Development News

Read the latest development news from the School of Engineering

Building private support for faculty among development officer's goals

Building private support for faculty among development officer's goals

After nearly two decades of success in the pharmaceutical sales industry, Kevin Gardner found himself wanting a career change. As fate would have it, the University of Mississippi was in search of a development officer for the School of Engineering. The alumnus applied for the job, was hired and the rest - as they say - is history.

The Jackson native worked for such companies as Pharmacia & Upjohn, Hoffmann-La Roche and Johnson & Johnson. His communication skills complement his efforts to build relationships with alumni and friends, and match their interests and passions with university needs.

"My role involves sharing accomplishments achieved by the School of Engineering and describing the school's vision for the future," Gardner said. "Personal visits with alumni and friends help build interest, involvement and financial support for the school. Emails, letter campaigns and our annual Ole Miss Engineer magazine help our messaging as well."A major part of the school's vision is to ensure the longevity of exceptional teaching for current Ole Miss students and future generations, and achieving that goal will require endowed faculty positions. When a donor or donors commit the financial resources to fund a named position, the funds are held permanently, with the annual income directed to the faculty position.

In light of the stiff competition among leading universities for gifted faculty members, UM has made building private support for faculty a top priority.

"Securing full funding of the Anderson Chair of Chemical Engineering, for example, represents a high priority to properly pay tribute to Dr. Frank Anderson's tremendous contributions to the engineering school, the university and the engineering profession," Gardner said. "We would also like to see faculty positions named for alumni or organizations. Additionally, pursuing corporate involvement and partnerships with the engineering school will strengthen graduate placement and increase financial support."

Gardner is also working to establish the Woods Society, a giving program to encourage annual donations to be used exclusively to enhance the student experience.

"The Woods Society will help grow a base of donors - many of whom may be making their first gift to the engineering school - and these additional resources will help expand student enrichment activities."

Gardner holds a bachelor's degree in marketing from the UM School of Business Administration. He is married to the former Jill Johnson, and they have three children, including an Ole Miss sophomore.

To learn more about providing support to the UM School of Engineering, visit, or contact Kevin Gardner at 662-915-7601 or

Read More

New Software Simulate Flooding

New Software Systems Offer Fast Simulation of Catastrophic Flooding

This story was prepared by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. We are sharing it because of the prominent role of the University of Mississippi's National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering.

When the levees were breached in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, the Ninth Ward was inundated. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard.

" Thomas Coleman , a retired longshoreman who died in his attic on St. Roch Avenue in New Orleans 8th Ward on or about Aug 29, 2005. He had a can of juice and a bedspread at his side when the waters rose... There were more than a thousand like him." -Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic

All over the country, millions of Americans still live behind dams or levees, and if these were to fail and unleash catastrophic flooding, as some did in New Orleans in 2005, property, and of course life, might once again pay the price. "Oh, my city... in case you haven't heard, Budweiser ain't delivering," Rose grieved, with a surreal humor and poignancy only a true New Orleans survivor could muster. "Katrina changed everything."Answers to at least some of the problem are on the way, thanks to a team led by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, or S&T, and they come in the form of some remarkable computer software.

When dam and levee owners and emergency planners want to know what flood water over a breached levee or dam may do as it spreads, they must resort to technical specialists who use numerical modeling software to solve very complex equations that describe how water will spread over a particular terrain. Through complex equations, specialists calculate how water will move around physical objects such as hills, buildings, vegetation, bridges and railroads. With such factors in play, calculating and modeling flood inundation caused by a dam failure can take a lot of time and resources and keep emergency planners and dam owners up at night worrying.

Powerful software tools have been combined into a seamless Web application, combining speed with sophisticated technology to visualize a flood, address consequences and properly train emergency responders.

And this new tool is fast. Really fast. If a flood would take 24 hours to inundate downstream areas, this software tool could potentially model the inundation in less than 24 minutes.

S&T combined the talents of several agency experts and academics to better understand what the owners and operators would need from the software. S&T worked with dam experts at the Office of Infrastructure Protection (which serves as the Dams Sector-Specific Agency) within the DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate to develop the flood simulation tool, and with experts at the University of Mississippi, specifically the National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering's world-renowned computational hydroscientist, Mustafa Altinakar, and his team.

This effort was funded by S&T's Southeast Region Research Initiative, or SERRI, and managed by Mike Matthews of S&T's Infrastructure Protection and Disaster Management Division. The key component of the project is known as DSS-WISETM, for Decision Support System for Water Infrastructural Security, and the underlying flood simulator, CCHE2D-FLOODTM, which provides unmatched "number-crunching" speed. The flood simulator can replicate flooding caused by any cataclysm less fateful than the Great Deluge: a breached levee, a failed dam, a surging tide, a tsunami - even water waves caused by massive landslides.

In 2010, when one-fifth of Pakistan's land was underwater, hydraulic engineers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used DSS-WISE to help the country reallocate resources. Time was essential, and to achieve its unprecedented speed, the "DSS-WISE guys," as Altinakar affectionately calls them, use several methods to ensure success. First, DSS-WISE selectively prioritizes affected regions. It also processes only the model's "skeleton," or wireframe, while applying the "skin" afterward. Finally, it divides the flood path model into tens of millions of geometric cells, using parallel processing to parcel them out to separate processors.

The other critical piece of the puzzle is the Dams Sector Analysis Tool, or DSAT. This powerful Web-based application - developed by the Dams Sector-Specific Agency in collaboration with the Corps Headquarters' Office of Homeland Security, who co-sponsored the development of DSAT - is a one-stop shop where dam owners and operators have secure access to state-of-the-art analytical capabilities within a user-friendly graphical environment. Dam owners and operators use algorithms in DSAT to identify and prioritize the most critical dams within their portfolios. Considering that there are more than 84,000 dams across the country, this is no easy task. DSAT also incorporates a state-of-the art geospatial viewer that provides powerful query capabilities as well as access to real-time information, such as earthquakes and weather.

The DSAT interface is extremely intuitive and mastered with little training. With DSAT, a dam owner or operator can prepare the input data required for the flood simulation using DSS-WISE. For example, to characterize a potential dam failure scenario, operators would define the reservoir, identify the main dam, note structures using satellite imagery and specify the type failure to be considered: a "sudden and complete failure" or a "gradual and partial breaching." DSAT does the rest, drawing data from the National Inventory of Dams, maintained by the Corps. The data are then bundled into a data file and emailed to a dedicated server at Ole Miss, where the simulation is run. When the simulation ends, the server automatically notifies the user, who may then upload the results on DSAT, where they are rendered onto a map.

"It works similarly to Apple's Siri," says Altinakar, referring to the iPhone's intelligent digital assistant. "There's no way all that processing could occur in the user's computer - or phone - so it's handed off to an external server. It looks simple to the consumer, but I assure you, it's not."

The two software systems, DSS-WISE and DSAT, are both effective enough to stand on their own, but their integration into a powerful system elevates the capacity for flood simulation. The DSAT geospatial viewer includes a function called DSS-WISE Prep. Select your dam on a map, fill in a few facts, direct DSAT how high the reservoir will be when the flood starts and click Begin. The request is bundled into a data file and automatically sent to the DSS-WISE flood simulator. As the simulation unfolds, the consumer will not see heavy activity but will immediately receive automatic progress reports by email.

The DSS-WiseTM Prep module was launched on the DSAT portal on Feb. 20, and days later, it welcomed its first user, delivering results in just 15 minutes. By March, queries poured in from dam owners, state dam safety officials and emergency managers in seven states, each looking to lower costs, work faster and make sounder planning decisions.

Like all SERRI projects, flood modeling projects have combined science and technology with validated operational approaches to solve local and regional problems that have a national impact.

Looking back on the tragedy of Katrina, writer Chris Rose ended his 2006 book with a chapter titled, "A New Dawn." In it he wrote:

"Last year ended with everything so unsettled; just a million questions piled up on the curbside like so much debris, the answers just beginning to be formulated in our heads ... It's just one small step at a time, small triumphs ... Who says there's no good news?"

The powerful software from DHS - easily available to dam owners and emergency planners - is just some of that good news.

For more information on the National Center for Computations Hydroscience and Engineering, go to

Read More

Gift Gives Students Opportunity

Gift gives students opportunity to attend professional conferences

Each year since the 1980s, Barbara Kerr Beckmann has written a check to the University of Mississippi School of Engineering. This year, Beckmann, the school's first female graduate, contributed $10,000 toward an endowment for the Society of Women Engineers.

Beckmann, a native of Aubrey, Ark., said her latest donation is intended to provide the means for engineering students to attend joint meetings with peers and future co-workers.

"This donation is a little more personal," said Beckmann (BSChE 61). "I think it is really important for students to go to professional conferences because it provides them with that first opportunity to interact with peers on all levels."

Beckmann, who recently celebrated her golden anniversary at ExxonMobil and moved from Houston, Texas, to Baton Rouge, La., said she credits the company for "helping stretch her donation dollars even more."

"ExxonMobil matches educational donations three-to-one," she said. "That's simply amazing and wonderful. It makes my money go way further, and it proves the company is dedicated to helping its employees help others."

The Ole Miss chapter of the Society of Women Engineers is dedicated not only to professional development but also to the retention, recruitment and advancement of women in engineering and technology fields, said Elizabeth Ervin, chapter adviser.

In fact, for several years SWE has hosted its "Introduce a Gal to Engineering Day" on a shoestring budget. Beckmann's donation will enable the engineering school to "host this outreach program for many years to come," said Ervin, UM assistant professor of civil engineering.

"We now have a vehicle for improving our own fundraising, so our society can reach even more gals than the 60 this year," she said. "Barbara's donation has provided vital visibility for our organization, and we wholeheartedly thank her."

Beckmann said she likes to share in ways that benefit other people, and it is especially important for her to aid budding female engineers.

She credits the School of Engineering for enabling her to be in a position to give back, both professionally and financially.

"Ole Miss engineering is very special," Beckmann said. "Not only does it prepare you for a successful engineering career but [also] for other things in life. I honestly think it's because the school includes the best liberal arts education, too. Students leave Ole Miss knowing their trade but also leave with so many other skills, including knowing how to interact with others."

Read More

Spouse Honors Husband

Spouse Honors Husband with Donation to School

Before his death in 2009, Charles Lynn Costner found himself posing the question: "How do you leave something behind to make the world better than you found it?" His wife, Sara, has answered that question by donating $50,000 to benefit the University of Mississippi School of Engineering.

Half her donation is designated for an endowment in the Department of Civil Engineering. The other portion will be used as unrestricted funds within the engineering school.

"Although I always marveled at people who gave large amounts to their alma maters, Charles and I had never discussed doing anything like this while he was alive, mainly because we weren't financially able," Costner said.

That all changed when she sold her late husband's homeplace in Calhoun County.

"I came into a large lump sum of money," Costner said. "I knew that I wanted to do something to honor Charles and that the School of Engineering was most reflective of what he would want to be remembered by. I think he would be very proud of what I've done."

Alex Cheng, engineering school dean, expressed his appreciation for the gift and Costner's interest and support.

"Alumni donations have always been the major support for the School of Engineering, funding such things as facilities, software and other necessary equipment," Cheng said. "Without contributions such as Mrs. Costner's, we would be unable to continue our mission of educating future engineers. We are deeply grateful for this timely and generous gift."

Costner's gift is a most fitting memorial to her late husband's life and legacy, which began after he earned his bachelor's degree in 1951, said Marni Kendricks, assistant engineering dean.

"Mrs. Costner decided to make donations in support of organizations that her husband was both proud of and loyal to including two university units, the School of Engineering and Fellowship of Christian Athletes," Kendricks said.

Alumni involvement, such as the Costners exhibit, strengthens the university, said Christopher Mullen, interim chair and associate professor of civil engineering.

"The way it's set up, our department can make equipment purchases, which we would not be able to do otherwise on a recurring basis," he said. "We've had a need for something like this for a long time. These funds are very beneficial for both undergraduate labs and graduate school research."

Sara Costner worked in the School of Engineering back in the early '50s, while her husband was in graduate school. She spent 28 years working for a printing company in Baton Rouge, La., before the couple retired and moved to Oxford. Their son, Jeffrey Costner, works in grounds and maintenance for Ole Miss Athletics.

A native of Banner, Charles Costner graduated from Bruce High School before enrolling at the university. His illustrious career, which spanned four decades, included appointments with the Mississippi State Highway Department, Mississippi State Fish and Game Commission, USDA Soil Conservation Service and U.S. Corps of Engineers. Costner also worked with privately owned construction firms in Delaware, Texas and Louisiana.

A registered engineer in four states, his professional memberships included the American Society of Civil Engineers, National Society of Professional Engineers and Louisiana Engineering Society.

"I have a very cool slide rule on my desk that belonged to Charles Costner," Kendricks said. "While it's a great conversation piece and everybody who comes in wants to look [at] it, I haven't found too many people who still know how to use it!"

Sara Costner said she finds deep satisfaction in knowing the donation will be used for good purposes.

"Charles grew up on a farm, but he always wanted to do more than run the family business," she said. "After he served his country between World War II and the Korean War, he decided he wanted to become a civil engineer and enrolled at Ole Miss. Civil engineering was like a call[ing] for him. He personified what a civil engineer should be."

"Hopefully, this donation will help other young people like Charles come to Ole Miss, get an education, and then go out and do something significant with their lives," she added.

For more information about contributing to scholarship programs and other initiatives at the University of Mississippi, go to

Read More

Harper Johnson Jr.

Harper Johnson Jr. Fondly Remembered for His Generosity and Support of Education

Respected Mississippi engineer Harper Johnson Jr. is being fondly remembered at the University of Mississippi School of Engineering by faculty, staff and a student benefitting from Johnson's generosity.

Johnson, 96, died Sunday (Jan. 1) at Indywood Glen in Greenwood. Services are set for 2 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 4) at Wilson & Knight Funeral Home Chapel with interment in Odd Fellows Cemetery. Rusty Douglas will officiate."Harper Johnson afforded me an incredible opportunity through his engineering scholarship, and his example will always shape my career," said Alan Barger of Oxford, a senior civil engineering major and recipient of the Elsie and Harper Johnson Jr. Endowed Scholarship. "Through his passion for engineering, he found a way to inspire others in the same field. His selfless investment gives me a platform to work off of with no limitations, as well as the drive to achieve my goals."

After high school, Barger began furthering his education at Delta State University, but left school to work in his family's irrigation business before earning a degree. He later resumed his education at Mississippi Delta Community College, where he did exceptionally well in calculus and other mathematics classes.

"I enjoyed those courses so much there that I decided I somehow wanted to become an engineer rather than go back to work doing what I was doing," said Barger, 30. "Once I made up my mind, I found my niche and started making plans to get my engineering degree. Mr. (Floyd) Melton (a Greenwood attorney for the Johnson estate) recruited me to apply for the scholarship at Ole Miss.

"Not too many people get a chance to go back to college and that's what his gift gave me."

Barger is making outstanding progress toward his degree. Originally scheduled to have been a teaching assistant for Engineering Graphics 207 in the fall, he has instead become a research assistant in the school's National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering.

Others in the engineering school also recalled Johnson's remarkable benevolence.

"Mr. Johnson was a major donor who has set up the scholarship endowment in his and his wife's names," said Alexander H.D. Cheng, UM engineering school dean. "Such benevolence is especially appreciated in these difficult economic conditions."

"I have had the privilege of seeing Mr. Johnson's generous investment in the life of one of our students bear much fruit over the past two-and-a-half years," said Marni Kendricks, instructor and assistant dean of the engineering school. "Alan Barger has demonstrated outstanding leadership in our Engineers Without Borders project in West Africa, worked extremely hard in his classes and gotten involved as an undergrad in research work for the NCCHE. I have no doubt Alan will achieve great things one day in his professional career and that Mr. Johnson would be very proud."

Born in Senatobia, Johnson attended Senatobia City Schools, Northwest Mississippi Junior College and UM, where he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Though he didn't complete his Ole Miss degree, he later did earn an electrical engineering degree from Indiana Institute of Technology and was certified by the Mississippi State Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and licensed to practice as a professional engineer.

During the early part of World War II, Johnson received a direct commission as an officer in the Signal Corps and served in the European, South Pacific and Far East theaters, reaching the rank of captain. He was a member of the American Legion Post 29. After the war, he served as vice president and member of the board of directors of Supreme Inc., which now operates as Supreme Electronics Corp., a division of Hickok Inc. Before retirement, he was associated with Greenwood Utilities in an administrative and engineering capacity.

He was a member of the Mississippi Engineering Society and the National Society of Professional Engineers, and was active in promoting the national Math-Counts Program for pre-high school students. He served on the board of directors of Cottonlandia Museum and Educational Foundation. He was active as a volunteer in the IRS-VITA program to offer free assistance to individuals with their income tax returns.

Johnson and his wife, Elsie, were big proponents of education. They established the Elsie and Harper Johnson Jr. Scholarship Endowment to provide full engineering scholarships at Ole Miss, with preference to students from Leflore and Tate counties to encourage students to major in and become engineers and hopefully return to their home communities to practice. He also contributed to the John Lucas IV Teacher Excellence Education Fund in his and Elsie's name. Pillow Academy has named its elementary building Johnson Hall.

He was a member of the Greenwood First Presbyterian Church and served as a deacon, elder and Sunday school teacher. Johnson's wife preceded him in death. He is survived by three nieces and six nephews.

Read More

Researcher Creates Endowment

Renowned researcher creates endowment to nurture brainchild

An educator, administrator and prominent hydroscience and engineering researcher, whose work has brought international attention to the University of Mississippi for more than four decades, has contributed $100,000 to create an endowment encouraging other university professionals in their work.

Sam S.Y. Wang - the founding director of UM's National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering (NCCHE) - and his wife, Jine, have established a fund to provide awards recognizing outstanding contributions of deserving faculty, scientists, students and staff.

Through the program, an advisory council will select recipients from the NCCHE community. In odd years, the top faculty member will receive $3,000 and the student $500, and in even years, the chosen scientist will receive $2,500 and the support staff $1,000.

"I always think of NCCHE as my child; I created it and want to see it enjoy continued growth," Wang said. "It is difficult to recruit and retain talented people when salaries may not be at the level as other renowned institutions. My wife and I want to reward highly productive individuals in their work. We feel that it's not enough to help only faculty members and researchers. To enhance the overall NCCHE success, we must also give awards to support personnel and students."

The Wangs said they hope to eventually build the new fund to a level that produces adequate annual income to support an endowed professorship that can be used to attract a renowned senior faculty or scientist to provide leadership and recognition for strengthening the center and bring in international recognition to the university.

"I want to see the center become stronger and greater as time goes on," Wang said. "My wife and I hope our gift helps inspires others to provide private support."

Wang has firsthand experience with positive reinforcement that comes from receiving professional recognition. He was one of UM's first four Frederick A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professors in 1998, the highest faculty accolade on the Oxford campus. He was renominated and reselected for a second term in 1993, and was awarded the Barnard Distinguished Professor title for life in 1998. Wang was chosen for the inaugural Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, Outstanding Engineering Faculty Awards as well as many other UM awards.

A pioneer in applying computational modeling methodology to hydroscience research, Wang has gained worldwide recognition. Among numerous accolades, he has received the Hans Albert Einstein Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Qian Ning Prize from the World Association for Sedimentation and Erosion Research, the two highest international honors presented to a researcher selected worldwide for his/her lifetime distinguished achievements in hydrodynamics for soil erosion and sediment transport research.

"We deeply appreciate Dr. and Mrs. Wang for generously funding this endowment to honor the work of other talented faculty, researchers, students and staff," said Alex Cheng, dean of the School of Engineering. "To have someone of Dr. Wang's stature reach out to support members of the NCCHE and School of Engineering family is very meaningful. His body of work has tremendously strengthened the reputation of the school and overall university community, and he and his wife have found yet another way to nurture others and encourage exceptional work."

Founded in 1982 as a research unit in the engineering school, NCCHE has as a mission to foster the growth of research in computational hydroscience and engineering - the foundation for the development of research and engineering tools, computational simulation models for conducting scientific research, engineering analysis and design, and environmental and ecological impact assessments in the area of natural resources (soil and water) conservation.

NCCHE has made significant contributions including the advancement of computational modeling and simulation of free surface flows, soil erosion, sediment transport and morphological processes in streams, reservoirs and channel networks in watersheds. NCCHE has been invited by prestigious professional societies to host several major international conferences and has hosted many renowned visiting scientists. Wang chaired conferences and delivered keynotes and special lectures at professional meetings and research institutes in more than 30 countries on six continents.

"The computational models simulating the environmental, water resources and soil conservation phenomena of our contemporary society have been utilized by thousands of professionals in institutions worldwide," Wang said. "We can all take pride in the prominence the NCCHE has earned."

Among Wang's publications are nine books, two invited chapters, more than 200 journal articles, proceeding papers and conference presentations. He holds a doctoral degree in computational hydrodynamics and a master's degree in fluid mechanics from the University of Rochester. His undergraduate bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering was earned at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. He first came to Ole Miss in 1967 as an assistant professor due to the counsel of Professor John A. Fox, then UM chair of mechanical engineering. Although Wang retired from UM in 2010, he continues as a part-time research professor.

The Wangs are the parents of two: David Wang, a mechanical engineering graduate, works in the computer software field in California, and Susan Wang is pursuing a doctorate in engineering at UM.

The UM-NCCHE Founder's Endowment for Excellence is open to accept contributions from other individuals and organizations. Those wishing to provide support can mail a check with the fund noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 248, University, MS 38677; or contact Kevin Gardner, development officer for the School of Engineering, at 662-915-1601 or

Read More

Center for Manufacturing Excellence Grant

Grant Will Allow Center for Manufacturing Excellence to Generate Its Own Power

OXFORD, Miss. - A renewable energy grant from the Mississippi Development Authority is helping the University of Mississippi's Center for Manufacturing Excellence lead the way in using solar power.

When the center is complete in spring 2011, the building will feature 414 photovoltaic solar panels, making it the largest roof-mounted, solar power complex in Mississippi.

"That's basically the entire roof," said James Vaughan, CME interim director. "This means the lights and air conditioning will be able to run on solar power. It will generate roughly 90 kilowatts of electricity, which will be enough to run the building, minus the factory floor and equipment, of course."

The $529,395 grant was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and the CME matched it with $176,465 from university funds.

Some of the stimulus money could be used on renewable energy sources, so the university's grant application was written to put solar panels on the center's roof, Vaughan said.

