Political Science Professor Co-authors Prize-Winning Book

Conor M. Dowling to receive Don K. Price Award for best book on science, technology and politics

Conor M. Dowling, associate professor of political science, is being awarded the Don K. Price Award from the American Political Science Association in August. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi professor is being nationally recognized for having co-authored the best book on science, technology and politics in 2017.

Conor M. Dowling, associate professor of political science, will receive the Don K. Price Award from the Science, Technology and Environmental Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. Dowling, co-author with Alan S. Gerber and Eric M. Patashnik of “Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine” (Princeton University Press, 2017), will be presented the award Aug. 31 at the APSA annual convention in Boston.

“I was incredibly humbled and honored to receive the Don K. Price Award with my co-authors,” Dowling said. “It is always nice to have your work recognized by your peers.”

“Unhealthy Politics” draws on public opinion surveys, physician surveys, case studies and political science models to explain how political incentives, polarization and the misuse of professional authority have undermined efforts to tackle the medical evidence problem and curb wasteful spending in the United States. The book offers insights not only into health policy but also into the limits of science, expertise and professionalism as political foundations for pragmatic problem-solving in American democracy.

“The book’s intended audience is academics and policymakers, particularly those interested in health care, science and technology policymaking,” Dowling said. “Any individual who is interested in the current state and trajectory of the U.S. health care system might find the book interesting, though.”

Dowling is an outstanding scholar in American politics with a strong record of working with both undergraduate and graduate students, said John Bruce, UM chair and professor of political science.

“Professor Dowling has accumulated an extensive record of research across a range of areas and continues to be recognized for his contributions,” Bruce said. “He is a good teacher, outstanding scholar and an ideal colleague. His productivity has lifted the performance of those around him.”

An Ole Miss faculty member since 2012, the Massachusetts native earned his bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and both his master’s and doctoral degrees from Binghamton University.

He was also a postdoctoral associate at Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies and Center for the Study of American Politics.

Dowling’s research interests are political behavior, campaigns and elections, election law, public opinion and political psychology. Dowling is also the co-author (with Michael G. Miller) of “Super PAC! Money, Elections and Voters After Citizens United” (Routledge Press, 2014) and more than 30 articles published in peer-reviewed journals.

Another recent work of his (co-authored with David Doherty and Michael G. Miller), “The Effects of Candidate Race and Gender on Party Chairs’ Assessments of Electoral Viability,” received the 2017 Best Paper Award by the APSA’s Experimental Research Section.

For more information about the UM Department of Political Science, visit https://politicalscience.olemiss.edu/.

StartUp Camp Provides Training for Young Entrepreneurs

McLean Institute and CIE team to sponsor a week of activities for future business leaders

Participants in the UM StartUp Camp for young entrepreneurs (from left) Kevin Hernandez, of New Albany; Andrew Wharton and Tony Parks, of Memphis; and Verkeria Price, of Sardis, show off materials related to their businesses. Photo by Tong Meng

OXFORD, Miss. – Negotiation skills, competitive pricing, lunch etiquette, business plans, the importance of a proper handshake, proficiency in Excel, and commercial development and filming were just a few of the opportunities offered to a group of middle schoolers recently at the University of Mississippi.

The activities were part of StartUp Camp, sponsored by the university’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The students, all sixth- through eighth-graders, were from Como, Lambert, Marks, New Albany, Newton, Oakland and Sardis, as well as Lakeland and Memphis, Tennessee.

The young professionals kicked off the week learning the four basic types of businesses: manufacturing, wholesale, retail and service. After the students decided on the business they wanted to develop for the week, they quickly jumped into negotiations – the cornerstone of almost any business.

Jessica Clarke, a camp leader and recent UM graduate in integrated marketing communications from Nashville, entered into a negotiation about a calculator with Kevin Hernandez, a rising seventh-grader at New Albany Middle School. Ultimately, Hernandez agreed to pay Clarke $9.50.

“She started at $15 and I countered with $6,” said Hernandez, whose business is a 24-hour-day medical clinic and drugstore called “Life Saver Clinic and Drugstore” with free flu shots and price-matching minus 20 percent for B-12 shots – services to attract customers.

“She then said $10 and said she would go no lower,” he said. “So, I took a chance and offered her $9.50, and she took it. So, I won the challenge.”

“The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is so pleased to co-sponsor the very first StartUp Camp for young entrepreneurs,” said Tong Meng, the center’s director of student and alumni programs. “This is a great opportunity for us to connect our alumni entrepreneurs with the community and to promote entrepreneurship education in a fun way.”

Verkeria Price, a rising eighth-grader at North Panola Junior High, was chosen by her school’s guidance counselor to attend the camp along with classmates Shaniyah Brown and Sabria Henly. Price’s business, “Curl Me Crazy,” is a hair salon.

Price, who would like to be a registered nurse one day, said she chose a hair salon as a side business. Inspired by her mom, Price said “She knows how to do hair a little bit and she inspired me. I also watch a lot of YouTube videos on hair and make-up.”

“The McLean Institute is pleased to partner with the CIE to offer this entrepreneurial camp for secondary school students,” said Albert Nylander, the institute’s director. “Since 2014 McLean’s Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development program (CEED) has invested $1.6 million into the Mississippi economy and provided academic scholarships to more than 50 UM students.

