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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

Croft Institute Marks Its 20th Anniversary

Events include alumni panels, commemoration ceremony


Since its first graduating class in 2001, 520 students have graduated from the Croft Institute for International Studies.

Since its first graduating class in 2001, 520 students have graduated from the Croft Institute for International Studies. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi celebrates its 20th anniversary Friday (Oct. 5) with several events for UM alumni, students, faculty and staff.

The institute welcomed its first cohort in 1998 after being created following a generous $60 million donation from the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund in September 1997.

In its 20-year history, 520 UM students have graduated from the institute. The intensive foreign language studies, at least a semester of study abroad and the passionate work of Croft faculty and staff have created an institute and legions of graduates who have changed the UM campus, the state of Mississippi and the world.

Equipped with these international skills, Croft alumni work around the globe in nongovernmental organizations, public sector occupations such as the military or the U.S. Department of State, and fields ranging from banking and finance to business and manufacturing. Similarly, Croft students are preparing themselves for global careers during their coursework at Croft and when they study abroad.

That past and the future of Croft is being celebrated this Friday with a series of events. Alumni of the Croft Institute will speak to current students about their careers in a set of alumni panels. The commemoration ceremony in the afternoon formally celebrates Croft’s 20 years of success, and the evening reception provides an opportunity for alumni from different cohorts and current students to meet and mingle.

“We are excited about celebrating the Croft Institute’s 20th anniversary,” said Oliver Dinius, Croft executive director and associate professor of history. “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together current students with all the people who – over the last 20 years – have made Croft into a special place: the generous donors who supported the institute’s founding, the administrators who offered the vision for a special program, the faculty who created the excitement in the classroom and the Croft alumni who put in the work to earn the degree and turn it into an exciting career.

“Personally, I am thrilled to see many of the former students with whom I had the opportunity to work over the last 14 years.”

The events include:

Alumni Panels and Breakout Sessions, 10 a.m.-noon, Joseph C. Bancroft Conference Room (Croft Institute, Room 107) – There will be two separate sessions: 10-11 a.m. and 11 a.m.-noon. Each session is split into two parts: a 30-minute panel with five alumni, followed by a 25-minute breakout session to give a smaller group of students an opportunity to follow-up by talking to one alumnus about their career.

The alumni for the session are Buddy Apple, Class of 2004; Allie Cleaver, Class of 2013; Vanessa Cook, Class of 2002; Anne Corless, Class of 2013; Christine Day, Class of 2006; Patrick Dogan, Class of 2008; Emilie Dayan Hill, Class of 2011; Bob Lynch, Class of 2008; John Martin, Class of 2009; and Josh Norris, Class of 2009.

Commemoration Ceremony, 2-3:30 p.m., Joseph C. Bancroft Conference Room (Croft Institute, Room 107) – This formal ceremony will officially recognize the institute’s 20th anniversary. The ceremony includes a welcome by Dinius and special guest speakers Gerald M. Abdalla, CEO and president of Croft LLC and chairman of the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund; Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat; and Provost Noel Wilkin. Two Croft alumni – Susan Hedglin, Class of 2009, and Patrick Woodyard, Class of 2010 – also will speak. Refreshments will be served on the porch following the ceremony.

Reception, 7-11 p.m., Powerhouse Community Arts Center – The reception will be an evening of food and live music for Croft alumni, students, faculty and staff.