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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Alumnus Leaves Bequest to University of Mississippi

Virginia Carey Smith had a deep love for The University of Mississippi that lasted throughout her life. She considered the university part of her family, so it’s fitting that through her bequest to the school, her legacy there lives on.

Smith graduated from UM in 1936 with a liberal arts degree. Like her two older brothers, Colton and Beverly, Smith dreamed of attending UM from the time she was young. To help her parents with the tuition, Smith worked in the university library.

It was her wish to help others attend the university and fulfill dreams of their own through continuing their education. The gift from her estate is intended to do just that.

“This gift is a way she could help pay back the people that helped her when she was in school here,” said the donor’s great-nephew Whitman Smith, UM director of orientation. “Above all, she loved people and she loved Ole Miss.”

The funds that Smith’s estate provided go toward a permanent endowment in the Department of Classics. Funds from the endowment will assist with a new freshman classics course, in which all students will have the opportunity to participate.

“Virginia Smith’s gift will provide, among other things, new opportunities for students to study classics,” said Glenn Hopkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “The Department of Classics and the College of Liberal Arts are very appreciative of this gift that will benefit our students for years to come.”

Smith, who died in September 2006 at age 91, grew up in Gulfport and lived much of her life in Madison. After graduating from UM, she began what would become a lifelong career with BellSouth, where she served as the executive secretary to three presidents of the company.

Smith was an active member of the Kappa Delta sorority alumni association. She loved animals, and the Jackson Humane Society is also a beneficiary of her estate.

“I know it would please her that the money she left is being used to help students,” said Bo Burghard, Smith’s next-door neighbor and friend. “She loved to read and she loved to learn, and there was nothing she loved more than Ole Miss.”

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