The late University of Mississippi alumnus Chris Holman instilled a love for his alma mater in his five daughters from the time they were children. Now they are sharing that affection with other students by creating the Christopher C. Holman Memorial Endowment for Ole Miss Student Emergencies.
The Falls Church, Virginia, resident known for his generosity and service to others died in 2014 at age 59. After graduating from the university in 1979 on a Navy ROTC scholarship, Holman, a Washington, D.C.-area native, was commissioned and served in the U.S. Navy until 1982, then returned to Falls Church to join the family business.
Four of his five daughters attended Ole Miss, with Meredith and Emma both following in their father’s footsteps by earning Bachelor of Business Administration degrees in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
“Ole Miss was always referred to as such a happy place, truly an extension of home, so when it came to deciding where to spend our years after high school it was an easy decision,” said Emma Holman Young of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, a marketing communications and public relations major.
The siblings relied on their Ole Miss family when their father was diagnosed with late-stage cancer while they were attending the university.
“Family meant everything to our dad; he was a devoted parent. During the difficult time before his passing, we were fortunate enough to have a strong support system which included the University of Mississippi,” said Evalyn Holman of Houston, Texas, who completed a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 2015.
“During our time at Ole Miss we grew many wonderful relationships with faculty members who supported us while we were balancing school and caring for our Dad,” said Virginia Holman of Houston, Texas, who completed a Bachelor of Accountancy in 2015 and a Master’s of Taxation a year later.
The memorial fund was created with a major combined gift from the five daughters who want to ensure support is available to Ole Miss students who may find themselves in trying times while enrolled at the university.
“It can be very difficult to manage schoolwork, jobs and a normal routine when your personal life is majorly disrupted by an emergency; with this endowment gift we hope we can help alleviate some form of the stressors to students who may find themselves needing it the most,” said Meredith Holman Lewis of Anchorage, Alaska.
“The fund will be better able to support students in balancing all these things with more resources at its disposal; it’s wonderful that the University offers this kind of support.”
The Christopher C. Holman Memorial Endowment for Ole Miss Student Emergencies – which will rename and enhance the former Ole Miss Family Fund – will help students who experience an unexpected illness, death of a family member, loss of property due to natural disaster or other challenges.
“Our professors and staff members often become aware of a student who is suffering a personal crisis and want to know the appropriate way to reach out and help,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc said. “Having these resources to respond to Ole Miss student emergencies will be a game-changer.”
“The big impact here is that we could change a student’s mind about withdrawing from Ole Miss and can make it possible for the student to stay in school,” the university leader continued.
“Whether faced with a $2,500 or a $200 issue, the student will know that Ole Miss is not just a place where they go to class but truly a community that will support them and help them succeed. We want to help them graduate and secure the career of their dreams.”
The fund already made a difference for an Ole Miss junior forensic chemistry major in need of housing.
“Since I did not have a steady source of income and no financial assistance, the fund helped with everything from finding a warm and secure place to sleep, to having food on a daily basis.”
For the Holman sisters, the renaming of the Ole Miss Family Fund for their father is the perfect way to reflect what mattered most to him.
“Our father was someone who always put others before himself,” said Evalyn Holman. “He always wanted to ensure that others were safe, happy and taken care of, and this endowment is a wonderful embodiment of the values by which he led his life.”
Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the Christopher C. Holman Memorial Endowment for Ole Miss Student Emergencies can mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund noted in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online at https://give.olemiss.edu/.
For more information, contact Denson Hollis, executive director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (662) 915-5092.
By Mary Stanton Knight