OXFORD, Miss. – Retired Florida attorney Jerry Center believes the University of Mississippi spirit is personified by its chancellor, Robert Khayat. That’s why Center and his wife, Susan, have made a gift to the Chancellor’s Trust in Khayat’s honor.
"Robert Khayat has been a professor, classmate and friend," Center said. "He was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I consider him a dear friend, and I think he’s the best chancellor Ole Miss has ever had. He’s done so much for the university to make it a better place."
Established in 1975, the Chancellor’s Trust fund is used to address the university’s greatest needs and requires a minimum gift of $25,000. Center and his family are longtime supporters of Ole Miss, with previous gifts to the School of Law. His mother, Mildred Hickey, a Baldwyn native, established an Ole Miss Women’s Council scholarship in 2000.
Khayat called the Center family a true Ole Miss family.
"We are most grateful for their generous support," Khayat said. "Jerry was an excellent student and quite involved in the life of the university. This gift will serve to enrich the experience of the current generation of students."
Center received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business in 1964 and 1967 and a law degree in 1972, all from Ole Miss. His first job after graduating from law school was with the Oxford law firm Freeland and Gafford (now Freeland and Freeland).
"My parents were able to invest in scholarship programs for students, and Susan and I are blessed to do the same," Center said. "I hope that the students who receive assistance will join the Ole Miss family and return part of their success to future generations of students."
The gift is part of the university’s MomentUM campaign, a four-year initiative to raise $200 million. The campaign, which ends in December 2008, already has raised more than $180 million for scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty support, a basketball practice facility, residential colleges and a new law school on the Oxford campus. Also in the plan is a cancer center at the UM Medical Center in Jackson.
For more information about the Chancellor’s Trust or for other ways to contribute to Ole Miss, call 662-915-5955 or 800-340-9542 or visit
by Sonia Thompson