The University of Mississippi
The Alliance of Graduate Education in Mississippi

University of Mississippi AGEM Executives

Admiral Ackbar

Dr. Earnest Stephens

AGEM Statewide Coordinator

Dr. Earnest Stephens is a graduate from Bruce High School and went on to earn his Associates of Arts degree from Itawamba Community College. He transferred to the University of Mississippi where he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Education, and Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership at The University of Mississippi he has worked for the University Counseling Center where he served as the Wellness Programming Specialist and the Student Health Service where he served as the Coordinator of Wellness Programming.

He has also worked for Americorps’ Campus Link at The University of Mississippi where he served as a Site Supervisor at both Lafayette and Oxford Elementary Schools. He currently works in the Office of Graduate School Sponsored Programs where he serves as Project Coordinator and is the Site Coordinator for The Alliance for Graduate Education in Mississippi AGEM).

Earnest is a member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society. He is also active in Project Pull, a mentoring program at The University of Mississippi, The Black Faculty and Staff Organization, and serves as an advisor to the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. He is a member of Mays Chapel Missionary Baptist Church where he sings in the choir and is actively involved with the church’s youth department.


Admiral Ackbar

Dr. Maurice Eftink

UM Graduate School Dean

Dr. Maurice Eftink has worked through ranks of Assistant to Full Professor of Chemistry, University of Mississippi, from 1978 to the present. Holder of Coulter Chair of Chemistry from 1993-97. In recent years, has taken on administrative duties by serving as Associate Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs (Associate Provost) and Dean of the Graduate School. Dr. Eftink develops programs designed to enhance graduate education, particularly the participation of under-represented minority students in science, mathematics, and engineering graduate programs.

He is also the Principal Investigator for the Alliance in Graduate Education in Mississippi.

Special Accomplishments include: NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, 1977-78. Editorial Advisory Board, Biochemistry (current), Journal of Fluorescence (previous); member of NSF Molecular Biophysics review panel, NIH Molecular Biophysics training grants panel; several NIH ad hoc panels and site visit teams.   Organizer of the 7th Gibbs Conference on Biothermodynamics.

Dr. Eftink is the recipient of many awards and has memberships in many professional and service organizations such as: Margaret McLean Coulter Professor of Chemistry, 1991-1997; Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award, 1987; Phi Beta Kappa; Biophysical Society (Biological Fluorescence Subgroup, Chair, 1998; American Chemical Society (local section chairman, 1985, 1991); American Society of Biological Chemists; Protein Society; AAAS; AED Teacher of the Year, 1982, 1998; Editorial Board member for -Biochemistry and The Journal of Fluorescence; study section member for the NSF Biophysics program, 1989-1992.

Dr. Eftink received the following degrees:  a B.S. in Chemistry (1973) from University of Missouri Columbia, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry (1976) from the University of Missouri-Columbia and post-doctoral training in Biochemistry (1976-78) at the University of Virginia-Charlottesville.


Admiral Ackbar

Dr. Donald Cole


Dr. Donald R. Cole currently serves as Assistant Provost for Multi-Cultural Affairs, Associate Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Professor of Mathematics at The University of Mississippi. He is a Co-Principal Investigator for the Alliance for Graduate Education in Mississippi. Believing that education is the “great equalizer” and the central feature in the prevailing endurance of mankind, Dr. Cole is the author of several grants, is a frequent speaker, and a is stern advocate for “pipeline” educational issues, particularly for minority students.

Dr. Cole plays an active leadership role in policy making, teaching, research, and diversification at the University. Convinced that the University of Mississippi is in a prime position to lead the nation in these efforts, he devotes much of his time and energy to projects and causes that promote schooling, teaching, training and mentoring opportunities – particularly for those desiring advanced degrees.

Dr. Cole is the recipient of the following degrees: a Ph. D. in Mathematics (1985) from the University of Mississippi; a M.A. in Mathematics (1977) from State University of New York; a M.A. in Applied Mathematics (1974) from University of Michigan; and a B.S. in Mathematics/Physics (1972) from Tougaloo College.