University of Mississippi

Robert Brown Is UM Teacher of Year

Political science professor receives Elsie M. Hood Award at Honors Convocation

Robert Brown | Photo by Robert Jordan, UM Communications

Robert Brown | Photo by Robert Jordan, UM Communications

During Robert D. Brown’s 24 years of teaching at the University of Mississippi, the popular faculty member has earned many honors, but receiving the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award Thursday ranks as his most rewarding.

The professor of political science was presented the coveted accolade by Chancellor Dan Jones during the 72nd annual Honors Day Convocation. Brown, who has taught the full range of students at the university, was overjoyed and humbled by the recognition.

“I was completely stunned and dumbfounded,” Brown said. “I know and admire several people who have won this award, so the whole thing is really quite humbling.”

Brown joined the UM faculty as an assistant professor in 1991. Over the past two decades, he has been promoted to associate professor and professor, in addition to being co-founder and former director of the Social Science Research Laboratory. Brown is now a senior research associate of the SSRL and graduate program coordinator.

“Professor Brown is being recognized by his peers for outstanding teaching,” Jones said. “I am grateful to him for his commitment to our students and to perpetuating the culture among our faculty of making teaching our highest priority.”

One student noted that Brown “really made me want to learn.” Another said, “ He is by far the greatest instructor, friend, mentor and ally at the University of Mississippi.”

He was presented the UM Faculty Achievement Award for 2005-06, but said the Elsie Hood is “very, very special to me.”

“My home department is full of wonderful, dedicated teachers, and it’s nice to be able to represent them,” Brown said. “I want to be a good teacher, to challenge students to address difficult issues and be challenged by my students in return.”

“I want to help students see things from different perspectives and understand that they can have an impact, make a difference. To think that students thought enough of our experience together to nominate me really means more than I can possibly say.”

Besides teaching undergraduate political science courses and graduate seminars and research projects, Brown has served on the University Strategic Planning Committee, Faculty Senate and the University Smoke-Free Campus Policy Implementation Committee.

A nomination letter from one student notes that “he not only changed my view of his course in Politics, but of all my classes since then, giving me the desire to dig deeper and apply concepts I never would have been interested in doing so otherwise.” Another student, who has taken his classes for three consecutive semesters, said, “(he) gives careful attention to each member of the class and creates an environment where a group of strangers felt comfortable discussing controversial and intriguing questions about society.”

Brown earned his doctorate at Indiana University, a Master’s and bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University. Co-author of 20 refereed articles, book chapters, he has been the principle or co-principle investigator on external grants totaling more than $5 million.

Brown said he considered himself “lucky” to be teaching American politics at the university.

“When I walk into a classroom, I never quite know what I’m going to find,” he said. “Things can literally change from day-to-day, which helps keep the material (and hopefully me) fresh.”

Teaching in the Honors College the past several years has also been fulfilling for Brown.

“I’ve been in class with smart accomplished kids who are going to make a real difference,” Brown said. “I’ve witnessed amazing bravery, empathy and community. These things have touched me deeply and I will never forget them. My Honors students have made me a better teacher and a better person.”

Brown acknowledged several UM faculty and staff for their contributions to his success.

“I’ll begin with my old teacher and friend Bob Albritton, who got me into the profession to begin with,” he said. “He’s retired now, but there’s nobody on the planet who loved teaching political science more than Bob.”

“When I got here I was lucky to walk into a department containing John Winkle, a former recipient of this award and a teaching legend at Ole Miss. His mentorship has been very important to me. The person I’ve spent more time talking with about classes and teaching is my great friend Tim Nordstrom. Being able to bounce ideas around with Tim is something I really enjoy, and he has no idea how many of his ideas I’ve stolen.“

Brown said he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Doug Sullivan-Gonzales, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and associate professor of history. “Doug continues to give me the chance to work with these incredible students and talented faculty and staff, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunities he’s given me.”

Brown is married to Laura Diven-Brown, director of UM financial aid. Their son, Sean, is a sophomore at Oxford High School.

Each year since 1966, the university has recognized excellence in teaching by presenting the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award. Based on nominations from both students and faculty, the award includes a personal plaque and a check from the chancellor. Recipients’ names are also engraved on a plaque listing previous winners, which is displayed in the J. D. Williams Library.

Scholarships pay tribute to former Speaker of the House, attorney Tim Ford

By Tina Hahn  |  March 11, 2015

Tim Ford

Tim Ford

The University of Mississippi is mourning the loss of dedicated alumnus Tim Ford – who was a longtime speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, successful attorney and strong proponent of education – and students are being encouraged to expand his rich legacy of public service.

The Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship Endowment, created in 2011 to pay tribute to Ford in perpetuity, continues to grow, with the first scholarships to be awarded for the university’s 2015-16 academic year. Ford, who lived in Oxford and earned B.A. and J.D. degrees from UM, passed away Feb. 27 of a heart attack.

“Tim Ford had a distinguished career serving his community, state and university,” said Richard Forgette, interim dean of the UM College of Liberal Arts and former chair of the Department of Political Science. “The Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship will help young people pursue internships in our state legislature and government. It is a fitting legacy to Tim’s work.”

In 2011, the Department of Political Science established the Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship to honor the graduate’s public career as speaker with gifts from Balch & Bingham LLP, a 250-member law firm where Ford was senior partner and executive committee member, as well as from other colleagues and friends. The intent of the scholarships is to help students interested in working in state government in Jackson by helping offset some of the expense of a semester internship.

The goal is to enable and encourage good students to consider public service options, department chair John Bruce said.

“Tim Ford was an exceptional supporter of the Department of Political Science,” Bruce said. “He gave not only financial support but also commitments of his time to work with our students interning in state government in Jackson. His enthusiasm and interest touched the students he worked with each year.”

Ford also was awarded UM’s Distinguished Alumni Award in Public Service the same year the scholarship initiative was launched.

Tim Ford (left) with Richard Forgette, associate professor of political science and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts

Tim Ford (left) with Richard Forgette, associate professor of political science and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts

“Tim was greatly respected on both sides of the aisle – Republican and Democrat,” Forgette said. “His public service made a great difference, not only in terms of his community but also to the state of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi.”

At the time he received the award, Ford said this about his alma mater: “At Ole Miss you meet the future leaders of the state. The friends and contacts that you make at Ole Miss will determine how successful you are in your future because you are literally going to meet everyone who runs the state.”

Ford earned his undergraduate degree in 1973 and his law degree in 1977. He practiced law with Carnathan and Malski and was an assistant district attorney until his election to the Mississippi House of Representatives at age 27. He was elected speaker of the House and served 16 years in that leadership position until his 2004 retirement. He holds the distinction of being the second-longest-serving speaker in Mississippi history.

During his tenure, Ford was known for his ability to hold the House together, despite partisanship pressures and a newly diverse chamber. He was recognized as an effective leader who left the Mississippi Legislature stronger than when he arrived, Bruce said.

Ford was the first House speaker in the nation to receive the William M. Bulger Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award. The honor is conferred every other year on a state legislative leader who has worked to preserve and build public trust in the institution of the state legislature and whose career embodies the highest principles of leadership. The leader was also named recipient of the Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Award in 2003.

“The Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship will help University of Mississippi undergraduates learn about their state and about the state Legislature, a benefiting recognition of Tim Ford’s career,” Forgette said. “These scholarships will contribute to the academic experiences of future undergraduates at the university.”

Ford’s family chose the Paris-Yates Chapel on UM’s Oxford campus as the site of his March 3 memorial service.

Individuals and organizations can make contributions to the Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Contributions also can be made online at For more information, contact Denson Hollis, senior director of development for the UM College of Liberal Arts, at or 662-915-5092.

Winkle’s Vast Contributions Honored with Fund Promoting Faculty Excellence

John Winkle

John Winkle

For nearly four decades, UM political science professor John Winkle has impacted the lives of his students and devoted ample time to academic endeavors across campus.

In honor of his years of service, the University of Mississippi has established the John W. Winkle III Fund for Faculty Excellence. The initiative will attract funds for faculty support in the Department of Political Science, providing resources and encouraging the pursuit of excellence in the spirit of Winkle’s devotion to teaching. His honors include UM’s Faculty Achievement Award among others.

Winkle, whose long tenure teaching and advising concluded in the spring of 2013, was chosen to deliver the inaugural Mortar Board Last Lecture, an annual event for the entire UM community to close the traditional academic year. Since 2003, he served as faculty advisor to  the undergraduate Mock Trial team. This opportunity led many students to continue their studies at the UM Law School.

An avid advocate of honors education, Winkle assisted in the transformation of UM’s Honors Program to the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Its academic structure includes the professor’s suggestions of a required senior research thesis and an emphasis on community service.

Among the few faculty selected to lead discussion-based honors classes and sponsor theses, Winkle’s interaction with SMBHC scholars allowed him a front-row seat to see the results of his efforts to strengthen educational opportunities for high-achieving students.

Senior honors student Frances Sullivan said, “Through his lectures and assignments, Dr. Winkle not only challenged us to push oursevles academically but to also our abilities to make a difference in society.”

TO MAKE A GIFT: Contact John Bruce, professor and chair of political science, at 662.915.7218 or, Nikki Neely at  662.915.6678 or, or visit the UM Foundation website.

Maj. Gen. James E. Donald Inducted in Alumni Hall of Fame

Maj. Gen. James E. Donald

Maj. Gen. James E. Donald

The highest annual honors for alumni who have made an outstanding contribution through good deeds, services, or contributions, admitted retired Maj. Gen. James E. Donald of Atlanta to the University of Mississippi Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2012.

Donald, former chairman of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, earned the Bronze Star for his bold leadership as a task force commander with the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles during Gulf War I. He achieved strategic successes as deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Pacific and two tours of duty in the Pentagon. He was appointed commissioner of corrections in December 2003.

In 2009 Donald was sworn in by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to a seven-year term on the State Board of Pardons and Paroles and was subsequently elected by his colleagues to serve two consecutive terms as chairman.

A Jackson native and a 1970 graduate of UM with a B.A. in political science and history, Donald earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri.


Travis Gray’s Agricultural Policy Analysis

Travis Gray

Travis Gray

Travis Gray created quite a stir with his presentation at the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration in Coral Springs, Fla.

Gray’s honors thesis, “The Economic Impact Analysis of Agricultural Subsidies in Mississippi,” “was the only undergraduate paper accepted for presentation at the 2012 conference. The triple major in political science, public policy leadership, and French, who graduated in May 2013, scored high marks for his presentation.

“His paper spurred more discussion than any other on the panel,” said Joseph “Jody” Holland, visiting assistant professor in public policy leadership. “The comments focused on the big picture of food in America—what we eat and where it comes from—and on Gray’s policy recommendations. There are negative connotations around farm subsidies, so the conversation was about how these recommendations would affect individuals.

“The feedback was about sharing experiences and models that complemented his recommendations of providing subsidies to local food economies. Even though federal funds may be used, people suggested that it be managed and implemented at a local level.”

Using the Regional Economic Model, or REMI, forecasting and policy analysis tool, Gray worked with Holland to analyze a projection model of Mississippi’s economy without federal agricultural subsidies—money paid to farmers and agribusinesses to supplement their income, manage the supply of agricultural commodities and influence the cost and supply of commodities such as wheat, feed grains, or sugar.

Gray’s longitudinal analysis identified the economic impact of the state not receiving $400 million to $500 million annually in agricultural subsidies and its affect on the farm and food industries in Mississippi. His research indicated a loss of 3,000 jobs the first year with the economy eventually correcting itself through appropriate market mechanisms.

“Our panel was called Strengthening Rural Economies, which was ironic because taking away subsidies will hurt—immediately,” Gray said. “But we came up with policy recommendations for after the removal of subsidies.”

A friend’s sustainable farm and workshops for farmers prompted Gray’s interest in agricultural policy during high school in Little Rock, Ark.

He plans to attend law school and, possibly, specialize in food law.

Recent UM Graduate Elected to Summit Town Council

summit-town-168x300University of Mississippi graduate Daryl Porter Jr. has taken a step closer to his political goals by becoming the youngest elected councilman for his hometown of Summit.

