Dear Engineering Alumni and Friends,

This month, let me deliver to you a light news item on Jim Barnette (BSCE 59), who now holds the title of World Boxing Champion!

(The following was excerpted from an article published in the Corpus Christi Caller Times on July 31.)

CORPUS CHRISTI—He is a successful businessman who put himself through college and went on to help build some of the city’s most recognizable buildings.

He’s also an experienced runner and a devoted husband, father and grandfather. And don’t forget former Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce chairman and King Alonso LIII during the city’s 2006 Las Doñas de la Corte coronation.

At 72, Jim Barnette has added an unlikely title: boxer.

It’s not just a fitness quest. He has obtained a license to compete.

Barnette thinks of himself as an innovator and self-motivator, always seeking a new challenge. Boxing is just the latest in that pursuit.

“I guess it’s something that’s just innate in me to make me want to do it. But boxing’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It requires a lot of work, it requires a lot of discipline. I’m glad I found it. I hope I’m successful in it.”

He’ll get a chance to test his success at the 10th annual Ringside World Championships, set for Monday through Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. He is seeking to compete in the Masters 141-pound division, with a bout either Friday or Saturday.

Barnette is no stranger to physical challenges.

An avid runner, he has completed 21 marathons, including the competitive Boston Marathon three times.

“When I got through with that, or I got tired of it I guess, I continued to run but my running kept getting less and less and less, and I needed something to get motivated again to give me a goal,” he said. “I won’t say I needed outside motivation, but I needed something to get me self-motivated. I needed some goal, something to accomplish, something to train for.”

That’s what he’s been doing for the past six months with trainer and coach Ralph Davila at the Corpus Christi Police Officers Association Boxing Club.

The conditions at the gym on Park Street are stifling. On any summer day, the thermometer on the open front door reads at least 90 degrees, and the temperature inside is guaranteed to be at least 10-15 degrees warmer. Still, Barnette practices five hours a day, beginning at 4:30 a.m.

To read more, visit http://www.caller.com/news/2010/jul/31/a-punch-of-youth-id-like-to-think-that-if-goes-i/.

On Aug. 7, Barnette was scheduled to fight in the 10th Annual Ringside World Championship in Kansas City, Mo., in the 50-older Masters division. However, at age 72 and a weight of 141 pounds, the tournament’s president and staff could not find a suitable opponent for him. Hence Barnette was declared the winner of his division, thus a World Boxing Champion!

Barnette plans to return to the tournament next year to compete at age 73.

“I’d like to think that if everything goes well, I could box until I’m 80,” Barnette told the Corpus Christi Caller Times. “I feel like I’m 25 and probably act as young as that. I feel great.”

Besides being a World Boxing Champion, Barnette served the Ole Miss Engineering Advisory Board for many years, and, in recent years, he chaired the Campaign Committee.

cheng signature
Alex Cheng
Dean of the School of Engineering

Bachelor of Engineering refreshed this semester

The Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree has been restructured to give students a chance to tailor the program to their individualized career plans.

Marni Kendricks, assistant to the dean for undergraduate advising and BE program director, said the quality of past graduates prompted the school to reevaluate the program.

“Our graduates are standing up and being recognized as highly accomplished students who decided to declare and pursue a Bachelor of Engineering degree as a first choice, not a fallback plan, and rightly so,” Kendricks said. “A BE degree allows a high degree of flexibility for individualized interest to build upon a solid fundamental engineering foundation.”

And, it is the program’s high degree of flexibility that Kendricks and other school administrators want to market to high school students and incoming freshmen.

“Today’s student is more likely to want to personalize and tailor a degree program for his or her own career plans,” Kendricks said. “The BE allows that level of personalization plus gives students the opportunity to be different and distinguished among those pursuing other degrees.”

Here’s how the repurposed Bachelor of Engineering degree breaks down: Students earn 37 hours of general education, 24 hours of liberal arts electives, 33 hours of engineering courses and 33 hours of emphasis courses in the student’s career interest.

“Roughly one-fourth of the degree program is intended for the student to pursue his or her own field of study. That could be pre-med, pre-law, business, military science, naval science, aerospace studies, manufacturing, graphic arts and much more. This list is open-ended,” Kendricks said.

To help attract more students to the modernized BE degree, the School of Engineering has added staff to manage the program and an advisory network for students to use as a resource.

For more information about the Bachelor of Engineering program or a copy of the new view book, contact Marni Kendricks at 662-915-5373 or mckendri@olemiss.edu or visit www.engineering.olemiss.edu/be.

Join the Team

One of the comments Scott Kilpatrick hears repeatedly from engineering alumni is that the personal interaction they had with faculty and staff made a big difference in their educational experience.

As assistant to the dean for recruitment and scholarships in the School of Engineering, Kilpatrick wants alumni to carry that personal touch to the next generation of students by becoming part of an alumni recruitment team.

“Without a doubt, personal attention and close relationships among members of the engineering community are the defining characteristics of the school,” Kilpatrick said. “Furthermore, research shows that taking an active interest in a prospective student and communicating with that student during his or her college process leads to better retention.”

Alumni recruitment team volunteers are vital members of The University of Mississippi recruitment mission, said Max Miller, assistant director of enrollment services for scholarships.

“We’re talking about having people all over the nation who have lived the Ole Miss experience [and are] willing to talk about it firsthand. You can’t beat that kind of advertising,” Miller said. “Alumni are very keen on telling us about students who need to know about Ole Miss. If you look at the projected recruitment numbers for this fall, you know they do a great job.”

Kilpatrick agreed.

scott kilpatrick“Our past recruitment efforts in the Houston area are a model for what we would like to accomplish with these alumni recruitment teams. David Carroll (BSChE 77) has done an outstanding job in Houston in reaching out to prospective students and offering his insight into what makes Ole Miss engineering so unique,” Kilpatrick said.

This fall, alumni plan to build on the experience of Carroll and others by forming an official alumni recruitment team in the Houston area, he said, adding he would like to see more teams like that.

“We have seven undergraduate programs and more than a dozen centers associated with the School of Engineering. We have alumni all over the country, and we need [them to] serve as recruiters and career experts,” he said. “Volunteering your time to help recruit future Ole Miss engineering students is more than a rewarding experience; it’s essential to the continued growth of the school.”

To join or help create a recruitment team in your area, contact Scott Kilpatrick at 662-915-5780 or skilpat@olemiss.edu.