UM Moves Up in Measures of Academic and Research Performance

University included in several rankings of the nation's and world's best institutions

The University of Mississippi is ranked among the nation’s best public institutions in several third-party evaluations of academic and research performance. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Efforts by faculty, staff and students to excel in their pursuit of knowledge have given the University of Mississippi, the state’s flagship university, new momentum in its mission to lead the way in learning, discovery and engagement for the state and nation.

UM has been ranked among the nation’s best public institutions in several third-party evaluations of academic and research performance, and the university has climbed in recent measures of those areas.

In 2016, the university was included for the first time among the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the nation’s top doctoral research universities. UM is among a distinguished group of 115 institutions, including Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins in the highest research category, which includes the top 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education.

The university also achieved its highest-ever standing in the 2017 U. S. News & World Report annual rankings of Best (Undergraduate) Colleges and Universities, where UM tied for No. 64 in the Top Public Universities category, up seven places from the previous year’s rankings. The rankings reflect 15 indicators of academic excellence, such as graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, financial resources and alumni giving rates.

Chemical engineering students conduct an experiment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“These achievements and rankings reinforce our flagship status and are a testament to the value of our degrees, the impact of our research and the competitiveness of our students, staff and faculty,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “While they provide important benchmarks for our university, we remain committed to achieving even higher levels of excellence.

“We will focus upon growing the reach and impact of Ole Miss to continue making a positive difference for Mississippi, our nation and the world.”

The university ranked in the top 20 percent of U.S. institutions for total research and development expenditures in a report issued by the National Science Foundation based upon 2015 expenditures. For the 10th consecutive year, the university was ranked in the top 20 percent in this report.

The university also performed well in the inaugural ranking of U.S. colleges and universities by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education publications. This measure ranked UM 74th among all the nation’s public universities.

This ranking constitutes a comparative assessment of more than 1,000 colleges and universities, measuring factors such as university resources, student engagement, outcomes and environment. The latter includes a gauge of the university’s efforts to build a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff.

“Many of our academic offerings continue to gain exposure and recognition,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “I fully expect this trend to continue because of the quality and commitment of our faculty and staff.”

Success in international education and research partnerships contributed to the university’s standing on U.S. News’ 2017 list of Best Global Universities. Among the top 1,000 research universities in 65 countries, UM ranked in the top third on this year’s list.

Ole Miss students attending the PULSE Sophomore Leadership get to interact with Corporate Execs from FedEx, Hershey’s, Chico and others. PULSE is a two-day sophomore leadership workshop that brings together sophomore students from a variety of roles on campus to learn about themselves and their leadership potential. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The Best Global Universities list ranks each institution’s international and regional research reputation, including a statistical analysis of peer-reviewed publications, citations and international collaborations. The university ranked in the top 10 percent in international collaborations, and the university’s research areas of physics and pharmacology/toxicology were ranked in the top 20 percent.

“The reputation of the university in national and international research circles has been steadily growing over the past few decades,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “We have seen this trend through an increasing number of national leadership positions in societies and consortia, an increase in the number of grant awards, as well as in statistical reports such as U.S. News and World Report.

“It is an exciting time for the research community at the university, and I look forward to increasingly higher impact of UM research.”

U.S. News and World Report ranked two of the university’s graduate academic programs in the top 25 nationally among public universities: the online MBA program (No. 19) and pharmacy (No. 23). Here are some of the other U.S. News rankings of UM graduate programs among public universities:

  • School of Education online program (tied No. 35)
  • History (tied No. 48)
  • Master of Business Administration (tied No. 51)
  • English (tied No. 56)
  • Clinical psychology (tied No. 67)
  • Civil engineering (tied No. 70)
  • Education (tied No. 72)
  • Social work (tied No. 77)
  • Physics (tied No. 84)
  • Electrical engineering (tied No. 85)
  • Mathematics (tied No. 91)

In national rankings by other sources, the university achieved several additional accolades among all public and private universities:

  • Patterson School of Accountancy (all three degree programs ranked in the top 10 nationally by the journal Public Accounting Report)
  • Patterson School of Accountancy master’s and doctoral programs (No. 1 in SEC)
  • Patterson School of Accountancy undergraduate program (No. 2 in SEC)
  • Creative writing (No. 6 among “Top 10 Universities for Aspiring Writers” by
  • Online health informatics undergraduate program (No. 3 by the Health Informatics Degree Center)
  • Business law program in the School of Law (one of only four schools to earn a perfect score of A+ by preLaw Magazine, ranking it as one of the country’s top programs)

The university’s efforts to achieve excellence in all its endeavors also has helped recruit talented students to learn and contribute on all its campuses. The Chronicle of Higher Education named the university as the nation’s eighth-fastest growing among public doctoral 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.

The university’s incoming freshmen continue to be better-prepared for the rigor of college, posting an average ACT score of 25.2 in fall 2016, surpassing the school record of 24.7 set in 2015. The high school GPA of incoming freshmen also increased, growing from 3.54 to 3.57, another university record.

“Ole Miss is committed to student success,” Vitter said. “The demand for a University of Mississippi degree is unprecedented, and the success of our programs and initiatives aimed at helping students stay in school and graduate is clear in our increasing retention and graduation rates.

