OXFORD, Miss – A $200 million capital campaign, designed to continue the momentum generated by the University of Mississippi in the last decade, was formally launched in a public announcement Saturday morning.
MomentUM: A Campaign for The University of Mississippi has already attracted $160.7 million in private gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations. During the "quiet phase" of the campaign, which began in January 2005, more than 39,200 people have contributed or made pledges.
The funds are to help complete a cancer center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, build a new law school and residential colleges on the Oxford campus, establish a new school of journalism, build a new basketball practice facility, increase funding for scholarships and academic enrichment, modernize classrooms in all schools and colleges and boost the university’s endowment.
Alumni Mike Glenn, Sam and Mary Donnelly Haskell and Deuce McAllister are co-chairs of the campaign.
"As executive vice president for FedEx, I’ve seen firsthand the enthusiasm that’s generated when an institution takes off on an exciting new venture," said Glenn, of Memphis. "Momentum is an appropriate word to describe the energy at Ole Miss. We have it all – more and better students than ever before, a superb faculty and renowned graduates who are making major contributions throughout the world."
Sam Haskell said the time is right to capitalize on the university’s accomplishments and unprecedented academic stature.
"I’m excited about being a part of MomentUM," said Haskell, former worldwide head of television for the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills, Calif. "Our university has achieved enormous success in the last 10 years. This campaign will ensure that the success – and the momentum – continues for years to come."
Over the past 10 years, state funding for the university has decreased dramatically, falling from 40 percent to just 17 percent. As a result, UM relies on private support now more than ever.
"Private funding will provide the margin of excellence we are relentlessly pursuing," Chancellor Robert Khayat said. "Our alumni and friends are happy to invest in the university and continue our momentum."
Since 1997, UM enrollment has increased by more than 4,000 students, putting a strain on resources and making housing one of the university’s most pressing needs. The planned residential colleges will help address that need.
"Residential colleges will not only provide much needed space for students living on campus, but also help our young people form communities," Khayat said. "Being connected to a community is a vital part of being a successful student."
Modeled after those at British universities in Oxford and Cambridge, residential colleges are places where students and faculty live, dine and socialize in the same cluster of buildings in which they go to class. Ole Miss’ first two residential colleges are to be built near the campus’ northeast corner. The first is to open in fall 2009 and the other in spring 2010.
Plans are also moving forward to break ground for a new law school, slated to open in fall 2010 on Coliseum Drive. The new law center includes state-of-the-art classrooms and space for clinics, said Provost Carolyn Ellis Staton.
"The current classrooms were not designed to accommodate students with computers," she said. "The new building will bring the students and faculty together and will provide more opportunities for interaction in the law school community."
Lamar Hall, the current law school building, will be renovated to provide additional general classroom space.
Other campaign goals of increasing faculty support and scholarships are aimed at contributing to the university’s ability to provide quality education and recruit top students from across the country. Alumni, faculty and even students have already stepped forward to show their support, helping spur the campaign more than halfway toward its goal.
The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics also is continuing to improve its facilities. The university plans to build a new basketball practice facility and to expand and renovate Oxford-University Stadium Swayze Field, home of the baseball Rebels.
"Intercollegiate athletics is a competitive enterprise," said Athletics Director Pete Boone. "There is competition for the best athletes and coaches, as well as competition to provide the very best facilities. We have made great progress with improvements to our facilities, and the MomentUM campaign will continue this significant progress."
Plans for the new basketball building feature two full courts, coaches offices, meeting rooms, locker rooms, training room, weight room, equipment rooms, video equipment and lounges. It is to be built at the corner of Coliseum and Hill drives, east of the Gillom Sports Center.
Upgrades to the baseball stadium include the addition of 880 club seats between first and third base, as well as increasing the number of box seats from 400 to approximately 1,700. More than 3,000 seats are being added to the facility, bringing the total seating capacity to more than 6,000. The renovations, which also include new concession areas in the stands and additional restrooms with handicap accessibility, are expected to be completed by the 2009 season.
McAllister, Pro Bowl running back for the New Orleans Saints, said the upgrades should benefit all the university’s academic and athletics endeavors.
"A team is always stronger than the individual players," McAllister said. "We’ve got the vision. We’ve got the leadership. We’ve got the momentum."
Among the unusual elements of the MomentUM campaign are its short duration (most capital campaigns last six to seven years) and the coordination of several smaller campaigns under the MomentUM umbrella. They include the Campaign for Engineering, Campaign for the Law School, the Ole Miss First Scholarship Campaign and the Alumni Association’s drive to expand the Inn at Ole Miss.
"With the help of all our alumni and friends, we will have the resources we need to become an even greater American public university," Khayat said.