The Applied Approach
Fall 2002 Vol. 1, No.
3 A newsletter for the School of Applied Sciences


New degree programs offered by
Applied Sciences Department

School has new dean and
associate dean, three new department chairs

Applied Sciences Order

Class Notes


The applied approach is published
twice a year by the School of Applied
Sciences and The University of Mississippi
Alumni Association. Production services
are provided by the offices of Media
and Public Relations and University
Publications. For more information,
contact: Shelia Dossett, Alumni
Association, (662) 915-7375,




North Mississippi Regional Center and School of Applied Sciences help each other

For the Lone Ranger, it was Silver. For clients at the North Mississippi Regional Center, it's either quarter horses Cherokee and Tuffy, or miniature horses Thunder or Baccarat.

While saddling up was expected of the Lone Ranger, it can be a stretch for people with disabilities. But NMRC clients, are, indeed, saddling up as a part of a new therapeutic riding program. As they travel down the road to recovery, it's both enjoyable and beneficial.

"People with physical, cognitive, and/or emotional disabilities benefit from riding horses," said Julie Chadwick, NMRC program coordinator.

Riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance, and muscle strength, and those with mental or emotional disabilities gain increased confidence, patience, and self-esteem, Chadwick said.

In addition to benefiting NMRC clients, the program, one of several offered at the center, also benefits students. Beginning in the spring, students within the Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management can participate through a faculty-directed independent study.

"Ole Miss students interested in therapeutic recreation can definitely benefit from this opportunity," said instructor Stephanie Baller.

The field of therapeutic riding is growing by leaps and bounds, and the NMRC program exposes students to varied aspects of therapy, as well as working with special populations.

"There are now master's degree programs for therapeutic riding, so it is a great experience for students interested in pursuing that at the graduate level," said Baller.

Hundreds of Ole Miss students have worked at NMRC since the University and NMRC entered into full partnership in 1976. The students work with clients through internships, practicums, and observation programs.

In NMRC's recreation therapy department, year-round activities include aquatics, activity therapy, health and wellness, leisure, music, and special events. The programs help clients enhance motor skills, promote peer interaction, and encourage individual leisure skills. In addition, the programs help train Ole Miss students, many of whom join the NMRC staff.

"The NMRC and the University have been a winning team for nearly 30 years, and it's still going strong," said Deb Helms, director of NMRC's recreation therapy. "It's been a worthwhile relationship that has allowed for professional growth with our University students while giving personal attention and training for our clients."

Many other departments in the School of Applied Sciences also have collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships with the Regional Center.



Department of Communicative Disorders

The Department of Communicative Disorders places graduate students at NMRC for externships each semester and arranges for undergraduate students to observe the center's early intervention (EI) program, said Interim Chair Carolyn Wiles Higdon. NMRC staff also have led several campus seminars for the department, and Higdon wants to establish a formal arrangement for more sessions.

"They have a wealth of training opportunities in a variety of settings," she said. "I'm amazed every time I go out to NMRC at the opportunities available for our students, and the staff is always helpful and willing to work with us."

The department's Speech and Hearing Center cooperates with NMRC staff to diagnose and treat communication problems, referring clients to the EI program when appropriate. NMRC also sends speech and hearing staff to the department's annual Fall Institute to keep them abreast of developments within the field. This year's institute, held in September, focused on communication problems associated with autism.

The externship program provides students with valuable training that classrooms or laboratory exercises cannot match, said Keri Wester, a graduate student from Pontotoc. Wester spends 15 hours a week at NMRC, assisting with the EI program and working with clients in the Technical Assistive Device Center.

"I've worked with the occupational therapists and physical therapists, as well as with the speech pathologists, so this has given me a chance to learn from all of them and see how they work together to help clients," she said.

Wester and Brooke Poquette, a graduate student from Canton, accompany NMRC speech and hearing specialists as they visit area day care and Early Head Start centers each Wednesday.

"We generally pull the children who need assistance out of class and work with them on some individual speech therapy, then we try to go back and do something with the whole class," Poquette said.

Students also help feed some NMRC clients, allowing them to spend time with clients outside a therapeutic setting. Poquette, who hopes to work at The University of Mississippi Medical Center after she graduates in May, said the experience has been rewarding.

"Working at NMRC gives you a better understanding of what this field is all about than you can get just about anywhere else," she said. "They have a diverse population with a whole range of needs, and that allows you to get some tremendous experience in a short time. It's just been a wonderful experience overall.

