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Sparky Reardon, from left, Larry and Mary Jo Ridgeway, and Chancellor Dan Jones laugh during the retirement reception

A retiring University of Mississippi leader who dedicated his career to helping students find the resources to attend college and embrace a well-rounded college experience will continue to assist students through a scholarship created in his honor.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Larry D. Ridgeway will have a long-lasting impact in students' lives through the scholarship for full-time Mississippi undergraduates who demonstrate financial need, strong academic credentials and a record of community service. Ridgeway completes a 39-year career in higher education and 16-year tenure with Ole Miss on June 30.
Provost Morris Stocks described the leader's contributions. "Dr. Ridgeway has made a profound and lasting impact on the Division of Student Affairs and the University of Mississippi. He has been a tireless advocate for students and has contributed to student success at every level.
"Dr. Ridgeway has modeled an attitude of service to students and colleagues.  He is kind, thoughtful and generous, and his day-to-day leadership has consistently strengthened areas of our university that positively impact student achievement. We are indebted to Dr. Ridgeway for his countless contributions to student life and to the University of Mississippi," he said.
In light of his work, the idea of establishing a scholarship in his honor was a natural choice, said Leslie Banahan, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs.
"When his colleagues began to discuss how best to honor Dr. Ridgeway and his years of service, there was strong and immediate agreement that a scholarship would be the ideal gift," she said. "Knowing Dr. Ridgeway, we all knew that no other recognition would mean more to him than a scholarship to help students attend Ole Miss."
Ridgeway expressed appreciation for the scholarship endowment, which was established with gifts from UM parents, colleagues, friends and family, and continues to be open for gifts. Contributions will be held permanently and invested, with annual income directed to scholarships.
"I was thrilled when I learned that a scholarship had been established in my name," Ridgeway said. "Having been the beneficiary of financial aid as an undergraduate, I am excited that this scholarship will provide financial support to deserving Ole Miss students in the future. I can think of no better way to be recognized by your colleagues and friends. 
"When I arrived here in 1996, I could not have dreamed that I would have the opportunity to serve Ole Miss as vice chancellor for student affairs. While my early years here were challenging, I feel very blessed to have had the opportunities I've had here. It has been a wonderful experience for me and my family," Ridgeway said.
Laura Diven-Brown, who followed Ridgeway as director of financial aid, said she gives him the credit for providing the office with the firm foundation it continues to build on today.
"Within two weeks of his arrival, he had prepared a plan for moving the Office of Financial Aid forward with a focus on quality, professionalism and efficiency. Customer service improved, and as a result, we earned the trust of students. The impact of his leadership was tremendous.
"In addition, Dr. Ridgeway is responsible for guiding new scholarship initiatives, including the Luckyday Scholarship program that assists so many Mississippians. Through this scholarship in his honor, his legacy will continue to be helping students," she said. 
Banahan encouraged students to learn from the leader's priorities. "Future scholarship recipients should know about Dr. Ridgeway's work ethic. During his tenure, he never asked any staff member to do something he wasn't willing to do himself. He showed up earlier than anyone else and stayed later. He worked holidays and weekends to best serve Ole Miss students. Dr. Ridgeway believed in humble service, shunned the spotlight and never claimed credit for any accomplishment. He was fair, steady and honest," she said.  
As vice chancellor, Ridgeway provided leadership and direction for the Division of Student Affairs which includes Admissions and Registrar's Offices, Campus Programming, Campus Recreation, Career Center, University Counseling Center, Dean of Students, Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, Health Services, International Programs, Luckyday Programs, Orientation and Parent Programs, Student Housing and Residence Life, and University Police.
Ridgeway was named vice chancellor in 2007. He had previously served as UM's associate vice chancellor and director of financial aid. He joined Ole Miss from Auburn University where he had served as assistant vice president for student affairs and director of student financial aid. His career began at the University of South Alabama in financial aid. Ridgeway holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics education and a master's degree in counselor education from the USA as well as a doctorate in higher education administration from AU. 
The Larry D. Ridgeway Scholarship Endowment is open to accept gifts from individuals and organizations. Those interested can mail checks with the fund noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; contact Elizabeth Milhous, director of development for parents, at 662-915-3181 or; or visit www.umfoundation/makeagift.
Tina Hahn 

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.