Endowment Pays Tribute to Entrepreneur

Scholarship highlights new major for Ole Miss students

The family of Robert Julian Allen III has established a scholarship endowment in his memory to benefit students in the UM School of Business Administration. Photo courtesy Julian Allen family

OXFORD, Miss. – Gifts to a new scholarship endowment in the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration will honor the life of the late Robert Julian Allen III, a successful entrepreneur who had a strong interest in giving young people opportunities to manage or own a business.

The Robert Julian Allen III Memorial Scholarship Endowment for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was established with an initial gift from Allen’s wife, Kathy Allen of Oxford.

“Julian loved Ole Miss and he loved business,” Kathy Allen said. “Equally, he loved seeing young people succeed in growing an idea into a strong, healthy enterprise that benefits others.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to honor his memory and extend his legacy than by helping to set future entrepreneurs on a path to success.”

Friends and other family members also have memorialized Allen with gifts to build the endowment in his name. Earnings from the endowment will be used to support Mississippi students in the School of Business Administration majoring in innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Beginning next fall (2017), the business school will offer innovation and entrepreneurship as a major to our students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the business school. “The endowment in Mr. Allen’s memory is the first scholarship to be established that will support students in this new degree program. This is a special gift.”

Allen was born in Greenwood and lived most of his life in Indianola. He attended Ole Miss, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1970.

After graduation, Allen joined Constructors Inc., of Fayetteville, Tennessee, where he rose to become president of the company before founding his own general construction company, Allen Corp., in 1976.

In 1980, Allen co-founded Delta Pride Catfish and served on the board as vice president of Delta Western Feed for many years. He was active in the growth of the catfish industry in the Mississippi Delta, having served two terms as president and two terms as chair of Catfish Farmers of America.

He also was founder and partner in R.J. Allen and Associates Inc., where his development and construction projects expanded across Mississippi and into Tennessee, Florida and Texas. He enjoyed starting companies in a broad range of fields including fitness centers, land mitigation banking, property management and senior housing.

“As a real estate developer and contractor, Julian had a great vision for seeing opportunities that would improve properties, grow businesses, enhance communities and generally make life better for people,” said David Blackburn, Allen’s son-in-law and business partner. “Julian was also always so passionate about helping young people get started in business, and I am just one of the many examples of this.

“Julian gave all of us confidence to believe in ourselves because he believed in us. I know that he would be pleased that a scholarship in his name is helping future entrepreneurs at Ole Miss.”

The Robert Julian Allen III Memorial Scholarship Endowment for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 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 https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/ or contact Brett Barefoot at 662-915-2711 or bmbarefo@olemiss.edu.

UM Completes Renovations to Memory Garden

Fountain terrace offers place to meditate, remember and study

UM freshmen (from left) JC Pride and Cole Swayze, both of Jackson, and Diggs Truitt of Nashville, Tennessee, rest between classes at the Ole Miss Memory Garden. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has completed renovations to the Ole Miss Memory Garden, adding new brickwork patterns, additional seating and a tiered foundation that invites passersby into an ambiance of serenity and grace.

At the rear of Paris-Yates Chapel, the bench-lined terrace stands as a monument to students who lost their lives while enrolled at Ole Miss and welcomes anyone seeking a quiet place to pray, think, meditate or study.

The Memory Gardens’ fountain was made possible by the late Penn Owen of Como, who contributed $100,000 in memory of his mother, the late Mary “May” Davis Owen, a 1928 UM liberal arts graduate, also of Como.

“I’ve always thought Paris-Yates Chapel is really something special and the Paris family members were my mother’s great friends, going way back to Henry’s parents,” Owen said in 2015. “So I asked Henry if there was something I could do with this money around the chapel.”

Paris contacted Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat, who proposed a beautification of the existing terrace on the grounds of the nondenominational chapel, which is used for various events, including weddings, memorial services and honors programs.

“The fountain terrace is a beautiful addition to Paris-Yates Chapel,” Khayat said. “It’s an enhancement that we’ve wanted to bring to fruition for some time now.

“The Owens’ gift makes it possible and, for that, we are grateful, as will be the countless generations of students and others who enjoy this peaceful space.”

The Ole Miss Memory Garden is the brainchild of the Class of 2006 and Sparky Reardon, Ole Miss dean emeritus of students. Later, the Class of 2011 donated the garden’s four benches.

