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Giving Day 2023 Sets University Record

By Tina H. Hahn

University of Mississippi

Ole Miss students enjoy the weather outside the university’s School of Journalism and New Media, where a new gift from Lacie and Joe Gorder will support scholarships for students studying fashion promotion. The specialization, part of the integrated marketing communications major, is among the school’s most popular. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

When the last online donation came in Wednesday (April 5) for Giving Day 2023, the University of Mississippi’s donors had united to set an unprecedented fundraising record.

This year, Ole Miss students, parents, alumni, friends, faculty and staff members came together to contribute 2,399 gifts totaling more than $6.83 million – the most ever for Giving Day – bolstering vital resources to strengthen the student experience, academic programs and community offerings.

“Thank you, Ole Miss family, for your enthusiastic and generous response to Giving Day,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “Coming together in the spirit of giving really boosted the energy and excitement of this annual event. We are thrilled to receive two seven-figure gifts.

“Christie and George R. Walker III, of Jackson, gave $5 million to establish two chairs in finance and real estate in the School of Business Administration. A $1 million gift from Lacie and Joe Gorder, of San Antonio, Texas, establishes scholarships in the School of Journalism and New Media.”

The Walker gift – the largest in Giving Day history – is intended to attract and retain top professors to the business school.

“We love Ole Miss and appreciate the preparation we received there,” said George Walker, CEO of Heritage Properties. “I majored in finance, and my wife majored in real estate, along with our four daughters.

“God has truly blessed our business. We want to give back to the School of Business Administration to see it flourish for future generations.”

The social media-driven Giving Day 2023 launched Tuesday (April 4) and continued for 1 day, 8 hours and 48 minutes in honor of the university’s founding year of 1848. Besides attracting gifts of all sizes for the 27 participating schools, colleges and programs, the event encouraged alumni and friends to become engaged in developments at Ole Miss.

All funds raised are part of the Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss, which has a goal of securing $1.5 billion to enhance the university for future generations.

Notable contributions included $100,000 from Mike Tincher, of Oxford, for the UM Institute for the Arts in memory of his wife, Ami. A $100,000 gift from American First National Bank and its chairman, Henry Wu, in Houston, Texas, directed to the Ole Miss baseball program celebrated the 2022 NCAA national champions.

A record-breaking more than 80 challenge gifts from alumni and friends kept the momentum running high throughout the Giving Day campaign. Among these challenges was one from Melinda and David Swenson, of Alexandria, Virginia, who gave $50,000 to fund opportunities for third-year School of Law students interested in pursuing careers in international law when 25 other donors made gifts to the same.

Lisa and Chuck Nicholson, of Brandon, made a $50,000 gift to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the School of Education.

The Citizens Bank of Philadelphia committed $30,000 to the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education after 30 other donors supported these tailored learning experiences. Caroline and Daniel Reed, of Jackson, made a $25,000 contribution to the Ole Miss First Scholarship program after 25 others also provided resources.

Amy and Jason Shackelford, of Germantown, Tennessee, provided $25,000 when 10 donors made gifts to the Patterson School of Accountancy Building Fund. Jenny and Tom Becherer, of Alexandria, contributed $20,000 to the Lanny Griffith Endowment in Political Science after 10 donors gave to the endowed fund.

Nader Jarun, of Jacksonville, Florida, committed $10,000 to the Business Law Institute in return for 20 other donors investing in the program. Natalie and Kirk von Seelen, of McLean, Virginia, made a $10,000 gift to the School of Journalism and New Media Faculty Support Fund after 10 donors contributed gifts.

The Family Leadership Council pledged $5,000 to UMatter, Student Disability Services, Career Center, William Magee Center for AOD and Wellness Education and the Counseling Center when each unit received 15 gifts. The Hosemann Family Autism Foundation gave $5,000 to the Applied Behavior Analysis program in the School of Education after 20 other donors joined them in supporting this transformational fund.

Marc Rosen, of Atlanta, a supporter of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, gave $6,000 to his Graduate Student Support Fund once the center received 20 gifts. Rachelle and Christopher Mouron, of Mountain Brook, Alabama, provided $3,750 after 10 donors made gifts to the business school.

The top performer in the campaign, according to the most dollars raised, was the School of Business Administration, led by senior director of development Angela Barlow Brown. The leader in having the most donors was the School of Education, with associate director of development Kelly Smith Marion.

Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss co-chairs Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, of Memphis, Tennessee, gave $5,000 to the academic unit that secured the most gifts in the last hour and 48 minutes of Giving Day, and those funds went to the law school.

“We are beyond excited that the Ole Miss family came together to support our university,” said Maura Langhart, senior director of annual giving in the Office of University Development. “Achieving great things comes easier when we work together.”

Giving Day participants also earned some interesting experiences. Five Ole Miss students – Eriona Banks, Anderson DeWitt, Casey McCarthy, Marshall St. Amant and Margaret Walker – gained an opportunity to join more than 100 years of students before them and sign the turret inside Ventress Hall. Students who contributed gifts to the College of Liberal Arts were chosen randomly to join Dean Lee Cohen in signing the wall.

Donors who made a $100 or more gift to the School of Journalism and New Media are receiving a signed print from Marshall Ramsey, popular cartoonist for Mississippi Today. Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration, is treating the top business school donor to a round of golf.

“The Ole Miss family embraced Giving Day with exceptional gifts,” said Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development. “We have an awesome responsibility as the flagship university to serve our students and the greater community and recognize that extraordinary resources are needed to provide the scholarships, faculty support, technology, facilities and service opportunities that define our excellence.”

For more information on ways to support the university, go to https://nowandever.olemiss.edu.

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