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Nominations Sought for Annual UM Frist Awards

By Mitchell Diggs

University of Mississippi

College students can face personal challenges and difficult circumstances without family nearby to help. But University of Mississippi faculty and staff members often step in to lend a helping hand, a friendly smile or caring assurance.

It’s all part of being a member of the Ole Miss community, and the students’ gratitude and success are generally reward enough. But students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff can formally recognize those who have truly “gone the extra mile” to help students by nominating them for the Thomas Frist Student Service Award.

“Being recognized with the Frist Award was one of the most flattering moments of my professional career,” said Stefan Schulenberg, professor of psychology and the 2020 faculty recipient. “In my college and graduate school education and training, there were people who really helped to open doors for me, people who really took the time to express their belief in me, even in those moments where I wasn’t sure I believed in myself. 

“It’s been a professional aspiration of mine to ‘pay it forward,’ to be a mentor to students, not just in a general sense but in those moments where they really need someone to believe in them.” 

Students, alumni, friends, faculty and staff can submit nominations for the annual awards online through April 7. The online form to submit nominations is at http://www.olemiss.edu/frist_award/

Any full-time faculty or staff member, except previous winners, is eligible for the award, which includes a $1,000 prize and a plaque. Past nominations also may be considered.

Nominations should not focus on classroom teaching or tutoring efforts. The Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award, announced at the annual Honors Day convocation, recognizes excellence in that area.

The nomination narrative should differentiate between obligation and service by citing specific examples in which the person being nominated has gone beyond the call of duty to help a student or students. 

At the University of Mississippi, we make a difference in the lives of countless students,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “The Frist Awards allow us to formally recognize and celebrate the unwavering commitment of our outstanding faculty and staff to upholding a caring environment in which all students have the steadfast support they need to pursue their passions and reach their potential.”

All nominees are notified that they have been so honored, and a campus committee appointed by the chancellor chooses the winners. Awards are to be presented May 7 at Commencement.

“Considering how many others are deserving of this award, receiving the Frist was a humbling experience for me,” said Carmen Riggan, pre-law adviser and assistant to the dean in the College of Liberal Arts and one of the 2020 staff recipients. “I view serving our students as a privilege and an honor.”

The 2021 Frist winners were JoAnn Edwards, speech instructor and director of forensics in the Trent Lott Leadership Institute, and the late Jacqueline Certion, who was assistant director of the Foundations of Academic Success Track program in the College of Liberal Arts. 

Previous recipients include faculty members Aileen Ajootian, Michael Barnett, Luca Bombelli, Robert Brown, Brett Cantrell, Donald Dyer, Denis Goulet, Marc Showalter and Ken Sufka; and staff members Carol Forsythe, Cindy May, Ginger Patterson, Valeria Ross, Amy Saxton and Linda Spargo.

The Frist Student Service Awards were established with a $50,000 gift from the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist, of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate.

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/frist_award/.

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