When University of Mississippi students, faculty and staff gather in the new Judith D. Trott Hotty Toddy Conference Room in the Student Union, they will be working and meeting under the name of an icon who spent her career paving the way for them.
Retired Dean of Students Judy Trott of Oxford, Mississippi, has been honored with the naming of the conference room, after her sorority and a host of friends and family members contributed almost $60,000 to the Student Affairs Leadership and Engagement Endowment to benefit Ole Miss students. The Alpha Psi chapter of Delta Gamma and Emily and Don Newcomb of Oxford, Mississippi, made major gifts to the initiative, along with about 96 other friends and family members.
Trott joined Ole Miss in 1966 and dedicated her life to building opportunities and services for students. That’s why gifts to the endowment were a natural choice, said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, adding, “I am well aware that I stand on the shoulders of a giant.”
Gifts to the Student Union are directed to a permanent endowment, with the annual income providing sustainable funding to support students’ involvement in co-curricular activities and organizations. Student Affairs launched this campaign in alignment with the Student Union expansion and renovation project.
“The work we do every day in Student Affairs to help facilitate student engagement and success is a direct result of the groundwork specifically laid by Dr. Judy Trott,” Hephner LaBanc said. “It is perfectly fitting that her name will be a permanent fixture in the new Student Union; our students will forever know her name and the impact she had on student life at Ole Miss.
“The Student Affairs Leadership and Engagement Endowment will provide financial resources each year to help enhance leadership development offerings such as: competency-specific trainings, educational programs, motivational speakers and conferences. Thanks to donors’ support toward the naming of the Judy Trott Hotty Toddy Room, our students will enjoy expanded opportunities to learn and hone their leadership skills within the Ole Miss Student Union and across our beautiful campus.”
Trott was honored with a recent reception at Memory House, home of the University of Mississippi Foundation, to celebrate the naming of the conference room. The renovation and expansion of the Student Union, where the Trott Conference Room will be located, will not be completed until early 2019. The $50 million project is nearly doubling the building’s physical space from 97,600 square feet to over 173,000 square feet to serve the growing student body.
In thanking family and friends at the reception, Trott said, “This is quite an honor, especially since it was a grassroots endeavor.”
She talked about some of the challenges of her time as dean of students, including implementing the American with Disabilities Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act. The first ensured that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The second guaranteed that no one could be excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of any education program or activity receiving federal assistance. Both led to changes on campus.
Gloria Kellum, vice chancellor emerita for University Relations, helped lead the initiative to raise the funds for the naming opportunity and thanked donors for their “great and amazing support.”
“Judy and I both came to Ole Miss the same year,” Kellum said. “We worked together and have had the great fortune of seeing this university grow and expand, becoming the magnificent institution it is today. There is no way to adequately describe the significant contributions Judy has made to Ole Miss and to the student experience on this campus. We all thought this naming opportunity in the Student Union would help reflect her great legacy at Ole Miss.”
Thomas “Sparky” Reardon, also a retired dean of students who worked part of his career with Trott as the associate dean, recalled how Trott opened her home through the years to students, faculty and staff, building a nurturing community.
“She took care of all of us. Her service to Ole Miss was more than an occupation; it was a lifestyle,” said Reardon, calling Trott his mentor and friend.
Reardon also shared how Trott served on 12 university standing committees, seamlessly directed the recruitment process of sororities and fraternities each year, advised the Ole Miss cheerleaders and exhibited a lifelong dedication to the Delta Gamma sorority.
Wilma Johnson Wilbanks of Cleveland, Mississippi, an Ole Miss alumna and national president of Delta Gamma, wrote in a note read to Trott: “The magnitude of your legacy will always be remembered.”
To make a gift to the Student Affairs Leadership and Engagement Endowment, send a check with the endowment name noted in the check’s memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or online at www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.
To learn more about naming opportunities in the Ole Miss Student Union or for information on other ways to help strengthen the services of the Division of Student Affairs, contact development officer Brett Barefoot at [email protected] or 662-915-2711.
By Tina H. Hahn