American Politics Focus of New Center Named for Haley Barbour

First classes of Center for the Study of American Politics to be taught in upcoming term

UM soon will be home to the Haley Barbour Center for the Study of American Politics. Celebrating the creation of the center are (from left) John Bruce, chair and associate professor of political science; Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts; Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi; Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter; and Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi soon will be home to a bipartisan center named after alumnus Haley Barbour, a major architect of national politics who served two terms as governor of Mississippi.

On Thursday (Oct. 18), the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning approved the creation of the Haley Barbour Center for the Study of American Politics, which will be part of the Department of Political Science. The center will focus on the study of American campaigns and elections, and its first class will be taught in the upcoming winter term.

Barbour, who holds a Juris Doctor from the university, said he is honored to have a second center at his alma mater named after him, in addition to the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. The Center for the Study of American Politics will be designed to attract students who will enter many fields and will provide opportunities to learn about American politics and civic responsibility through classes, work with advocacy groups and internships, he said.

“We don’t think that everyone who comes out of the Haley Barbour Center for the Study of American Politics will become a congressman, or even an alderman,” Barbour said. “There will be campaign managers, but also a lot of physicians, lawyers, nurses and accountants who will understand the importance of government and become hard and effective workers for good government.”

The Barbour Center will draw from the faculty of the Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and the rest of the university, as well as connections to those working in politics. The goal is to eventually have a dedicated space on campus, and the IHL board has also approved the university’s plan to create a department chair for the center. 

“The Haley Barbour Center will broaden and deepen our strengths in political science and deliver new opportunities for our students that reflect our commitment to academic excellence,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “We’re honored the center will be named for Gov. Barbour, whose leadership and contributions to the state of Mississippi and American politics are lasting and so highly respected.”

Students will participate in a range of topics and experiences to prepare them for engagement in the American electoral process as citizens or as political party activists, paid campaign advisers or electoral process managers.

The university soon will be home to the Haley Barbour Center for the Study of American Politics, which is named after the former governor (third from right). Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The Barbour Center’s mission will be two-pronged. The first focus will be academic, including an endowed chair and a series of courses to advance students’ knowledge and interest in campaigns and elections. A second focus will be on outreach, including bringing high-profile speakers to campus as well as hosting national conferences and summer outreach programming. The center will also provide some funding for graduate students.

“The center and others involved will find out about students who want to be involved in elections and help them find a job with a campaign, their state party, a national party, or a trade association or an advocacy group,” Barbour said. “Students will decide which kinds of groups they want to work for; we won’t assign them to one. This is very bipartisan.” 

The Department of Political Science has seen an increase in majors, which is counter to national trends where majors in this field are on the decline, said Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He believes the addition of this center will lead to even more interest.

“The current climate of American politics suggests the need for young people to engage in the election process and be prepared for the reasoned, respectful political debate that supports a healthy democracy,” Cohen said.

“The University of Mississippi is already producing these kinds of engaged, knowledgeable citizens, and the addition of the Haley Barbour Center for the Study of American Politics will provide more unique, focused experiences and courses of study to take this training to the next level.”

John Bruce, chair and associate professor of political science, said there is not a more fitting namesake for the center at the university to study elections than Barbour, whom he said has had “a long arc in American politics.”

“He started working in national politics his last year as an undergraduate, and has pretty much never left,” Bruce said. “His two most prominent roles have been as chair of the Republican National Committee, and as a two-term governor of the state of Mississippi. In both of those roles, he is credited with successful records. 

“A thread running through most of his career is activity in campaigns and elections, and it is this aspect of his career that we hope the Barbour Center will reflect.” 

Barbour began his life in politics in 1968, when he went to work as a field organizer on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign. From 1973 to 1976, he was executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour (left center) and UM Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter celebrate the announcement of the Haley Barbour Center for the Study of American Politics. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were among the many Republican candidates who received his advice. He also served as political director of the Reagan White House and cofounded BGR Group, a prominent Washington government affairs firm. 

From 1993 to ’97, Barbour served as chairman of the Republican National Committee and managed the “Republican wave” in 1994, which led to Republican control of both the Senate and House of Representatives.

In 2004, Barbour took office as Mississippi’s 63rd governor. The following year, after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, he earned national recognition for his quick and decisive response to the disaster.

In 2015, Barbour’s memoir was published. “America’s Great Storm: Leading through Hurricane Katrina” gave his perspective on leadership lessons that came from the storm.

The department’s alumni advisory board first raised the idea of creating an endowed faculty chair named after Barbour. The board and the former governor came together to design the center in a way that benefits students, faculty and the university. 

The center will be funded by private donors and external funding grants. So far, the Governor Haley Barbour Endowment for the Study of American Politics has raised almost $1.5 million. Plans are in place to pursue additional funding from individuals, corporations and foundations, as well as state and federal grants.