“Ole Miss is such a family-oriented place that when we lose one student, everyone is affected,” Reardon said. “The garden will provide a place where any member of the Ole Miss family may go to remember the lives of those who have gone before.”

Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the Memory Garden may contact Sandra Guest, vice president of the University of Mississippi Foundation, at 662-915-5208 or email sguest@olemiss.edu. Gifts also can be made by mailing a check to the UM Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, with Memory Garden noted, or by visiting https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/.

Glenn’s Gift Honors His Wife, Benefits Future Students

Alumnus commemorates wedding anniversary with scholarship endowment

Mike and Donna Glenn (center) are congratulated by (from right) their daughter Katherine Glenn, a rising Ole Miss senior, Vicki Sneed and Mary Sharp Rayner, both of Oxford, after the announcement of the Donna H. Glenn Council Scholarship Endowment. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – To commemorate their wedding anniversary, University of Mississippi alumnus Mike Glenn of Eads, Tennessee, surprised his wife, Donna, with a gift that will truly keep on giving.

With a $250,000 investment, Glenn established the Donna H. Glenn Council Scholarship Endowment to honor his wife while also providing financial assistance to Ole Miss students for generations to come.

The scholarship, which will be available to entering freshmen majoring in journalism – Donna Glenn’s field of study – was announced at a Rose Garden ceremony hosted by the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy. As stated in the endowment agreement, scholarship recipients will be expected to participate in leadership development and mentoring sponsored by the OMWC and the university’s Lott Leadership Institute.

“The luckiest day of my life was when I met Donna at FedEx, but perhaps even more so was when she agreed to go out with me the first time,” said Glenn, a 1977 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration who retired in December as executive vice president of market development and corporate communications for FedEx Corp.

“I don’t think we made it through the evening without her understanding how passionate I am about this university. And I think as our relationship developed, she knew that it was going to be a big part of our lives.

“I would like to thank the Ole Miss Women’s Council for giving me an opportunity to honor my wife. It’s an appropriate year to have this scholarship in place because this year is our 30th anniversary. This is a great way to celebrate that.”

Donna Glenn knew her husband was planning to make a gift to the university but said “it was a very nice surprise” when she learned the scholarship would be in her name.

“It’s a wonderful honor, just based on the history of the Women’s Council and its mission to enhance students’ college experience through scholarships and mentoring,” she said. “And the fact that now my name is attached to that list of esteemed women … it’s indeed an honor.”

The Glenns said they look forward to becoming acquainted with the students who benefit from their scholarship in the years to come.

“I hope the scholarship will serve students in all aspects related to college life,” Donna Glenn said. “I hope it will help them be better prepared for life beyond the university as they take what they’ve gleaned from Ole Miss away with them wherever they may go.”

After graduating from the University of Memphis, Donna worked in corporate communications at FedEx, where she was a writer and television producer. There, she met Mike and became an “Ole Miss walk-on.”

Though she retired from FedEx when Hatley was born, Donna occasionally works pro bono as a freelance writer. She is also involved in several local organizations, including the Madonna Learning Center, a special needs school for children and adults with disabilities, and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, where she is board chair.

When time permits, she enjoys making memories with her family at the beach, traveling to London and shopping for antiques. The Glenns have three children: Hatley, 27, Tucker, 25, a 2014 Ole Miss graduate, and Katherine, 21, a rising UM senior.

OMWC member Rose Jackson Flenorl introduced Mike Glenn, her FedEx mentor and friend, during this year’s program at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“Through Donna’s days working at FedEx to her time now nurturing her family and her community, she has made a tremendous impact,” Flenorl said. “I can’t think of a better way to honor her than to give money to students in need to continue their education, especially at our great university.

“I am so thrilled that Mike chose to establish this scholarship in Donna’s name and to honor the future of students at Ole Miss.”

The Donna H. Glenn Council Scholarship Endowment is the most recent of many gifts the Glenns have made as supporters of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, School of Business Administration, Ole Miss Alumni Association, Pride of the South marching band and more.

“Their enduring service and commitment to the University of Mississippi have helped define the Ole Miss that stands before us today,” said Robin Buchannon, associate vice chancellor for university relations. “It is a commitment that will continue to impact our school for many generations to come.”

Speaking at the ceremony on behalf of Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, Buchannon said, “We thank you and commend you for your generosity and your unwavering support for this university.”

The Donna H. Glenn Council 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., University, MS 38655; visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift; or contact Barbara Daush at 662-915-2881 or barbara@umfoundation.com .

UM Development Welcomes Annual Giving Director

Wesley Clark brings passion-driven skill set to Ole Miss

Wesley Clark outside his office at Carriage House. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – For Florida native Wesley Clark, not even a promising career in law was worth giving up his passion for fundraising.

“I earned a law degree and passed the bar, but after a few years of practicing, I knew that I didn’t want to be a lawyer for my whole life,” Clark recalled. “I recognized my passion was in higher education and fundraising.”

Clark, who earned both a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a juris doctorate from the University of Florida, is taking the next step of his dream career by becoming the new annual giving director at the University of Mississippi Office of Development.

Gifts to the Annual Fund support every aspect of an Ole Miss education. Yearly contributions from more than 8,000 donors top $7 million for schools, colleges and programs across the Oxford campus. Alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff and students choose the area to which they designate their gift.

“I always hope to bring together people’s passions with areas of need and causes that matter,” Clark said. “Everyone has generosity within them that they want to fulfill. It’s a big part of my job to connect that drive to the needs of the university.”

Clark has no shortage of experience as he takes on this position. He began as a student worker in the Telefund program at the University of Florida before taking on professional fundraising positions at the University of Michigan, Humboldt State University and at his most recent workplace, Texas State University.

Each new experience has enhanced Clark’s fascination with the process and the purpose of fundraising for higher education.

“I love the balance between the rational side of strategic planning and the emotionally driven side that’s more creative and based on what people care about as human beings,” he said. “It creates significant leverage when people support a university because of the impact it has on the students and their futures. It’s not a one-time impact; it lasts forever.”

At Texas State, Clark spearheaded many profitable fundraising campaigns such as “Step Up for State,” a day of giving that raised more than $220,000 in support of diverse campus initiatives. He also managed direct mail appeals, the online giving portal, the fundraising call center and the faculty-staff giving campaign, which saw significant growth during his leadership.

“With experience at several respected universities, Wesley Clark brings outstanding expertise in annual giving, crowdfunding and day-of-giving programs to the Office of University Development,” said Robin Buchannon, associate vice chancellor for university relations. “We believe Wesley will be instrumental in developing new annual giving donors to help strengthen academic initiatives across our campus.

“Wesley’s strategic approach to annual giving – a bedrock of our fundraising efforts – will greatly benefit our schools and College of Liberal Arts.”

Clark and his wife, Angela, look forward to calling Oxford their new home.

“Once I saw the opportunity, we did our research and (Oxford) seemed like a perfect fit,” he said. “We love small-town communities and the connectedness that they allow community members to have.”

To learn more about supporting Ole Miss academic programs through the Annual Fund, contact Wesley Clark at whclark1@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2293.

Tutoring Startup Takes Top Prize at UM Business Competition

12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition celebrates another successful year

Winners of the Gillespie Business Plan Competition are pictured with the judging panel: (front row) William Yates III, CEO of Yates Construction; Sam Bertolet, partner with Pontus Andersson in Myra Mirrors, the second-place winner; Lee Ingram, first-place winner; Austin Darnell, third-place winner; John Oxford, director of external affairs for Renasant Bank; and Lawrence Adams, Jimmy John’s franchise owner in Jackson; and (back row) Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration; Emmet Seibels, co-founder of Versus Health in Nashville; Johnny Maloney, co-owner of Cowboy Maloney’s; Clay Dibrell, professor of management and CIE co-director; Richard Gentry, associate professor of management and CIE co-director; and Josh Mabus, owner of the Mabus Agency. The competition finals were April 7 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. UM photo by Cobie Watkins

OXFORD, Miss. – An online enterprise that helps University of Mississippi students find tutors for their college studies took first place in the 12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition, hosted by the UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Lee Ingram, a master’s candidate in accountancy from Madison, wowed judges with his presentation for Collegiate Tutoring, a tutoring matchmaking service he started in 2014. Its largest clients are two Greek organizations, and the service has assisted more than 200 students, bringing in revenues of more than $50,000 to date.

“Ole Miss is such a fantastic place for students to pursue entrepreneurship,” Ingram said. “There is so much support available from people like Owens Alexander at the CIE, as well as professors like Clay Dibrell and Rich Gentry.

“My goal with Collegiate Tutoring is to help students see that entrepreneurship is a viable career option. I hope to set an example for students looking to take a risk and bet on themselves and their business idea.”