“These university students are then leading K-12 students in developing a mindset of becoming an entrepreneur.”

Andrew Wharton, a rising seventh-grader at Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Memphis, and business partner Tony Parks, a rising sixth-grader at Christ Methodist Day School in Memphis, were busy scripting the commercial for their business, “A&T Hangers,” a clothing hanger recycling business “kind of like eBay,” Wharton said.

“We pay for the containers, and then we pay a reduced cost for the hangers – depending on the condition – and then we sell them back to the cleaners,” Wharton said.

“I have learned teamwork and how to come up with a cool business idea that is also environmentally responsible,” Parks said as the two partners headed out to film their television commercial with Hernandez.

The judges for the camp were Clay Dibrell, UM professor of management and CIE co-director; Allen Kurr, vice president of Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation; Robert Patterson, a graduate student in health promotion and a CEED Innovation Fellow; Armegis Spearman, learning specialist at the UM FedEx Student-Athlete Success Center; and Lynn Woo, research associate in the UM Center for Population Studies and the State Data Center of Mississippi.

“Leading these young entrepreneurs through the experience of starting a business has allowed me to witness a powerful transformation in these children,” said Ashley Bowen, program coordinator, a CEED Innovation Fellow from Lambert and an Ole Miss graduate student in computer science.

“They realize that their dreams can become a reality, and that it can be done right in their hometowns.”

Pittman’s Gifts Provide Equity above Access

Supplemented scholarships help Grove Scholars stay in school

Renvy Pittman (right) chats with Grove Scholars Jontae Warren (left), a May graduate from Booneville, and Devante Yates, a senior from West Point. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – An afternoon spent visiting schools in the Mississippi Delta inspired a University of Mississippi alumna to make a series of gifts totaling nearly $1 million over the past six years, helping build a program that improves students’ chances of graduating.

Renvy Pittman’s most recent $350,000 gift further bolsters the Grove Scholars program, which facilitates academic success and job placement among Mississippi residents seeking degrees related to science, technology, engineering and math and who have also received Ole Miss Opportunity scholarships.

The Grove Scholars program is the brainchild of Stephen Monroe, chair and assistant professor of writing and rhetoric and former assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“Stephen is an amazing person; he is brimming with ideas about how to help more students from all types of backgrounds be successful at Ole Miss,” said Pittman, who grew up in Jackson and lives in Los Angeles. “After talking extensively with him, it became clear to me that I wanted to help ensure that more Mississippi residents come to the University of Mississippi and graduate with a STEM degree.”

Monroe and Pittman realized Ole Miss Opportunity recipients interested in STEM would benefit from a bridge program that would help orient them to the university and college-level work. With Pittman’s support, 12 scholars were selected for the summer program in 2014.

The program has grown to serve more than 70 students and consists of classes in math and sciences for academic credit as well as tutoring, social events and exposure to labs and lectures on campus – all occurring the summer before the students’ freshman year.

Because the Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship does not cover summer tuition, the Grove Scholars program also provides opportunities for students to take summer classes throughout their undergraduate career. The newest initiative provides financial support for Grove Scholars seeking a career-relevant internship during the summer term.

Students find that being introduced to college life before their freshman year gives them a chance to bond with each other and with the program’s director, Gray Flora.

“What’s so great about what Renvy’s done is she’s enabled a lot of students to have what they need over and above their scholarships,” Flora said. “It’s one thing to say, ‘Yes, you can come to the University of Mississippi,’ but it’s another thing to give them the tools and the equity to really be able to thrive at a major public university.

“It’s more than just being able to come. You have to know how to navigate this place. There are all these extracurricular needs that you don’t think about, and Renvy has enabled us to provide those for the students. That’s the difference between access and true equity.”

Jontae Warren, of Booneville, is a Grove Scholar who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and has already transitioned into the School of Pharmacy’s Pharm.D. degree program. After completing that, he plans to pursue a residency and ultimately specialize in pediatric pharmacy related to oncology.

“The Grove Scholars program allowed me to meet other students who had the same aspirations as I, and we were able to become a support system for each other,” Warren said. “I am still great friends with many in my cohort today.”

“It’s a community,” Pittman said. “Students need community to be successful in college. So Grove Scholars identifies these young people, brings them in and empowers them to unlock their potential and encourage each other.”

Warren said being a Grove Scholar helped him financially, academically and emotionally.

“Both (former program coordinator) Ben Pinion and Gray Flora have been great mentors, and anytime I needed advice on what to do next, their doors were always open,” he said. “I am very thankful to have been a part of this program and hope that it continues to grow.”

Pittman hopes so, too.

“I would like to look back after 10 years and see these kids, who are not children anymore at all, using their degrees in science, technology, engineering or math to make their communities in Mississippi a better place,” she said.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said he greatly appreciates the support of alumni such as Pittman who want to play an active role in the university’s vision to have a transformative influence in communities throughout the state.

“Our hope is that as students from disadvantaged areas graduate from Ole Miss, their lives and those of generations to come will be significantly enhanced, which will help advance their communities and make great improvements for our state and ultimately our nation,” he said.

“The Grove Scholars program is a key component of the big picture – to truly make a significant impact upon the world around us. Renvy has set an example of generosity that I hope others will want to follow.”

