Jones Creates Scholarships in Wife’s Memory

Endowment will help students earn degrees from School of Business Administration

The late Ann McCully Jones, of Richton, is being memorialized through a new scholarship endowment at the University of Mississippi. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – On the first day of every month for 46 years, Ann McCully Jones and her husband, Frank, repeated their wedding vows. After he lost his partner in life, Frank Jones carried out what the couple had spoken of many times: funding University of Mississippi scholarships.

Jones, of Richton, has established the Margaret Ann McCully Payne Jones Memorial Scholarship Endowment with a gift of $800,000 for School of Business Administration students. First preference for the need-based scholarships will be given to freshman students from the Christian-based French Camp Academy, Baptist Children’s Village or Palmer Home for Children.

“Ann was always looking for ways to help individuals who were having difficult times because she experienced a host of life’s trials herself,” Jones said. “Ann and I had talked many times of helping those needing the most hope, and we wanted this scholarship to assist students in the years ahead who otherwise might not be able to attain their full potential.

“We hoped and prayed that these future recipients would be successful in their chosen endeavors and, as their lives unfolded, they would be able to pass on help to other young men and women. Our desire was that each person helped would in turn help others to reach their destiny. It is our intent that they join us in caring and carrying forward a legacy of helping others.”

Henry Jones, of Brandon, the oldest of the couple’s three sons, said anyone who knew his mother, who died in August 2017, recognized her priorities. “She loved God, her family and Ole Miss, and she was very happy when any two of those loves could be found together.”

Ann and Frank Jones were not Ole Miss students at the same time. Frank graduated in 1959 with a degree in chemistry and biology. Ann pursued a major in business education, graduating magna cum laude in 1965 and as a Taylor medalist and Phi Kappa Phi member, while being involved in Mortar Board academic honorary and Delta Gamma sorority.

Frank Jones originally planned to attend West Point Military Academy, but a neck injury prevented him from taking advantage of that opportunity. Ole Miss was the only other school he would consider.

After two years in the Army Chemical Corps, he enjoyed seven-and-a-half years working with the Pepsi Cola Corp. in New York and traveled extensively over the country. The call to come back to Mississippi and join his father in the funeral profession ended the Pepsi Cola involvement.

Ann Jones joined a host of other family members who chose to make the Oxford campus their college home, and an uncle advised her to seek out the Ole Miss business school. She was born in Waco, Texas, while her lawyer father, John Triplett McCully, served as an Army Intelligence officer. The family returned to DeKalb, where she graduated from DeKalb High School before going on to Ole Miss.

Her mother, Margaret Payne McCully, was an Ole Miss graduate and a high school English teacher at DeKalb High School and Murrah High School in Jackson.

The Joneses first met in New York City at a Marble Collegiate Church function following a message by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and then spent the afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with friends Lester and Janaan Clark, of Hattiesburg. Dedicated to a career that took her all over many states as a business trainer for IBM, Ann McCully initially wasn’t to be distracted by romance, and Jones said it took him five years to persuade her to marry him.

“Ann was blessed with great intelligence and typing speed,” her husband said. “The business world offered an opportunity for her to earn a much better salary than teaching, which was her mother’s profession. She loved traveling with IBM, which was a good company to work for.”

McCully left IBM and returned to Mississippi to plan her wedding. Later, she helped her husband with his Standard Oil agency and Chevron jobbing businesses before the couple, upon the retirement of Frank’s father, joined the family business, Jones & Son Funeral Home. The couple expanded the funeral home to other locations in south central Mississippi.

Besides raising their three sons – Henry, John and Walt, who all earned their first degrees at Ole Miss and were Sigma Chi members, like their father – they were extremely active in the First Baptist Church of Richton through the music and children’s programs, as well as in community organizations. Second preference for the scholarship is directed to Richton High School students.

Ann Jones was well-known for being an enthusiastic ambassador for Ole Miss.

“A constant recruiter to Ole Miss, she gave many of my south Mississippi friends their first exposure to Oxford and the Grove,” said son Dr. John Jones, of Indianola. “Mom was a faithful woman and a Rebel.”

“What I cherish about my mom was her passion and commitment to the things she loved,” said son Walt Jones, of Fort Worth, Texas. “She loved the Lord, her family, friends and Ole Miss.

“Everyone she met knew they were important to her and that she valued their relationship. She taught me how to love people well and to love Ole Miss!”

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter thanked Frank Jones not only for the endowed gift but also for the thoughtful designation of the scholarships.

“Ann and Frank were deeply devoted to each other, and that great love spilled over into their view of and concern for people, that is, young people who might have experienced challenges or the loss of their parents,” Vitter said. “This couple shared a desire to help others by providing scholarship resources for them to attend their own alma mater, a place where they both thrived.

“So many young people today need that ‘hope’ of which Mr. Jones speaks, and giving encouragement through access to higher education not only dramatically changes their lives but also enriches our society as a whole. We are grateful for this extraordinary gift.”

Freshman recipients of the Jones Scholarship may retain the award until completion of their undergraduate degree (up to eight semesters) and it can assist graduate students with their MBA (up to four semesters), provided they remain in good academic standing. The School of Business Administration Scholarship Committee will make the selections each year.

Individuals and organizations with the same desire to meet the needs of those less fortunate may make gifts to the Margaret Ann McCully Jones Memorial Scholarship Endowment by sending a check with the fund’s name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift; or contacting Nikki Neely Davis, executive director of development at nlneely@olemiss.edu and 662-915-6678.

University Launches Flagship Society

Campuswide giving program to benefit academics at Ole Miss

The Flagship Society is the first campuswide leadership annual giving program at the University of Mississippi. Individuals can join this fiscal year and become charter members, providing crucial private support to our academic community. Photo by Kirsten Faulkner

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has launched the Flagship Society – its first campuswide leadership annual giving program – to recognize annual donors, share the impact of their giving and increase philanthropic support for academic programs and scholarships at a time when higher education costs are escalating.

“The Flagship Society will add to the margin of excellence at Ole Miss, advancing the university’s ability to transform lives and make a profound impact in Mississippi, the nation and the world,” said Charlotte Parks, UM vice chancellor for development.

For the seventh consecutive fiscal year, which ended June 30, Ole Miss alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff have committed in excess of $100 million in private support, much-needed resources as state support covers only 13 percent of the university’s annual budget.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said he is constantly inspired by donors’ desire to give back to ensure future generations have exceptional educational opportunities and society has a higher quality of life.

“Through their giving, Flagship Society members will be expressing a strong belief in the power of higher education and the positive impact of private support,” he said. “Our alumni and friends are known far and wide for their continuous and generous investments in the Ole Miss student experience, our academic environment and outreach efforts.

“The University of Mississippi is honored to recognize these annual donors who step up, year after year, to propel the flagship forward.”

The Flagship Society name pays homage to the university’s flagship status as the oldest and largest public university in Mississippi. The name also represents members of the Ole Miss family who serve as philanthropic leaders in the academic, service and cultural programs, Parks said.

“We want to honor the Flagship Society members’ generosity by selecting a name that reflects their impact on the university,” she said. “Each Flagship Society gift combines with others to produce powerful resources.”

Gerald Wages, of Tupelo, is an alumnus and former executive with North Mississippi Health Services who has been providing consistent annual support for almost three decades.

“My decision to make a contribution to Ole Miss was an easy one for two reasons: First, a contribution would be a way to ‘pay back’ – to recognize the quality of the education I received that prepared me for my career and to repay the university for the outstanding experience that I had on campus during my college years,” Wages said. “Secondly, a contribution would represent an investment in the future of Ole Miss and an investment in the many students who will be receiving their education there in the years to come.

“For those reasons, I am excited to have an opportunity to contribute, and I encourage all alumni to continue being a part of the Ole Miss story with annual support.”

Annual gifts, for example, can bolster scholarship support for students, increase funds for recruitment and retention of faculty, increase graduate stipends to support doctoral students, heighten access to research grants whose results help people live healthier lives, increase maintenance funds to keep up the university’s array of facilities, and increase support for the cultural arts.

Having these funds available enables university leadership to be flexible and prompt in addressing needs and opportunities without diverting resources from elsewhere, said Alyssa Vinluan, an annual gifts officer in the Office of University Development.

Membership in the Flagship Society is open to any household or individual whose cumulative giving to academics totals $1,000 or more during the fiscal year (July 1-June 30). Donors can make unrestricted gifts to the Ole Miss Fund – resources used at the discretion of UM leadership for the university’s greatest needs – or donors can choose to direct their gifts to a specific school, program or scholarship, Vinluan said.

Membership in the Flagship Society can be met by an outright gift or by making pledge payments throughout the fiscal year. Levels of membership are Bronze with a gift of $1,000, Silver with a gift of $1,848, Gold with a gift of $2,500 and Platinum with a gift of $5,000 or above.

Graduates whose most recent UM degree is from the past five years can join the Flagship Society with an annual gift of $100. Likewise, alumni from the past six to 10 years become members with an annual gift of $500, as university officials understand these graduates are establishing their lives and careers.

Kirsten Faulkner, of Metropolis, Illinois, who finished her undergraduate degree in journalism in May and is pursuing graduate studies, said she hopes the Flagship Society drives home the message that gifts of all sizes matter.

“Giving back to a university that has given so much to me is something I feel very strongly about,” Faulkner said. “The Flagship Society is a great way to engage donors of all ages and let them know that gifts of any size can make a significant impact throughout the university and, in this case, through academic programs.”

Flagship Society members will be recognized in several ways and receive an exclusive Flagship Society car decal and invitations to special events. Donors who join in the Flagship Society’s inaugural year, which runs through June 30, 2019, will be identified as charter members.

With the support of alumni, friends, university leaders, faculty and staff, the Flagship Society stands to influence many areas of campus for years to come.

“The Flagship Society can help elevate the value of all University of Mississippi degrees; organizations such as U.S. News and World Report factor alumni giving participation into their rankings of the best universities in America,” Parks said. “We deeply appreciate each and every gift that fuels our reach for even greater heights of excellence.”

Gifts can be made by sending a check in support of academics to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by visiting http://www.umfoundation.com/flagshipsociety. For more information, contact Alyssa Vinluan, annual giving officer, at alyssa@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1311.

Scholarship Recipients Display Attitudes of Gratitude

UM Kelly Gene Cook scholars enjoy opportunity to thank donors

The Kelly Gene Cook Charitable Foundation board and Executive Director Katy Pacelli (front, fourth from left) joins Chancellor Jeff Vitter and Sharon Vitter for a spring luncheon to celebrate the Cook and Mikell Scholars. JoAnn Mikell (front, in pink), secretary; Carolyn Bost (front, fifth from right), director; Deborah Rochelle (front, fourth from right), chair; and Ron Page (front, third from right), treasurer; are surrounded by the undergraduate and graduate scholars at Ole Miss. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – “As I look around this room, it’s hard to not get teary-eyed,” Samantha Brewer told a crowd at a recent luncheon at the University of Mississippi. “Because I know it was you. You all made this possible.

“You all made me possible. You made me being a teacher possible. And I can’t thank you enough. So let me start now. Thank you. Really, thank you.”

These were the sentiments expressed by Brewer when she and fellow Kelly Gene Cook Foundation scholars had an opportunity to meet donors at a recent luncheon hosted by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter at his home on the Oxford campus.

Brewer, a senior elementary education major from Southaven, and her cohorts received a full scholarship to Ole Miss, thanks to the Cook Foundation.

