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

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