School of Engineering, Rust College Partner for Dual-Degree Program

Students earn degrees from each institution with a five-year course plan

Officials from the University of Mississippi and Rust College announce a partnership for a dual-degree program in which students will pursue mathematics at Rust for three years and follow up with two years at UM’s School of Engineering. UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce (front left) and Rust College President Ivy R. Taylor (front right) celebrate the new partnership Tuesday (June 1), along with (back row, from left) Dartell Treadwell, Marni Kendricks, Doris Ward, Dave Puleo and Noel Wilkin. Photo by Rust College Public Relations

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. – With a new dual-degree program, students can pursue mathematics at Rust College for three years and follow up with two years at the University of Mississippi School of Engineering.

Four tracks are included in this partnership: biomedical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering and mechanical engineering. Successful students graduate with a degree in mathematics from Rust and an engineering degree from Ole Miss.

Students get the best of both worlds with this arrangement, Rust College President Ivy R. Taylor said.

“We are grateful and excited about this new partnership with Ole Miss School of Engineering, which expands offerings and opportunities for Rust College students,” Taylor said. “Engineering is a strong career field that needs more diversity and our Rust College students can now benefit from the small, supportive environment at Rust for three years and the strong engineering program at Ole Miss for two years. 

“We will increase the pipeline of Black engineers for business and industry and increase diversity at the state’s flagship institution through this innovative partnership. I appreciate everyone who worked to make this a reality.”

UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce also hailed the collaboration.

“This outstanding partnership with Rust College is an important initiative to produce more STEM majors, which will have a distinct impact on our state and region,” he said. “This collaboration is especially notable between Mississippi’s oldest historically Black college and the state’s oldest engineering school.

“I’m excited to see how this program will provide students more options and opportunities as well as prepare them to succeed and thrive in their careers and in leadership roles.”

It was serendipity that sparked this partnership.

Marni Kendricks, assistant dean at the School of Engineering, met with Rust College’s baseball coach Stanley Stubbs last year to discuss an engineering student project for the college’s athletics facilities. As they were talking, a potential student called Stubbs asking if the college had an engineering program; he was keen to attend Rust but wanted to study engineering.

That got the ball rolling. Officials at Rust’s Division of Science and Mathematics and UM’s School of Engineering spent the next six months working to integrate the degree course plans so that students could meet all requirements within five years.

“A degree in mathematics from a historic liberal arts institution, an engineering degree and a paid engineering internship, all within five years, makes for a graduate ready to go make the world a better place,” Kendricks said.

Dartell Treadwell, vice president of student engagement at Rust, worked closely with Kendricks to develop the curriculum.

“We have been intentional in setting up this program,” Treadwell said. “Rust students are taking engineering classes at Ole Miss by their sophomore year. That introduces them to engineering students, faculty and campus early on.”

Integral to this work was Donald Cole, math professor at Rust and professor emeritus at Ole Miss. His knowledge of both institutions and his passion for inclusive education, especially with STEM subjects, streamlined the process.

UM engineering Dean Dave Puleo stressed the wider benefit of this program.

“Engineering will solve many of the great challenges of the 21st century: health care, climate change, infrastructure and more,” Puleo said. “A goal of this partnership with Rust is to create a more diverse group of young engineers, who bring a variety of backgrounds and experiences to create innovative solutions.”

The dual-degree program will be available to students beginning in fall 2021.

About Rust College

Rust College is a historically Black, co-educational, senior liberal arts college founded in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church to offer quality programs in business, education, humanities, science and math, and social science to prepare students for leadership and service in the global society.

Located in Holly Springs, Rust College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.

For more information about Rust College, call 662-252-8000, ext. 4915, or visit