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Chancellor Commitment Pushes Ogletree House Campaign Forward

Date 7-11-06

Contact Jim Coll 601.266.5722


Hattiesburg—A commitment from Laurel businessman Mike Chancellor has helped push the campaign for the restoration and expansion of the Southern Miss Alumni Association’s Ogletree House past the halfway point. Campaign co-chairs Aubrey Lucas and Lou Ann Poynter recently announced that commitments and contributions to the campaign have exceeded $1.5 million, more than half the $3 million goal.

Highlighting recent commitments is $25,000 from Chancellor, the owner of Chancellor Motor Group on Highway 15 North. The commitment at the Sponsor Gift Level means that an office in the new facility will be named in honor of Chancellor, a 1990 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi.

Chancellor is a Life Member of the Alumni Association and a member of the Eagle Club, which raises funds in support of Southern Miss Golden Eagle athletics. Chancellor is also a past president of the Alumni Association’s Laurel Metro Chapter.

"I'm glad to give,” Chancellor said. “My dad and I are both graduates of USM, so this is a special opportunity to me. Supporting the Alumni Association supports the whole university, and I am pleased that my donation helps push the campaign past the halfway point."

Earlier this year, Chancellor purchased Martin Motor Company, a Buick, Pontiac, GMC and Cadillac dealership. In May, Martin Motor Company officially became Chancellor Motor Group, and Chancellor has already introduced several changes to the dealership’s operations.

“First, we expanded the financing department to give our customers more options and flexibility in buying the car or truck they want, and second, we’ve brought in a much wider variety of sporty cars, family cars, and trucks in all makes and models,” he said.

The Ogletree House Campaign is expected to conclude at year’s end, with work on the facility to begin in 2007. The Albert and Associates Architects’ design would greatly expand the size of the 94-year-old existing structure, which is one of the Hattiesburg campus’ five original buildings and the home to the Alumni Association’s operations, from 6,500 square feet to approximately 12,000.

“The response by alumni and friends of the university has been overwhelming and we fully anticipate reaching our $3 million goal,” said Poynter. “By participating in the campaign to restore and expand this beautiful campus landmark, our supporters are not only honoring the legacy of our dear friend Powell Ogletree, but they are also investing in the future of the university and the Alumni Association. In my opinion, that's quite a return on their money.”

The Ogletree House is named for Powell Ogletree, who in three decades of service to the Alumni Association built it into one of the top alumni associations in the country. During his tenure of leadership, the Alumni Association grew from 150 dues-paying alumni members to more than 17,500 active members. Additionally, Ogletree had a hand in many of the defining events in Southern Miss history, among them the institution’s transition to university status, the mascot name change to Golden Eagles and the establishment of The USM Foundation and the Alumni Hall of Fame. Upon his retirement in 1987, the University named the Ogletree House in his honor.

Ogletree died June 11, 2005. He is survived by his wife, Frances, and three children.

“Powell and Frances have meant so much to us, even from our early days of moving to Laurel,” said Jimmy Waites, who with his wife, Jo, has made a significant commitment to the campaign. “It is an honor to participate in this worthwhile effort to restore the building that bears Powell’s name.”

Other Laurel residents who have made significant commitments to the campaign at the Sponsor Gift Level or above are Ralph Simmons and Robin Robinson.

Additional information about the campaign can be found online at

Click to enlarge

Mike Chancellor, left, owner of Chancellor Motor Group on Highway 15 North in Laurel, is presented a painting of the Southern Miss Alumni Association's Ogletree House by Dr. Aubrey Lucas, president emeritus of the University of Southern Mississippi and co-chair of the Ogletree House Campaign. Chancellor's commitment to the campaign, which will restore and expand the 94-year-old structure, has helped push the $3 million campaign past the halfway mark.

July 11, 2006 10:42 AM

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