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Women’s Council Honors Robert Khayat With Legacy Award: 800 Ole Miss Faithful Attend

 

Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat poses with Mary Susan Clinton, OMWC Legacy chair; Karen Moore, OMWC chair; and Mary Haskell, OMWC incoming chair, during the Ole Miss Women's Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications
Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat poses with Mary Susan Clinton, OMWC Legacy chair; Karen Moore, OMWC chair; and Mary Haskell, OMWC incoming chair, during the Ole Miss Women’s Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

At the largest seated dinner in the history of the University of Mississippi (800 people), the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy (OMWC), a group founded in 2000 under Robert Khayat’s tenure, honored the 15th chancellor of the University with its prestigious Legacy Award on Saturday night. Event organizers transformed the Olivia and Archie Manning Indoor Performance Center (IPF) into an impressive gala atmosphere befitting the significance of the occasion.

The entire affair, from the table decorations, the stage and food, to the audio-video setup and the engaging pace of the presentation, was a beautifully well-organized tribute to the beloved Khayat and the numerous strides made at the University during his 14-year tenure as chancellor. Those in attendance were treated to a combination of video, photos, moving speeches and awe-inspiring moments to help remember and celebrate his contributions. Singer/songwriter Rivers Rutherford sang a live performance of “The Moss Point Kid,” a song by country singer Marty Stuart written especially for Chancellor Khayat a few years ago.

Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat laughs with Ole Miss Women's Council chair Karen Moore after being surprised with a birthday cake during the Ole Miss Women's Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications
Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat laughs with Ole Miss Women’s Council chair Karen Moore after being surprised with a birthday cake during the Ole Miss Women’s Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Olivia and Archie Manning were emcees for the evening, and speakers included OMWC officers: Chair Karen Moore, Legacy Chair Mary Susan Gallien Clinton, incoming Chair Mary Donnelly Haskell, members Jan Farrington and Rose Jackson Flenorl along with current Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter. A video tribute produced by Tim Weeks included old photographs, footage and interviews of many people who worked with or had associations with Khayat during his time as chancellor.

Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat speaks during the Ole Miss Women's Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications
Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat speaks during the Ole Miss Women’s Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Much was said about Khayat’s background and contribution during his 14 years of service from 1995 to 2009. His accomplishments are summarized in this statement from the OMWC write-up leading up to the event:

“Khayat’s own experiences reflect a life journey that shaped his leadership style and abilities. While an Ole Miss student, he excelled in the classroom, earning both undergraduate and law degrees. As the kicker on the Ole Miss Rebels football team, he helped secure many victories under legendary Coach John Vaught, as well as wins as catcher on the baseball team.

Lessons learned from teamwork, competition, discipline and perseverance prepared him for other pursuits. His unusual resumé includes both ‘All-Pro kicker for the Washington Redskins’ and ‘Sterling Fellowship for a Master of Law from Yale Law School.’

During his tenure as chancellor, major new programs were founded, including the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, Lott Leadership Institute, Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

He also helped secure a coveted Phi Beta Kappa chapter, attracted millions in private support, hosted the 2008 presidential debate and transformed the campus through renovation and new construction – including adult and children’s hospitals at the UM Medical Center, Paris-Yates Chapel, Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, and the Indoor Practice Facility (since renamed the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center).

Under Khayat’s leadership, student enrollment increased by nearly 44 percent and the university’s operating budget grew from less than $500 million to nearly $1.5 billion annually.”

Proceeds from the annual Legacy Award event help fund OMWC leadership training and mentorship programs. In its 15th year of existence, the OMWC has built a scholarship endowment of more than $11 million with named scholarships awarded to male and female students selected after an in-depth interview process.

The scholarships – which have grown to be among the largest on campus at approximately $32,000 each – are awarded based on students’ academic performance, leadership and a desire to give back to society.”

Previous Legacy Award recipients include: Charles Overby, Donna and Jim Barksdale, Gov. William and Elise Winter, Olivia Manning and Leigh Ann Tuohy.

Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat speaks with UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter during the Ole Miss Women's Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications
Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat speaks with UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter during the Ole Miss Women’s Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications
Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat speaks with UM Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner Labanc during the Ole Miss Women's Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications
Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat speaks with UM Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner Labanc during the Ole Miss Women’s Council Legacy Awards Banquet. Khayat is the 2016 recipient of the award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

 


Allison Buchanan is a writer and CEO of New Media Lab LLC, parent company of HottyToddy.com She can be reached at allison.buchanan@hottytoddy.com.

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