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Rose Jackson Flenorl of FedEx Corp. and former Gov. William Winter participate in a Race in the South panel discussion sponsored by UM’s Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, which is supported by the Hearin Foundation.

(OXFORD, Miss.) – From improving literacy and preparing a manufacturing workforce, to enhancing the health and well-being of Mississippians and working to promote community building, $1.044 million in support from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation to the University of Mississippi is changing lives.

The Jackson-based foundation provides support primarily to state universities and colleges, as well as promotes economic development in Mississippi.  Robert M. Hearin Sr. – the chair and CEO of Mississippi Valley Gas Co. until his death in 1992 – made provisions in his will to establish the foundation.

Of the total, $300,000 – part of a multi-year commitment of $1.5 million – went to the UM Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction.

“The School of Education is extremely grateful for the opportunity to impact children’s lives in north Mississippi utilizing the Hearin Foundation grant that established the Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction,” said Angela Rutherford, director of the center. “CELI is able to assist in preparing undergraduate students in elementary education and graduate students in literacy education to meet the literacy instructional needs of children in our state, as well as assist teachers in school districts to deliver evidence-based literacy instruction.

“CELI also hosts a reading summer camp for area fourth- and fifth-grade students, as well as an annual literacy conference where area teachers and administrators learn about different aspects of literacy instruction,” she said.

The gift of $300,000 to the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation is the first installment of a $1.25 million commitment from the Hearin Foundation, and the funds are supporting the center’s operational expenses. Founded in 1999, the Winter Institute helps promote community development, public service and educational advancement through collaborations with civic leaders and community residents of all races and cultures.

“The Hearin Foundation’s continuing generosity allows the Winter Institute to sustain its work of community building and reconciliation,” said Susan Glisson, director of the institute. “We would not be able to do this necessary work without the foundation’s support. The funding will enable us to get into communities throughout the region and be a catalyst for bringing people together so that we can break down the barriers that have separated us in the past.”Rose Jackson Flenorl of FedEx Corp. and former Gov. William Winter

A total of $250,000 in support went to the new Center for Manufacturing Excellence for an internship program. The center aims to keep jobs in Mississippi by educating the nation’s future manufacturing professionals, and its $22 million home is under construction and adjacent to Carrier Hall.

CME is bringing together the schools of Engineering, Business Administration and Accountancy and the College of Liberal Arts, as well as seeking major input from manufacturing companies and industry experts to give students the technical skills involved in successful manufacturing and the understanding of management, accounting, communication, leadership and human resources.

“Curriculum for this innovative academic offering is being finalized and will be offered beginning in the fall,” said James Vaughan, CME director and Barnard Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “This program and center is projected to have a major impact on the state and region, as the nation begins to recover economically. We are deeply grateful to the Hearin Foundation for recognizing the potential for this initiative and offering such strong support.”

UM’s School of Applied Sciences, received $194,000 from the Hearin Foundation. The school houses the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and the departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders; Nutrition and Hospitality Management; Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management; Legal Studies; and Social Work.

“The support of the Hearin Foundation is the cornerstone on which great things are being built in the School of Applied Sciences,” said Marie Barnard, assistant dean. “The Hearin Foundation funding helps us recruit and retain high-quality faculty who conduct research on important issues affecting our region, as well as prepare graduates in high-need fields within the state of Mississippi. We are grateful to the Hearin Foundation for its support and are pleased to work with the foundation on improving the health and well-being of all Mississippians.”


Online gifts for the 2024 calendar year should be made no later than noon on December 31, 2024.  Checks by mail will need to be postmarked by December 31 to be counted in the 2024 calendar year.