The center should be able to run under its own power during normal conditions and actually return power to the university's grid, Vaughan said.

Having a solar-powered building on the historic campus is also an excellent teaching device for the center, which offers a "hands-on education in a traditional style," he said.

"The CME provides the perfect blend of a traditional Ole Miss education and real-world experience," Vaughan said. "We will take engineering, accounting and business students, especially those interested in renewable energy, and give them an education on solar usage."

Once the building and roof are complete, CME students and faculty will be able to monitor the building's energy usage and solar power generation by checking the center's website.

The building houses a 12,000-square-foot factory floor to give students an opportunity to use the latest technology, said Ryan T. Miller, CME programs manager.

"They get to witness it, instead of just hearing about other facilities that use this type of power," said Miller, who also serves as the center's student recruiter. "I think that's equally as beneficial as whatever monetary savings we will get."

What's more, the center will be the second UM building certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The certification, commonly known by the acronym LEED, is the Green Building Rating System developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

"I don't know of any other building on another campus of this type," Vaughan said. "Here, students learn modern processes of manufacturing as they bring their ideas to life."

Besides its advanced construction, the CME offers a unique educational focus for undergraduates interested in manufacturing education. The program brings together the schools of Engineering, Business Administration and Accountancy to provide students with skills involved in successful manufacturing, along with an understanding of accounting, communication, human resources, leadership, management and marketing.

The CME program officially began this fall with 27 freshmen from nine states.

For more information on the CME, contact Miller at 662-915-2632 or

Read More

Scholarship to Honor Karl Brenkert Jr.

Scholarship Established to Honor Karl Brenkert Jr.

Dear Friends,
We are writing to let you know of a special opportunity to honor former Dean Karl Brenkert Jr., who passed away in May at the age of 89.

Dr. Brenkert served as dean of Ole Miss School of Engineering from 1964 to 1979 and continued to teach mechanical engineering courses until his retirement in 1989. Brenkert mentored many students and was popular among them. During his tenure, he boosted the school's enrollment, budget and academic profile, adding professional disciplines and a doctoral program in engineering. To honor Dr. Brenkert, friends are setting up a Karl Brenkert Jr. Scholarship fund in his memory. The fund needs a $25,000 endowment to provide a $1,000 annual scholarship for an undergraduate engineering student. However, the endowment is $15,000 short. An anonymous donor recently pledged a $7,500 donation as a challenge for donations of equal amounts to fully establish the scholarship fund.We two former colleagues of Dr. Brenkert are writing to solicit your assistance.

If you are interested in contributing, contact Sarah Hollis at the UM Foundation at or 800-340-9542. Checks should be made the University of Mississippi Foundation, with Brenkart Scholarship (01660) in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to UM Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677. Gifts also can be made online at

Thank you,
Sam DeLeeuw, Chair and Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering
Sam Wang, F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and Director Emeritus of NCCHE

Read More

UM Honors Family Contributions

UM Honors Family Contributions by Renaming Old Chemistry Building for Brevards

OXFORD, Miss. - The landmark Old Chemistry Building at the University of Mississippi officially became Brevard Hall Friday afternoon (April 1) with a dedication ceremony in the building's lecture hall, where thousands of Ole Miss alumni took freshman chemistry classes.

The event was attended by more than 400 people, including state and university officials, current and former School of Engineering faculty, members of the Brevard family and engineering school alumni.

The overflow crowd spilled out of the building's Comer Auditorium and into the lobby.

Known for decades as Old Chemistry, the building was renamed in honor of Henry Brevard, a 1943 alumnus, and his family, whose donations helped pay for renovating it. Brevard Hall houses the administrative offices of the School of Engineering.

"Today is about recognizing some of our best and brightest of our past and present," said Alex Cheng, UM engineering dean. "It's about recognizing student success, distinguished alumni and community partners. Quite simply, this dedication and other events are about celebrating 110 years of excellence in engineering here at the University of Mississippi."

UM Chancellor Dan Jones agreed, saying, "Today is also about a family that has given and continues to give so much to our university. Today is about expressing our appreciation to them. Without them, this beautiful renovation would not have been possible."

The Brevards have a long history of service to the Tupelo community, the university and the entire region, he said.

"The Brevard family has been instrumental in transforming this state for more than 60 years, and we can see the results of their work in communities all across north Mississippi," Jones said. "Serving one's community is a cornerstone of the Brevard family, and Henry and Beth Brevard instilled that principle in their children by example."

The Old Chemistry Building originally opened in the spring of 1923, housing the Department of Chemistry and the School of Pharmacy. The School of Engineering was founded in 1900 and is the state's oldest engineering school.

Henry Brevard spent much of his time at Ole Miss studying and learning the discipline in the Old Chemistry Building, although the engineering school at that time was primarily housed in the north wing of the Lyceum. Upon graduation and after a stint in the armed forces, Brevard and his late father-in-law, Riley Boozer, founded B&B Concrete, a ready-mix concrete company, in 1949 in Tupelo. More than 60 years later, B&B is one of north Mississippi's strongest businesses.

His son, David Brevard, a 1978 Ole Miss liberal arts honor graduate, is the company's CEO. He works closely with the engineering school on scholarship planning and civil engineering student training.

Brevard said the family's financial and professional involvement with Ole Miss began slowly.

"But I guess about 20 years ago we decided we wanted to give credit to the university that we believe is responsible for our personal and professional growth," Brevard said. "I still remember the encouragement I received as a student. No financial donation can repay the mentoring I received here. I wouldn't - we wouldn't - be the family we are today if not for Ole Miss."

David Brevard agreed: "We are excited to give back to our university in this small way. Ole Miss engineering has evolved into a well-rounded school that offers the best analytical education, partnered with the best liberal arts environment. We are pleased to be a part of this great American public university."

Joshua Waggoner, engineering school development officer, said the Brevard's family commitment to Ole Miss, and specifically the School of Engineering, is extensive.

"Henry Brevard was one of the first members of the Woods Order, a giving program established in the 1970s to specifically support engineering student activities," Waggoner said. "And David is a past president of the Alumni Association, plus he was a member of the Commitment to Excellence Campaign steering committee."

In 1991, Brevard committed $1 million to endow the Brevard Family Scholarship program, which has allowed more than 500 students to attend Ole Miss. In 2003, a $100,000 gift from David, his wife, Shawn, and his sister, Elise Brevard Smith, created the Elizabeth B. Brevard Council Scholarship, in honor of their mother.

"The Ole Miss School of Engineering has made excellent progress over the past few decades and is poised to make even greater progress in the coming years," Henry Brevard said.

"We have always thought that our scholarship endowment was important to help the school increase the caliber of our already gifted student body and to help increase enrollment. Our second purpose has been to make engineering education possible for deserving and talented students who might otherwise not have the means necessary to pursue higher education."

In addition to the evening dedication, which included an open house and reception, other anniversary events included a barbeque and blues concert, and the annual Excellence in Engineering reception and banquet honoring outstanding students, faculty and alumni.

Notable guests attending the ceremony included Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Rep. Steve Holland, IHL board members Dr. Stacey Davidson and Aubrey Patterson, former engineering dean Kai-Fong Lee and Clark McCarrell, senior vice president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

For more information about the School of Engineering, visit the School of Engineering Website.

Read More

Building Dedication

Building Dedication to Highlight 110th School of Engineering Anniversary April 1

OXFORD, Miss. - Something "old" officially becomes something new April 1 as the University of Mississippi School of Engineering celebrates 110 years of service to higher education.

The Old Chemistry Building is being renamed Brevard Hall in honor of 1943 alumnus Henry Brevard and his family, whose donations helped pay for its renovation. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and is open to the public.

