A young University of Mississippi graduate’s desire to give back to his alma mater was borne from a myriad of experiences, including memorable football games he attended growing up, involvement in campus politics as a college student and family ties to Ole Miss.
Dustin Todd, a 2007 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in political science and history, made a major gift to CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s (OMAF) campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes.
“College sports and college football are going through a sea-change at the moment,” Todd said. “Ole Miss is lucky to have leaders like Coach (Lane) Kiffin and AD (Keith) Carter who understand we have to evolve if we want to compete and continue on our strong trajectory. I want to support their efforts, ensure we have best-in-class facilities, recruit and retain top coaching talent, and build a base of student-athletes who know when they come to Ole Miss, success on and off the field will be a part of their legacy.”
A native of Tupelo, Mississippi, Todd currently resides in Potomac, Maryland, and is vice president and head of government affairs for Synopsys, the 14th leading software firm in the world and the top enabler of microelectronics or “chip” design. He and his wife, Andrea, met while working on Capitol Hill and have two children: Louise, 3, and James, 1.
“With respect to the continued longevity of competitive athletics programs at Ole Miss, it’s encouraging to see young alumni like Dustin who already understand the importance of private support,” said Quinn Kavanagh, associate director of development for OMAF. “We are so grateful for his gift and hope it will inspire many of his contemporaries to give back as well.”
Todd said he believes his gift will benefit the university on many levels.
“Ole Miss is home. It’s a community where people can come together — job stress and politics go to the wayside. Athletics makes that easy and fun. It’s also a huge economic generator for Mississippi that often goes unnoticed. Ever try to find a hotel within 100 miles of Oxford on an SEC game weekend?” Todd quipped.
“While I want to give back to my alma mater, I also want to see Ole Miss continue to build and be successful on the national stage. For me, that starts with a world-class athletics program.”
Todd’s affinity for sports at Ole Miss began early. He remembers exciting times attending games with his father, Bart Todd — a UM accountancy graduate — and with the family of his childhood friend Stephen Downing, a 2010 UM College of Liberal Arts graduate.
Todd’s sister, Elizabeth, is a dentist and graduate of the UM Medical Center and brother, Keegan, attended Ole Miss before becoming a pilot. Additionally, his mother, Christy, worked for Ole Miss while her husband finished his degree.
“Being a die-hard fan made it next to impossible for me to think rationally about going to any other university. However, the allure of Ole Miss’ outstanding liberal arts school, an environment to learn and challenge traditional thinking, proved to be the right fit,” Todd said, adding that his degree set him on a path to success.
After graduation, he began working for former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove’s 2008 Senate race. Musgrove and Todd met on-campus in 2006 and struck up a like-minded affinity that continues today.
“While that race in 2008 didn’t go how we wanted, it affirmed my desire to work in politics and at the intersection of government and public service, with a strong desire to enable innovation and job creation — something Mississippi still needs,” he said.
In 2009, he began working on Capitol Hill, serving as chief of staff for Congressman Paul Tonko (D-New York), who would jokingly tell colleagues that Todd was from “way down state.”
Todd later spent six years at Amazon, working on public policy for the company’s online marketplaces, Amazon Studios, Alexa and Ring businesses before taking his current position at Synopsys.
At Ole Miss, Todd participated in student government — a precursor, perhaps, to his Washington, D.C., career.
To make a gift to Ole Miss Athletics, visit CHAMPIONS. NOW. or contact Quinn Kavanagh, associate director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-832-5241.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation