Special Collections Announces Fall Brown Bag Lecture Series

All noon events in the Faulkner Room are open to the public

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) and his wife, Sharon, look over a recent addition to the Department of Archives and Special Collections with library Dean Cecilia Botero and Jennifer Ford, head of special collections. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The public is invited to six lectures brown bag lectures hosted this fall by the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Mississippi Library.

All the events begin at noon in the Faulkner Room, on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library.

“Special Collections is thrilled to announce the 2018 fall lecture series,” said Jennifer Ford, the department’s head and professor. “There are so many fascinating topics and talented speakers on the schedule. There should be something to appeal to everyone, and we are looking to welcoming visitors to each event.”

Series dates, speakers and topics are:

Sept. 12: “So Easy Even a Child Can Do It: The Southern Gothic in Faulkner’s “That Evening Sun” – Jay Watson, UM Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies, will lead a discussion about Faulkner’s approach to the Southern Gothic in the short story “That Evening Sun,” which is one of this year’s Common Reading Experience selected short stories.

Sept. 20: “The Art of Philip Jackson” – Philip Jackson, acclaimed artist and UM associate professor of art, will speak about his artwork and process. This is in conjunction with the art theme of the “No Two Alike” exhibit in Special Collections.

Oct. 3: “Door Ajar: The Purser and Mayfield Story” – Filmmaker and author John Reyer Afamasaga will discuss his in-progress documentary about artist M.B. Mayfield and former UM art professor Stuart Purser. This is in conjunction with the art theme of the “No Two Alike” exhibit.

Oct. 11: “The Place of Faulkner History and Place in Tippah and Union Counties” – Scholar Jack Elliot and Jill Smith, director of the Union County Historical Museum, will speak about the Faulkner/Falkner family in north Mississippi, with a special focus on Union and Tippah counties.

Oct. 31: “Unearthing the Past with History Bones: Miniature Historical Scenes by Lee Harper” – Oxford artist Lee Harper will discuss her “History Bones” art dioramas, which feature historical scenes and spooky figures. This is in conjunction with the art theme of the “No Two Alike” exhibit in Special Collections.

Nov. 7: “Faulkner’s Native American World: Fiction and Reality” – Annette Trefzer and Robbie Ethridge will discuss Faulkner’s frequent return to the Native American origins and histories of his imaginary landscape, Yoknapatawpha County.

For more information, call 662-915-7408 or email archivesdept@olemiss.edu or jwford@olemiss.edu.

Historian to Lecture on the ‘Triumph of Abolitionism’

James Oakes to deliver Gilder-Jordan lecture Sept. 12

James Oakes

OXFORD, Miss. – A leading historian of 19th century America speaks Sept. 12 at the University of Mississippi on “The Triumph of Abolitionism” as part of the Gilder-Jordan Lecture in Southern Cultural History.

James Oakes, distinguished professor and chair of humanities at the City University of New York, has an international reputation for path-breaking scholarship. In a series of influential books and essays, he tackled the history of the United States from the Revolution through the Civil War. His early work focused on the South, examining slavery as an economic and social system that shaped Southern life.

His lecture, set for 7 p.m. in Nutt Auditorium, is free and open to the public.

By studying abolitionism, Oakes aims to clarify exactly what was at stake in the Civil War. The title of his lecture highlights his main point.

“Generally, historians consider abolitionism a failure, in part because they assume that what the abolitionists wanted was very different from what Lincoln and the Republicans wanted,” Oakes said. “But if you look carefully at what abolitionists actually hoped to do about slavery, it was not that different from what mainstream antislavery politicians actually did.”

According to Oakes, that meant the result over time was a shift in the sectional balance of power, as the number of free states steadily increased while the number of slave states hardly changed.

“The Civil War accelerated the shift, to the point where there were enough free states to ratify the 13th Amendment in 1865, hence the ‘triumph of abolitionism,'” Oakes said.