Ingram won $10,000 and a year of free office space at the Innovation Hub at Insight Park, the university’s business incubator.

Pontus Andersson, a senior from Ridgeland, took second place and $5,000 for his company, Myra Mirrors, which developed a software system that integrates apps into surfaces and mirrors. Third place and $2,500 went to Manalsu Athletics, founded by Austin Darnell, a junior from Wake Forest, North Carolina.

“We looked at other smart home spaces,” Andersson said. “We realized that while home automation had been covered by the likes of Nest, Google, Apple and Amazon, few companies had attempted it with furniture.”

Darnell founded Manalsu Athletics in September 2015 with a theme of “Designed for a Life in Motion” after raising $11,000 on Kickstarter for his first product, a high-end style of men’s underwear. He hoped to place in the competition to receive additional funding to expand into other styles of durable men’s activewear.

“We are so proud to be able to provide this unique opportunity for our students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has quickly become one of the many great programs in the business school, and we look forward to seeing what these students are doing to meld together creativity and business.”

The Gillespie Business Plan Competition is the center’s signature event of the year, said Rich Gentry, associate professor of entrepreneurship and strategy and CIE co-director.

“We saw students who have put in a tremendous effort to develop their business and their pitch,” Gentry said. “As in years past, the winner is a successful student we are excited to see benefit from our program.”

The competition is conducted in three rounds. This year’s first round was a review by doctoral candidates of 48 proposals for student businesses.

The second round included 15 participants who gave eight-minute presentations to a committee of 16 local and regional business owners and community leaders, and the final round featured six participants who each gave an eight-minute presentation to a panel of nine judges. The final round was conducted April 7 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.

Besides the winners, the final six competitors also included Sujit and Sangeet Adhikari of Dhading, Nepal, whose company, Adhikari Brothers, would produce bamboo as a substitute for wood; Alicia Hydeman a sophomore from Dallas, whose company, Lulu Jax, focuses on women’s apparel for extremely petite women – Hydeman is 4 feet 10 inches tall – and Nathaniel Snyder, a senior from Elburn, Illinois, whose company, Purifico, produces a super-hydrophobic chemical coating designed to improve sanitation on bathroom surfaces.

UM alumnus Hunter Carpenter (second from left), is congratulated by Jan Farrington (left) Lawrence Farrington and Dean Ken Cyree upon being announced as recipient of the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The presentation came after the Gillespie Business Plan Competition at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. UM photo by Stella Connell

Following the announcement of the winners, Lawrence and Jan Farrington presented Hunter Carpenter, a partner in Redbird Capital Partners in Dallas, with the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year award.

“Lawrence and I are both interested in encouraging young entrepreneurs in Mississippi, especially those associated with the University of Mississippi,” Jan Farrington said. “This yearly award provides the opportunity to honor successful entrepreneurs, and also to provide encouragement and inspiration to our students with an entrepreneurial spirit.

“Hunter’s career grows more impressive each year. He not only exemplifies a very successful entrepreneur, but also a person who shares his time and talents to help others. He has served on the UM Foundation Board for many years and is currently the chair of its investment committee.”

A four-year letterman on the Ole Miss men’s basketball team, Carpenter earned his bachelor’s degree in 1999 from the UM Patterson School or Accountancy, his master’s in accountancy in 2000 and a Juris Doctor from the UM School of Law in 2003.

“It is an honor to receive the award from the Farringtons,” Carpenter said. “They are special people to Ole Miss and to me, and have long carved a path as special entrepreneurs and investors in the South.”

UM Foundation Welcomes New Development Officer

Port Kaigler brings new opportunities to School of Pharmacy

Port Kaigler

OXFORD, Miss. – For Port Kaigler, being an Ole Miss Rebel is not just a career move, it’s a family tradition. This legacy, established by his parents, was cemented for the University of Mississippi’s newest development officer when he visited his older brother at UM.

“There’s a lot of red and blue in our family,” Kaigler recalled. “We didn’t really know anything else growing up. I visited my brother when he got here in ’96 and knew where I was going from day one.”

Kaigler, who graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2010, will help raise funds as development officer for the UM School of Pharmacy. Kaigler hopes the next chapter of his Ole Miss story will produce a legacy of excellence that helps take the pharmacy school to greater heights.

“The ultimate goal is for the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy to be the top in the nation,” said Kaigler, who also earned a master’s degree in higher education from UM. “We already are No. 24 in rankings published by U.S. News & World Report and No. 9 in total research funding and we only want to go up.

“The way to do that is to attract the highest quality students by offering the best teachers and the best facilities.”

Kaigler’s career has revolved around service to the university. He began as an undergraduate, working in the camps and conference services office of the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, where he remained until he was hired by the Ole Miss Alumni Association seven years ago.

Through his work with the Alumni Association, Kaigler built a network he hopes will prove fruitful in his new position.

“A lot of what you hear from development work is a greater need for private giving,” Kaigler said. “I thought that the relationships I have built would transition very well into helping the university raise money.”

In his time at the Alumni Association, Kaigler helped cultivate a stronger relationship between the university and its 74 alumni clubs by handling integral aspects of their operations, such as communications and endowment efforts. He also managed the Rebel Road Trip throughout the Southeast with Coach Hugh Freeze and Athletics Director Ross Bjork, as well as sports travel for Ole Miss alumni and friends.

“We are thrilled that Port will be working for our program and are confident that his experience and skillset will play a significant role in advancing our mission,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Port’s passion for the education of students will be a driving force behind the continued success of the Ole Miss pharmacy school.”

Kaigler and his wife, Kelley, also an Ole Miss graduate, have a daughter, Rowan, 7, and a son, Davenport, 4.

To make a gift in support of the UM School of Pharmacy, contact Kaigler at 662-915-2712 or by email at port@olemiss.edu.

UM Alumnus Endows Business Scholarship

Man who helped launch Orville Redenbacher hopes to help mentor Ole Miss marketing students

Lyt Harris, pictured here on vacation at the Baltic Sea port of Warnemunde, Germany, has pledged to increase his scholarship endowment for the UM School of Business Administration to $100,000. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Years ago, after spotting the potential for great success in a small-town popcorn grower, University of Mississippi alumnus Lyt Harris helped make Orville Redenbacher a national sensation.

Recognizing the same potential in business students, Harris of Houston, Texas, has established endowments at Ole Miss and three other universities that he trusts will help his scholarship recipients achieve success.

“I’m just looking forward to getting the endowed scholarship program moving forward at Ole Miss and especially hearing from, and hopefully meeting, some of the students who receive the scholarships,” said Harris, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and 1962 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration.

Harris established his UM endowment in August 2016 with a $27,000 gift. He recently pledged to increase the endowment to $100,000, allowing the business school to award scholarships from it in perpetuity.

This gift designates Harris as a charter member of the 1917 Order, created this year and named for the year the business school was founded. The order recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the school through major giving.

About 10 years ago, Harris funded a similar scholarship program at Northwood University in Michigan, an all-business education university, where he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and served on the board of trustees. He and his late wife, Venita, contributed to the fund regularly.

“Really, that was such a good program and I received such good feedback from the students selected for the scholarship that I thought, ‘Why not set up a similar scholarship at the University of Colorado, where Venita went to school, and also at Ole Miss and LSU, where I went to school?'” Harris said.

“Shortly after the fund was established at Colorado, I met my student and became good friends with him. He was very appreciative. It wasn’t the amount of money he received; he was just so amazed that he was selected for the award out of a number of students in the economics department who could have received it.”

After completing graduate school at Louisiana State University in 1963, Harris rose through the ranks of Scott Paper Co., where he became project manager for the first disposable diapers, which he took from test market to national distribution. Later, he joined a large division of Hunt Wesson Foods as director of marketing.

On a business trip to Chicago, Harris and his colleagues visited Marshall Fields department store, where they spotted a Mason jar of popcorn labeled “with a picture of a funny little man with a bowtie,” he said, adding that a manager told them the product had become a best-seller in the store.

Intrigued, Harris conducted an extensive laboratory test at Hunt Wesson and found the product to be all that Redenbacher claimed and more.

“So we went and contacted Orville in person and said, ‘You’ve come up with this strain of corn that everybody likes, and we’re marketing experts,'” Harris recalled. “‘If we get together, we can do some great things and probably make you the Colonel Sanders of the popcorn business.’ That’s exactly what we ended up doing.”

Today, Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn is the nation’s No. 1-selling brand.

“If he’d never met us and we’d never met him, it probably would have never happened. He wasn’t a marketing person at all. He was just having fun with it and didn’t realize its potential.”

