HESRM Professor Chosen Gillespie Distinguished Scholar

Allison Ford-Wade recognized for mental health work and STEM outreach to local teens

OXFORD, Miss. – Allison Ford-Wade, a University of Mississippi professor and interim chair of health, exercise science and recreation management, is the 2023 recipient of the Gillespie Distinguished Scholar Award.

Ford-Wade is recognized for her role in initiatives such as Mental Health First Aid and Project SCORE, or Student-Centered Outcomes Research Experience.

The award honors and rewards faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to teaching, scholarship and research within the School of Applied Sciences. Funds are used for research and travel.

Allison Ford-Wade

“This award is an accolade that reinforces the hard work and dedication I have had as a faculty member at Ole Miss for the past 19 years,” she said. “I’m honored to receive it.”

Ford-Wade sought to address mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression, in the school after seeing a need arise during the COVID-19 pandemic. With support from the school and COVID-19 relief funding, she and her colleagues trained more than 200 people.

The Ole Miss football coaching staff received praise after becoming one of the first staffs nationwide to complete the training.

“We identified an instructor in athletics who has worked hard over the last three months training athletics staff,” Ford-Wade said. “It’s been an amazing progression to watch in a short amount of time.”

Ford-Wade is a most-deserving recipient, said Peter Grandjean, dean of the School of Applied Sciences.

“Dr. Ford-Wade is the epitome of excellence in teaching, research and service,” he said. “This recognition speaks to the quality of her achievements. It also speaks to her continued leadership and advocacy for collaborative, community-based participatory research”

Ford-Wade is also introducing STEM fields to high school students with professors in pharmacy, chemistry and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The program is delivered at the Oxford Boys & Girls Club and Stewpot in Jackson.

Spending Wednesday afternoons at the Boys & Girls Club working with local teens is a highlight of her career, Ford-Wade said.

“Introducing public health careers to high school students may not only benefit the students in the program, but could increase health awareness in our local communities,” she said. “(It’s) likely one of the most rewarding projects I have been a part of thus far.”