The late Kelly Gene Cook Sr., of French Camp, was a pipeliner for more than three decades who joined Houston Contracting Co. in 1956 and became vice president and general manager for domestic and foreign operations in 1971. In this capacity, he dealt with pipelines throughout the Middle East, Brazil, Trinidad, Ecuador and Nigeria.

In 1976, he and a partner formed Gregory & Cook Inc., a pipeline contracting firm in Houston, Texas.

Cook was active in the industry associations, serving on the boards of the International Pipeline Contractors Association and the American Pipeline Contractors Association. In 1986, he and his wife, Peggy, formed the Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Charitable Foundation Inc., which primarily provides funds to support religious, charitable, scientific and educational organizations in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Cook Foundation representatives at the Ole Miss luncheon were president Deborah Rochelle, of Folsom, Louisiana; treasurer Ron Page, of Houston, Texas; secretary JoAnn Mikell, of Madison; director Carolyn Bost, of Madison; and executive director Katy Pacelli, of Jackson.

“They say teachers are difference-makers,” Brewer told her donors. “That’s true. But you all are difference-makers too. You’ve made a difference in my life.

“Throughout my college education, not once have I had to worry about being able to buy my books or pay my tuition. I’ve never wondered if I’d be able to pay off student loans because I have don’t have any. Because of you, I did not have to shift my focus from school to work just to pay my bills, and that’s incredible because a lot of my friends cannot say the same thing.”

Kayton Hosket, of French Camp, who earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UM in May, echoed Brewer’s comments.

“The investment of the Kelly Cook Foundation in my education has been a life-altering blessing,” she said. “I am grateful for your support of me as a student and a young professional.

“The members of the Cook Foundation have been personable and interested in my life over the past eight years. Your generosity has opened the door for learning opportunities that will be used to impact students and educators both locally and nationally.”

Likewise, Savannah Fairley, of Lucedale, told donors she never imagined how much having the Cook Scholarship would change her life.

“The support from the Kelly Gene Cook Foundation allowed me to devote my efforts to better my mind,” said Fairley, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in biological science. “It afforded me the opportunity to spend summers in Germany, taking language classes, and winter breaks doing research in a medicinal chemistry lab, rather than working to make sure I could pay for the books I would need for the upcoming semester.

“I was able to find my passions and dive into them. I was able to network and make connections with some truly amazing people. Being a Cook Scholar gave me the ability to get the most out of my university experience and I will forever be grateful. Thank you so much for the life-changing work that you do.”

The Cook Scholarship is open to entering freshmen from Mississippi who have scored at least a 24 on the ACT and have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. They also must have proven financial need and academic ability.

Rochelle, Cook’s niece, said her uncle was very proud of the way his foundation selected scholars and subsequently offered them stewardship and mentorship.

“He often said our youth are our most precious natural resource and that we should take care of them,” she recalled. “Of course, we want our students to be happy in their fields of study and to become successful members of our society.

“We have been very proud of our Ole Miss students and have had many graduate in various occupations. We also look forward to continuing our partnership with Ole Miss – a partnership that offers scholars donors who keep in touch with them and help them mature into self-assured individuals who graduate with no measurable debt.”

For more information about the Cook Scholarship, go to https://scholarsapp.com/scholarship/kelly-gene-cook-foundation-scholarships/.

Pittman’s Gifts Provide Equity above Access

Supplemented scholarships help Grove Scholars stay in school

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pittman hopes so, too.

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

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

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

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

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

University Launches Flagship Society

Campuswide giving program to benefit academics

The Flagship Society is the first campus-wide leadership annual giving program at the University of Mississippi. Individuals can join this fiscal year and become charter members, providing crucial private support to our academic community. Photo by Kirsten Faulkner

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has launched the Flagship Society – its first campuswide leadership annual giving program – to recognize annual donors, share the impact of their giving and increase philanthropic support for academic programs and scholarships at a time when higher education costs are escalating.