The work has helped Wester settle on some specific professional goals.

"It's showed me that I really like working with the developmentally delayed population a lot more than I thought I would," she said. "I really enjoy this, and I hope to continue after I graduate."


Department of Family & Consumer Sciences

For more than 20 years, UM students pursuing degrees in dietetics and nutrition have enjoyed unique opportunities at NMRC. Some are placed in practicums at the residential facility. Many times, the hands-on opportunities lead to permanent employment there.

"Real-world work experiences, such as those provided by NMRC for students majoring in family and consumer sciences, are very valuable to undergraduates as they attempt to put theory into practice," said Erskine Smith, chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. "The environment at NMRC is quite supportive of the novice, as he or she gains experience in counseling clients about their nutritional needs or social interactions."

Jeanette Wicker received a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences with an emphasis in dietetics and nutrition last year. NMRC'S educational leave program opened the way for a paid internship at St. Dominic's Hospital, then a job back at NMRC. After signing a work contract to return following her six months internship in Jackson, NMRC paid Wicker a partial salary during the intern.

"It really meant a lot to me that they were willing to help me in that way," said Wicker, adding that she had not initially aspired to work in that environment.

"I really knew nothing about people with special needs, but I'm glad it all fell into place," she said. "The work is very rewarding, and once you've been out here for a while you see that [the clients}are as normal in many ways as anyone else."

NMRC's Chief Clinical Dietitian Darlene Hoar agrees. "The best part of working here is developing long-term friendships with the clients and their families, and having the privilege of sharing in our clients' progress," Hoar said.

Hoar attended UM in 1981-82, earning a master's degree in foods and nutrition. She completed field experience at NMRC as part of an independent study course, focusing on Prader-Willi Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder resulting in poor muscle tone, cognitive impairment, and excessive appetite. Her master's thesis involved research on fetal alcohol syndrome.

Both of these exposures increased my interest in the role of nutrition in developmental disabilities," she said.

Hoar, along with Wicker and four other registered clinical dietitians, is responsible for the nutritional monitoring and care of all NMRC clients. Some have feeding and swallowing problems, others have special nutritional needs related to a particular syndrome, and still others have nutritional needs related to chronic diseases that can affect anyone, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and renal failure.

Field experiences help prepare students to care for people in all these situations. "Students are often hesitant about these first experiences, but professional staff of NMRC have consistently helped our students overcome these anxieties," Smith said. "Our faculty and professionals at the center have been able to successfully combine didactic and experiential education to benefit both the undergraduate students and the clients at NMRC."

"We learn a lot in the classroom, and while you can never know everything, it helps to have hands-on experience so you at least have an idea of what to expect once you're faced with real situations," Wicker said.

Another plus in the relationship between NMRC and UM is extended support. "I know if I have questions, I can always call someone [at the University], and they are very willing to help," Wicker added.


Department of Social Work

Although the Department of Social Work was established at Ole Miss in 1982, its partnership with NMRC stretches back to the late 1960's, when social work was a degree program in the Department of Sociology.

"Our students have relied heavily on NMRC, and NMRC continues providing our students real-world experience," said James Stafford, the department's chair.

Whether through student placements, volunteer programs, or a mandatory 13-week internship, Stafford said the department depends on NMRC to help train students. A number of them are now permanent employees at NMRC.

One graduate, Tammie Avant, who received her Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1986, is director of NMRC's social services department.

"My education at Ole Miss gave me a solid foundation of knowledge, values, and skills," Avant said. "I use that knowledge daily in order to serve our clients and our agency."

She decided to go into social work as a sophomore, after volunteering at NMRC through the Adopt-a-Friend program. She "adopted" two sisters as friends.

"Social work reaches out to so many kinds of people in myriad environments," she said. " I think the challenge really drew me in."

Working in Avant's department at NMRC, Ole Miss students experience firsthand the daily duties of a social worker. They include facilitating client adjustment, encouraging family participation in client programs, providing assessments of client needs, and promoting a spirit of cooperation and family inclusion in all aspects of NMRC programs.

Tobie Baker, Mitchell Diggs, and Elaine Pugh in UM Media and Public Relations contributed to this story.



New degree programs offered by Applied Sciences Department


Two new degree programs are being offered by the Department of Applied Sciences in the School of Applied Sciences.

Beginning this academic year, students can pursue the Bachelor of ParaApplied Sciences or the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Both degrees were developed to meet the expressed needs of students who wanted four-year degrees that would prepare them for employment in specific occupations. Each of the programs emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach, requiring courses in a wide variety of areas of study.

"We want the graduates of these programs to have a solid academic background with extensive course work in the sciences, humanities, and arts, as well as courses specific to the major," said Linda Chitwood, the school's dean.

The new degree programs are expected to add some 150 students to the department and school.


School has new dean, associate dean, and three new department chairs

Applied Sciences:

Dr. Linda Chitwood, dean of the School of Applied Sciences, joined the UM faculty in 1991 and became chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Leisure Management (now Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management) in 1997. She was named interim associate dean upon Tom Crowe's resignation. Her goal is to facilitate a supportive environment for faculty and students. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Oklahoma State University and a doctorate from Florida State University. She taught in Oklahoma's public schools and at Oklahoma State University and Carl Albert State College, then five years at Florida State. She has presented dozens of research papers and published numerous refereed journal articles and abstracts. She has served on the Mississippi Governor's Commission on Physical Fitness and Sports, as Mississippi chair of the National Coalition for the Promotion of Physical Activity, and as an executive board member for the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine. She also has been program director for the campus' National Youth Sports Program, which provides educational and sports training to underprivileged youth.

Applied Sciences:

Dr. Jim Stafford, associate dean of the School of Applied Sciences and chair of the Department of Social Work, has been on the social work faculty for almost 23 years. Before that, he served five years with the Mississippi State Department of Human Services, working in the areas child protective services. He has served as chair of the Department of Social Work since 1998 and teaches in the areas of social welfare policy and research. He holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Mississippi, a master's degree from the University of Tennessee, and a doctorate from the University of Alabama. He has published in areas ranging from teen pregnancy to folklore. His research interests center on the structure of undergraduate social work education, the influence of spirituality on the development of entry-level social workers, and how generalist social work practitioners can more effectively influence issues related to social justice. His goals include continued expansion and development of the Department of Social Work and assisting in the growth and development of the School of Applied Sciences.


Communicative Disorders:

Dr. Carolyn Wiles Higdon, interim chair and director for the Center for Speech and Hearing Research, joined the UM faculty three years ago. Her goals include developing a regionally recognized voice and speech science laboratory and a working relationship with the Department of Otolaryngology at The University of Mississippi Medical Center. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Kent State University and a doctorate from the University of Georgia. Besides teaching, she owns and operates an international private practice based in Atlanta that works with rehabilitation teams in Russia, China, Hong Kong, Eastern Europe, and Costa Rica. Her specialties include adult neurogenics, voice and speech science, and augmentative communication.


Health, Exercise Science, & Recreation Management:

With more than 35 years experience as an educator, Dr. Jim Gilbert is interim chair and associate professor of park and recreation management. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate form the University of Northern Colorado. He joined the UM faculty in 1985. Since then, he has directed the Ole Miss Outdoors program, a component of Campus Recreation; directed the National Youth Sports Program; and taught various undergraduate and graduate courses. He also served the department as coordinator of graduate studies, assistant chair, and program director of the Parks and Recreation Management Program. Gilbert guided the recreation division's 2000 successful accreditation process by the National Recreation and Park Association.

Applied Sciences:

Dr. William R. Oliphant is interim chair and visiting associate professor in the Department of Applied Sciences. He earned the Juris Doctor degree from The University of Mississippi School of Law and holds master's and bachelor's degrees, also form UM. After several years as a college teacher and practicing attorney, he joined the UM law school in 1987, where he last served as associate dean. He has been assistant provost since 1997 and will continue in that position.



The Applied Sciences Order, an organization established by the Applied Sciences Chapter of The University of Mississippi Alumni Association, administers large gifts for the benefit of the School of Applied Sciences. These gifts are used to advance the growth and development of the new school. These initial members are the foundation of our chapter, and a special THANK YOU goes out to them for their dedication, commitment, and confidence in their new school.

Applied Sciences Order Members

Dr. Linda Chitwood, University, Mississippi
Le noir Stanley, Corinth, Mississippi
Dr. Tommie L. Robinson, Jr., Washington, DC
Sheila W. Dossett, University, Mississippi
Margaret L. Johnson, Birmingham, Alabama
Dr. Gloria Kellum, University, Mississippi
Debra Moore, University, Mississippi
Harvey Faust, Germantown, Tennessee
Suzan Thames, Jackson, Mississippi

For more information regarding membership benefits for the Applied Sciences Order and how you can join, please contact Sheila Dossett at (662) 915-7375 or email

Class Notes


C.G. "Cap" Gaston, Jr. (BSH/P.E. '67, M.Ed. '70) of Thaxton, Miss., and his wife, Linda L. "Lou" Russell Gaston (B.S. '63, M.Ed. '66), have both retired from teaching in the state's public schools. They spend time enjoying their two grandchildren-Karlie, 7, and Clay Russell Wade, 2-and following the Ole Miss Rebels.


Martha Jackson Cook (B.A. '75) of Scott City, Mo., was named the 2002 Clinician of the Year by the Missouri Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She is an instructor and clinical supervisor at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau and is pursuing a doctorate in rehabilitation from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

H. Richard Holden (BSH/P.E. '71) of Bartlett, Tenn., is assistant superintendent of operations for Shelby County Schools. He has been with Shelby County Schools for 31 years, serving as teacher, coach, instructional supervisor, director of research and planning, and now assistant superintendent. He and his wife, Nancy, have one daughter, Allison, who is a freshman at the University of Memphis.


Mary "Bitsie" Hillery Goodwin (B.S. '89) of New Orleans, La., and her husband, W. Mark Goodwin (BBA '88), had their first little boy, William Andrew, December 4, 2001.

Jeanne Toomey Singletary (B.S. '84) of Thomasville, Ga., married Greg Hamil and has a son, William, 3; a daughter, Eva, 12; son, Michael, 15; and stepdaughter, Lauren, 13.

Angela Kendrick Hopkins (BSW '88) of Hendersonville, Tenn., is pursuing a master's degree at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work in Nashville. She plans to continue her career in geriatric social work upon finishing her master's in May 2003.

Mark S. Rabideau (BSH/P.E. '82) of Auburn, Ill., is finishing his first year as assistant principal at Lawrence Education Center in Springfield. He married Cindy Strieker in July 2002.

Lisa C. Widner (M.A. '83) of Bellaire, Texas is a financial advisor for AIG-Valic. Before changing careers, she was assistant director, then director of intramural sports at Rice University in Houston. She also stated a successful summer camp business for children.



Kimberly Keach Allen (BSFCS '96) of Jackson, Tenn., married George Thomas "Chip" Allen III on April 29, 2000, and their daughter, Mary Katherine was born Sept. 21, 2001.

Jeanette R. Brown (BSW '97) of Amory, Miss., is a family social worker II with Lift Headstart. She also is the director for a local food pantry.

Amy Rogers Commer (B.A. '99) of Fayetteville, Ark., and her husband Andy, have two children: Jacob, 3, and William Ramsey, born Feb. 7, 2002.

X. Omar Edwards (BPA '97, BSW '98) of Bradenton, Fla., oversees the recruitment/placement department at Manatee Technical Institute. He says the knowledge he gained at Ole Miss has been beneficial in his job.

Jayna Locke McBride (B.A. '95, M.S. '97) of Ripley, Miss., is a speech-language pathologist for South Tippah School District and PRN for the local hospital, nursing home, and hospice. She and her husband, Paul McBride, are the proud parents of a son, James "Cole," born Sept. 6, 2001.


Ellen Michelle Townsend Edmonds (M.S. '00) of Columbus, Miss., works at the YMCA, where her responsibilities include personal training, aquatic therapy, and diabetes workshops. She was CHES certified in 2001 and personal trainer certified this year.

Gretchen A. Smith (B.A. '01) of Gretna, La., is a second-year graduate student in communicative disorders at Louisiana State University Medical Center. In October, she presented "Sarcoidosis and Successful Voice Therapy," a case study based on her experience with one of her clients, at the Louisiana Speech and Hearing Convention in Shreveport.

Zachary David Lee (BSES '01) of Mt. Olive, Miss., is teaching tumbling and coaching an All-Star Cheerleading squad in Jackson. He recently was accepted by the Mississippi School of Therapeutic Massage and begins classes in June.

You may submit your class notes by emailing, or mailing to Alumni Affairs, Applied Sciences Class Notes, P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677-1848. Please include your name, address, degree, graduation year, and email address along with your news.