School of Business Administration Kicks Off Centennial

Receptions, commemorative book planned to celebrate 100 years of excellence

Alumni, faculty and staff of the UM School of Business Administration gather in the courtyard of Holman Hall to kick off the observance of the school’s centennial. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Business Administration kicked off its centennial celebration Friday (Sept. 8) with an early fall reception for faculty, staff and alumni in the courtyard of Holman Hall.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter led his remarks by recalling the state of the university in 1917, the year the business school was established. That year, the university had an incoming class of 150 students, the population of Mississippi was 1.8 million, John D. Rockefeller became the world’s first billionaire and only 8 percent of homes had a telephone.

This fall, the school has more than 3,800 students, 63 faculty members and 18 people, making it the largest business school in Mississippi. It offers 11 majors, a top 10 insurance program and a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“I challenge the School of Business to imagine a future in which we increase entrepreneurship and connections to businesses and other external entities to support research programs, academic programs and creative initiatives,” Vitter said. “Our school of business is well-poised to increase the reach and potential of the university’s creative outputs and garner additional resources to propel us to even great heights of excellence.”

New banners celebrating the milestone have gone up on the outside columns of the school as students settle into a new academic year. The business school also hosted a tent in the Circle for tailgating around the Ole Miss-University of Tennessee at Martin game for faculty, staff and alumni.

“This centennial celebration is really a celebration of human accomplishment, a celebration of the people who have been dedicated for 100 years to improving the understanding, the teaching and the service to advance business and business principles,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s interim provost. “One hundred years is a significant milestone, one that signifies the perseverance of human accomplishment toward improving the practice of business for an entire century.”

The Master of Business Administration program, started in 1941, is ranked among the nation’s best, at No. 36 among the nation’s public universities by Bloomberg Businessweek News Service, and the online program came in at No. 22 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 ranking.

“Thousands of lives have been changed, thousands of opportunities created and thousands of people making a difference,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration.

“I look forward to the next 100 years and know we are poised to do great things with the dedication and commitment of this group of people in the business school.”

In honor of the centennial, the UM Foundation has created the 1917 Order, a fundraising effort to recruit faculty, provide scholarships and increase class offerings, among many other initiatives. Membership begins with a gift of $25,000 or greater, with pledges scheduled over five years.

“To grow the endowment for the UM School of Business Administration, we have created the 1917 Order,” said Tim Noss, development officer for the school. “This effort will allow us to continue to grow in national rankings, recruit top students and faculty, and reach for new heights of excellence for the school.”

The school has relaunched BusinessFirst, the school’s magazine, which was distributed to alumni and friends by mail and given out at the celebration Friday. The magazine features alumnus Gen. Major Leon Collins on the cover and includes stories on a myriad of programs, students, faculty and alumni.

A report on the Risk Management and Insurance program’s recognition as one of 12 programs in the U.S. to receive the prestigious Global Centers of Insurance Excellent designation at the International Insurance Society’s Global Insurance Form in London is among the features included in the magazine.

Other highlights include the efforts of a group of MBA students to help a friend paralyzed in a car accident; the student portfolio team coming in fourth in the TVA Investment Challenge, among 23 other schools, with an 11.95 percent return; and the Rebel Venture Capital Fund, a group of alumni who invest in student-run startup business to help them grow.

The school’s leadership has planned two more events to continue the centennial celebration throughout the fall. On Oct. 17, Chancellor Jeffrey and Sharon Vitter will host the business school students at Carrier House.

The final event is set for 5 p.m. Nov. 10 at Off Square Books on the Oxford Square, where a celebration and book signing will take place for “Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years,” a 160-page illustrated history of the school forthcoming from Nautilus Press.

A number of alumni, featured in the book, will be at Off Square Books to sign their individual pages, and the school’s communication officers, Stella Connell and Chad Hathcock, will screen a video commemorating “100 Years of Ole Miss Business.”

All Ole Miss alumni are invited to attend the Square Books event and celebrate the centennial with business school faculty, staff, alumni and friends.