To help support the Grove Scholars program financially, contact Denson Hollis, executive director of development, at 662-915-5092 or dhollis@olemiss.edu. For more information and student profiles, visit Grove Scholars online.

Arianne Hartono Aces Academics and Athletics

After winning the NCAA singles tennis championship, the Ole Miss graduate is going pro

Arianne Hartono is the ultimate student-athlete, having graduated summa cum laude from Ole Miss this May and won this year’s NCAA women’s singles tennis championship. Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi student-athlete Arianne Hartono has faced such challenges as recuperating from a broken wrist her freshman year and missing as many as three out of five days of classes during the weeks when she had to travel to away matches.

Considering such challenges, Hartono’s accomplishments are all the more impressive – excelling equally in athletics and academics, she won this year’s NCAA women’s singles tennis championship and graduated summa cum laude in May with a major in psychology and minor in business administration.

She is the first women’s tennis player in the Ole Miss program to win the NCAA singles championship (Devin Britton won it in men’s tennis in 2009) and is also the first student-athlete in any sport at Ole Miss to be named a Honda Sports Award winner and the second player in program history to be named to the 2018 ITA Collegiate All-Star Team.

Hartono is philosophical about her success and quite willing to share the glory.

“I think it’s the process of it all,” said Hartono, a native of Meppel, Netherlands. “Obviously, you can’t become a national champion from one day to the other. There’s so much work that went into it.

“I believe that everything happened for a reason, even that injury I had my freshman year. That was part of the road I had to go on to, to be where I am right now. So I think all the work, all the effort, not just from me but everyone else that’s worked with me, worked with the team, has led up to this.”

Everyone else includes professors, administrators, coaches, family, teammates, and tutors and counselors/advisers at the FedEx Student-Athlete Academic Success Center.

“We have a wide range of services available to student-athletes for continued success,” said Derek Cowherd, senior associate athletics director for student-athlete development.

Those services include scheduling of tutorial support for upper-level courses, assisting with four-year graduation plans, monitoring NCAA eligibility and assisting with busy spring travel schedules.

Hartono is a special student-athlete and a credit to Ole Miss, Cowherd said.

“Zvonimir Babic (a player on the men’s tennis team) tweeted that she is an inspiration to all student-athletes across the nation. And she should be,” Cowherd said. “Her demeanor, friendship to her teammates, her grace in which she carries herself, humble but confident nature, her wonderful spirit are all testaments to how her parents raised her … and she can play tennis, too.”

Hartono’s drive to excel comes partly from a sense of responsibility.

“Every year, we come together as a team, and we sit down and set up goals for ourselves,” she said. “… I’m just grateful for everything that’s been given to me, and I want to make the most of it. I think especially this year, knowing it was the last opportunity to represent Ole Miss for one more season, I’m not playing for myself but for this greater entity, so to speak. It just gives you more motivation to push harder.

“Our coaches and advisers, they all tell us that we student-athletes, we’re all leaders, so we have to act like them. We are held accountable for everything that we do. Keeping that in mind, we try to show the best of ourselves.”

As for her classes, Hartono took a no-nonsense approach.

“I just sit down and do the work that needs to be done. At the beginning of the semester, the teachers tell you what the semester is going to look like, and I think that’s like, just listen to the teacher! Just listen to the teacher, and basically you’ll do well.”

Hartono said time management was the greatest challenge in tackling her classes, because she had to miss so many classes due to her tennis schedule that included not only matches but also two hours of practice and one hour of fitness or strength and conditioning each day.

She said she was lucky to have taken classes taught by supportive professors and named three professors in particular as her favorites: Matthew Reysen, associate professor of psychology; Kate Kellum, associate director of institutional effectiveness and assistant professor of psychology; and Scott A. Gustafson, director of the UM Psychological Services Center.

“I’d be falling behind, especially in the spring when we were in season; we’d be traveling so much,” Hartono said. “I’d meet up with Dr. Reysen all the time. He was always willing to help me out. … I liked Dr. Kate’s class (Applied Behavior Analysis) because it was so interactive. … Definitely, one of my other favorite teachers is Dr. G.”

And the feeling is mutual.

“Arianne was one of those students that only come along every five to 10 years in a professor’s career,” said Gustafson, who taught Hartono in two advanced psychology classes. “She clearly had prepared for her classes and asked questions based on her readings that would be more expected in an advanced graduate seminar than an undergraduate lecture hall.

“On a personal level, Arianne is one of those students that made me, as a professor, feel like my job was rewarding. Rather than being a passive part of the crowd, her interest and competency and hard work made me look forward to the classes she was in, because I felt like I was making a difference.”

Reysen agreed that Hartono is bright, personable and a pleasure to have in his Cognitive Psychology class.

“Arianne was an outstanding student who was always able to maintain a high level of academic excellence despite the numerous obligations that came with being a student-athlete,” he said.

Hartono did a good job of using the skills she learned in class to make the atmosphere around her more fun, Kellum added.

“Her ability to take what she was learning in class out into the world was really good,” she said.

Classes, studying and tennis took up most of Hartono’s time, but she did manage to be on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, composed of two or three representatives from each team on the Ole Miss campus.

