Thursday, March 30, 2023

UM Senior Class Creates Fund for Excellence in Inclusion

Many seniors in the Class of 2021 will graduate from the University of Mississippi in May, but not before they leave behind a substantial gift to help retain those coming behind them.

The class has created the Inclusive Excellence Retention Fund through the university’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. The fund is designed for students who are actively focused on promoting and encouraging the university’s ideals of respect, inclusion and diversity.

Those wishing to donate can do so by scanning the QR code above. Photo provided by Ole Miss Communications.

“The Inclusive Excellence Retention Fund will award grants to University of Mississippi students who have been outstanding in promoting diversity awareness, respect and acceptance through education, advocacy and outreach,” said Norris “EJ” Edney, director of inclusion and cross-cultural engagement. “Some of these students are facing modest financial barriers affecting the students’ ability to pay academic-related expenses, preventing them from enrolling or remaining enrolled, or limiting their ability to take advantage of professional development opportunities.”

Senior class officers came up with the idea to create the fund in the summer of 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“(Vice President) Evelyn Angle, (Treasurer) Meredith McDonald and I reflected on our time at Ole Miss,” said Flint Christian, class president. “We reflected on what we loved here and what we wanted to see improve. We set goals to directly support students and better the environment at Ole Miss as a place for all.”

The students met with Edney and center staff and started working on making the goals into something tangible to help future Ole Miss students.

“And the rest, as they say, is history,” Christian said.

The money raised will assist students in many ways, from supporting students for conferences, engagements and organizations to granting semester-to-semester relief when personal crises and circumstances outside a student’s control come into play, Christian said.

“We hope this gift will help students in need and make Ole Miss a home that everyone can be a part of and celebrate,” he said. “We hope that students will know that this support system is there for them, that students will put these funds to their best use, and that the university will continue to grow far into the future.”

Tax-deductible gifts to the fund can be made through the University of Mississippi Foundation. Checks should be made payable to the UM Foundation/Class of 2021 and mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677. Gifts also can be made online at or by calling 800-340-9542.

For more information, call 800-340-9542 or email For general information about the scholarship, contact Christian at

By Edwin B. Smith