UM External Research Funding Surpasses $134 Million in 2017-18

Money funds projects that assist state, country and world

OXFORD, Miss. and JACKSON, Miss. – External funding for research at the University of Mississippi reached its highest level in four years in 2017-18, with more than $134 million in funding awarded.

A total of $134,735,332 in external funding was awarded to the Oxford campus and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, with research dollars being used to favorably impact lives in Mississippi and around the globe, fuel economic growth and prosperity, educate future leaders and innovators, and more.

The external funding amount for fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, is the highest since 2014 and an increase of 9.3 percent from last year.

“The gains in external funding speak to the stellar research talent and culture at the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “They also reflect our continuing commitment to produce scientific discoveries and innovations that enhance quality of life and benefit the citizens of our state and society at large.”

For fiscal year 2018, the university’s Oxford and Medical Center campuses received 581 awards. Examples of these awards include helping fund the data analytics graduate programs at the Patterson School of Accountancy, researching solar energy technologies, investigating the safety of antimalarial drug products and exploring solutions to improve the health and development outcomes for Mississippi children.

On the Oxford campus, awards to faculty and staff resulted in more than $71 million in external funding. The amount is the highest since 2010-11, when the campus received $78.8 million in external funding, an increase of 23 percent from 2016-17.

“The impact of UM research continues to grow, and that is reflected in increased success by our faculty, researchers and research centers on the national level,” said Josh Gladden, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs on the Oxford campus. “External funding for research and scholarly activity is extremely competitive, which makes this increase even more notable.”

The UM Medical Center received more than $63.6 million in external funding in 2017-18.

“Research is the lifeblood of our institution,” said Dr. Richard Summers, UMMC associate vice chancellor for research. “When the research mission is strong, we are able to help our education and health care missions succeed.”

In 2017-18, federal funding at both campuses included 387 awards for more than $101.5 million. The awards, agency and funding include:

  • 175 awards from the National Institutes of Health for $42.8 million
  • 35 awards from the U.S. Department of Defense for $13 million
  • 19 awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $11.9 million
  • 32 awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration for $8.8 million
  • 31 awards from the National Science Foundation for $6.9 million
  • 26 awards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for $5.7 million
  • 10 awards from NASA for $2.7 million.

Awards from corporate, private, state and other sources funded more than $33.1 million during 2017-18. Foundations and nonprofit groups provided $18.7 in funding, private or corporate business and industry provided $8.4 million, and state agencies in Mississippi provided $5.7 million. All other sources were almost $300,000.

The School of Pharmacy on the Oxford campus received 62 awards for $16.7 million. Both were the most for any unit on the Oxford campus.

According to the 2017 Faculty Research Grant Institutional Rankings published by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the UM School of Pharmacy ranked 13th in the nation for external research funding.

“The investigators at the School of Pharmacy have worked tirelessly to secure funding for projects that have the potential to impact the health of millions of people,” said David D. Allen, dean of the school. “This is truly a whole-school effort, as our faculty, research scientists, staff and students are all integral to our research mission.”

The pharmacy school has several grants investigating aspects of opioid use, including a study on long-term opioid use in older adults, led by principal investigator Yi Yang, professor of pharmacy administration. Older adults are more likely to have chronic pain and to be taking more than one medication, putting them at higher risk of harmful drug combinations.

“Our scientists and faculty are taking on the opioid epidemic from all sides, and this study aims to uncover the impact of sustained opioid therapy in older adults,” Allen said. “The elderly are just as vulnerable to the negative effects of opioid use as younger adults, but they aren’t studied as frequently.”

The School of Medicine at UMMC totaled 267 awards for $54.9 million, the most on that campus.

The top-funded units at UMMC were the departments of Physiology and Biophysics, Cell and Molecular Biology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Biomedical Materials Science, and the John D. Bower School of Population Health.

DeSoto Campus Student Lands Unique FBI Internship

Madison Cleveland works with forensic accountants and special agents to solve crime

Madison Cleveland

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – It isn’t every day that accountancy students are able to use their expertise to solve crimes. Madison Cleveland was able to do just that while interning with the FBI over the summer.

Cleveland, a senior accountancy major, attends classes at the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven. She began her 10-week internship at the bureau’s Memphis office in June.

“I worked as part of the Honors Internship Program in the criminal investigative division of the FBI,” said Cleveland, a Hernando native. “As a member of the investigative team, I worked with forensic accountants and special agents to help investigate complex financial crime.”

