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Graduate’s Estate Gift Expected to Establish Engineering Chair, Support UM Foundation
Mike McRee of Flora, Mississippi, committed a $2 million planned gift to the university that’s expected to help attract top faculty to the School of Engineering.

Since graduating from the University of Mississippi, Mike McRee’s career has been dotted with disparate ventures: though his primary business has been asset management, he’s owned radio stations, a blues club, an agricultural business and even a bank in Crystal Springs.

These investments and other opportunities paid off, allowing the Flora, Mississippi, resident to commit a $2 million planned gift to the university that’s expected to help attract top faculty to the School of Engineering by establishing the Michael T. McRee Chair in Engineering Endowment.

Potentially, some $3 million more from his estate will establish an endowment designed to assist the Foundation in its efforts to support the University of Mississippi.

“You reach a certain age and you start to think more about the institutions and people who have shaped your life and to whom you are grateful” said McRee, president of Investek, Inc. in Jackson, Mississippi.

“I certainly enjoyed my time at Ole Miss and have had a great experience working with the Foundation since 1983, and so I wanted to give support to the people and institution that have been a large part of my life,” McRee continued. “That, and the fact that I had not yet participated in the Now & Ever Campaign moved me to do this now.”

Launched on November 12, 2021, and ending June 30, 2025, Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss is underway with a $1.5 billion goal — the largest campaign goal in the history of the university and of Mississippi institutions of higher learning — to enhance the university today and meet the challenges of tomorrow.

“The establishing of this chair in the School of Engineering will ensure that top-quality teaching, research and service will be available for future generations of our students,” said Viola L. Acoff, dean of the UM School of Engineering. “Mr. McRee’s generosity will greatly help us minimize the risk of losing exceptionally highly qualified faculty applicants to other engineering schools. I am exceedingly grateful to him for his vision for our school and his desire to include us in his estate plans.”

A 1966 graduate of the School of Engineering, McRee started work as an engineer with Mississippi Power and Light Company and later as local manager in Marks, Mississippi.  An Army ROTC cadet in college, he was assigned to serve in Vietnam after graduation. But at a time when the application of computers in the Army was expanding exponentially, his engineering degree and knowledge of Fortran computer programming resulted in his reassignment to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and then to the Data Support Command in the Pentagon for the rest of his tour of duty.

About his service there during the Vietnam years, McRee likes to say jokingly, “Well, I guess Bob McNamara and I really messed that one up, didn’t we?”

McRee has held positions of leadership in Mississippi Power & Light Co., U.S. Army Signal Corps, and as president of Lamar Life Insurance Corp., chairman of Bank of the South, director of Metropolitan Bank and several other companies.

Some of his community involvements include serving as chairman of the board of St. Andrews Episcopal School, a trustee of Millsaps College and as a board member of The Community Foundation for Mississippi, Jackson YMCA and the Mississippi Craftsman’s Guild.

The electrical engineering graduate said he found value in his degree in the way it taught him a certain discipline and analytical process for thinking through decisions.

“I think engineering gives you a business sense for how to look at investments analytically. Probably the most useful class I had at Ole Miss was Engineering Economics,” said McRee who also completed an MBA at George Washington University in 1970.

In designating Ole Miss as the beneficiary of his estate, McRee chose to take advantage of a unique financial vehicle, investing $1 million of the proposed total in a charitable giving annuity (CGA).

With a simple contract, individuals can transfer to the UM Foundation a minimum of $50,000 cash or securities to purchase a CGA that will provide a fixed income to one or two beneficiaries, and the donor receives a charitable tax deduction for the gift. The CGA then provides a steady stream of income during the beneficiaries’ lifetime and the remaining principal passes to the UM program of the donor’s choice.

“We are immensely grateful to Mike for his gift to Ole Miss and the UM Foundation,” said Anna Langley, vice president of the foundation.

“Including Ole Miss in your estate plans is crucial to supporting the institution’s ongoing mission and commitment to serve the people of Mississippi and the world through education, research, health care and outreach,” she said. “By leaving a legacy gift, you contribute to the university’s ability to provide faculty support and scholarships, advance academic programs and fund research initiatives.

“A donor’s support ensures that future generations of students have access to quality education and opportunities for personal and intellectual growth, making a lasting impact on the university and the community it serves.”

An emeritus member of the UM Foundation Board, McRee served on the Joint Committee on University Investments for nearly 40 years, 30 of those as its chair.

“It was deeply gratifying and exciting to watch the university’s joint endowment supporting Ole Miss grow from less than $10 million to nearly $700 million,” McRee said of his time on the committee; the endowment is now nearly $900 million.

In 2005, the alumnus established the Michael T. McRee Ole Miss First Scholars Award. Recipients of the award are full-time freshmen and selection is based on merit and/or need. Ole Miss First provides scholarships to students who demonstrate outstanding scholastic achievement and leadership. Over their four years at Ole Miss, scholars meet with their mentors and attend monthly dinners to receive the support, guidance and encouragement they need to take chances, explore opportunities and make a difference.

For information on gift strategies that can support Ole Miss while providing significant benefits to the donor or beneficiary, contact UMF vice president Anna Langley at or 662-915-5944.

For information about including Ole Miss in estate plans,  click here or contact Marc Littlecott, advancement director for estate and planned giving, at or 662-915-6625.

By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation


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.