With a $250,000 gift to the University of Mississippi, FedEx Corporation honored Ole Miss alumnus Mike Ducker upon his retirement as a longtime leader of the global transportation company.
“Whether in Europe, Asia or the Americas, Mike Ducker always answered the call when FedEx asked him to lead in a variety of roles,” said Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and CEO. “This gift honors his immeasurable contributions to our company and his commitment to Ole Miss.”
Ducker, an active member of the UM Foundation Board of Directors, retired from FedEx in 2018. At retirement, he was chief executive officer for FedEx Freight. Previously he served the company as chief operating officer from 2009-2014, having worked his way up through the ranks since his employment began in 1975.
“I spent 43 years with FedEx and it’s the greatest company in the world. It was very good to me, so no gift was required because they’ve given me a gift my whole life,” said Ducker of Collierville, Tennessee. “I got to do what I love to do and that’s lead people. I’ve been passionate about FedEx and what small role I played in the company for many, many years, so no gift was required. But it’s a great honor, and I am deeply humbled by the generosity of the company and my boss and mentor Fred Smith.”
FedEx wanted Ducker to choose where to direct the gift to Ole Miss, and the family chose half to athletics and half to academics.
“Frankly, I can’t think of a gift that would have been more meaningful to our family than that. We have a deep love for Ole Miss and have for many years,” said Ducker, a Chattanooga, Tennessee, native, who attended UM on an athletics scholarship and played football for the Rebels. “We’ve always supported and loved Ole Miss Athletics so it was natural to at least allocate part of the money to the athletic department. The other half will go to several different academic endeavors.”
Interim Athletics Director Keith Carter expressed gratitude for Ducker’s continued support of Ole Miss Athletics.
“Mike has been a longtime supporter of our students and programs and, as a former Rebel athlete himself, he’s one of our biggest fans. I have enjoyed getting to know him and his family and I greatly appreciate his thoughtfulness in designating part of his retirement gift to Ole Miss Athletics.”
Ducker, named to the Ole Miss Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2014, credits UM for much of his success and wants others to have a similar higher-education experience.
“Any support like this is going to benefit students or student-athletes and should help prepare them for a brighter future — an opportunity they may not have had without some assistance and that’s the mission: to give back,” Ducker said. “We’ve been blessed generously and we believe very strongly in giving back. Our motivation is to do what little we can to make a difference in the lives of young people.”
Ducker and his wife, Cheryl, continue to be engaged in the life of his alma mater, attending all football games on the Oxford campus and traveling to as many away games as possible.
In 2018, with a gift of $125,000, they established the Phyllis Shane Ole Miss Women’s Council Scholarship Endowment in memory of Cheryl Ducker’s late mother.
The couple met in Memphis in 1989, and have a daughter, Rachel, an Ole Miss junior.
Much of Ducker’s career involved leading international operations for FedEx, which required the family to live in Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong.
“It was pretty unbelievable when you get right down to it,” he said, reflecting on his time abroad. “But while we lived outside the United States for a long period of time, we never forgot the impact Ole Miss had on us, so we’re delighted to be able to give back in some small way to the great institution that it is.
“It is true — you never leave Ole Miss.”
To make a gift to Ole Miss Athletics, contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7782 or visit http://givetoathletics.com/
By Bill Dabney