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Commitment to Growing Endowment Benefits Mississippi Students
Above: In this photo from January 2020, UM students enjoy a physics lecture in Lewis Hall. Below: Dr. T. Lee Baumann.

Years after earning medical certifications in internal medicine, geriatrics and medical management, Dr. T. Lee Baumann turned his years of quantum physics notes into the best-selling book God at the Speed of Light, with profits impacting many University of Mississippi students.

Baumann first began researching a connection between quantum physics and spirituality as a college student, and said the unique connection made him – a former atheist – a believer in God.

The physician and his wife, Dr. Brenda Baumann, of Pell City, Alabama, initially established the God at the Speed of Light Scholarship Endowment at Ole Miss in 2003, the name coming from the title of his first book. Totaling more than $200,000, the endowment has supported 16 Mississippi students since its founding.

“We decided to use the success from the book, which also helped to inspire the CBS-TV series, Joan of Arcadia, to establish scholarships as a way of ‘giving back,’” said Baumann, who received a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in 1972, and was a member of the charter class at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

“It is important for us to add to it every year because we feel strongly about the importance of education in its role for humankind and the survival of our planet. We hope this will help future generations.”

Baumann said he and his wife saw a need for educational support in Mississippi and Alabama, which is why they chose to establish one of their many scholarship endowments at Ole Miss.

“Reading the thank you notes from the scholars means a lot to us,” Baumann said.

The continued financial support of donors like the Baumanns plays a key role in the success of students and programs in the College of Liberal Arts.

“We are grateful to Lee and Brenda for their commitment to education in Mississippi and for their support over the years, which has benefitted the lives of our students,” said Lee Cohen, dean of the college. “Their generosity is truly life changing.”

Elizabeth McDowell, a mathematics major from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, had a financial burden lifted thanks to Baumann’s gift.

“This year, the scholarship has meant even more than it usually has for me and my family,” said McDowell, who plans to attend law school in fall 2021.

“Over the past few months, my mother struggled with her health. Between completing this semester, working on applications for law school and helping take care of my mom, not having to stress about affording this academic year has been a blessing.”

Michael Ivy, a senior music education major from Batesville, Mississippi, said the scholarship provided a path for his education at the university as well.

“I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Baumann for endowing this scholarship. It is definitely the reason I was able to continue attending school, and for that I’m extremely grateful,” Ivy said.

“After I graduate, I plan to search for a job that allows me to teach music to students in a way that they will learn to love and appreciate music for themselves.”

According to Nancy Maria Balach, chair of the Department of Music, the scholarship has been transformative in her area because of students like Ivy and other recipients.

“These funds propel the trajectory of young musicians, enable the Department of Music to attract top recruits to the university and allow orchestra director Maestro Selim Giray to continue building the University of Mississippi’s orchestral program to its fullest potential,” Balach said.

The Baumanns have endowed God at the Speed of Light scholarships throughout the Southeast, including at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama, Auburn University, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, as well as at Baumann’s alma mater, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

“We feel fortunate that we are able to give back and have this opportunity,” said Baumann. “Just knowing that the students who receive these scholarships graduate and go on to have careers makes us proud to have played any small role in that.”

The God at the Speed of Light Scholarship Endowment is open to support from businesses and individuals. Gifts can be made by sending a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or by giving online at

For more information about supporting the College of Liberal Arts, contact Claire Moss, associate director of development, at or 662-915-3086.

By Mary Stanton Knight


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.