Alon Bee of Jackson believes that the future of the University of Mississippi lies in recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty members who provide exceptional academic instruction. For this reason, he and his children, Paige and Blake Bee, have created an endowment to benefit the College of Liberal Arts.
“I continue to be impressed by the quality of faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and the leadership of Dean Glenn Hopkins,” said Bee, who serves on the Liberal Arts Alumni Chapter board of directors. “When you consider the outstanding Ole Miss graduates throughout Mississippi, the nation and the world, you know that kind of quality education does not just happen. It takes an extraordinary faculty to create such high-quality programs and produce these graduates.”
Bee and his children are all graduates of the College of Liberal Arts. Originally, he established the Alon Bee Sr. Scholarship in Broadcasting in 2005 to pay tribute to his late father, who was widely known for his 42-year career as a Mississippi broadcaster. Bee and his children recently decided to convert the scholarship to faculty support and added a planned gift to create the Alon Bee Family Endowment for Liberal Arts Faculty Support.
“Scholarships are obviously very important to a university, but I believe it’s important to consider both sides of the learning environment – students and faculty – when planning support,” Bee said. “From my experience serving on the Liberal Arts Alumni Chapter Board and knowing many alumni, there are many generous people in our Ole Miss family. If any of them have completed commitments to scholarships, I would encourage them to consider faculty support, as well.”
The College of Liberal Arts set a goal of attracting $2 million for faculty support, which was followed by Chancellor Dan Jones’ announcement to build a $100 million endowment to support faculty across disciplines. Although UM faculty salaries fall below the average of state universities throughout the South, Ole Miss faculty members continue to provide exceptional leadership and service to students, the chancellor said.
“The college is most fortunate to have friends like Alon Bee, and we very much appreciate the support of Alon and his family,” said Glenn Hopkins, dean of liberal arts. “With their help, we can continue to hire the best and brightest faculty members to work with our students.”
Bee, Regions Bank city president for metro Jackson, said he often considers the significant benefits he and his children have derived from their educational experiences.
“Ole Miss has been good to my family and me, and we have always valued what is meaningful to our family,” Bee said. “Our decision to support our gifted faculty was made in hopes of impacting future students educated at Ole Miss for many years to come. It was a natural decision for my children and me because we each want to support our university.”
The Bees have also endowed a scholarship at the UM School of Nursing in memory of their mother and wife, Vicki, who died in 2005. She earned a bachelor’s in nursing from the university in 1980. Each year the family presents the Vicki Randle Bee Scholarship to the UM Medical Center’s Student Nurse of the Year, an honor Vicki received in 1980.
Before Vicki Bee passed away, her husband self-published the book “100 Reminders for My Kids Before They Leave Home,” providing the kind of practical advice his father gave him, on everything from changing the oil in a car to investing in friendships. He wrote the book for his own children and often presented copies as gifts to children of his friends. Ole Miss also has given copies to Honors College students.
As word spread about his book, Alon Bee began selling them, and all proceeds are directed to the faculty support and nursing scholarship endowments.
Paige Bee, who earned a psychology degree at UM, is a program specialist for the Mississippi Children’s Home Services. Blake Bee, who earned a political science degree from the university, is an attorney and legislative liaison for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.
For more information on supporting faculty in the College of Liberal Arts, contact John Festervand, associate director of development, at 662-915-1757 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or the University Foundation at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. Gifts of all sizes are appreciated, and unlimited opportunities are available to invest in the teaching and research of faculty, including naming opportunities.