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Program welcomes scholars, new member; plans impactful events
Suzan Thames (left), chair of the Ole Miss Women's Council for Philanthropy, welcomes Susan Duncan (right) as the newest member of the transformational scholarship program's 35-member board. Duncan just completed a remarkable six-year tenure as dean of the Ole Miss School of Law.

The Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy (OMWC), one of the most transformational scholarship programs in the nation, celebrates the start of its 24th year at the University of Mississippi with a record number of scholars and a growing endowment.

“As we launch into this new academic year, the Women’s Council program is pleased to welcome 11 exceptional freshmen who comprise our latest cohort of scholars, said Suzan Thames, the OMWC chair.

“In addition to these scholars, it is our special honor to welcome Susan Duncan as our newest Women’s Council member to our 35-member board. Susan just completed a remarkable six-year tenure as dean of the Ole Miss School of Law.”

The Women’s Council has also scheduled several educational and cultural events for the coming academic year.

Since its inception in 2000, the OMWC has built an endowment totaling nearly $20 million and awarded 185 students OMWC scholarships. The program is recognized as one of the most innovative and generous scholarships offered at Ole Miss. Currently, 37 scholars are receiving the $40,000 scholarships ($10,000 per year for four years.)

The OMWC scholarships which are given to young male and female leaders desiring a philanthropic lifepath and who have proven themselves successful academically provide a variety of resources. Students have access to full-time scholar support staff, career and life mentoring, leadership development, guidance for a philanthropic approach to life and opportunities to travel, study abroad and attend cultural events.

The OMWC board oversees this program, and Duncan, the first woman to serve as the dean of the School of Law on a non-interim basis, is now a member.

“Throughout her career, Susan has exhibited a consistent passion and high regard for the fundamental tenets that define our organization,” Thames said. “With her history of leadership at Ole Miss and other universities, her diverse philanthropic resume and her commitment to ensuring students succeed in their academic and leadership development, Susan will be a valuable asset to the Women’s Council’s mission.

“She graciously served as a mentor to OMWC scholars in recent years,” she added. “Susan invited an OMWC scholar to co-author a law review article that they recently presented together at a conference hosted by the University of Houston and Georgetown University law schools.”

During her time as dean, Duncan increased the number of donors by over 100% and raised more than $15 million. The law school also experienced an increase in the quantity and quality of students entering the program, and it climbed in national law school rankings. Resources dedicated to helping UM students pass the bar substantially increased as did the employment numbers of law school graduates.

“I am thrilled to join the Ole Miss Women’s Council,” Duncan said. “Its mission to mentor and provide training to prepare our next generation of civil servant leaders fits perfectly with my core values and experiences. Working with a scholar on a law review article allowed me a glimpse into the great work the council performs. I am very excited to get to know the other council members and become more involved with our amazing scholars.”

The OMWC has several events planned for the current academic year, including hosting more innovative events on UM’s Oxford campus as part of its Robert C. Khayat Lecture Series. The popular lecture series brings notable leaders to Ole Miss who inspire students and community members through thought-provoking topics, conversations and performances.

The Women’s Council will host its annual Emerging Young Philanthropist Award ceremony this fall and its campuswide student leadership conference, PULSE, this winter.

To learn more about supporting the Ole Miss Women’s Council, contact Suzanne Helveston, OMWC program director, at or 662-915-2956, or online at

By Jonathan Scott/UM Development


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