College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

ASB President, Campuswide Top Teacher are HEADWAE Honorees

A University of Mississippi senior and an accomplished academician are among 72 outstanding students and faculty being honored Thursday (Feb 26) by the Mississippi Legislature.

Graham Purcell, a political science major from Louisville, and Gregory Schirmer, professor of English, have been selected for recognition during the 22nd annual Higher Education Appreciation Day Working for Academic Excellence, or HEADWAE, program. Purcell is president of the Associated Student Body; Schirmer is the 2008 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher, a campuswide honor.

Schirmer and Purcell join 70 other honorees, representing the state’s 36 public and private universities and colleges, for a tour of the Capitol and an awards luncheon in Jackson. Aubrey Patterson, chairman and CEO of BancorpSouth and member of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, will be the luncheon speaker.

Both honorees expressed surprise at being selected by UM administrators for the HEADWAE recognition.

“Being selected to represent the university in this manner is a great honor to me,” Purcell said. “I look forward to going to Jackson and meeting the members of the state Legislature who have made this possible.”

“I was, honestly, quite stunned when I was told I had won this award,” Schirmer said. “There are many, many fine teachers at this university whose work is equally, if not more, deserving of this kind of recognition.”

A seasoned journalist, Schirmer formerly worked at The Wall Street Journal and Newsday. He completed his doctoral degree at Stanford University and taught at the University of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt University before joining the UM faculty in 1984.

Purcell’s many other campus involvements include memberships in Students for A Safe Ride, One Mississippi, Student Programming Board, Habitat for Humanity, Operation Christmas Child, Ole Miss Army ROTC (a four-year scholar to be commissioned as second lieutenant upon graduation), and Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

The Mississippi Legislature, the corporate community and others involved in higher education are given the opportunity to celebrate the individual students, faculty and staff who embody academic excellence and achievement, said Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, chair of HEADWAE and master of ceremonies for the Jackson event.

“These honorees, through their personal and academic achievements, demonstrate that a quality education can be found right here in Mississippi’s colleges and universities,” he said.

HEADWAE was established in 1988 by legislative resolution. Corporate sponsors of the program include Atmos Energy, AT&T, BankPlus, Entergy, JBHM Education Group, Mississippi National Guard, Puckett Machinery and Trustmark Bank, all of Jackson; Chevron and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, both of Pascagoula; South Mississippi Electric of Hattiesburg; Nissan of Canton; Sanderson Farms of Laurel; Valley Services, Inc. of Flowood; and BancorpSouth of Tupelo.