Wade Stinson’s Unwavering Support Helps Engineering Students

Civil engineering alumnus's most recent donation funds student scholarship

Wade Stinson (BSCE 78) has been a faithful donor to the UM School of Engineering since his graduation. Submitted photo

By the time Wade Stinson (BSCE 78) received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, he had already decided he would be a lifelong supporter of the University of Mississippi. Forty years later, the Memphis, Tennessee, native is still generously giving financial assistance to his beloved alma mater.

“I’ve always felt it was important for me to give back to Ole Miss engineering,” Stinson said. “In the early years, my contributions were fairly meager as I was just beginning my career. As soon as I was in a position to give more, I joined the Woods Order. After fulfilling my initial Woods Order pledge, I have continued to give at a similar level.”

Most recently, Stinson donated $25,000 to fund a scholarship for a deserving undergraduate civil engineering student in need of financial assistance. Stinson said he realizes that not everyone is as fortunate as he was.

“I earned several scholarships and my parents paid for my college education, so I only worked during the summers to earn spending money,” he said. “I had a roommate and good friend who was not as fortunate and worked several jobs while taking a full course load in civil engineering. I observed firsthand how difficult it could be to work your way through college.

“By establishing this scholarship, I hope to ease the burden for a deserving student like my former roommate.”

Stinson’s ongoing generosity is greatly appreciated, said Denson Hollis, UM Foundation development officer for the School of Engineering.

“For four decades, Wade Stinson has proven a faithful and generous benefactor of Ole Miss engineering,” Hollis said. “The School of Engineering in general and the Department of Civil Engineering in particular are deeply grateful to him for his gifts and his valuable counsel as a member of the Engineering Alumni Advisory Board.”

Stinson’s journey to the university began as a teenager following his family to Oxford to attend college basketball games.

“My dad received his engineering degree from the University of Tennessee,” Stinson said. “Since we lived in Memphis, he would frequently take me to Oxford to see his Vols play basketball. As we all know, once you’ve seen the Ole Miss campus, nothing else quite compares.”

When he was a senior in high school, Stinson went to Oxford and met with School of Engineering Dean Karl Brenkert and Department of Civil Engineering chair and professor Sam DeLeeuw.

“I was always pretty good in math and science, so CE was somewhat of a natural choice for me,” Stinson said. “Meeting with these two extraordinary gentlemen and educators sealed the deal for me, and I made the decision to attend Ole Miss. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted.”

After graduation, Stinson spent a nearly 40-year career in the electric, natural gas and water utility industry. The first 27 years, he worked for Memphis Light, Gas & Water eventually becoming its vice president of construction and maintenance. After retiring from MLGW in 2005, Stinson joined City Utilities of Springfield, Missouri, where he worked over 12 years as operations executive. He retired in September 2017 and now works part time as a consultant in the energy industry.

“Ole Miss provided me with an excellent technical engineering education, without a doubt,” Stinson said. “My time at Ole Miss also helped prepare me for future leadership roles, which proved invaluable in my career. We learned teamwork from working in groups on various projects.”

As an undergraduate, Stinson served in leadership roles through organizations such as Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon and the American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter. He considers being selected to serve as chairman of the board for the American Public Gas Association as his most significant professional accomplishment.

“APGA is the nationwide association for municipal and community-owned natural gas utilities and has over 700 members in 37 states,” Stinson said. “After serving on the APGA board for several years, I was elected chairman in 2012. This was a very busy yet rewarding year as my duties included meeting with members of Congress, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy.”

Stinson and his wife, Christy, live in Olive Branch. The couple has two adult children and four grandchildren. In addition to keeping up with the grandkids, he enjoys golf, traveling and attending Ole Miss sporting events.

“Some of our favorite travel destinations are the California wine country, Hilton Head and the Gulf Coast beaches,” Stinson said. “I recently rejoined the Engineers’ Club of Memphis, which has allowed me to reconnect with many friends and former colleagues. I also have more time to spend on physical fitness and try to work out frequently at the DeSoto Athletic Club.”

