Gift to Southern Studies Benefits Graduate Students

One trip to Oxford led donor Marc Rosen to a mutually enriching relationship with UM center

UM master’s students (from left) Andrea Morales, Martha Grace Mize, Christina Huff, Keon Burns and Brittany Brown celebrate their graduation from the Southern studies program outside the Center for the Study of Southern Culture in May 2021. A gift from Marc Rosen, of Atlanta, establishes a fund to support graduate students in the program, helping the university to recruit and retain the brightest graduate students. Photo by Jimmy Thomas/CSSC

OXFORD, Miss. – A trip to the University of Mississippi to learn more about the Center for the Study of Southern Culture gave tax attorney Marc Rosen an opportunity to continue his education in Southern literature, build relationships and affect the lives of Southern studies students.

With a $55,000 gift, the Los Angeles native established the Marc Rosen Fund for Graduate Student Support at the center. In the spirit of the university’s Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss, he is increasing his gift to $60,000.

The fund will be disbursed at the discretion of Katie McKee, the center’s director, in consultation with Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“I wanted to support the academics at the heart of the center,” said Rosen, who gives annually to the CSSC but wanted to increase his impact. “After talking with Katie, I asked her what her biggest need was, and we worked to establish a goal for which I’m now focusing my support of the center.

“I’m elated to be of assistance in supporting the center’s graduate students in their work to acquire a degree or degrees from Ole Miss, and I hope to inspire others to join with me.”

McKee said the gift will make an immediate impact by allowing for the retention of Southern studies graduate students and aiding in future recruitment to the program.

“We are very grateful for Mr. Rosen’s gift, which we plan to use to create graduate assistantships in the upcoming year,” she said. “We’re seeing more students coming to us knowing that they want to stay for three years, rolling from their M.A. to an M.F.A. degree in documentary expression, and gifts like this one make a tremendous difference.

“It’s very gratifying. It’s also thrilling and very rewarding when someone like Mr. Rosen, who had no previous connection to Southern studies or the university, comes to our events, sees the interdisciplinary conversations we’re seeking to facilitate and the research we’re pursuing, and wants to support that.”

Marc Rosen

Rosen, an avid reader of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner who lives in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, became interested in the center after hearing a lecture by Bill Ferris, CSSC founding and emeritus director.

“Bill’s presentation was amazing, and I decided to attend the university’s Faulkner-Yoknapatawpha Conference in 2018 to see what it was all about,” Rosen said. “And you know what? It was phenomenal! It was absolutely a continuing education experience for me.

One trip to Oxford led to another and another until Rosen, a friend member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association and member of the Friends of the CSSC, makes at least four annual visits to campus for the Conference for the Book, the Faulkner-Yoknapatawpha Conference and two Ole Miss football games.

“I’ve met so many wonderful people on campus and in the town that coming back to the CSSC and to Ole Miss is like coming back to distant family members,” said Rosen, who with his wife, Liz, has two grown children, Josh and Laura.

“I am blown away by the work being done at the center, and the staff has done a fantastic job with what I call their outreach – such as the SouthTalks lecture series and various programming. I’m committed to giving my support and my time to help spread the word about the great things happening there.”

Rob Jolly, managing director of development for the College of Liberal Arts and a Southern studies degree holder, said he is deeply grateful for Rosen’s generosity.

“Not only do we appreciate the meaningful investment that Mr. Rosen has made in our graduate students but we also salute him for being a lifelong learner,” Jolly said. “We are inspired by the trips he makes to our campus annually and thank him for being such an incredible ambassador for the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

Rosen’s gift will have a great impact on graduate education at the center, he said.

“This support will mean so much to our graduate students as they pursue intense interdisciplinary studies focusing on the many facets of the life, history and culture of the South,” Jolly said.

The Marc Rosen Fund for Graduate Student Support at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture is open to support from businesses and individuals. Gifts can be made to by sending a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or online at

For more information about supporting the center, contact Jolly at or 662-915-3085.