She conducted forensic financial analysis of business and personal records and accompanied case agents to various hearings and interviews. She was also able to work with administrators including the financial manager and auditor.

When Cleveland first walked into the FBI office, she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I had no idea what team I would be placed on or what I would be doing, so I was really surprised every day by the opportunities that presented themselves,” she said. “Surprisingly enough, the most challenging part was remembering the steps to using all of the computer applications.

“At the beginning, the financial analysis was difficult, but they gave me guidance so I was able to catch on pretty quickly.”

Joel Freund, FBI supervisory special agent, oversaw Cleveland’s internship. He made it a point to expose her to as many different aspects of the job as possible.

“Madison was able to experience accounting, but she also spent time working with evidence, she was able to go to the range and she attended trials,” Freund said. “I wanted her to be able to do everything she could possibly do and I wanted the experience to be exciting.”

Cleveland first learned of the Honors Internship Program from Lynn Kugele, instructional assistant professor of finance at the DeSoto regional campus. Kugele encouraged Cleveland to apply, even though the application deadline was very short.

“Madison was such a great candidate for an FBI internship,” Kugele said. “She’s an accounting major, an outstanding student and a young woman of such excellent character, so this seemed like an exceptional opportunity to explore her interest in a career in forensic accounting at a very high level – at the FBI.”

The Honors Internship Program offers a multitude of opportunities for students in various majors, Freund said. The bureau recently wrapped up the application process for the 2019 summer internship cycle, but potential applicants from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to consider applying for future opportunities.

Madison Cleveland is sworn in for her FBI internship. Submitted photo

“If they have an interest in the FBI, then this is the first most logical step,” he said. “We try to give everyone a shot. There are also opportunities at other field offices including FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Quantico.”

Cleveland prepared for her interview with help from Kacy Dixon, coordinator of student services at the DeSoto Center. The process was long, but Cleveland said it was well worth the time and effort.

In fact, Cleveland enjoyed her internship so much that she will be working with the FBI again next summer. Freund said he looks forward to working with her again.

Cleveland strongly encourages her fellow students to take advantage of internship opportunities that come their way. She advises students to contact companies that they are interested in, even if they don’t have an internship posted.

“Internships are designed to give you a test run,” she said. “It helps you answer the questions: Do I like this company? Can I see myself working with this company long-term? Am I in an industry or position that I will enjoy?

“It also gives the company the opportunity to see how you work. Chances are, if you and the company both feel that you’re a good fit, you will get a job offer after school. If this isn’t the case then at least you have experience on your resume which increases your odds of finding another internship or your next job.”

After graduation, Cleveland plans to pursue a master’s degree in accounting and become a Certified Public Accountant. She then hopes to permanently join the FBI as a forensic accountant.

“Not only did working with the FBI give me physical experience to document on my resume, but it has also given me an in-depth understanding of many things I will need in a career,” she said. “It gives me talking points in interviews and the ability to think through problems critically based on real-world experience.

“It also allowed me to have inside connections at some of the leading corporations in Memphis that I can call on in the future.”

For more information about FBI internships, visit For information about UM- DeSoto, visit

Retired FedEx Vice President Shows Unwavering Support for UM

Mike Glenn continues to mentor and provide opportunities for Ole Miss students

Rose Flenorl (left), Mike Glenn, Donna Glenn and Mary Haskell gather at the Ole Miss Women’s Council’s Rose Ceremony in 2017. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Organic chemistry was the game changer for Mike Glenn, retired executive vice president for market development and corporate communications at FedEx Corp. and a committed University of Mississippi alumnus.

The Memphis native came to Ole Miss in 1974 as a pharmacy major. He made it through his freshman year, but his attempt at organic chemistry as a sophomore made him realize pharmacy was not for him.

“I changed my major and entered the business school, which was a much better fit for me,” Glenn said. “Most of the classes, except for accounting, came fairly easily for me.

“It’s funny when you think about it. If it were not for the challenges I had with organic chemistry, I would have never had a career with FedEx.”

Glenn credits what he learned as a student in the business school with giving him the skills and knowledge he needed to move through the ranks at FedEx into senior leadership.

“My experience at Ole Miss, and specifically in the business school, provided an excellent academic foundation for my professional career,” he said. “The basic marketing principles I learned in the business school were the same ones we applied at FedEx to build the brand and grow the business.”

The importance of interacting well with people and treating them professionally and respectfully were also skills Glenn learned while in school, he said. In turn, he has served as a guest lecturer for the MBA program and presented FedEx case studies to undergraduate students.

