The slow pace of sheltering at home the last two years during a global pandemic gave Luetta Ford, a 1967 University of Mississippi alumna, time to think about the influential people in her life and make decisions about how she wants to be remembered.

As a result, the Lady Lake, Florida, resident established the Luetta W. Ford Scholarship for Special Education, which pays tribute to the late James W. Mann, a professor in the UM School of Education.

“Professor James Mann was my mentor while I attended Ole Miss, and he offered me a full fellowship for my senior year and for a master’s degree, with the stipulation that I teach a year in between, which I did in Southaven,” said Ford, who also received a master’s degree from the University of Memphis.

“I can’t do what Dr. Mann did for me, but I hope this scholarship will do two things: inspire students to go into special education and inspire classes in other areas of special education.”

The support from Ford is a blended gift, with $30,000 establishing the scholarship and another $133,000 committed through a planned estate gift that will supplement the endowment.

“Blended gifts like Ford’s exemplify one of the goals of the university’s newly launched $1.5 billion fundraising initiative, Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss,” said David Rock, dean of the School of Education.

“We are grateful for Lu’s initial commitment that will provide immediate scholarship support to students in the special education field here at our School of Education, and we are especially thankful for her planned gift that will provide assistance for future students. Her generosity will not only honor in perpetuity Dr. James Mann, but it will also provide scholarship support for generations of students at the Ole Miss School of Education.”

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