“The Flagship Society will add to the margin of excellence at Ole Miss, advancing the university’s ability to transform lives and make a profound impact in Mississippi, the nation and the world,” said Charlotte Parks, UM vice chancellor for development. “We thank all the dedicated Ole Miss faculty and staff who work hard every day for our students and the university and also hope they will consider joining the Flagship Society.”

For the seventh consecutive fiscal year, which ended June 30, Ole Miss alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff have committed in excess of $100 million in private support, much-needed resources as state support covers only 13 percent of the university’s annual budget.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said he is constantly inspired by donors’ desire to give back to ensure future generations have exceptional educational opportunities and society has a higher quality of life.

“Through their giving, Flagship Society members will be expressing a strong belief in the power of higher education and the positive impact of private support,” he said. “Our alumni and friends are known far and wide for their continuous and generous investments in the Ole Miss student experience, our academic environment and outreach efforts.

“The University of Mississippi is honored to recognize these annual donors who step up, year after year, to propel the flagship forward.”

The Flagship Society name pays homage to the university’s flagship status as the oldest and largest public university in Mississippi. The name also represents members of the Ole Miss family who serve as philanthropic leaders in the academic, service and cultural programs, Parks said.

“We want to honor the Flagship Society members’ generosity by selecting a name that reflects their impact on the university,” she said. “Each Flagship Society gift combines with others to produce powerful resources.”

Annual gifts can, for example, bolster scholarship support for students, increase funds for the recruitment and retention of faculty, increase graduate stipends to support doctoral students, heighten access to research grants whose results help people live healthier lives, increase maintenance funds to keep up the university’s array of facilities and beautiful campus, and increase support for the cultural arts.

Having these resources enables university leadership to be flexible and prompt in addressing needs and opportunities without diverting resources from elsewhere, said Alyssa Vinluan, an annual gifts officer in the UM Office of University Development.

Membership in the Flagship Society is open to anyone or household that gives at least $1,000 to academics during the fiscal year (July 1-June 30). Donors can make unrestricted gifts to the Ole Miss Fund – resources used at the discretion of UM leadership for the university’s greatest needs – or donors can choose to direct their gifts to a specific school, program or scholarship, Vinluan said.

Membership can also be met by pledging a commitment of $1,000 or more, beginning at $84 a month, or for university employees, approximately $42 a pay period. Membership is renewable each fiscal year.

Flagship Society members will be recognized in several ways and will receive an exclusive Flagship Society car decal and invitations to special events. Donors who join in the Flagship Society’s inaugural year, July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, will be identified as charter members.

With the support of alumni, friends, university leaders, faculty and staff, the Flagship Society stands to influence many areas of our campus for years to come.

“The Flagship Society can help elevate the value of all University of Mississippi degrees; organizations such as U.S. News and World Report factor alumni giving participation into their rankings of the best universities in America,” Parks said. “We deeply appreciate each and every gift that fuels our reach for even greater heights of excellence.”

Gifts can be made by sending a check in support of academics to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by visiting http://www.umfoundation.com/flagshipsociety. For more information, contact Alyssa Vinluan, annual giving officer, at alyssa@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1311.

Family Catching Rebel Fever

Avery and Neil Forbes make major gift to Ole Miss athletics

Avery and Neil Forbes enjoy a Rebel football game in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with their children (from left) Madeline, Hannah and Sawyer. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Avery and Neil Forbes, of Madison, attended colleges other than the University of Mississippi, but the couple caught Rebel fever nonetheless.

“When I came to Mississippi in 2003 to run a political campaign, I happened to work for a candidate who was a UM grad and his love for Ole Miss was contagious,” said Neil Forbes, a Chesapeake, Virginia, native and a partner specializing in government services with the accounting firm Horne LLC of Jackson.

“Additionally, my roommate was a former team mascot and, considering it was Eli Manning’s last year as quarterback, there was a lot of excitement about the football team,” Forbes continued. “It was a great year to get engaged and excited about Ole Miss football. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked.”

The Forbes family has steadily increased its involvement with Ole Miss athletics since 2005 and recently made a major gift to the Forward Together Campaign, which supports facility improvements and scholarships for student-athletes.

“We just want our gift to help the athletics department continue to provide world-class facilities for our athletes and the fans,” said Neil Forbes, adding that the infectious Ole Miss spirit is quickly spreading to his children.

Hannah, 11, Sawyer, 7, and Madeline, 5, flashed wide grins on the “smile cam” during a baseball game and enjoyed a sideline pass for football. Sawyer even wanted to celebrate his birthday at The Pavilion at Ole Miss, the university’s basketball arena.

“We were also thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the team through the Walk of Champions prior to a game last season,” Neil Forbes said. “Coach (Matt) Luke and (Rebel wide receiver) A.J. Brown both stopped for a picture with our family, and that is a memory none of us will ever forget!”

The Forbes family looks forward to creating many more such memories.

“Supporting Ole Miss athletics has become a natural part of what we do as a family on weekends,” said Avery Forbes, who was admitted to Ole Miss out of high school but decided to study communications at Mississippi College in her hometown of Clinton. Even then, she frequently visited friends at Ole Miss.

“Our goal is that when our kids are older and out of the house, they will always look back and think of all the fun we had and the memories we created over the years going to games.”

Neil Forbes joined the U.S. Army after high school. After serving in South Korea and at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne, he attended community college and then Virginia Wesleyan College, where he earned a degree in English literature.

Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, said he welcomes the Forbes family into the Vaught Society.

“Some of our most loyal fans are not UM graduates, and we think that’s simply a testament to our excellent game-day experience,” he said. “On behalf of all those who love our program, we greatly appreciate Neil and Avery’s generous support of Ole Miss athletics.”

The Vaught Society is the leadership fundraising arm of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. Members of the Vaught Society make a commitment of $25,000 or more that is fulfilled over five years ($5,000 per year). These major gift commitments are above and beyond any priority seating annual donations.

In recognition of their generosity, Vaught Society members gain access to an exclusive stewardship program.

To support Ole Miss athletics with a gift to the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at jkcarter@olemiss.edu, call 662-915-7159 or visit http://givetoathletics.com/forward-together/.

Former Drum Major Still Helping Lead the Band

Alumna's gift supports Ole Miss Pride of the South, seeks to help recruit top student musicians

Layne McGuire

OXFORD, Miss. – As former drum major for the University of Mississippi Band, Layne McGuire is used to having people follow her lead. In supporting the band with a recent gift, she hopes to inspire others to do the same.

“I was approached about making a gift to the university beyond my usual giving,” McGuire said. “When I found out the option of a scholarship was doable, I wanted to pursue it. I know from working with David Willson (University Bands director) that scholarship money is always a challenge.

“This was a way to give back to something that has given me so much.”

Named in honor of her parents, the Vincent G. and Maxine McGuire Band Scholarship will be available to full-time entering freshmen band members, with first preference given to students from Oxford.

A resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, McGuire plays alto saxophone and serves as treasurer of the Charlotte Concert Band. She also rings and serves as secretary of the Charlotte Bronze Handbell Ensemble. 

“The college band experience is totally different from high school, and I have many friends who tell me they would have kept playing had they continued after high school,” she said. “I think part of the reason that I still play is that I never stopped. So I hope the scholarship helps recruit a student who might otherwise decide to put their horn away.”

Willson said the Pride of the South could not exist without private support like McGuire’s.

