Army ROTC Cadet, Engineering Senior Receives National Recognition

UM student Donald Lorbecke selected for Society of American Military Engineers Award of Merit

Army ROTC Cadet Donald Lorbecke (right), receives the Society of American Military Engineers Award of Merit presented by Lt. Com. Joshua Taylor. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Most military personnel are honored after having engaged in active combat, but one University of Mississippi Army ROTC cadet is being nationally recognized before even being commissioned.

CDT Donald Lorbecke, a fifth-year senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in military science from Madison, Alabama, has been selected to receive the Society of American Military Engineers ROTC Award of Merit.

Awardees must be in the top 25 percent of their engineering class and in the top 25 percent of their Reserve Officers’ Training Corps class. Recipients are selected through a central military service board for the Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC programs.

“It is a fairly select award that is competitive among all service branches commissioning programs,” said Lt. Commander Joshua Taylor, chair of the university’s Army ROTC and professor of military science. “With over 5,000 cadets per cohort nationwide in Army ROTC alone, it is quite an honor for him.”

Lorbecke, who receives his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering Saturday at Commencement, will be commissioned in the Mississippi Army National Guard as a 2nd Lieutenant Engineer Officer. He said he is humbled by his recognition.

“I was very honored to learn the selection process for this award,” he said. “Sometimes, I forget that I am doing more than people expect. I think it is because I am doing what I love: military and engineering.”

Taylor said Lorbecke is “unmatched by his peers in terms of his character, competence and commitment to duty.”

“I have watched Cadet Lorbecke grow as a leader and embrace a sense of stewardship for the profession,” he said. “He is completely selfless in all actions and commits more time toward giving back to our program.

“He is a genuine leader and will excel in all that he does. It was a privilege to have him in our program.”

Lorbecke and his sister, Margo Lorbecke, were raised by their aunt and uncle, Jean and Jeff Downs of Madison. The Downs, both Ole Miss alumni, influenced Lorbecke’s decision to attend the university.

“My aunt did 20 years in the Army and my uncle is a mechanical engineer,” he said. “One cousin is also a mechanical engineer. Another one is a geological engineer and served in the Army as well.”

Lorbecke said he is grateful for professors in both the mechanical engineering department and Army ROTC program.

Donald Lorbecke speaks during the recent Cadet ‘Change of Command’ ceremony. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“Dr. (Erik) Hurlen (instructional assistant professor of mechanical engineering) and Dr. Raj (Arunachalam Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering) are very smart and supportive professors,” he said. “Both these men should never leave this university because of the impact they make here.”

As for his ROTC instructors, Lorbecke lists Capt. Joseph Gooch, operations officer and MS III instructor, and Maj. Ronald Rogers, MSARNG recruiting BN, Program XO and MS I instructor, as having been his most influential.

“They showed you how a great leader should act and take care of soldiers,” he said. “Capt. Gooch prepared us for our advanced camp summer evaluations last year. Without him, I would not have received the Distinguished Military Graduate Award.

“Maj. Rogers was the assistant professor of military science and the National Guard Simultaneous Membership Program instructor. His presence would give you this feeling that he truly did care for the development in others and the program.”

Rajendran commended Lorbecke upon his recognition.

“I’ve always admired Don’s attitude and demeanor towards all activities during throughout his undergraduate education here at the Ole Miss,” he said.

Army ROTC Lt. Com. Joshua Taylor (left) and Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of engineering, congratulate Donald Lorbecke for winning the Society of American Military Engineers Award of Merit. Submitted photo

Rajendran interacted with Lorbecke during the 2018 American Society of Mechanical Engineers robot design competition. Lorbecke was a member on one of the two teams that participated in the competitions at Pennsylvania State University at State College, Pennsylvania.

“Don and his team designed the robot with enormous passion and hard work,” Rajendran said. “He has been a rising star as an ROTC cadet. Winning the SAME award further confirms Dons’ well-rounded accomplishments.”

Engineering school Dean Alex Cheng agreed.

“Donald is a remarkable young man with excellent leadership, strong determination and true integrity,” Cheng said. “He is well-deserving of this award and I believe he will soon distinguish himself in his very promising military and engineering career. We are proud to claim him as an Ole Miss engineering alum.”

