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Council Provides Major Support to Enhance Student Experiences
Charlie and Jackson Queen and their mother Jennifer Brinson of Raleigh, North Carolina, enjoy a Family Leadership Council reception at Ole Miss. FLC members recently gave $150,000 to nine areas in the Division of Student Affairs, the fifth consecutive year they have made a major gift to strengthen services for students.

University of Mississippi parents are strengthening the student experience with a gift of $150,000 directed to nine areas of the Division of Student Affairs.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs issued a call for proposals from departments in the Division of Student Affairs, and the Ole Miss Family Leadership Council determined how its funds would be allocated. This latest FLC gift is the fifth consecutive one of its kind.

“We focus on providing resources to programs that serve a broad variety of student needs, from overall student wellness and academic support to finding that first job,” said Paul Turner, a council member from Pleasant Hill, California. “What’s impressive is how many different organizations across Ole Miss benefit from the council’s work and how we help address short-term needs while strengthening the long-term foundation of the school.

“Through the FLC, we truly feel like we have advocates in Oxford for our daughter,” he continued. “The members care about making sure she and her fellow students are safe, healthy and having a positive college experience. The FLC meetings are wonderful ways to meet other families and students, and they underscore how much our involvement means to the Ole Miss community.”

The council, which began in 2014, not only continues to grow in membership, but also by state representation.

“This year we had 57 families from Mississippi and 21 other states,” said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for Student Affairs. “The increased involvement has been exciting to watch, and we now have members from all over the country. I believe the geographical mixture of parents offers a unique and special experience for these families.”

FLC directed its resources to include:

 UMatter: Student Support and Advocacy, $55,687 – This gift will be used to implement The Jed Foundation Campus program to support student mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts. Other funds will be used to purchase ENGAGE software, a centralized student organization management product.

 Student Disability Services (SDS), $19,365 – New disability-accessible computers will be purchased. LiveScribe Pens, smartpens with embedded computers and digital audio recorders, will be available for students with specific learning challenges. Also, funds will cover furniture for the SDS Testing Center.

 Campus Recreation, $18,500 – Funding for wellness education will facilitate programming for high-risk groups that include first-year students, the Greek community, sports clubs and other organized groups on campus. Campus Recreation will also continue to partner with the University Counseling Center on a program that offers free personal training sessions to students dealing with anxiety and depression. Lastly, resources will be available for Ole Miss Outdoors to launch Rustic Rebel Road Trips. Coinciding with two away football games, these excursions enable students to attend games while also getting them outside and active in an alcohol-free environment.

 University Health Services, $17,268 – Twelve new computers to support the electronic health record system Med-CAT will allow the Student Health Center to transition to laptop workstations and improve efficiency when seeing patients.

 Center for Student Success and First Year Experience, $14,000 – Technology for the Veterans Resource Center will better accommodate the academic needs of this student population. Funding will also provide incentives for Ole Miss Opportunity scholars to become involved in campus events and academic success workshops.

 Career Center, $9,762 – Expanding the available space for the Career Connections program will enable more students to virtually connect with potential, future employers. Funding will also help build on the Big Interview Event, an online application that offers students and alumni a resource for practicing and refining their interview skills.

 University Police Department, $6,918 – With an emphasis on enhanced campus safety, more CPR material and emergency preparation guides will be distributed to students. Resources will also be directed toward increasing the number of defibrillators on campus.

 University Counseling Center, $2,000 – This funding will satisfy the required accreditation fees through the International Association of Counseling Services.

 Office of Admissions, $1,000 – UM’s Chancellor’s Leadership Class for transfer students will be able to experience a fall semester retreat and a spring semester team-building activity.

“I have participated in every Family Leadership Council event thus far and have thoroughly enjoyed the programming and the fellowship among our group,” said Jennifer Brinson of Raleigh, North Carolina. “My husband Jack and I believe it is important to have this sort of group to make the university seem smaller and more familiar. Having contacts within Development and Student Affairs gives us touchpoints we otherwise would not have.

“The resources provided by the council first and foremost impact Ole Miss students,” she continued. “We realize that the state of Mississippi and its university system, as most public systems, have significant need beyond what is supported by the legislature. This is why the various funding opportunities presented to our group make sense.”

At their recent meeting, FLC members heard talks by Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks and Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. They also were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the newly renovated and expanded Ole Miss Student Union. Following the meeting, council members and their students enjoyed a reception in the heart of the Grove.

Ole Miss Family Leadership Council members are parents of Ole Miss students who make an annual gift of $2,500. To learn more about the council visit or contact Brett Barefoot at or 662-915-2711.

By Brett Barefoot


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.