“Our job was basically to keep up with NCAA rules, with regulations, whatnot, but also about student-athlete development, any areas that we could improve. … Another thing we were concerned with was community service. That’s one of the things I really enjoy doing because I believe it’s so important to give back for everything that we’ve been given here.”

Because she completed a lot of her classes and requirements in her freshman and sophomore years, Hartono had time in her last semester to do something else she truly loves.

“I love to bake, and especially knowing that I have a team of seven hungry athletes, it’s easy to get rid of stuff,” Hartono said. “Before a trip, I’d hop on the bus and have brownies, or Oreo balls and all this other stuff. They appreciate it, and it just makes me happy, and it’s relaxing at the same time.”

Path to the Win

Arianne Hartono

Hartono remembers a pivotal conversation she had when she was about 6 years old. She and her mom had stopped to pick up her 9-year-old brother, Adriaan, who was finishing his tennis practice, and she helped pick up the tennis balls.

“So, what do you do? What are you into?” her brother’s coach asked her.

“Well, I’m a ballet dancer,” answered Hartono, having just left a ballet lesson.

“Ballet? That’s nothing. Why don’t you try to play tennis?” the coach said.

And so she did, with support from her parents, Lieke and Okki Hartono, who had moved from Indonesia to the Netherlands in the 1990s. (Hartono speaks fluent Indonesian, Dutch and English, and took Chinese while at Ole Miss, reaching the conversational level. She also took French and German in high school.)

“(My parents) always told me, ‘As long as you love to play, we’ll support you in whatever you want to do,'” Hartono said. “With all the successes, they came to realize, ‘Oh, she’s actually good. She could be successful at it.'”

A love for tennis runs in Hartono’s family. Her uncle Deddy Tedjamukti and aunt Lukky Tedjamukti from Indonesia played professional tennis, and cousin Nadia Ravita played for the University of Kentucky women’s tennis team.

Hartono said her brother still enjoys tennis and is very supportive of her, though she has surpassed him in skill.

“I mean, he’s good, but he chose to focus more on his education instead, so he wasn’t practicing as intensely as I was. He would practice like twice a week, whereas I would practice four or five times a week. We were basically known as the Hartono tennis players around the region where we played. … I remember when I was younger, I tried so hard because I wanted to beat him so badly. But he’s a good sport, he can handle it,” she laughed.

Until college, Hartono trained at small clubs rather than tennis academies. She said she struggled to find sparring partners until she came to Ole Miss, where she suddenly had eight other women who were as good, if not better than her.

“I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for them,” Hartono said. “When you spend so much time with a group like them, they become family.”

Mark Beyers, Ole Miss women’s tennis head coach, who is also from the Netherlands, recruited her, Hartono said.

“He watched me play, and one of his former players – she was from the same hometown as I was, and so we kind of got in touch that way. That’s one of the main reasons I chose Ole Miss. I just loved the campus. I loved the team, just the entire atmosphere.”

Trying to win tennis matches in the NCAA, where all players are top-notch, is pressure-filled, but Hartono remembers a key moment that helped her de-stress.

“Grant Roberts, our assistant coach, was on my court most of the time whenever I was playing. … In times of trouble, so to speak, we’d sit down on the break, and he’d come and we’d talk about strategies or whatever, but for me it was important to keep things simple. I tend to overthink or make things overcomplicated for myself, and that’s not necessary.

“In the finals, (Grant) would ask me, ‘So, what is our one word this tournament?’

“Fun” is the word that popped up.

“Because at the end of the day, I’ll play my best tennis when I’m having fun, when I’m enjoying the challenge. And so I think that’s the most important thing that happened, not winning the national championship. Of course, that’s great. I’m not complaining,” she laughed. “But I think that was the result of me enjoying what I was doing.

“That’s a great achievement for myself. I was able to put winning and the result aside, for me to know I was doing what I love. In anything anyone does, I think that’s just so important because, otherwise, why are you doing it? And to know that I can succeed at that is mind-blowing, unbelievable and amazing.”

Arianne Hartono is the first Honda Sports Award winner in Ole Miss history. With a record of 37-6 this season, she finished the year winning 17 straight matches. Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

What’s Next?

Hartono is going pro. After graduation, she went back to the Netherlands for a short while to spend time with her family and enjoy her mom’s cooking. She was scheduled to play her first professional match in Portugal and one in Indonesia, where she also planned to visit family.

She said as long as she loves to play, she’ll keep at it.

“If not, then I’ll find something else to do. That’s why I have a college degree,” she laughed.

She also plans to return to Ole Miss in the fall to visit with the tennis team and friends.

“I can never say goodbye to Ole Miss. We (she and her teammates) always tell each other, ‘Once a Rebel, always a Rebel.’ I truly believe that.”

Whatever successes and challenges lie ahead for Hartono, she can always look back at her college days and feel joy.

“At the end of the day, it’s not just about winning or losing,” she said. “It’s not just about holding that trophy. I got to spend four years of my life doing what I love.”

UM Graduate Receives Leadership Award for RebelTHON Efforts

Hailey Cooper devoted three years at Ole Miss to raising funds for children's hospital

Hailey Cooper has been awarded the Miracle Dance Network Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for her work with RebelTHON. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi graduate Hailey Cooper has been named a recipient of the 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award.

Cooper, a Madison native who earned her bachelor’s degree in English in May, served as the 2017-18 president of RebelTHON, a dance marathon and fundraiser held each year in Oxford to benefit Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. She is among 20 recipients of the award selected from 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada that participate in a Miracle Network Dance Marathon.

She was involved in RebelTHON at Ole Miss for three years and personally raised more than $3,500 for the cause. Under Cooper’s leadership, RebelTHON surpassed its goal in February by more than $40,000 and raised more than $265,000 for children receiving treatment at Batson. This fundraiser directly supports the university’s transformative initiative of building stronger and more vibrant communities.

“It was an absolutely wonderful experience, and I’ve met some of the most incredible students in the nation through MNDM,” Cooper said. “This generation is often painted as selfish and dispassionate, but I would challenge those with that belief to attend a dance marathon.

“We are this generation fighting for the next, and we won’t stop until every child has the opportunity to be an Ole Miss Rebel. To be recognized by an organization as passionate and hardworking as Dance Marathon is such an honor, and I hope to have done the movement proud through my work these past couple of years.”

Cooper became involved in RebelTHON to help children who are facing difficult battles.

“After developing personal relationships with families directly affected by donations to CMN hospitals, I see firsthand the impact that even a dollar has on a tired, terrified family,” she said.

Hailey Cooper served as president of RebelTHON this past year. The dance marathon event raised more than $265,000 for Batson Children’s Hospital at UMMC. Submitted photo

The recipient hospitals use these funds not only for patient care but also to make this time easier on the families. The funds raised in 2017 helped provide an entire hospital floor with sleeper sofas so parents can stay with their children.

Cooper said she did not realize the impact of the contribution until she read a blog post by a tired mother who had not slept in almost a week, yet finally got a night’s rest on the new sofa.

“To think that I was able to help provide a night of sleep for a tired mother changed my entire perspective, and it renewed my efforts to fundraise for the 2018 year,” she said. “To contribute to such a deserving cause and be a part of something bigger than ourselves is amazing, and I would encourage anyone who is able to contribute to their local children’s hospital.”

After being a part of RebelTHON, Cooper said she would like to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector.

“My own growth, in addition to the growth I have witnessed in my peers, has convinced me that this movement changes more lives than those for whom we fundraise, and I would encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to become involved in it,” she said.

Andrew Russell, Children’s Miracle Network coordinator at Batson Hospital, said he had a great experience working with Cooper, who was very enthusiastic about leading RebelTHON.

“Throughout the entire experience, Hailey kept her focus on improving the lives of the sick and injured kids of Mississippi,” Russell said. “She is the type of leader that people want to follow. She led with a contagious passion for the cause and is most deserving of this award.”

UM Hosts Rebel Upward Bound Institute

Program helps 32 students from area schools better understand math

Audra Parsons, a graduate student in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, instructs RUBI students during a recent classroom session. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss – Thirty-two students from area schools benefited from a new summer math program at the University of Mississippi.

The Rebel Upward Bound Institute, which ran June 1-22, was conducted by UM’s Department of Mathematics and the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. The outreach project, affiliated with the federally funded education program Upward Bound, met on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Jackson Avenue Center, Room B01. Participants were rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors from Bruce, Calhoun City, Coffeeville and Vardaman high schools.

“The program was created for underserved communities to have an opportunity to expand their understanding of mathematics,” said Audra Polk of Mobile, Alabama, a master’s student in the CMSE who served as RUBI’s event organizer and an institute instructor. “We are focusing on critical-thinking skills and mathematical perseverance in problem solving, which are important in any higher-level math course.”

Each session focused on a different aspect of mathematical knowledge. Topics included algebra, geometry, probability and statistics.

UM faculty serving as instructors in the program included James Reid, chair and professor of mathematics; Laura Sheppardson, associate professor and associate chair of mathematics; and Thái Hoàng Lê, assistant professor of mathematics and co-lead instructor of the institute. Michael McCrory, an assistant professor of mathematics at Blue Mountain College, was the other co-lead instructor.

“Summer programs like this keep students engaged in math and give them a head start on the fall semester,” said McCrory, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in mathematics from UM. “We try to keep it fun and engaging while remaining educational.”

The students said they enjoyed RUBI.

“I came because I wanted to begin preparing for college,” said Marissa Petitgout, a sophomore from Bruce High School. “It’s taking me out of my comfort zone. I’m learning how to better work with numbers.”

Tavarius “Bob” Ford, a sophomore at Calhoun City High School, said he sees the program helping him achieve his personal goals one day.

“I want to go to college (on) an athletic scholarship, playing either basketball or football,” Ford said. “Here, I’m learning how to manage money and be more mature. Those skills will definitely be useful when I start my own business in the future.”

Two attendees had participated in a previous Upward Bound program in Coffeeville and joined this summer’s program partly to share what they had learned.

“Without Upward Bound, I wouldn’t have chosen to go to college at all,” said Joshua Bailey, a junior finance major at Jackson State University. “I’m a first-generation college student. Upward Bound changed my life.”

Tonesha Johnson, a recent JSU graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, agreed.

“Thanks to Upward Bound, I was able to attend and graduate from college debt-free,” she said. “I wouldn’t have known I could even do that without this program.”

 

Foodways Studies Come of Age as a Respected Discipline

Work at UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture includes conferences, books and films

Ava Lowrey’s film ‘Johnny’s Greek and Three,’ looks at Chef Tim Hontzas and the role of Greek-Southern families in shaping Birmingham, Alabama, dining. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – In the conclusion of “The Larder: Food Studies Methods from the American South,” co-editor Ted Ownby writes that it seems likely it will be the last collection of food studies scholarship that must justify the field of study.

John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi, agrees with that assessment.

“I think foodways studies has reached a point of maturation,” Edge said. “There’s a broadening of the field of food studies, which was, at first, often primarily concerned with food system problems.

“Contemporary foodways scholarship defines food as a product of various interwoven cultural processes. The question we’re asking today is, ‘What direction will those linked fields take?’ For the SFA, our investment in those fields has grown more multifaceted each year.”

The hiring of Catarina Passidomo in 2014 as the first UM faculty member specifically teaching foodways classes is part of that investment. 

“Studying foodways offers insight into everyday life, ritual, social interactions and other cultural phenomena,” Passidomo wrote in the syllabus for her class, SST 555: The South in Food. “By studying food – and eating and agriculture – as systems, we can also gain insight into broader patterns of power, identity formation and maintenance, and the meaning and importance of particular places.

“By placing the study of foodways within the context of ‘the South,’ we can better understand – and, perhaps, complicate – what, if anything, makes that place unique.

Another place to see what is happening in the field of foodways is the SFA Graduate Student Conference, which takes place for the fifth year this fall. The conference is one of the most eagerly anticipated dates on the SFA calendar, Edge said.

“It’s a great example of the ways in which we contribute to the careers to these young scholars and also benefit from their presence in our midst,” he said. “A range of senior scholars who have come to speak at that event, people like Krishnendu Ray from NYU and Bart Elmore, now at the Ohio State University, have proven generous thinkers and mentors who see the same promise in the field and see the same promise in these young academics, many of whom are exploring identity through food culture.” 

At the 2017 conference, which focused on foodways and social justice and was co-hosted by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Bobby J. Smith II, a PhD candidate in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University, presented a paper on “Disrupting Food Access: The White Citizens’ Council and the Politics of Food in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.”

Smith spoke of food as a weapon, studying the food blockades during the civil rights movement and the ways that the White Citizens’ Council withheld food from black citizens of the Delta. After the conference, the SFA published an excerpt from that paper in Gravy, its quarterly journal.

Ava Lowrey, the Pihakis Foodways Documentary Filmmaker, uses film to share untold food stories centered in the South. In 2017, she produced films on a Greek restaurateur in Birmingham and on the fish camps of the Carolinas, which long served families who worked the region’s cotton mills.

Last spring she taught a Food and Film course, and this spring taught an advanced documentary production course, in addition to working with emerging filmmakers as interns and workshop attendees.

“The teaching parts of my job are the parts that I feel the most overwhelming pride in,” Lowrey said. “I love seeing the projects the students come up with and the discussions that we have in classes.” 

The SFA also curates a scholarly book series, the Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place, published by the University of Georgia press.

For the series, SFA will publish two books this year, including “Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for his Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta,” by Julian Rankin, who wrote that book, in part, book at a Rivendell Writers Workshop fellowship that the SFA funded. Edge, Sara Camp Milam, and Brett Anderson, who serves on the editorial board for the series, all worked with Rankin to develop and polish the manuscript.

“Catfish Dream” is the story of Ed Scott, the first African-American catfish farmer. His life story, framed by Rankin, showcases the vitality of the field and its dynamic relationship to Southern studies. This book makes clear, too, how SFA’s long-term investments in young scholars is paying dividends.

One of the Southern studies graduates who influenced the field of foodways is Georgeanna Milam Chapman, who wrote her master’s thesis about food journalist Craig Claiborne.

“The discovery and research that she did on Claiborne’s life led to a broader understanding of his life and work,” Edge said. “She framed him in a new way as a Southerner, rebelling against the social strictures of the Delta.”

During a session on foodways at the 2018 Oxford Conference for the Book in March, Edge, author of “The Potlikker Papers,” and Jonathan Kauffman, author of “Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat,” discussed their works. 

“Kauffman’s book is another example of dynamic scholarship that reappraises a moment in American history often overlooked,” Edge said “He frames the so-called hippie food movement as a radical rethinking of the food supply and makes clear how and why so-called hippie food has gone mainstream.”

Through teaching, studying, writing, publishing, sharing and storytelling, the field of food studies fits in seamlessly with Southern studies and its interdisciplinary approach.

This summer, the SFA turned an eye to the food and literature citadel of Lexington, Kentucky. On June 21-23, the Summer Symposium explored the diverse city at the heart of the bluegrass region and on the cusp of Appalachia.

Through lectures, oral history presentations, documentary films, tastings and experiences, the SFA framed Kentucky in the regional food conversation, continuing to tell stories about the South by giving voice to farmers, cooks and writers.

New UM Program Funds Summer Undergraduate Research

23 students to conduct mentored summer research projects

Twenty-three University of Mississippi students are involved with the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, an inaugural program to expand and enhance undergraduate research and creative achievement at UM.Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-three University of Mississippi undergraduate students are participating in the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, an inaugural program to expand and enhance undergraduate research and creative achievement.

In May, the UM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs announced that 15 Undergraduate Research Grants, including two Faculty Group Grants and 13 Individual Student Grants, were being awarded from among 45 competing proposals submitted this spring by faculty and students. The grants, totaling $51,000, will provide funding for student living stipends, faculty mentorship stipends, travel, lab materials and other costs associated with these student research projects.

The 15 grants are being funded by the Office of the Provost with assistance from several other schools and departments.

“Undergraduate students can use these research experiences to help really make sense of what they are learning in their different classes and help them put it all together,” said Jason Ritchie, who is an undergraduate research development fellow in the Office of Research. He also serves as an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

“Getting them involved in research early is fantastic for the students, and I think they’ll get a lot more out of their undergraduate experience when they are very integrated into their department and integrated into their discipline and working one-on-one with faculty members. They get just a much richer experience out of this.”

Each of the two Faculty Group Grants funds up to five faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects within a disciplinary theme proposed by a faculty team. They are titled “Undergraduate Research in Data Science” and “Decision Making in the Delta: An Investigation of Community Resilience, Nutrition and Health for a Brighter Future.”

These Faculty Group Grants are intended not only to give students a quality summer research experience but also to give faculty experience running a summer student research program – an experience they can leverage in submitting proposals to funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation. The NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, for instance, supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the foundation.

While summer undergraduate research has existed on the UM campus for years, the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience is a new, organized program.

“Undergraduate research experiences add an important dimension to the undergraduate curriculum for many majors,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “These projects give students practical experience and the chance to work through the details of a problem related to their chosen discipline. These experiences are increasingly important for both prospective employers and admissions for graduate and professional schools.”

Adam Jones, an assistant professor of computer and information science at the University of Mississippi, talks to students and faculty involved in the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The 13 Individual Student Grants fund student-proposed, faculty-mentored research by students in majors ranging from exercise science and international studies to geology and physics. The projects are intended for each undergraduate student to work closely on his or her research with a faculty member over the summer.

“Research and creative achievement are critical elements of our mission,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “Undergraduate students gain tremendous experience and intellectual benefits by working with faculty to discover, create and expand knowledge. This should be an opportunity afforded to undergraduate students by every discipline on campus.”

All of the grants are expected to result in a student-led creative product, such as a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal, a student presentation at an academic conference or even a creative performance.

To enable these outcomes, the program also includes travel grants to help undergraduate students who have completed research to present their work at regional or national conferences. Applications from students are accepted year-round for these grants.

“Every discipline has scholarship expectations, and there are opportunities for students to be involved in undergraduate research and scholarship in their discipline,” Ritchie said. “I think we are establishing undergraduate research and scholarship experiences during the summer as a normal and desirable thing for students to want to participate in, and hoping to stimulate those opportunities across campus.”

The projects were selected by committees that include research fellows in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and various other members of the UM research community.

Baseline funding for the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience has been provided by the Office of the Provost. Year one co-funding is being provided by the College of Liberal Arts, the schools of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the departments of Computer and Information Science, Geology and Geological Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics and Astronomy, and Biology.

UM Doctoral Student, Graduate Named US Fulbright Finalists

Eric Rexroat headed to Belgium, Andrew Hayes going to Spain

Eric Rexroat, a doctoral history student, will study at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi doctoral student and a recent graduate will study in European countries this fall, thanks to the 2018 Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Eric Rexroat, a Ph.D. candidate in the university’s Arch Dalrymple III Department of History, and Andrew Hayes, a graduate of the Croft Institute for International Studies and Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, are both finalists in the prestigious awards program.

A St. Charles, Missouri, native, Rexroat will be at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, from this September until March 2019. He will conduct research at the Royal Library of Belgium and National Archives of Belgium, both in Brussels, as well as work under the direction of professor Hilde Greefs and some of her colleagues.

Hayes, a Tupelo native who planned to pursue a master’s degree at the London School of Economics before receiving his Fulbright notification, will teach English at a public high school in Madrid, Spain, during the 2018-19 academic year.

The highly selective program chooses undergraduate seniors, and graduate and terminal-degree students from the U.S. to study at select colleges around the globe.

“This year’s University of Mississippi awardees are exceptionally qualified as strong students and researchers,” said Tim Dolan, director of UM’s Office of National Scholarship Advisement. “They also all demonstrated their commitment to language and culture through their civic engagement, study abroad or language study. They had to think through and articulate their qualifications and goals, and to imagine ways to engage with the people and culture in their host community.”

Rexroat, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Southeast Missouri State University in 2012, vividly recalls how he received notification of his award.

“I learned while in Paris doing research that I had been chosen as an alternative (which he said he viewed as an achievement in itself), but my understanding was that there would be little chance of my being promoted to a finalist,” he said. “Obviously something changed, and it was a very pleasant surprise.”

Hayes, who earned his bachelor’s degrees in international studies (with a specialization in Spanish) and economics from UM this past May, said he had a similar reaction upon receipt of his notice.

“I was humbled to have received such a prestigious award and excited for the opportunity to work with students abroad,” he said. “I hope to possibly expand upon my senior thesis, which described trends of youth unemployment in Spain.”

Andrew Hayes, an international studies and economics graduate, will teach at a public school in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Kevin Bain/ Ole Miss Communications

For the past three springs, Rexroat has been recognized for his achievements. He received the Tenin-Alexander Prize from the history department for Best Graduate Student Paper in 2015, the Graduate Achievement Award from the College of Liberal Arts in 2016 and officially passed his comprehensive exams with distinction in 2017.

“My career goals include teaching European history at a college or university, as well as continuing my research and eventually publishing on 19th-century Europe,” Rexroat said. “Receiving this Fulbright award will enable me to work closely with and benefit from the feedback of my adviser at the University of Antwerp, as well as to expand my research by providing the opportunity to spend further time in Europe. The experiences I have during this stint abroad will be invaluable to my development as a scholar and a person.”

Hayes’ previous achievements include memberships in both Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi academic honorary societies.

“I plan to become a professor of economics,” Hayes said. “I hope that this opportunity will give me some experience in working with students across cultures.”

UM administrators and faculty members said both finalists deserve their awards.

“Andrew was a hardworking student who excelled in all the areas of the international studies curriculum: writing, critical thinking, quantitative analysis and language learning,” said William Schenck, associate director of the Croft Institute, who worked with Hayes on his senior thesis as a member of his committee. “The written thesis and his defense demonstrated the breadth and depth of his intellectual curiosity as well as his sense of humor.”

“Eric came as an M.A. student and has excelled ever since he stepped foot on campus, impressing faculty and colleagues alike with his seriousness of purpose and focus,” said Marc Lerner, associate professor of history and director of Rexroat’s dissertation.

“His dissertation research on free trade as ideology and political controversy in the mid-19th century is fascinating and important work. The comparative and international perspective is what makes this a particularly challenging and powerful dissertation topic. I am excited to see the results of his research.”

Hayes and Rexroat are the second and third UM students to be named Fulbright finalists during the 2018-19 academic year. Maria Mulrooney, a graduate student in higher education, was selected for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to serve as an English teaching assistant in South Africa next year.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected based on academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Fulbright awards allow the Croft Institute and the other participating units on the Oxford campus to deliver on the university’s commitment to educating and engaging global citizens and supporting experiential learning, two cores established in the university’s new strategic plan, Flagship Forward.

Students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program award are encouraged to contact the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at onsa@olemiss.edu.

 

University of Mississippi Instructor Wins Blackboard Catalyst Award

Marc Watkins recognized in the Teaching & Learning category

Marc Watkins

OXFORD, Miss. – Marc Watkins, an instructor in composition and rhetoric at the University of Mississippi, has been named the winner of the 2018 Blackboard Catalyst Award in the Teaching & Learning category, which honors those who have adopted flexible distance and online delivery, including using mobile technologies, to have a positive impact on the educational experience.

Watkins is being recognized for demonstrating innovative use of the Blackboard platforms, increasing flexibility, furthering learner and instructor effectiveness and efficiency.

Founded in 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards recognize and honor innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts.

Watkins used Open Educational Resources and new technology to modify his Writing 102 online Blackboard course to replace traditional textbooks and increase student engagement. Open Educational Resources reduce student expenses by eliminating or reducing textbook costs.

He received grants from Z-Degree Mississippi and Academic Outreach (formerly called Online Design and eLearning) to develop an online resource through Lumen Learning and help students use innovative techniques to navigate digital spaces.

Stephen Monroe, chair of the UM Department of Writing and Rhetoric , described Watkins as “an innovative teacher who cares about his students.”

“We are very pleased that his energy and commitment are being recognized through this award,” Monroe said.

“I’m very honored to receive the award,” Watkins said. “I also know I wouldn’t have received it if not for the culture of openness and support in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric. I especially appreciate that I received encouragement from Stephen Monroe, the department’s chair, and Bob Cummings, our previous chair, to investigate ways to implement OER and other low-cost materials in the classroom.”

Watkins attended the University of Central Missouri as a nontraditional student, earning a GED diploma instead of a traditional high school diploma and attending community college before transferring to the four-year institution. He later received his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Texas State University and published award-winning fiction. He credits his experience as a nontraditional student with giving him insight into the struggles faced by many nontraditional first-year writing students.

“I try to be an ally for those students who come to college a little bit older, work more than one job or may already have a family,” he said. “Blackboard is a platform we use campuswide, so it’s a great place we can implement changes to reach out to those students and offer them resources that can help them succeed.”

“I’m proud to recognize this year’s Catalyst Award winners for their dedication to using technology to enhance the learning experience and sharing their best practices with the larger community,” said Bill Ballhaus, chairman, CEO and president of Blackboard Inc. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the winners and their institutions to support learner success.”

Watkins will be honored alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during BbWorld 2018, Blackboard’s annual user conference to be held July 16-19 in Orlando, Florida.

For more information on the Blackboard Catalyst Awards, visit: https://community.blackboard.com/groups/catalystawards.

About the University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is the state’s flagship university. Included in the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, it has a long history of producing leaders in public service, academics and business. With nearly 24,000 students, Ole Miss is the state’s largest university and is ranked among the nation’s fastest-growing institutions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school, nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy, and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action.

About Blackboard

Our mission is to partner with the global education community to enable learner and institutional success, leveraging innovative technologies and services. With an unmatched understanding of the world of the learner, the most comprehensive student-success solutions, and the greatest capacity for innovation, Blackboard is education’s partner in change.