“The timing and exact shape of all the programming will be determined by the timing and scope of available funds, but this is a large endeavor and will ramp up over the course of years,” Bruce said. “We will have some programming in the very near future, and expand with time.”

Barbour said one great long-term benefit of the center is that it will promote a more engaged citizenry and inspire students to take an active role in their government for generations to come. 

“This is something we believe will be attractive to Ole Miss students,” Barbour said. “We think they’ll enjoy it and be better citizens because of their time here.” 

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

Strong investment returns, generosity of alumni and friends spurs growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mississippi Universities Provide Key Support for Automotive Industry

UM Center for Manufacturing Excellence praised by automakers for providing skilled graduates

Students in a Manufacturing 254 class present their designs for a class project on the floor of the UM Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The automotive industry serves as a key driver in the state’s economy. More than 200 automotive manufacturers employ 20,000 workers, with annual vehicle production in the state exceeding 500,000.

Several university programs are helping the industry grow and flourish in the state.

The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi has partnered with Toyota and other automotive manufacturing companies to develop training programs and provide unique opportunities for students.

The CME offers a unique undergraduate program that allows students to tailor academic experiences to match their career goals and life objectives, incorporating coursework from the schools of Accountancy, Business Administration and Engineering to give graduates a fundamental understanding of all the disciplines involved in modern manufacturing. This multidisciplinary approach has earned praise from several industries, and graduates of the program attract multiple job offers commanding higher pay than their counterparts from other programs.

Twelve Ole Miss students have formed a campus chapter of the Collegiate Automotive Manufacturing Society. The chapter began in fall 2015 as a result of an idea presented by Ryan Miller, programs manager for the CME and the group’s adviser.

A member of the Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association board of directors, Miller suggested to the CME students that they found a collegiate engineering-business-accounting honors society with the state group as the parent association, with a goal of connecting automotive manufacturers with millennials and trying to help the manufacturers better understand them through more direct contact.

At Mississippi State University, the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems remains a driving force in the growth and maturity of the U.S. automotive industry, pioneering the use of high-performance materials to design cars that offer a premium driving experience while maximizing travel distance from multiple sources of energy.

MSU researchers are pushing the limits of automotive engineering through the development of a self-driving, all-electric sport utility vehicle.

Engineered by a team at MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, the “Halo Project” supercar is designed to showcase MSU’s expertise in automotive engineering and the latest automotive technology. The supercar utilizes an on-board NVIDIA supercomputer that allows the vehicle to navigate on- and off-road terrain without human intervention.

The new vehicle and accompanying research have the potential to accelerate the societal benefits of autonomous vehicles through the creation of safer roadways and accessibility to independent automotive transportation for people with disabilities.

The project builds on a series of MSU automotive research projects, including the “Car of the Future,” an all-electric hybrid that combines superior efficiency, sporty handling and advanced technological features. MSU student, faculty and staff research teams have long been recognized for excellence in projects like “Car of the Future,” competitions such as EcoCAR, and other initiatives that have pushed innovation.

Besides research and development, MSU’s CAVS Extension works with manufacturers across the state such as Nissan, Toyota and their suppliers to make Mississippi manufacturing stronger and more competitive through technology assistance and professional development in areas such as lean manufacturing and Six Sigma. CAVS-E has been a part of every new model launch at both Nissan in Canton and Toyota in Blue Springs through modeling and simulation.

Clients of CAVS-E have reported nearly $6 billion in economic impact along with more than 4,000 jobs created or retained through CAVS and Mississippi’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.

Ten UM Freshmen Named 2017 Stamps Scholars

Students exemplify best of scholarship, community service and leadership

Stamps freshmen 2017 are, from left: Tyler Yarbrough, Madeline Cook, Robert Wasson, Tori Gallegos, Eleanor Schmid, Matthew Travers, J.R. Riojas, Kennedy Cohn, Harrison McKinnis and Chinwe Udemgba. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation.

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten members of the 2017 freshman class at the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College have the distinction of being Stamps Scholarship recipients.

This year’s cohort consists of Kennedy Cohn of Incline Village, Nevada, Madeline Cook of Flowood, Victoria “Tori” Gallegos of Chicago, Harrison McKinnis of Madison, J.R. Riojas of the Wool Market community of Harrison County, Eleanor Schmid of Cincinnati, Matthew Travers of St. Louis, Chinwe Udemgba of Natchez, Robert Wasson of Jackson and Tyler Yarbrough of Clarksdale.

For a second straight year, UM was among only four universities to award 10 or more Stamps Scholarships to incoming students. The Stamps Scholarships at Ole Miss have become the most comprehensive, full scholarship packages for in-state and out-of-state students.

“We are so pleased to be welcoming another tremendously gifted cohort of Stamps Scholars to the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “Through our partnership with the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, we are able to attract truly remarkable students from Mississippi and all over the country.

“We look for great things from our Stamps Scholars as they pursue unique and exciting educational opportunities and contribute to the academic excellence on our campus.”

With its partner universities, the Stamps Foundation seeks students who demonstrate academic merit, strong leadership potential and exceptional character. Through the foundation, students have access to funding to engage in internships, undergraduate research or other professional development activities.

Potential Stamps Scholars are invited to campus for a special weekend visit to get an in-depth look at the university’s academic programs, as well as opportunities to interact with campus administrators and students.

“As a Stamps Scholar, I felt like I would have the ability to fully take advantage of my education by pursuing educational opportunities outside of the classroom,” said Cohn, a double major in international studies and Spanish who also is working on pre-med requirements. She is also a member of Global Brigades, Freshman Council and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

“I think that one of the best ways to learn is through travel because it’s such an immersive, hands-on learning experience,” she said. “With the Stamps Scholarship, I would love to study abroad and possibly do an internship overseas.”

Cohn’s focus on global health through the Croft Institute gives her a better understanding of how health care works in other countries.

“I would love to use part of my enrichment fund to shadow a doctor in another country,” Cohn said. “I am hoping to apply to medical school after I graduate and eventually work with an organization like Doctors without Borders.”

Stamps Scholars are ambitious and goal-oriented, with leadership skills and hefty visions, but who, above all, love learning and doing extraordinary things with confidence, Cook said.

“I love being in a community of confident, incredibly capable and smart students, who all have big plans and small egos,” said the international studies, sociology and Spanish major who has concentrations in global health and Latin America. Cook also is a member of Mississippi Votes, College Democrats, Global Ambassadors and Rebels Against Sexual Assault, and is an announcer for Rebel Radio.

Her goals are to complete a language immersion program in Spain and volunteer with the Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance in Jackson.

The 2017 freshman class of UM Stamps Scholars explore a river during their ‘bonding excursion’ last summer in Ecuador. The group includes (front, from left) Tyler Yarbrough, Chinwe Udemgba, Tori Gallegos and Kennedy Cohn; (middle) Matthew Travers, Harrison McKinnis and J.R. Riojas; and (back) Eleanor Schmid and Robert Wasson. Submitted photo

“I’m extremely interested in the intersection of human and labor rights and public health, and in the future, I’d like to do work with NGOs in Chile, Bolivia or Argentina doing research on indigenous rights-justice movements and access to health care,” Cook said. “I can see myself working full-time for some kind of social rights and justice-oriented nonprofit or policy coalition, or an analyst for the State Department or even (as) a Foreign Service officer in Latin America.”

The Stamps Scholarship is an amazing opportunity, said Gallegos, who is majoring in international studies with a Russian minor. She is a member of the Associated Student Body Freshman Forum, Delta Gamma sorority and Russian Club.

“Everyone is unique and has a story to tell,” she said. “The additional enrichment funds allow me to pursue research and travel outside the classroom without adding financial burdens.”

Gallegos said she plans to study in Russia multiple times, as well as in France and Latin America.

A chemical engineering major, McKinnis is a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. He also participates in the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

McKinnis said he was grateful to be considered for the scholarship.

“I felt that every candidate was worthy of the scholarship, and I was shocked to find out I was chosen,” he said. “At that point, my college decision process ended, and I knew that I had found my new home, one that wants to support me just as I want to support it.”

McKinnis hopes to participate in a co-op or internship with an engineering firm at some point in his undergraduate education to gain experience and knowledge to become a professional engineer.

Riojas said he sees the Stamps Scholarship at Ole Miss as the perfect balance between a fantastic, focused education and a big public school experience.

“The most important part of being a Stamps Scholar is the community I am surrounded with,” said the public policy major who is a member of the debate team, ASB Freshman Council and the mock trial team. “I am surrounded by the best of the best, and this pushes me to be the best that I can be.”

Riojas’ goals are to learn the policies of the world, graduate from law school and become an international lawyer.

“Stamps will help me because the scholarship helps fund trips all around the world, allowing me to study the judicial systems of foreign countries,” he said. “It will also connect me with people who can help me in the future.”

An international studies major who is minoring in Russian, Schmid is a member of the university’s debate team and a sorority, as well as the Associated Student Body’s freshman forum. Her goals include studying abroad at least twice in Russia, France and Spain.

Following either graduate or law school, she hopes to serve her country by working in the Department of State or another governmental agency.

“Being offered the Stamps Scholarship signaled to me that Ole Miss saw potential in me, and wanted to invest in my education to the greatest extent,” Schmid said. “Furthermore, being a Stamps Scholar brings me an amazing community of peers who also have great aspirations to change the world.”

Travers, pursuing a double major in international studies and Chinese, is a student of the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Chinese Language Flagship Program. He also is on the Diversity Recruitment Committee for RebelTHON, a peer educator for Rebels Against Sexual Assault, a UM Flagship Ambassador, a Chinese tutor and member of the Black Student Union and the Swahili Club.