“I served on the business school advisory board and also provided guidance to a number of students as they were preparing for their careers,” Glenn said. “The most fulfilling part has always been the interaction with the students.”

Glenn is an outstanding supporter of the school and the university, said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration.

“He has given back in many different ways, including talking to students via programs and class, serving on search committees, hiring our graduates and providing financial support,” Cyree said. “Mike is a shining example of what it means to be an Ole Miss Business Rebel and the impact our graduates have in the world.”

FedEx is a publicly traded company with annual revenues of $60 billion. Many Ole Miss business students vie for positions within the company.

“When I spoke to our FedEx intern class each year, it was always fun for me to identify the interns from Ole Miss and let them know how proud I am to be an Ole Miss graduate,” Glenn said.

Glenn showed his partiality toward Ole Miss when asked what sort of advice he might offer a high school student considering the university.

“We have the most beautiful college campus in the country, outstanding academic programs, an increasingly diverse student population with a wonderful school spirit,” he said. “I continue to be impressed with our leadership, faculty and staff, and the school’s vision for the future.”

Because of his enthusiasm for the university and so many graduates have been or are employed by FedEx, Glenn said it is important for the company to have a visible presence on campus. This enthusiasm resulted in the company’s sponsorship of the FedEx Student-Athlete Academic Support Center and additional financial support for other academic programs.

“Mike Glenn is a truly exceptional individual who has a tremendous impact on every endeavor he undertakes, from effecting change at a global company to nurturing the development of students,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Mike is to be commended for his deep commitment of time, energy, passion and resources that have contributed to the transformation of our university.

“We are so grateful for his leadership and his unwavering support as a fiercely loyal member of the Ole Miss family.”

An Ole Miss alumna and former FedEx employee reiterated Glenn’s influence as a leader.

“Mike is an extraordinary leader who always ignited confidence and pride in the employees who worked for him,” said Parul Bajaj, a Clinton native who received her MBA from Ole Miss in 2007 and worked for FedEx from 2007 to 2014 as a senior communications specialist. “Fed Ex is an internationally recognized and respected brand because of his leadership.”

Glenn’s love for Ole Miss is contagious. He and his wife, Donna, met over 30 years ago, as new employees at FedEx. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis. However, throughout their courtship, she came to learn how important Ole Miss is to Glenn and that she would be marrying into the “Ole Miss family.”

Over the years, she has come to love and appreciate the university as well – so much that Glenn often refers to his wife as a “walk-on alumna.”

In 2017, Glenn honored his wife by endowing an Ole Miss Women’s Council scholarship in her name.

“Donna has a degree in journalism, and she is a very talented communications professional,” he said. “After her career at FedEx, she has continued to use those skills in support of numerous charitable organizations in Memphis.

“The scholarship will support a student majoring in journalism, which seems appropriate given Donna’s degree and professional background.”

Glenn credits his education at Ole Miss with giving him the confidence he needed when he began his professional career as a sales representative in the elevator division of Dover Corp. in Memphis, and two years later began taking classes in the evenings to earn his MBA at the University of Memphis.

After completing his MBA, he went to work for FedEx, where he ultimately came to serve in the executive vice president position as well as one of five members of the company’s executive committee.

As a mentor to Ole Miss students, Glenn stresses the cultivation of strong communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team.

“Unfortunately, I have seen many very bright individuals fail to maximize their potential because they lacked the strong communication skills and could not be a productive member of a team,” he said. “Finally, it is never too early for a student to start developing his or her leadership skills.

“My undergraduate work in the business school really prepared me for the MBA program. Ole Miss provides an outstanding college experience, and I really enjoyed my time in the business school. I will never forget how much fun it was and the impact it had on my career.”

McLean Institute Grant Award to Fund Community Engagement

Hearin Foundation provides support for research and service efforts

The University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement welcomed a new group of outstanding students from around the globe this fall, representing majors from across the university. First row from left, Albert Nylander, Hannah Newbold, Navodit Paudel, Kristina Fields, J.R. Love, Laura Martin; second row from left, Michael Mott, Allison Borst, Zachary Pugh, Joshua Baker, Kendall Walker, Curtis Hill; third row from left, Bryce Williams, Elena Bauer, Adam Franco, Arielle Rogers, Virginia Parkinson, Anna Katherine Burress, Ashley Bowen.

OXFORD, Miss – A grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation for the University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement will fund research and service aimed at increasing community and economic development in Mississippi communities.

