Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series to Focus on ‘Sports in the South’

First talk, examining protests in pro football, kicks off Sept. 5

Charles Ross

OXFORD, Miss – The Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi continues this fall with a focus on “Sports in the South.”

All lectures take place at noon on select Wednesdays in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory. They are free and open to the public.

Ted Ownby, the center’s director, said he is excited about this series of talks, both because of what the scholars will say and also because they will show a range of ways of thinking about sports and society.

“I think coming to these events might be especially intriguing for people who may think and talk about sports without having thought about it much as a scholarly subject,” Ownby said. “I hope fans and students of African-American women’s sports, and pro wrestling, and golf and football will come to hear about things they recognize, and we’re also hoping some people will come to the whole series.”

Charles Ross, chair of the UM African American studies program and professor of history and African American studies, kicks things off Sept. 5 with “Protests in Pro Football: The 1965 AFL All-Star Game and Colin Kaepernick.” In his lecture, Ross discusses how African-American players forced the 1965 AFL All-Star Game to be moved from New Orleans to Houston after experiencing discrimination in the segregated Southern city.

Fifty years later, Kaepernick began a protest against police brutality and discrimination in America by refusing to stand for the national anthem. Both events clearly illustrate that African-American players in pro football, then and now, were willing to take action to address inequalities in America.

Ross, a native of Columbus, Ohio, is the author of “Outside the Lines: African Americans and the Integration of the National Football League” and editor of “Race and Sport: The Struggle for Equality On and Off the Field.”

On Sept. 17, Farrell Evans explores the desegregation of golf in the South through the lens of his own journey as a golfer, journalist and student of the American South with “Between the Curling Flower Spaces: Race, Golf and the American South.” Evans intersperses literature, family stories, history, photography and art to demonstrate the centeredness of golf in the unfolding of the civil rights movement. The talk also reflects on the manners, rituals and etiquette of the game that made it perfect for the strict social order of the Deep South.

Evans is a former award-winning golf writer for Sports Illustrated and Golf magazines and The Forsyth, Georgia, native is executive director and cofounder of the Bridge Golf Foundation, a New York City-based nonprofit that uses golf to improve outcomes for young men of color.

Sept. 26 brings wrestling to the forefront when Charles Hughes of Rhodes College, Christopher Stacey of Louisiana State University at Alexandria and Chuck Westmoreland of Delta State University present “Three Histories of Pro Wrestling in the South.” In their talks, Stacey explores “Rasslin’ and Race in the Mid-South and Memphis Wrestling Territories, 1959-1992,” Hughes examines “Pro Wrestling’s Hip-Hop Wars: How Racial and Regional Politics Fueled Wrestling’s 1990s Boom” and Westmoreland focuses on “From Big Bill to Black Saturday: Professional Wrestling and Television in the American South, 1958-1984.”

A brief departure from the sports theme occurs for the first two lectures in October, when Janet Allured looks at “Methodist Women in the South: Agents of Progressive Change, 1939-2000” on Oct. 10. Allured focuses on the influential role that white and black Southern Methodist women played in social reform movements, not just in the South but in the nation.

A professor of history and director of women’s studies at McNeese State University, Allured teaches courses in the history of the New South, Louisiana, American women and the modern United States. She received her doctorate in history from the University of Arkansas in 1989 and is coeditor of “Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times,” vol. 1, with Judith Gentry, and “Louisiana Legacies: Readings in the History of the Pelican State,” with Michael Martin.

In her Oct. 17 talk “Taking the South with Me,” filmmaker Jing Niu discusses her artistic roots and influences in the American South and how her upbringing has influenced her career in the film arts through documentary work, journalism and fiction films.

Niu is a first-generation Asian-American who grew up working in take-out restaurants in the South and who would later, against the advice of her parents, become an artist and filmmaker. Before creating independent films in Los Angeles, she produced videos for Wired magazine, covering stories at the intersection of technology and lived experience.

Sports return Oct. 24, with Amira Rose Davis discussing “Sights Unseen: Black Women Athletes and the (in)Visibility of Political Engagement.” Davis’s talk gives a brief history of black women’s athletic activism while also discussing the ways black women athletes have been hypervisible but also oft-ignored symbols of various political struggles on and off the playing field.

Davis is an assistant professor of history and women’s gender, and sexuality studies at Penn State University who specializes in 20th century American history with an emphasis on race, gender, sports and politics.

The rest of the semester sees a shift to other topics, beginning Oct. 31, when Stephanie R. Rolph discusses her new book “Resisting Equality: The Citizens’ Council, 1954-1989.” She examines the ways in which organized white resistance to civil rights successes went beyond the defense of segregation to become a vital piece of a new American political landscape. Rolph is an associate professor of history at Millsaps College who earned her doctorate from Mississippi State University, where she specialized in the history of the American South.

On Nov. 7, Lisa Richman offers “‘Introducing America to Americans’: FSA Photography and the Construction of Racialized and Gendered Citizens.” Richman is interested in the ways images can reinforce, script or challenge the national imaginary of who is a citizen. Richman is a researcher and teacher at Adrian College with a doctorate in American culture studies from Bowling Green State University.

On Nov. 14, Jeff Washburn, UM doctoral candidate and history graduate instructor, presents “Whose Civilization Plan Was It? Chickasaw Manipulation of Federal Agents in the Early Nineteenth Century.”

Concluding the series on Nov. 28 is Patrick Elliott Alexander with “Writing to Survive, Writing to Revive: Death Row, Willie Francis and Imprisoned Radical Intellectualism in Ernest Gaines’s ‘A Lesson before Dying.'”

Alexander, a UM associate professor of English and African American studies and cofounder of the university’s Prison-to-College Pipeline Program, revisits the Jim Crow-era plot of Ernest Gaines’s novel “A Lesson before Dying” in the more contemporary carceral context of its publication. His lecture reconsiders the cultural significance of Gaines’s most acclaimed novel in light of its release during our post-civil rights era of racialized mass incarceration.

For more information on the Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series or the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, visit

Couple’s Planned Gift to Support Two UM Endowments

Contributions to support scholarly work in Southern food and music

California couple Lynne Ann DeSpelder and Albert Lee Strickland are including in their estate plans support for two endowments supporting the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Lynne Ann DeSpelder and Albert Lee Strickland, of Capitola, California, have partnered on many projects throughout their lives and someday, even in death, their collaboration will continue when their planned estate gift supports two programs at the University of Mississippi.

The husband and wife will leave an estimated $1 million from their estate to Ole Miss, half to the John T. Edge Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance Endowment and half to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture’s Music of the South Endowment.

Other donors might find it morbid to speak of their death in a public news release, but much of this couple’s work and interests have focused on human mortality.

“Our work has mainly been in the area of thanatology, studies relating to death, dying and bereavement,” Strickland said.

Realizing that their unique talents and interests meshed – Strickland is a writer; DeSpelder, a teacher – the two co-authored the college textbook “The Last Dance: Encountering Death & Dying,” which was published in 1983 and is in its 10th edition. Additionally, they are members of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement, an invitation-only forum of members from many countries.

“We greatly appreciate Lynne Ann and Albert Lee’s vision in planning this generous gift as well as their ongoing commitment to the SFA,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “John T. and the SFA have worked tirelessly through the years, building a program through the study of food that has made a deeply transformative impact within the UM academic community and within the lives of our students, alumni and friends.”

The gift will honor their parents – Luther Leander Strickland, Bertha Emma Wittenburg Strickland, Bruce Erwin DeSpelder Sr. and Dorothy Jane Roediger DeSpelder – all of whom valued education in different ways.

“My parents were born close to the turn of the 20th century, raised on farms in Arkansas and told me stories about picking cotton,” Strickland said, adding that his mother graduated from high school and his father only had the opportunity to complete sixth grade. “Even so, he taught himself music and became a full-time music instructor with many students during his life.”

DeSpelder said her parents were both college graduates and became educators. Her mother taught first grade, and her father obtained a doctorate and was a professor of business administration at Wayne University in Michigan.

The appreciation for music that Strickland inherited from his father and the CSSC publications Rejoice! and Living Blues contributed to his desire to support the Music of the South Endowment, which is designed to ensure excellence in teaching subjects related to the influence of music on Southern culture.

“I was raised with Southern gospel music, as well as Southern foods, despite being a native Californian,” said Strickland who, starting at age 4, performed gospel music with his parents in churches throughout Southern California.

Recently, his professional interests have been combined with his lifelong involvement in music, resulting in invitations to perform musical concerts in Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy and Canada, as well as several locations in the United States. These performances focused on themes of death, dying and bereavement as expressed in traditional gospel and blues music.

A shared interest in Southern culture led the couple to Ole Miss, where they have attended the Southern Foodways Symposium and developed a close relationship with SFA Director John T. Edge and his colleagues.

“Our affection for Southern culture and for Ole Miss was strengthened by acquaintance with scholars like John Shelton Reed and Bill Ferris, the founding director of CSSC,” Strickland said.

“Albert Lee and I have long been interested in the intersection of food and culture,” said DeSpelder, also a native Californian, who once spent a year traveling the world, exploring foods of many countries and writing a weekly column about her discoveries for The Detroit News.

