Willie Price Lab School Receives $25,000 Endowment

Retired University of Mississippi educator Lynton Dilley (third from left) meets with (from left) Tamara Hilllmer, assistant director of Willie Price Lab School, Angela Rutherford, Willie Price director, and David Rock, dean of education, during a recent visit to the school. UM photo by Andrew Abernathy.

OXFORD. Miss. – Retired University of Mississippi educator Lynton Dilley has established a legacy of learning at the university with a $25,000 donation to create a new endowment to support Willie Price Lab School.

The Norman Edward and Lynton Sullivan Dilley Endowment, named after Dilley and her late husband, is the first endowment ever created for the 43-year-old pre-kindergarten school and will help cover day-to-day costs. In the coming year, the school will seek additional donations to grow the new endowment to enhance its programs.

“I knew Willie Price,” Dilley recalled during a recent visit to the school. “This is a happy place. I’m glad I have this gift to give.”

Programming at the school provides a variety of learning activities for 3- and 4-year-old students, including visiting storytellers as part of its Mystery Reader program, hands-on experiences in a vegetable learning garden, petting zoos, physical education classes and a constantly evolving curriculum designed to help children learn and gain preparedness for kindergarten.

“We’re so thankful to Mrs. Dilley for her generous support,” said Angela Rutherford, Willie Price director. “This gives us the opportunity to improve our facility and make sure we have the resources to continue offering quality education programs for our students.”

Operated by the UM School of Education, the state’s largest producer of teachers and educational leaders, the Willie Price facility will play a role in the school’s plans to establish new undergraduate and graduate curricula in early childhood education in the near future.

This is Dilley’s second donation to UM this academic year. Last August, the retired educator donated $25,000 to the university museum to create the Dilley Museum Endowment, which supports education programs for area children.

“This is about giving back,” Dilley said. “I had a great career. I was going to leave this in my will, but my sons said I should give it back now, so I can see where it goes.”

Dilley came to Oxford in 1956 with her sons and husband, Norman Edward Dilley, who was a UM education professor for two years until his sudden death in August 1958. A trained architect, she worked for an Oxford architecture firm while taking elementary education classes on campus. She began teaching sixth grade at Oxford Elementary School in 1961 while studying for a master’s degree in education.

In 1966, she joined the School of Education faculty, a position in which she influenced thousands of students and received grant monies to study education in more than 20 countries. She retired in 1991 as director of field experiences and instructor in education.

“During some of the toughest moments of my life, this community has wrapped its arms around my family and me,” Dilley said. “I’m happy to give back when so much has been given to me.”

For more information about Willie Price Lab School, go to http://education.olemiss.edu/willieprice/.