His pioneering books include “The Ruling Race” (1982), “Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South” (1990), “The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics” (2007) and “Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865” (2012). The latter two garnered the 2008 and 2013 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, an annual award for the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln or the American Civil War era.

His most recent book is “The Scorpion’s Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War” (2015).

Oakes not only will give the Gilder-Jordan Lecture, but will meet with Southern studies and history students. His visit comes as the university holds several campuswide events in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded persons of African descent in British North America.

“In asking his listeners to reconsider the history of how American slavery was abolished, Oakes will provide a new interpretation of American abolitionism’s triumph,” said Paul Polgar, UM assistant professor of history. “As our nation continues to grapple with the legacies of slavery, racism and inequality, the topic of his lecture will reveal how earlier generations of Americans confronted human bondage and formed agendas to battle the peculiar institution.” 

This is not Oakes’ first visit to Oxford, as he attended a conference here two decades ago, organized by Winthrop Jordan, who was the William F. Winter Professor of History and Afro-American Studies for more than 20 years.

“It was a terrific experience,” Oakes said. “I enjoyed reconnecting with Professor Jordan, meeting a number of fine historians for the first time and getting to see Oxford, which I thought was a lovely college town.”

An alumnus of Baruch College, Oakes holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been on the faculty of the CUNY Graduate Center since 1997 and the holder of the Graduate School humanities chair since 1998. Before joining the CUNY faculty, he taught at Princeton and Northwestern universities.

Previous Gilder-Jordan lecturers include Barbara Field of Columbia University, David Blight of Yale University, Grace Hale of the University of Virginia, Walter Johnson of Harvard University, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall of the University of North Carolina, Theda Perdue of UNC, Edward Ayers of the University of Virginia, and Rhonda Y. Williams of Vanderbilt University.

Organized through the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the African American studies program, Center for Civil War Research and the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History, the Gilder-Jordan Speaker Series is made possible through the generosity of the Gilder Foundation. The series honors Richard Gilder, of New York, and his family, as well as his friends Dan and Lou Jordan, of Virginia.

Submissions Sought for UM Film Festival One-Minute Film Competition

University, high school filmmakers urged to enter by Sept. 21

UM film production professor Harrison Witt (right) works with cinema student Sam Cox to set up a shot in Bottletree Bakery near the Oxford Square. Pictured on the screen is former Ole Miss acting student Darbianna Dinsmore, who plays special agent Grace Henderson in the short film ‘MANGRY.’ Photo courtesy Chris Floyd

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Theatre and Film is debuting a new way for the university community and high school students to get involved in filmmaking.

The first-ever UM Film Festival One-Minute Film Competition is open for submissions through Sept. 21. The competition is free to enter and offers cash prizes; top finishers in the High School and University categories will be screened at the UM Film Festival, a free event taking place Oct. 12-13 at Fulton Chapel.

This snappy addition to the UM Film Festival’s offerings was conceived in a class taught by Harrison Witt, assistant professor of film production, who did a one-minute film project with students and was inspired by how much the students enjoyed it.

“I did a little research and found that there are quite a few one-minute film competitions out there,” Witt said. “It’s a great way to get involved without making a full-length film. And besides, short-form films are just fun to watch.”

To be considered in the High School category, a film must be made by someone who either is in high school or who was when the film was completed; the University category is open to all current and former Ole Miss students and current faculty and staff. All films must have been completed after Jan. 1, 2018.

Entries can be narrative, documentary, experimental or even promotional, but whatever the style, they must be under 60 seconds, including titles and credits.

“You might wonder if something so short is valid,” Witt said. “But think about how much work goes into commercials, and some of them are only 15 seconds long.”

In fact, commercials and “mock” commercial entries are welcome and encouraged.

“Our whole program is based on cinematic storytelling,” Witt said. “Bring anything you want.”

Witt hopes the short format will encourage people who might not otherwise consider making films to take a chance, and he wants it known that amateurs and others who have limited access to high-tech film equipment shouldn’t feel intimidated.

“‘Tangerine,’ which premiered at Sundance in 2015, was shot on iPhones,” Witt said. “Lots of our students make their films on phones.”

