Steve Castleman with his daughter, Erin

OXFORD, Miss. – For University of Mississippi alumnus Steve Castleman, it’s not just the historic Lyceum, the iconic Grove or even tailgating before football games that he loves most about Ole Miss. 

“I’ve been away for over thirty years now, and the best memories I have all revolve around the friendships and relationships I made there,” said Castleman, who lives in Birmingham, Ala. “Those friendships have continued and I’m still close with many of the friends I made while I was a student at Ole Miss. Now we have kids the same age and our kids are becoming friends, too.”

And so, in hopes of helping the bonds of friendship continue to grow with each generation, Castleman is leaving a $500,000 deferred gift to benefit Student Affairs at the university.

“I wanted to help impact as many students as I could in giving this gift,” Castleman said. “By giving to Student Affairs, my hope is that it will have an opportunity to reach more of the student body. That’s what I wanted to try to do.”

The Stephen P. Castleman Endowment for Student Life will be used to support projects and manage facilities, including the Student Union and Turner Center.

The office of Student Affairs supports the university’s academic mission through its commitment to the total development of students. Student Affairs oversees such offices as campus recreation, international programs, career center and other departments that contribute to student’s physical, occupational, social, intellectual, spiritual and emotional growth.

“Much of student learning takes place outside the classroom, so we work hard to create and maintain an environment that promotes leadership development, academic achievement, and responsible and engaged citizenry,” said Larry Ridgeway, vice chancellor for Student Affairs. “We are most grateful for this generous gift from Steve Castleman to enhance our student facilities.”

Castleman, who majored in geology, graduated from Ole Miss in 1984, is founder and president of Spectrum Environmental, Inc., an environmental consulting company in Birmingham. He and his wife, Amy, have three daughters, Emily, Erin and Elyse. Though, according to Castleman, so far Erin is the only other family member who shares his love for Ole Miss. “She’s the only one that has seen the light,” he laughed. “It’s because my wife went to Auburn. There’s a family split.

“I’ve been blessed in my life and being able to pass on a blessing is something that drives me,” Castleman said. “Ole Miss holds a special place and helped form who I am. It was an easy decision when I was looking to give back—Ole Miss was near the top of my list.”

Castleman’s gift is part of the university’s MomentUM campaign, a four-year initiative to raise $200 million. Funds raised through the campaign, which ends in December 2008, will support scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty support, a basketball practice facility, residential colleges and a new law school on the Oxford campus. Also in the plans are a cancer center at the UM Medical Center and a new building to house the School of Pharmacy, both in Jackson.

For more information on making a gift to the University of Mississippi, visit http://www.umf.olemiss.edu/makeagift.

By Sonia Thompson