By JB Clark
University of Mississippi Communications
Chancellor Glenn Boyce (left), Jim Duff, Thomas Duff, Sen. Roger Wicker and William Yates break ground to ceremonially mark the beginning of construction on the new Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation. The ceremony was Friday morning (Oct. 29) at The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss, just across the street from the new center’s site. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services
A cold rain forced Friday’s Duff Center groundbreaking ceremony indoors, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of more than 200 University of Mississippi supporters and community members from showing up to celebrate the largest single construction project ever on the Oxford campus.
Jim and Thomas Duff, the brothers and owners of Duff Capital Investors who have committed $26 million to building the new facility designed to boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, said they are excited to see construction beginning on a project they’ve envisioned for a long time.
“We are excited about today and we look forward to the future,” Thomas Duff said during the ceremony at The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss.
“When I was walking through here, looking at how new the Pavilion is, I got to thinking of the hundreds of thousands of students who have walked these roads and gone through the corridors of the buildings whose lives have been changed because of their experience at Ole Miss.”
Just across the street from the ceremony, crews from Yates Construction Co. have already begun work at the site, on All-American Drive across from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“We’re deeply grateful to Jim and Thomas Duff for their significant investment in our vision to produce graduates who are going to fill critical needs and bring new jobs to the state of Mississippi,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “This long-anticipated building will become a fixture of the campus and an unparalleled asset for our students, shaping the next generation of STEM-educated citizens and, of course, maximizing their opportunities.”
The new center will not only prepare more students for an increasingly STEM-focused job market, but its interdisciplinary nature will facilitate collaboration as students learn and faculty teach and research across the many disciplines under the STEM umbrella, Boyce said.
“They will build strong relationships and networks like all of us have, that will last a lifetime,” he explained. “So the building of this facility goes way beyond just …….