“Also, we have established friendly relationships with Ole Miss scholars – John T. Edge, Charles Reagan Wilson, Ted Ownby, Lee Cohen, Catarina Passidomo and Mary Beth Lasseter, among others – all of whom are involved in areas of study and community outreach that we find exciting and interesting.”

Ownby said the feeling is mutual: “I have enjoyed getting to know Lynne Ann and Albert Lee at SFA events over the years, and I appreciate the range of their interests in foodways and music and all sorts of topics. Their gift to the Music of the South endowment is an important step in helping us fund a professorship in music and Southern studies, which will be an exciting new addition to our program.”

Edge echoed Ownby’s sentiments: “Lynne Ann and Albert Lee are model SFA members: intellectually curious, engaged and generous. Their gift humbles me and helps secure a strong future for our institute.”

Sharing a similar admiration, Strickland noted, “Most, if not all, of John T.’s books and articles reside in our library and are a testament to the kind of scholarship we want to promote by contributing to the Edge Director Endowment.”

DeSpelder is an educator, author and counselor. As a psychology professor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, she developed and taught one of the first interdisciplinary courses on death and dying. Her first nationally published writing on death appeared in the November 1977 issue of New Age magazine.

Certified by the Association for Death Education and Counseling as a death educator and as a grief counselor, she was instrumental in developing that organization’s Education for Certification program.

Besides producing audiovisual and print resources for death education, she lectures both in North America and internationally to professional, corporate and community groups, and conducts training programs and in-service education for hospices, school districts and health care professionals.

Strickland is a writer whose interests have focused on death-related topics since the late 1970s. His published work includes articles on communication and death and children and death as well as several books on family studies and family life education.

He is a former editor of The Forum Newsletter, published by ADEC. A member of the Authors Guild, he is also working on a screenplay involving religious fanaticism, political shenanigans and nuclear Armageddon.

The John T. Edge Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance Endowment and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture’s Music of the South Endowment are open to gifts from individuals and organizations.

Checks with the fund noted in the check’s memo line may be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655. Gifts can also be made online by visiting or by contacting Nikki Neely Davis, executive director of development, at 662-915-6678 or

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.

Mississippi Encyclopedia Debuts Online

Online version made possible through partnership with Mississippi Humanities Council

OXFORD, Miss. – As of this summer, if you don’t want to lug around the 9-pound Mississippi Encyclopedia, just grab your laptop, and you’ll find the wonders of the state at your fingertips.

The online version of the 1,451-page Mississippi Encyclopedia, a project that began at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture in 2003 and concluded with publication in 2017, is now available at

The Mississippi Encyclopedia offers a breadth of topics unavailable anywhere else, with entries on every county, every governor, and numerous musicians, writers, artists and activists in the state. It is the first encyclopedic treatment of the state since 1907.

The volume, published by the University Press of Mississippi, appeals to anyone who wants to know more about Mississippi. It’s especially helpful to students, teachers and scholars researching, writing about or otherwise discovering the state, past and present.

Stuart Rockoff, executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council, is familiar with the encyclopedia because he wrote the “Jews” and the “Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life” entries. He said he is pleased that the MHC has been able to help make an online version a reality.

“I was excited to learn that the book would finally be published, but was especially interested in creating an online version that would be accessible to students across the state and people all over the world,” Rockoff said. “I later learned that during the early stages of the encyclopedia project, there were discussions about creating an online version. I wanted to bring that idea back and offer the Humanities Council’s resources to help make it happen.

“The online encyclopedia would not be possible without the commitment of the center and its staff, not to mention their incredible work compiling and editing all of the entries that went into the book.”

Rockoff added that the online version enables the encyclopedia to be a living document, with new entries being added and old ones being updated.

“For people outside of our state but interested in our rich history and culture, the online encyclopedia will offer them a wealth of information and analysis,” he said. “For middle school and high school students taking Mississippi history, the online encyclopedia will be an incredible and accessible resource.”

Ted Ownby, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, used the print version of the encyclopedia in teaching a HST 452: History of Mississippi course at UM, and echoed the importance of an online version widening availability for learners.

“Using the encyclopedia as a reference in teaching Mississippi history this spring enabled me to make the course much more distinctive because it made teaching more about the specific individuals – people and places – rather than generalities, so the online version will be more useful for schools and students doing projects,” Ownby said.

“We love the fact that a hard copy encourages browsing and surprise, and we hope the online version holds the same possibilities for searching for one thing and finding a dozen things that are equally interesting.”

Ownby said the online version allows for updates of the print version, as well as a chance to make any corrections.

“It will have more illustrations because there are no limits on page count, and the online version will have a few original documentary films,” he said. “Since the print version came out a year ago, a number of things have changed. Sen. Thad Cochran retired, people published new books and received recognition, and several subjects of the entries have died.”

The Mississippi Encyclopedia has not gone unnoticed. It won a special achievement award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters and awards of merit from the Mississippi Historical Society and the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

The encyclopedia is the successful result of numerous collaborations – between the University Press of Mississippi and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, among the numerous supporters who contributed to or helped organize the project, among the 30 topic editors from around the state and far beyond it, and among the authors, an intriguing mix of scholars.

The Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History also contributed their resources, and UM’s Arch Dalrymple III Department of History and School of Law joined the Southern studies program in encouraging advanced students to write for the project. Early support came from UM and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Each entry in the Mississippi Encyclopedia provides an authoritative but accessible introduction to the topic discussed. It also features long essays on agriculture, archaeology, the civil rights movement, the Civil War, contemporary issues, drama, education, the environment, ethnicity, fiction, folk life, foodways, gender, geography, industry and industrial workers, law, medicine, music, myths and representations, Native Americans, nonfiction, poetry, politics and government, the press, religion, social and economic history, sports, and visual art.

Center Director Named William Winter Professor of History

Ted Ownby selected to be third holder of prestigious position

Ted Ownby

OXFORD, Miss. – As director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, Ted Ownby fulfills many roles. He recently added one more to the list as the university’s William F. Winter Professor of History.

In 1992, the University of Mississippi Foundation established an endowment fund to promote and recognize excellence in historical scholarship and to honor former Gov. William F. Winter, a staunch supporter of public education. Ownby, professor of history and Southern studies, is the third faculty member to be appointed to the position; the previous two being professors Winthrop Jordan and Charles Eagles.

“Gov. Winter has been a leader in education, in racial reconciliation work, in Mississippi history, and he believes in continuing to work for progress of multiple kinds,” Ownby said. “Winter is Mississippi history’s most accomplished governor, and he is a great example for all of us.

“It’s exciting as a scholar and teacher and encyclopedia editor to be connected to him.”

Winter graduated from UM in 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in history, then earned his law degree in 1949. While at Ole Miss, he was in Army ROTC, a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and editor of The Daily Mississippian. During law school, he was chosen for the Phi Delta Phi law honorary and the Mississippi Law Journal staff.

A committee composed of full professors of history selected Ownby for the prestigious position. A faculty member at UM since 1988 and director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture since 2008, Ownby is widely regarded as a leading scholar in the area of Southern history.

He has authored three books, “Subduing Satan” (1990), “American Dreams in Mississippi” (1999) and “Hurtin’ Words: Ideas of Family Crisis and the Twentieth-Century South,” which will be published this fall by the University of North Carolina Press, and is editor or co-editor of eight other books, including The Mississippi Encyclopedia, published last year by University Press of Mississippi.

Ownby has been a pillar of the graduate programs in both history and Southern studies during the past three decades, said Jeffrey Watt, acting chair of history. He has directed to completion 28 history doctoral dissertations and approximately 50 M.A. theses in history and Southern studies.

“Although the Winter chair is not specifically designated for a specialist in Southern history, Ownby definitely writes the type of history that fans of William Winter are bound to enjoy,” Watt said. “Simply put, Ted Ownby is an invaluable asset to the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History and is most worthy of this honor.”

Eight UM Professors Honored for Creative Research Projects

College of Liberal Arts faculty recognized during Commencement exercises

UM liberal arts Dean Lee Cohen (left) and Associate Dean Charles Hussey (right) congratulate 2018 Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement Award for senior faculty recipients. The winners are (from left) John Green, Todd Smitherman, Rhona Justice-Malloy and Nathan Hammer. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Eight faculty members in the University of Mississippi’s College of Liberal Arts have been recognized for their creative research and scholarly activity during the 2017-18 academic year.

Four members received the Dr. Mike L. Edmonds New Scholar Award for junior faculty. Another four received the College of Liberal Arts Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement for senior faculty.

The awards, both of which are in their second year of existence, include medals and stipends of $1,000 and $2,000 respectively. They were presented May 12 during the college’s Commencement exercises.

The Edmonds Award is presented annually to untenured, tenure-track professorial rank faculty members who are within six years of their initial academic appointment and who have demonstrated exemplary performance in research, scholarship and/or creative achievement. Recipients of the Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement have achieved scholarly recognition and influence well beyond the university.

“The eight people who were selected for these awards come from a diversity of disciplines,” said Charles Hussey, associate dean for research and graduate education and professor of chemistry and biochemistry who served as chair of the selection committee.

“This fact alone is a testament to the quality and strength of the research, scholarship and creative activities that can be found among the entire faculty community. These award recipients are among the very best scholars at the University of Mississippi, and we celebrate their success.”

Edmonds New Scholar Award honorees are Davita L. Watkins, in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics category; Thomas Allan Peattie, Fine and Performing Arts; James M. Thomas, Social Sciences; and Darren E. Grem, Humanities.

Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement recipients are Nathan I. Hammer, Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Todd A. Smitherman and John J. Green, Social Sciences; and Rhona Justice-Malloy, Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts.

The first African-American female tenure track professor hired in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Watkins received a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award for $499,593 for work she has completed at the university, her creative ideas for future research activities and her strong teaching credentials. Her most recent research endeavors received $95,000 in joint support from the United Negro College Fund and Merck.

Watkins also helped cultivate several close collaborations with internal research groups at UM and with external groups at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Oak Ridge National Laboratories and the University of California at San Diego.

UM liberal arts Dean Lee Cohen (left) and Associate Dean Charles Hussey (right) congratulate recipients of the 2018 Mike L. Edmonds New Scholar Award for junior faculty. Winners are (from left) Darren Grem, Thomas Peattie, J.T. Thomas and Davita Watkins. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Peattie, an assistant professor of music, is an internationally recognized expert on the music of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. His distinguished publication record includes a monograph, a book on Mahler, four peer-reviewed articles and a review in some of the most respected journals in the field of musicology.

He is completing a second book on Italian composer Luciano Berio and two book chapters on Mahler. Pettie is also a frequent speaker at peer-reviewed national and international music conferences.

Described by sociology colleagues as a “rock star,” Thomas has written three academic books and seven articles accepted or in print in peer reviewed journals. The assistant professor of sociology and anthropology has received funding from the prestigious Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline Program, College of Liberal Arts Summer Research Grants and an Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Investment Grant.

An invited panelist at national, regional and local conferences, Thomas also serves as an editorial board member for two important journals in the field: Contexts and Sociology of Race and Ethnicity.

An assistant professor of history and Southern studies, Grem is the author of a celebrated monograph, a co-edited volume and six peer-reviewed articles. A panel chair at the 2017 national Business History Conference, he oversaw two hires in the Department of History and is working on his second manuscript.

Hammer, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has served as principal investigator on five grants from the National Science Foundation totaling more than $7 million. These include an NSF CAREER Award, a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site and a major instrumentation award. He served the state’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR program as Track 1 senior personnel and program architect and Track 2 program director.

A UM research development fellow, Hammer developed and directs his department’s summer research program. He also co-organized the 50th annual Southeastern Undergraduate Research Conference in 2018 and has delivered three invited talks at national American Chemical Society meetings.

With collaborators at Wake Forest School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, Smitherman, an associate professor of psychology, has led the way in debunking myths about the factors that trigger headaches. His publication record includes more 65 peer-reviewed articles, a book, a lead-authored book and nine book chapters.

Smitherman is a fellow of the American Headache Society, associate editor of Headache and a consultant to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of National Institutes of Health. The only psychologist on the Medical Advisory Board, he has been supported in his research by the Migraine Research Foundation, American Headache Society and Merck Pharmaceuticals.

Director of the university’s Center for Population Studies and a professor of sociology, Green has held many elected positions, including serving as the current president of the Southern Rural Sociological Association, and he is the former editor-in-chief of the Community Development Society’s official publication. Green has secured 11 grants and contracts, increased the center’s staff, added undergraduate and graduate research assistants and added 10 affiliated researchers from within and outside the university.

Last year, he became a team co-leader and steering committee member of the Community Wellbeing Flagship Constellation, one of four priority research areas selected by the university for investment and further development as part of Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter’s strategic vision.

A professor of theatre arts, Justice-Malloy is a member of the National Theater Conference, which has only 150 members selected through a strict nomination process. She served as president of the Mid-America Theater Conference and was recently inducted as a fellow.

Justice-Malloy’s record of research spans many years and includes articles in Continuum:  The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance, and in Theatre History Studies. She co-edited and contributed a chapter to the book “Enacting History.” Besides her strong publication record, Justice-Malloy also has s significant record of presentations both domestically and internationally.

This year’s honorees are exceptional, and their work reflects the goals for which the awards were created, said Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of psychology.

“As a Carnegie R1 university, it is important that we publicly recognize and reward our most productive faculty for their sustained efforts in research, scholarship and creative achievement,” Cohen said. “I hope the recent establishment of these awards will help us to elevate our productivity moving forward.”