“Each and every day, our faculty and staff demonstrate strong commitment to transforming lives through higher education.”

Applicants Sought for Entrepreneurial Spirit Scholarship

JAMAS Capital Management created award to encourage pursuit of innovative business careers

The $2,500 Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship is intended to help UM students become the entrepreneurial business leaders of the future. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Students in the University of Mississippi’s School of Business Administration are encouraged to apply soon for a new scholarship funded by JAMAS Capital Management, a private investment firm based in Jackson.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship, worth $2,500, is intended to help UM students become the entrepreneurial business leaders of the future by easing the financial burden of a college education. Applications must be received by Feb. 28. For more information and to apply for the scholarship, visit the JAMAS website.

Young leaders are capable of innovation and creative new approaches to all aspects of business, including innovative start-ups, said Ben O. Turnage, founder and CEO of JAMAS.

“We know that these young leaders have a unique, fresh perspective not always seen in the business world, as well as their own personal experiences to draw upon,” Turnage said. “Our hope is that by easing the financial burden of secondary education, we will see new UM graduates developing more innovative business start-ups in Mississippi.”

The JAMAS Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship is open to all students who are enrolled or have been accepted at Ole Miss. To be considered, applicants must have at least a 2.8 grade-point average and must submit a 500-to-1,000-word essay from their choice of three topics.

“We are thrilled that Ben, one of our outstanding entrepreneurs and investor in many Mississippi businesses, is funding this important scholarship,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “Through this generous gift, we are able to enhance our Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and our entrepreneurship major, thereby encouraging our students to create new businesses and innovate in existing businesses. 

“This scholarship will allow us to have a long-term impact that enhances the economic value of businesses in Mississippi, the Southeast and throughout the world.”

The scholarship is a timely partnership with the Ole Miss entrepreneurship program because the full entrepreneurship major goes into effect this year, Cyree said.

Also, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which received the Emerging Entrepreneurship Award in 2015, provides opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to hone their start-up business ideas through the Gillespie Business Plan Competition, Pitch Night and Land Shark Tank Pitch programs. Interested students should contact the CIE for more information about how to get involved in programs that foster innovation and entrepreneurship for all businesses.

JAMAS Capital Management is a private investment firm providing a unique source of strategic capital to a broad spectrum of industry sectors. For more than 30 years, Turnage has founded, invested in and profitably grown companies across a variety of businesses, including enterprises in construction, residential/commercial real estate, oil field services and agri-foods.

For more information about JAMAS Capital Management or the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship, contact Susan Segars at 404-808-0075 or by email at

For more information on programs in the UM School of Business Administration, go to

Texas Couple Looks to Expand UM Student Recruiting

Crosswells underwrite student recruiter position for Lone Star State

Allen Crosswell and his wife, Leah, (center) enjoy a recent visit with UM administrators (from left) Provost Morris Stocks; Brett Barefoot, development officer for parents leadership; Chancellor Jeff Vitter; and Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – With a recent $400,000 gift to the University of Mississippi, Allen and Leah Crosswell of Houston, Texas, have provided the means to hire and support a new recruiter whose goal will be to get more high-achieving Texas students to choose Ole Miss for college.

Crosswell, a 1989 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration, agreed to underwrite the expenses that will support a senior-level admissions counselor in Houston. The university has only one other Texas admissions counselor, who recruits out of Dallas.

“The Crosswells graciously offered a solution to an identified need, and for this gift we are very grateful,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “The Crosswells’ generous philanthropic investment in our university reveals their passionate belief in the power of education and their vision for improving opportunities available to young people.”

Though Texas recently has taken Tennessee’s place as the second state after Mississippi with the most students at Ole Miss, too many outstanding Texas high school students are enrolling elsewhere, Crosswell said.

“We’re primarily trying to increase the awareness of the value of a degree from the University of Mississippi,” said Crosswell, whose businesses are active in retail development, industrial acquisitions and asset lending. “We’re not getting the students with the upper grade-point averages and upper ACT and SAT scores. They’re going to the other competitive colleges primarily because they don’t know what we have to offer.”

Crosswell believes these high-achieving prospective students would be more likely to choose Ole Miss if they knew of its many benefits: the curricula, faculty and culture that made a difference in his own values and life views, so much so that he felt compelled to give back.

“Most of them don’t even know we have the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College,” Crosswell said. “They’re not hearing about the national ranking of our schools or that our Patterson School of Accountancy is ranked in the Top 10, for example.”

And it’s just a matter of spreading the word, said Crosswell, who has worked with the Office of Admissions to develop a program that will get these students’ attention.

“We’ll make sure they know what we have to offer, make sure they get set up to come visit here, make sure they can meet other Ole Miss students from the major metros of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and also visit with some of our professors,” Crosswell said, adding that the whole experience will be prearranged by the recruiter. “I think it will help us build awareness for what we have to offer.”

It will also provide a personal touch, Leah Crosswell said.

“Everybody wants to be wanted, so all of sudden they have somebody who wants them and who’s showing them a program that will have real value when they graduate,” she said.

“It’s going to be an eye-opener for some of these kids,” Allen Crosswell continued. “They’ll see that they can get the excellent academics they need in a really fun, Southern setting with fraternities and sororities and SEC football.

“You can’t find that in most places. We’ve just got to sell it. So that’s what we’re trying to do, and we believe a recruiter can show that culture to students in Texas.”

It’s a unique concept, said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor for student affairs.

“The Crosswells’ gift is unprecedented for the university as far as providing resources to our admissions office and is going to increase our exposure and give us an opportunity to be more high-touch in Texas, where we get a number of wonderful students,” she said. “It will allow us to continue to expand the wonderful Ole Miss brand and that feeling of being an Ole Miss family.”

Both LaBanc and the Crosswells hope the Texas Recruiting Initiative Fund will be an example to others who may want replicate the program throughout Texas and in other states.

“It says that people value the work of the Office of Admissions,” LaBanc said. “They are a staff that is always out all year long. If they’re not working on the incoming class, they’re working on the following year’s class.

“They’re such a hard-working group of individuals and for someone to recognize that and want to help them expand their scope and expand the impact that they already have is such a real blessing.”

The Crosswells, who have a home in Oxford, frequently visit the university, where their son Holcombe is a junior integrated marketing communications major. Their son Greyson is a high-school senior who plans to attend Ole Miss in the fall.

The Texas Recruiting Initiative Fund is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations. Checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the name of the fund noted in the memo line, can be mailed to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Gifts also can be made online at http://www.umfoundation/makeagift.

For information on establishing a similar fund, contact Brett Barefoot, development officer for parents, at 662-915-2711 or

UM Online Master of Business Administration Program Ranked in Top 25

U.S News & World Report releases 2017 rankings for online MBA degrees

The UM Online Master of Business Administration program is ranked ahead of several respected national programs for providing a quality, flexible program for working professionals. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Online Master of Business Administration program has been named as one of the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings, released today (Jan. 10), place Ole Miss at No. 22 nationally.

“We are excited for the recognition of the outstanding education received in the online MBA program,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “We strive to provide similarities of the on-campus experience, but with the flexibility of the courses needed while working or living in another location.

“We are grateful for the opportunities this program provides our graduates, and that we are receiving this type of recognition. We look forward to the continued success of the online MBA program.”

According to U.S. News & World Report’s briefing, “Master’s degree programs in business administration have greater enrollment, by far, than any other type of graduate business degree program. The 2017 ‘Best Online MBA Programs’ rankings evaluate schools based on data related to their distance education MBA programs.”

For the 2017 edition, U.S. News & World Report ranked online MBA programs using five criteria: student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology.

“Our online program includes a 36-hour, challenging and comprehensive curriculum that allows professionals to further their education while maintaining ‘real life’ responsibilities, such as work and family,” said Ashley Jones, director of the university’s MBA program. “You can keep your job, stay where you are and earn a quality degree from Ole Miss.”

“Our faculty work very hard to provide an online experience that includes frequent, high-quality interaction between students and instructors,” said Walter Davis, faculty director of the online MBA program.

“We strive to provide opportunities for students to interact with one another, sharing their experiences from a variety of professional contexts. This is a vital part of the learning process and a strength of the program.”

UM placed ahead of several respected online programs, including Northeastern University and George Washington University. The program ranked third in the Southeastern Conference (tied with Mississippi State) behind the Hough Graduate School of Business at the University of Florida and the Harbert School of Business at Auburn University.

“Accreditation, reputation and name recognition led me to choose Ole Miss over the other schools,” said Ray Mathew, of Westchester County, New York, who received his degree in 2016.

“Other than talented faculty, the flexibility to complete the degree at my own pace while working full-time was the greatest strength of the online program.”

U.S. News & World Report collected the data between August and October 2016. Two hundred and fifty-five schools indicated they would be offering online MBAs, up from 228 in 2015.

The UM on-campus MBA program ranked No. 36 among American public universities and No. 68 overall by Bloomberg Business Week News Service in November.

The Ole Miss School of Business Administration was established in 1917 and awarded its first MBA degree in 1946.

New UM Scholarship Honors a Son, Father and Friend

Crawfords create UM endowment for Eagle Scouts, business majors

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, left, visits with Paige, Terry and Cindy Crawford to thank them for the Mitchell Crawford Eagle Scout Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship will assist business students with first preference going to Eagle Scouts. UM photo by Bill Dabney

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, left, visits with Paige, Terry and Cindy Crawford to thank them for the Mitchell Crawford Eagle Scout Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship will assist business students, with first preference going to Eagle Scouts. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Achieving the Eagle Scout rank – the highest accomplishment in Scouting – reflects a level of leadership and commitment reached only by about 5 percent of Boy Scouts. Mitchell Crawford was one those proud Eagle Scouts.

Crawford, 34, died in 2011 after a five-year battle with lymphoma. Terry Crawford and his wife, Cindy, of Ocala, Florida, have committed $500,000 to create a scholarship endowment in their son’s name at the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration, with first preference going to Eagle Scouts. Both father and son earned business degrees from Ole Miss.

