Cary Stovall first left his mark on the University of Mississippi in the late 1920s as president of the Associated Student Body, the Debating Council and the School of Law's first- year law class.
Now, more than 80 years later—and 45 years after his death—Stovall has returned to Ole Miss, in a sense, with one final grand gesture that will help his alma mater for decades to come. The Lillian Stovall Trust, established for Stovall's wife after his death in 1967, has provided a gift of $1.35 million to create the Cary Stovall Scholarship Endowment for UM's School of Law.
Richard Gershon, dean of the law school, said the gift is one of the largest donations the school has received in recent years. "This is a major gift that will provide long-term benefits for the law school," Gershon said. "Clearly, a donor can have enormous impact on the university many years later by setting up a will or trust naming the university or the University of Mississippi Foundation as its beneficiary."
The endowment will provide scholarships for law school students who demonstrate scholastic achievement and financial need. "We have not decided how many Stovall scholarships we will award each year, but the Stovall Scholarship will have great impact and will be prestigious," Gershon said.
A native of Lee County, Stovall graduated from UM's law school in 1931. As an undergraduate at Ole Miss, he made substantial contributions to campus life, holding elected offices, chairing the Dormitory Council, managing the varsity track team and serving on the staffs of the yearbook, the Mississippian and the Mississippi Law Journal. He was also a member of the dance committee, the athletic committee, the Inter-Fraternity Council, the Blue Key Honor Society, the Owl Club and the M Club.
He was an attorney with the firm of Stovall and Price when he died of a heart attack in Corinth at the age of 60. His wife Lillian died in 1986 at 77 years old.
Endowment gifts have become increasingly important to the law school's mission, Gershon said.
"While our law school benefits from one of the lowest educational costs in the United States, our greatest need at this time is for scholarship support for our students," he noted. "If we can reduce student debt loads, we can increase their options in the job market. The Stovall Scholarship will enable us to provide an outstanding legal education to deserving students at a greatly reduced cost. These students can then enter the job market unshackled from debt."
Even with UM's relatively low tuition, many law students struggle to make ends meet, Gershon added. "The American Bar Association does not allow fulltime students to work during their first year and limits them to 20 hours per week during their second and third years. Accordingly, many students finance their educations through debt. The Stovall Scholarship will relieve that burden for those students who receive it. It is a wonderful gift that will positively affect those students' lives and careers."
The Cary Stovall Scholarship Endowment is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations. Those interested can mail a check with the fund noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; contact Jamie White, development officer for the UM School of Law, at 662-915-6881 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.