Alumnus’ gift to UM Law School enhances classes, expands family legacy

Published 8:54 am Monday, March 7, 2022

For Helene Thompson and those close to her, the University of Mississippi’s School of Law has become something of a familial rite of passage.

Thompson, a 1968 graduate of the school, has established the Thompson Family Law Endowment, with an initial gift of $100,000. She and her late husband, Luther Thompson, met in law school.

The endowment honors the legacy the Thompsons have with the university and those in the family who attended the school before and after the couple’s time there.

“Thanks to Helene, we will be able to provide an even more enriching educational experience for students,” said Susan Duncan, the school’s dean and a law professor.

Thompson, of Jackson, was drawn to the school on the advice of her grandfather, the late James McClure, of Sardis, a 1917 graduate of the program.

After finishing her undergraduate years at Vanderbilt University, Thompson recalled her grandfather saying, “You’ve been gone from the state so long, you need to come back and get to know the people at home. You need to go to the Ole Miss law school.”

Thompson practiced law in Jackson at Brunini, Everett, Grantham and Quinn after earning her degreeand worked there for four years, primarily in the oil and gas field and assisting senior partners with various projects.

Luther Thompson clerked for the Mississippi Supreme Court and then accepted a position with Heidelberg, Woodliff and Franks. When their children were born, Helene Thompson retired from the field. One of her children, Hays Thompson Haney, earned a Juris Doctor from Ole Miss, as well, in 1997.

“This endowment is very important to our family,” said Haney, assistant general counsel at Capgemini America Inc., a French multinational information technology services and consulting company.

“It was my deep pleasure to be at Ole Miss and represent our family. The school embodies traditions while also being forward focused within the state, nation and world.”

Thompson said the gift of her family law endowment to the university was “a no-brainer.”

With the gift, Thompson hopes the school will “be able to add special teachers or events to enhance the classes. Maybe a seminar for the students – someone who is very well known in their field.”

Suzette Matthews, senior director of development for the law school, said that’s exactly what the endowment will provide for students.

“It’s going to allow our faculty to bring in experts to teach our students and maybe show them a different or more in-depth perspective on current issues,” she said. “This wouldn’t be fully possible without the Thompson Family Law Endowment.”

When further asked what prompted her gift to the university, Thompson’s answer was simple:

“I’m just grateful for what the school has done for all of us.”

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the Thompson Family Law Endowment by sending a check, with the designation noted in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at https://umfoundation.com/makeagift.

For more information on supporting the School of Law, contact Suzette Matthews atsuzette@olemiss.edu or 601-937-1497.