As Ole Miss baseball slides into a new season full of potential, Rebel fans with a keen eye will notice the home team dugout has changed: it now has a name.
The Evelyn & Jeff Johnson Dugout honors a $1 million gift made to the University of Mississippi and included in CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s (OMAF) campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes.
“We are die-hard fans of Ole Miss sports, particularly of Rebel baseball. So many of our treasured memories with our family have revolved around attending games together and simply getting caught up in the energy, revelry and excitement that athletic competitions bring to players and fans alike,” said Evelyn Johnson of Monroe, Louisiana.
“We hope our gift will be used to help Rebel student-athletes continue to gain the competitive edge they need to compete and win on a national level, giving increasingly more families the opportunity to have the fan experience we’ve enjoyed for so long,” she said.
A $500,000 gift from the Johnsons in 2020 enabled the university to construct a contemporary lounge space for Rebel baseball players, repeating the gift the couple made in 2016 for football players.
“Jeff and Ev’s generous gifts to our programs have been crucial to establishing our presence on a national stage. Their gifts will help us compete and win championships,” said Keith Carter, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics. “On behalf of Rebel Nation, I want to personally thank them for their outstanding support.”
The state-of-the-art player lounges at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and Oxford-University Stadium-Swayze Field have both been named in honor of the Johnsons whose children Drew and Abigail graduated from Ole Miss in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
“Jeff, Ev and the entire Johnson family are some of our biggest Ole Miss Athletics fans. They are loyal fans who cheer for our student-athletes in the stands at home games and often follow them on the road to encourage them at away games. They also care passionately about them off the field. This is evidenced by naming the players’ lounges for football and baseball,” said Denson Hollis, OMAF CEO.
“Private support from fans like the Johnsons helps us maintain and improve the facilities our student-athletes need to be successful in their respective sports and in life beyond Ole Miss,” Hollis said.
The Johnsons also believe in the importance of supporting academics.
In 2022, with a $200,000 gift to the university, the Johnsons established an endowment in honor of each of their children: the Abigail Johnson Dietetics and Nutrition Support Fund and the Drew Johnson Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME) Support Fund.
Abigail Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in applied sciences, specializing in dietetics and nutrition. She subsequently earned a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Alabama, passed her board exams to become a registered dietitian. She’s now a professor of nutrition at the University of Louisiana at Monroe while pursuing her doctorate in curriculum and instruction.
Drew Johnson, the youngest member of OMAF’s Vaught Society, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2017 and worked for his fraternity’s national office for two years before returning to UM to earn his master’s degree in 2021. He is now an analyst for the Mississippi Joint Legislative PEER Committee in Jackson, Mississippi.
Drew Johnson is married to UM graduate Shay Pichon Johnson who earned a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in pharmacy in 2020 and 2023 respectively. She is currently in a PGY1 community-based residency for pharmacy. In her honor, the Johnsons made a $15,000 unrestricted gift to the School of Pharmacy Dean’s Fund.
Evelyn Johnson attended the University of Mississippi but after marrying during her senior year and moving to Kansas, where her husband was stationed for his Army career, she graduated from Kansas State University. She is actively involved in her community, serving on several charity foundations and boards.
Jeff Johnson is president and CEO of Scott Powerline and Utility Equipment in Monroe. He graduated from Louisiana State University-Shreveport in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and teaching. He then joined the U.S. Army, serving as a field artillery officer for three years.
“We love the university and are very proud of all the hard work the student-athletes put in every day to excel in their individual sport,” Ev Johnson said. “If we can help make their lives a little easier in any way, we feel blessed to be able to do that.”
To make a gift to Ole Miss Athletics, visit CHAMPIONS. NOW. or contact Denson Hollis at email@example.com or 615-957-4372.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation