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Alumni, friends break records with total funds, number of gifts
Ole Miss students, from left, Reagan Houston, junior psychology major from Corinth, Mississippi; Alice Ann Hollingsworth, senior English major from Jackson, Mississippi; and Elizabeth Hunt, freshman chemical engineering major from Houston, Texas; were chosen randomly from their participation in Giving Day 2024 to sign the turret in Ventress Hall with Dean of Liberal Arts Lee Cohen, second from right.

When the last online donation came in on April 10 for Giving Day 2024, the University of Mississippi’s donors had joined together to set an unprecedented fundraising record of more than 3,000 gifts totaling $11.5 million.

This year, there was more of everything: more dollars raised, more participating donors and more challenges issued. Ole Miss students, parents, alumni, friends, faculty and staff members united to contribute 3,167 gifts totaling $11,521,331 as compared to 2,399 gifts and a $6.83 million total in 2023.

Resources gained during the fifth annual Giving Day will strengthen the student experience, academic programs and community offerings.

“We are excited and grateful how the Ole Miss family came together to support our university,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “These tremendous gifts provide generous resources and boosted the energy and momentum of this annual event. We were thrilled to receive three seven-figure gifts.

“Our special thanks go to Barbara Beckmann, Jean and Jerry Jordan, and Jan and George Pilko for their legacy gifts. These marvelous gifts will transform the Department of Chemical Engineering, the School of Journalism and New Media and STEM scholarships for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.”

Beckmann of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, committed a $5 million estate gift to the Department of Chemical Engineering, which will be named in her honor. Beckmann was the first female graduate of the School of Engineering, and she is the longest-serving employee with ExxonMobil, where she is a senior economic adviser.

The Jordans of Oxford, Mississippi, both former UM faculty members who directed UM choirs for 21 years, made a $4 million gift to establish the Jordan Center for Journalism Advocacy and Innovation to improve the U.S. media environment and give consumers the skills they need to better discern truth and accuracy in news reporting.

Jan Pilko of Houston, Texas, committed a $1.5 million estate gift with her husband, George, to the Excellence in STEM Scholarship Endowment that they previously created with a $100,000 gift. The scholarships assist Honors College students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The social media-driven Giving Day 2024 launched April 9 and continued for 1 day, 8 hours and 48 minutes in honor of the university’s founding year of 1848. UM Marketing & Communications hosted a telethon-style show featuring donors, deans, students and performers that live streamed on Facebook and YouTube encouraging people to make gifts to the 27 participating schools, colleges and programs.

As part of Giving Day 2024, Alice Ann Hollingsworth of Jackson, Mississippi, signs her name joining those of students spanning 100 years in the turret of Ventress Hall, the administration building for the College of Liberal Arts.

All funds raised are part of the historic Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss, which has a goal of securing $1.5 billion to enhance the university for future generations. Notable contributions among many included $100,000 from Carolyn and Pete Golding of Oxford, Mississippi, for the Patterson School of Accountancy Building Fund.

A record-breaking more than 100 challenge gifts from alumni and friends kept the momentum running high throughout the Giving Day campaign. Among these challenges was one from Wendy Garrison of Oxford who gave $50,000 to the Richard Raspet Memorial Scholarship honoring her late husband and professor at UM’s National Center for Physical Acoustics once 50 gifts were made to the scholarship.

Tom Weissinger of Atlanta, Georgia, provided $50,000 to the Patterson School of Accountancy Building Fund after 100 gifts were made to the fund. Mariamne Young of Oxford gave $50,000 to the Ole Miss Women’s Council to pay tribute to her late daughter Amne Young Richardson when 25 people gave to the fund.

The Epsilon Xi Chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity gave $25,000 to the William Magee Center for AOD and Wellness Education when 25 other gifts were contributed to the center. Ann Elizabeth and Andrew LoCicero of Jackson, Mississippi, challenged 25 people to make a gift to the Ole Miss Business Scholarship, and they responded with a gift of $25,000.

Ashley and Joel Hanel of Richmond, Virginia, provided $25,000 to the School of Education Immediate Need Endowment after 500 donors made gifts to the fund. The Kappa Alpha Order gave $20,000 to the Thomas Mayo Lab at the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing once 20 gifts were made.

The Family Leadership Council pledged $6,000 to the Chancellor’s GROVE Wellbeing Initiative, Student Disability Services, Career Closet, Grove Grocery, William Magee Center for AOD and Wellness Education and the Lyceum Locker when each unit received 15 gifts.

The top performer in the campaign according to the most donors participating (669) was the School of Education led by director of development Kelly Smith Marion and development associate Jacob Ferguson. Strategies employed to achieve this success included hosting a block party, videos by the Willie Price Lab School students, outreach to alumni and internal contests.

The Pride of the South Marching Band claimed the College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Leaderboard Challenge with the most gifts at 63, winning $2,500 for its total. The Realtree Early Bird Special sponsored by the Bill Jordan family of Columbus, Georgia, was won on the first day by the School of Law, adding $1,000 to its gift total for having the most gifts during a specific time. The Vice Chancellor for Development Charlotte Parks Challenge was captured by the School of Education, adding $2,000 to its total. Nikki and Stuart Davis of Oxford issued a Breakfast Special Leaderboard Challenge on the second day for $500, which the School of Education won.

The Patterson School of Accountancy won the Funkys Happy Hour Special, earning $500 for its total. Chancellor Glenn Boyce’s Lunchtime Special sponsored by the UM leader and his wife, Emily, saw the School of Law win $2,500. Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy of Memphis, Tennessee, made a Buzzer Beater Challenge, also won by the School of Law, that added $3,000 to its total gifts.

“The Ole Miss family fully embraced Giving Day with such amazing gifts,” said Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development. “These exceptional resources give us the ability to define excellence in our academic programs, student services and outreach. We are grateful to all those who responded to Giving Day 2024.”

For more information on ways to support the university, go to

By Tina H. Hahn/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.