Jerry Hollingsworth, or “Doc,” as he is better known, is an 84-year-old Ole Miss graduate and longtime donor. The field in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium already bears his name, but Hollingsworth continues to support the university.
Hollingsworth’s recent $25 million gift constitutes the athletics department’s largest donation received to date.
Hollingsworth, a Centreville native, went on to Harvard medical school, eventually practicing medicine in Florida.
He also became an entrepreneur, owning car dealerships in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, which he ran successfully for 50 years.
A large portion of his gift to Ole Miss athletics came from the sale of his dealerships earlier this year.
Of the donation, $10 million is a cash gift intended for use by the University’s Forward Together campaign. Athletics will receive the remaining amount as a trust toward establishing an athletic scholarship endowment in Hollingsworth’s name.
In 2011, Forward Together was launched to fund capital improvement to the athletics foundation of the University, from the new basketball facility, to the Pavilion to the improvements of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“Doc Hollingsworth has transformed our athletic department over the years with his numerous contributions, and the gift of $25 million is just another example of his love and passion for Ole Miss and for our athletic program,” said Ross Bjork, athletics director at Ole Miss. “We are eternally grateful and cannot wait to see the impact of his gift on this program as we move ahead.”
Though the original goal was $150 million, the Forward Together campaign has exceeded its initial goal and generated about $155 million. Upon reaching the target amount, more projects were introduced and a stretch goal of $200 million was implemented.
The Ole Miss Athletics foundation hopes to reach this goal in the next 12 to 24 months.
“Athletics is not the most important thing on campus, but it’s the most visible thing,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “By building up our facilities and athletics program and having a great game day atmosphere, we’re going to hopefully grow the university with more brand recognition, higher enrollment, and more people interested in the university. Athletics just wants to do their part to be a part of this great institution.”
Although Hollingsworth is a notable donor, donations are received from about 3,400 donors to the campaign.
“We talk about a lot of the larger gifts, but it takes everybody,” Keith Carter said. “We certainly need these larger gifts, but we also need everybody to get involved and take ownership of what we’re doing and feel like they’re a part of it.”