"The Ole Miss School of Engineering is at a cusp of opportunity that can create a quadruple convergence of students, faculty, alumni and friends, and facilities," said Alex Cheng, dean of the engineering school. "These convergences of positive forces may be unprecedented and transform the school into a great engineering school to serve the state and nation."

Other anniversary events include a barbeque and blues music concert, which starts at 11:30 a.m. in Lyceum Circle; an open house, which commences at 1:30 p.m. in all engineering departments; and the annual Excellence in Engineering reception and banquet, which begins at 6:45 p.m. at the Inn at Ole Miss and honors outstanding students, faculty and alumni.

Before there were Carrier or Anderson halls, Brevard spent much of his time studying and learning the discipline of engineering in what was referred to as the Old Chemistry Building. At that time, the engineering school was housed primarily in the north wing of the Lyceum. Upon graduation and after time spent in service to his country, he and his late father-in-law, Riley Boozer, determined that ready-mix concrete strategically would be the future of their business, and founded B&B Concrete in 1949. More than 70 years later, the company is one of north Mississippi's strongest businesses and remains committed to a set of core principles. David Brevard, a 1978 Ole Miss honors graduate, now serves as chief executive officer of B&B. He continues to work closely with the engineering school on scholarship planning and civil engineering student training.

Henry and David Brevard have remained exceptionally committed to Ole Miss. Henry Brevard is past president of the University of Mississippi Foundation, past president of the Engineering Alumni Chapter, past chairman of the School of Engineering Advisory Board and past chairman of the engineering school's Woods Order. He was named Engineer of Distinction in 1987, and he was inducted into the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame in 1988. David Brevard served as president of the University of Mississippi Alumni Association for 1999-2000.

"Mr. Brevard and his family's commitment to Ole Miss, and specifically, engineering is extensive," said Joshua Waggoner, engineering school development officer. "He was one of the first members of the Woods Order, a giving program established in the 1970s to specifically support engineering student activities."

In 1991, Brevard committed $1 million to endow the Brevard Family Scholarship program, which has allowed more than 500 students to attend Ole Miss. From then to today, the Brevard family has made additional significant contributions each year to the engineering school, their scholarship program and other efforts on campus.

"We feel the Ole Miss School of Engineering has made excellent progress over the past few decades and is poised to make even greater progress in coming years," Brevard said. "We have always thought that our scholarship endowment was important to help the school increase the caliber of our already gifted student body and to help increase enrollment to a point of more efficiency per student, considering the funding available. Our second purpose has been to make engineering education possible for deserving and talented students who might otherwise not have the means necessary for that pursuit."

Two former administrators reflected upon their tenures as deans of the engineering school.

"The School of Engineering is blessed with an outstanding faculty and bright students," said Kai Fong Lee, immediate past dean and an electrical engineering professor. "With the new engineering complex becoming a reality and a dedicated leadership team, the school is on course to realize its vision of becoming one of the best engineering schools in the South."

"Thanks to people like Henry Brevard, the School of Engineering seems like it is really headed in the right direction," said Allie M. Smith, who served as engineering school dean 21 of his 28 years on the UM faculty. "I had a very enjoyable time while there, and see things only getting better and better as the years go by."

Construction of the new Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the renovation of Brevard Hall and Carrier Hall creates more learning space and opportunity for students, said Engineering Student Body president Ryan Jones.

"With the multiple manufacturing programs that we have added and the increased numbers in enrollment, our school is rapidly moving to the next level," said the junior electrical engineering major from Jackson. "I feel comfortable in saying that the Ole Miss School of Engineering will never stop improving, and I look forward to seeing what the years to come hold."

Engineering faculty agree with Jones' assessment.

"The School of Engineering has consistently graduated people who go out to be leaders in industry," said John O'Haver, associate dean, director of the Center for Math and Science Education and chemical engineering professor. "With rapidly growing enrollment, we will have to work to keep the 'personal touch' that we have always had. But I am confident that we will continue to graduate leaders, ones who will positively impact our profession and our world."

O'Haver's confidence in the future was echoed by Jones.

"Choosing Ole Miss to pursue engineering was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made - and definitely the best," Jones said. "As I finish my third year and the school begins its 110th, I can say that this institution has really lived up to their motto of 'We see the engineer in you.' My experience as an engineering student at Ole Miss could not have been better."

The Ole Miss School of Engineering has 882 undergraduates and 156 graduate students enrolled. Forty-six faculty members are tenured, and research expenditures totaled $10.2 million in 2010. Entering freshmen have an average ACT score of 24.3. Ninety-seven bachelor's degrees in engineering were awarded in 2010, compared to 16 engineering degrees awarded between 1900 and 1906.

The Old Chemistry Building was built in 1920, the Charles E. Smith Engineering Science Building was built in 1938, Carrier Hall constructed in 1954 and Anderson Hall dedicated in 1974.

Besides Cheng, Lee and Smith, former deans and acting deans of the school include James Vaughan, Karl Brenkert, Frederick Kellogg, Lee Johnson, Andrew Broadus Hargis, John Hazard Dorrah, Walter Hugh Drane and Alfred Hume.

Notable engineering school graduates include Jess Woods (first Rhodes Scholar), Joseph Cerny (first Fulbright Scholar), Barbara Kerr Beckman (first woman engineering graduate), Edgar Lee Caples (first African-American engineering graduate), Steven Hester (first Goldwater Scholar) and William "Bill" Parsons (former director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center).

For more information about the 110th School of Engineering celebration, go to

Read More

Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

Former Union Boilermaker Receives Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

OXFORD, Miss. - When he was 14, Brian Michael Watson dropped out of high school. At 16, he earned his GED and went to work for five years as a union boilermaker.

Now at 25, things have changed for Watson. He recently received the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship and is majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Mississippi after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. His decision to further his education has refocused his future.

"I really wasn't satisfied with my lifestyle and the way things were going," Watson said. "I didn't feel like I had a fulfilling future ahead of me in that course of life."

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship helps the nation's top community college students complete their bachelor's degrees by transferring to a four-year college or university. It provides up to $30,000 a year to each of approximately 30 students selected annually.

A Pascagoula native, Watson was a member of Local 112 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. After working as a boilermaker for several years, he was eager for a change, so he considered joining the military and spoke with several recruiters. This led him to take the ACT, on which he scored extremely well.

"Having been out of school for so long, it was surprising that I had such a high ACT score," he said. "I realized that I had more potential than I thought."

His score of 32 earned him a full scholarship to MGCCC, so he decided right then to return to school.

Mary Sison, director of the honors program at MGCCC, was Watson's mentor throughout his tenure there. After instructing him in a history course, she encouraged him to join the honors program.

"Michael is an excellent student - extremely intelligent and versatile - well-versed in a wide array of topics," Sison said. "He loves to learn, and he loves to be in an intellectual environment."

Community service has been a large part of Watson's college experience. As part of the college's honors biology program, he worked as an intern at the Gulf Coast Research Lab and the Ocean Springs school district, providing a space science curriculum for gifted third-graders. He also has been involved with coastal cleanups, heart walks, Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity and breast cancer awareness events.

"As a union boilermaker, you're expected to provide services to the community," he said. "This instilled in me a sense of volunteerism. So any time the opportunity came up through the honors program, I jumped at the opportunity."

During his two years at MGCCC, Watson qualified every semester for the President's List with a 4.0 grade-point average. He was recognized by his campus for the first-place presentation in science education at the 2009 Mississippi Academy of Sciences.

These and other accomplishments led Sison to recommend him for the Cooke Foundation Scholarship.

"Michael was a great candidate for the JKC scholarship mainly because of his motivation," Sison said. "That he was one of the few students to take the time to construct such an excellent application says something about him. It was easy to recommend him."

