OXFORD, Miss. – As dean of the School of Education at the University of Mississippi, Tom Burnham places a high priority on helping students attend Ole Miss.
With a new scholarship, named to honor the memory of his son, Burnham is doing just that. The Tom Burnham, Jr., Memorial Scholarship Endowment will assist full-time UM students.
“My purposes in funding the scholarship centered in honoring the memory of my son and in supporting the university,” Burnham said. “My work here has been a great joy, and I have the greatest love and respect for Ole Miss.”
Expressing his appreciation, UM Chancellor Robert Khayat said, “Not only are we grateful to Tom Burnham for his dedication and service to the School of Education, but that he would give back to Ole Miss in this way is truly remarkable. Dean Burnham and the School’s faculty work tirelessly to produce successful leaders in the classroom and other educational settings. This gift is just one more example of his commitment to help strengthen education in Mississippi.”
Burnham’s daughter, Cassondra Vanderford, is a teacher at Brandon High School. She and her husband, Craig, also contributed to the scholarship honoring her brother.
“As first and second generations of a family to attend and complete college, we value greatly our experiences and want to extend the same opportunities to other young people,” Burnham said.
Burnham is a product of the Mississippi education system, beginning with grade school. He attended Hinds Community College, then earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in school principalship, both at Mississippi College. His doctorate in curriculum and instruction is from Delta State University.
Before becoming dean in 2004, Burnham previously served as Superintendent of Henderson (N.C.) County Public Schools, as Mississippi State Superintendent of Education, as Superintendent and high school principal in Biloxi Public Schools. He also served as assistant dean of continuing education at Delta State University and as a teacher and administrator in the Rankin County Schools.
“Mississippi is my home, and the home of my grandsons, and I want to do everything possible to advance education and provide greater success for our students,” Burnham said.
Burnham’s gift is part of the university’s MomentUM campaign, a four-year initiative to raise $200 million. Funds raised through the campaign 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.
Story by Sonia Thompson