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.

Gift Supports UM Liberal Arts Faculty

Growing Ole Miss family inspires Morgans' gift

The home that Kirk and Shelly Morgan purchased in Oxford has kept them connected with campus and friends, renewed their love for the area and provided an excuse to visit. The whole family often meets here to enjoy Rebel sports and all that Ole Miss and Oxford have to offer. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Kirk and Shelly Morgan of Lexington, South Carolina, say their recent gift to the University of Mississippi’s College of Liberal Arts is, in a sense, simply supporting their family.

“Our Ole Miss family just gets bigger,” said Kirk Morgan, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, who knew no one when he arrived at UM his freshman year. But the relationships he formed on campus and beyond have inspired his desire to give back by establishing the Shelly and Kirk Morgan Fund for Faculty Excellence.

“All of these relationships stem from my graduation from the College of Liberal Arts,” said Morgan, a 1980 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

During his sophomore year, Morgan met his wife, Shelly Stefoniak, a Dallas native who earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1981.

“I have been fortunate enough to realize that Ole Miss is as much an important factor in our entire family’s lives as any other group deserving of support,” he said. “I am hopeful that the College of Liberal Arts can utilize our financial assistance to continue improving the faculty and facilities and encourage other young students to attend.

“I have particularly enjoyed the fact that, like our family, many out-of-state students attend Ole Miss.”

The Shelly and Kirk Morgan Fund for Faculty Excellence supports the recognition of outstanding teaching, scholarship and service by a faculty member within the College of Liberal Arts as deemed appropriate by the dean.

“The Morgans’ generous gift is a testament to how much they care for the quality of instruction at the University of Mississippi as well as their desire to ensure that Ole Miss students continue to receive the very best higher education has to offer,” liberal arts Dean Lee Cohen said. “Their gift will have a significant impact for years to come.”

Besides meeting his wife on campus, Morgan’s ties to Ole Miss include an uncle, John Gainey, a former All-American Rebel baseball player.

“He encouraged me to visit Ole Miss to meet the coach so that I might get an invitation to join the team, which I got,” said Morgan, who also lettered in golf his sophomore year.

Family ties continued as both of the Morgans’ sons, Eddie and Sam, became UM graduates, as well as Eddie’s wife, Alaina McClain-Morgan of Houston, Texas.

And one person in particular is like family to the Morgans, even though she’s not a blood relative. Linda Spargo, coordinator of special projects in the chancellor’s office, became a friend and trusted educational counselor to both Eddie and Sam. Additionally, Spargo remained “on call” for the family when Eddie and Alaina were seriously injured in a car wreck their junior year.

“During Eddie’s convalescence, the support, friendship and practical advice we received from Dr. Linda Spargo was a prime motivation in my realization that Ole Miss was not just a great school but also a family,” Morgan said.

After graduating from Ole Miss, Morgan remained on campus for his first year of law school while his wife finished her senior year and graduated. They transferred to South Carolina, where he finished law school, then worked briefly in Dallas before returning to South Carolina, where Morgan has practiced as a trial lawyer ever since.

He recently served as president of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association among other achievements.

Morgan found great value in his final year as a student in Oxford.

“We made many great friends who remain so today and are a big part of our continued involvement and commitment to Ole Miss,” he said. “We look forward to continuing our support of the College of Liberal Arts for the balance of our lives, to enjoying many new relationships and friends made as a consequence of our gift, and to watching the College of Liberal Arts have an impact on the lives of faculty and students because of this gift.

“It’s a chance for us to return the favor and make a difference in our university. We want to be a part of its future successes.”

Nikki Neely Davis, a UM development director, thanked the Morgans for their gift.

“We appreciate so much their vision in making this type of gift,” she said. “While scholarship endowments are crucial, endowments that provide support for faculty and programs are equally important to supporting the university’s future.

“The Morgans are gracious and generous people whom I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know.”

The Shelly and Kirk Morgan Fund for Faculty Excellence 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 Davis at nlneely@olemiss.edu or 662-915-6678.

Committed Community Servants Honored at University

'Hickman girls' pay tribute to parents' lives, examples with two scholarships

Known while growing up as the ‘Hickman girls,’ Jenny Hickman Poole (left), Debbie Hickman Little and Lisa Hickman Tollison have created two scholarships at the University of Mississippi to pay tribute to their parents, Dewey and Will Hickman, pictured in the portraits. Photo by Heather Cosby Poole

OXFORD, Miss. – The late Dewey and Will Hickman were known for their committed service to the University of Mississippi and the state’s other universities, the Oxford-Lafayette County community and its economic development, local schools, their church and – most of all – their three daughters.

“Our parents led by example, with the message being to us that demonstrating love and loyalty to each other is an important value,” said daughter Jenny Hickman Poole of Batesville.

Those daughters – known around Oxford as the “Hickman girls” – are expressing that affection and devotion by establishing two scholarships at Ole Miss to pay tribute to their parents. Poole and sisters Debbie Hickman Little and Lisa Hickman Tollison, both of Oxford, have funded the Will A. and Dewey C. Hickman Memorial Law Scholarship Endowment for full-time students in the School of Law who are Mississippi residents and have financial need.

