The University of Mississippi has announced a $26 million gift from brothers Jim and Thomas Duff to help fund construction of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics facility.
When completed, the $160 million, 200,000-square-foot Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation — the largest single construction project ever on the university's Oxford campus — will feature lecture halls and chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, and computer science labs, as well as technology-enabled active learning (TEAL) labs and a lab for 3D visualizations.
In 2018, the brothers gave the university $1 million in support of the Flagship Constellations initiative in memory of their father, Ernest Duff. The senior Duff was the first in his family to go to college and earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at UM, where he was elected Associated Student Body president, served on the Mississippi Law Journal, and graduated first in his law school class. Jim and Thomas expanded the tire business their father founded into Duff Capital Investors, which now controls twenty companies.
"Jim and I recognize the importance of educating Mississippi students in STEM fields," said Thomas Duff, who serves on the state Institutions of Higher Learning board, the governing body responsible for policy and financial oversight of Mississippi's eight public universities. "It is absolutely crucial to our state's future to have an educated STEM workforce. In addition, we want to see talented high school graduates in our state have exceptional opportunities to prepare for some of the most rewarding careers possible. It's what they deserve, and it’s what Mississippi needs."