Pensacola, Florida
Thursday November 23rd 2017

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Outtakes—My Piece of Ole Miss

By Rick Outzen

On a cool November day nearly 40 years ago, I stood next to Dr. Porter Fortune, chancellor of the University of Mississippi and the Dean of Students, Dr. Franklin Moak, to lay the cornerstone of the Ole Miss Student Union.

Two of my first three years in college, I had to defend my fraternity before Dr. Moak, losing both arguments. However, I had been elected student body president the previous spring, which prompted a note from the dean that included a “get off suspension” card.

I don’t remember many of the details of that day, except it was the first time I heard “The Heart of Ole Miss,” a poem that alumnus Frank E. Everett, Jr. penned. Another Mississippi Delta boy and former student body president, Everett wanted to make the distinction between the University of Mississippi and Ole Miss.

“The University is respected, but Ole Miss is loved,” he wrote. “The University gives a diploma and regretfully terminates tenure, but one never graduates from Ole Miss.”

When our newspaper staff traveled to Ole Miss for the McCain-Obama presidential debate in 2008, we broadcast my radio show from the student union in a room next to where Fox News’ Sean Hannity did his program. I showed my team the cornerstone that marked my place in the school’s history, but I completely forgot that a time capsule had been placed in it in 1978.

Last month, I was reminded of the dedication ceremony when a friend sent me an article in the Daily Mississippian, the Ole Miss student newspaper. Contractors had uncovered the time capsule while working on the $50-million expansion of the student union. A forklift punctured the capsule while moving the cornerstone to its new location.

Student Union Director Bradley Baker showed the student newspaper staff the contents, which included the lists of Union Program Council members, trustees and ASB presidents up to 1978, the names of the hymns sung in the ceremony, and my speech.

According to the Daily Mississippian article, the contents have been turned over to the University Archives and Special Collections for temporary display before returning it to its resting place. Baker said that he hopes to recreate the snapshot of the campus that we tried to provide in the original capsule that included student media publications such as Ole Miss Today, The Daily Mississippian and the 1977-1978 University of Mississippi Yearbook.

I’ll be there to see it rededicated because I agree with Frank Everett. I may have my diploma, but I never graduated from Ole Miss.