The second scholarship is the Will A. and Dewey C. Hickman Memorial Scholarship Endowment designated for full-time students who are community college transfers and Mississippi residents with financial need; first preference will be given to students in the School of Business Administration.

“When we lost our parents, we knew we wanted to do something for these special people who did so much for others,” Poole said. “Their love for Ole Miss was so strong and such an important part of their lives that establishing something at the university in their names seemed appropriate.”

“Our parents left a wonderful legacy of dedication and service, which we want to memorialize with this gift,” Little said.

The designation of the new scholarships models the Hickmans’ paths in higher education. After losing his father at the age of 12, Will Hickman, a native of Monticello, attended Hinds Community College on a basketball scholarship while doing custodial work on campus. Meanwhile, Dewey Hickman graduated as salutatorian of Meadville High School and enrolled at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

“They educated three daughters, who earned degrees from Ole Miss, and were instrumental in educating their seven grandchildren,” Tollison said. “Although we were blessed, not everyone gets the same opportunity to receive a formal education. Our parents would be very pleased to know these scholarships will aid other young men and women.”

Will Hickman, a senior law partner with Hickman, Goza and Spragins, made far-reaching contributions as part of the leadership on the board of trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for 13 years, where he served a term as president. The IHL is the governing body for policy and financial oversight of Mississippi’s eight public universities.

His experience in desegregation and civil rights cases within public schools and with Ole Miss made his service “valuable” on the board of trustees during the Ayers case, a civil rights case that sought to correct inadequate funding for Mississippi’s three historically black universities, Little said. “My dad was an advocate for educational opportunities for everyone.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter praised the daughters for choosing to honor their parents through student scholarships.

“Dewey and Will Hickman were outstanding alumni who will always be part of this university,” Vitter said. “We are extremely grateful to their daughters for this gift of scholarships bearing their names and reflecting their parents’ strongly held belief in extending educational opportunities to others.

“Will Hickman provided transformational leadership and service to the IHL board that will be felt for generations of students attending Mississippi’s eight public universities. Likewise, Dewey Hickman was a source of unwavering support to her husband throughout this meaningful service and also worked tirelessly to strengthen Ole Miss, local schools and other institutions. Their generous spirit could be seen in that they often opened their home for Ole Miss events.”

Hickman also was uniquely poised to influence the community as the board attorney for the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, Oxford School District, Oxford-Lafayette County Hospital and Northeast Mississippi Electric Power Association. He was president of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and the North Mississippi Industrial Foundation, as well as chairman of the education committee of the Oxford Economic Development Foundation.

Will Hickman served in the U.S. 5th Army, commanded by Mark Clark, in the Italian theater during World War II, fighting all the way to France. Afterward, he enrolled in Millsaps College, where he met the love of his life, fellow student Dewey Cobb. After graduation they married, moved to the Oxford campus and lived in the “Vet Village” while Hickman earned his law degree from Ole Miss.

Dewey Hickman taught school in Abbeville for five years and earned a master’s degree in business administration from UM. They had planned to move back home to south Mississippi but chose to remain in their adopted hometown of Oxford.

Will Hickman served Oxford as mayor pro tempore and as an alderman for two terms. Appreciation for his contributions was recognized in 1986 when he was honored as Oxford’s Citizen of the Year. Hinds Community College named him Alumnus of the Year in 1988. He was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the university in 1996. The Ole Miss School of Law selected him as its 1998 Alumnus of the Year.

“They fell in love with Ole Miss and Oxford,” Little said. “They were the typical Southern couple, stately and courteous. Mom was the serious one, and Dad had an excellent sense of humor. He was a good man to have on your team.

“Dad always gave credit to Mom whenever he was recognized. Mom was the creative, behind-the-scenes person. She had a servant’s heart and wrote notes of encouragement to people all her life. They believed the family unit to be critical, with Dad often saying, ‘If you don’t maintain close family ties, you’ve lost something that will be difficult to regain.'”

Poole said the words that come to mind when describing her parents are “commitment, hard work, determination, giving and family.”

That family also includes their three sons-in-law: Ray Poole, Larry Little and Grady Tollison.

Dewey Hickman was named Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Oxford. She taught business communication at Ole Miss for a year. She was active in the community and the First Presbyterian Church for many years. Leadership positions included chair of the Easter Seal Campaign, secretary of the Lafayette County Library Board, member of the V.F.W. Auxiliary and the Oxford Army Advisory Committee and president of the Cosmopolitan and Oxford Garden clubs.

“Our parents were heavily involved in all our activities,” Poole said. “They drove us to everything – cheerleading, Girl Scouts and more. They gave so much of their time and resources to the community but they were always present for their daughters.”

Both the Will A. and Dewey C. Hickman Memorial Law Scholarship and the Will A. and Dewey Hickman Memorial Scholarship Endowment are open to accept gifts from individuals and organizations. Send checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund(s) noted in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online at http://umfoundation.com/makeagift.

For more information contact William Kneip, development officer for the College of Liberal Arts, at 662-915-2254 or Kneip@olemiss.edu.

Holloway Gift to Athletics Kicks Off Gate-Naming Initiative

Latest contribution goes toward Forward Together capital campaign

J.L. and Diane Holloway have committed $1 million to the university’s Forward Together campaign will help strengthen programs and fund facilities and equipment. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Fans entering the south entrance of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at the University of Mississippi may have noticed new signage, displaying the names of Diane and J.L. Holloway and serving as a lasting tribute to the Ridgeland couple’s recent gift in support of Ole Miss athletics.

The Holloways’ $1 million gift to the university’s Forward Together campaign will help strengthen programs and fund facilities and equipment.

“This gracious gift will ultimately make significant improvements for the benefit of our student- athletes,” said Ross Bjork, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics. “The Holloways have a real desire to see not just our program achieve success but also our individual student-athletes, both on and off the field. We are extremely grateful for their generosity.”

The Holloway gift kicks off the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s drive to honor donors with naming opportunities for each of the entrance gates at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Rebels’ basketball arena.

“The Gate Naming Initiative is the first of its kind and will play an integral role in completing the $200 million Forward Together campaign,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “With $173 million raised toward a multitude of capital projects, the final phase of the campaign will see the opening of an indoor tennis facility this December and completed renovations at Oxford-University Stadium in early spring.”

Gate naming opportunities start at $250,000 and are payable over five years.

J.L. Holloway is founder and CEO of Tenax Aerospace in Madison, a company that leases aircraft to the U.S. government, including one used by FBI Director Christopher Wray for executive travel and other aircraft used by the Department of Defense for geographic mapping.

While much of Holloway’s work is classified and cannot be discussed, he’s always eager to talk about Ole Miss.

“Our teams are not doing exactly what we would like for them to do these days,” he said. “There’ve been a few problems along the way, so we just thought this was an opportune time to be a giver in maybe an inopportune situation. We want our teams to know we are supporting them.

“You know most of us don’t need much support when everything is going perfect for us; we need that support when we feel like we’re not at the top of our game.”

The Holloways’ gift to name a gate is the most recent in a two-decade history of giving to the university, totaling nearly $2 million.

“J.L. has the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever known,” said Diane Holloway, who earned a degree in education from Ole Miss in 1985 and is the daughter of Jackie Triplett and the late Dr. R. Faser Triplett of Jackson, longtime dedicated UM supporters. “And not just in giving financially but giving of his thought, giving of his time and truly caring about what’s happening in people’s lives from very, very young people to old people. He does have a passion for helping young people.

“In the business sense, I think God has given J.L. an unusual gift for seeing things differently, building great teams and building businesses, and J.L. has been faithful to follow that. I feel that God has given us tremendous success because he knows that J.L. is a faithful giver and has believed forever that to whom much is given, much is expected. He lives that life, and I admire that a lot.”

As a young man, Holloway served a six-month stint in the U.S. Army before taking his first job: selling sewing machines and vacuum cleaners. At 24, he started a small construction rental business that he built into a multistate organization and ultimately sold about six years later.

Then, employing six people, he began HAM Marine, which became the foundation of Friede Goldman International with Holloway serving as its CEO. The company, a leading international provider of offshore drilling services, was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and had 8,000 employees and operations in eight countries when Holloway retired to be able to play more tennis.

“That lasted about three weeks and Diane told me to go find something to do!” Holloway said, laughing.

Twelve years later, Tenax Aerospace is thriving – good for the Holloways and good for Ole Miss. Tenax also operates companies and invests in land development, real estate, construction, general equipment sales and leasing, and health care software, as well as construction and retrofit drilling and production vessels.

Among his many honors, Holloway was named to the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame in 1999, and he received the Mississippi Governor’s Citizen of the Year award in 2009. The J.L. Holloway Business & Technology Center at Mississippi College was named in his honor in 2007.

“In America, most of us describe success as how well we’ve done financially in life, and certainly that’s a metric that we use, but to me it’s a lot about how you’ve been toward your fellow man and how you’ve been toward those organizations that do so much for people,” he said. “To me, that’s been a success point for Diane and me both.

“We’re both givers and we’re both people who want to help other people. So it brings a real joy and satisfaction to us to be able to provide things for others through the resources with which we’ve been blessed.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter expressed his appreciation for the university’s loyal donors.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Holloways for this wonderful gift as well as their longtime commitment to generously supporting Ole Miss,” he said. “I continue to be inspired by how dedicated and supportive our alumni and friends are to UM; they are a significant reason for our sustained growth and success.

“Our university is truly fortunate to have individuals such as J.L. and Diane, who are so strongly committed and passionate about helping others.”

For more information about the Gate Naming Initiative, contact Keith Carter at jkcarter@olemiss.edu, call 662-915-7159 or visit http://givetoathletics.com/gates.