With a $100,000 gift, University of Mississippi alumnus Ken Lackey of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his wife, Carol, hope to enhance UM’s R1 mission by supporting doctoral stipends for students in the Department of Mathematics.
The couple’s gift establishes the Lackey Doctoral Stipend in Math Fund, the purpose of which is to enable the department to grow its Ph.D. program by providing stipends for graduate students working toward their Ph.D.
“The bachelor’s degree in mathematics I received in 1965 enabled me to successfully complete an MBA at the University of Texas at Austin. Moreover, it was the basis for selection into a special Army program while serving as an artillery officer during a difficult period (1967-1969) in the Vietnam War. Both of those events were life-changing experiences,” Ken Lackey said, adding that a discussion with College of Liberal Arts Dean Lee Cohen inspired the gift as a way to show his gratitude.
In 2018, the Lackeys designated UM as the beneficiary of a planned gift estimated at more than $2 million. Additionally, the couple established the Ken and Carol Lackey Excellence Fund in 2012. Both gifts were provided to support the natural sciences and mathematics.
The Lackeys hope their most recent gift will help the College of Liberal Arts attract more students to its doctoral program in mathematics while strengthening the university’s academic reputation in fields crucial to the 21st century — specifically professions supported by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
“I appreciate the opportunity to financially support individuals like Dean Cohen who are focused on making significant improvements in higher education,” Ken Lackey said. “To move the needle, they need financial support above and beyond that allocated by the state or available from tuition fees.”
Cohen expressed gratitude for the Lackeys’ gift.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have esteemed alumni like Ken Lackey who understand the importance of private support in strengthening our academic programs and in improving our national standing,” the dean said. “We greatly appreciate the Lackeys’ passion in designating this generous gift to our great university.”
The Lackeys hope their gift will encourage increasingly more individuals to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics at Ole Miss.
“A gift of this magnitude will help transform our math department by making it more competitive,” said Talmage Reid, chair of the Department of Mathematics. “Specifically, we will be able to better attract and serve students seeking doctoral degrees in math. We are extremely grateful to Ken and Carol for their generosity and support.”
A Jackson, Mississippi, native, Lackey enrolled at Ole Miss in 1962 and moved into Barr Hall (B).
“Barr B was a subculture within the university, and we had lots of fun. Even though I joined a fraternity, some of my best personal relationships were made at Barr B,” said Lackey, whose residence hall buddies include Netscape founder Jim Barksdale of Jackson and Palm Beach, Florida, attorney John Gary.
At Ole Miss, Lackey received a U.S. Army commission through the Ole Miss ROTC and, after graduate school, served two years on active duty. For his service, the first lieutenant was awarded the Army Commendation Medal.
Now, Lackey is chairman of the board and the former CEO and president of the Tulsa-based NORDAM Group, which provides a range of aerospace components, manufacturing, and repair services for private, commercial, and military aircraft.
Previously, Lackey served as president of the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and senior vice president of the OU System from 1999 to 2001. He was a member of Gov. Frank Keating’s administration, serving as his chief of staff from 1997 to 1999. From 1995 to 1997, he provided leadership as the Oklahoma Cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Before his service in state government, Lackey held the position of president of Flint Industries, a privately owned, international company with interests in oil and gas services, manufacturing and commercial construction. Earlier, he held management positions with Skelly Oil (NYSE) and Kin-Ark Corp. (ASE). He continues to serve on several business and community boards in Tulsa.
Carol Lackey, a native of Columbus, Nebraska, graduated from the University of Nebraska and has enjoyed a successful computer career, working for Apple and subsequently Sun Microsystems.
In their spare time, the couple enjoys easy weekends at their lake home in northeastern Oklahoma as well as traveling extensively.
The Lackey Doctoral Stipend in Math Fund is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.
To support the College of Liberal Arts, contact Suzette Matthews, managing director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-937-1497.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation