Generations of students in the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration will benefit from a gift to Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss.
UM alumna Donna Ruth Else Roberts of Oxford, Mississippi, made a $50,000 gift to the campaign in support of the Career Preparation Services Center within the School of Business Administration.
Located inside Holman Hall, the center offers support services that business students can access while also utilizing the space for resume building, career matching and interview practice using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
“I believe that one of the most important priorities of the Business School is to equip our students to find the best career possible after graduation. Funding is necessary for us to accomplish that goal,” said Roberts, who graduated from Ole Miss in 1965.
She majored in English but quickly realized how useful a business-related education could have been as she worked in several business environments until her now late husband asked her to help him in his real estate development company in the 1970s.
In fact, her belief in the importance of a business degree is so strong that she made a $100,000 gift in 2001, establishing a scholarship endowment aimed at assisting deserving students who are pursuing a major within the School of Business Administration. Additionally, in 2008, she established the Donna Ruth Roberts Business Women’s Excellence Endowment with a gift of $250,000 to further assist UM business students.
“I just feel led to get women more involved in business,” she said at the time. “No matter what career you’re in, even in just reading the newspaper, you pick up so much with a business degree or exposure to business principles.”
Roberts’ gift to the Career Preparation Service Center will provide resources, including additional AI technology and yearly subscriptions, needed to keep the lab and software current. It will also support student workshops, networking events for students and corporations, staff to serve the 4,000-plus business students and new programming.
“This generous gift by Mrs. Roberts is the kind of private support that makes all the difference in public education. It not only provides golden opportunities for individual students but also strengthens the business school as a whole and, consequently, the entire state,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the Ole Miss business school.
“We are so grateful to Donna Ruth Roberts for not only donating her financial resources to the business school but also giving of her time,” the dean continued. “Her involvement with our students, the Business Advisory Board and the faculty has been amazing and inspiring, and this generous gift reflects her dedication and commitment to our school. She has been a strong supporter on every dimension, and this allows us to continue and expand the success we have enjoyed for our students and programs.”
Roberts has served on the business school’s advisory board, mentored students and judged student entrepreneurial competitions. She believes it’s important for students to have a solid understanding of fundamental business principles.
“Knowing the basics about economics and finances helps you understand more of what’s going on in the world today,” she said. “Women as well as men need to know about accounting, banking and insurance. It’s so important.”
The Yazoo City native spent much of her life in Memphis, Tennessee, prior to retiring to Oxford, her alma mater’s home.
“I truly love Ole Miss,” Roberts said. “It’s great to get involved with the university. It’s something that keeps you going. I feel blessed to be a part of this campaign.”
Roberts’ 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.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation