Alumni group holds evening out in Helena

MUW alumni Amanda Barker (Right) and Erin Gioia talk with Interim President Allegra Brigham (Left) in Old Town Helena.

The Alumni Association of the Mississippi University for Women held an Alumni Evening Out in Old Town Helena on Sept. 30.

Judy Russell Ellington, ’79 alumni and owner of The Monkey Basket, said, “It was an honor to be asked to host this event in our town and I appreciate the support of all the Old Town merchants.”

Friends in Jazz performed in front of Southern Events & Rental, where wine tastings from Vizzini Farms Winery were held. La Reunion Café was the setting for the university update speech by Interim President Allegra Brigham.

Both Ellington and her twin sister, Jan Miller, attended MSCW and Ellington’s daughter, Jean Manning Goley, is a 2009 MUW graduate.

“It was the best experience of my life,” said Ellington. “The school was a hospital during the Civil War and many of the campus buildings are on the National Historic Register. I appreciated that wonderful tradition of history within a very supportive community.”

Established in Columbus, Miss. in 1884 as Industrial Institute and College, it was the first public women’s college in the United States. The name was changed to Mississippi State College for Women (MSCW) in 1920. Later, it became Mississippi University for Women. Men have been offered admission since 1982.

Well-known writer Eudora Welty attended MSCW and has been honored since 1989 at The Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium, an annual October event.

In the early years, Miss Welty was able to travel to Columbus and read from her work. MUW and the University Press of Mississippi jointly award the Eudora Welty Prize to an outstanding work of literary scholarship.

Interim President Allegra Brigham, who has been traveling throughout the South during her first 64 days as president, talked about the outstanding College of Nursing and new College of Culinary Arts represented by Chef Instructor Erich Ogle.

MUW has implemented new associate degree programs that include five business technology degrees plus a series of Life Enrichment programs.

Brigham said, “Our alumni must be informed and able to promote the university. We have survived in these times of mergers and economic woes because our Alumni Association is unified.”

In asking the alums to help fund a $2 million scholarship campaign, Brigham reminded those present that, “Your faith and your education are two things that no one can ever take away from you. We now need to support MUW just as we support our families.”

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at labro16@yahoo.com.