Ole Miss asks alumni to include school in their wills amid deadly pandemic

The University of Mississippi sent an email to alumni asking them to put a bequest for the school in their will.

The school immediately apologized for the ‘bad timing’ given the current global COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid a global pandemic, the University of Mississippi sent out an email asking prospective donors to include the school in their will.

The email from the school’s development team came just days after chancellor Glenn Boyce announced the transition to online classes to help slow the spread of coronavirus.  The email, sent to alumni, warned recipients of the “constant changes” in life.

“There is a common expression that ‘change is the only constant in life.’ We often experience this with our careers, our residences and even our families. Sometimes… developments in our health, laws and/or the financial landscape present new challenges,” the email reads. 

The letter proceeds to ask that recipients consider “investing” in the university by including them in their will. 


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“By adding a bequest in your will, you guarantee that the priorities in your life are matched to your legacy. Also by expressing the philanthropic priorities of your life, you can continue investing in the students, faculty, mission and values of the University of Mississippi.”

This email immediately gained traction on Twitter. One individual posted a screenshot of the letter, captioning it, “Ole Miss basically says hey you might die of CoronaVirus, so please put us in your will.”

The school promptly followed up with an apology, claiming the email was “previously scheduled.”

“We deeply apologize for a University Development email sent Tuesday morning dealing with estate-planning information. This message was a previously scheduled newsletter focused on providing guidance for planned giving,” the email read. 

The school recognized that the timing of this letter was “inconsiderate” given the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

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“The delivery of this message at this time was insensitive in the current climate. We have adjusted our communication protocols to align them with the emergency situation facing our university and nation, and we are sorry for the distress that this message caused.” 

Rod Guajardo, associate strategic communications director at Ole Miss, confirmed with Campus Reform the email that was sent. He provided a screenshot of the apology email sent by Charlotte Parks, the school’s development vice chancellor. 

Guajardo told Campus Reform, “[The apology was sent] to all the recipients of the original email. This message is also being shared across Development’s social media channels.”

The school’s alumni Twitter account tweeted a duplicate apology of the email. 

Campus Reform contacted an alumnus who received the email, as well as other members of the development team. None responded in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: Addison Smith