UM to be Well Represented at Natchez Literary Celebration

Seven UM faculty and a student to be featured at 29th annual event

Charles Reagan Wilson

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will be well-represented at the 29th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration this week.

Besides the four William Winter Scholars from UM who will be recognized, two history professors will be honored and two additional professors will give presentations at the event, set for Thursday-Saturday (Feb. 22-24) at the Natchez Convention Center. Organized annually by Copiah-Lincoln Community College, the festival is free and open to the public.

As part of this annual event, students and faculty of the liberal arts departments from schools around Mississippi are recognized as William Winter scholars, in honor of former Gov. William Winter. Each winner will be recognized during the opening ceremony on Friday.

Harrison Witt

Attending as William Winter scholars from Ole Miss will be three faculty members: Beth Spencer, lecturer in English; Simone Delerme, McMullen assistant professor of Southern Studies and assistant professor of anthropology; and Harrison Witt, assistant professor of theatre arts. Laura Wilson, a graduate student in English, rounds out the William Winter scholars.

While one student and one faculty member from each university is typically recognized as a William Winter Scholar, UM was granted four representatives, said Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Russian and linguistics.

“I contacted the Department of English, theater arts, anthropology, sociology and Southern studies back in December asking for nominations,” Dyer said. “I explained that we would like the College of Liberal Arts to be represented in this.

“I was overwhelmed with the number of nominees I received from each department. Therefore, I emailed the head of the community college asking if Ole Miss could sponsor more than two individuals as this year’s William Winter scholars.”

Receiving the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence will be Charles Reagan Wilson, professor emeritus of history and Southern studies. The award, established in 1994, is named in honor of the famed Mississippi author and goes each year to outstanding writers and scholars with strong Mississippi ties.

Simone Delerme

Wilson, who recently retired as the Kelly Gene Cook Chair of History and Southern Studies at UM, is the author of many works of Southern history, including “Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause” and “Judgment and Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis.”

Previous winners of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence include Shelby Foote, Curtis Wilkie, Greg Iles, Barry Hannah, Beth Henley, Kathryn Stockett, William Raspberry, Rick Cleveland, Jerry Mitchell, James Meredith and Stanley Nelson.

The Thad Cochran Award for Achievement in the Humanities will be presented to David Sansing, UM professor emeritus of history and the author or co-author of several acclaimed history books, including “The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History,” “A History of the Governor’s Mansion” and “Mississippi Governors: Soldiers, Statesmen, Scholars, Scalawags.”

The Thad Cochran Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities, established in 2009, honors U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran for his support and tireless efforts on behalf of the humanities in the state. Lauded as “a driving force in supporting the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Arts Commission,” Cochran has been key to the success of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration and a member of the events’ steering committee, organizers at Copiah-Lincoln Community College said.

Beth Spencer

This award is presented to someone who, “like Sen. Cochran, has dedicated years of time, talent and expertise to the field of humanities in Mississippi and the surrounding region,” they said.

The theme of this year’s festival is Southern Gothic, and it will feature many different speakers touching on related topics. Among those giving presentations at the event are Jay Watson, the UM Howry Chair in Faulkner Studies and professor of English, who will discuss “William Faulkner and the Southern Gothic Tradition,” and Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism, who will discuss “The Journalism of the Ole Miss Riots.”

Dyer encourages UM faculty, staff and alumni to join the families and friends of the Ole Miss representatives who will be a part of this year’s Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. For more information, call 601-446-1208, email or visit

International Education Week Showcases Opportunities Abroad

Events encourage students and faculty to engage in learning about and from other cultures

UM students Guangyi Zou and Yin Chang play the Chinese folk music duet ‘Molihua’ as part of the 2015 International Education Week. This year’s observance features demonstrations from Malpaso Dance Company of Cuba, among many other events. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Office of Global Engagement is participating in a joint initiative between the federal departments of State and Education to showcase benefits of international education and promote programs that prepare students for a global environment. 

The observance of International Education Week, set for Nov. 13-17, includes a variety of activities and opportunities for Ole Miss students, faculty and staff.

International education fosters personal growth and encourages students to seek opportunities worldwide, said Blair McElroy, interim senior international officer and director of study abroad.

“While a study abroad opportunity gives students the ability to take classes toward their majors while studying at another university, it also provides opportunities for thinking critically about different cultures, values, people and backgrounds, including one’s own,” she said. “Students grow more tolerant, empathetic and independent as a result of experiencing another culture firsthand.”

McElroy encourages Ole Miss students to learn from peers from other countries on campus.

“International students bring unique perspectives to the classroom, and many departments, offices and institutes on campus offer events and activities where all students can learn about other cultures from right here at Ole Miss,” she said.