“After Cub Scouts, Mitchell attended a Boy Scout meeting at First Baptist Church in Ocala, which had a really strong program – one meeting and he was sold,” said Terry Crawford, founder and president of Conimar Group. “He had a great Scouting experience and learned leadership skills and life lessons.

“I was a Scout leader and continue to help with fundraising, and Mitchell and I shared a wealth of outstanding experiences. It was a natural choice to direct the first preference for my son’s scholarship to Eagle Scouts.”

Mitchell Crawford was also a Vigil member of Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s honorary society, and among his trips were those to the World Scout Jamboree in Korea, the U.S. National Jamboree and the Philmont Scout Ranch, where he and his father made a 65-mile trek, ate freeze-dried food and collected priceless memories.

“I think everyone starts out in Boy Scouting wanting to be an Eagle Scout – that’s the ultimate rank,” Terry Crawford said. “Becoming an Eagle Scout, however, requires hard work, dedication, persistence, focus and time.

“When young men are around 14 to 15 years old, there are a lot of other things competing for their time. Only those very dedicated to the goal reach it, and then those qualities they’ve developed benefit them the rest of their lives.”

Mitchell Crawford earned his Eagle Scout rank at age 16.

Mitchell Crawford earned his Eagle Scout rank at age 16.

The Mitchell Crawford Eagle Scout Scholarship Endowment also pays tribute to the lives of Mitchell’s mother, Connie Mitchell Crawford – a dedicated elementary school teacher who lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2001 – and to his great aunt, Mary Shashy Jones, for the roles they played in Mitchell’s life and the larger Crawford family, Terry Crawford said.

“I am inspired by the Crawfords’ story; what a remarkable way for a father to honor a son,” UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We are tremendously grateful to the Crawford family for their support of Ole Miss, our School of Business Administration and Eagle Scouts. This significant commitment will certainly play an important role in attracting and supporting students of Mitchell’s caliber.

“I continue to be amazed by the service, energy and contributions by our alumni and friends. They are such a vital part of our university’s sustained growth and success.”

Mitchell Crawford’s legacy will be extended through this scholarship and by his only child, 13-year-old daughter Paige, an enthusiastic Ole Miss fan who has participated in summer dance camp and enjoys visiting campus several times a year with her family. Her mom, Tara Knebel of Highland, Illinois, was a Rebelette, and Paige hopes to follow in her parents’ footsteps by making Ole Miss her college home.

“I think it’s incredible that this scholarship is named for my dad,” Paige Crawford said. “It’s good that it will help students who have worked really hard to reach their goals.”

Ken Cyree, UM dean of business administration, expressed appreciation to the Crawford family for making such significant investments in students’ lives.

“Terry Crawford obviously put a great deal of thought into how he would create a permanent tribute to the life of his son,” Cyree said. “We are extremely grateful and humbled that he chose to provide student scholarships at Ole Miss. Mitchell’s legacy will be expanded as this endowment assists many students, who will then graduate and make contributions to the business world and to their respective communities.

“I have much admiration and respect for Eagle Scouts, and the values they hold dear translate well into successful business graduates. Terry devotes a great deal of his time to serve on our Business Advisory Council, which also directly impacts students’ experiences.”

Brian Reithel, professor of management information systems, taught Mitchell Crawford in graduate-level courses and also appreciates that a scholarship bears his name.

“Mitchell and I connected quickly with each other during his time as one of my students in the MBA program at Ole Miss,” Reithel said. “Our similar backgrounds in Scouting made it easy for us to understand and respect each other right away.

“Mitchell’s outstanding character reflected his father’s exceptional strength of character and generous spirit. It is wonderful to see Mitchell remembered through this special gift to the university to help attract and retain more students who are cut from that same cloth: trustworthy, loyal, courteous, cheerful and reverent. I can’t wait to meet the future recipients of this distinctive new scholarship. We are so blessed to have Terry Crawford in the Ole Miss family.”

Mitchell Crawford had a great zest for the outdoors and was a fisherman and duck hunter, leading to his love of Labrador retrievers. During his college years, he worked as a dog trainer for former University Police Chief Mike Stewart at Wildrose Kennels in Oxford,and was very involved with training Drake, the first Ducks Unlimited mascot.

With his dog and best friend, Tucker, Crawford enjoyed countless hours of training and hunting.

Stewart remembers the first time he met the younger Crawford, who was seeking help training Tucker at Wildrose Kennels, which is nationally recognized.

“I was a one-man operation then, and Mitchell took one of my classes,” said Stewart, who tried to recruit him to a permanent role at Wildrose after his graduation and remained close friends with him until the end. “Then he started helping me with shows across the country and with the training of Drake for Ducks Unlimited. Mitchell figured out that Drake became easily bored and needed new things to capture his interest. Mitchell could read smart dogs better than anyone.

“Mitchell was this genuine, fun-loving, happy personality who was great to be around – always so positive. Mitchell loved being part of Ole Miss; he was entrenched in all things connected with his university. This is a great tribute to someone who definitely had a heart for Ole Miss.”

Mitchell Crawford was actually headed for the University of Florida, but one of his friends was awarded a golf scholarship at Ole Miss. After a long weekend accompanying his friend to Oxford, Mitchell altered his plans, recalled Terry Crawford, whose family were early pioneers in north central Florida but also visited Ole Miss with a friend and decided to make Mississippi his adopted state.

“Dad, I’ve changed my mind. I want to go to Ole Miss because of the people,” Mitchell said in a call home to Florida.

Following his graduation from Ole Miss, Crawford worked for Kraft Foods as a sales manager on the Wal-Mart sales team in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton was an Eagle Scout. At the time of his death, he had been with Kraft for 10 years, first serving as a regional sales representative in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Mitchell also was an avid sports fan who played on various intramural teams during his college years and then faithfully followed the Ole Miss and Kansas City football teams. During the last few years of his life, he participated in the annual Ole Miss fantasy football camp with his father.

He also was active in First Baptist Church of Bentonville and was survived by his wife, Shanna Crawford, and many other family members and friends.

“Mitchell never stopped believing he would overcome the beast of cancer and was such an inspiration to his family, friends, doctors, nurses and all those he met on his journey,” Terry Crawford said. “I hope there are students who will be impacted by this scholarship and will benefit from their degree and chosen profession in business.”

The Mitchell Crawford Eagle Scout Scholarship Endowment is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations. Checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the name of the scholarship noted in the memo line, can be mailed to the foundation at 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or made online at http://www.umfoundation/makeagift.

UM Master of Business Administration Program Ranks Among Nation’s Best

Bloomberg Businessweek lauds track record of alumni satisfaction, success

The University of Mississippi's Master of Business Administration program has been named one of the best in the nation for the third consecutive year. Photo by Nathan Latil, UM Brand Photography

The university’s Master of Business Administration program has been named one of the best in the nation for the third consecutive year. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – For the third consecutive year, the University of Mississippi’s Master of Business Administration program has been named as one of the best in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The UM program ranked No. 36 among American public universities in the annual rankings and No. 68 overall nationally.

“We are thrilled that the MBA program is getting the recognition it deserves,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “We are excited our efforts have paid off through the commitment of our faculty, staff and board to provide excellent graduate educational opportunities.

“We are proud of our MBA graduates and the recognition that the program is receiving and look forward to the future.”

More graduate degrees in business are awarded annually than in any other field in the U.S., the report said. Also, dozens of new business schools are accredited each year. The data in the survey was compiled from more than 1,000 recruiters, 15,000 alumni and 9,000 recent graduates.

“As leaders and professionals, our board members understand the big picture,” said Ashley Jones, director of the university’s MBA program. “They want an Ole Miss MBA student, with a polished resume in their hand, to walk into an interview and ‘wow’ a company, and to then transition into the workforce as a valued employee.”

The report indicates that more than 89 percent of MBA graduates find job placement within three months of degree completion.

“The recognition of the Ole Miss MBA program reflects the excellent efforts of our faculty, alumni board, administrators and the students themselves,” said Walter Davis, the program’s faculty director. “As a team, we are always looking for ways to add value to the experience of our MBA students.”

UM came in ahead of several respected programs, including Tulane, Case Western Reserve and Pepperdine universities, in the report. The university ranked sixth in the Southeastern Conference.

“I chose the Ole Miss MBA program not only to further my education, but to become a business professional,” said Shelby Buckley, of Farmington, Missouri, president of the 2016-17 MBA class. “The program focuses on how to apply skills learned in the classroom to our future careers.

“I value the professional development the program provides as well as the level of involvement of the board. They are a vital resource, and it is great to have other professionals helping us start our own careers.”

Bloomberg Businessweek News Service has ranked full-time MBA programs in the U.S. since 1988. Over the years, the organization has shifted its methodology to focus on how well programs prepare their graduates for job success. The survey measures recruiter opinions on how well MBA programs equip their graduates with relevant skills, and also records feedback from students on how thoroughly they have been prepared for the workforce.

According to the survey, the university’s MBA program’s two greatest strengths were in the employer survey and the student survey, ranking Nos. 37 and 46, respectively.

The UM School of Business Administration was established in 1917 and awarded its first MBA degree in 1946.

UM Graduate Gives Back with Planned Gifts

Donations benefit School of Business Administration, support scholarships

Tim Noss (left), development officer for the UM School of Business Administration, awards the late Marion McManus a certificate acknowledging his gift to the university. Photo courtesy Tim Noss

Tim Noss (left), development officer for the UM School of Business Administration, awards the late Marion McManus a certificate acknowledging his gift to the university. Photo courtesy Tim Noss

OXFORD, Miss. – The late Marion McManus of Houston, Texas, grew up on a small farm in Mississippi, one of nine children. His parents’ Meadville home had no electricity or running water and every day he and his siblings were expected to pick cotton after school to help make ends meet. 

“They lived a kind of pioneer lifestyle after the Depression and there wasn’t any money,” said Michael McManus, Marion’s son. “Growing up with that hardship gave him a lot of drive and ambition to make a better life for himself and he realized that having an education was an important part of that.”

