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Council Improves Campus Experience for Students
University Police Chief Tim Potts, left, demonstrated new portable radios to Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor of student affairs, and Brett Barefoot, director of parent development. The equipment was purchased with funding from the Ole Miss Family Leadership Council. Members of the Council donated $45,000 to student affairs this fall.

Four University of Mississippi departments are better equipped to help students stay safe on campus, thanks to the generosity of the Ole Miss Family Leadership Council.

The council this year donated $45,500 to the following student affairs areas:

  • The University Police Department, $20,762, for portable radios and in-car video systems
  • The Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct, $6,120, for a mock house party designed to teach students how to make responsible choices and for student facilitators’ wages
  • Student Disability Services, $5,883, for wheelchair-accessible furniture in four rooms
  • Campus Recreation, $12,735, for Alcohol and Drug Marketing materials, health promotion, and facility support

“All of these projects directly or indirectly had to do with student safety. All parents, especially freshman parents, are worried about the freshman transition from home to school. I think we thought all of these might help students get over the hump during their Ole Miss transition,” said council member Chuck Barnett of Dallas, Texas. He and his wife, Dawn, joined the council because they wanted to be involved with the university that their son, Ross, a sophomore, attends.

“We liked that the foundation was supporting veterans. I guess that fueled our interest initially,” Barnett said. “Since we’ve joined we’ve come to realize how broad of an impact the Foundation has and its important role at Ole Miss. We feel better connected and more a part of the university than if we hadn’t served.”

In 2012, 24 families from eight states founded the Ole Miss Parents Council; the name was changed to the Ole Miss Family Leadership Council in 2014. To be council members, parents of Ole Miss students donate $2,500 annually and are invited to meet in the fall and spring semesters to review requests submitted by the Division of Student Affairs and determine which projects to support.

The purpose of the Family Leadership Council is to encourage communication between the university and parents in order to improve the Ole Miss experience for students. Council members provide advice and guidance to the Division of Student Affairs and University Development on programs related to parents as well as serve as liaisons between the university and parents.

“These families are excellent advocates for Ole Miss. They’re already paying for their children’s tuition, books, housing and other needs, and they choose give an additional $2,500 annual gift to serve on the council,” said Brett Barefoot, director of parent development. “It’s obvious that these council members care deeply about their children’s campus experience. The university community is grateful for this wonderful support, input and involvement.”

To learn more information about the Ole Miss Parents Council or to receive a brochure, contact Brett Barefoot, director of parent development, at or 662-915-2711.

Bill Dabney


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.