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

Strong investment returns, generosity of alumni and friends spurs growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David A. Puleo Named New Engineering Dean

Former Kentucky associate dean brings years of leadership experience, vision to position

David Puleo

OXFORD, Miss. – David A. Puleo, an administrator nationally respected for his activities in both academics and research, has been named the new dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Mississippi.

“Thanks to its leaders over the past 120 years, the (UM) school has a strong foundation, educating generations of engineers, computer scientists and geologists,” said Puleo, who assumes his duties at Ole Miss on Aug. 27. “The School of Engineering will play a key role in the university’s inspiring Flagship Forward strategic plan, and I believe my experiences at a large, public flagship university in the Southeast enable me to lead the school forward to ‘ever-increasing excellence.'”

A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, he was the associate dean for research and graduate studies at the University of Kentucky. Puleo, who was a professor in the F. Joseph Halcomb III, M.D. Department of Biomedical Engineering at UK, also founded Regenera Materials LLC, in Lexington, Kentucky.

In providing leadership for research activities, Puleo’s responsibilities included approval of all proposal submissions, oversight of College of Engineering centers and institutes, management of facilities and cultivation of research partnerships with academic and nonacademic units. Related to graduate programs, Puleo supervised academic policy development and implementation, new course and program development, graduate student recruitment in partnership with UK’s Graduate Studies Team, selection and awarding of College of Engineering graduate student fellowships and graduate program assessment.

“Our School of Engineering remains an integral component of academic excellence and scholarship at the University of Mississippi,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “David Puleo’s direction will enhance our already strong and competitive position among institutions of higher learning around the country and beyond its borders.”

Puleo’s plans are to immerse himself in the culture of Ole Miss and the engineering school. This exercise will set the stage for drafting a strategic plan for the school using a “collaborative visioning” approach that involves stakeholders from all constituencies.

“A key strength of the school is the broad-based and ‘high-touch’ approach to undergraduate education,” Puleo said. “We must maintain that quality of educating the next generations of engineers, computer scientists and geologists while also expanding our graduate programs and the highly-related research enterprise.

“The close proximity of multiple other schools, as well as the not-too-distant UM Medical Center, provide outstanding transdisciplinary educational and research opportunities.”

The new dean’s track record includes being a fellow in the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering, the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. A member of the Advisory Board for Viking Scientific Inc., Puleo received UK’s Excellence in Teaching in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2013.

During his 20-year tenure at UK, Puleo also served as assistant and associate professor of biomedical engineering, adjunct associate professor in the College of Dentistry and professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery for Content Management, both in the College of Medicine at the UK Medical Center. He also served as director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering before becoming chair after its conversion to a department.

Puleo and his wife, Sue, have two adult children, Nick and Angie, who are in medical school and college, respectively.

For more information about the UM School of Engineering, visit https://engineering.olemiss.edu/.

Four UM Students Accepted into Rural Physician Scholarship Program

Scholars agree to serve in small Mississippi communities after graduation

University of Mississippi students (from left) Steven Smith, Katelynn McGowen, Conner Ball and Megan Buchanan have been selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program. Submitted photo

JACKSON, Miss. – University of Mississippi seniors Conner Ball, Megan Buchanan and Steven Smith, and junior Katelynn McGowen, have been selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program.

Ball is the son of Janyce and Scott Ball, of Madison. Buchanan is the daughter of Terri Buchanan, of Collinsville. Smith is the son of Brian and Denise Smith, of Terry. McGowen is the daughter of Hugh and Robin McGowen, of Moselle.

Created in 2007, Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program identifies college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the necessary commitment and academic achievement to become rural primary care physicians in the state. The program offers undergraduate academic enrichment and a clinical experience in a rural setting.

Upon completion of all medical school admissions requirements, the student can be admitted to the UM School of Medicine or William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

During medical school, each Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program scholar is under consideration for $30,000 per year, based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program translates to 60 medical students receiving $1.8 million to support their education this fall.

Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support. 

Upon completion of medical training, the scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The program scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 15,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school, receive Medical College Admission Test preparation, earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

For more information, contact Dan Coleman, MRPSP associate director, at 601-815-9022, jdcoleman@umc.edu or http://mrpsp.umc.edu.

Coker Accepted into Rural Dental Scholarship Program

UM student selected for prestigious academic opportunity

Kaitlin Coker

JACKSON, Miss – Kaitlin Coker, a recent graduate of Northwest Mississippi Community College and a junior at the University of Mississippi, has been selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program.

She is the daughter of Tray and Stephanie Coker, of Charleston.

Created in 2013 by the Mississippi Legislature, the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program identifies up to seven college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the necessary commitment and academic achievement to become rural pediatric or general dentists in the state. The program offers two years of undergraduate academic enrichment, including Dental Admission Test preparation and clinical experience in a rural setting.

Upon completion of all dental admissions requirements, the student can be admitted to the UM School of Dentistry.

During dental school, each MRDSP scholar may receive $35,000 per year, based on available funding. The program will award nine scholarships in 2018-19, totaling $315,000. With continued legislative support, administrators hope to grow the program to 12 scholarship totaling $420,000 by 2019.

Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural dentists and academic support. 

After completing dental school, the scholars must practice general or pediatric dentistry in a rural, medically underserved community. The program scholar must provide dental services in a full-time clinical practice in an approved Mississippi community of 10,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

The program provides a means for rural Mississippi students to receive Dental Admission Test preparation, benefit from mentoring, learn the art of oral health care from practicing rural dentists and earn a $140,000 dental school scholarship in return for four years of service.

For more information, contact Dan Coleman, MRDSP associate director, at 601-815-9022 or  jdcoleman@umc.edu, or go to http://www.umc.edu/mrdsp.

Three Graduates Receive Rural Physician Scholarships

Funding supports medical training at UM School of Medicine

Three recent graduates of the University of Mississippi (from left), Cal Wilkerson, Alison Redding and Kaleb Barnes, have been awarded Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarships. Submitted photo

JACKSON, Miss. – Three recent graduates of the University of Mississippi have been awarded Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarships valued at $30,000 per year for their medical training at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson.

Cal Wilkerson, Alison Redding and Kaleb Barnes were honored at the annual ceremony for the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program.

Wilkerson is the son of Mr. and Mrs. David Wilkerson, of Woodville. Redding is the daughter of James and Carolyn Cegielski, of Laurel. Barnes is the son of Rodney and Melissa Barnes, of Booneville.

Created in 2007, the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program is designed to provide more primary care physicians in rural areas of Mississippi. During medical school, each scholar receives $30,000 per year, based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of the scholarship program translates to 60 medical students receiving $1.8 million to support their education this fall.

“The Mississippi Legislature celebrates with these Mississippians from across the state in their commitment to improving health care for rural Mississippians by becoming rural primary care physicians,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke said.

Besides the legislative support, three privately funded scholarships were also awarded this year.

Other benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support. 

Upon completion of medical training, the scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 20,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school and to earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

For more information, contact Dan Coleman, MRPSP associate director, at 601-815-9022, jdcoleman@umc.du or http://mrpsp.umc.edu.

Pharmacy Professor Selected for Nelson Order

Scott Malinowski was one of 20 inductees chosen for the UMMC honor

Scott Malinowski (left), clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, is welcomed into the Nelson Order by Rob Rockhold, deputy chief academic officer at the UM Medical Center, during ceremonies at the medical center. Photo by Joe Ellis/UMMC Photography

JACKSON, Miss. – Scott Malinowski, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been inducted into the Norman C. Nelson Order of Teaching Excellence at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Named for Norman C. Nelson, who served as UMMC’s vice chancellor for health affairs for 21 years, the award honors faculty members from each of UMMC’s six schools. Awardees are selected based on their dedication to students through innovative teaching, engagement, mentorship and setting expectations for professional behavior.