Eleanor Schmid (left) and Tyler Yarbrough, both members of the 2017 freshman class of Stamps Scholars at the University of Mississippi, prepare to try zip lining during a ‘bonding excursion’ in Ecuador before beginning the fall semester of college. Submitted photo

“To me, being a Stamps Scholar means looking toward the future like a blank canvas, brush in hand, and with all the colors waiting at my fingertips,” Travers said. “The Stamps Scholarship gives me the incredible opportunity to learn for the sake of learning, to study what piques my interest, not what will necessarily secure a good job.

“With all the opportunities and attention given to me, I can’t help but feel like one of the most fortunate students on campus.”

Travers plans to return to China to study next summer. After that, he hopes to travel to Tanzania or another African country on a mission trip and practice the Swahili he is learning in the classroom.

A chemical engineering major, Wasson also was excited to learn that he had been awarded a Stamps Scholarship and ready to take advantage of the unique opportunities it offers.

“When I learned of my selection as a Stamps Scholar, I was deeply humbled and honored to be chosen out of such a competitive field full of great applicants,” he said. “I then realized the tremendous charge I had been given to do great things with such an amazing opportunity.”

Wasson hopes to take full advantage of the opportunities available via the scholarship and plans to attend medical school after graduation.

Udemgba is a graduate of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. Her major is chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry. She is part of IMAGE, Student Members of the American Chemical Society, Minority Association of Pre-Med Students and Campus Catholic Ministries.

“Being a Stamp Scholar makes me feel as if I should take advantage of the opportunities given to me,” Udemgba said. “I have no excuse to be anything but an exceptional student with exciting experiences.

“Being a Stamps Scholar opens me up to so many connections to people in different colleges across the nation. Stamps is more than just a full ride to college; it is a community of students with the common goal of succeeding and pushing each other forward.”

Udemgba’s short-term plans include study abroad, conducting research and pursuing other opportunities presented. Her long-term plan involves graduating from higher education and working in a lab.

A public policy leadership major, Yarbrough is a member of the Debate Team, ASB Freshman Forum and Mississippi Votes. He’s also an advocate with the Mississippi Youth Council, an organization advocating for comprehensive sex education in public schools.

“I had great interest in Ole Miss after attending the Trent Lott Institute for High School Students summer program,” he said. “The Stamps Scholarship’s enrichment fund ultimately led me to attend Ole Miss.

“The generous scholarship package will allow me to pursue internships and travel, which will enhance my learning experience while at the university.”

Yarbrough’s plans include getting students registered to vote in Oxford, bringing a voting precinct to campus and engaging students in the push for comprehensive sex education in public schools.

Launched in 2006 by Georgia native Roe Stamps and his wife, Penny, the program has grown to include nearly 40 partner schools throughout the country with more than 1,600 current and alumni scholars.

To learn more about the Stamps Foundation, visit

Center for Manufacturing Excellence Receives Gifts from Milwaukee Tool

Wisconsin-based manufacturer delivered tool sets, equipment for UM students' use

UM engineering students Ashley Irons (left) and Vera Gardner (right) enjoy opening Milwaukee Tool packages as Satoka Watanabe (center), adjunct associate professor, shares the moment. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi received a generous gift Thursday (March 23) from Milwaukee Electric Tool Co.

Three representatives from one of the nation’s leading power tool manufacturers delivered more than a dozen toolboxes, power tools and accessories to the CME. University administrators and students welcomed the visitors and thanked them for the donations.

“The CME team is honored and humbled by this most generous gift from Milwaukee Tool,” said Scott Kilpatrick, CME associate director of internal operations. “We are thankful to the company leadership for their commitment to supporting our students and this manufacturing program.

“These tools will provide an outstanding environment for our students to use on a daily basis, and will hopefully be just the first step of many forms of collaboration between the university and Milwaukee Tool.”

A Brookfield, Wisconsin-based subsidiary of Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd., Milwaukee Tool is a manufacturer and marketer of professional, heavy-duty power tools and accessories. The company has three facilities in Mississippi: manufacturing operations in Greenwood and Jackson, and a distribution facility in Olive Branch.

Jack Bilotta, director of the company’s Greenwood plant, was accompanied by Chris Greer, continuous improvement manager at Greenwood, and Dale Russell Sr., manager of human resources at Greenwood.

“Our objective is to recruit the best talent possible and preferably people with Mississippi ties,” Bilotta said. “The addition of the CME and their growth strategy aligns very well with what our business needs. There is no question that Ole Miss is turning out some of the very best every year.”

Discussions leading to Thursday’s donation began last fall when company officials visited the center.

“Some members of the Milwaukee Tool leadership team visited the campus and immediately recognized the value in partnering with the university,” said William Nicholas, director of economic development at UM’s Insight Park.

“The donation of power tools and equipment helps cultivate brand awareness among students and provides Milwaukee Tool a great opportunity to hire some of our best and brightest after graduation. They provide an innovative company culture that will appeal to many of our students.”

The company’s engagement is not intended to be a one-year involvement, but to build a partnership that grows over the years, the representatives said.

The donation of tools will be crucial in supporting various labs and course projects that are part of the center’s program, Kilpatrick said.

“For example, when senior capstone teams are working on their final projects, they will be using the best tools available on the market,” he said. “From a functionality standpoint, it is hard to quantify how immensely helpful that will be.”

Additionally, from a cultural viewpoint, the Milwaukee Tool brand will be present in the minds of Ole Miss students, Kilpatrick said.

“This is a company that is a global leader in their industry but also has a very strong presence here in Mississippi,” he said. “This will certainly send an encouraging message to students about potential future professional opportunities with the company, as well.”

“We want the CME to have the very best of what is available in Mississippi,” Bilotta said. “A world-class facility should only have world-class equipment.”

UM administrators, faculty and students welcome representatives from Milwaukee Tool as they deliver power tools and equipment to the Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Pictured are (front row, from left), UM students Ashley Irons and Vera Gardner; Sakota Watanabe, adjunct associate professor; Cris Greer, continuous improvement manager for the company’s Greenwood plant; Chancellor Jeffery Vitter; Jack Bilotta, director of the Greenwood plant; and William Gottshall, CME interim director; and (rear, from left) Scott Kilpatrick, CME associate director of internal operations; Alice Clark, vice chancellor for university relations; William Nicholas, director of economic development at Insight Park; Tyler Biggs, CME admissions counselor; UM student James Halbrook; Dale Russell, manager of human resources at the Greenwood plant; and James Vaughan, CME director emeritus. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Administrators anticipate future collaborations with Milwaukee Tool, Kilpatrick said.

“From the perspective of the CME, this is the type of partnership that can benefit all parties and clearly serves the mission of our center,” he said. “One of our primary goals is to support and serve manufacturers here in Mississippi, and an essential method that we use to accomplish that goal is to provide an educational and experiential program that prepares graduates to serve as leaders in the manufacturing industry.

“So the aim here is clear; we plan to provide Milwaukee Tool with talented graduates to help lead their operations while also exposing our students to fantastic career opportunities as well.”

Several CME students present expressed their appreciation for the new tools and equipment.

“This is like Christmas in so many ways,” said James Halbrook, a sophomore chemical engineering major from Madison. “Milwaukee Tool has given us everything we need and more to do our best work.”

Vera Gardner, a senior mechanical engineering major from Memphis, Tennessee, agreed.

“These will come in very handy as we complete our senior design capstone project,” she said. “We will definitely use the equipment in the production phase.”

Milwaukee Tools officials said they are certain UM graduates can and will find employment within the company’s Mississippi plants.

“We have a year-over-year need for the top engineering talent, adding as many as 10 or more to our facility each year,” Bilotta said. “We want to be a part of keeping Mississippi talent in Mississippi. It’s a ‘win-win’ for all involved.”

The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence was established in June 2008 to provide unique opportunities for students interested in manufacturing. The opportunities developed are considered distinctive to the CME and are not available to undergraduate students at other universities in the United States.

For more information about the CME, visit

For more information on the full line of Milwaukee power tools and accessories, call 1-800-SAWDUST or visit

UM Volunteers Working at Career Expo in Tupelo

Three-day event designed to help junior high school students focus on opportunities

UM Field Station Director Scott Knight (center) shares with 8th grade students during the Career Expo. (Submitted photo by William Nicholas)

UM Field Station Director Scott Knight (center) shares with eighth-grade students during the Career Expo. Submitted photo by William Nicholas

OXFORD, Miss. – More than 60 University of Mississippi staff and students are working to get area eighth-graders thinking about their future at the Imagine the Possibilities Career Expo this week.

The event began today (Oct. 4) and ends Thursday (Oct. 6) at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo.

With the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund at CREATE Foundation as its lead sponsor, the three-day expo is designed to make eighth-graders aware of opportunities available after graduation. Some 7,000 students from more than 70 schools, including Oxford and Lafayette County schools, are expected.

“Our primary responsibility will be to manage UM’s various exhibits and engage with the students,” said William Nicholas, director of economic development at UM’s Insight Park and one of the organizers. “However, there will be ample opportunity to contribute in a number of ways. They need volunteers to check-in students, manage parking, distribute packets, distribute water, door greeters and so forth.”

Other UM organizers for expo are Ellen Shelton, director of pre-college programs in the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education; John Holleman, director of graduate studies in the School of Education; and Allyson Best, associate director for technology management in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Other UM divisions participating include the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, the UM Field Station, the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and the university’s Tupelo regional campus.

“The CREATE Foundation was created to support an improved quality of life for people residing in 17 counties in northeast Mississippi, including Lafayette County,” Nicholas said. “CREATE does a number of things to fulfill their mission, and this expo is one of them. Dr. Alice Clark, vice chancellor for university relations, serves on the board.

Amanda Pham (forefront) of UM's Center for Mathematics and Science Education gave a robotics demonstration during the Expo. (Submitted photo by William Nicholas)

Amanda Pham (forefront) of UM’s Center for Mathematics and Science Education gave a robotics demonstration during the Expo. (Submitted photo by William Nicholas)

“UM is participating in the expo because we share in CREATE’s passion to connect with eighth-grade students and help them understand career opportunities available after graduation.”

Other Ole Miss organizers affirmed Nicholas’ observation.

“We want the participants to know that their experiences with UM can begin with summer programs for junior high and high school students,” Shelton said.

“The opportunity for eighth-grade students to connect with a wide variety of career functions represented at the career expo truly allows them to begin thinking about the world of work,” Holleman said.

The Imagine the Possibilities expo features activities connected to 18 career pathways: aerospace; agriculture, food and natural resources; architecture and construction; arts, A/V technology and communications; business management and administration; education and training; energy; engineering; finance; government and public administration; health science; hospitality and tourism; human services; information technology; law, public safety, corrections and security; manufacturing; marketing; and transportation, distribution and logistics.

UM Honored with Attendance Award at SEC Symposium

Graduates and undergraduates traveled to Atlanta to participate

Clay Wooley stands beside his exhibit displayed at the SEC Symposium.

UM mechanical engineering student Clay Wooley stands beside his exhibit at the SEC Symposium. Photo credit

OXFORD, Miss. – A diverse group of University of Mississippi students, both graduate and undergraduate, traveled to Atlanta Sept. 20-22 for this year’s SEC Symposium. This year’s theme was “Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” and UM represented each of these areas at the event.

The university received the Excellence in Student Attendance Award, which is given to the university with the most students at the symposium. In recognition of the honor, the SEC will make a donation to the university’s general scholarship fund.

From engineering backgrounds to fine arts and everything in between, the UM team included nine undergraduate students, eight graduate students and two alumni.

“The SECU Symposium was a great opportunity for students and faculty to learn about ways to foster creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship within and across disciplines,” Interim Provost Noel Wilkin said. “It was nice to see our students participate in the conference and engage with faculty and students from other SEC universities.”

Since students were a central focal point for this year’s symposium, each school was asked to send one undergraduate student as an ambassador. The Ole Miss ambassador, Michael Davis, is a senior majoring in management information systems. Davis helped by with assisting speakers before their speeches, registering attendees for the event and performing other tasks assigned by conference organizers.

“I got the chance to meet and network with people all across the SEC,” Davis said. “My experience was great!”

“One of the best aspects of the SEC Symposium was the opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge and to work with faculty,” said Clay Dibrell, executive director for the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship,

“I know that I have personally enjoyed working with students associated with the different schools across campus and faculty outside of the business school. Once again, it illustrates the diversity of talent, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit which permeates everything we do at the University of Mississippi.”

Clay Wooley, a mechanical engineering major and a member of both the Center for Manufacturing Excellence and Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, displayed a piece in the Student Applied Arts Exhibition.

Hailey Hodge (right) stands by her piece "Fragmented House" with her professor, Brooke White.

Hailey Hodge (right) stands by her piece “Fragmented House” with her professor, Brooke White.

Hailey Hodge, who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree, displayed a piece titled “Fragmented House” in the Student Creative Works Exhibition.

Two Ole Miss students, Austin White and Daniel Roebuck, participated in the SEC Jazz Ensemble.

Alex Ray, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, and Caleb Robinson, who earned his bachelor’s in computer science, participated in the Student Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition with their Web-based business plan for

“The judges offered a lot of great feedback for our business,” Ray said, “We now have a few ideas of where we want to take the site in the next few weeks, and I think it’ll make our future pitches a lot stronger.”

The remaining 12 students were competitively selected by the university’s SEC Symposium planning team to represent the university based on their interest or track record in creativity, innovation or entrepreneurship.

The students selected were Andres Diaz Lopez, representing MIS; Deidre Jackson, higher education; Nick Keeling, pharmacy administration; Colin Wattigney, MBA; Cary Allen, Business, Center for Manufacturing Excellence; Kristin Howitt, mechanical engineering; Ashley Irons, accountancy; Josh McGlawn, civil engineering; Michael Williams, integrated marketing communications and Chinese; Pierre Whiteside, integrated marketing communications; Dave Thomas, mechanical engineering and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence; and Valencia Lloyd, psychology.

“I’m excited to see how SEC students impact the future,” Ray said.

UM Enrollment Tops 23,000 Students for Fall Semester

State's flagship university sees improvement in freshman ACT scores, GPAs

Students gather for class outside of Holman and Connor Halls.

Students take advantage of beautiful weather by gathering for class outside Holman and Conner halls.

OXFORD, Miss. – Enrollment at the University of Mississippi surged this fall for the 20th consecutive year, making history with more than 23,000 students across all its campuses for the first time.