After Hunt Wesson, Harris worked several years as a senior executive in the banking and finance industry before moving to Houston in 1982 to become president and eventually CEO of Southwest Management and Marketing Co. There, he met his wife in 1984 at an art exhibition; both were avid collectors.

Harris sold his company and retired in 2004. He serves as managing partner of the Harris Investment Partnership, specializing in venture capital investments including specialty foods, residential real estate, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and other projects.

Always active in civic and charitable activities, Harris has served on the boards of a number of nonprofit organizations, including The Kidney Foundation, Junior Achievement, Boy Scouts of America, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. During his business career, he was listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest.

He has served as a mentor for MBA students at the Ole Miss business school and was named an Otho Smith Fellow in 2008. He is also a mentor for middle and high school students in the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston.

At Ole Miss, he was a member of the University Players theater company, Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity and Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity.

“I enjoyed the whole college experience and being in such a beautiful setting as the university and the Oxford area,” he said. “It was a great environment for learning and for going to school and enjoying a large variety of activities. Hopefully, setting up the scholarship program will allow me to come back to the campus more often for things connected with it.”

The Lyttleton T. Harris IV Endowed Scholarship is available to full-time students in the School of Business Administration who are marketing majors and have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.

“Mr. Harris’s generous gifts encompass the scope of work we do here by meeting the financial needs of students who want to pursue an education in business,” said Ken Cyree, UM business dean. “We are especially pleased that this gift will be part of the 1917 Order, which is part of the 100-year celebration of the founding of the School of Business, and will allow for the expansion of our success during the next 100 years.”

The Lyttleton T. Harris IV Endowed 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; visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift; or contact Tim Noss at 662-915-5932 or tlnoss@olemiss.edu.

Endowment Honors Memories of Three Friends

Scholarship recipients carry on fraternity brothers' legacies

Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers (with plaques, from left) Michael Deauville, Kyle Thigpen and Dillon Pitts, recipients of the 2017 Kelly, Kelly and Wilbanks Scholarship, are joined by (from left) chapter President Hayden Poer, Lynn and Ken Wilbanks, Chris and Christine Kelly, and Sam and Kim Kelly. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – A scholarship endowment paying tribute to the lives of three University of Mississippi students has grown to more than $335,000, and three new recipients of the scholarship say they feel honored to represent the men for whom the endowment is named.

Continuing gifts from the Kappa Alpha fraternity have expanded the Charles Walker Kelly, Samuel Clayton Kelly and Bryant Mason Wilbanks Memorial Scholarship Endowment that pays tribute to the lives of lifelong friends tragically killed in a 2011 car accident. Kappa Alpha fraternity recently contributed an additional $60,000 to the endowment and $15,000 for this year’s scholarship awards. 

All natives of Madison, the friends graduated together from Madison Central High School, attended Broadmoor Baptist Church, enrolled at Ole Miss and pledged the same fraternity. Their legacies are kept alive by fellow KA brothers who receive scholarship awards.

This year’s recipients are Michael Deauville of San Jose, California, Dillon Pitts of Pearl and Kyle Thigpen of Jackson.

“One of the biggest fears of a parent who has lost a child is that the child will be forgotten,” said Ken Wilbanks, father of Mason Wilbanks. “Thanks to the generosity and support of KA and the Ole Miss community, our sons’ legacies will continue on the Ole Miss campus long after we are gone.

“It is truly humbling and such an honor to be able to present these three scholarships annually to active KA members in memory of Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker. I know our boys are smiling, knowing they are continuing to help those in the fraternity they loved so much at the university they loved so dearly.”

Alumni advisers of the KA Alpha Upsilon Chapter and UM’s Scholarship Committee work together to select recipients. The award is based on a number of criteria, including financial need, leadership and academic performance.

Deauville, a sophomore biology major with a minor in chemistry who hopes to attend medical school, said the scholarship will enable him to have the resources he needs to pursue his goals.

“From the bottom of my heart, I am incredibly blessed and grateful for this recognition and scholarship,” Deauville said. “It is nothing short of an honor. Knowing that I am continuing the legacy of the three men is a very good feeling, and I aspire to be everything that they were.

“I am humbled by this recognition, and while I believe that there were many other deserving men, I will vow to continue their legacy in all that I do.”

At the recent Kappa Alpha awards banquet, Deauville spent time with Sam and Kim Kelly, parents of Sam Clayton Kelly.

“They opened their arms to me, and after a few short minutes I felt I had known them my entire life,” he recalled. “Mrs. Kelly even noted that I too am now a part of her family.

“I just want to thank them, as well as the other two families, for their enduring support of KA. I am honored to call them friends. I know they will all be a part of its family, and the chapter is better for that relationship.”

Pitts, a junior marketing and corporate relations major with a minor in manufacturing engineering, said the scholarship will help him pursue his goal to attend law school.

“Receiving this scholarship is an honor – not only to myself, but an honor that I get to represent three amazing young men who were members of our chapter,” Pitts said. “To me, being a part of KA has opened numerous doors. I have been blessed to grow and make many lifelong connections and I owe it all to being a part of KA.”

Thigpen, a junior accounting major who plans to work for an accounting firm after graduation, said the scholarship will help him offset tuition costs as he pursues his degree.

The Kelly, Kelly (and) Wilbanks Scholarship is an awesome way to remember the lives of our three brothers who were lost,” Thigpen said. “Their story has led me to think about the relationships I’ve built throughout my short time at Ole Miss, and I’ve come to realize how great of an impact the ones I love have had on my life.

“Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker continue to impact lives every day, and it’s awesome to know that they will continue to do so for years to come.”

Chapter adviser Trey Horne, of Oxford, has been instrumental in growing the endowment.

“Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker were strong men of character who loved God and their families,” he said. “Through this scholarship endowment, their legacies will live on by providing three men of Kappa Alpha Order scholarships each year.

“As new classes enter Ole Miss, this endowment will remind these men that the lives that Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker lived are worthy to be followed.”

Sandra Guest, vice president of the UM Foundation, said she’s heartened by KA’s generosity.

“By memorializing its members through scholarships, Kappa Alpha has set an outstanding example for other student organizations to follow,” she said. “I commend Mr. Horne for his leadership efforts to sustain the momentum of this initiative over the last four years and to the chapter for working hard to keep the spirit of their lost brothers alive.

“KA has turned a tragic situation into a lasting tribute, ensuring the legacy of Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker will forever remain at Ole Miss.”

The endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the Kelly, Kelly and Wilbanks Scholarship noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; contact Sandra Guest at 662-915-5208 or sguest@olemiss.edu; or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

Texas Couple Looks to Expand UM Student Recruiting

Crosswells underwrite student recruiter position for Lone Star State

Allen Crosswell and his wife, Leah, (center) enjoy a recent visit with UM administrators (from left) Provost Morris Stocks; Brett Barefoot, development officer for parents leadership; Chancellor Jeff Vitter; and Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – With a recent $400,000 gift to the University of Mississippi, Allen and Leah Crosswell of Houston, Texas, have provided the means to hire and support a new recruiter whose goal will be to get more high-achieving Texas students to choose Ole Miss for college.

Crosswell, a 1989 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration, agreed to underwrite the expenses that will support a senior-level admissions counselor in Houston. The university has only one other Texas admissions counselor, who recruits out of Dallas.

“The Crosswells graciously offered a solution to an identified need, and for this gift we are very grateful,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “The Crosswells’ generous philanthropic investment in our university reveals their passionate belief in the power of education and their vision for improving opportunities available to young people.”

Though Texas recently has taken Tennessee’s place as the second state after Mississippi with the most students at Ole Miss, too many outstanding Texas high school students are enrolling elsewhere, Crosswell said.

“We’re primarily trying to increase the awareness of the value of a degree from the University of Mississippi,” said Crosswell, whose businesses are active in retail development, industrial acquisitions and asset lending. “We’re not getting the students with the upper grade-point averages and upper ACT and SAT scores. They’re going to the other competitive colleges primarily because they don’t know what we have to offer.”

Crosswell believes these high-achieving prospective students would be more likely to choose Ole Miss if they knew of its many benefits: the curricula, faculty and culture that made a difference in his own values and life views, so much so that he felt compelled to give back.

“Most of them don’t even know we have the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College,” Crosswell said. “They’re not hearing about the national ranking of our schools or that our Patterson School of Accountancy is ranked in the Top 10, for example.”

And it’s just a matter of spreading the word, said Crosswell, who has worked with the Office of Admissions to develop a program that will get these students’ attention.

“We’ll make sure they know what we have to offer, make sure they get set up to come visit here, make sure they can meet other Ole Miss students from the major metros of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and also visit with some of our professors,” Crosswell said, adding that the whole experience will be prearranged by the recruiter. “I think it will help us build awareness for what we have to offer.”

