Ole Miss Women’s Council Set to Welcome Dolly Parton

Entertainment legend to receive Legacy Award on new date in April

The centerpiece of Dolly Parton’s philanthropy is her Imagination Library, which has provided more than 140 million books to children around the world. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Dolly Parton’s highly anticipated visit to the University of Mississippi to accept the prestigious Legacy Award from the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy will take place early next year after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once again, the C Spire Foundation will be the presenting sponsor of the OMWC Legacy Award event that is set for the evening of April 11, 2021, at The Jefferson Oxford.

Earlier in the afternoon, Parton will read to children at a literacy event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. This presentation honoring and highlighting the work of Parton’s Imagination Library will be sponsored by Regions Bank as a part of the OMWC Rose Garden Literacy Project.

“For the 20th anniversary year of the Ole Miss Women’s Council and the 10th anniversary of the Legacy Award, we are honoring Dolly Parton who has a national and international reach,” said Mary Donnelly Haskell, of Oxford, the Legacy Award event chair. “When I think of the positive influence Dolly continues to have on her home state of Tennessee, as well as children and adults around the globe, it is clear she is a perfect choice for this distinguished award.

“Dolly’s extraordinary legacy spans from her enrichment of our lives through entertainment, to the many generous humanitarian acts she carries out to support people all over the world. Our goal is for our OMWC scholarship recipients to become servant leaders who truly make a difference in society, and my dear friend Dolly lives that life daily.”

The centerpiece of Parton’s philanthropy is her Imagination Library, which has provided more than 140 million books to children around the world. Among her other generous acts, Parton recently provided $1 million to Dr. Naji Abumrad’s coronavirus research underway at Vanderbilt University.

Parton was originally set to be recognized in April of this year with the 2020 OMWC Legacy Award, which pays tribute to an individual or couple annually for outstanding leadership, mentorship and philanthropy. Although Parton is known widely as a successful country music singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, record producer, actress and author, her commitment to elevating other people is a major part of her life.

Over the two decades since its founding, the OMWC has secured almost $17 million for scholarships, which are enhanced with leadership development, career and life mentors, philanthropic projects, internship and study-abroad support, and cultural and travel opportunities.

Sponsors have made the Legacy Award event possible, thus helping raise funds for student programming and leadership development, said OMWC chair Liz Johnson Randall, of Oxford.

“Our sincere thanks go to the C Spire Foundation and other generous sponsors who have stepped up with the support needed to have such a meaningful event,” she said. “For so many to invest in top-tier programming for our students is truly inspiring, and this backing helps provide exceptional experiences to broaden students’ exposure to philanthropy and service to others.

“The Women’s Council also appreciates everyone’s patience while we worked with Dolly and her team to reschedule this event to spring 2021. We considered a date this fall but wanted to move forward with an abundance of caution with cases of the virus continuing.”

Besides the long-running support of the C Spire Foundation as the top sponsor of the OMWC Legacy Award, platinum sponsors for 2020 are Sanderson Farms, Cooper Communities Inc. and Regions Bank. Gold sponsors are the FedEx Corp. and MTrade.

Silver sponsors include Bank Plus, Date Line Technology, Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, Nicholas Air, Diane and Dick Scruggs, The Jefferson, the University of Mississippi Foundation, Jane Claire and Nason Williams, and Yates Construction.

Bronze sponsors include Nancy and Richard Akin, Sandy and John Black, Butler Snow, Ginger and Charles Clark, Mary Susan and J.D. Clinton, Jan and Lawrence Farrington, Gaye and Roger Flynt, FNC|Corelogic, Edith Kelly-Green, Mary and Sam Haskell, Martha Kirkley, Lafayette County Literacy Council, Olivia and Archie Manning, Judy and Sam Carroll, Susan and David McCormick, Karen and Bruce Moore, Ole Miss Alumni Association, Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, Bond Oman, Charles Overby, the Patterson School of Accountancy and Will Pepper.

Other Bronze Sponsors are Pam and Weldon Perkins, Gail and John Pittman, Lib and Neal Quirk, Randall Commercial Group, Mary Sharp and Jim Rayner, Roane and Robert Grantham, the UM schools of Business Administration and Education, College of Liberal Arts, Betsy Collier Smith, Vicki and Harry Sneed, Suzan and Tommy Thames, Jane Carter Thomas-Chapman, Kimberley Fitts and Marion Turner, Trinity and Scott Walker, and Dr. LouAnn Woodward.

For more information on OMWC, contact Suzanne Helveston at shelveston@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2956 or visit https://omwc.olemiss.edu.