Preliminary enrollment figures show a total unduplicated headcount of 23,096, largest in the state. That’s up 805 students from last fall, or 3.6 percent. The figures include the largest freshman class ever for any Mississippi university, a class that sports the highest ACT scores and high school GPAs in Ole Miss history.

“We are very pleased that students and families across Mississippi and throughout America continue to recognize the quality education and outstanding college experience we offer at the University of Mississippi, all at a very competitive price,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “Our faculty and staff work very hard to deliver the very best academic programs for students, and it’s truly rewarding to see those efforts being acknowledged with extraordinary interest in attending our university.”

The incoming freshman class swelled to 3,814 this fall, up 6.5 percent from 3,582 last year. Student retention also remains near record levels, with preliminary reports showing 84.6 percent of last year’s freshmen have returned to campus this fall, the second-highest retention rate in school history.

“While we’re very happy with the endorsement of so many new freshmen this fall, we’re particularly pleased with the success of the first-year programs we have in place to help freshmen adjust to the rigors of a world-class university,” Jones said. “Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college, so we try to give them all the tools they need to be successful during their time on campus and then as they launch their careers.”

Nearly two-thirds, 61.2 percent, of Ole Miss students are from Mississippi, including students from all the state’s 82 counties. The university also attracts students from across the nation and world. Overall, the student body includes representatives from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 92 foreign countries.

Ole Miss By the Numbers.

Ole Miss by the Numbers.

This year’s freshmen are better prepared for college course work, with an average ACT score of 24.3, compared to an average of 24.1 last fall. Their high school GPA increased too, from 3.46 to 3.49. Both measures have increased every year since 2010.

This year’s freshman class includes 57 class valedictorians, 52 salutatorians, 73 student body presidents, 83 Eagle Scouts and 10 Girl Scouts who achieved the Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting.

“Student leaders are an important component of our campus community,” said Morris Stocks, UM provost. “The University of Mississippi has a long history of attracting top students with demonstrated leadership skills. We have the wonderful opportunity to provide a leadership training ground and to influence these young people for a short but important period of time. We are thrilled that this freshman class is filled with future leaders.”

Minority enrollment totaled 5,488 students, or 23.8 percent. African-American enrollment is 3,285 students, or 14.2 percent of overall enrollment.

The student body also is diverse in age and national origin, ranging from four 15-year-old students to an 87-year-old pursuing a bachelor’s degree in French. Two of the 15-year-olds are dually enrolled at Oxford High School and the university. One of the other students, from Vietnam, has not declared a major, and the other is an international studies major from Lee County. The youngest graduate student is an 18-year-old from China who is pursuing a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences.

The university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College continues to expand, enrolling 1,210 students this fall, a more than 15 percent increase since fall 2012. The acclaimed Honors College has a record 373 incoming freshmen, with 54 percent being Mississippi residents. This fall’s honors freshmen have an average ACT of 30.2 and an average high school GPA of 3.93. The college’s facility on Sorority Row is undergoing a major expansion and renovation to accommodate its larger student body.

The university’s undergraduate schools of Accountancy, Engineering, Nursing, and Journalism and New Media all enjoyed double-digit growth. The number of undergraduate students in accountancy hit a record of 962, up from 869 last fall, and enrollment in the School of Journalism and New Media topped 1,000 for the first time – 1,044 this fall, compared to 886 last year.

Students travel across campus in between classes.

Students travel across campus between classes.

In the School of Nursing, based on UM’s Medical Center campus in Jackson, enrollment is up by 18.4 percent this fall, from 685 to 811 students. That follows a 28 percent spike last year. The dramatic growth reflects the school’s emphasis on lifelong learning, from the undergraduate level through its doctoral programs, said Marcia Rachel, the school’s associate dean for academics.

“Faculty members in the School of Nursing have worked hard to make sure all programs are current and relevant, and that the classroom and clinical experiences are distinctive, dynamic and engaging,” Rachel said. “We have excellent pass rates on national licensure and certification exams, and our reputation in the community is solid.

“In short, we are committed to our mission – to develop nurse leaders and improve health through excellence in education, research, practice and service.”

After seven consecutive years of growth, the UM School of Engineering ranks as one of the nation’s fastest growing. The undergraduate enrollment, which topped 1,000 for the first time in 2012, is 1,419 this fall, up from 1,285 last year.

“The UM School of Engineering has always been somewhat of a hidden treasure with small classes and personable faculty,” said Alex Cheng, the school’s dean. “But lately, more and more students from across the country and around the world are discovering just what we have to offer: a first-rate engineering education with the added liberal arts element, preparing our students for leadership positions in their careers.”

The numbers of students majoring in mechanical engineering, geology and geological engineering, and chemical engineering have more than doubled in the past five years. During that time, the school renovated many classrooms and laboratories, and moved its administrative offices into the renovated Brevard Hall. The university also added the Center for Manufacturing Excellence to complement and enhance existing engineering programs.

Another area experiencing rapid growth is the university’s professional pharmacy program, which leads to a Pharm.D. degree and professional certification. The number of students pursuing their Pharm.D. after earning a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences grew from 232 in 2013 to 290 this fall.

“The growth in our professional program is directly related to the quality pharmacy education that we provide,” pharmacy Dean David D. Allen said. “We’re proud of our program’s accessibility and affordability for both Mississippi students and out-of-state students. Not only do we have a tuition ranked in the country’s lowest 20 percent, but our graduates also have top scores for the national pharmacy licensure exam. I think students are additionally encouraged by our high job placement rate. Nearly 100 percent of our graduates are employed by the time they receive their degrees.”

To help accommodate the growing student population, the university has opened Rebel Market, a totally new dining facility in Johnson Commons, replacing the old cafeteria, as well as several satellite eateries across campus. Construction began this summer on a new residence hall in the Northgate area of campus, and Guess Hall is slated to be demolished soon to make way for two new five-story residence halls on that site.

Construction is continuing on a new facility for the School of Medicine, which will allow the university to increase class sizes, helping train more physicians to serve the state’s health care needs. A major expansion is underway at Coulter Hall, home of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and a new water tower is nearly complete near Kinard Hall. Work to renovate and modernize locker rooms and other fitness facilities at the Turner Center should wrap up by the end of the fall semester. Also, a three-year project will begin soon to expand and modernize the Student Union.

For more information on enrollment and programs at UM, go to

Jack McClurg Making His Mark at CME

Graduate returned to his alma mater to fulfill dreams of teaching manufacturing


Jack McClurg

Twenty years ago, Jack McClurg came to the University of Mississippi to earn his master’s degree in materials science. After working professionally for a couple of prestigious companies, he returned to UM to complete his doctorate in the same field in 2002.

Two years ago, McClurg came back to his alma mater for third time to fulfill his long-held dream of joining the faculty.

“I loved teaching when I was a graduate student at Ole Miss,” said McClurg, an associate professor of practice in UM’s Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. “Since then, I have always wanted to be an instructor. The whole purpose of getting my Ph.D. was to be able to teach somewhere down the line.”

McClurg was an ideal fit for the center, said James Vaughan, F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering and CME director.

“He has a strong academic background in engineering and materials science, and he has 15 years of experience working in industry in a variety of manufacturing-related positions,” Vaughan said. “His industrial experience, along with a true desire to help educate students, make him an easy selection for the position. His concern for student learning is evident in how he approaches the courses he teaches and his willingness to work with students outside the classroom.”

A graduate of Colorado State University, McClurg worked at Thermos Co. as a manufacturing and process engineer for six months in 1998. He went on to find employment as a systems engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. for seven years.

“At Lockheed, I worked on the joint strike fighter program (F-35 Lightning II),” McClurg said. “I later became a senior engineer in Miltec Corp.’s missiles and space division and a process and quality engineer for ATK. I also worked on various projects from the ARES I rocket system to the ORION multi-purpose crew vehicle fairings.”

While McClurg was an engineer at Lockheed, he taught courses for the local leadership association after hours.

“I actually enjoyed teaching more than my daytime job, which was also very exciting,” he said. “I received the instructor of the year award for 2002-2003. This award just reinforced my real desire to teach.”

McClurg said the most rewarding part of being on the CME faculty is his interaction with the next generation of engineers, accountants and business professionals.

“I really enjoy getting to know the students and sharing with them my experience of the real world environments that they may soon find themselves in,” he said. “I am also very blessed to be doing this at my own alma mater!”

McClurg and his wife, Christi, have three children: Katie McGaughy, Mallory McClurg, a Corinth High School senior recently accepted into the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, and Joshua McClurg, a CHS freshman. Katie and her husband, TJ, have a daughter, Lylah.

UM Efforts Recognized in TVA Community Sustainability Program

Announcement scheduled for Jan. 28 at Insight Park

Insight Park

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s combined sustainability efforts are being recognized as Oxford-Lafayette County is designated a Tennessee Valley Authority Valley Sustainable Gold Community.

“The Office of Sustainability was thrilled to make the solid connection between sustainability and economic development and demonstrate that the two are mutually beneficial,” said Anne McCauley, assistant director of UM’s Office of Sustainability. “It allows us to reach a whole new audience and groups of people who are also working to strengthen communities.”

A program officially announcing the award is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday (Jan. 28) at the Innovation Hub at Insight Park. Ian Banner, director of UM Office of Sustainability, university architect and facilities planning director, will welcome visitors to the event on behalf of the university. Other scheduled appearances include Janice Antonow, Oxford alderman; Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the L-O-U Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation; former Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth; and John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of economic development.

“For our recently established Innovation Hub and Insight Park, the designation is a key marketing advantage,” said Richard Duke, Insight Park executive director. “Being located in a mixed-use, sustainable environment is key to attracting the knowledge-based companies we are targeting and recruiting with help from partners, like TVA Economic Development.”

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