Drumming Up Support for Engineering School

Administrators, faculty and students visit alumni to share needs, ask for backing

Dean Alex Cheng (center) chatted with UM alums (from left) John Baker and Derrick Wilson during the meet-and-greet.

Dean Alex Cheng (center) chats with UM alumni (from left) John Baker and Derrick Wilson during a meet-and-greet.

Even with fewer students on the University of Mississippi campus during the summer, engineering faculty stay busy. Amidst summer camps, freshman orientation, summer school, hosting parents and high school students on college tours, and planning meetings for the fall, Dean Alex Cheng and select faculty members manage to attend some alumni gatherings out-of-state.

“Having the dean and/or professors on the meet-and-greet road show is quite a joy,” said Kevin Gardner, development officer for the School of Engineering. “I am reminded of the special relationships our small student-to -teacher ratio fostered as I see the graduate (now professional peer) and professor interact.”

During the visits, UM graduates shared their perspectives on industry trends, research and the need for increased financial support for Ole Miss engineering, as well as renewing old acquaintances and establishing new ones.

“In recent years, we have been able to host alumni gatherings in Houston, Alexandria/Washington, D.C., Huntsville and Baton Rouge,” Gardner said. “This summer, our travels took us to Dallas and Ft. Worth, where Tamara Crawford and Derrick Wilson were our gracious ambassadors. These networking opportunities are also beneficial for our engineering administration to convey the recent progress and updates on campus and allowed us to hear what our alumni are doing in their respective fields.”

One of the lunch meetings featured a whole roomful of alumni, Cheng said.

“Among them were Mr. David Galloway, who graduated in 1943, and Ms. Lizzie Holt, who graduated last May.” he said. “Their graduation time spans more than 70 years. They seemed to have made a good connection right away. It was a happy sight.”

In August, Cheng, Wilson and Gardner toured Venture Research Inc., hosted by owner and UM electrical engineering alumnus John Baker of Plano, Texas.

“We saw a technology museum of the evolutional changes in the last 25 years compared to today’s products, solutions and the state-of-the art RFID test lab,” Cheng said. “We hope to be traveling soon and will be calling on the local alumni to suggest site selection and to assist us with reception recruitment as we strive to see as many alumni and industry representatives as we possibly can.”

Alumni are encouraged to contact the School of Engineering whenever they come to Oxford or to visit campus.

“We have lots to talk about and show you,” Cheng said.

For more information, contact Kevin Gardner at 662-915-7601 or Kevin@olemiss.edu, or Alex Cheng at 662-915-7407 or acheng@olemiss.edu.