Upon learning that he had won the scholarship, Watson was speechless.

"It's hard to put that feeling into words," he said. "I've always been averse to any kind of debt. Without the scholarship, I would have been forced into the position of taking out a student loan. So once I received it, it was a huge load off."

Watson's transfer to Ole Miss has gone well.

"I've really enjoyed it so far," he said. "It's been kind of a culture shock coming from the Coast, but I'm starting to get into the swing of things here."

Faculty in the mechanical engineering department praise Watson's dedication and vision.

"Our slogan in the mechanical engineering department is 'Student-Focused and Research-Driven,'" said Arunachalam Rajendran, chair of the department. "Michael reminds us every day of our commitment to our students in teaching and service. His success story further illustrates that if one pursues his or her own dream with zeal and persistence, then according to Helen Keller, 'We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough.'"

Watson has big plans. This summer he intends to apply for a highly competitive NASA internship. After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to attend graduate school and eventually work as an engineer.

"I want to be on the cutting edge of engineering design, and I would like to make significant contributions to society," he said.

For more information on the UM School of Engineering, go to

Read More

ACMSE Conference

Computer & Information Science to Host 48th ACMSE Conference April 15-17

OXFORD, Miss. - More than 150 computer scientists from around the region are expected at the University of Mississippi April 15-17 for the 48th annual Association for Computing Machinery SouthEast Conference.

The event, slated for the Student Union, is hosted by UM's Department of Computer and Information Science.

"This conference provides an excellent forum for both faculty and students to present their research in a friendly and dynamic atmosphere," said H. Conrad Cunningham, department chair. "The exciting array of events scheduled includes two keynote addresses, four pre-conference workshops, three tutorials, 67 paper presentations and 21 poster presentations."

Nell B. Dale, the first woman to receive ACM's prestigious Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award for "changing the study of computer programming to focus on problem solving and software engineering principles, and away from language syntax," delivers the first keynote address Friday morning.

A retired educator from the University of Texas, Dale received the ABACUS Award from Upsilon Pi Epsilon, Honor Society for the Computing Sciences. This award is presented to an individual who has gained international renown in the profession, and over a period of several years has provided extensive support and leadership for student-related activities in the computing and information disciplines.

Hal Stern, vice president in Oracle's North American Enterprise Solutions Group, delivers the second keynote address Friday evening. Stern, who focuses on the boundary between Oracle's Sun hardware and core database and middleware technologies, was most recently a distinguished engineer and vice president of global systems engineering at Sun Microsystems. He previously held the titles of Chief Technology Officer for Software, Services, iPlanet and the North American sales organization in more than 20 years at Sun.

Four pre-conference workshops are offered beginning at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Topics include Model-Driven Engineering, Object-Oriented Discrete Event Simulation, Teaching with Embedded Xinu and Teaching with Alice 3.

As corporate partners of the conference, AT&T, SAP, Sun, Oracle and Dell are providing financial support for this year's ACMSE meeting on the UM campus.

For more information on the conference, go to

For more information on the Department of Computer & Information Science, go to

Read More

Service Opportunities

Service Opportunities, Transformed Lives Highlight Chancellor's Inauguration Events

OXFORD, Miss. - The altruism of University of Mississippi faculty, staff, students and alumni is being recognized and encouraged, thanks to events and programs planned around Chancellor Daniel W. Jones's April 9 inauguration.

A service fair is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday (April 6) on the Student Union Plaza. Booths showcasing various service projects and service organizations will be set up, and Jones will make a brief presentation commending participants at 11 a.m.

A service directory Web site displaying volunteer efforts initiated or supported by the Ole Miss community has been launched by UM Information Technology staff. To log service hours on the projects in the directory and find ways to become involved, visit

To support the inauguration's theme, the university is placing particular emphasis on its service mission.

"As we talked with faculty, staff, students, and alumni about their service activities, it became clear that transformation is at the core of who we are as a community," said Noel Wilkin, associate provost and chair of the Inauguration Service Events Committee. "All of us have the ability, or the Service DNA, to transform lives in a purposeful way. Providing service can be an amazing experience and it can improve our community, state, nation and world."

Anyone wishing to create an entry in the service directory should enter it using the myOleMiss portal, Wilkin said. To get to the entry page, click "Employee," then "Administration" and "Service Administration." Student projects can be added by a faculty adviser.

"We have 40 organizations signed up for the service fair," said Johnette Taylor Jenkins, senior administrative secretary to the dean of students, UM Staff Council president and assistant coordinator of the event. "There will be an air of excitement and amazement at the fair showing just how far the University community has gone to provide service to those in need."

Among the noteworthy participants is COMPASS, a mentoring program that benefits university staff.

"The goals of the program are to promote the personal and professional growth of individual staff members," said Anita Randle, contracts and grants specialist, UM Staff Council representative and one of the COMPASS leaders. "We also seek to enhance mutual respect, build community and increase staff motivation and morale under the principle that helping others helps us."

The campus chapter of Engineers Without Borders, a nonprofit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide to improve their quality of life, is also generating attention for its efforts.

"Even before the university's application and acceptance into EWB-USA, our students had been working on Habitat for Humanity houses in Oxford," said Wei-Yin Chen, professor of chemical engineering and faculty adviser for the student chapter.

"We are evaluating several potential projects in Central America, South America and Asia."

Other UM campuses and outside groups will also be represented.

"There will be a general booth that shows all the service projects from the Desoto campus," Jenkins said. "Some of the local agencies, such as the United Way, will also have booths. I think it's great they are getting involved."

For a complete schedule of inaugural events, visit

Read More

Summer Institute for School Teachers

Summer Institute for Middle School Teachers Aims to Make Math Fun, Relevant for Students

OXFORD, Miss. - When school resumes this fall, hundreds of north Mississippi students will get a fresh look at mathematics as an exciting, everyday tool, thanks to a recent two-week training institute conducted by the University of Mississippi's Center for Mathematics and Science Education.

Using a $1.5 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Education, CMSE developed the summer program, dubbed Project PrIME, or Promoting Innovation in Mathematics Education, to help teachers improve their content knowledge in mathematics. Sixty middle school teachers from across north Mississippi participated in the inaugural summer institute in June at Della Davidson Elementary School in Oxford.

The goal is to help the teachers better engage their students this fall, said Angela Barlow, associate professor of curriculum and instruction at UM and co-principal investigator for Project PrIME.

"We want these teachers to develop a better understanding of mathematics," Barlow said. "Research shows that teacher-led instruction inside the classroom with a couple of practice problems neither meets the needs of all of our students nor does it prepare students to be successful in the workplace."

Brian Buckhalter, a sixth-grade mathematics teacher in Oxford, applauds the approach. He hopes to use ideas gleaned from Project PrIME and a similar training session in his classes this fall. The greatest tool he employs is going beyond those "mundane textbook work sheets," he said.

"Engaging students with true problem-solving and true thinking is key, and believe it or not, they are receptive to that approach," Buckhalter said. "A two-week commitment here in the summer guarantees me 36 weeks of success during the school year. We learn how to connect and encourage our students, which helps me bring math to life for them."

That kind of engagement is crucial to helping lift the state both educationally and economically, Barlow said.

"Mississippi traditionally ranks last or next to last on national mathematics assessments," she said. "Regardless of where the country stands in the world, we're not doing our job here in Mississippi. It's really unfortunate."

By helping teachers rethink how mathematics is taught, the institute's organizers hope to help students better appreciate, enjoy and gain confidence in their math skills.

One of the greatest obstacles is students' fears of the subject matter, Buckhalter said.

