This couple just gave Mississippi university $1 million gift to shape future careers of students. Here is their story.
Published 5:29 am Thursday, April 6, 2023
A $1 million gift from Lacie and Joe Gorder, of San Antonio, will help shape the future careers of University of Mississippi students pursuing degrees in the dynamic, competitive field of fashion promotion.
Announced Tuesday (April 4) as part of Giving Day 2023 – the university’s annual social media-driven fundraising event – the gift will support scholarships for students enrolled in the fashion promotion specialization of the integrated marketing communications major in the School of Journalism and New Media.
“My experience and education at Ole Miss were wonderful, and I want to help others enjoy the same,” said Lacie Gorder, an alumna. “My husband, Joe, and I view quality education as a ‘great equalizer’ and take great joy in helping others improve their prospects for a bright future.”
Chancellor Glenn Boyce expressed appreciation to Lacie and Joe Gorder for the major gift.
“We are extremely grateful to the Gorders for their commitment to shaping how our students pursue their passions and build successful lives and careers,” Boyce said.
“The Gorders’ gift is a tremendous addition to the School of Journalism and New Media and will have an immediate impact. It is rewarding to see our accomplished alumni and supporters investing in our students and in our future.”
Lacie Miller Gorder earned a degree in fashion merchandising at Ole Miss and worked in the fashion industry in Dallas after her 1980 graduation and then later after her children were older. She said she wants to help others enjoy the same experience.
The first scholarship from this gift will be awarded this fall, and the program will build until a minimum of 10 students will be receiving this scholarship each year.
“I hope this scholarship will make an Ole Miss education more available to students for many years to come while reducing the financial burden on their families,” she said.
Andrea Hickerson, dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, shared the significant impact the Gorders’ gift will have.
“This generous gift is transformational for our school and our students in the fashion specialization,” she said. “It will help us recruit and retain top students. It puts us on the map as a destination for students interested in fashion promotion. We will continue to build programming worthy of this honor.”
Sixty-seven students are enrolled in the fashion promotion specialization, which stands as one of the school’s most popular specializations. It was established in 2018 after the school saw student demand for topical courses related to fashion and decided to invest in it more heavily, Hickerson said.
“The fashion specialization enables IMC students to take their core competencies in digital media content creation and strategy and apply them to a particular industry,” she said. “Students in the fashion promotion specialization are poised to work in advertising and public relations or as entrepreneurs. They can execute branding for existing companies or start their own.”
First preference for the scholarships goes to full-time freshmen from the state of Texas or from Natchez. Gorder grew up in Natchez, and her father attended Ole Miss in the 1950s.
“I had heard so much about Ole Miss my entire life, I always thought that’s where I’d go,” she said. “I was so committed to getting my college education at Ole Miss that it was the only university I applied to.”
She joined the Alpha Delta Pi sorority as a student and valued her education because of her parents.
“My parents were the primary influence since they both graduated from college,” Gorder said. “It was clear that furthering my education would make reaching my goal that much easier.
“The balance of academics and social activities on the Oxford campus was appropriate, and it prepared me not only for a career but also for a fuller life. When I think of Ole Miss, I smile! Hotty Toddy, the Grove, lifelong friends … I hope to help others have the same wonderful experience I had.”
Joe Gorder is chairman and CEO of Valero Energy Corp., a Fortune 500 company headquartered in San Antonio with 10,000 employees. It is the world’s largest independent petroleum refiner and the world’s second-largest renewable fuels producer, with 15 refineries in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.
Lacie Gorder took her husband to Ole Miss for the first time this past fall, and it was a hit.
“Joe loved it!” she said. “He loved Ole Miss’s beauty and school spirit. We already have plans to return this fall to attend another football game.”
Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the Lacie Miller Gorder Fashion Promotion Scholarship Endowment by mailing a check, with the endowment’s name in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online here.
For information on establishing scholarships, contact Patrick Salter, development associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-2712.