Celebrating 20 Exceptional Years

Women's Council hosts Feb.14 dinner, auction of 'experiences' to bolster student programming

Ole Miss Women’s Council Scholars receive some of the largest scholarship awards on campus, as well as benefit from mentoring, leadership development, and cultural and travel opportunities. These scholars on campus for the 2019-20 academic year also can pursue study abroad and internships on the national and international level with support from the OMWC, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary by raising funds for student programming. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty years ago, a group of University of Mississippi alumnae leaders set out to use their resources and voices to help change the world – one student at a time. The Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy will celebrate its anniversary Feb. 14 with a dinner-dance and auction of unique experiences to raise funds for student programming.

The anniversary event will highlight OMWC scholars and generous scholarship, Global Leadership Circle and Rose Society donors. Leigh Anne Tuohy – a Memphis interior designer, one of the subjects of the movie and book “The Blind Side” and recipient of the inaugural OMWC Legacy Award – will emcee the event at The Inn at Ole Miss.

The scholarship endowment has grown to $15.7 million, and enriching opportunities accompany the scholarships, among some of the largest at the university, said Mary Susan Gallien Clinton, of Naples, Florida, the council’s chair.

“OMWC members have found our voice and a vehicle for making an impact,” she said. “To work with students – to help grow and nurture them – is one of the most important things any of us can do. It’s absolutely amazing to see these students bloom through opportunities we offer, and working with them means the world to our council members and me.

“There’s a tremendous return on investment as our scholars become outstanding citizens, innovators and change agents. Look out, world – we OMWC members are just getting warmed up in our mission to enhance opportunities for students.”

The anniversary dinner includes a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed at 7 by a buffet dinner by Tallahatchie Gourmet, program, auction and dance.

“A much-anticipated part of this vibrant celebration will be the auction of extraordinary experiences,” said OMWC anniversary co-chair Karen Moore, of Nashville, Tennessee.

Auction proceeds, combined with dinner ticket sales, will be used to expand programming for OMWC scholars and other Ole Miss students. Among the unique experiences found at https://www.32auctions.com/omwc20auction are:

  • An evening with legendary entertainer Dolly Parton will include cocktails and dinner for 10 people April 17 in the Oxford home of Mary and Sam Haskell.
  • An exclusive Oxford experience with Ole Miss and pro football great Archie Manning will treat 10 adults to his Oxford home, where guests will enjoy drinks and some of Manning’s favorite stories before the group walks to the Oxford Grillehouse on the Square for dinner. Each guest will receive a football signed by all the Manning men: Archie, Cooper, Eli and Peyton.
  • An ultimate tailgating tent, fare, drink and experience for up to 50 people in the Grove will take place Oct. 3 before the Alabama-Ole Miss football game. Consider this SEC matchup a game not to be missed: new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin takes on his former boss, Nick Saban.
  • An entertainment-filled four-night VIP trip will take two people to Nashville on June 3-7 for the CMT Awards, the CMA Fest, hotel accommodations and more.
  • Two different condo offerings in Aspen, Colorado, will provide relaxing vacation time in one of the most popular areas of the United States.

After auctions end at 9 p.m., live music will be provided by the popular cover band Spunk Monkees.

“The OMWC has had some amazing history on its 20-year journey,” said Moore, an active member and former chair of OMWC. “The vision of Ellen Rolfes, a Memphian who’s considered the architect of the Women’s Council, has given our students an opportunity to learn through travel and cultural experiences, engagement with mentors, and lessons on leadership, philanthropy and service.

“We plan to elevate our programs to even greater heights in the coming years.”

OMWC member Margaret Barker, of Nashville, also co-chairs the event, which will honor all those who have provided support for the program.

“We are grateful to our donors who have supported our programs and allowed us to grow,” Barker said. “The OMWC has developed what we believe is the gold standard of scholarship programs, giving deserving students far more than just financial support, although that holds great importance.

“We encourage everyone to purchase tickets and enjoy Valentine’s Day for a most meaningful cause: a celebration of students and future leaders. The evening promises to provide a magical combination of inspiring stories, wonderful fellowship, spectacular food and drinks, a lively auction and contagious dance music.”

The OMWC began with a group of women committed to promoting philanthropy to sponsor innovative programs that would attract and develop students through leadership, scholarship and mentorship. Since its inception, 58 women have served on the OMWC and have contributed both financially and through their involvement as mentors and fundraisers.

The OMWC scholarships – among the top awards at Ole Miss at $40,000 each – have supported 147 male and female students to date. Besides engaging with their career and life mentors, scholarship recipients meet weekly with OMWC staff members and enjoy a monthly Red Plate Supper that offers both a home-style meal and an inspiring speaker.

Scholarships can be endowed for $125,000 for a general award or $250,000 for a scholarship designated for a particular major. Each scholarship is recognized with a dedication ceremony in the OMWC Rose Garden at the intersection of University Avenue and Old Taylor Road.

The Global Leadership Circle was founded to support OMWC scholars, and donors provide funds to enable students to study abroad or pursue internships on the national and international levels. The Rose Society and Rose Bud Society began as support groups to garner additional resources for student programming.

Tickets are $75 per person. For more information about the 20th anniversary celebration and to purchase tickets online, visit https://bit.ly/383orEa.

For more information about the event, contact Alexis Lee, OMWC program coordinator, at 662-915-7273 or aklee2@olemiss.edu. To learn more about establishing a scholarship or joining the Global Leadership Circle and other support groups, contact Suzanne Helveston, development associate, at 662-915-2956 or shelveston@olemiss.edu.