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Smiths’ Love for the Humanities Inspires Gift to Liberal Arts
Marion and Carolyn Smith of Natchez, Mississippi, have established an academic support fund to help facilitate the continued recruitment and retention of top-tier faculty to the UM College of Liberal Arts.

A lifetime of love for the humanities inspired a Natchez, Mississippi, couple to provide academic support to the University of Mississippi’s College of Liberal Arts.

When Carolyn and Marion Smith were briefed on the crucial call for funding to support academic infrastructure, they committed to establishing the Carolyn Vance Smith and William Marion Smith Endowment for Academic Excellence with a $250,000 gift.

“We learned there is a great need for faculty support and wanted to support the programs and any academic needs the College of Liberal Arts might have and can be distributed through the discretion of the dean,” said Marion Smith, an attorney at Truly, Smith & Latham PLLC in Natchez.

The Smith endowment will provide income to support any and all academic areas and opportunities in the College of Liberal Arts, which consists of 18 departments, 14 multidisciplinary programs and 17 institutes and centers within the discipline groupings of the fine and performing arts, the humanities, the natural sciences and mathematics, and the social sciences.

“There are numerous programs within the College of Liberal Arts that are highly ranked and possess a strong national and international reputation. This results from having an excellent faculty, dedicated staff and highly motivated students. It is also the result of having generous alumni like Carolyn and Marion Smith who want to give back to a place they hold dear and help make us stronger,” said Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“We are incredibly thankful to the Smiths for their gift which will help the College support faculty in their research, scholarship and creative achievement – which ultimately leads to stronger educational experiences for our graduate and undergraduate students on campus.”

The Smiths’ gift will enable the College of Liberal Arts to move forward on several fronts, including research support for faculty, facilities enhancements and support for the many graduate programs.

“This gift will help us continue to recruit and retain the very best faculty and graduate students, update our facilities and provide our students with a world-class education, all of which are key attributes of R-1 institutions like ours,” Cohen said.

Both of the Smiths have taught on a college level – Marion as an associate law professor at UM and Carolyn as an instructor at Louisiana State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

“As teachers with liberal arts backgrounds we thought our contribution could hopefully make an impact in the university’s College of Liberal Arts, especially with programming and support for the professors,” Carolyn Smith said.

“As we can see now, we live in an ever-changing world and professors need to keep abreast of what is new as well as have the means to continue their own education and keep learning.”

UM has been a special part of the Smiths’ lives since both were students. While Carolyn Smith attended graduate school at the university for several summers, Marion Smith earned both liberal arts and juris doctor degrees from the university.

“My higher education all came from Ole Miss, and the College of Liberal Arts shaped me, beginning as a freshman,” he said. “I learned how to appreciate the humanities. I’ve admired the faculty there for many years and very much enjoyed my time at the university.

“We think the Ole Miss College of Liberal Arts is exceptional, and we are honored to have our names attached to it.”

The Smiths have made a gift that reflects their life-long dedication to the university, said Caroline Hourin, development associate for liberal arts.

“Marion has served the university throughout his adult life, both as a faculty member and most notably as a former president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association,” she said. “The gift also stands as an incredible highlight of this couple’s enduring dedication to Ole Miss and the College of Liberal Arts.”

Caroline Hourin, development associate for liberal arts, said the gift will further the college’s ability to provide opportunity and access to our students.

“We take such pride in our faculty within the College of Liberal Arts. Marion and Carolyn’s gift will benefit the college in not only sustaining but also expanding our incredible faculty. The college stands out for its ability to reach the largest percentage of students on campus, while providing students with an unparalleled access to faculty,” Hourin said.

The Carolyn Vance Smith and William Marion Smith Endowment for Academic Excellence is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. Checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the endowment’s name written in the memo line, can be mailed to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; online gifts can be made at

To learn more about ways to support the College of Liberal Arts, contact Caroline Hourin, development associate, at or 662-915-3995.

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.