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Heaven to Garner Support for UM’s Honors College
New Associate Director of Development Anthony Heaven looks forward to strengthening the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College by building private support.

As the inaugural development officer for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Anthony Heaven hopes to build relationships and secure resources that will assist the Honors College in producing engaged citizen scholars who are leaders of tomorrow.

“In the short term, I want to learn about the culture and impact of the Honors College so that I can be well-versed in how philanthropy will help the team further the mission,” said Heaven, a native of Detroit, Michigan.  “Long-term, I have a goal to work with the team to develop and implement innovative ways of building connections, demonstrating impact and capitalizing on the affinity among alumni and supporters of the Honors College.”

Philanthropy expands the reach and scope of the Honors College as it bolsters resources to provide student scholarships, increases academic services, and funds community service work.

“Private giving enables the Honors College to set the imagination of our students afire,” Heaven said.

The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College attracts a diverse body of high-performing students to the university and prepares citizen scholars who are fired by the life of the mind, committed to the public good, and driven to find solutions. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the Honors College enrolled a record 1,605 students, a 7.2 percent increase over last year’s class. Almost 56 percent of the freshmen are Mississippians.

Established in 1997 through a gift from the Jim Barksdale family, the Honors College merges intellectual rigor with community action. It offers an education similar to prestigious private liberal arts schools and universities, but at a far lower cost. Small, discussion-based classes, dedicated faculty and a nurturing staff enable honors students to experience intellectual and personal growth.

“It is evident that the faculty and staff are passionate about serving as catalysts for their students, and they believe in the power of their work,” said Heaven who earned a bachelor’s degree in history and religion/theology from Stillman College in 2012, as well as a master’s degree in education and doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and 2017 respectively.

After graduating from Stillman, he worked as a development assistant, director of IE Kuhn Scholars, and coordinator of the Gateway Scholars and Summer Bridge programs in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas. In 2017, he joined the University of Florida Advancement staff as associate director of donor engagement.

Vice Chancellor for Development Charlotte Parks said Heaven will be of great value to her staff and to the university as a whole.

“We are excited to welcome Anthony onboard,” she said. “Given his background and experience in development, we have great expectations for what he can help the Honors College do.”

As an undergraduate, Heaven was a McNair Scholar, Harte Honors Scholar and Presidential Scholar. He is a member of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

In his free time, he enjoys kayaking, traveling, music, spoken-word, reading and connecting with family and friends.

“I am excited to be a member of the Ole Miss family,” he said. “I look forward to building meaningful connections and helping move the institution to even greater heights.”

To make gifts to the university, go to

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.