"Earning my students' trust is one of the hardest aspects," said the three-time teacher of the year. "I tell my students that math will be challenging and difficult but it's not impossible. I try to make math not so dreadful and have them trust me."

The summer institute will be followed during the school year by a virtual professional learning community and school site visits. Instructors include various UM faculty from science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

Organizers also plan to incorporate the business community into the process. Local industries are set to produce podcasts demonstrating how mathematics is employed in their respective businesses, so teachers can show students the importance of mathematics in the workforce, Barlow said.

"When you can improve a student's disposition towards mathematics, then they are set to gain in terms of achievement in mathematics," she said.

To learn more about the UM Center for Mathematics and Science Education, visit

Read More

Major Gift to University Museum

Major Gift to University Museum Reflects Late Couple's Enjoyment of Culture, History

OXFORD, Miss. - Lt. Col. James Prentiss Hooper traveled the globe on secret intelligence missions for the U.S. Army, and his wife, Louise Frazier Hooper, accompanied him to many foreign countries. Their appreciation for diverse cultures and history, as well as their devotion to the University of Mississippi, has resulted in a major gift from the late couple's estate to the University Museum and Historic Houses.

"Prentiss and Louise Hooper led a life filled with adventure, and we called 'the Colonel' the Indiana Jones of our family," said Russell E. Aven, a first cousin of Louise Hooper and UM professor emeritus of chemical engineering. "They were interested in everything and developed a love for local resources of learning, such as the University Museum. They knew the value the museum provides children and adults through education, adventure and fun."

After serving as an Army second lieutenant in Germany and as a chemist in the Fifth Army Area Laboratory in St. Louis, Prentiss Hooper became a Mandarin Chinese linguist and reported to the Army surgeon general. Posing as a tourist, he traveled between Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos, India and Nepal.

While traveling in northern India, he was granted an audience with the Dalai Lama. He was later assigned to the Panama Canal Zone, where he was a biochemist for Gorgas Hospital and a toxicologist for the Canal Zone government. The majority of his records are classified.

Louise Hooper, a native of Oxford, passed away in 2006, and Prentiss Hooper, a native of Walthall, died in 2009. After his 1970 retirement, the couple lived full time in Oxford. The University of Mississippi Foundation has placed their monetary gift in an endowment - the largest ever for the University Museum - and interest from it will be used to expand exhibits, programming and events.

Museum Director William Pittman Andrews described the Hooper estate gift as "transformative," adding that the endowment will ensure opportunities for generations to come.

"We will continually be indebted to Lt. Col. and Mrs. Hooper for choosing to share their legacy with the community through support of the University Museum," Andrews said. "Estate gifts such as the Hooper gift create a legacy - a statement that is a lasting memorial - which embodies a person's most significant endorsement of our purpose."

The Hoopers also willed the University Museum some treasured items from their travels.

"Their gift includes a wonderful collection of 25 ceramic beer steins from Bavaria, Germany and Austria; two very rare short-stocked Kentucky rifles from 1840; and an 18th century pewter wine stein and matching goblets," said William Griffith, museum collections manager. "In addition to the beauty and historical significance of these items, they are also in excellent condition, which is rare given their use and age. We are thrilled with this thoughtful gift and look forward to displaying the items soon."

Prentiss Hooper served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946 before enrolling at Ole Miss. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in pharmacology. Louise Hooper received a bachelor's degree in liberal arts and later worked in the Registrar's Office on campus. Her father, Elton Frazier, was then co-owner with Carl Coers of the Ole Miss Bookstore on campus.

"The Colonel had a business card that pretty much summed up his interests," Aven said. "The card listed 'sailor, pharmacologist, soldier, skydiver, spy, teacher, tree farmer and fisherman.' All of the occupations were crossed out except 'fisherman' - that was the Colonel's unique sense of humor.

"However, the card didn't name all his interests; others included creating furniture, bird feeders and wood carvings. He was an author, scuba diver, bird watcher and hunter. Just like her mother, Maureen Frazier, Louise was the perfect hostess and loved to entertain."

Upon his retirement, Prentiss Hooper worked in the university's pharmacology department and taught chemistry at Oxford High School. He and his wife were active in their church and the community, including Prentiss taking on roles in plays and musicals. He was inducted into the Ole Miss Army ROTC Hall of Fame in 2006 and authored the books "The Bloody Trace" and "Melting the Ice Road," with the latter addressing his Army career.

The Hoopers enjoyed poring over items in the University Museum's collections and keeping up with exhibits and activities, Aven said. Now their estate gift will support all facets of the museum complex that includes William Faulkner's Rowan Oak and the Walton-Young House. Around 30,000 people annually visit the University Museum and Historic Houses, and 5,000 attend educational programs.

"We were thrilled and delighted to learn of the Hoopers' gift," Andrews said. "This long-term support will help sustain us in our primary goal of inspiring and educating the public audience by engaging their curiosity, desire for knowledge and appreciation of beauty."

For more information on providing private support to the University Museum and Historic Houses, visit, call 800-340-9542 or 662-915-5944, or send a check with the designation noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677.

Read More

Chemical Engineering Couple Gives Back

Chemical Engineering Couple Gives Back to Alma Mater

OXFORD, Miss. - If not for the generosity of others, two chemical engineering graduates probably would not have attended the University of Mississippi.

To help other prospective engineering students afford college, Mike and Emily Williams, both of whom earned bachelor's degrees in chemical engineering in 2001, have donated $25,000 to establish the Mike E. and Emily N. Williams Engineering Scholarship.

"I can't remember the amount of the scholarships I received, but I do know the amount led to my decision to attend Ole Miss instead of LSU," said Mike Williams, a native of New Iberia, La. "I'll forever be grateful for that. It was really down to Ole Miss and LSU by the time I was a high school senior, but once I visited Ole Miss, I fell in love with the small-town atmosphere. Ole Miss felt more like home. I knew at that point I wanted to attend Ole Miss."

An engineer at XTO Energy in Fort Worth, Texas, he tells everyone he meets that he made the right decision.

"We don't have the largest engineering school, but because of its size you'll get more one-on-one time with the professors," he said. "And based on my life, you'll be just as successful. I put my education up against anybody, any day."

Emily Williams agreed.

"When I took the PSATs and scored high, Ole Miss offered me one of the (Sally McDonnell Barksdale) Honors College scholarships," said Emily, who was also a National Merit Scholar and received scholarships from the School of Engineering.

"Once I came to Ole Miss, I realized I had made the right decision," she said. "I wanted to be at a place where I would be successful. Everyone at Ole Miss seemed to take an interest in my journey. It really meant a lot."

While the Williamses found many mentors at Ole Miss, both agreed that John O'Haver, professor of chemical engineering, stood out.

"Dr. O was not only a good mentor to us, but he was a mentor to every student he met," Emily said. "He cares a lot about students, and it shows in how he teaches and how he interacts with the student body."

Mike recalls O'Haver as "tough but fair."

"Dr. O'Haver spent more time getting to know the students on a personal level," he said. "He gave more than just classroom advice. I still keep in touch with him."

O'Haver described the Williamses as very sharp, well-spoken and personable.

"Immediately after graduation, they went to work for ExxonMobil," said O'Haver, also associate dean of academic and student affairs in the School of Engineering and director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. "Emily quit to stay home with their two cute little girls. They are the kind of engineers you want to hire. They are hardworking and creative."

Both Mike and Emily said they are happy to be able to give back to Ole Miss at this time in their lives.

"I've been pretty fortunate in my career and have done well so far," Mike said. "Emily and I always wanted to give back to the university that gave so much to us. We wanted to provide the same scholarship opportunities that were available to us to other students."

