To be split by Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi in Oxford, the gift will support the continued operation of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, which provides scholarships and an honors college-type experience for top education students in the state. Established in 2013 with a $12.9 million grant from the Jackson-based Hearin Foundation, the highly competitive program provides recipients with four years of tuition, housing expenses, a living stipend, a study-abroad experience, and funds to attend conferences.
In 2016, the two universities received funding from the Hearin Foundation to increase the cohort size of the program, which will graduate its first class in the spring, from twenty to thirty. The program's focus on training secondary education majors also was expanded to include elementary and special education majors.
"The Hearin Foundation's goal is to improve the economic status of Mississippi," said Hearin Foundation trustee Laurie H. McRee. "[We] believe that if you can help raise the level of education, you can raise the economic level of the state, as well. It's incredible to see the caliber of [students] the program is attracting. The fact that the universities are working together is just icing on the cake."