Michael McManus says the business degree his father earned from the University of Mississippi in 1950 instilled the knowledge he needed to become successful. In appreciation, he wanted to support education by establishing the Marion McManus Scholarship Endowment with a $300,000 planned gift and the Marion McManus Excellence in Business Endowment with a $200,000 planned gift, both to the UM School of Business Administration.

“Mr. McManus’s story is a great example of the transformative power of higher education,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “He used the education he received at the University of Mississippi to go from humble beginnings to a highly successful businessman. We are grateful for his gifts that honor the impact this university had on his life.”

The McManus Scholarship is available to incoming freshmen in the School of Business Administration who are Mississippi residents with a minimum ACT score of 27. Recipients may retain the scholarship for eight semesters, provided they maintain a 3.0 grade point average.

The McManus Excellence in Business Endowment provides support for the greatest needs of the Business School as determined by the dean.

“Mr. McManus’s generous gifts encompass the scope of work we do here by supporting the general expenses necessary to operate the school and its programs while also meeting the financial needs of students who want to pursue an education in business,” said Ken Cyree, UM business dean.

“We are very grateful for Mr. McManus’ thoughtfulness in including us in his will and for our many loyal donors like him who provide unrestricted support as well as scholarships.”

Tim Noss, development officer for the School of Business Administration, had the privilege of visiting with McManus at his home shortly before his death.

“Mr. McManus enjoyed sharing stories with me about his college experiences and the friendships he made on the Oxford campus,” Noss said. “He had many wonderful memories of his classes and professors in the business school as well as the many extracurricular activities with his fraternity, Delta Psi.”

Michael McManus said his father also made similar gifts to the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Michael’s alma mater, and to Louisiana State University, where Marion attended briefly before returning to Ole Miss.

At LSU, Marion met the late Joan Carol Pender, who would become his wife of 60 years and mother to his children, Michael and Melissa McManus Chapman, both of Houston.

Before college, McManus served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Upon returning, he was admitted to and planned to enroll at Ole Miss.

“There was a story he used to tell: He showed up at Ole Miss and they had thought, since his name was Marion, that he was a female, so they had assigned him to a female residence hall,” Michael said. “I think he basically got miffed and went off and enrolled at LSU.

“My uncle told me the government found out he wasn’t a resident of Louisiana and refused to pay for his school anymore under the GI Bill, so he transferred to Ole Miss to complete his education.”

After graduating, McManus was hired by Fuller-Austin Insulation Co. in Houston, eventually becoming part owner and president in 1967. The company was sold in 1974, but McManus continued to manage the company until 1981 when he started Tecon Services, which became a successful industrial insulation company.

At the age 83, he officially retired and sold his interest in the business to his partners.

McManus enjoyed playing golf, traveling, hunting and spending time with his family and friends.

McManus’ planned gift earned him membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts.

The McManus endowments are open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit

UM Professor’s Research Published in Journal of Consumer Research

Christopher Newman and colleagues studied effects of various front-of-package nutrition labels

Christopher L. Newman co-authored an article in the Journal of Consumer Research.Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Christopher L. Newman co-authored an article in the Journal of Consumer Research.Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi’s marketing professor’s joint study of the effects of front-of-package nutrition labels shows they serve different purposes depending upon the shopping situation, greatly affecting consumers’ abilities to make proper evaluations and healthful choices.

Christopher L. Newman, assistant professor of marketing, is a co-author of “Effects of Objective and Evaluative Front-of-Package Cues on Food Evaluation and Choice: The Moderating Influence of Comparative and Noncomparative Processing Contexts.” The results were published recently in the Journal of Consumer Research.

His co-authors are Elizabeth Howlett, professor of marketing, and Scot Burton, distinguished professor and Tyson Chair in Food and Consumer Products Retailing, both at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

The research was partially supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its Healthy Eating Research Program and by the SEC Faculty Travel Grant Program.

“Our research suggests that one potential reason that the Nutrition Facts Panel has not been effective in preventing the rise of obesity may lie in its failure to directly address the fact that consumers’ evaluative tasks and environments can, and often, vary greatly,” Newman said.

For example, consumers are frequently faced with the rather complex task of assessing the healthfulness of many different products at once, such as when they are considering different food items in a category at the grocery store shelf. This type of “comparative” information processing requires considerable effort and time from consumers because they must first assess all the different available options and then make comparisons between the alternatives.

Other times, consumers may only need to evaluate the healthfulness of a single product by itself in a noncomparative manner, such as when they are examining a particular food item at home. This type of processing is much simpler. Though these tasks are clearly different, the NFP provides consumers with the same type of standardized nutrition information for both types of tasks.

“The purpose of our research was to determine if different types of front-of-package nutrition labels – either an objective or evaluative FOP label – could help consumers by providing them with the nutrition information that’s best suited for the specific task they were faced with,” Newman said.

“Objective FOP labels provide information that is quantitative and objective. In contrast, evaluative FOP labels provide interpretive information about a product’s overall healthfulness and/or specific nutrients.”

Overall, the researchers’ results indicate that the type of processing environment faced by consumers influences the extent to which specific food package cues can affect their food-related evaluations and decisions.

