(OXFORD, Miss.) – Whenever Maurice Colly of Bay St. Louis sees vacant land or an empty building, he always envisions a greater use. He’s spent his life developing real estate across the South and now has committed a planned gift with a current value of $1.1 million to encourage University of Mississippi students to consider similar careers.
The Maurice Colly Real Estate Endowment is designed to bring three successful real estate developers from the mid-South to campus each year to present lectures and provide Ole Miss School of Business Administration students with first-person accounts of the industry and its career potential. The fund will provide support to faculty members coordinating the program and resources to obtain speakers, who will share their experiences and achievements with students.
“My goal is to encourage students to go into real estate development and enjoy great careers that allow them to be their own bosses,” said Colly, a 1950 economics major, who after serving a tour as a U.S. Army paratrooper started selling residential real estate in Atlanta. He moved into commercial real estate by networking with another Ole Miss alumnus, the now late Lamar Pierson. “Because I have pursued a career that offers so much, I always wake up looking forward to the day and also have enjoyed traveling a great deal.”
Throughout his 58-year career, Colly has developed neighborhood shopping centers, buildings for retail use, and apartment complexes mainly in Mississippi and Georgia, as well as developed International House of Pancakes’ sites and restaurants as lessor and leasing agent. He also has been a consultant for real estate investors and has owned and operated private businesses.
“We are grateful for the generosity of Maurice Colly and his willingness to enhance the education of our real estate students and support our faculty,” said Ken Cyree, dean of business administration. “His inspiring gift will help bring real estate professionals to campus to provide knowledge to our students. Through such inspiring philanthropy, Mr. Colly has helped advance our educational mission in the School of Business Administration, and for that we are truly thankful.”
Wendell Weakley, president and chief executive officer of the UM Foundation, expressed appreciation to Colly for his gift that broadens educational experiences for Ole Miss students and also strengthens the university.
“We deeply appreciate Mr. Colly for committing this planned support that will give our business students important insights to draw on in making career decisions,” Weakley said. “By sharing his vision for this unique lectureship program, the business school is able to rely on his experiences and wisdom to design a program that will benefit generations of students. This is an example of how planned giving has such a tremendous impact on our university and its endowment.”
An Atlanta native whose family also has roots beginning in 1815, in Mississippi’s Hancock County, Colly enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1946 when Ole Miss did not have enough housing for all the students who had applied for enrollment that year. Colly, who exhibited determination at a young age, said he called the university week after week checking to see when he could come to campus. He was able to begin in January 1947, when he and another 119 students were housed in the old physical education gym for six weeks before being transferred to Falkner Hall. He later earned a law degree in Atlanta.
Colly has always been active in Ole Miss Alumni Association activities and helped organize the earliest Atlanta alumni club meetings with the late Pierson, who also enjoyed a successful real estate career and helped develop the premier Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta. Colly is now making plans to move to Oxford, where he said he will take advantage of UM educational offerings and sporting events.
“I love Ole Miss and Oxford,” he said, sprinkling his conversation with stories about his student days. “Ole Miss is a great institution, and I want to do what I can to help it become stronger and stronger. I hope my gift encourages others to consider how they might support Ole Miss.”
With his planned gift, Colly becomes a member of the 1848 Society, which was established in 1998, the university’s 150th year. The society recognizes alumni and friends of the university who have either funded or planned a deferred gift, such as a bequest or life income plan.
Alumni and friends who would like to include Ole Miss in their estate planning can work with UM Foundation staff members to ensure their interests and intentions are clearly understood and can be followed accurately. Those interested in learning more about planned or deferred giving may call the UM Foundation at 800-340-9542 or visit www.umfoundation.com and click “Planning a Gift” and then “1848 Society.”