A $1.5 million gift from the grandson of a University of Mississippi chancellor will help recruit faculty for the School of Business Administration, support the construction of the new Triplett Alumni Center and improve facilities for Ole Miss student-athletes.
“My father grew up in Oxford and lived on the campus because his father worked for the university at that time. Growing up, all I was exposed to was Ole Miss, and I fell in love with it,” said Lampkin Butts, whose grandfather Dr. Alfred Benjamin Butts served as UM chancellor from 1935 to 1946.
In 2022, after a 48-year career, Lampkin Butts retired as president, COO and director of Sanderson Farms Inc., a Laurel, Mississippi-based Fortune 1000 food-production company.
Butts, a 1973 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration, credits his education for much of his success. Wanting to give back, he approached Business School Dean Ken Cyree.
“I talked to him about where this money would have the biggest impact, and he suggested faculty support — helping to recruit and retain the best minds for the school,” said Butts, who with his wife, Susie, designated a third of their gift to establish an endowment.
The Susie and Lampkin Butts Scholar of Management Endowment will provide income for the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty within the Business School’s Department of Management.
“These faculty members will ensure that quality teaching, research and service will be available for future generations of University of Mississippi students,” Cyree said. “The Buttses’ gift helps us minimize the risk of losing exceptionally high-qualified faculty applicants to other business schools. I am exceedingly grateful to Lampkin and Susie for their longtime loyalty and support.”
Lampkin Butts’ parents attended Ole Miss as did his children. Additionally, he has served the university as president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association and longtime board member. For the UM graduates in their family and their affinity for the Alumni Association, the Butts designated a second portion of their gift to help construct the new Triplett Alumni Center on the footprint of the current building.
“It’s important for the alumni to stay connected and to support what the university is trying to accomplish,” said Butts, who also serves on the UM Foundation board. “The Triplett Alumni Center helps facilitate alumni goals by providing a central location for graduates to gather but it needs to be expanded and renovated.”
While the Triplett Alumni Center already welcomes hundreds of alumni and friends to campus each year, its services will significantly expand in its new home and provide more opportunities to create and build relationships, said Kirk Purdom, CEO of the Alumni Association.
Initial plans for the gleaming, multistory building feature expansive plate-glass windows through which guests can view UM’s historic Grove as they host receptions, weddings and class and team reunions as well as student recruitment events.
“Lampkin and Susie have been actively involved with the Alumni Association for as long as I can remember, and I’m so grateful not only for their loyal support and leadership but also for their friendship,” Purdom said. “Their gift will help make the Triplett Alumni Center a beautiful, welcoming place for our alumni of all ages.”
Retired teacher Susie Butts graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in her native Hattiesburg with a degree in elementary education. Nevertheless, she is a confirmed member of Rebel Nation because of her husband’s and children’s enthusiasm for their alma mater. The Grove on gameday is her happy place.
“I loved the contact with our children at our tailgate when they were in college. They were always so busy with fraternity and sorority activities, but they always came to our table because they loved to visit and they loved the food and being able to eat free.
“Then as we had grandchildren, they also are right there in the Grove, throwing footballs and just enjoying Ole Miss and all that it offers. We hope all five of our grandchildren will attend Ole Miss.”
Such good times are punctuated even more by a solid win on the gridiron. The Butts hope the third portion of their gift will help the Rebels achieve many more of those.
“The SEC is so competitive and, of course, that includes a lot of things with respect to facilities and coaches. I just want to do what I can to support Ole Miss in maintaining our facilities and programs at competitive levels, so we have an opportunity to recruit the best student-athletes,” Lampkin Butts said. “To even have a chance, we have to step up to the plate.”
Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter agreed.
“Because charitable gifts like Lampkin’s and Susie’s are so important to our programs and to our student-athletes, we plan to express our gratitude by naming an entrance gate at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in their honor as well as the Quarterback Room in the new Manning Center,” Carter said. “We greatly appreciate their support and their strong desire to see our players continue to compete at the national level.”
This multi-purpose donation is the latest of many gifts the Buttses have made to the university. Most recently, the couple gave $1 million to support health care at Children’s of Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
“When we visited the children there, it absolutely left fingerprints on our heart,” Susie Butts said. “Those nurses and doctors do so much for those children, and they work so hard.
“Sadly, there are some children who are permanent residents, and the nurses and doctors are like their family. They love on those children like I’ve never seen, putting 100% into taking care of them. It’s very special,” she said.
The Buttses’ recent gift is part of Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss, a historic $1.5 billion initiative to enhance the university with support focused on building leaders, empowering academic excellence, fueling research and innovation and creating economic opportunity. It includes CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s campaign for improving facilities for Rebel athletics.
“Susie and I were very encouraged by the Now and Ever Campaign goals, so we wanted to be part of that,” Lampkin Butts said. “It’s been our philosophy or strategy our whole married life to want to do our part in giving back.”
The Susie and Lampkin Butts Scholar of Management Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations by sending a check, with the scholarship’s name written in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or online at https://nowandever.olemiss.edu.
For more information on Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss, visit https://umfoundation.givingfuel.com/nowandever or contact Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-3120.
For information on supporting the Triplett Alumni Center, contact Clay Cavett, associate director of Alumni Affairs, at email@example.com or 662-915-7375.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation