With a $250,000 gift to the University of Mississippi Science Building Fund, FedEx Corp. has honored Ole Miss alumnus Jim Barksdale upon his retirement as a longtime member of the global shipping company’s leadership team.
Barksdale served 13 years in various senior management positions at FedEx Express, including executive vice president and chief operating officer. He also provided leadership on the company’s board of directors for 19 years.
FedEx asked Barksdale to choose where to direct the gift at Ole Miss.
“I chose to devote my gift to the STEM Building Fund because I think it will be significant to further our STEM training at the university,” said Barksdale, a 1965 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration. “The future of the economic world depends upon having more graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, and I hope my gift will be in furtherance of those aims.”
Barksdale himself is an innovator credited with leading the development of package tracking computer systems for FedEx. Additionally, on the board, he served as the chair of the Information Technology Oversight Committee.
Since the launch of the university’s Tech Summit in 2016, Barksdale has played a key role in the annual event that brings together leaders from government, business, and higher education to explore trends in technology and to stimulate discussions about technology-related needs in industry and education.
The new STEM building will be designed to enhance active or cooperative learning, which is a departure from students simply listening to a professor’s lecture. Students will spend class time in group work and discussions.
The former lecture materials will be delivered in modules that the students read on their laptops at their convenience. Faculty members will see quiz results and know what material students had difficulty with, enabling them to target those areas in the next classes.
The company’s gift reflects its own vision for the future, said Rose Jackson Flenorl, a UM alumna from Cordova, Tennessee, and manager of FedEx Global Citizenship.
Site work has been completed on the new building. Among factors driving plans is the crucial need on the state, regional and national level to increase graduates in STEM fields.
The 204,000-square-foot building, which will anchor the Science District in the heart of campus, has an estimated project cost of $160 million. Private support is being sought for the state-of-the-art facility, which will serve all Ole Miss students with active learning classrooms and labs.
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