 “This is truly a great honor,” Malinowski said. “It is very special to be selected by students and colleagues in recognition of my teaching contributions.

“The existence of the Nelson Order shows just how committed the Medical Center is to teaching excellence. I am proud to be considered one of its members.”

Nominees for the Nelson Order were inducted at a luncheon where each received a stole from LouAnn Woodward, UM vice chancellor for health affairs, that they will wear Friday (May 25) during the Medical Center’s commencement ceremony.

“This is a significant achievement and well-deserved recognition of Dr. Malinowski’s many contributions to education on the UMMC campus,” said Seena Haines, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice. “He has demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching and engaging students and residents in their clinical and professional growth.”

Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs at the pharmacy school’s UMMC campus, said she is “thrilled” about Malinowski’s induction.

“In all practice environments, he has precepted pharmacy students and served as a role model,” Ross said. “Scott provides quality educational opportunities for our students by leading courses and serving as a facilitator in our problem-based learning curriculum.”

Ross went on to say that Malinowski’s long-term involvement in heart failure management in the ambulatory clinic, providing nutrition support in the inpatient setting and participating in the Community-Based Research Program shows his desire for student success.

“I am passionate about teaching because I enjoy helping students realize that they can successfully learn this vast amount of material that they are confronted with and use it to help others,” Malinowski said. “It is amazing to watch them grow into confident health care professionals.”

Crowdfunding Effort Aims to Offer Music as Medicine

Columns Society campaign focuses on pediatric health care

Batson Children’s Hospital School teacher Allyn Self works with patient Colin Henderson of Brandon. Photo courtesy UMMC

OXFORD, Miss. – Organizers of an online crowdfunding campaign want to supplement medicine with music for young patients being treated at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Members of the Columns Society, a group of UM students who serve as the university’s official hosts and hostesses, have created an Ignite Ole Miss campaign, hoping to raise $1,400 to cover the cost of Rhythm Pax gifts for children undergoing treatment at Batson.

A Rhythm Pax is a canvas sack filled with age-appropriate percussion instruments and other music-related items. The proposed gifts include a kalimba, a thumb piano; sound shapes; rain sticks; bells; triangles; hand bells; a Blue Man Group/”Stomp” DVD; finger drum; an iTunes gift card; and more.

“The therapeutic benefits provided by music are endless and allow families to cope and be together while creating and enjoying the gift of music,” said Ingrid Valbuena Alcina, philanthropy chair of the Columns Society and a senior majoring in integrated marketing communications.

Though acknowledging the role of music in addressing illness is not new, recent research is illuminating how music affects the brain and other body systems in a measurable way. Using that knowledge, practitioners can now integrate music with medicine to augment healing.

Leading the research in this area is the Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine in Baltimore.

“It’s fascinating and powerful to think that music, something that has been floating around in our environment forever – that this natural, omnipresent human activity has demonstrable benefit as treatment,” said Sara Hoover, the center’s co-director.

Batson Children’s Hospital is the only medical facility in Mississippi devoted exclusively to the care and treatment of sick and injured children and adolescents. The hospital averages 9,000 admissions a year and nearly 80,000 children are treated in its clinics and emergency room annually.

Patients come from all of Mississippi’s 82 counties to receive comprehensive medical care for everything from common childhood illnesses to serious trauma and life-threatening or chronic illnesses.

Batson Hospital provides care in more than 30 specialty areas, including newborn medicine, pediatric cardiology, neurology and surgery. It houses the state’s only pediatric intensive care unit and emergency department along with Mississippi’s only pediatric treatment programs for cancer, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, congenital heart defects and more.

Ground has been broken on a $180 million new pediatrics tower adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital, further expanding top-tier medical care for Mississippi’s youngest citizens.

