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Garrison's endowment honors late husband, challenges others to give
The life and work of the late UM professor Richard Raspet is being honored with a memorial scholarship endowment.

Wendy Garrison is honoring her late husband, Richard “Rich” Raspet by establishing a scholarship that enables students to obtain a transformative higher education at the University of Mississippi.

Each year, a student will be selected as a scholarship recipient from among 18 counties in the Mississippi Delta.

Students from 18 counties in the Mississippi Delta will be eligible for the annual scholarship named for the late UM professor Richard Raspet.

Raspet, a professor emeritus of physics and astronomy with the UM National Center for Physical Acoustics, died of natural causes on Nov. 3, 2023, while pursuing one of his passions: bicycling the back roads of Lafayette County.

“Rich would have wanted to encourage public high school students, especially those who come from economically challenged areas of the Mississippi Delta, to go to college. Rich was proud of the education he received at Starkville (Mississippi) High School, and he believed in the importance of public education,” Garrison said about her inspiration to create the Richard Raspet Memorial Scholarship Endowment.

Garrison encourages her husband’s family, friends, former students and others to consider honoring Raspet’s memory and his desire to help future scholars by giving to the new scholarship.

Garrison used the scholarship as a challenge gift to support the UM College of Liberal Arts during Giving Day on April 9 and 10. She gave $50,000 and other contributions brought the scholarship total to $68,096.

In addition to his academic accomplishments and contributions to the field of physics, Raspet was a dedicated cyclist. He earned more than 100 career victories, and several state, regional and national cycling awards, which led to being named a Masters National Champion.

“Rich enjoyed the camaraderie and the competition associated with the world of cycling,” Garrison said. “His friends and family know that he would have loved the competitive and fun nature of Giving Day.”

Garrison was an instructor in the UM Department of Biology. She earned a doctorate in biological science at the university in 1997 and has witnessed what a scholarship can mean to a student’s college career.

“Even a small grant can have a large impact,” she said. “When I was working on my Master of Science degree in biology at the University of Illinois, my adviser found a scholarship for me that was designed to assist women returning to school.

“To know that my situation was recognized and deemed worthy of financial support and encouragement meant a lot to me. The students who will be receiving the Raspet Memorial Scholarship in the future will notice that they, too, are valued.”

Wendy Garrison, wife of Richard Raspet and former UM biology instructor

During their more than 40 years together as a supportive couple and faculty members, Garrison and Raspet shared an appreciation and understanding that college education is more than job preparation.

“A liberal arts education exposes one to a wide variety of viewpoints and ways of thinking, including a belief in science,” she said. “That’s why this scholarship is earmarked for students in liberal arts.”

Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, praised Garrison for celebrating her late husband’s decades of devotion to teaching at UM and giving students from the Delta an opportunity for a life-changing education.

“We are incredibly thankful to Wendy for her support of the College of Liberal Arts and for honoring Rich’s many years of dedicated service as a teacher and scholar at the University of Mississippi,” he said. “We appreciate her and Rich’s passion for helping future generations of students from the Mississippi Delta.

“Their belief in the transformational power of higher education and their desire to provide an annual scholarship is inspirational,” Cohen said. “We look forward to welcoming more students from the Delta to our campus and invite them to explore the many outstanding programs housed under the College of Liberal Arts – programs that empower and prepare students to think critically, become better communicators, and gain an enhanced knowledge about the world in which they live.”

Since her husband’s passing, Garrison has come to realize how much Raspet meant to others. Many people have donated to her husband’s favorite animal rescue charity and other organizations in his memory, supported her during a difficult holiday season and participated in his memorial service in February.

Ideally, many others will consider giving to this new scholarship because it celebrates her husband’s memory and helps students.

“Rich’s students are out in the world carrying on his legacy, and he was so proud of that,” Garrison said. “With this scholarship, his positive influence will branch out in even more directions.

“I hope his scholarship helps that one person a year and lets them know they are important and that the University of Mississippi wants them to succeed.”

For more about Raspet’s life, read his obituary here.

Contributions to the Richard Raspet Memorial Scholarship Endowment can be made online here or by sending a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name written in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655.

To learn more about supporting the College of Liberal Arts, contact Suzette Matthews, executive director for development, at or 662-915-1122.

By Jonathan Scott/UM Development


Online gifts for the 2024 calendar year should be made no later than noon on December 31, 2024.  Checks by mail will need to be postmarked by December 31 to be counted in the 2024 calendar year.