University Reaches Three-year High in Fundraising

Faculty, staff and students benefit from $127.2 million in gifts

More than 22,000 alumni and friends provided more than $127.2 million to support education, research and service programs at the University of Mississippi in fiscal year 2020, up 26 percent from the previous fiscal year. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Private support to the University of Mississippi during fiscal year 2020 soared to more than $127.2 million, up 26 percent from the previous fiscal year, despite challenges brought on by a global pandemic.

More than 22,000 alumni and friends supported academics, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Ole Miss athletics, with 3,441 new donors. Donor counts by generation show that baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964) made the most gifts, and Generation X (born 1965 to 1980) came in second. The average gift was $2,300, up from $1,600 in FY19.

For the ninth consecutive year, private support exceeded $100 million, signaling that alumni and friends believe UM students, programs and state-of-the-art facilities are worthy of major investments, Chancellor Glenn Boyce said.

“We are amazed by the generosity of our donors and are thankful for their investments in our students, programs and faculty,” he said. “Donors stepped in when our students were impacted by COVID-19 and helped meet needs in areas where they could make a difference.

“We have entered into a very challenging time in the history of the University of Mississippi. However, our flagship university is moving forward with exceptional preparation of students as well as research and discoveries to improve life in Mississippi and around the globe. The phenomenal support of alumni and friends contributes so much to the strength of our institution.”

The largest FY20 gifts to the Oxford campus included $26 million from brothers and businessmen Jim and Thomas Duff, of Hattiesburg, toward the construction of the Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation. A $3.3 million planned gift was committed to School of Law scholarships by an anonymous donor, and a $3 million gift from New England-based Reba and Dave Williams will move the Willie Morris Awards for Southern Writing from New York to the Oxford campus.

“Our donors give back to this beloved university because they believe in our mission of building a better world through higher education, and they value being part of our amazing university community,” Boyce said. “They care so much that they give to ensure that future students have enriching opportunities and experiences.”

UMMC benefited from a number of $1 million-and-above gifts for the Children’s Campaign of Mississippi, which is dramatically expanding pediatric clinics and the Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital in the state. Among those donors were the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund, of McComb, and Friends of Children’s Hospital and Century Club Charities, of Jackson.

Fiscal year 2020 was the ninth consecutive year that private support for the University of Mississippi exceeded $100 million, signaling that alumni and friends believe Ole Miss students, programs and facilities are worthy of major investments. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Alumni and friends also responded to needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“We are so grateful for the people and organizations who provide financial support for our work at the Medical Center,” Woodward said. “Your continuing gifts for our new Children’s of Mississippi patient care tower, scheduled to open this November, are answering a huge unmet need for a facility that matches the quality of our pediatric teams.

“During this extraordinary year of the pandemic, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for our front-line health care heroes. From hand-sewn masks to homemade meals to financial assistance for our research on effective therapies against the virus, your support buoyed our spirits and made a daunting task more bearable. Thank you.”

The university also launched an online campaign to respond to student needs on the Oxford campus created by COVID-19, establishing a relief fund for students and student services, with hundreds of alumni and friends contributing $220,000 in gifts. In addition to individual students, the funds supported the Ole Miss Food Bank, Student Emergency Fund, University Counseling Center, University Health Services and Fins Up, the latter for student-athletes.

Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, spoke to the meaningful support.

“Our alumni and friends constantly inspire us as their generosity allows us to offer top-tier educational opportunities,” she said. “We are committed to ensuring that every member of our UM community can access the resources they need to thrive.”

Part of the overall FY20 gifts came through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. The Hearin Foundation, of Jackson, invested $11.2 million in the School of Education’s Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, which recruits top-performing students with full scholarships and professional incentives into an honors college-style learning experience. Scholars make commitments to teach in Mississippi communities for five years after graduation.

Another example of this support was a gift from the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Education Fund, providing more than $972,000 to the Croft Institute for International Studies – a program boasting a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum designed to give students the tools to meet America’s global challenges in the 21st century.

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics also welcomed continued private giving in a year that saw spring sports unable to complete seasons due to the global pandemic.

“In the midst of one of the most challenging years in our nation’s recent history, the Ole Miss family has shown the strength of its generosity and its love for our great university,” said Keith Carter, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics. “The financial issues we are all facing are unprecedented, and it is only with the support of our outstanding donors that we can maintain our student experience and compete at a championship level.

“We are beyond grateful for the passion of our alumni and friends, and during these uncertain times, we will continue to be fiscally responsible while ensuring a safe environment for our campus community.”

Suzan Thames, of Jackson – chair of the UM Foundation board of directors, an Ole Miss alumna and longtime UMMC volunteer fundraiser – said she is heartened to see donors providing strong support, particularly in the face of a pandemic.

“Our alumni and friends always step up when needed,” she said. “We can trust in their interest and support of our university, students, academic community, athletic programs and our Medical Center; they can trust us to be good stewards of the resources they provide.

“There is no limit to the University of Mississippi’s achievements with this kind of support from alumni and friends. We are grateful beyond words.”

To learn about and support UM programs, students, faculty, staff and needs, visit To read stories about donors and their gifts and experiences, visit