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Fifty percent of this country’s wealth is transferring into the hands of women this year, according to a Boston College study, and women are taking greater control of their finances.

Recognizing these trends, The University of Mississippi and Rhodes College are offering a two-day seminar to help teach other institutions how to tap into this newly discovered resource for higher education. The Southern Women’s Leadership in Philanthropy Symposium is set for June 15-16 on The University of Mississippi’s Oxford campus.

The symposium features a number of seminars led by nationally known philanthropic leaders, including Nicki Tanner, co-chair of the Wellesley College Campaign and frequent speaker on issues related to women and philanthropy; Charles Collier, senior philanthropic adviser at Harvard University; and Dr. Rebecca Chopp, the Charles Howard Candler professor of theology, provost, and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University in Atlanta.

"Women are beginning to have more access to assets, thus women will be poised to make increasingly larger philanthropic gifts," said Ellen Rolfes, advancement associate at The University of Mississippi and creator of the symposium. "Through a mutual commitment to higher education, our institutions have the same goals to improve society by educating our youth and to provide donors the opportunity to make a difference. We know, too, the climate of fund raising is changing in the South, and women are emerging as a viable philanthropic force."

Wendy Rotter, who is the director of major gifts for Rhodes College and coordinator of the symposium with Rolfes, agreed. "Research shows that women’s giving almost always follows involvement," she said. "The reverse is true for men. Women desire a partnership and are willing to invest time, talent, and financial resources in our institutions. It is imperative that women are offered opportunities to be involved in the lives of our colleges and universities. Significant philanthropy will follow."

Trustees, women’s council members, donors, philanthropists, alumni, volunteer fund-raisers, presidents, provosts, deans, vice presidents/institutional advancement, directors of planned giving and major gifts, and development officers from across the South are invited to attend. Participants will learn why women choose to give, gender differences in giving, barriers to women’s giving, development of a gender-sensitive campaign, how to advance women in campaign leadership, how to reach women donors of all ages and giving levels, how to educate the next generation on the values of philanthropy, and how to establish a women’s philanthropy program.

"Women are creating new narratives for their lives, their communities, and our world," Chopp said. "Our task is to learn from the stories of the past and present to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century."

For more information about the Southern Women’s Leadership in Philanthropy Symposium or for a schedule of events, contact Ellen Rolfes at (800) 340-9542 or (662) 915-1586. For questions about registration, contact The University of Mississippi’s Institute for Continuing Studies at (662) 915-7282.


Online gifts for the 2024 calendar year should be made no later than noon on December 31, 2024.  Checks by mail will need to be postmarked by December 31 to be counted in the 2024 calendar year.