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Inclusive Excellence Retention Fund

Participation Drive
14 Donors
Towards goal of 60 Donors
$1,397.00 Raised
Project has ended
Project ended on August 31, at 11:55 PM CDT
Project Owners

Inclusive Excellence Retention Fund

Started by students to benefit students, the University of Mississippi Inclusive Excellence Retention Fund provides grants to students in need who actively promote diversity, inclusion and respect across all of our campuses.

The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement (CICCE) established the Inclusive Excellence Retention Fund as a joint initiative with UM’s Class of 2021 to help students eliminate financial barriers to their success. Class of 2021 officers came up with the idea to create the fund in the summer of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and partnered with the CICCE to bring the plan to fruition.

The Inclusive Excellence Retention Fund awards grants to University of Mississippi students who have been outstanding in promoting diversity awareness, respect and acceptance through education, advocacy and outreach. Some of these students are facing modest financial barriers affecting the students’ ability to pay academic-related expenses, preventing them from enrolling or remaining enrolled or limiting their ability to take advantage of professional development opportunities.

The fund’s mission inspired so many people that the Class of 2021 had one of the most successful senior class gift campaigns in UM history, raising the money needed to start the fund and begin awarding grants.

So far, these awards have already helped make a difference!

  • One student used a grant to overcome a financial emergency and pay for housing.
  • After a professor recommended additional tutoring for one promising student, the student paid for it using a grant and performed at a higher level in his courses.
  • A grant helped one student pay for a particularly expensive textbook. His instructors reached out to support his award.
  • A top-performing pre-med student could not afford the Medical College Admission Test preparatory materials due to financial difficulties and received a grant to buy them.

To keep their excellence going, it’s our turn to contribute! Please make a gift to ensure that the Inclusive Excellence Retention Fund assists students with academic expenses for years to come.

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Pushing the Flagship Forward

On October 1, 1962, James Meredith’s enrollment profoundly changed our institution for the better. Your support of the James Meredith Scholarship builds upon that legacy and declares the next 60 years as a time to achieve more.


Bailey Continues the Mission

In 1965, Verna Bailey became the first Black woman to enroll in the University, bravely continuing the fight for equity within our campus community. Your support of the James Meredith Legacy Scholarship builds on Ms. Bailey’s legacy by providing opportunities for all students.


Cue the BSU

The Black Student Union received its incorporation as a student organization on March 25, 1969. Since then, the organization has stimulated the intellectual, political, cultural, and social growth of all University of Mississippi students. When you support the James Meredith Legacy Scholarship, you create space at UM that builds community, supports leadership program, and raises awareness for diverse students.


Introducing Miss Jackson

In 1979, Rose Jackson Flenorl became the first Black female student named to the UM Student Hall of Fame. Flenorl continues to serve our institution philanthropically and as a mentor. A gift of $79 to the James Meredith Legacy Scholarship continues Flenorl’s mission to provide opportunities for students to develop leadership, receive mentorship and find community among their peers.


Call Me Dean Westerfield

In 1994, Dr. Louis Westerfield became the first Black Dean at UM when he was nominated to serve the UM School of Law. Upon his death in 1996, a former student said, “When they think of a dean, they think of a figurehead, but when I think of Dean Westerfield, I think of a friend, a father figure and a mentor. He truly is my hero.”


March Against Fear

On June 6, 1966, Meredith set out from Memphis with an African walking stick in one hand, a Bible in the other, and a singular mission in mind. He planned to march alone 220 miles to the Mississippi state capital of Jackson to prove that an African-American man could walk free in the South. But on the second day of the March, Meredith was shot in the head, neck, back and leg by a white assailant. Remarkably, Meredith rejoined the march just 20 days later.


AAS 341/ENG 322

This year, Dr. Ethel Scurlock was appointed Dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, making her the first Black female Dean at the University of Mississippi. Dean Scurlock is among the most beloved professors on campus, having opened many students’ minds and hearts in her Survey of African American Literature courses. Your gift of $341 provides more learning opportunities like those that Dr. Scurlock has provided for 26 years and counting.


Ole Miss Athletics Firsts

Ole Miss’ first Black student-athlete, Coolidge Ball, signed the Rebels’ last available basketball scholarship for the 1970-71 season. He led the Rebels with 42 assists in his first varsity season. Peggy Gillom was the first Black female student to receive an Ole Miss athletic scholarship. She owns the single-game Ole Miss record for rebounds at Tad Smith Coliseum with 20 rebounds. Ben Williams joined James Reed in 1971 to become the first Black students to sign football scholarships with the Rebels. Williams would amass 377 tackles for Ole Miss. In the 1976 NFL draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Williams in the 3rd round. Reed was drafted in the 9th round by the Cleveland Browns.


The Ole Miss 8

In 2020, in the spot where 89 African-American students were arrested in 1970 during a peaceful demonstration on campus, the “Ole Miss 8” – eight student leaders who were expelled from every public institution by the state of Mississippi as a result of their protest – came back to gather to recall the event and receive an apology from the University. Your gift of $800 honors the sacrifice of these courageous trailblazers.


First-Generation Change Makers

James Meredith was the first in his family to graduate from college. By giving $1,500, you help the more than 1,500 first-generation students at Ole Miss achieve this transformative milestone for their families and communities.


Here's to You, Mr. President

In 2000 Nic Lott was elected by his peers to serve as student body president, the first Black student body president at the University of Mississippi. “One of the things I’m most proud of,” Lott said, “is that one day (after my election) Mr. Meredith said to me, ‘I chose Ole Miss, but Ole Miss chose you.’”


A Revolution in Jackson

By the end of Meredith’s March Against Fear on June 26, 1966, the number of marchers who stepped in to continue Meredith’s mission reached 15,000. The resulting protest at the Capitol in Jackson is still the largest civil rights demonstration in Mississippi history. It was at this rally that Stokely Carmichael first publicly said “Black Power,” urging self-determination and Black pride. To many Mississippians, it was a great moment of inspiration.

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