field, before the evening Ole Miss vs. Georgia game. The presentation will include explanations of why curve balls curve, how to hit a perfect home run and more.

A screening of the movie “Hidden Figures” with an introduction by the UM Women in Physics group begins at 5 p.m. at the Overby Center Auditorium.

An astronomy open house concludes the day’s activities from 8 to 10 p.m. at Kennon Observatory. Faculty members from the Department of Physics and Astronomy will host viewings of the moon, Jupiter and interesting celestial objects, weather permitting.

Events scheduled Saturday at the field station include a science research conference with talks, poster presentations and more demonstrations. Tom Marshall, professor of physics and astronomy, will discuss his lightning research at 10:40 a.m., and science demonstrations are scheduled for 2:30-3:30 p.m.

University Museum will present a self-guided tour of the Millington-Barnard Collection of Scientific Instruments both days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The weekend’s events are designed to promote the core values and benefits of science.

“My hope is that people with similar interests will discuss possible areas of common interests and potential collaboration,” said Marjorie Holland, professor of biology and one of the organizers of Saturday’s events. “Anyone who is interested in learning what research is conducted at the field station is invited to attend.”

For more information and updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/UMSTEMFest.

Law Class of 2018 Presents School with Class Gift

Officials hope donation becomes annual tradition

UM law students (from left) Brittany Barbee, Allison Bruff, Jack Noonan, Spencer Newman, James Kelly, Alex Heideman, and Victoria Jones, members of the Class of 2018 Gift Committee, show off a portrait of Dean Joshua M. Morse III, who is being honored by the class’ gift to the School of Law. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

OXFORD, Miss. – The Class of 2018 at the University of Mississippi School of Law has presented a class gift to the law school, setting the stage for a new tradition. Students collectively decided that their gift would honor Dean Joshua M. Morse III (LLB ’48), who challenged segregation in the 1960s.

“This was based on several factors, including 2018 as the 70th anniversary of Morse’s graduation from the law school and recognizing his great influence at the school during a tumultuous and troubled time in our history,” said Brittany Barbee, one of the leaders of the Class Gift Committee.

Morse was a pioneer who played a major role in shaping the direction of the school. His efforts included extending legal education opportunities in Mississippi, making the School of Law accessible to all people, regardless of race, gender and socio-economic status.

To honor Morse, the reading room in the Grisham Law Library will be named after him and his portrait will hang there.

So far, the committee has raised more than $3,600. Seventy-three percent of the class has given, with a goal of reaching 75 percent. The committee also secured matching gifts from alumni.

Susan Duncan, the school’s dean, commends the class on its willingness to participate in the campaign.

“I am so incredibly proud of the Class of 2018 for their initiative in naming the library reading room after Dean Joshua Morse, and I’m also thankful to them for starting this new tradition of class gifts,” Duncan said. “The fact that they are not only donating money themselves, but are also getting their gifts matched, speaks volumes to their leadership.”

The Class of 2018 includes 122 students who have grown together academically and professionally over the past three years. This departing gift is their way of leaving a legacy, no matter where they end up.

“I feel like this class gift serves two purposes,” said Ned Nelson, a third-generation Ole Miss law student and a member of the Class Gift Committee. “First, to commemorate a truly admirable figure in our school’s history and second, to establish a sense of pride in giving back to the school that has given us so much more than an education.”

Donors are encouraged to participate regardless of the amount. The final amount raised will be tripled by generous donors. Donations can be made at http://umfoundation.com/3lgiving.

Journalism Professor Releases Book Examining RFK’s Delta Visit

Ellen Meacham to sign copies new work Wednesday at Square Books.

Ellen Meacham

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi journalism professor Ellen Meacham details Robert F. Kennedy’s visit to the Mississippi Delta in 1967 in her new book “Delta Epiphany: RFK in Mississippi.”

Meacham’s book, published by University Press of Mississippi, examines the history, economics and politics of the Delta and how those factors influenced the lives of people whom Kennedy met there during that visit. She will sign copies at 5 p.m. Wednesday (April 18) at Square Books in Oxford.

The book was inspired by a description from fellow journalist Curtis Wilkie’s memoir of Kennedy in a dark shack trying to speak to a toddler who was paying more attention to crumbs on the floor.

“I wondered about the impact it had on Kennedy, because it’s mentioned as an important moment in all of his biographies,” Meacham said. “The next question I had was, ‘What happened to the baby?'”

After seven years of searching, Meacham found and interviewed children from the four families Kennedy encountered on his visit, including that toddler.

“As I got into the research, I realized pretty quickly that there was a big part of the story that had not been told,” she said. “Most of the contemporary news accounts and later historians had only looked at RFK on the stage. The people who were living the lives that moved him so were more of a ‘poverty stage set.'”

Meacham wanted to tell the stories of those people.

“It became very important to me to bring those families into the light and find out how they came to be in that place at that time, what struggles they faced and their accomplishments since,” she said. “I think it brings more balance.

“It’s not just a story of a hero or a saint, it’s about a real person meeting real people.”

The book also features about a dozen photos, including the cover, that are published for the first time.

“The photographs were essential to telling this story,” Meacham said. “They brought such a vivid realism that showed the impact of the visit on Kennedy in a powerful way.”

A working journalist for more than two decades, Meacham used her experience as a newspaper reporter in Mississippi, which gave her access to contacts within both politics and journalism in the state, putting her in a unique position to tell these stories.

“Ellen Meacham is a talented and perceptive journalist who recognized, nearly a half-century after the fact, the great impact of Robert Kennedy’s brief trip to the Mississippi Delta in 1967,” said Wilkie, a UM associate professor of journalism and fellow of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

“It was a mission that changed his life, the tortured history of that region and the nation’s attitude toward hungry people in America. Though Ellen was not old enough to have been there, her investigation of the story has brought it back to life, and it is an example of her valuable work.”