To join the Columns Society’s effort to provide Rhythm Pax to hospitalized children, click here to visit the campaign’s Ignite Ole Miss page.

Dual-Campus Research Day Fosters Collaborative Science

Researchers from Oxford and Jackson share ideas, results

Caroline Canarios of the Center for Population Studies talks with Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) and Josh Gladden, UM vice chancellor for research, about the ‘Right! from the Start’ breastfeeding program, which includes investigators from the Oxford and Medical Center campuses. UMMC Public Affairs photo

JACKSON, Miss. – Members of the Jackson and Oxford research communities gathered April 4 for the fourth annual UM/UMMC Research Day in the Norman C. Nelson Student Union at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Research Day, held in alternating years at University of Mississippi’s Oxford and Medical Center campuses, is an opportunity for members of the university community to learn more about the scientific and scholarly research being conducted on both campuses. More than 150 attendees learned about the work of more than 80 faculty, administrators and trainees, ranging from artificial neural networks to health in Zambia.

“Research is the glue that holds our university’s missions together,” said Dr. Richard Summers, UMMC associate vice chancellor for research. Without the new knowledge generated by research, advances in education, health care and service would stall.

“The future is in our hands,” Summers said.

“I cannot overstate my confidence that we, as an institution, will continue to grow,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

The day’s presentations took the form of three-minute lectures, poster sessions and keynote addresses. Some presenters discussed their resources and results, inviting new partners to join in their work.

“How can we more actively treat patients, as opposed to seeing them in a doctor’s office every three to six months?” asked Kourtland Adams, nurse manager for the UMMC Center of Telehealth. His lecture discussed the potential of remote patient monitoring for managing chronic health conditions.

After providing patients in Sunflower County with digital monitors for daily check-ins, Telehealth’s diabetes project observed a decreased HbA1c after three months, he said.

Others arrived at Research Day with explicit requests for help.

“I came here looking for a medical physicist, and my presentation happens to follow one,” said Dwight Waddell, UM associate professor of electrical engineering.

Jeremiah Blough (left), a graduate student in the School of Applied Sciences, discusses his research with Jeremiah Reese, a first-year medical student, during a poster session. UMMC Public Affairs photo

Waddell, director of the new undergraduate biomedical engineering program, shared his “first-world” problem: lots of qualified students, but not enough research opportunities for them in Oxford alone. What better place to find potential mentors than the Medical Center, he said.

This year’s Research Day also included a forum on the Flagship Constellations, an initiative formalized in November 2017 to cluster research teams around broad challenges. Co-leaders from the Big Data, Brain Wellness, Community Wellbeing and Disaster Resilience constellations updated attendees on plans for cross-disciplinary work.

Nowadays, research requires this kind of collaborative approach. The image of a solo scientist bent over a lab bench is faded and outdated.

“One thing we have learned about research is that no man or woman is an island,” Summers said. “We need to leverage our strengths to make progress.”

“There’s no more low-hanging fruit in research,” said Josh Gladden, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “We are now looking at complex, multidimensional problems that require a multidisciplinary approach.”

Gladden illustrated the importance of forums such as Research Day with a story about a meeting between UMMC clinicians and Ole Miss acoustic researchers that occurred a few years ago. He saw an engineer and a neurosurgeon “huddled at a table drawing on a napkin,” he said, sketching out an idea for a device.

That kind of informal brainstorming can be the start of great ideas and partnerships, he said. With that, he encouraged Research Day attendees to find their own tables.

“We have plenty of napkins,” he said.

UMMC Distinguished Professor Earns SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Jane Reckelhoff honored for teaching and research

Jane Reckelhoff

JACKSON, Miss. – Jane Reckelhoff, Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor and chair of cell and molecular biology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is the 2018 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award winner for the university.

“I am truly honored to receive this recognition and am humbled to be a part of this distinguished group of scholars,” Reckelhoff said. “I extend my gratitude to those who nominated me for this distinction.”

