Ole Miss

Published on December 12th, 2021 | by University of Mississippi

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Gift to Geological Engineering Helps University of Mississippi Students ‘Rock On’

Alumnus Stephen Franks cites influence of faculty in shaping his career

A gift to the University of Mississippi from Stephen and Kaye Franks, of McKinney, Texas, will enable students to further their studies and launch careers in the geosciences field.

The couple’s gift establishes the Jesse Dee and Marjorie Franks Geology Fund within the UM Department of Geology and Geological Engineering.

Franks, who earned a master’s degree from the university in 1971, has spent more than 40 years in the petroleum industry, including work at Atlantic Richfield’s Exploration and Production Technology Co. in Plano, Texas, and with Saudi Aramco’s Advanced Research Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

At Ole Miss, he decided to go into geology and was inspired to delve deeper into the field by former geology faculty members Velon Minshew and William Reynolds.

“We hope the Jesse Dee and Marjorie Franks Geology Fund will help the department continue to be a positive influence in the lives of future geoscientists,” Franks said.

“Specifically, we want to help students in any way we can, but we also do not want to restrict the use of the funds to any particular area. We feel that the department knows best what its greatest needs are at any given time.”

The funds will be used, in part, for field-camp scholarships and for an innovative, educational “rock wall” in the planning phase for Carrier Hall, said Gregg Davidson, chair of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering.

“Had I not attended Ole Miss and been mentored by Drs. Minshew and Reynolds, I am not sure where or what I would have ended up doing,” Franks said. “My wife, Kaye, and I want to acknowledge their influence by giving something back to the department.

“We also want to acknowledge my parents, Jesse Dee and Marjorie Franks, by naming the geology fund in their honor. Their support of me was always unwavering.”

The gift will strengthen the department, said Greg Carter, associate director of development for engineering.

“It was important to Dr. Franks to create a fund that honored his parents,” Carter said. “Through his generous gift, the geology and geological engineering department is positioned to utilize these funds in a manner that greatly benefits faculty and students.” 

Davidson first came in contact with Franks in December 2018, when the latter was planning a trip to Antarctica. Franks was searching for a university banner to hold for pictures during his trip.

“We made a large banner just for his trip, and he was thrilled,” Davidson recalls. “We stayed in touch after that.

“It’s quite meaningful to us when one of our own gives back. That speaks to the success of the program; we’re not just giving degrees. It’s a testament that people have made a connection with the program.”

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the Jesse Dee and Marjorie Franks Geology Fund by sending a check, with the designation noted in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online at https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

By Andy Belt

Stephen (left) and Kaye Franks hope to help University of Mississippi geology students achieve their goals by making a gift in honor of Stephen Franks’ parents. Photo courtesy Stephen Franks
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About the Author

The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy; and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s most beautiful, Ole Miss's main campus is in Oxford, which is routinely recognized as one of the nation's best college towns.



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