Pride of the South drum major Layne McGuire (center), graduate assistant Pam Crump Jackson (left) and band member Angela Davis-Morris prepare to play at an Ole Miss football game at the University of Tennessee. Submitted photo

“We live in a state that has a small band population compared to most SEC schools and we have eight universities, 15 community colleges, four private schools and out-of-state schools competing for musicians, and trust me, they know the market,” Willson said. “Without being competitive in the marketplace, we cannot compete with even modest quality.

“The mid- to upper-level players are essential to having the large marching band and excellent basketball pep bands. The Ole Miss Band operates with one of the lowest budgets in the conference, and private donations help us maintain a margin of excellence.”

McGuire graduated from Oxford High School before continuing her education at Ole Miss. She was an accomplished student, and her membership in the UM band segued into a scholarship and, by the time she graduated, she was the drum major. 

“I have been in band since the sixth grade and it was such a huge part of my college experience,” McGuire said. “I loved band and my band directors were some of my biggest influences.”

In college, McGuire also was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and the Air Force ROTC.

“Layne was one of the first students I met on campus, and I hold her in the highest regards,” Willson said. “Layne had a clear understanding on the state of the band and helped guide me through the first three years. Her love for this band is enough to motivate anyone around her to do the same.”

McGuire graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1990 and a master’s degree in history in 1992. She taught junior high and high school math in the South Panola County School District before returning to UM to earn a master’s degree in accountancy in 1999.

She has since worked as a consultant for the accounting firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers, BDO USA, Ernst & Young and Dixon Hughes Goodman, and leads the community banking internal audit and regulatory compliance practice in the Carolinas for RSM US.

The Ole Miss Band has had a tradition of excellence since 1928. In 2014, the Pride of the South Marching Band reached its largest enrollment in school history at 315 members.

“The gift Layne McGuire established will directly support students in the Pride of the South Band, and we are extremely grateful for her generosity,” said Denson Hollis, executive director of development. “The band is an integral part of the university’s fan experience and elevates the level of enthusiasm and school pride wherever it performs. Gifts to the band directly affect its ability to grow and thrive.”

The Vincent G. and Maxine McGuire Band Scholarship is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

For more information on ways to support the Pride of the South, contact Denson Hollis at 662-915-5092 or dhollis@olemiss.edu.

Estate Gift to Fund a Vision for Engineering Education

Major donation endows scholarships to UM transfer students

Vassar D. Hemphill Jr.

OXFORD, Miss. – A recent major gift bequeathed to the University of Mississippi School of Engineering will honor an esteemed graduate while providing financial assistance to students transferring to Ole Miss.

The School of Engineering established the Vassar D. Hemphill Jr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment with a gift of $138,400 from Hemphill’s estate. Recipients will be full-time transfer students majoring in engineering.

Hemphill died at age 91 in July 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“We are extremely grateful to Mr. Hemphill for his foresight in planning a gift that will benefit students within the School of Engineering,” said Alex Cheng, dean of engineering. “When our alumni want to give back in return for the education they’ve received here, it speaks volumes about the Ole Miss experience.”

A native of Greenwood, Hemphill was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and graduated from the university in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering administration. His career path includes employment at B.F. Goodrich, Dixie Steel and Leopards Interiors.

Before college, Hemphill served under Gen. Douglas McArthur in the Philippines during World War II.

In an article published in the Tuscaloosa News, Hemphill’s friends say he possessed encyclopedic knowledge about antique cars, old silver and camellias. His passion for car racing, golf, books, dancing and music remained prominent throughout his life.

Vassar Hemphill (left) with his mother, Adele Barnwell Hemphill, and brother, Simpson Hemphill. Submitted photo

Additionally, trains, fine food and parties always made him happy, but most of all, he loved his adopted hometown of Tuscaloosa, the Mississippi Delta and being surrounded by close friends.

With a keen interest in historic preservation, Hemphill was a director emeritus of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society and a generous benefactor of the Jemison Van de Graaff Mansion. He also was a co-founder of the Friends of WVAL and a longtime member of the Phoenix Club.