 

MOST Conference Offers Unique Insight into College Life, Experiences

Nearly 500 high school seniors participated in UM recruiting and empowerment event

By participating in interactive team building activities, students are empowered and learn valuable lessons during the 2018 Mississippi Outreach to Scholastic Talent Conference. Photo by Marilee Crawford/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – As the University of Mississippi’s 2018 Mississippi Outreach to Scholastic Talent Conference came to a close Tuesday (July 17), high school seniors in attendance raved about their three days of pre-college experiences.

“With 465 prospective students here, this was the largest MOST conference we’ve ever had,” said Alexandria White, assistant director of the university’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. “Because of the increase in attendance, we had to make some changes logistically in order to better accommodate the students.

“We’re very proud that the responses, both internally from participating students and externally from their parents and others following the conference on social media, has been so positive.”

Several participants said that being on campus transformed them in unexpected ways.

Based on the university’s history, Savion Price, of Macon, wondered whether or not  African-American students really would be welcome at the university. The Noxubee High School senior said he was pleasantly surprised by the inclusive atmosphere he experienced.

MOST mentors said they understand why some students may have reservations about coming to campus and volunteered because they want to help alleviate those anxieties.

“After I came to the 2016 MOST Conference and had a great experience because of my mentor, I felt it was important that I give that back to other high school students,” said Trevor Abram, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Horn Lake. “I want to see other people of color attend this university and to make the same meaningful, positive connections with its staff, faculty and students that I have.”

The attention of MOST mentors was appreciated by the students they guided and has provided helpful information for students as they begin their college search and selection process.

“Since I’ve been here, Ole Miss has definitely moved up on my list,” said Chelsea Smith, a senior from Columbus who plans to major in pre-med and business administration. “The mentors helped us a lot by letting us ask questions and giving us real answers.

The 2018 MOST Conference welcomes 465 high school seniors, the largest group ever, during an academic and activities fair. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“Because of them, I’m planning to stay focused and be responsible wherever I decide to go to college.”

Activities during the event included informational sessions, panel discussions, a talent show, Greek and campus organization presentations, small-group meetings and a closing awards ceremony. But the conference is far more than just “fun and games.”

“There is definitely real substance to the conference,” said Nicholas Crasta, a sophomore biology and political science major from Vicksburg who volunteered as a mentor even though he’d not attended a previous conference.

“There’s been a balance between empowerment activities for minorities and entertainment. Everything’s just been perfectly constructed for the maximum pre-college experience.”

A MOST Conference reunion is scheduled for Nov. 13. Several students said they are already anticipating that meeting as well.

“This has truly been a wonderful experience that I would recommend to anybody,” said Tyreek Hayes, of Madison, a senior at Germantown High School. “They opened more than just their facilities to us. They opened their hearts and let us know we are wanted and welcomed here.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter spoke during a faculty and staff networking dinner and applauded the students’ participation in the conference.

“Our university cares deeply about establishing and maintaining a culture of respect and inclusion,” Vitter said. “This outstanding conference is among those efforts because it is a wonderful opportunity to engage ambitious and exceptional students such as yourselves.

“We hope that after your amazing experience at MOST that we will see all of you back here next year at freshmen orientation.”

Participants at the MOST Conference respond enthusiastically as awards are presented during the closing ceremony in The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Photo By Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Preparations already have begun for the 2019 MOST Conference, White said.

“We send out a post-conference survey as soon as they return home,” she said. “Our committee members have been busy observing and providing meaningful feedback. Based on these, we’ll make improvements and tweaks so that next year’s MOST conference will be even bigger and better.”

A partnership between the Office of Admissions, Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the conference is made possible through the support of the Office of the Provost, Fed Ex, the Caterpillar Foundation, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, FASTtrack and the LuckyDay Scholars Program.

Incoming UM Freshmen Find Summer Bridge Program to be ‘STEM-ulating’

Talented students adapting to academic rigor, cultural awareness of campus life

Participants in the Mississippi Bridge STEM Program take notes in a class led by UM mathematics instructor Kelvin Holmes. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Before arriving at the University of Mississippi two weeks ago, incoming freshmen Eumetria Jones and Jemiah Johnson each expected their summer session experiences to be more or less a breeze.

Jones and Johnson are among 25 African-American students participating in the Mississippi Bridge STEM Program, a monthlong event designed to give them a head start on science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors. Funded by the Hearin Foundation under the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation, the program runs through July 26.

Participants are recent graduates of high schools in the Byhalia, Hattiesburg, Oxford, Pontotoc, Ridgeland, Houston, Lamar, Southaven, South Panola and Terry school districts; Germantown and Bartlett, Tennessee, schools; and the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.

Both Byhalia natives, who graduated at the top of their respective senior classes in May, have found that the rigorous academic curriculum and expanded cultural awareness of university life bears little resemblance to their high school days.

“It’s really been a huge adjustment for me,” said Jones, who plans to major in computer and information science this fall. “I was at the top of my graduating class in high school, but I never really had to study like this before this. Now, I’m spending eight hours a day studying just to keep up with the demands of the courses I’m taking.”

Johnson, a biology major who plans to one day become a biochemist, said coming from a predominantly African-American student body into the very diverse one at Ole Miss has been “very interesting.”

“Before coming here, I was used to everyone I went to school with looking and thinking more of less like me,” she said. “Being here has made me realize that there are a lot more kinds of people in the world than what I thought.”

Alainis Johnson, also a biology major from Ridgeland, said she found being in the Bridge STEM Program is helping her adjust to living on campus and attending the university.

“It’s been nice being with other African-American students who are in the same major that I am,” said Johnson, who wants to attend medical school and aspires to become a surgical nurse. “I’m truly thankful to be having this summer experience before I begin taking full course loads in August.”

Kaia Horne, of Ridgeland, agreed.

“The bridge program’s been good for me,” said Horne, a biochemistry major who’d like to become a neonatologist. “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to have to be in so many labs. That just shows me how much I need to study. It’s all good.”

Deundre Briggs, a general engineering major from Southaven, said being in the program has significantly improved his study habits.

“So far, I’ve learned that engineering is going to be tougher than I thought,” he said. “I found out that I can’t just memorize the material. I really have to know it. So, I’m really going to have to work hard to pass.”

A UM staff member said she is pleased with the participants’ feedback about the program.

Twenty-five incoming freshmen from across Mississippi are participants in the Bridge Summer STEM Program at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“All the students are required to take a math course of their choice and EDHE 105,” said Jacqueline Vinson, co-principal investigator of the Bridge STEM Program, EDHE 105 instructor and project coordinator for Increasing Minority Access to Graduate Education, or IMAGE. “Students will also attend various seminars, including health promotion, career center, financial aid, counseling center, student organizations and so forth.”

IMAGE was born from the Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation, which is funded through Jackson State University by the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation. These programs began with the recognition that more could be done to stimulate growth in the number of STEM-educated professionals.

Ten UM Freshmen Receive Omicron Delta Kappa Awards

Honor society recognizes outstanding young leaders and community servants

This year’s recipients of the Omicron Delta Kappa Freshman Leader Awards are (back row, from left) Kneeland Gammill, of Memphis; Nicholas Crasta, of Vicksburg; Abby Johnston and Harrison McKinnis, both of Madison; (front row, from left) Bridget McMillan, of Long Beach; Asia Harden, of Greenville; Margaret Baldwin, of Birmingham, Alabama; Swetha Manivannan, of Collierville, Tennessee; and Ariel Williams, of Waynesboro. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten University of Mississippi freshmen have been named recipients of Omicron Delta Kappa’s Freshman Leadership Awards.

The annual ODK Freshman Leadership Awards, which identify outstanding freshman leaders and community servants, were presented at the organization’s annual induction ceremony in April. Previous recipients have gone on to serve in roles such as Associated Student Body president and Student Activities Association director, and to be inducted into the university’s student Hall of Fame.

This year’s recipients of the ODK Freshman Leadership Awards are: Margaret Baldwin, of Birmingham, Alabama; Nicholas Crasta, of Vicksburg; Jacob Fanning, of Philadelphia; Kneeland Gammill, of Memphis; Asia Harden, of Greenville; Abby Johnston, of Madison; Swetha Manivannan, of Collierville, Tennessee; Harrison McKinnis, of Madison; Bridget McMillan, of Long Beach; and Ariel Williams, of Waynesboro.

“We created this award in 2010 to recognize the future leaders on our campus and to encourage their continued engagement in campus and community activities,” said Ryan Upshaw, ODK adviser and assistant dean for student services in the School of Engineering. “Each year, the selection process becomes more difficult as the university attracts student leaders from all over the country.

“Our society is excited to be able to recognize their outstanding contributions during their first year on campus. We also look forward to their potential membership in our society later in their college career.”

McKinnis, a chemical engineering major and graduate of Madison Central High School, said he is honored to be a recipient of the award.

“I was very excited when I found out I would receive this award,” McKinnis said. “To be recognized alongside such talented student leaders is truly an honor. I hope more than anything that my actions here on campus will make the lives of students more enjoyable and that they will see Ole Miss with the same love that I do.”

Baldwin, a chemistry major, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, where she received the Parker Memorial Scholarship. As an incoming freshman, she attended the MPOWER Leadership Conference, and she is a member of the Student Activities Association, Ole Miss Running Club and the Baptist Student Union.

Crasta, a Provost Scholar, is studying biology and political science. He attended the MPOWER Leadership Conference and served as a legislative aide for the Associated Student Body Senate. He is a member of Men of Excellence, the Black Student Union and Lambda Sigma. He is serving as an orientation leader this summer.

A biology and political science major, Fanning is a Provost Scholar and member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. He serves on the Ole Miss Mock Trial Team and is a member of ASB Freshman Forum. He is serving as an orientation leader this summer.

Gammill, a business and public policy leadership major, is a Provost Scholar and member of the Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the Lott Leadership Institute. He is a member of ASB Freshman Forum, the Ole Miss Cycling Team, Alpha Lambda Delta and Lambda Sigma.

Harden is a member of the Honors College and is studying integrated marketing communication. She attended the MPOWER Leadership Conference and is a member of ASB Freshman Council. She was a team leader for the Big Event and is a staff writer for the Ole Miss yearbook and a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class and Lambda Sigma.

A member of the Honors College, Johnston is studying public policy leadership as part of the Lott Leadership Institute and the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program. She is an ASB senator and an ambassador for the Lott Institute. She also serves as a pre-college programs counselor for the Office of Outreach and a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

Manivannan is an international studies and Spanish major as part of the Honors College and Croft Institute. She serves as secretary of the Residential College Cabinet and the UM Collegiate DECA chapter. She is also a member of the Model United Nations team, the Indian Students Association and the ASB Freshman Council.

McKinnis is a member of the Honors College and the recipient of the Stamps Foundation Scholarship. He attended the MPOWER Leadership conference and is a member of the ASB Freshman Council, Lambda Sigma and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. He is serving as an orientation leader this summer.

An accounting major, McMillan is a member of the Honors College and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, where she serves on the Student Advisory Board. She attended the MPOWER Leadership Conference and serves on the ASB Freshman Council.

Williams is pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College. She is a member of ASB Freshman Council and Alpha Epsilon Delta, and participated in RebelTHON and the Big Event. She is serving as an orientation leader this summer.

Omicron Delta Kappa is a 104-year-old leadership honor society that has initiated more than 300,000 members since its founding. The society has more than 285 active chapters at colleges and universities across the United States.