A recent gift to the University of Mississippi establishes a travel fund for students while honoring the late Carolyn Ellis Staton, a higher education trailblazer who became the university’s first female provost.
The Carolyn Ellis Staton Travel Fund will cover expenses incurred by students who travel for learning opportunities within their field of interest.
“There would be no better way to honor Carolyn. She would be thrilled to know that an effort like this is being made to ensure that students have enriching, extracurricular opportunities to broaden their knowledge base,” said Staton’s husband, Bill Staton of Oxford, Mississippi.
“Her love for travelling began at a young age and continued throughout her life.”
Bill Staton; Marvin King, senior faculty fellow for Residential College South; Lionel Maten, assistant vice chancellor and director of student housing; Laura Antonow, director of college programs; and other friends of Carolyn Staton established the fund as a tribute to the longtime educator. An Ignite Ole Miss crowdfunding campaign continues the fundraising efforts.
“She had a tremendous impact at the university. Throughout her career she positively affected so many students, especially undergraduate students, that we wanted something that she and her family would appreciate,” King said.
Carolyn Staton joined the Ole Miss faculty in August 1977. During her 32-year tenure, she served as a professor and interim dean in the School of Law, associate provost and provost before her retirement in 2009. As provost, she facilitated the creation of the university’s residential colleges and Croft Institute for International Studies. She expanded on the ideas of others in building the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.
“She was truly remarkable in every way,” Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat said. “Nobody ever had a better partner at work. She was straightforward, but always kind and treated people with respect.”
She was a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve JAG Corps, where she achieved the rank of captain. She served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service in the 1990s at the Pentagon.
“Dr. Staton loved to travel,” King said. “Dr. Staton would be grateful of any effort allowing more UM students, especially those who might not otherwise have the opportunity, to travel to internships, Study USA, study abroad classes or conferences. These opportunities can materially change the educational experience of those students. Additionally, it can make our students more competitive upon graduation.”
Study USA is a domestic academic travel program operated through the Office of College Programs in the Division of Outreach and Continuing Studies, offering an opportunity for students to participate in UM faculty-led courses, typically during intersessions, where they travel to a U.S. location and study a particular topic in the field.
“Experiential learning is a great way for students to really delve into a class and see their classroom learning applied in the real world,” Antonow said. “Some of the upcoming classes are Campaigns & Elections in D.C., Bridges of New York and Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley.”
The UM Internship Experience program gives students the opportunity to travel, work and learn in New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., during the summer. These are competitive programs that prepare and support students seeking internships in their field of study. Students have interned at the White House, C-SPAN, various Congressional Offices, the American Red Cross, Scripps Network and the New York mayor’s office.
“Study USA and the UM Internship Experience programs are great opportunities, but the added expense of travel can make them challenging or impossible for some students,” Antonow said. “This fund will help make these programs affordable and accessible to more students. We are really excited to see this fund created and hope those who value these experiential programs will generously support the Carolyn Ellis Staton Travel Fund.”
To make a gift to the Carolyn Ellis Staton Travel Fund, visit Ignite Ole Miss or contact Sandra Guest, vice president of the UM Foundation, at 662-915-5208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By J. Dillon Pitts