International corporation expands partnership with Mississippi university

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

FedEx Corp., a longtime industry partner of the University of Mississippi, is advancing that relationship with a major new commitment that promises to have an impact across the university.

The expanded partnership established endowed funds to expand the data science program in the Department of Computer and Information Science and support the FedEx Student-Athlete Academic Support Center; programs, lectures and leadership development produced by the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy; and access and student success programming led by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

“The University of Mississippi has a vital responsibility in serving this generation and the next, and our outstanding, longtime partnership with FedEx Corp. helps us strengthen our educational excellence as well as the renowned Ole Miss student experience and our university community in general,” UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce said.

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“We are deeply grateful for FedEx’s commitment to these meaningful programs that have a transformational impact on opportunities we extend to our students. Nurturing partnerships like this is a priority for our university.”

A major UM supporter for nearly three decades, FedEx Corp. relies on the university as a pipeline for internships and employees and is the largest employer of Ole Miss alumni. In recent years, FedEx leaders have participated in campus programming and partnered with UM on innovative initiatives.

Impact of the company’s support can be felt across campus. Other campus programs supported by FedEx include the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, School of Business Administration, School of Journalism and New Media, Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, Trent Lott Leadership Institute and student scholarships.

“At FedEx, we understand that the key to unlocking lifelong economic and career opportunities is by helping to improve the academic resources available to students,” said Ole Miss alumna Jenny Robertson, FedEx senior vice president for integrated marketing and communications. “Through our support of the Ole Miss data science program, Academic Support Center, diversity programs and Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy, we are helping prepare students to successfully join the workforce.”

The endowment for the computer science department will help boost data science learning, particularly by creating a data science major that will be launched in fall 2024, thanks in part to FedEx, said Greg Easson, interim dean of the School of Engineering.

“The School of Engineering and the Department of Computer and Information Science is expanding our research and education capabilities through a cluster hire of faculty in this growing discipline,” Easson said. “FedEx’s support will help the department attract and retain top talent, both faculty and students, and fund data science education projects and initiatives – all positioning Ole Miss as a leader in this highly competitive arena.”

The FedEx Student-Athlete Academic Support Center opened in 2007, following a 2005 gift from the company, providing computer facilities and space for study halls and tutoring for student-athletes, as well as additional classrooms for all university students. In 2022, Ole Miss student-athletes set a UM record for the highest Academic Progress Rate score with a multiyear average of 992, eight points over the national average of 984.

The center is integral to the university’s goal to compete at the highest level in every aspect of its intercollegiate programs, said Keith Carter, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics.

“We appreciate the continued generosity of FedEx and its incredible support of our student-athletes,” Carter said. “Our remarkable team success in recent years has been matched by our student-athletes’ record-breaking accomplishments in the classroom.

“Those achievements are not possible without our partnership with FedEx, the facilities they help provide and the passionate work of our support staff.”

Over the years, FedEx leaders have been active at the university, serving on boards and volunteer leadership roles across campus, sharing their expertise with faculty and offering insights to university programs and events.

Robertson, an Ole Miss alumna, recently spoke at IMC Connect!, an inaugural conference hosted by the journalism school.

In 2022, Claude Russ, an Ole Miss alumnus and COO of FedEx Dataworks and CEO of ShopRunner, participated on a panel for the BASE Bootcamp, hosted by the School of Business Administration.

Rose Flenorl, an Ole Miss alumna and FedEx’s DEI and global citizenship manager, is a longtime leader and champion for UM. She has been active with the Ole Miss Alumni Association, UM Foundation board, Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, and the Ole Miss Women’s Council.

Part of FedEx’s renewed partnership will support Women’s Council programming and help bring cross-cultural leaders and philanthropists to Ole Miss through the Robert C. Khayat Lecture Series, named for the chancellor emeritus.

Makayla Russell, a sophomore IMC major from Hazlehurst, is a recipient of the FedEx Council Scholarship. Using the scholarship has given Russell the opportunity to attend events such as the PULSE Leadership Convention.

“I have loved getting to connect with leaders within the Women’s Council and students around campus to become the best possible leaders that we can be here at Ole Miss and when we graduate,” she said. “I am so incredibly thankful for FedEx and the Ole Miss Women’s Council for continually pouring into students and giving us invaluable experiences to grow our leadership skills.”

Through Flenorl’s involvement in the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, FedEx has been a long-term partner with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. A portion of the new commitment will be used to support student success and recruitment programming led by the center, which will assist underrepresented students pursuing degrees in STEM; remove financial barriers to students seeking internships and experiential learning; and provide support for diverse student organizations.

“Because of FedEx’s generous gift, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement will be able to create more opportunities for students to thrive and reach their full potential during their time at the University of Mississippi and beyond,” said Shawnboda Mead, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. “FedEx will help us impact the lives of students as they work to earn their degrees, pursue internships and take advantage of experiential learning opportunities.”

The company’s support has made a tremendous impact across the entire university, said Hughes Miller, director of industry engagement.

“The university looks forward to continuing this strong, model partnership with FedEx, which has a decades-long legacy of advancing both organizations,” he said.