Top Ole Miss Stories of 2018

Year-end review showcases highlights, achievements across UM

OXFORD, Miss. – Looking back through 2018 at all the activities and accomplishments at the University of Mississippi might take some time. From the university being included in the elite group of research institutions to a student making history as the university’s first female Rhodes Scholar, 2018 was certainly a year to remember.

Research Rebels achieve R1

The University of Mississippi is included in the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the top doctoral research universities in the United States. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The University of Mississippi was again included in the distinguished group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The R1 category includes major, public flagship institutions and Ivy League research powerhouses and means the state is represented among the top 2.7 percent of research institutions of higher education.

Giving hits all-time high

Private giving helps UM maintain margins of excellence in a range of fields across all its campuses. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

With its seventh consecutive year of new gifts of $100 million or more, the university grew its permanent endowment to an all-time high of $715 million in the latest fiscal year. Private giving from more than 30,000 donors provides the university essential resources to continue providing exceptional experiences for students, faculty, researchers, health care patients and providers, citizens served by outreach and visitors to all its campuses.

University celebrates selection of 26th Rhodes Scholar

Jaz Brisack is the University of Mississippi’s 26th Rhodes Scholar, and the first woman in the university’s history to be selected to the elite international academic program. Photo by Megan Wolfe / Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Jaz Brisack became the university’s 26th Rhodes Scholar and first female UM student to be selected into the elite international program. Brisack, a senior general studies major from Oxford, was also the 2018 Truman Scholar for Mississippi.

Research funding surpasses $134 million

External funding for research at the University of Mississippi reached its highest level in four years in 2017-18. A total of $134,735,332 in external funding was awarded to the Oxford campus and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, with research dollars being used to favorably impact lives in Mississippi and around the globe, fuel economic growth and prosperity, educate future leaders and innovators, and more.

School of Medicine breaks admissions record

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, welcomes the school’s largest incoming class during orientation Aug. 8.

In August, the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center welcomed its largest first-year class ever with 165 students. The number of admissions exceeded last year’s record figure of 155. The news was celebrated by UMMC leaders who noted the expanding medical school class contributes significantly to the physician workforce in Mississippi. Part of the increase in students can be attributed to the opening of the School of Medicine’s new home. The state-of-the-art facility has allowed for an expansion in the student population, which will help improve patient access to health care across the state.

UM earns second Language Flagship Program

The University of Mississippi has been awarded an Arabic Flagship Program, a program designed to graduate students with a commanding fluency level in a language critical to U.S. competitiveness and security. Photo courtesy of Department of Modern Languages

The university became one of two new national recipients of an Arabic Flagship Program, a highly regarded language program for undergraduate students only available at select institutions of higher learning. The Arabic Flagship Program became the second Language Flagship at UM. The Chinese Language Flagship Program was established in 2003.

Student-athletes achieve highest grad success rate

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics set a new program standard in NCAA Graduation Success Rate in 2018. Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics

UM student-athletes achieved high marks off the field this year, again breaking the program record for highest Graduation Success Rate. It was the fifth straight season Ole Miss athletics achieved its highest-ever GSR, coming in at 85 percent. Five sports (rifle, women’s golf, softball, women’s tennis and volleyball) all had 100 percent GSR. Since 2004, Ole Miss has seen its GSR rise from 69 percent to this year’s 85 percent.

Construction projects nearing completion

Construction crews have reworked the roundabout in front of Guyton Hall to align with Guyton Place and Magnolia Drive. The new design, which opened Aug. 10, allows for a safer, more convenient roadway for pedestrians and motorists. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Construction crews across the Ole Miss campus are nearing completion of several projects that expect to be done by the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Crews already have reworked the roundabout in front of Guyton Hall to align with Guyton Place and Magnolia Drive. Several other projects are also nearing completion, including the Ole Miss Student Union, All American Drive, the South Oxford Center, the South Campus Recreation and Transportation Hub, Paul B. Johnson Commons East, and Garland, Hedleston and Mayes halls.

Rare ‘corpse flower’ blooms

The ‘corpse flower’ draws a crowd to the Thad Cochran Research Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The university’s “corpse flower,” which is part of the collection of the School of Pharmacy, blossomed in front of an anxious crowd of onlookers, excited to see the rare sight of this plant that blooms once every three or four years. The 5-foot-tall titan arum has the largest unbranched flower cluster in the world and, when in bloom, produces a smell described as that of decomposing flesh.

Don Cole retires

Don Cole retires from the University of Mississippi and his longtime responsibilities in the Lyceum. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Esteemed UM professor and administrator Don Cole announced his retirement in December. Cole has been a champion of education, particularly assisting underrepresented students achieve academically. Cole, 68, served in a variety of capacities on campus, including roles as program director, grant writer, mentor, mathematics professor and administrator. His retirement is official Jan. 15, 2019.

Well, that’s it for 2018, but be sure to check out our year in review in photos to see all these stories, plus so much more. And be sure to continue following Ole Miss News to stay up to date on all the exciting things happening at the University of Mississippi.