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New UM program recognizes consistent contributors to academics

Each year, the University of Mississippi (UM) reaches new levels of academic achievement, further establishing Ole Miss as one of America’s great public institutions of higher learning. Much of this success is possible thanks to the generous annual giving of the university’s loyal alumni and friends.

To show its gratitude, the university this month introduces “Ole Miss True,” a program designed to recognize the most faithful academic donors whose annual gifts serve as the foundation for university-wide growth.

“If you are Ole Miss True, then you are among a special community of donors dedicated to shaping the future of the university through consistent giving over time,” said Suzanne Thigpen, director of annual giving. “Through this program, we want to recognize those who show their loyalty by their faithful, consecutive giving and we want them to know that their gift matters to the university, regardless of the amount.”

UM alumni and friends who give any amount to the academic area of their choice for three consecutive fiscal years will be recognized as a member of Ole Miss True and will receive a participant card and two Ole Miss True window decals.

Those who continue to make a gift to academics every year without interruption will sustain their participation in the program and achieve new recognition levels, including special certificates of achievement as 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of consecutive annual giving are reached. Those who receive special recognition for 25 years or more of annual giving will also be awarded a commemorative lapel pin.

School of Education Dean David Rock said private support is integral to his program.

“Annual fund giving is our top fundraising strategy at the School of Education because it makes a lasting impact on the academic experiences for our students and faculty. We want a broad base of engaged supporters, giving anywhere from $25 to $1,000 per year. These continuous donors provide a margin of excellence for our students, faculty and programs year-in and year-out,” Rock said.

“Mississippi and our nation need great schools of education. That is what we are working toward every day at Ole Miss with the help of our donors,” he continued. “Together we impact thousands through teaching and school leadership that literally transforms lives.”

Specifically, annual giving has helped the UM School of Education:

  • Support one of the most dynamic technology innovations for teacher education in the nation, TeachLive. This interactive technology experience enables students to experience live teaching in front of five avatar children supported by a human interactor using HD video technology. All pre-service teachers experience TeachLive multiple times.
  • Support its annual trip to Birmingham, Ala., which allows students and faculty to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park, and spend the night with dinosaurs in the McWane Science Museum to experience interactive, hands-on experiments.
  • Sponsor the visit of the National Teacher of the Year to the university.
  • Create outstanding academic programming for faculty and students by providing funds to support state and regional academic conferences.
  • Support graduate student travel to academic meetings and conferences.

The School of Education is just one example. Annual private giving supports similar programs and events in schools and departments campuswide.

“Ole Miss True recognizes a community making a difference in informed and creative teaching, student scholarships, cutting-edge research and service to society at large,” Thigpen said. “Collectively, annual gifts have a powerful impact on the university’s ability to embrace new opportunities and meet emerging needs while also honoring the timeless tradition of giving to Ole Miss.”

For more information on Ole Miss True, please contact Thigpen at 662-915-5944 or by e-mail at

By 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.