As a student, the political science major was always involved, participating in College Democrats, One Mississippi and Sigma Pi fraternity at the University of Mississippi. And after going to Jackson for an internship in the Speaker of the House’s office as a policy assistant, he felt he was ready to embark on a political career.

“I’ve always loved politics,” said Porter, who graduated in May. “And I saw in the newspaper that a seat was available in Summit. You have to petition 50 signatures to run. They verified the signatures I collected and I started campaigning.”

Beginning in March and going right up to the day of the election, Porter, along with several of his friends from UM, campaigned by “knocking on doors, going to different events, shaking hands to get to know people” and telling each about his goal to bring more revenue to Summit.

Porter participated in the first Summit Town Councilman Forum, where he communicated his platform, stating that would have an open-door policy and even giving his number and address to the audience.

“I’m there for the people, I’m their voice on the town council,” he explained.

Since his win, Porter has been to only two board meetings, in July and August, but he has major plans to bring the town into the technological era. For example, the town had never had a website, but now has one, he said.

“I’ve been doing a lot of listening – seeing what has been and can be done,” Porter said.

Porter attributes much of his success to his experience at the University of Mississippi, where he took various political science classes and learned about campaigns and funding.

“Daryl represents the best qualities that we so desperately need in politics today,” said Cy Roseblatt, undergraduate academic adviser in the Department of Political Science. “He is bright, sincere, analytical and positive. If Daryl says that he will do something, he is going to do it. He exudes a quiet determination as he persists in his goal to serve others. What more can we ask of our public servants?”

“Ole Miss has a lot of great connections, if you network with the right people,” Porter said. “Cy Rosenblatt, my adviser, was instrumental. He helped me with the internship. It was great to have him and other politicians talk about how to help my campaign and the town of Summit.”

“I think what Mr. Porter has done here is very unusual,” said John Bruce, UM chair and associate professor of political science. “There are a lot of people who will run for something – to do so the month after you graduate is unusual.

“He is a remarkable young man that impressed people here and in Jackson while working for the state government. That kind of work ethic and people skills will serve him well in his new position.”

Politically, Porter looks up to District 38 state Sen. Kelvin Butler, for whom he served as a page in high school.

“Daryl has always loved the political process,” Butler said. “We need more young people like him who are interested in politics and policy. I know he will do a great job because he listens, which is the most important attribute to in joining this political arena. He is always willing to learn and doesn’t mind asking questions.”

As far as his political aspirations, Porter said he sees this as the beginning, a “laying of the foundation” for the rest of his political career. His ultimate goal is to become a U.S. senator.

“I want to set a precedent for other people my age,” he said. “You don’t have to wait until you’re 35 to start making a difference.”

The son of Daryl Sr. and Emma Porter of Summit, Porter is a graduate of McComb High School.

Political Science Major Wins International Debate

debateteam-300x168Taking first place at the China Open at Xi’an International Studies University were Austin “Woody” Wood, a senior political science major from Dallas, and  Isaac Lichlyter, a 2013 UM graduate and Croft International Studies scholar from Pelham, Ala. The two members of the  University of Mississippi forensics team and David Miller, a sophomore political science major from Clinton, represented UM at the contest.

The China Open is the International Debate Education Association’s premier competition in China, aimed at contributing to thriving debate communities and encouraging interactions among debaters.

“All of the competitors in the final round were extremely polished, so I felt very honored to be chosen by the panel of judges,” Lichlyter said. “Even more so because the panel included both Chinese and American judges, which meant our rhetoric had to be based in a multicultural understanding of the arguments. It was an incredible experience.”

His teammate was equally enthusiastic about the victory. “It was unbelievable,” Wood said. “Each round we advanced during the elimination rounds, my heart would start to beat a little faster until we were sitting on the auditorium stage during that final in front of hundreds of people from across the globe. That really was an eye-opening experience, and one I will cherish forever because it helped illuminate the vastness of our activity.”

With 109 other schools in attendance, this was UM’s first venture onto the international debate stage. Willamette University in Oregon is the driving force behind a series of regional tournaments throughout China in the fall semester that concludes with an international invitation to participate in the China Open. Tournament dates and sites were May 31-June 2 in Xi’an and June 7-9 in Beijing.

Ole Miss Debaters Look forward to China Open

Pictured from left to right : Austin “Woody” Wood, David Miller, and Isaac Lichlyter

All debates are conducted in English. Most of the teams are either hybrid or “friendship” teams, in which a Mandarin student is paired with an English-speaking student. Miller was paired with Yiming Zhao, who goes by her nickname “Amy,” a freshman English major and Mandarin Chinese national attending Xi’an Jiaotong University.

“What made this experience uniquely amazing was my partner,” said Miller, who has competed in similar debates elsewhere. “Amy started debating only six months ago, and while she speaks English very well, it is still a work in progress. She was very, very impressive to compete with. It was amazing to see how someone from a different culture would approach the same problem and find the solution in a completely different way.”

The topics for two of the elimination round debates – students debate a different topic every round during the preliminaries and elimination rounds – concerned China’s presence in space and the need for international communities to focus on domestic rather than foreign policy issues.

UM Forensics began this year competing in the British Parliamentary Worlds Style debate competitions. BP Worlds Style is an internationally relevant debate style that utilizes the traditional skill-sets of logic, reasoning and research, but encourages an international view, using a principle-driven approach to creating and debating a motion.

“Hearing the announcement of our team winning first place was incredible,” said Debra Yancy, assistant director of forensics and speech instructor who accompanied the team. “I do not usually tear up at a debate tournament, but for this one I did! I am so proud of all three of these young men. Also, I am proud to be a part of representing the University of Mississippi here in China.”

Even better than winning, Wood said, was being able to hear the thoughts, thinking styles and perspectives of cultures he has had little chance to interact with on such an intellectual level.
“It felt amazing to win, but being able to be on a huge stage with debaters from Korea, Singapore and China was an experience that will trump most experiences I’ve had,” Wood said. “I am so honored that the university has given me this opportunity and I know that it has helped me become not only a better debater, but more importantly a better human being.”

Yancy thanked Chancellor Dan Jones; Provost Morris Stocks; Glenn Hopkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts; and Bill Gottshall, director of the Lott Leadership Institute, for the opportunity to accompany the team to China for a once-in-a- lifetime experience. She also solely credited JoAnn Edwards, director of forensics, for leading the team’s preparation for the event.

“British Parliamentary debate (or Worlds Style) is a new event for us,” Yancy said. “In fact, we appear to be one of the few teams in the South competing in this style. Acting as a judge for this tournament, I gained valuable experience to bring back home.”

News of the team’s win has brought congratulations from across the Oxford campus.
“I am most excited for the team,” said Edwards, also a speech instructor. “Our students continue to amaze me with their abilities to communicate effectively across cultural and academic audiences. We continue to be small, but mighty – honoring the power of the spoken word.”

Top UM administrators were equally enthusiastic.“I am so proud of our Ole Miss forensics team,” Jones said. “They continue to excel at the highest level. They have moved from winning national competitions to winning at the international level. Way to go!”

“The performance by members of the University of Mississippi Forensics Team at the China Open is extraordinary,” Hopkins said. “Their success in this international competition is testimony to their exceptional debating skills, as well as the expertise and dedication of their coaches and instructors.”

For more information about the China Open, go to
By Edwin Smith

John Winkle Retires After 39 Years

winkleA beloved professor of political science retires this month, but his calendar will still be full for some time to come.

John Winkle, who joined the UM faculty in 1974, has left an indelible mark on the university during his 39-year career as both an academic and a motivator.

His colleague, John Bruce, chair and associate professor of political science, said that Winkle demonstrated the best practices of faculty across his career, all the while performing extensive service for the department, college and university.

“Without doubt or hesitation, I can say that he has left the largest footprint of any faculty member here in a long time,” said Bruce, who has worked with Winkle for 17 years. “His students think the world of him and routinely mention him when contacted years after graduating from the university. Beyond the work dimension, John is a delightful person, and we have been privileged to call him a colleague and friend over the years.”

Winkle was instrumental in the creation of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the honors program before it. In the summer of 1996, he wrote a statement proposing an academic vision for a new honors college, which would be part of a larger document that then-Chancellor Robert Khayat would take to a prospective donor.

