Private support for the University of Mississippi remained strong in fiscal year 2013, with overall fundraising topping $100 million for the second straight year and cash gifts surpassing the $90 million mark.
"Our alumni and friends remain committed to helping us reach our goals and offer new opportunities for students," Chancellor Dan Jones said. "Through their generosity, we are able to upgrade our facilities, provide scholarships and attract and retain top-notch faculty. All these things are critical as we work to educate tomorrow's innovators, boost the economy and improve the quality of life for all our state's residents."
The university's enrollment has grown dramatically in recent years, stretching resources and making private support even more critical, Jones said. Last fall, Ole Miss enrolled 21,528 students across all its campuses – the most of any Mississippi university – but a recent study by The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked the university first among the state's public colleges and universities in terms of student completion, measured by four- and six-year graduation rates.
A significant portion of the money raised funds student scholarships and faculty development, as well as provides operating capital for cornerstone programs such as the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies.
"Our alumni and friends continue to demonstrate their belief in the mission of this great university," said Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the University of Mississippi Foundation. "Their investments continue to show exceptional returns, and we are very thankful for their trust in our university and foundation."
Other programs that have earned national accolades over the past year include the university's Patterson School of Accountancy, which has all its programs ranking in the Top 10 nationally; the School of Pharmacy, which was awarded a 2013 Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge award for its work focusing on medication adherence in populations with cardiovascular disease; and the UM Forensics Team, which had two members – Isaac Lichlyter and Austin Wood – defeat teams from 109 other schools to win first place at the fourth annual China Open at Xi'an International Studies University.
Support for athletics also has increased significantly, with the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation taking in a record $26 million in cash donations for FY 2013. This total represents a 33 percent increase over fiscal 2012 cash donations and a 49 percent increase over fiscal 2011.
A large portion of the increase in athletics fundraising is connected to the continued success of the Forward Together campaign, which has surpassed the $80 million mark on its way to a goal of $150 million, raising close to $20 million in new pledges over the past year. Improvement projects tied to the campaign have begun on Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Indoor Practice Facility, and an architect has been hired to begin designing the new basketball arena.
"We are so thankful for the support of the Ole Miss family," said Ross Bjork, Ole Miss athletics director. "This achievement is a true testament to the passion and enthusiasm of Rebel Nation. Their support will continue to allow us to provide a world-class experience for our student-athletes, and compete for and win championships in the future."
Strong private support has enabled the university to make a positive impact across the state, Jones said.
"Whether supporting a research program at our health science center in Jackson, a scholarship for a public policy student in Oxford, support for our dedicated faculty or our nationally competitive athletics programs, our donors are moving us forward," he said. "On behalf of our students, faculty and staff, I am happy to express our deepest gratitude for remarkable support.
Individuals and organizations interested in learning more about providing private support to Ole Miss can call the UM Foundation at 800-340-9542 or 662-915-5944 or visit www.umfoundation.com.