The Williamsess reside in Fort Worth, Texas, and are the parents of Samantha, 5, and Annie, 3.

For more information on contributing to scholarship programs for the School of Engineering, go to

Read More


Support for the Ole Miss School of Engineering

As we approach the end of another calendar year, we would like to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has supported the Ole Miss School of Engineering and remind everyone that it's not too late to make an additional gift in support of our dynamic students and faculty. Your tax-deductible gift of $1,000 or $84 a month via EFT deduction is critical to our overall success.

Your support has allowed the school to increase the number of scholarships awarded to students and provide additional funds for faculty research. With a record enrollment this year of more than 1,000 students, newly formed partnerships with regional government agencies and the completion of the new engineering campus, your support is more critical than ever.

So, again, as you begin to think about your year-end giving, please consider the Ole Miss School of Engineering in those plans. You may choose to make that gift online here, or if you have more specific questions about funding a specific project or idea for the school, please feel free to contact Joshua Waggoner at or 662-915-1601.

Thank you, and may you and your family enjoy your holiday season!

Read More

Tracy W. Lusk

A Tribute to Tracy W. Lusk, 1926-2010

With a great sense of loss and sadness, the School of Engineering learned that Tracy Wallace Lusk succumbed to illness on June 22, 2010. Lusk's devotion to The University of Mississippi and the School of Engineering was a thread that ran through both his professional and private life. He and his late wife, Jane, were often seen at university events, and if these visits were too infrequent, then a social visit was in order. Both were always welcome visitors.

Lusk was born in 1926 in Woodville, Miss., and he graduated from Hazelhurst High School in 1944. He served with the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in World War II and was stationed in Germany immediately after the end of the war. After his Army tour of duty, he attended Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Wesson, Miss., and entered The University of Mississippi in 1948. At the university, he obtained both his Bachelor of Science in Geological Engineering in 1950 and his Master of Science in geology in 1951. During his studies at Ole Miss, he became lifelong friends with Dr. William Clifford Morse, then chair of the geology department and state geologist. Morse provided Tracy with the opportunity to be a student worker for the Mississippi Geological Survey, which was headquartered in Ventress Hall. After Lusk graduated, he accepted a position as a geologist working for the Geological Survey in 1952, and in 1958, he succeeded Morse as state geologist. Lusk authored 12 major publications for the Geological Survey, including Bulletin 80, "Benton County Geology," which was published in 1956. He remained as state geologist until June 1962.

Following his work with the Geological Survey, Lusk worked in private industry, both as a consultant and operator of a sand-and-gravel pit. His private industry work was fundamental to the development of Mississippi's Cretaceous bentonite resources in Monroe County, and he became much in demand as a clay consultant. He also became known as an expert in the evaluation and utilization of sand-and-gravel resources in Mississippi.

In 1983, Lusk was hired by the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute (MMRI) as a research associate and worked closely with MMRI's Minerals Commercialization Center (MCC). The MCC was a cooperative effort between the MMRI and the university's business school. Lusk drew on his experience as a mineral producer to guide the business studies and evaluations conducted by the MMC. In 1984, he accepted the position of associate director, working under the direction of the late Dr. Bob Woolsey. As associate director, he oversaw the day-to-day work of the institute, which included an initiative to characterize heavy minerals in Mississippi's coastal waters and the formation of a select group to act as technical assistants to the state of Mississippi, as salt domes were being investigated as potential high-level nuclear waste repositories. He retired from this position in December 1992. After retirement, he continued his association with the MMRI, often attending board meetings, and was always available to the institute when the need arose.

Without a doubt, the MMRI, School of Engineering and The University of Mississippi will miss Lusk's support and enthusiasm. But equally important, Mississippi has lost one of its own-a person who cared for the welfare of the state and the people who live here. Let us remember Lusk for the contributions he made, the leadership he demonstrated and a life that we may well use as a role model.

Charles T. Swann
Associate Director for State Programs
Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute

Read More

Woolsey Scholarship

Woolsey Scholarship Awarded to Second-Year Graduate Student

OXFORD, Miss. - Patrick W. Niemeyer of Lumberton is the second recipient of a memorial scholarship paying tribute to J. Robert "Bob" Woolsey, late director of the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute at the University of Mississippi.

Niemeyer is a second-year graduate student at Ole Miss working toward a master's degree in engineering science and geology.

"I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Woolsey, but after all of the stories I have heard from his former colleagues and after getting to know the Woolsey family, I feel like I truly missed out by not getting to know him," Niemeyer said. "He was obviously an exceptional geologist and a great man, so to be selected for this award by the Woolsey family and some of his former colleagues is truly an honor."

A renowned geologist and expert in undersea mineral resources, Woolsey died in a July 2008 car accident. Memorials in his name amounting to more than $11,000 were made to the UM Foundation, and Maxine Woolsey, his widow, committed additional resources to fund the Woolsey Scholarship Endowment for Geology and Geological Engineering. The inaugural award was made last year.

A 2008 UM graduate with a bachelor's degree in geology, Niemeyer received the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering Outstanding Student Scholarship in 2009 and 2010. He expects to complete graduate school in May, with plans to work in petroleum exploration.

Maxine Woolsey said Niemeyer's plans fit with the intent of the annual scholarship award, which she said should recognize students who are "enthusiastic about geology and possess a proven work ethic."

"To appropriately honor Bob, this scholarship should help students become hands-on geologists and geological engineers," she said. "Bob always felt the best classrooms didn't have walls. I want scholarship recipients to use the funds to have extraordinary experiences."

MMRI director since 1982, Bob Woolsey was instrumental in founding UM's two marine centers: the Center for Marine Resources and Environmental Technology and the Seabed Technology Research Center, which is a division of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's National Institute for Undersea Science and Research. Through these centers, he organized an international consortium of scientists and engineers to study gas hydrates.

For more information on contributing to the Woolsey Scholarship for Geology and Geological Engineering, go to

Read More

UM and South Korean University

UM and South Korean University Create Educational Partnership

OXFORD, Miss. - The University of Mississippi expanded its global presence Monday (Nov. 9) with the signing of a formal partnership with Hanbat National University in South Korea.

Dong-Ho Sul, president of Hanbat, and several of the university's deans and officials were on hand for the ceremony. "I believe this agreement will be profitable and beneficial for both universities," Sul said.

The program will enable Hanbat students to attend the South Korean university for two years and UM for two years while earning a dual degree. The South Korean university specializes in the fields of engineering and business and has been sending students from those fields to Ole Miss since 2002 to participate in the intensive English program, Sul said.

"Our expectation is that this joint partnership we are entering into today will provide great dividends not only to the Hanbat students but also to the University of Mississippi," said Larry Ridgeway, UM vice chancellor of student affairs.

The university's engineering and business programs will benefit from the inclusion of South Korean students in those fields, and the university as a whole will continue to build international partnerships in a world that is growing more and more global, he said.

During a luncheon honoring the new collaboration, Lydia Jones, wife of UM Chancellor Dan Jones, toasted the new agreement in both Korean and English. The Joneses spent time living in South Korea near the hometowns of some of the visiting South Korean educators. "In the years to come, may our universities collaborate closely and in true partnership," she said.

Sul and the other South Korean educators spent time visiting the UM schools of Engineering and Business Administration as well as the UM offices of International Programs and Student Affairs during their daylong trip to campus.

Sul said his university is very pleased to expand the relationship with UM particularly because it fits with his university's two goals of collaborating with industry and embracing globalization.

Hanbat National University is in Daejeon, South Korea. Established in 1927, the university is home to nearly 10,000 students and offers degrees in engineering, humanities, and economics and commerce, as well as industry, information, and communications and entrepreneurial management.

For more information visit

Read More