Teaching a college course inspired University of Mississippi alumnus Dean Copeland of Atlanta, Georgia, to provide financial support to student leaders at his alma mater.
Copeland, a UM graduate and former Rhodes Scholar, recently made a $100,000 gift to establish a scholarship endowment for undergraduates in the Department of Public Policy Leadership.
“My dream is for the scholarship to grow, whether that is to benefit more than one student or to provide a student with the opportunity to have an experience abroad,” Copeland said, noting the importance of students gaining global experiences in today’s increasingly interconnected society.
The Copeland Scholarship Endowment for Leadership and Public Policy will provide rising juniors with a scholarship that can be retained for up to four semesters. The Public Policy Leadership department will select the recipient, taking into consideration GPA and other more subjective criteria.
For Copeland, the ideal scholarship candidate would be a student who has displayed exemplary leadership abilities, risk-taking tendencies and interest in issues that affect the future, such as technology, science, globalization, the environment, and forms of government – issues covered in the course that inspired his gift. Copeland taught geopolitics at UM and to Morehead Scholars at the University of North Carolina and is now teaching at the University of Virginia.
Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said, “We greatly appreciate Mr. Copeland’s generous gift and his commitment to identifying our brightest student leaders. The Copeland Scholarship will have a tremendous impact on its recipients and the Public Policy Leadership department.”
Copeland’s experience teaching geopolitics and selecting Rhodes Scholars has given him a unique perspective on student leadership. From his perspectives gained as an instructor, he remains focused on student development and anticipates that his gift will provide opportunities for recipients to develop leadership skills and broaden their interests.
“The students I have appreciated the most are those who want to create change in their own communities, or on the global and national levels,” Copeland said. “These students have been interested in areas such as public health and public education, but it is their commitment to public service that stands out most. They want to make a difference.”
In addition to the impact on the student experience, Copeland hopes his gift will encourage other UM alumni and friends to learn more about the Public Policy Leadership program and make similar investments in the future of its students.
A graduate of Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi, Copeland earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UM in 1961. He later attended the University of Oxford in England as a Rhodes Scholar and graduated from Yale University’s School of Law.
Copeland served in the U.S. Army as adjutant of the Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, Virginia, before going into private law practice with an Atlanta-based firm. He also worked as general counsel of a public insurance company until his retirement in 2005. In 2012, as an adjunct professor, he began teaching his short interdisciplinary course, covering geopolitical subject matter and future trends.
The Copeland Scholarship Endowment for Leadership and Public Policy accepts gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the scholarship’s name in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at give.olemiss.edu.
For more information contact William Kneip, development officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-2254.
By Caitlyn Clegg