The McLean Institute welcomes a new group of outstanding students from around the globe this fall, representing majors from across the university. This scholarship opportunity serves to build actionable partnerships across the state to promote entrepreneurship and economic development.

Albert Nylander, director of the McLean Institute, professor of sociology and principal investigator for the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, or CEED, program, said he is thankful for the approximately $500,000 provided by the foundation.

“The wonderful people at the Hearin Foundation continue their remarkable record of supporting university students through fellowships to make a difference throughout Mississippi,” Nylander said.

Fifteen students were selected this year to continue a nearly $2 million McLean Institute investment from the Hearin Foundation to bolster community and economic development in Mississippi. This grant will support UM students through 2021.

The CEED Initiative works with Ole Miss students and faculty to implement projects and conduct research that directly affects Mississippi communities. These students join a network of more than 50 UM students and faculty, as well as a collaboration of more than 400 community and business leaders in the state, who embarked on the first CEED project in 2014-18.

The annual entrepreneurship forums, business webinars, youth leadership programs and other activities are focused on spurring economic growth in the state.

“We are thankful to the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation for providing the opportunity to continue working in Mississippi with business and community leaders in partnership with UM students to help move our state forward,” said J.R. Love, CEED project manager.

The program’s annual Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum, which helps strengthen the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, will take place March 8, 2019, at Millsaps College in partnership with other universities throughout the state.

The CEED program supports undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members to research poverty, education, asset building, and health care in Mississippi.

“As a McLean Institute innovation fellow, I am to think critically about the issues of poverty and development in Mississippi, in particular the Delta area,” said Ashley Bowen, a master’s student in computer science from Lambert. “Through sustained community engagement, and by applying strategies in community development, I have been able to positively impact the community and develop myself professionally.”

The McLean Institute also supports faculty research projects through the CEED Initiative. Cristiane Surbeck, associate professor of civil engineering; Kate Centellas, Croft associate professor of anthropology and international studies; David Holben, professor of nutrition and hospitality management; Tejas Pandya, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Annie Cafer, assistant professor of sociology, all have received funds to conduct projects in Mississippi.

The 2018-19 CEED program includes students from the College of Liberal Arts and the schools of Accountancy, Applied Science, Business Administration, Engineering, Journalism and New Media, Law and Pharmacy.

Other students in the program are: Josh Baker, a junior majoring in economics from Katy, Texas; Elena Bauer, second-year law student, Freiburg, Germany; Allison Borst, junior in biological sciences and sociology, Madison; Anna Katherine Burress, junior in pharmaceutical science, Water Valley; Kristina Fields, junior in psychology, Belden; Adam Franco, senior in public policy leadership, Birmingham, Alabama; Michael Mott, junior in integrated marketing communications and Spanish, Chicago; Hannah Newbold, junior in integrated marketing communications, Roswell, Georgia; Virginia Parkinson, sophomore in marketing and corporate relations, Oxford; Navodit Paudel, junior in general business, Dhading, Nepal; Zach Pugh, sophomore in public policy leadership, Oxford; Arielle Rogers, sophomore in accountancy, Guntown; Kendall Walker, junior in communication sciences and disorders, Tupelo; and Bryce Williams, master’s student in exercise science, Ridgeland.

For more information on the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, visit or contact Albert Nylander at 662-915-2050, or

Accountancy Programs Maintain Top 10 Standing

School's degree programs continue string of elite rankings

Conner Hall is home to the competitively ranked E.F. Patterson School of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – All three degree programs at the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy are among the top 10 in the 2018 annual national rankings of accounting programs published by the Public Accounting Report.

The undergraduate and doctoral programs are No. 7, while the master’s program is No. 9. The undergraduate program and doctoral program lead the Southeastern Conference, and the master’s program is second in the SEC. One or more Ole Miss programs have led the SEC in each of the past eight years.

The UM accountancy school has become a mainstay on the national scene, with its programs ranked in the Top 10 nationally for eight consecutive years, and among the Top 20 for 11 straight years. The PAR has been ranking accounting programs for 37 years.

“These rankings enhance our visibility nationally and are very meaningful for us,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “Our vision in the Patterson School is to be one of the leading accounting programs in the nation, and the PAR rankings validate that we are experiencing success in pursuing our vision.”

The rankings are based on a survey of accounting professors in the United States. Other undergraduate SEC programs ranked in the top 25 are Florida at No. 8; Alabama, No. 9; Georgia, No. 10; Texas A&M, No. 11; and Missouri, No. 13.

