Aug. 11, 2015
Alumni Association to Honor Seven at Homecoming for Achievement, Service
The Ole Miss Alumni Association will award seven distinguished alumni with its highest annual honors as part of Homecoming 2015. Created in 1974, the Hall of Fame honors select alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or the University of Mississippi through good deeds, services or contributions that have perpetuated the good name of Ole Miss.
Inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame for 2015 are: Mary Ann Strong Connell (BA 59, MA 71, MLS 73, JD 77) of Oxford; Lee McCarty (BAEd 47) of Merigold; Dr. Alan Partin (BA 83) of Baltimore, Md.; Billy Van Devender (BSCvE 71) of Jackson; and Dr. Thomas D. Wallace Jr. (BAEd 78, MEd 80, PhD 02) of Bakersfield, Calif.
Suzan B. Thames (BA 68) of Jackson will receive the Alumni Service Award for service to the University and the Alumni Association over an extended period. Hunter Carpenter (BAccy 99, MAccy 00, JD 03) of Dallas, Texas, will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni who have shown exemplary leadership throughout their first 15 years of alumni status in both their careers and dedication to Ole Miss.
The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner for the award recipients will follow the reception at 7 p.m. Those interested in attending the dinner should register in advance by calling the Alumni Association office at 662-915-7375 before 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 25. Cost of the dinner is $50 per person, or tables of 10 are available for $450.
Hall of Fame Awards
A 1959 graduate of the University of Mississippi with degrees in history and English, Mary Ann Strong Connell practices law with Mayo Mallette, PLLC, in Oxford. She served as university attorney for the University of Mississippi from 1982 to 2003 and as school board attorney for the Oxford School District from 2003-13.
Connell taught courses in higher education law, school law, legal research and writing, business law and employment law. She is a frequent presenter at national, regional and state conferences on subjects involving higher education and school law.
She is a past president of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, past president of the Mississippi Council of School Board Attorneys, and a fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of College and University Attorneys; the Distinguished Service Award from the Lafayette County Bar Association; the Thomas S. Biggs Jr. Award for leadership, integrity, and service in the legal profession and the higher education community from Stetson University Law School; the NAACP Freedom Award for lifelong service in the area of education and civil rights; the Mississippi Women Lawyers Association’s Outstanding Woman Lawyer in Mississippi Award; the University of Mississippi Chancellor’s Award for outstanding contributions toward increasing diversity; and the Mortar Board Award for outstanding teacher of the year.
Connell is a member of the Vestry of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford. She received her LLM from Harvard Law School. A native of Louisville, Miss., she has four daughters: Elizabeth Sessums, Stella Connell, Mary Ann Percy, Jane Lee, and four grandchildren.
Lee McCarty is the cofounder of McCartys Pottery. Born in 1923, McCarty grew up in Merigold, and after graduating from the University of Mississippi, he and his wife left for Columbia University in New York where he received a master’s degree in education. The couple then returned to Oxford where McCarty taught science at University High School.
While in Oxford, the couple took pottery classes in the university’s art department. The McCartys created their first studio in the garage of their small home on South 8th Street and set about developing their glazes and style that would later serve as the foundation for McCartys Pottery.
The McCartys returned to Merigold in 1954 and opened their studio in an old mule barn. By the early 1960s, they had shown in several museums and exhibits around the country and won first prize in 1961 in the National Show at the Delgado Museum in New Orleans. The McCartys developed their own glazes, which included the jade, cobalt blue and signature nutmeg.
In 1996, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters awarded the McCartys the Lifetime Achievement Award and the University of Mississippi Museum of Art held a retrospective entitled Masters of Merigold: 40 Years of McCarty Pottery. In 2012, the Mississippi Arts Commission honored McCartys Pottery with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts and the Smithsonian Institution inducted the gardens at the studio into their Archives of American Gardens.
Although his wife, Pup, passed away in 2009, McCarty continues working each day in the studio with his godsons, Jamie and Stephen Smith.
* McCarty passed away in September 2015 at the age of 92 and will receive the award posthumously.
Dr. Alan Partin is a professor of urology, oncology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His areas of clinical expertise include prognosis prediction and surgical treatment for men with prostate cancer. He has served as the Jakurski Family Director of The Brady Urological Institute and urologist-in-chief for the Department of Urology since 2005.
Partin received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Mississippi. He achieved the honor of Academic All-American and varsity letter recognition two years for football, and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Partin earned his M.D. and Ph.D. in pharmacology and molecular systems from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He also completed his residency in urology and surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Partin’s research focuses on development and testing of new and existing methods for predicting the aggressiveness of prostate cancers. He is credited with creating a set of tables widely known as the Partin Tables, which help physicians and patients choose the most appropriate treatments for prostate cancer.
Partin has been recognized with the Ambrose Monell Research Award, David Koch Prostate Cancer Research Award and the 2002 AUA/ACMI Gold Cystoscope Award, and the AUA Distinguished Contribution award (2015) among others. He is a member of the American Medical Association and the American Urological Association.
Partin is the editor of Campbell-Walsh Urology Textbook, editor or co-editor of three Journals and has published over 600 scholarly articles.
Partin is married to Vicky Partin and they have four children, Topper, David, Dane and Michael. They presently live in Baltimore, Md.
Billy Van Devender graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1971, and was a starting defensive back on the 1970 Sugar Bowl champion football team. He received his MBA in 1973 from Southern Methodist University, and then joined the Central Intelligence Agency. After four years with the CIA, he moved back to Mississippi to begin his business career. Van Devender’s career began in the oil and gas industry, followed by investments in real estate development and the forest product industry where his family is now primarily in timber management and lumber manufacturing.
Van Devender has contributed a substantial amount of philanthropic work to his community. He has served as commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality since 1998 and joined the board of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 1997. He served on the board of Mississippi’s Young Life organization and the MS Baptist Health System. He is an active board member of But God Ministries, an organization that works to build sustainable living communities in Haiti, and he is a member at First Baptist Church of Jackson. In past years, Van Devender was a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, the World Forestry Center and the Chief Executive Organization.
Van Devender and his wife, Mollie Magee, have been married for 36 years and have four children: Laura, William, Anne and Clinton. His favorite activities are spending time with his four grandchildren, hunting, golf and timber business.
Dr. Thomas Wallace is vice president for Student Affairs at California State University, Bakersfield. Prior to that appointment in 2012, he held administrative and faculty positions at the University of Mississippi and the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He is vice chancellor for student affairs and associate professor of education, emeritus, at the University of Mississippi.
In 2011, the Student Government Association at the University of Nebraska, Omaha presented Wallace with the Curulis Award for outstanding service to students. In June 2012, Wallace was selected Administrator of the Year by the Associated Students Inc. He was named Northwest Mississippi Community College Alumnus of the Year in 2008 and the University of Mississippi, School of Education Alumnus of the Year in 1998. During that same year he was presented with the Ole Miss Alumni Association’s Minority Award of Distinction. The state College Board named Wallace the Black History Month Educator of the Year in 1999.
Wallace served on the executive board of Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society, held the position of Mississippi director for the National Association of School Personnel Administrators for four years and served as a faculty member for the Mississippi Economic Council’s Leadership Mississippi Program, the country’s second oldest state leadership program.
In representing Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Wallace presented the idea for the Chucky Mullins Courage Award to Ole Miss Athletics. The award is given annually to a defensive player exhibiting leadership, courage and perseverance.
Wallace and his wife, Phyllis Hairston Wallace, have three children: Dee, Gigi and Ty.
Alumni Service Award
Suzan B. Thames is retired from the practice of audiology at the Jackson Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic in Jackson. A 1968 graduate of Ole Miss, she received her master’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Tulane University and studied in Behavioral Disorders at the University of Wisconsin.
Thames’ volunteer career with the University of Mississippi Medical Center began in the early 1980s with fundraising efforts, in concert with the Junior League of Jackson, which resulted in the opening of the Junior League of Jackson Children’s Cancer Clinic. Fundraising for Mississippi’s only children’s hospital then began under the leadership of Friends of Children’s Hospital, the support group Thames chaired for 20 years. With support from Friends, the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children opened in 1997.
In 2011, Thames was chosen Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year by the National Philanthropy Association and was honored with the Suzan B. Thames Endowed Chair of Pediatrics at UMMC.
Thames serves as co-chair of The MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which heads a consortium of medical institutions worldwide in the research and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia. She also serves as a board member of the Children’s Cancer Clinic Fund.
Thames is a member of the Ole Miss Foundation Board of Directors, the Ole Miss Women’s Council, the school of Applied Sciences Board of Directors and the Advisory Board for Communicative Sciences and Disorders.
She and her husband, Tommy, have three daughters and five grandchildren. They reside in Jackson and are members of Northminster Baptist Church.
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Hunter Carpenter is a partner of RedBird Capital Partners, where he is responsible for RedBird’s natural resources and industrial related investment activity. RedBird is a New York- and Dallas-based principal investing firm focused on growth equity, buildups and structured equity investments in family owned, founder-led and entrepreneurial businesses targeting attractive risk-adjusted returns.
Prior to RedBird, Carpenter spent the majority of his career working for the Stephens family of Little Rock, Ark. While there, he helped Witt Stephens Jr. launch The Stephens Group as a stand-alone private equity firm continuing the Stephens family’s long history of direct investing. Carpenter either led or assisted on deal teams that invested across 11 platform deals, with multiple add-on acquisitions and five exits. When he left The Stephens Group, Carpenter was the lead board member representing The Stephens Group for six companies in the energy and industrial space.
Carpenter’s responsibilities over the course of his career have spanned the full life cycle of private investments including sourcing, negotiating, executing, financing, structuring and exiting investments, as appropriate. The majority of Carpenter’s investing experience involved backing entrepreneurs to help them grow as well as navigate the challenges of scaling over longer term hold periods.
Carpenter is a board member of the University of Mississippi Foundation and the chairman of its Investment Committee. He was named one of Oil & Gas Investor’s “Top 20 Under 40” in Energy Finance in 2014 and one of the “Top 40 Under 40” by Arkansas Business Magazine in 2011.
Carpenter was a four-year letterman in men’s basketball at Ole Miss. He is married to Megan Flowers Carpenter and has three children: Lawler, Brackett and Wyllys.