Information that is more detailed and objective may benefit consumers more than when they assess the healthfulness of a single product. When consumers make relative comparisons between many different brands in a product category, information that is more evaluative in nature is likely to be more beneficial in assessing product healthfulness and making healthy choices.

“We believe that the relationship between the type of front-of-package label and the type of evaluative task that a consumer is faced with should be directly considered by public policy makers and the health community in general, particularly given all of the different FOP labeling systems that are currently in the marketplace,” Newman said.

“Our research suggests that there is not a single ‘one-size-fits-all’ front-of-package nutrition label that is suitable for all of the different types of food evaluations and choices that consumers must make,” Howlett said.

Burton agrees with his colleagues.

“If the primary goal of nutrition labeling is to help consumers make healthier choices, then the ability to identify the most healthful alternatives from a broad set of options is crucial,” he said. “Our research suggests that, in general, when there is a match between the choice processing context and the type of format used to present front-of-package nutrition information, consumers tend to make more healthful food choices.

“This is particularly important in comparative contexts in which evaluative information may improve choice from a set of brands.”

For more information about the UM School of Business Administration, visit

New Endowment Sets High Standards for UM Business School

Admiration compels Millette family to honor patriarch with named endowment

Sam Millette Jr. (left) stands with his father, Samuel M. Millette, the namesake of an endowment the Millette family established to honor their patriarch and to support faculty recruitment and retention in the School of Business Administration.

Sam Millette Jr. (left) stands with his father, Samuel M. Millette, the namesake of an endowment the Millette family established to honor their patriarch and to support faculty recruitment and retention in the School of Business Administration. Photo by Erica Whitaker

OXFORD, Miss. – Samuel M. Millette is a U.S. Marine war veteran, an esteemed attorney with a 50-year career in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a revered family man.

“He is the standard to which I aspire,” said Sam Millette Jr. of Destin, Florida, whose admiration for his 93-year-old father led him to establish an endowment in his name.

The Samuel M. Millette Faculty Support Endowment in Business will provide funds to support and expand the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration by enabling the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty. The endowment can support salaries, research and creative activity, programs, and other faculty needs.

“The gift is to honor my dad who generously paid for my education in the ‘B School’ even though I had not decided to be a serious student until I entered law school years later,” said Millette, a 1975 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration.

He and his wife, Lynne, who earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Ole Miss in 1975, have two children, Martin and Lindsey, both UM graduates.

The Millettes are life members of the Ole Miss Alumni Association; Lynne is a past board member. Sam and Lynne are charter members of the Vaught Society and members of the Lyceum Society. In establishing the endowment, Millette said he wants to see the university continue to hire faculty members who have the experience and expertise to prepare students for life after graduation.

“In these very tough economic times, the job market is especially competitive,” he said. “Also, we need to continue to hire the best of the best in our business school in order to attract bright minds and continually raise the academic standing of the university.”

Sam Millette Sr. is a Greenville native who would have attended Ole Miss, if circumstances had been in his favor.

In 1942, at age 19, he was accepted into the U.S. Navy V-5 aviation cadet program. While waiting to enter cadet school, he enrolled at Northeast Junior College in Monroe, Louisiana, where he completed a civilian pilot training course with 35 hours in a Piper Cub and 50 hours in an acrobatic bi-plane.

He then went to pre-flight at the University of Georgia for three months, to Lambert Field in St. Louis for primary flight training, and then to Pensacola, Florida, for secondary and final flight training and instrument instruction. In October 1943, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Many transfers were in store for Millette, from Daytona Beach Naval Air Station for operational training in dive bombers to Terminal Island Naval Air Station in California, where he ferried new planes to air stations nationwide. He was assigned to join a fighter bomber squadron at Cherry Point Marine Air Station, where he met and married his wife, Sue.

Soon after, Millette was sent to the South Pacific, where he served in a Marine dive bomber squadron for about 14 months, seeing action in the Admiralty Islands, the Philippines, Okinawa and China.

In 1946, he returned to the states, where he was detained for debriefing in California before he could travel to Ole Miss to apply for college. But missing the deadline, he enrolled instead at Wake Forest College in North Carolina.

“His brother Teddy Millette played football for Johnny Vaught,” Sam Jr. said. “And by the way, Sam, Sr. loves the Rebels and cheers for them in Oxford and Charlotte as long as they are not playing Wake Forest.”

In 1951, after graduating from Wake Forest Law School, Sam Sr. accepted a job in the legal department of Northeast Gas Transmission Co. in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Next, he and Sue returned to North Carolina to start a law practice in Charlotte. After practicing solo for eight years, Millette was invited in 1959 to join the law firm of Bell, Bradley, Gebhart & DeLaney as a partner.

Twenty-seven years later, the firm dissolved, so he partnered with Robert G. Sanders for another 10 years before going solo again. The bulk of his work was in litigation in both criminal and civil court with many appellate cases.

“I could not have planned things better than the way they fell together by happenstance,” Millette said. “Mine has been a full life of marriage and parenthood, church and civic life, and a very rewarding professional career.”

Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration, said establishing an endowment, as the Millettes did, is one of the best ways to honor a beloved family member while also supporting a cherished institution like Ole Miss.

