College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Nominations Sought for Annual Frist Awards

Honor recognizes UM faculty and staff members for outstanding service to students


Robert Brown, professor of political science, was one of the recipients of the 2017 Thomas Frist Student Service Award. Photo by Kevin Bain

Robert Brown, professor of political science, was one of the recipients of the 2017 Thomas Frist Student Service Award. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Away from their families and hometown friends, many college students encounter challenges or hardships. But at the University of Mississippi, faculty and staff members often step in to lend a helping hand or words of advice and encouragement.

These efforts often go unacknowledged, other than the students’ gratitude and success. But students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff can formally recognize those who have truly “gone the extra mile” to help students by nominating them for the Thomas Frist Student Service Award.

“This award is such a high honor because it serves as an important reminder that we have responsibilities to our students that go well beyond our time together in the classroom,” said Robert Brown, professor of political science and a 2017 recipient of the award. “The difficulties of life certainly don’t stop at the borders of the UM campus, and I’ve learned a great deal from the bravery I’ve seen in my students.

“When a student trusts you enough to confide in you about a struggle they’re having, that is a very humbling experience. I’m grateful our university recognizes this, and encourages both students and faculty to work to make our campus a better place for everyone in our community.”

Students, alumni, friends, faculty and staff can submit nominations for the annual awards online through 5 p.m. April 5. Any full-time faculty or staff member, except previous winners, is eligible for the award, which includes a $1,000 prize and a plaque.

Written and submitted by individuals, nominations can be entered at Past nominations also may be considered.

Nominations should not focus on classroom teaching or tutoring efforts. Letters that cite only teaching-related activities may not be considered for the award. The Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, announced at the annual Honors Day convocation, recognizes excellence in that area.

The nomination narrative should differentiate between obligation and service by citing specific examples in which the person being nominated has gone beyond the call of duty to help a student or group of students.

“Our faculty and staff do a wonderful job serving the campus community and providing a positive and successful experience for our students,” Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks said. “The Frist Service Awards are a great way to honor those who are truly exemplary and go above and beyond in their commitment to student engagement and success.

“Help us continue our strong tradition of Frist Award honorees, and nominate someone who has made a significant impact on the lives of our students.”

All nominees are notified that they have been so honored, and a campus committee appointed by the chancellor chooses the winners. Awards are to be presented May 11 at UM’s spring Commencement.

The 2018 Frist winners were Kerri Scott, instructional associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and associate director of forensic chemistry; Leslie Banahan, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs; and Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services in the School of Engineering.

Previous recipients include faculty members Aileen Ajootian, Luca Bombelli, Donald Dyer, Denis Goulet, Ellen Meacham, Terry Panhorst and Ken Sufka; and staff members Carol Forsythe, Ginger Patterson, Valeria Ross, Amy Saxton, Marc Showalter, Whitman Smith and Linda Spargo.

The Frist Student Service Awards were established with a $50,000 gift from the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate.

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit