OXFORD, MISS. — A longtime University of Mississippi faculty member and his wife have left a final, transformative gift to the institution they supported for decades.
More than $1 million was recently received from the estates of Carl and Olivia Nabors to support several areas of the university: the University Museum, J.D. Williams Library, Basketball Practice Facility, Ole Miss First Scholarship Initiative, and Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy.
“When I think of Carl and Olivia Nabors, I think of quiet, kind, generous people,” said Chancellor Robert Khayat at a recent reception honoring the late couple and their family. “Everyone at Ole Miss is profoundly grateful for the generous gifts made by Carl and Olivia, and we wanted to celebrate the fact that they’ve designated funds to areas that need help.”
Ole Miss alumni Will Lewis, brother of Olivia, and Billy Bratton, nephew of Carl, oversaw the recent settlement of the couple’s estates (Olivia died in 2001 and Carl five years later). While the Nabors had designated funds specifically to the J.D. Williams Library and the University Museum, funds designated generally to the UM Athletics Association went to the Basketball Practice Facility.
Ole Miss Athletics Director Pete Boone lauded the gift to the UMAA as an “example to our younger Rebel generation.”
Additionally, funds designated to the UM Foundation are supporting Ole Miss First and the Ole Miss Women’s Council. As a result, the Carl W. Nabors Ole Miss First Scholarship Endowment will provide four years of undergraduate education for deserving students for generations to come. The Olivia L. Nabors Ole Miss Women’s Council Endowment will provide permanent funding for the leadership-mentorship program that offers guidance and training in leadership skills, career development and personal growth to recipients of Women’s Council scholarships.
“As a member of the Women’s Council I was aware of a great need to sustain Ole Miss Women’s Council scholarships,” said Patricia Lewis, Ole Miss alumna and sister-in-law of Olivia Nabors, who helped direct the Foundation gift. “With each of these scholarships, there is an obligation to the students to provide a leadership-mentorship component, and that doesn’t come without costs. We are so grateful that Olivia and Carl had seen fit to bequeath the university moneys to be used for this purpose and for other areas of need on campus.”
Olivia Nabors received a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Ole Miss in 1951, and Carl, a WWII veteran, followed with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting in 1952 and 1953, respectively. Although “their paths never crossed as undergraduates,” their love for Ole Miss eventually drew them together, Billy Bratton said.
After working for the accounting firm Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Company in Memphis for several years, Carl returned to his alma mater to teach. In 1961 he embarked on a 30-plus-year career with the university, serving as associate professor of accounting, chair of the accounting department, acting dean of the School of Business Administration, and on the university’s athletics committee. Most importantly, the move to Oxford allowed him to meet Olivia, a native of the town. They married in 1965 and lived here for the rest of their lives—lives spent actively supporting Ole Miss.
“Carl and Olivia Nabors were two of the most ardent supporters of the University of Mississippi,” said Jimmy Davis, former dean of the School of Accountancy and currently H. Eugene Peery Chair of Accountancy and Professor of Accountancy at Ole Miss. “He and Olivia attended most of the games in all sports, including games away.
“Carl was an exceptional accountant, always organized, paying strict attention to detail and was a gifted teacher. His students appreciated his willingness to work with them on an individual basis, enjoyed his sense of humor and respected him for his interest in their employment and well-being in general. He and Olivia loved to entertain and made a lasting impact on my life and upon the many students who were fortunate enough to know him.”
Billy Bratton echoed Davis’ sentiments: “Their life was very much enmeshed in this university,” said Bratton, who recalled attending his first-ever Ole Miss football game at the age of 10 with his uncle and credits the Nabors for his own deep connection to the university. “From the very beginning they wanted to remember Ole Miss in this way.”
For more information about planned gifts, visit www.umfoundation.com.
By Jennifer Southall