The SAME Award of Merit, a bronze medal with bronze key replica, was authorized in 1948 to be awarded annually to outstanding junior and senior engineering students in the ROTC program. A central military service board selects outstanding students for the awards from nominations submitted by the professors of military science and technology, naval science and aerospace studies.

UM Students to Intern this Summer in Eastern Asia

Placements made possible through Freeman Foundation grant

Freeman Foundation summer intern grantees include (front row, from left) Meredith Brown, Tyler Caple, Emily Rodriguez, Emma Scott, Tina Ng, Navodit Paudel, Sydney Bush, Jasmine Nguyen and Lucy De la Cruz, and (back row, from left) David Pfaehler, Jordan Holman, Sarah Berry, Mo Karzon, Stewart Eaton and Daria Herasymova. Submitted photo by Joe Worthem

OXFORD, Miss. – Seventeen University of Mississippi students will be interns in East and Southeast Asia this summer, thanks to a substantial grant from the Freeman Foundation of Stowe, Vermont.

The $100,000 program, “UM Experiential Learning in East Asia,” allows selected undergraduates to complete a summer internship of at least eight weeks in summer 2018. Each will receive $5,000 from the Freeman Foundation grant and an additional $2,500 provided by the university’s Office of Global Engagement and the students’ respective UM schools.

“The Croft Institute has been the campus leader in promoting engagement with East Asia for the last 20 years, and this generous grant by the Freeman Foundation allowed us to add another important dimension to those efforts,” said Oliver Dinius, executive director of the Croft Institute for International Studies and program administrator.

Dinius worked with Joshua Howard, Croft associate professor of history; Minjoo Oh, associate professor of sociology; and Blair McElroy, the university’s senior international officer, to design the application process, select award recipients and assist students as they prepare for their internships.

Grant recipients include Meredith Brown and Emma Scott, both of Oxford; Sarah Berry, Stewart Eaton, Mo Karzon and Jasmine Nguyen, all of Brandon; Lucy De la Cruz of Southaven; Tina Ng of Walls; Sydney Bush of Gulfport; Jordan Holman of Petal; Tyler Caple of Huntsville, Alabama; Sarah Liese of St. Louis; Scott Givhan of West Hollywood, California; Emily Rodriguez of Portland, Oregon; David Pfaehler of Independence, Kentucky; Daria Herasymova of Ukraine; and Navodit Paudel of Nepal.

The program is universitywide and recipients come from diverse academic backgrounds. Two study at the Patterson School of Accountancy, four at the School of Business Administration, three at the School of Engineering, seven in the College of Liberal Arts and one at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Eight of the selected students are enrolled in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“The students will complete internships in seven countries,” said William Mahoney, coordinator of alumni relations and career planning in the Croft Institute. “Six will be in China, three in South Korea, three in Thailand, two in Japan and one each in Cambodia, Singapore and Vietnam.”

The students have secured exciting internships. Rodriguez, a double major in accountancy as well as banking and finance, will be interning with Ernst & Young in Singapore. There, she expects to gain an understanding of compliance for banks, insurance organizations and wealth management firms and corporate tax as a whole.

“EY handles some of Singapore’s biggest financial service organizations, and the prospect of working alongside and learning from EY’s influential and insightful leaders is an outstanding opportunity,” she said. “My duties will vary significantly day-to-day, however some of the general responsibilities include project mapping for FSO compliance, general tax document processing and assisting in the sales strategy for corporate tax products.”

A general engineering major with an emphasis in pre-med studies, Berry will spend her summer shadowing and volunteering in Shanghai First People’s Hospital. She believes her internship will provide her with unique, yet essential, insights into health care tactics for treating patients beyond the scope of only their physical ailments.

“What I most admire about Chinese health care is its incorporation of tradition with modern practices,” Berry said. “I am very excited for this summer, and I look forward to furthering my knowledge of medicine, gaining invaluable experience as a health care provider, and immersing myself in the culture and tradition of China and its medical field.”

The Freeman Foundation grant furthers collaborative efforts to provide students with valuable experiences, Ole Miss administrators said.

“The Freeman Foundation scholarships supported in part by the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College enable our students to experience the richness of culture to improve linguistic skills and to attune our scholars to the challenges in East Asian countries,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Honors College dean. “I cannot think of a more profound way to enhance, even change, the life choices of our future graduates of the University of Mississippi.”

The goal of the Freeman Foundation’s grant is to help students gain real-life experience while interacting regularly with local populations. Established in 1994 by the estate of AIG co-founder Mansfield Freeman, the foundation’s general mission is “to strengthen the bonds of friendship between this country and those of the Far East” and “to stimulate an exchange of ideas in economic and cultural fields which will help create mutual understanding.”

Headed by Mansfield’s grandson, Graeme Freeman, the foundation donates approximately $50 million annually to programs such as study abroad scholarships for Asian and American students and the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia, which has supported the Croft Institute’s efforts to strengthen teaching about East Asia for more than 15 years.

This grant lets the Croft Institute and other participating campus units deliver on the university’s commitment to educate and engage global citizens and to support experiential learning, two core principles in the university’s Flagship Forward strategic plan. Students chosen for UM Experiential Learning in East Asia will learn how a foreign culture affects the work environment and help prepare them to succeed.

“This is the first year for this program, and we are excited to be able to send such a diverse and motivated group of students to Eastern Asia,” Dinius said. “We look forward to hearing about their experiences upon their return and have them share their insights with the next generation of interns.”

The goal is to make the program a permanent feature at the university.

“We are optimistic that the Freeman Foundation will renew this grant for 2018-19, and we may even be able to increase the number of award recipients,” Dinius added.

Details about the next round will be available early in the fall semester.

UM Graduate Programs Highly Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Business school finishes No. 53 among public institutions

The University of Mississippi School of Business is tied for No. 53 among public institutions in the 2019 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi offers 14 graduate programs ranked in the Top 100 among public institutions. Seven programs joined the ranks of the Top 100 in the recent 2019 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings, adding to seven other UM graduate programs that were previously ranked.

UM graduate programs ranked in the Top 100 are:

Online graduate programs at UM ranked in the Top 100:

  • online MBA (No. 20)
  • online education (tied for No. 35)

The business program performed exceptionally well in the 2019 edition of the rankings, finishing in a tie for No. 53 among public institutions.

“We are excited for the recognition of our MBA program, and this ranking is a testament to the quality of our faculty and the outstanding educational experience that we provide for our students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “We continue to create opportunities for student success and offer an excellent value in the marketplace for students aspiring to receive an MBA.”

Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report named the university’s online Master of Business Administration as one of the best in the nation, ranking No. 20 nationally, and the Ole Miss online graduate education programs tied for No. 35 among public institutions.

The School of Law is tied for No. 54 among public institutions in the 2019 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“We’re pleased to see many of UM’s graduate programs ranked nationally,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “As we continue our focus upon preparing the next generation of leaders for challenges on a national and global stage, these rankings provide important benchmarks for us to highlight and measure our successes.

“Through our outstanding faculty and collaborative research opportunities, we are committed to fostering excellence in graduate education and to growing our reach and impact.”

The new rankings arrive a year after U.S. News & World Report graduate program rankings for history, English and political science placed each of those UM programs in the Top 100 for public institutions.

In the 2018 edition of the rankings, the UM graduate program in history cracked the Top 40 for the first time, tying for No. 38 among public institutions.

The English program tied for No. 40 among public universities.

The political science graduate program entered the rankings for the first time and tied for No. 59 among public institutions.

Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration, said the school’s high ranking in the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings is a testament to its faculty and educational experience. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

In the 2017 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings, the Ole Miss pharmacy program ranked No. 23 among public institutions, and the university’s clinical psychology graduate program tied for No. 67 among public institutions.

“The institution has focused on enhancing graduate education, and we are so pleased that our excellent programs have garnered this level of recognition,” said Christy M. Wyandt, interim dean of the Graduate School.

In four of the last five years, the university also has improved its overall U.S. News & World Report Top Public Schools ranking. In the 2018 edition, UM was tied for No. 73 among top public schools.

The 2019 edition of the rankings rates programs in business, law, medicine, nursing, engineering and education, among others. According to U.S. News, the ranking methodology varies by discipline, taking into account factors that may include test scores of entering students, job placement rates and starting salaries of recent graduates, academic quality ratings by officials at peer institutions, and opinions of hiring managers.

University Honors Three Employees with Frist Service Awards

Kerri Scott, Leslie Banahan and Ryan Upshaw recognized for assistance to students

Ryan Upshaw

OXFORD, Miss. – Following glowing letters of recommendation from students, parents and colleagues, three University of Mississippi employees have been chosen to receive prestigious honors for their exceptional service.

The Thomas Frist Student Service Awards are presented annually to one faculty member and one staff member for going the extra mile in dedication and service to students. Examples of exemplary service include student guidance and mentorship above and beyond those expected of faculty and staff as part of their job responsibilities.

For the first time, two staff members are being honored this year. Leslie Banahan, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, and Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services in the School of Engineering, are the staff recipients. Kerri Scott, instructional associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and associate director of forensic chemistry, is the faculty honoree.

“Our university is truly a special place because of our steadfast commitment to student engagement and success,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Across our campus, we have exceptional faculty and staff who go above and beyond to put our students first.

“All three of this year’s tremendous Frist Award recipients live out this commitment and core value each and every day.”

Kerri Scott

Any full-time faculty or staff member, except previous winners, is eligible for the award, which includes a $1,000 prize and a plaque. They will also be acknowledged May 12 during the university’s main Commencement ceremony.

A Frist Committee co-chair said that the decision to narrow it down to just one staff recipient this year was impossible because of the stellar praises expressed for each in the nomination letters received.

“We had an outstanding group of nominees with many deserving nominees in each category,” said Brett Cantrell, assistant professor of accountancy. “For the faculty award, Dr. Scott stood out for the impact her advising had on students not just academically, but intra-personally.

“Ryan Upshaw has received strong nominations for this award year after year, and it was only a matter of time before he was recognized.”

Scott, who had multiple nomination letters written by both students and faculty, was commended by a colleague for “her commitment to students and their success.”

One student, who never took a course from Scott, wrote that, “There was one point she found me crying over a quantitative analysis, and Dr. Scott found time to calm me down and give me a chemistry beaker mug to encourage me to keep me moving forward. She helped me come up with an honors undergraduate research project and helped me with the data processing for my thesis.”

One of Upshaw’s nomination letters, written by a student who suffered an aneurysm and was in a coma for a time before being told he would never walk again, states, “Ryan proved to be a ray of sunlight and hope.

“Ryan visited the hospital numerous times, bringing with him notes of well-wishes and reminders that that my home was in Oxford. It was his encouragement that led me to fight hard to recover. … Because of Ryan, I will WALK across the stage on May 12 to graduate.”

In his letter for Banahan, a parent wrote, “it is clear that her service to our students has made a lasting impact on the culture of Ole Miss.” Students and colleagues commended her for her work to bring the Columns Society, Ole Miss Food Bank and Common Reading Experience to campus.

“She gives her students respect and friendship,” one student wrote. “She invites students into her home at Thanksgiving. She brings her dog to class, knowing some students miss being away from family pets for the first time.”

Leslie Banahan

All three honorees said they were rendered “speechless” upon the chancellor’s notification of the honor. Afterwards, each reflected upon what the recognition means to him or her.

“I am incredibly lucky to have a job where I get to help others achieve their dreams,” Scott said. “The students keep me young, on my toes and challenged. They never let me forget that the world is full of amazing potential and greatness.”

Upshaw echoed Scott’s sentiments.

“It’s hard to believe that I am receiving this recognition that mentors like Valeria Ross and Donald Cole have received in previous years,” he said. “When I decided to pursue a career in higher education after graduating from Ole Miss, I knew that I had a responsibility to pour into and support students in the same way that so many people did for me (and continue to do) during my time here.”

Banahan expressed similar feelings.

“I feel so fortunate to work with such amazing colleagues and students,” she said. “My career has been a wonderful, fulfilling gift, and I am grateful for the many opportunities I’ve been given at the University of Mississippi.”

One honoree said she plans to give her stipend back to the university.

“I will probably donate the stipend to the Columns Society and to the Ole Miss Food Bank, two student organizations that are very important to me,” Banahan said.

The Frist Student Service Awards were established with a $50,000 gift from the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate. Previous winners of the Frist Award include faculty members Luca Bombelli, Denis Goulet, Aileen Ajootian, Don Cole, Charles Eagles, Ellen Meacham, Terry Panhorst, Ken Sufka, Eric Weber, Donald Dyer and Robert Brown; and staff members Anne McCauley, Carol Forsythe, Thelma Curry, Dewey Knight, Valeria Ross, Marc Showalter, Linda Spargo and Whitman Smith.