Each season at The University of Mississippi offers so much to celebrate and enjoy, especially the spring when the azaleas and dogwoods bloom and our campus is bustling with activities leading up to Commencement. For spring 2019, we enjoyed a special treat when alumnus and current president of the Alumni Association, Gen. Leon Collins, shared lessons from a life in leadership as speaker for the university’s 166th Commencement. It is truly special when alumni share their experiences, insight and knowledge to the newest Ole Miss graduates.
In March, we hosted an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 1,500 prospective students and their families at our annual Junior Preview Day. And our current students turned out in a big way for RebelTHON, the annual dance marathon that raises money for our Blair Batson Children’s Hospital. For the second year in a row, RebelTHON raised more than $250,000 — a tremendous gift and an inspiring demonstration of our students’ commitment to help the children of Mississippi.
In April, University Development hosted our first-ever Ole Miss Giving Day. In tribute to the university’s founding year of 1848, Giving Day actually spanned 1 day, 8 hours and 48 minutes. This crowdsource event sought gifts of all sizes for 26 participating schools, colleges and programs. When all was said and done, $542,990 was raised through 1,053 gifts — that’s $16,549 an hour! Thank you to everyone who participated. Your generosity plays an important role in providing exceptional opportunities for our students in their pursuit of a world-class education that will lead to successful careers, innovative discoveries and lives that make a difference.
Ross DeVol, a Walton Fellow with the Walton Family Foundation of Bentonville, Arkansas, visited Oxford and our campus in April. DeVol, an economist who researches policies to promote economic growth, featured Oxford and Ole Miss in his 2018 publication Micropolitan Success Stories from the Heartland. In it, he highlighted how The University of Mississippi contributes to Oxford’s economy with high-tech job creation and higher wages. On campus he said, “If we are going to compete globally, we have to lift our universities up as the economic drivers they are, but also hold them accountable as we look to the future and how entrepreneurship will evolve.” The university will continue to engage DeVol and the Walton Family Foundation for future initiatives as entrepreneurship takes several forms at UM.
And finally, something all Ole Miss Rebels and Mississippians alike can be proud of: In his first season as head coach of Ole Miss men’s basketball, Leakesville native Kermit Davis, Jr. was named SEC Coach of the Year by his peers and by The Associated Press. Coach Davis becomes the sixth Ole Miss men’s basketball coach to earn SEC Coach of the Year honors. And how about that performance by Ole Miss Women’s Golf — SEC Champs for the first time in program history! Let me also give a shout-out to Austrian Robinson for receiving the 30th annual Chucky Mullins Courage Award from the Ole Miss M-Club. I know Austrian will wear “38” with pride!
Larry D. Sparks