“We all have people in our lives whom we could honor in this way,” Cyree said. “I am thrilled that Sam chose to honor his father by designating his gift to support faculty recruitment for the School of Business Administration.

“Faculty support is a wonderful way to leverage a gift because it helps provide excellent educational opportunities for hundreds of students each year while giving them the opportunity to interact with the meritorious and outstanding faculty members who are supported by the gift. I am equally grateful for the Millette’s generosity and active involvement at Ole Miss through the years.”

The Samuel M. Millette Faculty Support Endowment in Business is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit

Yates Wins Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship Award

Annual recognition honors graduate advancing family-owned construction firm

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the School of Business Administration honor William Yates as the 2016 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year during a reception at the Farrington Gallery in Bryant Hall. Pictured are Dean Ken Cyree, Jan Farrington, Yates and Lawrence Farrington. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the School of Business Administration honor William Yates as the 2016 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year during a reception at the Farrington Gallery in Bryant Hall. Pictured are (from left) Dean Ken Cyree, Jan Farrington, Yates and Lawrence Farrington. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – William G. Yates III, president and CEO of W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co., is the recipient of the 2016 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship award, presented by the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration.

The award, named for Ole Miss alumni Jan and Lawrence Farrington, is given annually to a graduate who exemplifies the best of entrepreneurship.

Yates, a Philadelphia native who graduated summa cum laude in business administration from UM in 1993, calls the recognition “truly an honor.”

“This selection is really a reflection of the wonderful people that I work with at Yates Construction and I share this award with them and accept it on their behalf,” Yates said. “I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with an amazing and committed team.”

The Farrington Distinguished Award was created to honor successful entrepreneurs who carry on the tradition of the Farringtons in creating businesses that make a difference.

“Jan and Lawrence Farrington have been involved in innovation and entrepreneurship in the state of Mississippi for many years and have been an integral part in funding a number of businesses,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM business school.

“They are keen business people who help other entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition, thereby providing valuable goods and services, as well as creating employment for Mississippi citizens. They give back their time as well to the university and are great ambassadors for the business school and the university.”

Yates said that this award differs from others he’s received because it recognizes entrepreneurship.

“To me, entrepreneurship means how you identify and manage risk and then how you can do that while still providing true value to your customers,” he said. “That is what we do every day at Yates: we work hard to understand what is important to our clients, provide value to them and do it in way that equitably shares risk.”

Yates’ father, William G. “Bill” Yates Jr., and grandfather, Gully Yates Sr., started the family-owned company in 1964. In its 52nd year, the firm has offices in eight states and Mexico. Its portfolio includes projects from arts and culture, civil, commercial, education, entertainment and gaming, federal, health care, hospitality, manufacturing, municipal, retail and technology.

Ole Miss was truly a great experience for me,” Yates said. “It helped prepare me for my professional life in many ways, both technically from a business perspective but, just as importantly, it introduced me to people that have been lifelong business associates and friends.”

Before becoming president, Yates served several years as executive vice president of the Gulf Coast division of Yates Construction. He is the incoming 2017-2018 chairman of the Mississippi Economic Council.

Yates, who also earned a master’s degree from Arizona State University, has served on the board of directors for Trustmark National Bank and Trustmark Corp., where he is chairman of the Wealth Management Committee. He is immediate past chairman of the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and is also on the board of directors for the Gulf Coast Business Council. He is the immediate past president of the Board for the United Way of South Mississippi and was the 2013-14 co-chairman of the Southeast U.S.-Japan Association annual meetings.

He also has served on the Millsaps College board of trustees, the Blueprint Mississippi advisory council and the MEC’s board of directors. He is also on the UM Foundation’s board of directors and has been a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization since 2004.

He is a past chairman of Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors and served as a member of the Associated Builders & Contractors national board of directors. He has served as co-chairman of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Pacesetter Campaign, and was the 2011 chairman for the American Heart Walk for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

In 2016, Yates received the United Way’s President’s Award and was recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as a Mississippi Top CEO. He has also been featured in the Mississippi Business Journal and the Sun Herald as a Top Businessmen Under Forty and was inducted into the Roland Weeks Hall of Fame Outstanding Community Leaders Class of 2010. He was also a recipient of the Coast Young Professionals 4 Ever Young award in 2011.

In 2009, Yates was named the Construction Person of the Year by the Mississippi chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. He has served on the advisory council of the Mississippi State University School of Architecture and on the advisory committee of the University of Southern Mississippi School of Engineering Technology.

Yates is married to Tara Duett Yates, a former teacher. They reside in Biloxi with their daughter, Abby, and their son, Gully.

For the Farringtons, lending a helping hand is all part of their desire to give back.

“Lawrence and I want to do everything we can to encourage entrepreneurs in Mississippi,” Jan Farrington said. “We have so many bright, talented entrepreneurs in our state who have had the vision and tenacity to start their own companies. These businesses can and will make a difference in the future of our state if we can keep them here in Mississippi.

“Encouragement from the government, universities, organizations such as Innovate Mississippi, investors and individuals can help make this happen. This award was just a small way that we thought we could contribute.”