April 18, 2019  

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Southern Miss Alumni Association Inducts Seven into Hall of Fame

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Dr. Martha Saunders

The University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association inducted seven outstanding graduates into its Hall of Fame as one of the highlights of its Centennial Homecoming Celebration.

The inductees include:

Dr. Beverly Dale ’68

For more than four decades, Dr. Beverly Dale’s dedication to The University of Southern

Mississippi has not wavered. First as a student who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology in 1968, then as a member of the faculty in the Department of Microbiology from 1972 to 1974, and for many years as an alumna, Dale has demonstrated her love for her alma mater.

During her collegiate years, Dale was active in student government, academic societies and numerous other campus organizations. She was president of Delta Delta Delta sorority and upon her graduation from Southern Miss was awarded the Tri Delta National Leadership Award, given annually to the outstanding Tri Delta undergraduate in the nation.

Dale received a Ph.D. in 1983 from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas and began a career in the health sciences industries retiring in 2005. She counts as her two most successful accomplishments her participation in the introduction of the first FDA-approved HIV viral load assay, required for the successful monitoring of patient response to HIV drugs, and her role as a founder and original board member of her husband’s company, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., now a $2.4 billion publicly traded company.

Since 2004, the Life Member of the Alumni Association has served as a member of the University Foundation’s Board of Directors and as a member of the College of Health Dean’s Advisory Council. In addition, Dale’s lead gifts helped establish the Alvin J. Williams Endowed Professorship in Minority Entrepreneurship, the John and Margaret Dale Presidential Scholarship in the College of Health, and she worked toward the development of the Maj. Gen. Buford “Buff” Blount Endowed Professorship in Military History.

Most notably, perhaps, her contributions led to the creation of the Lt. Col. John H. Dale, Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series, named in honor of her deceased father, who was a professor and head of the Department of Military Science at Southern Miss and served on the faculty of the Department of Science Education after his retirement from the military.

Dale resides in Los Altos, Calif., and Austin, Texas.

Richard Johnston ‘59

A successful businessman and a dedicated volunteer, Richard Johnston made his mark on the football field for Mississippi Southern College more than 50 years ago and has continued to make a positive difference for Southern Miss ever since.

As a team captain, Johnston led the Southerners through a magical season in 1958, a season that ended with the squad’s record unblemished and a 1958 College Division United Press International National Championship. Johnston, a center, was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams following the 1957 season and played in the 1959 Senior Bowl.

He was inducted into the M-Club Sports Hall of Fame in 1978 and was selected as a member of the Southern Miss “Team of the Century.” During his years as a student, Johnston also enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves and was honorably discharged in 1959.

More recently, Johnston has demonstrated his love for Southern Miss through his volunteer service. A member of the Southern Miss Foundation’s Honor Club, he has been an M-Club board president (2005-06), an Athletic Foundation treasurer (2008-09),a member of the Foundation’s (1984-86) and M-Club’s boards of directors (1980-82 and again from 1999 to the present), and a Big Gold Club of South Louisiana president (1981). He is a life member of the Alumni Association, serves as the Athletic Foundation’s secretary and maintains memberships in the Eagle Club, the Dugout Club, the Hardwood Club, Wings and the Attack Club.

Johnston’s successes extend to the business world, as he has experienced a lengthy career that has included positions with Shell Oil Company, Bell Maintenance and Fabrication, Inc. and Liberty Services, Inc., among others.

Since 1980, he has been a vice president, director and stockholder for Crossover, Inc., an American Petroleum Institute-licensed company that supplies equipment for exploration and drilling operations. Among business achievements and honors, Johnston was elected delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business in 1980 and was awarded an honorary lifetime membership in the Harvey Canal Industrial Association in 1991.

Johnston is married to wife Janet, with whom he resides in Biloxi. They have five adult children.

Rickey Jones ‘92

As a basketball forward, Rickey Jones was a part of some of the most impressive Golden Eagle teams to ever run up and down the hardwood. As an alumnus, he has played an important role on many of the teams that helped contribute to Southern Miss’ success. And to be sure, just as legendary coach M.K. Turk could count on Jones for a rebound or basket, the staff leadership of the Alumni Association, the USM Foundation and the Eagle Club can count on him for volunteer support.

For example, Jones has been a member of the Association’s Board of Directors as well as its Publications Board. In addition, he is currently serving a second term on the USM Foundation’s Board of Directors. Finally, he has continued his involvement in Southern Miss athletics through longtime memberships in the Eagle Club and the Hardwood Club, and as a member of the M-Club Board of Directors.

In 2006, he served as a member of the Alumni Association Presidential Transition Team, as well as the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning’s Search Advisory Committee, that assisted the IHL Board in its search for the ninth president of the University that ended in the selection of Dr. Martha Saunders. In 2007, the Alumni Association honored Jones for his service to his alma mater with the Outstanding Service Award.

While Jones’ love and support of the university is well known, his affiliation with it began as a student in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management and was part of one of the greatest basketball teams in school history in 1991. That squad won the Metro Conference, earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and finished the season with a 21-8 record.

Following his days as a Southern Miss student, Jones went on to the University of Mississippi School of Banking. As a business professional, Jones is currently a mortgage consultant with Beacon Realty, LLC, previously working as a branch manager for Trustmark Bank. He also serves on the board of trustees for Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church.

Powell G. Ogletree, Jr. ‘77

As a student, Powell G. “Gee” Ogletree, Jr., made his mark at Southern Miss. As an active alumnus and attorney, he continues to do so at his alma mater and across Mississippi and Alabama.

Prior to graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in American studies, Ogletree was president and vice president of the Associated Student Body, president of Omicron Delta Kappa, president of Kappa Sigma fraternity and active in a number of other organizations. He was named to the USM Hall of Fame and honored as Kappa Sigma International undergraduate of the year.

Following graduation, Ogletree has remained active with Southern Miss, serving as past president of the Lafayette County and Rankin County chapters of the Alumni Association as well as a member of the organization’s board of directors. In addition, he has served two terms on the board of directors of the USM Foundation, for which he presently serves as vice president and president-elect.

As an attorney, Ogletree has gained a national reputation for his diverse knowledge of and practical experience in forestry law from the perspective of industry, timber investment management organizations, private landowners, harvesters and others. With Adams and Reese, LLP, a regional law firm with 12 offices in five states and Washington, D.C., he practices in the Jackson office. Licensed to practice law in Mississippi and Alabama, he serves on the firm’s executive committee and is the founding partner and co-leader of the forestry team.

Ogletree earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law and is recognized as an outstanding real estate lawyer by Chambers and was recognized by Best Lawyers in America in Real Estate, Timber and Natural Resources. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mississippi Bar in 2009.

The son of longtime Alumni Association executive director the late Powell Ogletree and Frances Ogletree, Gee is married to wife, Holly, and they have two daughters, Emily Dimitris from Asheville, N.C., and Katie Black from Tampa, Fla.  They live in Flowood, where they are active at Pinelake Church.

Ken Rushing ‘81

Few alumni can boast of as lengthy a list of volunteer service to Southern Miss as Ken Rushing. The life member of the Alumni Association has dedicated himself to serving his alma mater through both the Association and the Eagle Club.

Shortly after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1981, Rushing became an active member of what was then called the Hinds County Chapter of the Alumni Association, serving as president of the group in 1986-87 and earning both the Outstanding Service Award in 1991 and the Continuous Service Award in 1996 from the Association in the process. As part of that service, Rushing and others helped to create the Jackson All-Star Party, which remains one of the premier volunteer-driven Alumni Association events each summer. Rushing also served as a member of the Association’s Board of Directors from 1995 to 1997.

Although Rushing’s service to the Alumni Association is extensive, it is exceeded perhaps by his work on behalf of the Eagle Club. He has served as district director of the Central Mississippi Eagle Club for 10 years, during which time the group has reached milestones both in the number of members and financial support of Southern Miss athletics. Among other successes, the group’s golf tournament has generated more than $10,000 in support of Eagle Club scholarships and activities.

While Rushing has proven to be a dedicated alumnus, he worked hard even as a student to promote Southern Miss athletics. As a member of the informal fraternal organization, Eagle “I’s,” a group of former junior college students independent of the Greek system, the students made their own Homecoming displays and invited friends still in junior college to attend Southern Miss football games.

Rushing is a certified public accountant who worked for 20 years in public accounting. Currently, he works with Tellus Operating Group, LLC of Ridgeland as its comptroller. Tellus is Mississippi’s second largest oil and gas operator with wells primarily in south Mississippi.

A Brandon resident, Rushing has been married to the former Margaret Deloris LaFlore for 26 years, and the couple has two children, Chelsea and Brett, a sophomore in the Honors College at Southern Miss.

Dr. Martha D. Saunders ‘69

Dr. Martha D. Saunders is the ninth president of Southern Miss, taking office on May 21, 2007, and continuing an illustrious career of higher education leadership.

As the new president at Southern Miss, Dr. Saunders worked quickly to bring the campus community together in a widely inclusive strategic planning process. Under her leadership, the university has identified four overarching areas of strategic emphasis including a climate for academic success; an enhanced national image; stronger connections with the community; and a culture of healthy minds, bodies and campuses.

Saunders came to Southern Miss from the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater, where she served as its first-ever female chancellor. Prior to her appointment at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she was vice president for academic affairs at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga.

She previously held the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of West Florida (UWF), where she earned the rank of tenured professor of communication. At UWF, she also worked as director of the University Honors Program.

More than a president, however, Saunders has proven herself to be a dedicated alumna. A life member of the Alumni Association, she has demonstrated support for all areas of the university, maintaining memberships in the Eagle Club and Partners for the Arts, for instance, and contributing to academic units and important projects such as the restoration and expansion of the Ogletree House.

Throughout her 30-year career in higher education, Saunders has taught thousands of students and just recently returned to the classroom to teach a public relations course this fall. Her philosophy of education follows three simple guiding principles: know your students, connect them to bigger things and set a good example.

A native of Mississippi, Saunders earned a bachelor of arts degree in French from Southern Miss, a master of arts in journalism from the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. in communication theory and research from Florida State University. She and her husband, Joe Bailey, reside in Hattiesburg and are the parents of seven grown children and five grandchildren.

Dr. Dolphus Weary ‘78

Dr. Dolphus Weary has two passions, one for racial unity in the body of Christ and two, to minister to the poor, and the Richland resident has spent a lifetime dedicated to those passions. For more than 25 years, he has spoken on college campuses, in churches, seminaries and conferences around the country, sharing those passions with the world.

After growing up in rural Mississippi, Weary became one of the first African-American students to graduate from the all-white Los Angeles Baptist College with a bachelor of science degree in biology. He then earned a master’s of religious education from Los Angeles Baptist Seminary and returned to Mississippi to work with Mendenhall Ministries, a multi-faceted Christian community development ministry, which he served from 1971 to 1997, while also earning a master’s degree in educational administration from Southern Miss in 1978.

Today, Weary serves part time as the president of Rural Education and Leadership (R.E.A.L.) Christian Foundation, an organization that connects economic and technical resources with rural Christian ministries, and part-time as the major fundraiser for Mission Mississippi, a racial reconciliation ministry that encourages unity within the body of Christ.

The longtime member of the Alumni Association has received four honorary doctoral degrees, and in 2004 received the distinguished Meritorious Leadership Award from Tougaloo College, Most recently he was featured in the national publication, Who’s Who in Black Mississippi.

In addition, Weary serves as a member of several national and local boards of directors, advisory boards and committees, benefitting such organizations as Catholic Charities, the Christian Community Development Association, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Keep Mississippi Beautiful, the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, Transformation Jackson and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

Weary and his wife Rosie are the parents of three children: Danita, a pediatrician who lives in Natchez; Ryan, a communications graduate of Belhaven College; and the deceased Reggie; and are the grandparents to one grandson, Reginald Malik Weary.

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