Among the highly ranked master’s programs are Florida at No. 7; Alabama, No. 10; Missouri, No. 11; Texas A&M, No. 12; and Georgia, No. 13. The doctoral rankings include Alabama at No. 8; Texas A&M, No. 9; Georgia, No. 12; Florida, No. 13; Missouri, No. 17; and Tennessee, No. 21.

The PAR rankings include four regions. The South region, which typically constitutes the largest percentage of votes, encompasses 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

UM ranks first in the South region in the undergraduate rankings.

Enrollment in the school’s master’s programs skyrocketed 70 percent this fall, thanks in part to two new degrees developed in partnership with KPMG in the high-growth field of data analytics. Ole Miss is among only nine universities selected by KPMG as a partner in this prestigious program in accounting and data analytics.

With the addition of the Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics and the Master of Taxation and Data Analytics, the school offers four master’s degrees.

“Our rankings success provides enhanced opportunities for our graduates and also helps us in recruiting students and faculty to the University of Mississippi,” Wilder said. “The Patterson School is very fortunate to have outstanding students who go on to phenomenal careers.

“The academic profile of our accountancy student body gets stronger every year, a fact that is certainly recognized in the marketplace.”

A student finds a quiet place to study at Conner Hall. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

More than 1,000 schools in the United States offer accounting programs, and around 500 of those, including UM, are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business as being among the best accountancy and business programs in the world, said Dale Flesher, associate dean and holder of the Burns Chair of Accountancy.

PAR voters who determine the rankings are influenced by several other factors that set the Ole Miss program apart, said Dale Flesher, professor of accountancy, associate dean and holder of the Roland and Sheryl Burns Chair.

“Our campus hosts the National Library of the Accounting Profession,” Flesher said. “We have the largest accountancy library in the world. Our library’s accounting and finance holdings are almost triple that of any other library anywhere. Thus, our students have more resources with which to study.”

Flesher credits the school’s faculty, students and alumni for having a positive impact on its reputation.

We have a combination of good students to start with, excellent faculty and a supporting alumni contingent,” he said. “Taken together, these three elements make Ole Miss one of the best places in the country to get a degree in accountancy.”

Wilder agreed: “We have an outstanding faculty of top teachers and researchers and a top-tier group of highly-skilled staff members. Our faculty and staff are very much focused on serving and mentoring students.”

The school’s success also is a product of generous alumni support, Wilder said

“Their support helps us to offer scholarships to attract outstanding students, to reward our faculty and to strengthen our program,” he explained. “We are grateful for their loyalty and willingness to give back to the school. It is absolutely a difference-maker for us and allows our successes to be rebuilt and perpetuated.”

For more information about accountancy programs at UM, visit

DeSoto Campus Accountancy Major Receives CMA Scholarship

Alexander Beene plans to become a Certified Management Accountant

Alex Beene

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Alexander Beene, a senior accountancy major at the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven, has accepted a Certified Management Accountant Program Scholarship.

The scholarship was awarded last spring by the Institute of Management Accountants. It covers the entrance fee to the CMA program, registration fees for both parts of the CMA exam and up to three years of IMA membership. It also provides access to exam support programs and information.

“I am honored by all of my professors, student peers and colleagues that are supporting me throughout the tough years of completing my degree,” Beene said. “I was extremely excited and honored to be nominated and receive this scholarship.”

The IMA allows 10 students per school per academic year to be nominated for the scholarship. Beene was nominated by Howard Lawrence, clinical professor of accountancy at the DeSoto regional campus. Fellow accountancy major Timothy Nagle also encouraged Beene.

“Alex’s ‘secret’ to success is really no secret at all,” Lawrence said. “He shows up for all classes with his homework in hand and a clear understanding of the topics to be discussed. He does this by studying – not just reading – the material in advance.”

Originally from Lake Cormorant, Beene graduated in 2017 from Northwest Mississippi Community College with an associate degree specialized in accounting. He chose to continue his education at UM-DeSoto by enrolling in the university’s nationally acclaimed accounting program.

“When I was looking into going back to school early in 2015, I decided that I needed to push further than an associate degree and attempt a good career,” he said. “I looked at the different degrees that were offered fully at UM-DeSoto and analyzed their pros and cons.

“After seeing the high placement rate for accountancy graduates, I had to go in that direction.”

Beene plans to take both parts of the CMA exam in the summer of 2019.

“This gives me one year to prepare and I will have my bachelor’s degree all but completed,” he said.

Working while attending classes has been a challenge for Beene, who is married with two children. However, he hopes that the experience will help him after he receives his degree.

“By graduation, I hope to be a few steps ahead of my other peers in the accountancy program,” he said. “I just started working in June as a staff accountant at Vertrauen Chemie Solutions in Memphis after working at ABB as an operations coordinator.”

For information about the accountancy program at the UM-DeSoto campus, visit

University Endowment Builds to All-time High of $715 Million

Strong investment returns, generosity of alumni and friends spurs growth

The University of Mississippi’s permanent endowment grew in its latest fiscal year to an all-time high, thanks to generous support from private donors. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s permanent endowment grew in its latest fiscal year to an all-time high of $715 million, thanks in part to the seventh consecutive year of new gifts of $100 million or more.

Private support totaled more than $115.8 million from 30,332 donors, giving the university essential resources to continue providing exceptional experiences for students, faculty, researchers, health care patients and providers, citizens served by outreach efforts, and visitors to all its campuses.

“Private investments are essential to fuel the work of our flagship university,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“The generosity of our alumni and friends ensures the university has resources needed to sustain and expand nationally prominent programs, and it enables us to deliver on our Flagship Forward strategic plan to improve learning, health and the quality of life in Mississippi. We remain grateful and inspired by their support.”

Total private giving to the Oxford campus grew by 6.5 percent over the previous year. Private support for academics increased more than 10 percent. 

Eighty-seven percent of the private giving will provide current funding for donor-directed areas or directly affect those areas, while the remaining 13 percent was added to the university’s endowment, which also grew through returns on its investment strategies.

State support as a percentage of total revenues available for the university’s operations was 12.4 percent, making private support all the more crucial.

“Ole Miss alumni and friends are making major investments that transform students’ lives and continually enhance the quality of our programs,” said Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development. “Gifts to higher education also have a far-reaching impact on the economy of Mississippi and beyond, and the resources ultimately improve the quality of life for everyone.”

Healthy growth of the university’s endowment reflected the increase in funds invested and managed for the university, said Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the UM Foundation. The endowment benefited from a 10 percent return on its investments.

Private giving helps UM maintain margins of excellence in a range of fields across all its campuses. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“The endowment has now reached the historic high of $715 million, and we are on our way to realizing our long-range goal of a $1 billion endowment,” Weakley said. “We are extremely grateful to our donors who provide this permanent stable funding that can be counted on year after year and will advance the university’s mission for generations to come.”

Some of the largest gifts included: $5 million for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College; $4.25 million for several programs including Bridge STEM, Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative, College Ready Literacy, Center for Mathematics and Science Education, First Generation Scholars, Principal Corps, Upstart in the School of Dentistry and more; $4 million for new endowed chairs in geriatrics and palliative care at the Medical Center; $2 million for the College of Liberal Arts‘ departments of mathematics and sciences; $2 million for professorships in surgery and pulmonology at the Medical Center; $1.5 million for expansion of pediatric care at the Medical Center; and gifts of $1 million or more for a faculty chair in the Patterson School of Accountancy, the Flagship Constellations, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss athletics.

Likewise, the Medical Center’s Campaign for Children’s Hospital campaign enjoyed a third successful year with $10 million raised, which brings the total giving in the campaign to more than $66 million toward its ambitious $100 million goal. This campaign supports the construction and renovation of facilities and recruitment of 30-40 doctors and researchers.

Work has begun on a new seven-story, 340,000-square-foot tower adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital that will also house the Children’s Heart Center.

Gifts to the campaign represent “an outpouring of love and support that runs deep and wide across all of Mississippi,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We have outstanding physicians and the best staff, and they have a passion for caring for patients. What we need now are the facilities to match that quality of care.”

Financial resources provided by alumni and friends of the university ensure students will have the tools necessary to be successful. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Ole Miss athletics also enjoyed a successful FY 2018 both on the field and in investments made by alumni and friends. Cash gifts exceeded $30 million for the fourth consecutive year. The Forward Together campaign stands at $176 million, with plans to complete this $200 million campaign in FY 2019.

“Rebel Nation represents one of the most loyal fan bases in college sports,” said Keith Carter, deputy athletics director for development and resource acquisition. “The support shown year in and year out allows us to enhance our facilities to help our student-athletes compete at the highest level, while also providing a high-quality experience for our fans.

“We express our thanks to loyal donors and fans, and we look forward to the upcoming year as we close out the Forward Together campaign and begin new endeavors.”

To make gifts to the university, go to for academics, for the UM Medical Center or for Ole Miss athletics.

Gift Provides New Endowed Chair, New Programs for Accountancy School

KPMG endows second Ole Miss faculty position

A student finds a quiet place to study at Conner Hall, home of the Patterson School of Accountancy. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – A $1.5 million gift and two new master’s degree programs are expected to increase both the prestige and enrollment of the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy by appealing to top students interested in a master’s degree that adds an emphasis in data analytics to their traditional course of study.

Scholarships for the new programs – the Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics and the Master of Taxation and Data Analytics – are being funded by Big Four audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP as well as its Ole Miss alumni partners and professionals.

In 2016, KPMG collaborated with Ohio State University and Villanova University to launch the scholarship program. A year later, KPMG added seven more schools, including UM.

“We firmly believe that in this era of technology disruption that a core competency of students who come to the accounting profession are going to need a deep skill set in data analytics and other types of cognitive technologies in addition to their technical training in accounting and tax,” said Chuck Walker of Nashville, Tennessee, who leads KPMG’s asset management practice out of its New York office.

Walker graduated from Ole Miss in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, having majored in accounting.

“One of the things we are particularly proud of is, due to this unique program, the number of world-class students who will now attend the Patterson School from all across the country,” he continued.

Data analytics is changing the way the public accounting profession provides services. Beyond a deep knowledge of accounting, professionals often need to have data analytics expertise and possess the analytical skills and critical thinking to improve procedures and deliver insights that are expected in the data age.

“With the momentum created with the establishment of the dual-degree programs, the KPMG Ole Miss alumni partners and professionals in conjunction with the KPMG Foundation are pleased to endow this KPMG Chair of Accountancy and Data Analytics to provide faculty support to the Patterson School,” Walker said.

Dean Mark Wilder said he is grateful for KPMG’s confidence in, and generous support of, the school.

“We appreciate so much all that KPMG is doing for our faculty, students and program,” Wilder said. “The Patterson School has enjoyed a tremendous partnership with the firm for many years, and KPMG has made, and continues to make, a profound impact on our program.”

The establishment of a second endowed faculty chair will have a lasting impact on faculty and educational programs at the school, he said.

Chuck Walker

“We are so grateful to our KPMG alumni and friends, and the KPMG Foundation, for their confidence in our program and for their amazing support,” Wilder said. “In addition, our partnership with KPMG in delivering graduate education in accounting/tax and data analytics will provide outstanding benefits to our program and students.

“It is a high privilege to work with KPMG to provide innovative graduate programs to help develop future accounting and tax professionals for the data age.”

According to the 2017 annual national rankings of accounting programs published by the Public Accounting Report, UM undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs are all ranked No. 8 in the country. The master’s program leads the Southeastern Conference in the rankings and the undergraduate program is second in the SEC.

One or more Ole Miss accountancy programs have led the SEC in the rankings in each of the past seven years.

On multiple occasions in the past five years, KPMG has hired more interns nationally from UM than from any other university. As such, KPMG has a vested interest in continuing its partnership with Ole Miss in delivering graduate education in data analytics.

“It’s good for us and it’s good for the university,” Walker said. “The value Ole Miss dual-degree graduates will have in the marketplace is much greater than someone who just has a Master of Accountancy or Master of Tax degree.

“Our KPMG Ole Miss alumni partners and professionals have a strong desire to give back to the Patterson School so it can continue to be a leader among accounting programs in the U.S. We believe the combination of KPMG’s sponsorship of this unique dual-degree program and the establishment of this endowed chair by our alumni will continue to strengthen Ole Miss and its commitment to the accounting profession.”

In 2014, with a $1.5 million gift, KPMG’s Ole Miss alumni partners and professionals, in connection with the KPMG Foundation, established the KPMG Chair of Accountancy, a position Wilder holds.

For more information on KPMG’s sponsorship of students to attend master’s programs in data analytics, click here.

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

UM Student Earns Summer Internship at Library of Congress

Brandon native among 40 selected for distinguished program

Daniel Baxter

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi senior has a prestigious internship this summer as a junior fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Accountancy major Daniel Baxter, of Brandon, was among 40 people chosen as junior fellows out of more than 700 applicants.

“It’s a very honoring and rewarding experience being chosen to be in this very important internship,” Baxter said. “I’m excited to be one of the interns able to represent the state of Mississippi and very excited to represent Ole Miss here at the Library of Congress.”

