Intersection of Science and Spirituality Assists UM Students

God at the Speed of Light endowment helps lift financial burdens

Elizabeth McDowell, a mathematics major from Hattiesburg, hopes to attend law school this fall after graduating from Ole Miss. She says the God at the Speed of Light Scholarship created by Dr. T. Lee Baumann made it possible for her to afford college. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Years after earning medical certifications in internal medicine, geriatrics and medical management, Dr. T. Lee Baumann turned his years of quantum physics notes into the bestselling book “God at the Speed of Light,” with profits improving prospects for many University of Mississippi students.

Baumann first began researching a connection between quantum physics and spirituality as a college student, and said the unique connection made him – a former atheist – a believer in God.

Dr. T. Lee Baumann

The physician and his wife, Dr. Brenda Baumann, of Pell City, Alabama, initially established the God at the Speed of Light Scholarship Endowment at Ole Miss in 2003, the name coming from the title of his first book. Totaling more than $200,000, the endowment has supported 16 Mississippi students since its founding.

“We decided to use the success from the book, which also helped to inspire the CBS-TV series ‘Joan of Arcadia,’ to establish scholarships as a way of ‘giving back,'” said Baumann, who received a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in 1972 and was a member of the charter class at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

“It is important for us to add to it every year because we feel strongly about the importance of education in its role for humankind and the survival of our planet. We hope this will help future generations.”

Baumann said he and his wife saw a need for educational support in Mississippi and Alabama, which is why they chose to establish one of their many scholarship endowments at Ole Miss.

“Reading the thank you notes from the scholars means a lot to us,” Baumann said.

The continued financial support of donors such as the Baumanns plays a key role in the success of students and programs in the College of Liberal Arts, said Lee Cohen, UM dean of liberal arts.

“We are grateful to Lee and Brenda for their commitment to education in Mississippi and for their support over the years, which has benefitted the lives of our students,” he said. “Their generosity is truly life-changing.”

Elizabeth McDowell, a mathematics major from Hattiesburg, had a financial burden lifted thanks to Baumann’s gift.

“This year, the scholarship has meant even more than it usually has for me and my family,” said McDowell, who plans to attend law school in fall 2021.

“Over the past few months, my mother struggled with her health. Between completing this semester, working on applications for law school and helping take care of my mom, not having to stress about affording this academic year has been a blessing.”

UM senior Michael Ivy (left) works with Hernando High School sophomore Noel Terrell as part of his student teaching at the school. Ivy, a music education major from Batesville, is a recipient of the scholarship created by Dr. T. Lee Baumann. Photo by Angela Riley/Hernando High School

Michael Ivy, a senior music education major from Batesville, said the scholarship provided a path for his education at the university as well.

“I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Baumann for endowing this scholarship,” Ivy said. “It is definitely the reason I was able to continue attending school, and for that I’m extremely grateful.

“After I graduate, I plan to search for a job that allows me to teach music to students in a way that they will learn to love and appreciate music for themselves.”

According to Nancy Maria Balach, chair of the Department of Music, the scholarship has been transformative in her area because of students such as Ivy and other recipients.

“These funds propel the trajectory of young musicians, enable the Department of Music to attract top recruits to the university and allow orchestra director Maestro Selim Giray to continue building the University of Mississippi’s orchestral program to its fullest potential,” Balach said.

The Baumanns have endowed God at the Speed of Light scholarships throughout the Southeast, including at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama, Auburn University, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, as well as at Baumann’s alma mater, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

“We feel fortunate that we are able to give back and have this opportunity,” Baumann said. “Just knowing that the students who receive these scholarships graduate and go on to have careers makes us proud to have played any small role in that.”

The God at the Speed of Light Scholarship Endowment is open to support from businesses and individuals. Gifts can be made by sending a check, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or by giving online at

For more information about supporting the College of Liberal Arts, contact Claire Moss, associate director of development, at or 662-915-3086.