To be eligible for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award, an individual must hold the rank of full professor at an SEC university. They must also have an extraordinary teaching record and be a nationally or internationally-recognized scholar in their field.

A graduate of the Medical College of Virginia with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, Reckelhoff joined the Medical Center in 1991 as an assistant professor of physiology and biophysics. She rose to the rank of full professor before becoming chair of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology in 2017.

Reckelhoff researches sex- and gender-based differences in blood pressure control and kidney function, as well as the mechanisms responsible for postmenopausal hypertension. Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1998.

She is co-principal investigator on a multi-institutional award to study hypertension in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. She also serves as principal investigator on a National Institute for General Medical Sciences grant to study perinatal health and disease.

Reckelhoff is dedicated to training the next generation of biomedical scientists, mentoring students ranging from high schoolers to postdoctoral fellows. Many of her former trainees have gone on to become faculty members at universities in several countries.

Reckelhoff is director of the Women’s Health Research Center and director of the Mississippi Center for Excellence in Perinatal Research at UMMC. She also served as president of the American Physiological Society in 2016.

“Dr. Reckelhoff is a distinguished scientist and teacher widely respected by her peers and loved by her students,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “These qualities and her outstanding leadership on our campus and in the broader scientific community make her exceptionally deserving of this honor.”

“Dr. Jane Reckelhoff helps define excellence at the University of Mississippi and we are so pleased she is being recognized and honored as an SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “This recognition is a testament to her outstanding contributions as an award-winning researcher, respected academic leader, nationally-recognized health advocate and an empowering mentor.” 

Selected by a committee of SEC provosts, the Faculty Achievement Awards are part of SECU. This academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its 14 member universities.

SEC Faculty Achievement Award winners receive a $5,000 honorarium from the conference and become his or her university’s nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year Award. The SEC Professor of the Year, to be named in April, receives an additional $15,000 honorarium and recognition at the SEC Awards Dinner.

Reckelhoff is the third UMMC faculty member to win the Faculty Achievement Award for the university.

Dr. John Hall, Arthur C. Guyton Professor and Chair of physiology and biophysics, received the honor in 2014 and was later named SEC Professor of the Year. Dr. Joey Granger, professor of physiology and biophysics and dean of the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, received the honor in 2016.

UM Professors Receive IHL Excellence in Diversity Awards

RoSusan Bartee, Dr. Leandro Mena and Dr. Helen B. Barnes lauded at ceremonies in Jackson

Dr. Leandro Mena (center), UMMC professor and chair of population health science, receives an IHL Excellence in Diversity Award from trustee Shane Hooper (left) as Charles S. O’Mara, UMMC associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, congratulates him. Photo by Jay Ferchaud/UMMC

OXFORD, Miss. – Faculty members at the University of Mississippi and the university’s Medical Center have been honored with diversity awards by the board of trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

RoSusan Bartee, professor of leadership and counselor education, and Dr. Leandro Mena, professor and chair of population health science, were recognized at the IHL’s Excellence in Diversity Awards ceremony Feb. 15 in Jackson. Dr. Helen Beatrice Barnes, a retired UMMC physician and administrator, also was awarded the Karen Cummins Community Service Award.

Each was presented a plaque by Shane Hooper, IHL trustee and chair of the Diversity Committee.

“Dr. Bartee and Dr. Mena make a profound difference on the students at the University of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi Medical Center,” Hooper said. “They are committed to ensuring that all students are welcomed and provided every opportunity to succeed. Their dedication creates a better campus climate for all students, faculty and visitors.”

Bartee said she is humbled by her recognition.

“The IHL Excellence in Diversity Award is particularly meaningful because narrow pathways of access and opportunity continue to plague the institution of higher education and the constituencies served,” Bartee said. “I believe my contributions have been experienced in the manner they were purposed whenever, wherever and however my contributions generate either broadened access or more opportunity for those served and subsequent public recognition – or not – occurs as a result of impact.”

