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Ole Miss STEM Center Named After Jim and Tommy Duff

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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 | Kevin Bain/The University of Mis

Jim and Tommy Duff were on hand for the ceremonial groundbreaking of a center geared toward boosting science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at the University of Mississippi. The center will be named after the tire dealing brothers, who are theowners of Southern Tire Mart.

The Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation will support STEM education. The school says it will be the largest single construction project in history on the college’s Oxford, Miss., campus. The Duffs have committed $26 million to the facility.

The men joined university officials and other dignitaries for a ceremony on Oct. 29.

“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 Duffs’ father, Ernest, earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the school. He also served as student body president, on the Mississippi Law Journal staff and graduated tops in his law school class. He went on to found Southern Tire Mart, which led to the creation of Duff Capital Investors, a parent company that encompasses more than 20 businesses and employs more than 13,000 people. (Read more about the Duffs in MTD’s profile story naming the brothers the recipients of 2021 Tire Dealer of the Year Award.)

According to the university, the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation “will be home to classrooms and labs for biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering and physics. The 202,000-square-foot building will feature technology-enabled active learning, a 3D visualization lab, and fabrication and testing equipment in addition to additional traditional lab space.”

The Duffs’ $26 million gift is part of the center’s $175 million total cost.

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