New Book Celebrates First 100 Years of UM Business School

By Stella Connell

The University of Mississippi School of Business Administration concludes its series of events celebrating the school’s centennial with a book launch Friday (Nov. 10) at Oxford’s Off Square Books.

The 5 p.m. event will feature signings and a video commemorating “100 Years of Ole Miss Business.” It is free and open to the public.

The book, “Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years,” a 200-page illustrated history of the school, takes the reader on a journey from the inaugural 1917 semester as the School of Commerce, led by Dean James Warsaw Bell through the spirited leadership of Ken Cyree, the school’s current, and 11th, dean.

The volume opens with the speech Cyree made in September at the kickoff event in the courtyard of Holman Hall, the school’s home, which was newly adorned with centennial banners along the front.

“Thousands of lives have been changed, thousands of opportunities created and thousands of people making a difference,” Cyree said. “I look forward to the next 100 years and know we are poised to do great things with the dedication and commitment of this group of people in the business school.”

Bell was not only instrumental in the school’s launch, but also in the university’s athletics programs. In the early 1900s, he personally financed the football squad. As a member of the athletics committee, Bell was also instrumental in hiring C.M. “Tad” Smith, the school’s longest-serving athletics director, who coincidently married the school’s first female graduate, Frances “Bunch” Clark Smith.

The book explores the move from the Lyceum to Conner Hall in 1961, when enrollment spiked from several hundred to 1,100. Many observers partially credit the explosion in enrollment to the fact that Conner Hall; had air conditioning and the Lyceum did not.

It chronicles the extraordinary accomplishments of the school’s graduates in the 1950s, the enrollment of its first black students in 1965 and the peaceful separation of the schools of Business Administration and Accountancy in 1979.

The school has more than 3,800 students, 63 faculty members and 18 staff members, making it the largest business school in Mississippi. It offers 11 majors, a top 10 insurance program and a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

In honor of the centennial, the UM Foundation has created the 1917 Order, a fundraising effort to recruit faculty, provide scholarships and increase class offerings, among many other initiatives. Membership begins with a gift of $25,000 or greater, with pledges scheduled over five years.

“This effort will allow us to continue to grow in national rankings, recruit top students and faculty, and reach for new heights of excellence for the school,” said Tim Noss, the school’s development officer.

A number of alumni, featured in the book, will be on hand at Off Square Books to sign their individual pages of “Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years.”