Hemphill and his wife, Adele, attended Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa.

“Planned gifts like Mr. Hemphill’s are so important to the welfare of our great university,” said Sandra Guest, vice president of the UM Foundation. “His gift will enable generations of students to reach their higher education goals and hopefully, one day, they will return the favor and the cycle will continue.”

For information on including the University of Mississippi in long-term estate and financial plans, visit http://www.umfoundation.planmylegacy.org or contact Sandra Guest, UM Foundation vice president, at 662-915-5208 or sguest@olemiss.edu.

The Vassar D. Hemphill Jr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift; or contact Denson Hollis at dhollis@olemiss.edu or 662-915-5092.

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.

Alumnus Returns the Favor of a Valued Education

Political science educator's planned gift expected to boost UM department

Dwight Tays

OXFORD, Miss. – Dwight Tays of Nashville, Tennessee, says the University of Mississippi gave him the knowledge base he’s needed to be successful throughout his more-than-four-decade career as a political science educator. Now, he wants to give back.

“The Department of Political Science at Ole Miss not only provided me with a sound education but also inspired me to make societal contributions beyond the classroom,” said Tays, who hopes his recent $100,000 planned gift will be used to help the department “reach greater heights.”

Tays, who earned a doctorate from Ole Miss in 1982, said he was drawn to the campus by its beauty and by the hospitality of its people, specifically the personable encouragement of John Winkle, professor emeritus of political science. Tays also has degrees from the University of North Alabama and George Peabody College.

“I want to help show my deep appreciation to the university through a planned gift for what I had received and for opening doors of opportunity for me,” said Tays, retired professor of political science at Lipscomb University, where he spent 29 of his 40-plus years of teaching and also served as chair of the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy.

Before Lipscomb, Tays was on the faculties of East Central Oklahoma State University in Ada and Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee.

“One of the best things about being a political science professor is there is always something current,” Tays said. “That has been rewarding to me to look at some of those needs and think about how to solve them in policy-making and with students – to get them thinking about solutions as well. To teach how to think, not what to think, but to look analytically at a problem and try to come up with solutions.”

Outside the classroom, Tays worked for former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen for a semester, helping with the alternative licensure of teachers and expansion of home and community health care. He also took a sabbatical to work with U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), conducting research on how to keep children in school. Additionally, he worked with the late Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter.

“These experiences provided me the opportunity to have input concerning public policy, which was very gratifying,” said Tays, whose areas of academic specialization include American government, public law and public administration.

Additionally, Tays has served as president of the Tennessee Political Science Association, on the board of visitors of Abilene (Texas) Christian University, on the academic advisory committee for the Tennessee Legislative Internship Program, as co-chair of the membership committee of the American Society for Public Administration (Middle Tennessee Chapter), and on the board of directors for Nashville Christian School.

His research includes a study of the legal status of Indian Nations within the U.S. political system, empirical application of theoretical concepts of presidential decision-making and formulating policy and administrative recommendations at the state level.

“To have such an esteemed and accomplished colleague want to give back because of the education he received here speaks very well for our department, our program and our university,” said John Bruce, chair of the UM Department of Political Science. “We are extremely grateful to Dr. Tays for his gift, which will certainly help ensure that our department continues to provide excellence in political science education.”

Planned gifts award donors membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes those who thoughtfully provide for the university through bequests and deferred gifts.

“This gift illustrates something we love to see, time and again, at Ole Miss: alumni who have found such value in their own education that they want others to have the opportunity to experience that same success,” said Sandra Guest, vice president of the UM Foundation.

“It’s a cycle that directly benefits our students and, ultimately, all of us as they go forth from here and begin to live out their careers. Our hope is that those students will one day want to give back as well.”

For information on including the university in long-term estate and financial plans, alumni and friends can visit http://www.umfoundation.planmylegacy.org or contact Sandra Guest at 662-915-5208 or sguest@olemiss.edu.