Denson Hollis elevated to Ole Miss Athletics Foundation CEO
Published 12:00 pm Monday, August 15, 2022
The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation announces Denson Hollis as Chief Executive Officer / Sr. Associate Athletics Director for Development.
Hollis is a 14-year fundraising veteran for the University of Mississippi, previously serving as the foundation’s Chief Development Officer/Associate A.D. for Development. Hollis was tabbed to lead OMAF’s major gifts team in 2020, joining the athletics staff after spending the previous 12 years with the UM Office of Development.
“Denson’s respect and relationships are evident throughout the entire Ole Miss family, and we are excited to see him step into the CEO role for the Athletics Foundation,” said Keith Carter, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics. “His tenure leading our major gifts team has produced the most successful fundraising results in our department’s history. We look forward to continuing Denson’s impact in that area while providing outstanding leadership in all facets of the OMAF operation.”
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“It is a tremendous honor to serve as the CEO for the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation,” Hollis said. “As an Ole Miss alum, employee, and lifelong supporter of Ole Miss, I have a sincere passion for our university, particularly Ole Miss Athletics. When I graduated from Ole Miss in 2001, I hoped to one day become the leader of this great organization.
“Oxford and Ole Miss are home to my family and me, so this really is a dream come true for us. I am grateful to Keith, the search committee and the OMAF Board of Governors for their trust in me as a leader, their belief in my vision for the future of OMAF and their appreciation of my love and passion for this incredible university.”
In his career at Ole Miss, Hollis has raised $75.4 million, while also leading record-breaking fundraising teams in academics and athletics. The OMAF major gifts team flourished in two years under his leadership. The 2021 fiscal year saw the team raise $23 million, the third-highest total in OMAF history. That number was shattered during the 2022 fiscal year, where Hollis’ team raised a record $31.7 million. Hollis’ tenure as Chief Development Officer was highlighted by a record number of sustained Vaught Society members at 530.
Hollis was instrumental in the creation and launch of Ole Miss Athletics CHAMPIONS. NOW. campaign, which has generated more than $40 million to date and will enhance Ole Miss football, baseball, softball, soccer and golf facilities. In his new role, Hollis will serve as a member of the athletic department’s executive team and senior leadership team.
“Through my 14 years as a fundraiser for Ole Miss—and in particular my last two with the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation—I cultivated an unparalleled appreciation and understanding of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, its development needs, fundraising goals and donor base,” Hollis said. “The leadership, coaches, student-athletes and the fans who support them make this place special – unlike anywhere else in the country. I look forward to working with Rebel Nation and continuing to build powerhouse programs for Ole Miss athletics, while also helping our student-athletes have the resources they need to be successful here and beyond.”
Hollis joined the UM Office of Development in 2009, where he most recently served as the Executive Director of Principal Gifts and was responsible for establishing the first-ever principal gifts program at Ole Miss. His mission in the principal gifts program was to create philanthropic collaboration among all areas of the university, including academics, athletics, alumni and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. During his tenure with university development his fundraising efforts touched almost every corner of campus, including securing major gifts for every school on campus and numerous cultural arts areas.
Hollis, a native of Clarksdale, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ole Miss in 2001 and a master’s degree in sport management from Georgia Southern in 2004. Hollis lives in Oxford with his wife, Lauren, a 2004 Ole Miss alumna with a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences, and their three daughters, Eloise, Marian, and Vivi. Hollis is a third-generation Ole Miss alumnus and is one of 18 people in his immediate and extended family to attend Ole Miss.