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Khayat honored with Legacy Award

University of Mississippi Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat received the 2016 Legacy Award Saturday night in front of a crowd inside the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.

“I had the great privilege to serve as chancellor,” Khayat said during the program in his honor. “I really do believe that Ole Miss is a remarkable team.”

The Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy awards the honor annually. C Spire was the presenting sponsor of the 2016 event.

Olivia and Archie Manning emceed the evening that also featured entertainment by OMWC member Mary Donnelly Haskell.

“We’re so grateful for all you do to make Ole Miss and Mississippi the best it can be,” said Archie Manning.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said philanthropy plays a crucial role in higher education.

“Philanthropy provides resources for us to truly transform lives through discovery, learning and engagement,” he said. “Everyone here tonight has generously given to this university.”

Vitter said the Ole Miss Women’s Council was created during Khayat’s time as chancellor.

“When I think back in my first few months as I’ve filled the chancellor’s role, which by the way you set the standard for,” Vitter said, addressing Khayat, “your vision of making the University of Mississippi a great, American, public university has been a great inspiration to me.

“And I know it’s going to come as no surprise to any of you tonight that you’ve been such a great help and mentor, a friend, and I really appreciate all you’ve done in this transition.”

Khayat was the UM chancellor from 1995 to 2009. He is credited with bringing new life to the university.

Some of his UM accomplishments mentioned during the program include helping found an honors college and institutes of international studies. He worked to initiate racial reconciliation. He secured a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and millions of dollars in private support.

Under Khayat’s leadership, the campus was renovated, landscaped and a new chapel, performing arts center and an indoor athletics practice facility were constructed.

Perhaps most notably, student enrollment increased by 43.6 percent and the university’s budget grew from $500 million to $1.5 billion annually under Khayat’s leadership, according to a UM news release.

Past Legacy Award recipients include: Charles Overby, Donna and Jim Barksdale, Gov. William and Elise Winter, Olivia Manning and Leigh Ann Tuohy.

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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