Mena echoed similar thoughts.

“I recognize that I am just one member of a much larger community of very passionate people in our health center who collectively are doing an amazing work promoting inclusiveness and equity not only in our health center but throughout our state,” he said.

“I have seen how UMMC has become a leader in the promotion of tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness in our state and our region, so it felt very special and meaningful to receive this recognition from my own institution where so much work is being done by others promoting diversity.”

Barnes, professor emerita of the UM School of Medicine and co-founder of the Primary Care Clinic at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center, was honored for her longtime commitment to improving the health and lives of Mississippi women.

After joining the UMMC faculty as an assistant professor of medicine in 1969, Barnes served as professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology until her retirement in 2003. After that, her vision and passion to provide comprehensive health care for women led to the founding of the Primary Care Clinic for Women at the Medical Mall, which became the primary clinical site for the National Center for Excellence in Women’s Health at UMMC.

Doug Rouse, IHL trustee, presents Dr. Helen Barnes, UMMC professor emerita, with the Karen Cummins Community Service Award. Submitted photo by Jay Ferchaud/UMMC

The board voted last year to name the community service award in memory of trustee Karen Cummins in recognition that her life epitomized what the award is all about, helping to improve Mississippi’s communities with a welcoming and inclusive spirit.

The IHL honors enhance the university’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity, said Katrina Caldwell, UM vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.

“The IHL Excellence in Diversity Award is special because it celebrates the often-invisible labor of faculty and staff in our community who are deeply dedicated to helping us honor our stated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on our campuses,” she said.

Each IHL member institution, as well as UMMC and Mississippi State University Division of Agricultural, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, submitted one nomination for consideration to the board’s Diversity Committee. Nominees were evaluated based on positive contributions to the campus and the state and advancing diversity among their respective institutions.

Bartee became the first African-American to receive tenure and promotion to professor in the Department of Leadership and Counselor Education at Ole Miss. She is listed in Top 40/Under 40 in Mississippi, Who’s Who in Black Mississippi, Who’s Who Among Executives and Professionals and Who’s Who in America.

A School of Education researcher of the year, Bartee previously served as program coordinator for the master’s, specialist and doctoral programs in educational leadership. She utilizes every opportunity to champion equality and equal rights.

RoSusan Bartee (center), UM professor of leadership and counselor education, receives an IHL Excellence in Diversity Award from trustee Shane Hooper (left) and congratulations from Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. Photo by Jay Ferchaud/UMMC

“My commitment to diversity simply mirrors my commitment to humankind,” Bartee said. “Human beings are our greatest resource, yet most underutilized asset.

“To the extent that our intellectual, interrogative and inspirational capacities are used to advance all humankind is the extent to which campuses and society alike will fulfill the potential with-in and with-out.”

Associate professor of medicine with the Division of Infectious Diseases, Mena graduated from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. He is director of the Center for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Policy for the Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

Mena served 14 years as the medical director of Crossroads Clinic, the only publicly funded exclusive STD/HIV clinic in the state, and co-founded Open Arms Healthcare Center, a community-based clinic that offers primary care services with an emphasis in health care needs for LGBT populations in Jackson.

He has more than 26 years of experience in clinical and epidemiological research in the area of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, with special interest in the dynamics of transmission and the role that social determinants of health play in perpetuating these epidemics in sexual and gender minority populations.

“My commitment to diversity comes from the firm believe that we all deserve to be welcomed and valued for the contributions that we make,” Mena said. “I applaud IHL for recognizing efforts in the public institutions of higher education in our state to promote diversity and inclusiveness. Such recognition elevate the conversation and, hopefully, encourage others to get involved.”

For more information on diversity and inclusion efforts at UM, go to http://diversity.olemiss.edu/. For more information about the IHL, contact Caron Blanton at cblanton@mississippi.edu.