“I thought about the need for a unique and transformative experience for each student in a new honors college and I used the professorial model of research, service and teaching,” Winkle said. “I envisioned that each student would write and defend a capstone research thesis in the senior year. I thought it vital that each student understand the importance of giving back to the community in the form of required public service, and I also suggested that students instruct their peers by giving a couple of lectures in introductory classes in their disciplines.”

Two of his three recommendations – the senior thesis and the public service – are components of the Honors College experience to this day.

Winkle also gave his ideas about what would become the Lott Leadership Institute.

“In 1997, I proposed to then-Chancellor Khayat that we consider creating a program in leadership studies,” he said. “He sent Andy Mullins and me to visit colleges and universities whose programs we might model. We returned and submitted a proposal using the model of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond. Eventually, because of the chancellor’s leadership, a proposed program became an institute.”

Besides his academic work, Winkle has inspired countless students over the years. He is a recipient of the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, as well as the Faculty Achievement award, the Random Acts of Kindness Award and the Frist Student Service Award. In 1998, the IHL presented him with the Harrison Governing Boards Award, given to one faculty member in the state system for contributions to higher education in Mississippi.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mills, a former student of Winkle’s who lives in Oxford, called him a fine instructor.

“I worked with him later when I was in the Legislature and he served as adviser to several law-related committees, and we worked together on various pieces of legislation,” said Mills, who took two constitutional law classes and a political science class from Winkle. “He is a good man and too young to retire. He must have a satisfied mind because he hasn’t aged a day since the first day I met him.”

Since 2003, Winkle has been the faculty adviser for the undergraduate mock trial program.

“I will most miss the classroom interaction and the exchange of ideas,” he said. “I challenge my students to think critically. I tell my students that the answer to any question they ask should always prompt another question, for the essence of true learning, I believe, lies in the ability to ask the better question.”

Winkle earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Mercer University and a master’s and Ph.D. in political science from Duke University. He had two visiting appointments at Emory University in 1991 and 1992; and at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1999. His research interests are judicial behavior and judicial lobbying.

He has truly loved his time at the university.

“I have respected the learning process and have encouraged my students to do so. I have cared about my students and have treated them as individuals,” he said.

Plans are under way for the John W. Winkle III Fund for Faculty Excellence.

Winkle’s retirement won’t leave him resting on his laurels, though. Next year, he plans on completing two ongoing research projects for publication.

“Thereafter, I hope to explore several possibilities, such as living abroad for six months, working for nonprofit groups, helping to launch honors programs elsewhere or becoming active in court reform projects,” Winkle said.

International Career


Photo by Kevin Bain/UM Communications

University of Mississippi junior Shruti Jaishankar of Ridgeland could have attended any college on her long application list in 2010 when she graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School as a National Merit Finalist.

In choosing her college destination, Jaishankar held at least two convictions: She knew she wanted to study international relations in preparation for her long-term goal of joining the Foreign Service and working for the U.S. Department of State, and she was seeking an environment with other students who are serious about becoming the best they can be.Upon learning about UM’s Croft Institute for International Programs, she was sold.

“I decided to attend Ole Miss because of the Croft Institute,” she said. “I always knew that I wanted to study international relations, and Croft offered me the opportunity to attend an elite program for a fraction of the cost of other prestigious international relations programs.”

“We are thrilled to have a student of Shruti’s caliber in the Croft Institute,” said Kees Gispen, Croft director. “I have taught her and seen her in action in other classes and, based on that, I can say with confidence that it’s easy to imagine Shruti as a future Foreign Service officer or in any one of a wide variety of responsible international service positions.”

Upon closer look at the university, Jaishankar also was attracted to the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, which she thought would add value to the package.

“Both Croft and the Honors College have allowed me to study with students that take their education as seriously as I do,” she said. “They have given me the opportunity to travel and interact with great minds, such as Attorney General Eric Holder and famed poet Robert Haas, and pushed me to stretch my mind and have made college rewarding and fun.”

As for travel, Jaishankar spent summer 2011 studying in Quito, Ecuador, and she is enrolled this semester at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso in Chile. Her Ole Miss tuition covers her expenses, and she is earning academic credit, with majors in international studies, political science and Spanish. She thinks it’s a good deal.

“I think studying abroad is the best experience a student can have while finishing an undergraduate degree. It allows you to see America through the lens of other countries and leads to a greater understanding of how the world works. The United States is not alone in the world, and it’s important to develop relationships with people from different countries so we can become truly thankful for the privileges we may take for granted, while also learning to understand the flaws of our own society.”

She chose Chile for her study destination because she plans to write her honors thesis about how American electoral laws compare with those around the world.

“Since my concentration in Croft is in Latin America, I chose Chile because it has a unique electoral system with a fascinating history, and I also wanted to experience the rich Chilean culture and travel to regions like Patagonia.”

She expects to get a firsthand look at the country’s culture while living with a host family and commuting to classes at the PUCV.

Jaishankar is slated to graduate from Ole Miss in May 2014, with bachelor’s degrees in both international studies and political science. She hopes to land an internship with the White House or the Department of State, before continuing her education.

“I want to eventually apply to a (juris doctor/master’s) program, where I’ll finish a law degree and a master’s in international relations.”

Besides her academic enrichment and travel abroad, Jaishankar has been rewarded in other ways since arriving on the Oxford campus.

“Ole Miss has taught me to interact with people from many different backgrounds and all walks of life,” she said. “I truly think I’ve become a kinder person after spending so much time among the warm and welcoming Ole Miss community.”

Former UM Linebacker Tackles Meridian Classroom

Jonathan Cornell

Jonathan Cornell

Former University of Mississippi middle linebacker Jonathan Cornell has gone from breaking through offensive linemen to teaching Meridian High School students about African American literature and public speaking during his first year in the Mississippi Teacher Corps.

The February UM School of Education student of the month, Cornell grew up as the youngest of six children in Azusa, California. He graduated from Bishop Amat High School in 2006 with a football scholarship to the University of Mississippi. He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

“He’s become an outstanding teacher in a short time,” said Aaron Johnson acting Teacher Corps program manager who nominated Cornell. “I think it’s because he’s extremely positive and wants to share his experiences. He came from a challenging background in California, then became a successful football player, then he became a teacher in a critical needs school. He reaches out to his students and teaches in an almost coaching fashion.”

During his undergraduate years, the athlete-turned-teacher said he became intellectually inspired by several UM faculty members including political science professor Susan Allen—one of multiple teachers, he remembers, who inspired him to think deeper and even apply the mindset of a linebacker to his studies.

“I knew we were reaching him when he started drawing parallels between theories of international conflict and football,” said Allen. “I have no doubt that his students in Meridian are starting to make connections between the things they learn in Mr. Cornell’s class and their everyday lives.”

During one of Allen’s political science classes, Cornell remembers submitting drafts of a research paper while the professor continually asked him to reevaluate his work with questions such as “Why do you think this?” and “Why do you propose that?”

At first, he became frustrated. But today, he appreciates the “why” questions and tries to bring the same challenge to his students. He also applies his football experience to his new career.

“I remember Coach O used to always tell us ‘be a pro’,” he said. “I didn’t fully understand that until I joined the Teacher Corps. As a teacher you have to be a pro every day with all that you do.”

The Teacher Corps offers non-education college graduates teacher training and job placement for two years in critical-needs schools across North and Central Mississippi as well as the chance to earn a master’s degree in education free of charge during weekend classes and summer classes at the UM School of Education, the state’s largest producer of teacher and educational leadership candidates.

A rigorous summer training program, hosted by Teacher Corps staff and faculty at Holly Springs High School with summer school students from surrounding North Mississippi school districts, is a trial by fire for new recruits.

The process is heavily based on learning by doing combined with a mentor system between Teacher Corps veterans and current members. Not unlike athletes, teachers are asked to review their performance on video and address strengths and weaknesses as classroom leaders.

“You’re thrown out there and you either sink or swim,” said Cornell. “The majority of us end up swimming but there are a few who end up sinking. That strengthens you.”

Cornell hopes to continue his teaching career after he graduates from the program in May 2014.

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