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Volunteer Parents Help Improve Students’ UM Experience
Nancy Maria Balach Schuesselin, associate professor of music, addresses the Ole Miss Family Leadership Council at its spring meeting.

The Ole Miss Family Leadership Council has allocated $149,000 to fund several programs and initiatives in the University of Mississippi Division of Student Affairs.

The council consists of 54 families representing 18 states whose children are enrolled in the university. These families have donated their time and money to benefit programs within the division.

At the council's biannual meeting at the end of spring semester, the group approved funding for programs within the Office of Admissions, Department of Campus Recreation, Career Center, Office of Student Disability Services, University Counseling Center and the University Police Department. The contributions allow campus groups to continue fostering a healthy student environment.

"All 15 departments within the Division of Student Affairs work extremely hard to ensure Ole Miss students are successful and have an incredible collegiate experience," said Brett Barefoot, director of development. "However, a lot of people don't realize that funding is limited.

"These departments always have a goal of better serving our students. The resources provided by the Family Leadership Council continue to help turn these goals to realities, and the Ole Miss experience only continues growing stronger for our students."

Campus Recreation will develop wellness programming for students, including alcohol and drug education; wellness workshops on sleep, stress, exercise and anxiety; and the process of making healthy lifestyle choices.

"The support of the Family Leadership Council has been significant in helping to address student issues regarding alcohol and other drug misuse, and providing educational programming for students regarding strategies that enhance their well-being and success," said Peter Tulchinsky, director of campus recreation. "The issue of student well-being has become a major conversation on our campus, and the generosity of the council is helping us respond to some of the critical needs of our students."

The Career Center will introduce the "Am I Job Ready?" software program, designed to prepare students for job interviews and provide them with more resources for career preparation. The program, to be launched this fall, evaluates students on transferable job skills and helps suggest careers and majors based on their interests and personalities.

"We want to make sure students understand the professional competencies that employers look for, including soft skills that are applicable across all industries," said Toni Avant, Career Center director. "This software will help students be able to articulate those skills they have gained at the university in and out of the classroom in interviews."

The funding also will allow the Career Center to upgrade its facilities with equipment to allow students to engage in remote video interviews with potential employers.

Several other departments on campus will benefit from the FLC funding as well:

  • The Office of Admissions will introduce new tools to recruit prospective students.
  • Student Disability Services will be able to purchase iPads and other adaptive technology to better serve students.
  • The University Counseling Center will launch an initiative that encourages a culture of respect and will develop a suicide awareness and prevention program, and psychological education programs to remind students about the importance of mental health.
  • UPD will purchase personal safety training supplies and body cameras for its officers to keep Ole Miss one of the safest campuses in the nation.


"Being part of the Family Leadership Council has allowed us to better understand how we can help the needs of university students," said parent and FLC member Bill Linginfelter. "It has been a wonderful experience and a great way for us to be involved and support our students."


For more information about the Ole Miss Family Leadership Council, visit or contact Barefoot at or 662-915-2711.

By Christina Steube


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