Sarah Hennigan, assistant professor of film production, emphasized that lower production costs and the ubiquity of basic equipment and editing software – such as cell phones and apps – make a project like this feasible for a diverse group of participants.

“With today’s technology, high school students are better versed in these things now than we were at that age,” Hennigan said. “I’m excited to see what people will come up with.”

Entries will be judged by a panel composed of faculty members Hennigan, Witt and Alan Arrivée, associate professor of film. Despite the lack of strict production guidelines and the assumption that many films will be made using “sophisticated phone gadgetry,” as Arrivée put it, judges are expecting high production values.

“We’ll be looking at how well people meet the challenge of telling a beginning-middle-end story in 60 seconds,” Arrivée said. “Even within short-film competitions, shorts have gotten shorter, and this is an extreme of that. It becomes more and more challenging.”

The competition is unique not only for its abbreviated format, but for its inclusion of high school students from both within and outside the state.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts with emphasis in Film Production is a new degree in the Department of Theatre and Film, and it’s among only a handful of film programs in the region. Opening the competition to high school students provides an opportunity for aspiring young filmmakers to interact with a program that could be a springboard for their dreams.

Besides the educational and entertainment value of the competition and the UM Film Festival overall, this new component serves to bolster Mississippi’s image as a rising star in the film world. The 15-year-old Oxford Film Festival, held annually in the spring, has attracted national media attention and recently landed on MovieMaker magazine’s list of “50 festivals worth the entry fee.”

“We want to promote the idea that Mississippi can be a home for independent filmmaking,” Hennigan said.

For complete rules and submission guidelines, visit UM-1 Minute Film. For more information, contact Harrison Witt at hcwitt@olemiss.edu.

Micah Everett Takes the Trombone to the People

Thursday performance incorporates serious and whimsical pieces along with multimedia elements

Micah Everett

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi associate professor of music will demonstrate the surprising range and impact of tenor trombone in “I Was Like WOW: Music for Trombone Alone and with Multimedia,” set for Thursday (Sept. 6) evening in Nutt Auditorium.

The 7:30 p.m. program by Micah Everett features music that moves from quirky playfulness to emotional resonance.

The concert will be quite different than a typical wind instrument solo recital in which a soloist is accompanied by piano for “most or the entire program,” Everett said.

“Instead, I will be on stage by myself for the entirety of the hour, performing either unaccompanied or with multimedia of various kinds,” he said.

In an unusual move, half the program includes multimedia elements. Several pieces feature additional audio tracks that add instrumentation and phasing to Everett’s performance.

“I Was Like WOW,” the piece for which the evening’s program is named, “is much more serious than the title might seem to indicate” because it combines “the trombone sound and various vocal and electronic effects with video clips of interviews with Iraq war veterans,” he said. The piece marries music to content and technology in a way that elevates a cultural conversation.

On the other end of the emotional spectrum, “Doolallynastics: A Brief Torture for Solo Trombone” by British composer Brian Lynn is “challenging yet silly,” Everett said. The substantial technical difficulty for the performer delivers a whimsical listening experience for the audience, he said.

“Micah Everett, who has been a member of our faculty since 2012, is one of our most active performers,” said Robert Riggs, music department chair. “He has been extremely successful in recruiting and attracting students to his low brass studio.

“His upcoming trombone recital, with its multimedia components, promises to be a colorful, unusual and highly enjoyable event.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for UM students, available through the Ole Miss Box Office, at https://olemissboxoffice.com/ or 662-915-7411, or at the door.

Annual 9/11 Memorial Run Set for Saturday

First responders and general public invited to offer support and participate

Cadets from all four of the university’s ROTC programs participate in last year’s 9/11 Memorial Run, which honors victims of and first responders to the 2001 terrorist attacks. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi ROTC programs host the annual 9/11 Memorial Run at 6:45 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 8) in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on New York and Washington. The run, which is in remembrance of the victims and first responders who came to their aid, begins in front of the Lyceum and continues to the Oxford Square and back.

All local first responders and the public are invited to the run, which is open to anyone who wants to either participate or show their support by encouraging the runners.

“The 9/11 Memorial Run continues to grow each year with more student organizations,” said Scott Caldwell, recruiting operations officer for UM Army ROTC. “Last year, we had members of the Ole Miss Rebelettes and increased fraternity, sorority and Oxford community participation.

“We would love to see this 9/11 Memorial Run grow even more and welcome the biggest participation we have ever had.”

The university’s Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force ROTC programs host the event each year. Ole Miss is one of the nation’s few universities to have all four branches of military service represented on campus, Caldwell said.

The run is an important event that brings together all the ROTC military services and local first responders, he said.

The route for the event will be different this year.

“We will start at the Lyceum and run around the Square, but this year the endpoint is back at the Lyceum instead of the Grove,” said Cadet Justin Bush, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Brandon and the cadet public affairs officer for the program.

Another change is that organizers are asking people to park at the Jackson Avenue Center by 6 a.m. so they can be shuttled at 6:30 to Paris Yates Chapel.

“The goal is to make this year’s 9/11 Memorial Run the biggest we have ever done,” Bush said. “We hope to continue this upward trend as we get the Oxford community and university involved.”

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 ESPN.com. 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 https://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/.

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 https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/ or by contacting Nikki Neely Davis, executive director of development, at 662-915-6678 or nlneely@olemiss.edu.

Croft Institute Marks Two Decades of Preparing State for the World

More than 500 graduates have launched successful global careers

A degree from the Croft Institute for International Studies serves as a passport into the world economy. Here, the 2018 class celebrates its graduation. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Since its first class graduated in 2001, the Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi has sent hundreds of students into the world.

A Croft Institute degree serves as a passport, a stamp of approval recognizable in the global marketplace of a student who is prepared for a career on the worldwide stage.

The first cohort entered Croft in 1998, and as of May, 520 UM students have graduated from the institute, going on to work in global fields with international expertise, working alongside people from various backgrounds.

Just as remarkable is what the institute has done at home – both on the Ole Miss campus and in the state of Mississippi. It has been at the forefront of internationalizing the university and the state. The institute, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this fall, is both raising the profile of the state through outreach programs and helping UM attract new initiatives.

“A major reason for the creation of the Croft Institute was to help bring an international outlook to the state of Mississippi,” said Oliver Dinius, Croft executive director and associate professor of history. “Part of that agenda was to offer outreach programs, especially for teachers at high schools, which would strengthen their ability to teach on international topics and to recruit talented students from the state of Mississippi for the Croft Institute, where they could receive the education to become global leaders.”

Besides offering outreach programs for Mississippi’s kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers (such as its National Consortium for Teaching about Asia-funded workshops), Croft has stimulated the internationalization of the state and university through study abroad for Ole Miss students, partnerships with the Department of Modern Languages and more.

Each of these initiatives tells a story of how Croft has moved beyond the walls of its beautifully restored Y Building home on campus and helped usher the university and Mississippi onto the global scene.

Douglass Sullivan-González, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, served on the organizing team for the Croft Institute. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

When UM and the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund announced in September 1997 the $60 million donation from the fund that would create the institute, decisions were already being made on the focus of the international studies major offered at Croft.

The interdisciplinary major offered under the College of Liberal Arts would focus on politics, economics and culture in one of three regional concentrations – East Asia, Europe and Latin America – along with language courses every semester related to the regional concentration.

Students also were expected to study abroad – either for a semester or a whole year – in a country whose language they had been studying.

“The three regions were selected because of their dominance in Mississippi’s international trade,” said Michael Metcalf, who served as Croft’s executive director from 1998 to 2007. “The university had relative strength in European and Latin American studies, so the first new Croft faculty hires were made in 1998 and 1999 to initiate instruction in Chinese language and to start to build strength in East Asian history, society and religion.

“The importance of studying these three regions was for students who might work there with Mississippi firms to learn about their social, political and cultural backgrounds and thus be more effective.”

Choosing Latin America as one of the three initial regional concentrations was an opportunity to redefine what the South is and reshape it as a “global South,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, dean of the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

In 1998, Sullivan-González was an assistant professor of history selected to teach in Croft and serve on the institute’s organizing team. Sullivan-González first became interested in Latin American studies as a freshman at Samford University during a trip to rural northern Mexico working on a water project.

He was part of a group of history professors who pushed for the inclusion of Latin America as a regional concentration.

“That conviction was: We know there is a growing immigration wave of people who are speaking Spanish who are coming from Mexico and Central America, and it is going to affect the culture,” he said. “It did. We’ve seen the change.”

During that first academic year of Croft, in 1998-99, Sullivan-González also taught a course that included a trip to Queretaro, Mexico – one of the early study abroad opportunities through Croft.

Since its first graduating class in 2001, 520 students have graduated from the Croft Institute for International Studies. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“(Students) have to see how the questions that haunt us here come alive there,” he said. “You see how the questions come alive in Latin America and all of a sudden, you realize: They’re struggling with the same things we are, but it’s a very different path and a very different history, and it enriches the conversation today to look at which groups have made better strides, which groups have made weaker strides, and compare and contrast that.”

Other early study abroad opportunities included students visiting Europe and East Asia.

The benefits of studying abroad are numerous, said Kees Gispen, who served as executive director of Croft from 2007 to 2016. Gispen has taught in Croft since its inception.

“When students study (abroad), they become aware,” he said. “And when they live in it, when they study abroad, they see how it functions. They come back and more often than not, it helps them come up with new ideas of how to improve our own situation.

“Different cultures have different ways of doing things.”

While Croft students were heading abroad, the institute was quickly making a difference within Mississippi; for example, through early outreach programs such as the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, which looks to increase teaching and learning about East Asia in elementary and secondary schools.

Peter Frost, who served as Croft’s interim director in 1997 and ’98, had been involved with the consortium’s director before coming to UM. Once at Ole Miss, Frost had offered NCTA workshops to Mississippi teachers even before Croft was started.

Understanding Asia is a crucial part of understanding the world, both for cultural understanding and politics, Frost said.

“NCTA aims to help K-12 teachers enrich their (often required) world history courses, develop the imagination and cultural understanding of younger students, and helps give older students and adults a better grasp of the many issues surrounding our relations with Asia,” he said. “Teachers enjoyed getting educational materials and references, educational credits, learning more and developing lesson plans with other teachers.”

Besides summer workshops and online continuing education units and professional development opportunities in East Asia, through courses such as “Sake, Sushi and Soft Power” and “Korea in the Modern World,” the Croft Institute during its first two decades also has offered outreach programs to Mississippi teachers in Latin American and European studies.

Oliver Dinius is executive director of the Croft Institute and an associate professor of history. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

With students going into the world, and Mississippi teachers coming to UM to learn more about the world, strengthening the opportunity for the study of foreign languages became an early mission of Croft, too, Dinius said.

“The institute made high levels of oral proficiency in at least one foreign language a requirement for the international studies major, and it supplemented the resources available in the Department of Modern Languages with three faculty positions: in Chinese, Spanish and Japanese,” he said. “The focus remained on the so-called critical languages, and Dr. Metcalf was instrumental in securing a grant to bring a Chinese Language Flagship Program to the university.”

Started in 2002, The Language Flagship programs are a federal initiative to graduate students who have a superior fluency level in foreign languages deemed critical to U.S. interests.

Work on attracting a Flagship program to Ole Miss began in 2000, Metcalf said, with the Croft Institute and Department of Modern Languages working in tandem to land a program in Chinese. UM received its Chinese Language Flagship Program in 2003.

The program is a tremendous resource for students who wish to become highly proficient in Chinese and pursue careers in such fields as business, government and journalism in which they will use Chinese to give themselves and their employers a professional advantage, Metcalf said.

Croft and the modern languages department also worked together to attract a second Language Flagship program, in Arabic, which was awarded in August. The department’s work on building a prestigious program in Arabic also enabled the Croft Institute to add the Middle East as a fourth geographical concentration, adding two Middle East faculty positions, when Gispen served as executive director.

“This is an area where we are constantly involved,” he said. “This is an area we can’t afford to ignore.”

Even as Croft has internationalized the Ole Miss campus and Mississippi, the institute’s purpose has remained the same: to give students the best possible preparation to launch successful global careers.

“I’ve always thought the strongest part of the Croft Institute was its really good students … and a good curriculum, a good plan,” Gispen said. “The core strength is these high-achieving students whom we can attract from all over the country who can make a real contribution.”

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 https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/ for academics, https://www.umc.edu/givenow/ for the UM Medical Center or http://givetoathletics.com/forward-together/ for Ole Miss athletics.

University to Host Third Technology Summit

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, industry leaders to discuss need for STEM education in state

Ryan Harkins, director of state affairs and public policy at Microsoft, speaks at the 2017 Tech Summit. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Business and industry leaders will gather in Oxford next week to discuss technology, education and workforce development at the third annual University of Mississippi Technology Summit.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter will host U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and technology leaders Wednesday (Aug. 29) for the event. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss, and speakers begin at 9 a.m.

The summit brings together leaders from government business and higher education to explore trends in technology and stimulate discussions about technology-related needs in industry and education.

“The University of Mississippi’s Tech Summit is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to welcome national leaders in industry, education and government to our campus for stimulating conversations about the future of tech,” said Vitter, UM’s 17th chancellor and distinguished professor of computer and information science.

“Now in its third year, the Tech Summit is a reflection of our commitment to giving our students top-notch preparation to thrive in a tech-driven world. It’s also a reminder that Ole Miss is a place where great minds gather.”

During the morning session, Rob Carter, chief information officer for FedEx, will deliver the keynote address on “Seeking the Edge – How to Sustain a Culture of Innovation.”

Guest speaker Michael Kratsios, deputy assistant to the president at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will speak during the luncheon.

Wicker said he anticipates great outcomes based on the results of the two previous summits.

“I commend the University of Mississippi for bringing together leaders from government, business and higher education who will shape the future of innovation in our state and nation,” said Wicker, member of the Senate Republican Leadership Team, senior member of the Armed Services Committee, chair of the Subcommittee on Seapower and co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

“As the chairman of the Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet Subcommittee, I look forward to learning more about the issues discussed at this year’s tech summit, and how public policy can support the innovators establishing Mississippi as a tech hub.”

Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape Communications Corp. and former COO of FedEx Corp., will moderate a morning roundtable discussion on opportunities and challenges in technology. Barksdale is an Ole Miss alumnus and a renowned philanthropist for education in Mississippi. Participants include representatives from FedEx, Samsung, UM and the Department of Homeland Security.

Rob Carter

Students from the university’s international studies and mathematics programs, the Arabic and Chinese Language Flagship programs, Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Trent Lott Institute for Public Policy Leadership and the McLean Institute ‘s Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative also will present three-minute talks.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour will moderate a second roundtable discussion on the role of education in preparing the tech workforce. Participants include representatives from LinkedIn, the Mississippi Community College Board, C Spire, Huntington Ingalls Industries and UM.

Allyson Best, director of technology commercialization for the university’s Office for Technology Management, will moderate a final roundtable discussion on technology applications in government and industry. Panelists will represent the UM Medical Center, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Space and Missile Defense Command, Sen. Wicker’s office and Comcast.

The event reinforces Vitter’s commitment to strengthening STEM education, growing the university’s capacity to address future workforce needs and enhancing the university’s status as a Carnegie R1 Highest Research Activity institution.

The summit also complements many of the university’s recent efforts in this area, including the new STEM building and the chancellor’s initiative to establish an interdisciplinary research and education program in data science.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information and to pre-register, visit http://techsummit.olemiss.edu/.