It will also provide a personal touch, Leah Crosswell said.

“Everybody wants to be wanted, so all of sudden they have somebody who wants them and who’s showing them a program that will have real value when they graduate,” she said.

“It’s going to be an eye-opener for some of these kids,” Allen Crosswell continued. “They’ll see that they can get the excellent academics they need in a really fun, Southern setting with fraternities and sororities and SEC football.

“You can’t find that in most places. We’ve just got to sell it. So that’s what we’re trying to do, and we believe a recruiter can show that culture to students in Texas.”

It’s a unique concept, said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor for student affairs.

“The Crosswells’ gift is unprecedented for the university as far as providing resources to our admissions office and is going to increase our exposure and give us an opportunity to be more high-touch in Texas, where we get a number of wonderful students,” she said. “It will allow us to continue to expand the wonderful Ole Miss brand and that feeling of being an Ole Miss family.”

Both LaBanc and the Crosswells hope the Texas Recruiting Initiative Fund will be an example to others who may want replicate the program throughout Texas and in other states.

“It says that people value the work of the Office of Admissions,” LaBanc said. “They are a staff that is always out all year long. If they’re not working on the incoming class, they’re working on the following year’s class.

“They’re such a hard-working group of individuals and for someone to recognize that and want to help them expand their scope and expand the impact that they already have is such a real blessing.”

The Crosswells, who have a home in Oxford, frequently visit the university, where their son Holcombe is a junior integrated marketing communications major. Their son Greyson is a high-school senior who plans to attend Ole Miss in the fall.

The Texas Recruiting Initiative Fund is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations. Checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the name of the fund noted in the memo line, can be mailed to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Gifts also can be made online at http://www.umfoundation/makeagift.

For information on establishing a similar fund, contact Brett Barefoot, development officer for parents, at 662-915-2711 or bmbarefo@olemiss.edu.

Alumnus Plans Ahead to Spur Growth, Improvement at UM

Whitehead's gift will support generations of student-athletes

UM alumnus Greg Whitehead, left, meets with football Coach Hugh Freeze. Whitehead has established an endowment to provide ongoing scholarships for Ole Miss student-athletes. Courtesy photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Tampa Bay Ole Miss Club was fairly inactive when University of Mississippi alumnus Greg Whitehead became president two years ago. Today, with 121 active Alumni Association members, the Florida club is thriving.

The Ole Miss Alumni Association has had a club in the Tampa Bay area for several years, but it has taken off over the past two years,” said Port Kaigler, assistant director of alumni affairs. “We knew we needed to increase our presence in the Tampa Bay area and we have started to, thanks to Greg’s leadership and the work of his board.”

Board members of the Tampa Bay club are UM alumni Frenchie Barron, Jessica Gillum, Elizabeth McConnell, Erin and Ryan Pew, and Hayden Sutherland.

The owner of a Tampa-based sales and marketing company in the wholesale home furnishings industry, Whitehead likes to have a hand in improvement whenever possible. He knew he could help make the alumni club better, just as he constantly strives to enhance his own life by staying in shape and by expanding his knowledge through books, music and travel.

Now, he hopes to help improve athletics and, ultimately, academics at Ole Miss.

Whitehead has agreed to donate a portion of his estate to establish an endowment that will provide ongoing scholarships to Ole Miss student-athletes. This planned gift awards Whitehead membership in the 1848 Society, which recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts.

“I want to give back to my school that I love,” said Whitehead, a Zion, Illinois, native who moved to Mississippi with his family during high school. He played baseball for Itawamba Junior College for two years before transferring to UM, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“I fell in love with Ole Miss,” he said. “It has a special quality that can’t be put into words, something spiritual or even mystical. In addition to being the most beautiful campus in the country, it has a charm that can’t be quantified. It’s a place that keeps calling you back.

“Ole Miss is my family, so I’ve earmarked this amount for athletics because I believe a strong athletics department helps esprit de corps and reputation, which in turn help to increase enrollment, improve academics and foster growth and achievement in many areas.” 

Whitehead’s gift sets an example for others to follow, said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation.

“Many people feel the need to give to Ole Miss athletics in the present, and we are very grateful for those gifts, but it’s also important to know that a planned gift for athletics is another viable way to provide support,” Carter said. “Generations of our student-athletes will receive the return on this particular investment. Greg should feel very proud of that.”

For information on including the university 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.