All events are free and open to the public. Here is a full schedule:

Monday (Nov. 13)

Internships in Eastern Asia Information Session – Noon-1 p.m., Martindale Hall, Room 318. Representatives from the Office of Global Engagement and the Croft Institute for International Studies present funded opportunities for student internships in East Asia.

Italian in Salerno Presentation – 4-6 p.m., Peabody Hall, Room 202. Francesca Romana Memoli, of Accademia Italiana, and UM faculty members and Study Abroad advisers discuss opportunities to take Italian language courses in 2018 at Accademia Italiana in Salerno, Italy.

Malpaso Dance Company Lecture and Welcome Reception – 7:30-9 p.m. and 9-11 p.m., Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Fernando Saez, artistic director of the Malpaso Dance Company, will discuss works performed by the company, as well as how Cuban society expresses culture through dance. The company, which is working with students enrolled in the “Dance in Cuba” class, also will perform sections of its dances.

Tuesday (Nov. 14)

Film Screening: “Yangtze Drift” – Noon-1 p.m., Overby Center Auditorium. The film by Josh Rash of the Southern Documentary Project follows a path along the Yangtze River in China to investigate landscape, water and culture.

Lecture: “A Changing Cuba” – 7-8 p.m., Croft Hall, Room 107. Fernando Saez of the Malpaso Dance Company will deliver a lecture on the political and cultural climate of Cuba.

Wednesday (Nov. 15)

Conversational Cuban Spanish Discussion – 1-2 p.m., St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Malpaso Dance Company members discuss how dance reflects culture and spirit. Community members also will have an opportunity to practice their Spanish and learn more about Cuban pronunciation.

Malpaso Dance Company Lecture, Presentation and Farewell Reception – 7-8:30 p.m. and 8:30-10 p.m., Ford Center Studio Theatre. The Malpaso Dance Company will perform excerpts of its works, followed by an explanation of the significance by choreographer Osnel Delgado and artistic director Fernando Saez. Following the presentation, a farewell reception will be held for Malpaso beginning at 8:30. The company will return to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts for a Jan. 27 performance.

Thursday (Nov. 16)

World Culture Showcase – 12:15-2:15 p.m., Old Athletics Building. The Intensive English Program hosts a cultural showcase with opportunities to meet Ole Miss international students and learn more about them and their cultures.

Transformation through Education Abroad – 6 p.m., Bryant Hall. Study Abroad alumni discuss their experiences abroad through photo presentations. Tea, coffee and refreshments will be provided.

Friday (Nov. 17)

Fulbright Panel – Noon-1:30 p.m., Farley Hall, Room 121. Bob Cummings, director of writing and rhetoric; David Holben, professor of nutrition and hospitality management; and Laura Johnson, associate professor of psychology, share their Fulbright experiences through a panel discussion. Lunch will be provided and faculty are encouraged to attend and learn more about opportunities available for international research and teaching experiences through the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Cultural Cafe – 2-4 p.m., Brevard Hall, Woods Lounge. This social venue serves as a place for students, scholars, faculty and staff to have casual conversations while enjoying free coffee, tea and snacks.

The week of opportunities is presented in partnership with the Office of the Provost; the College of Liberal Arts; the Croft Institute for International Studies; the departments of Modern Languages, Nutrition and Hospitality Management, and Theatre Arts; the Center for the Study of Southern Culture; and the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

For more information about International Education Week, visit or

Alumnus Credits UM Experiences for Role in James Beard Nomination

Hospitality management graduate Carlyle Watt lauded for artisan breads, local sourcing

Carlyle Watt cuts into a focaccia at the Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop. Photo by Brian Adams

OXFORD, Miss. – Carlyle Watt, a 2005 graduate of the University of Mississippi’s hospitality management program and a 2017 James Beard Award nominee in the Outstanding Baker category, returned to campus recently to participate in the 20th Southern Foodways Symposium.

In his first experience with the symposium, Watt attended lectures and tastings designed to reframe ideas about ethnicity and identity in the Latin American culture, the theme for this year’s event, held Oct. 5-7. He networked with hundreds of chefs and mentors involved with the Southern Foodways Alliance, a member-supported organization based at the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“We’re so proud of Carlyle for his Beard Award nomination,” said Dru Jones, chef and food specialist for Lenoir Dining, the campus restaurant run by students in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management. “It is a huge honor to be nominated, since these awards are often referred to as the ‘Oscars of food’ in the culinary world.”

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields. Only 20 semifinalists were named in this year’s national competition.

Watt has been head baker at Fire Island Rustic Bake Shop in Anchorage, Alaska, for five years, creating a selection of 15 or more artisan breads daily. Watt works closely with the area’s farmers and designs his menus accordingly, sourcing as much local, organic and sustainable product as possible.

A native of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, Watt learned to cook the traditional cuisines of the Carolinas from his parents and grandmothers. While attending Ole Miss, he cooked at Proud Larry’s, Oxford Steak Company and Bouré.

With his first James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Baker in tow, Carlyle Watt visits Lenoir Hall while in Oxford for the 20th Southern Foodways Symposium. Submitted photo

The hospitality management program curriculum at UM offers a foundation in liberal arts, business and operations management. The program’s curriculum is designed to enhance and strengthen students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, so that they can address, meet and adapt to the various needs of the hospitality industry in managerial positions.

Since the hospitality management degree program at Ole Miss exposes students to all facets of the industry, the chef himself mentors and advises students who find a passion for cooking while they consider which culinary school to attend after graduation.

After graduation and several cooking gigs across the Southeast, Watt attended the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Saint Helena, California.

“It was awesome, because I got to go to the accelerated program because of my degree,” Watt said. “If you have a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, dietetics or nutrition, you skip all the classroom stuff and go straight to eight months of intense kitchen training, and I was done.”

After culinary school, Watt moved to Alaska to pursue a career as a personal chef, but after a few years on the job decided to return to what he loved the most from culinary school: baking.

“I got a job as a night baker in culinary school for the school’s restaurant,” he said. “I would go to school until like 9 p.m. and go straight over to the bakery. Everyone, students and instructors, were gone, and I’d have the place to myself. I’d bake bread all night.”

As founding members of the Super Saturated Sugar Strings, Watt and his wife, Theresa, appreciate that Watt’s early baking hours afford them time to spend practicing and playing the alt-folk music they love, with Watt on vocals, guitar and percussion and Theresa on cello. Their six-member band can be seen at venues and festivals across Alaska, Colorado and Oregon.

Watt is one of three brothers who attended Ole Miss. Kenton Watt, a journalism graduate, is a development officer for Texas Christian University, and Bill Watt runs Carolina Lumber Sourcing in Charleston, South Carolina.

For more information about the UM Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, visit

Southern Photography Exhibits on Display at UM in October

Selections from the Do Good Fund collection explore the region and its culture

This photo, titled ‘Dollar Tree, Abbeville, MS, 2013’ by Brooke White is one of the photos featured in the Do Good exhibit. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Department of Art and Art History are collaborating to host a variety of photography exhibitions and events on campus during October.

“NOW: Contemporary Southern Photography” is on display in Gallery 130, in Meek Hall. The photo selections are from the Do Good Fund, a public charity in Columbus, Georgia, that focuses on building a quality collection of photographs taken in the South after World War II.

The selection of 25 pieces created over the past decade by 13 photographers describes the South through portraiture, landscape, narrative and architecture. The exhibit explores the varied photographic approaches that Southern photographers use to challenge preconceived notion about the South.

“The mission of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture is to study the American South in all its various essentials,” said David Wharton, director of documentary studies at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “We’re very pleased that photographs from the Do Good Collection are helping us do that.”

The exhibit’s opening reception is set for 5-6 p.m. Oct. 5, preceded from 3 to 4 p.m. by a panel discussion featuring artists Jill Frank, a member of the photography faculty at Georgia State University; Jerry Seigel, a renowned photographer whose work is in many public and private collections; Brooke White, UM associate professor of art and art history; and Wharton. Alan Rothschild, founder of the Do Good Fund, will moderate the panel.

The exhibit will remain on display through Oct. 27.

A second exhibit, “Southern People, Southern Places,” runs through Dec. 8. in the Gammill Gallery of Barnard Observatory, with an opening reception 4:30-5:30 p.m. Oct. 5.  The 24 photos by 20 Southern artists include images of residents and the areas they inhabit.

The photographs encourage viewers to consider the bonds that exist between Southerners, their culture and the place they call home.

A brown bag lecture will be hosted about both Do Good exhibits from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Gammill Gallery with Wharton and White.

The collaboration to bring Southern photography to Mississippi began about four years ago.

“As a photographer working in the deep Southern United States, it has been critical to both my teaching and artistic practice to find connections between the local and connect it to the global,” White said.

The Do Good Fund also has six other exhibits in Mississippi.

“Each of the eight exhibitions throughout the state will be varied in their curatorial approach, but each calls into question what it means to be Southern and the important role the South plays in developing identity and place,” White said. “Photography will take center stage and the images will reflect the familiar alongside unfamiliar images of the South and will create a discussion about history, place and the culture of the state.”

For more information about the Do Good Fund, visit