A new gift to the University of Mississippi will help bring expert speakers to the Oxford campus — broadening the education students receive in the School of Pharmacy while paying tribute to a beloved professor.
UM alumnus Dr. Michael Borne of Ridgeland, Mississippi, and his wife, Ashley, made the $250,000 gift in honor of his father, establishing the Dr. Ronald F. Borne Distinguished Lectureship in the School of Pharmacy Endowment. The endowment will stand as a perpetual memorial to the life and legacy of the late professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry and will fund an annual lecture in the school.
“I want my dad’s legacy at Ole Miss to be based around his scientific pursuits because he really loved science,” said Borne, who earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1985 and an MD from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1989. “That’s why I thought bringing in a good high-quality nationally known lecturer would stimulate a lot of interest in the way things are being researched and taught these days in science. That was the legacy I think my dad would want to leave behind at Ole Miss.
“I see it as being a pretty broad-ranging lectureship,” Borne continued. “When I was in medical school, when we would have someone come in and teach about a subject I wasn’t directly involved in, it was always refreshing to understand the thought processes of people in those other disciplines and what they were doing. That’s what I envision for this lectureship: top-ranked scientists who are doing research and teaching — sharing their ideas and thoughts with the pharmacy faculty and students at Ole Miss.”
Pharmacy Dean Donna Strum said the endowment is an appropriate way to honor the professor who was himself also a renowned lecturer.
“To have an alumnus step forward with a vision for expanding the experiences of our students is heartening and to have that alumnus be the son of one of our longtime professors makes this gift even more special,” Strum said. “I am extremely grateful to Dr. Borne for his gift and look forward to the insights these lectures will bring to our School of Pharmacy community.”
Ron Borne joined the School of Pharmacy faculty in 1968 and retired nearly 40 years later in 2004. He won the university-wide Outstanding Teaching Award in 1970 and the School of Pharmacy’s Outstanding Teaching Award six times from 1982 to 1998.
He won the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award in 1996. When he won the Rho Chi Lecture Award from the American Pharmaceutical Association in 1994, he made the university one of only two schools nationally to have three recipients of the award.
Borne served as chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and as the university’s interim vice chancellor for research from 1998 to 2001, yet he always returned to teaching.
“He was a great lecturer,” Michael Borne said. “He cared a lot about his students. One of the things you always heard about him was how great a lecturer he was and how prepared he was to give a whole semester’s worth of lectures. He would probably think he doesn’t deserve this tribute, but he certainly does.”
In 1992, Ron Borne won the Mississippi Professor of the Year Award from the national Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
He once explained his philosophy of teaching in a university article: “A coach teaches his players the techniques and the fundamentals and then motivates them to succeed. That’s basically what good teaching is. You provide your students with the basic skills and concepts and then you motivate them to do their best.
“I don’t care if they can name every tree in the forest, but I want them to understand the beauty of the relationship between chemistry and the pharmacological sciences.”
Such turns of phrase made the professor an exceptional writer. He authored many professional articles, as well as “Troutmouth: The Two Careers of Hugh Clegg,” a book about the namesake of Clegg Field at the University-Oxford Airport.
“I have to walk across the Grove to teach, and when I go in there, there are 115 students who are motivated and want to spend the rest of their lives helping somebody,” Ron Borne said at the time. “They’re bright, they’re intelligent, they’re curious. I get to interact with them for an hour, and the amazing thing is, they pay me to do this. Think of how many people would like to have this situation.”
After retiring, Borne came back to the School of Pharmacy to help teach as needed, even keeping an office in the school until the time of his passing.
John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology in biomolecular sciences, was mentored by Borne.
“Talk about a complete faculty member. He was it,” said Rimoldi, who is also research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and director of research and graduate affairs in biomolecular sciences. “He was everywhere. He seemed to know everyone, past and present. It was just amazing.
“He always took the time to get to know you, and he never missed an opportunity to be generous in his compliments and encouragement. He was the quintessential educator.”
Besides his tremendous impact on students and faculty, Borne contributed to the university’s research mission. His own research focused on the effects of drugs on the central nervous system, and he conceptualized and established the Laboratory for Applied Drug Design and Synthesis. During his time as interim vice chancellor for research, he significantly increased the university’s external funding.
He helped found the annual medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy meeting known as MALTO (Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma). In 1988, he won a National Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, allowing him to be a visiting professor of pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Since golf was his foremost hobby, the professor made the most of his time in Scotland. He also initiated a golf tournament at the School of Pharmacy, and the Mississippi Pharmacists Association named its annual golf tournament after him.
An avid fan of Ole Miss athletics, Borne served as a faculty representative on the university’s Athletics Committee from 1978 to 1984. He helped found the Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club and attended every Ole Miss baseball game for many years, keeping his own scorebook.
Borne received an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Loyola University, a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Tulane University and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Kansas. He also was a fan of the Kansas Jayhawks.
The Dr. Ronald F. Borne Distinguished Lectureship in the School of Pharmacy 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 here .
For information on supporting the School of Pharmacy, contact Laura Gullett, associate director of development, at email@example.com or 662-915-2384.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation