Margaret Murphree was a firm believer in the importance of education.
"My mother believed in education, both as a means of improving one's self and as a way to get ahead in life," said Robert Murphree, Margaret's son and a University of Mississippi alumnus. "I largely owe my own education to my mother's persistence and encouragement."
Robert Murphree, a Jackson attorney, and his wife, Melissa, have recently donated $25,000 to create the Margaret Haaga Murphree Scholarship Endowment to provide need-based support to students pursuing degrees in the UM School of Pharmacy. The endowment honors Robert Murphree's mother, who died in 2008 at the age of 91.
"This gift will provide numerous opportunities for pharmacy students at Ole Miss," said David D. Allen, the school's dean. "The Murphrees' continued support of the university is a testimony to their character, and I am inspired by their dedication. We are extremely grateful to them for their generosity."
Giving to the School of Pharmacy was a natural fit for the Murphrees. Their daughter, Catherine, is enrolled in the second year of UM's professional pharmacy program.
"I chose pharmacy because I really liked chemistry in high school," Catherine Murphree said. "I kept pursuing it, and it turned out to be the right fit for me. Pharmacy is really interesting, so that keeps me going when the studying gets hard."
Her father is impressed with the school's leadership.
"Dean Allen brings the innovative and dynamic guidance that is going to push the pharmacy school ahead," Robert Murphree said. "When you meet somebody like that and come away as impressed as I am, you want to be a part of making the school better."
The Murphree family has a long history with the university. Robert Murphree's father attended the School of Business Administration. Two of his brothers pursued degrees at UM, as well as the Murphrees' older daughter Caroline.
"I want to give back to the university in any way that I can because of the wonderful education it provided to so many members of my family," Melissa Murphree said. "We want to help students come to Ole Miss who might otherwise not be able to do so."
Margaret Murphree was a graduate of the Mississippi State College for Women (now Mississippi University for Women) but was an avid supporter of Ole Miss. She met her husband Thomas while they were both working for the Works Progress Administration, which was created to help provide economic relief to citizens during the Great Depression. They married in 1940 and had seven children.
"The most overriding quality in my mother's life was her generosity," Robert Murphree said. "She insisted that we set up a scholarship in our father's name because he graduated from the business school. My brothers and I created the Thomas Martin Murphree Sr. Scholarship Endowment in 2009."
During a UM interview before her death, Margaret Murphree talked about rearing her children.
"Education has always been very important to us," she said. "When the children were growing up, we came together at the dinner table three times a day for meals. Our family had very lively discussions around that dinner table. I took the children to the public library every week. I wanted them to have inquiring minds."
Robert Murphree is certain that his parents would be proud of his family's continued Ole Miss support.
"Now we have a business scholarship that honors my father and a pharmacy scholarship that honors my mother," he said. "If they were both here, I think they would heartily approve."
The Margaret Haaga Murphree Scholarship Endowment is open to receive gifts from individuals and organinzations. To contribute send a check with the fund noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; contact Raina McClure at (662) 915-6967 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.