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States and extensive materials from around the world on-site and online. Its Junior Fellows Program allows interns to witness the extensive work done at the library.

The program, which runs from May 29 to Aug. 3, gives the students projects across the library’s divisions.

“The junior fellows help bring the Library of Congress’ unparalleled collections and resources to light through projects focused on expanded access,” said Eric Eldritch, program coordinator. “At the same time, they gain exposure to a broad spectrum of library work – preservation, digital initiatives, educational outreach, information management – under the mentorship of expert curators and specialists.”

Baxter is working on projects for the National Book Festival. Some of his job assignments include documenting the history of the festival, producing a video on the importance of the National Book Festival to help promote it and assisting during the festival’s event planning process.

For more information on the Junior Fellows Summer Internship Program at the Library of Congress, call 202-707-0698 or visit

UM Graduate Juggles Life as a CPA, Trading Card Artist

Gordon Wills' second set of Marvel trading cards recently released

University of Mississippi alumnus Gordon Wills designs Marvel-licensed art for Upper Deck trading cards. Images courtesy of Gordon Wills

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi alumnus Gordon Wills (BAccy 07, MAccy 08) is like a superhero in some ways. By day, he has a desk job, but by night, he finds himself in a world full of characters battling evil for the good of mankind. 

He isn’t Superman though. He’s a husband, dad and CPA, but he’s also been working as a sketch artist for the Upper Deck Co. on Marvel trading cards, drawing characters he grew up admiring. Wills, a Memphis native, had drawn for fun during his childhood but laid down his art supplies until he was finishing his master’s in accountancy at Ole Miss. Most of his friends had already graduated and moved on, so he found he had more time to draw. 

He and another Ole Miss graduate, Megan Sellers Wills (BAEd 07, MA 08), married, settled in Metairie, Louisiana, and started a family. The family would watch TV shows on Disney Junior, and Gordon Wills became fascinated with the animation he saw on the screen. Spreading a large piece of butcher paper on the kitchen table for art time became something fun he and his daughter could do together. 

“She would follow me around the table and color it in,” Wills said. “It kind of got me used to the drawing the muscles again. It was something I could do with her that nobody else could do.”

He also found that drawing helped him decompress from the stress of daily life. This outlet was extremely valuable to him while he was studying for the CPA exam. He was also using social media sites to connect with other artists. He posted short animation and other artwork to his Instagram page, and his profile was getting noticed.

He’d had Marvel comic trading cards during his childhood and started drawing his own Marvel cards for fun. He began talking to other artists on social media about finding opportunities to draw them professionally and came across an online form for submissions to be considered. The decision wasn’t easy though. 

“I was nervous about submitting to this for fear of failure,” Wills said. “It took a while to take that step out there, but it was good for me to get the positive reinforcement to get the confidence.”

His submission was well received. He was commissioned to do his first set of cards in August. In November, he delivered his first set, which featured Thanos, Spider-Man, Cyclops and Avengers characters. He was proud of how it turned out.

Gordon Wills

Earlier this year, Upper Deck ordered another set of Marvel characters from him. This time, the subject was “Black Panther,” the international blockbuster movie that has smashed box office records and drawn critical praise for offering the world one of the first black superheroes. His “Black Panther” set was recently released. Wills joins Ole Miss alumnus Jesse Holland Jr. (BA 94) in having a connection to the film. Holland was commissioned by Marvel to author an origin story novel ahead of the film’s release. 

Wills continues to look for opportunities to draw professionally and has enjoyed networking with the community of comic book artists, editors and other creative professionals. One of those people was familiar. Trey Treutel (BBA 07), editor at The Cardboard Connection, a website about sports cards, entertainment cards and other collectibles, had also graduated from Ole Miss. The two had known each other from living in the same residence hall. 

Treutel’s website has checklists and other resources for artists such as Wills to use. Treutel said he’s been impressed with his friend’s success. 

“I appreciate how he can capture the essence of these iconic Marvel characters but still maintain a style that is uniquely his,” Treutel said. “I think it is very cool that my dorm neighbor from freshman year supplies drawings for Upper Deck and Marvel.”

Wills will continue to work on art projects, in addition to his job at a bank in Covington, Louisiana. He’s hoping to start selling his art at conventions. As a father of a young daughter and son, he’s also hoping to get involved in a children’s book project at some point. 

He said his wife, family and friends have been supportive of him and his art, which brings him joy. 

“It doesn’t feel like work,” Wills said. “It has really been a neat experience for me, and it kind of opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me.”