Ole Miss Creates External Relations Unit

Stephen Ponder (Courtesy Arizona State Athletics)

June 22, 2012

OXFORD, Miss. - In an effort to build on the foundation of Ole Miss' external efforts, Athletics Director Ross Bjork has added a new multi-faceted position in the administration, announcing Stephen Ponder as the Senior Executive Associate A.D. for External Relations.

Ponder spent the past five years at Arizona State, where he was the Senior Associate A.D. for External Relations/Executive Director of the Sun Devil Club and supervised all external areas and their 40 staff members. From 2005 to 2009, ASU's athletics fundraising increased from $7.5 to $18.5 million, and new practice facilities were constructed for both football and basketball.

A 2012 participant in the Disney Institute, Ponder also spent 16 years as a fundraiser at his alma mater N.C. State for the Wolfpack Club. During that period, annual giving rose from $3 million in 1991 to $9.5 million in 2005, and over his final eight years, Ponder was part of a team that secured $120 million in pledges and contributions in capital campaigns, including $55 million towards the football stadium.

"I've grown to know Stephen and respect his ability to connect with people and build relationships," Bjork said. "He has the ability to see the big picture and should hit the ground running, particularly with the Forward Together campaign.

"We were fortunate to attract a candidate of Stephen's caliber, and it speaks to the power of the Ole Miss brand and the passion of Rebel Nation that we can recruit such a high-level administrator."

Ponder's duties at Ole Miss will include oversight of all of the Rebels' external areas, including the UMAA Foundation, ticket operations, ticket sales, marketing and communications and facilities and game operations.

As part of this new organization, Keith Carter has been elevated to Associate A.D. for Development/Executive Director of the UMAA Foundation. The former Rebel Basketball All-American is entering his third year with the Foundation and has previously served as Assistant A.D. for Development/Major Gifts.

"Keith is well respected by our friends, alumni and donors and has done a great job in contributing to the vision and growth of the campaign," said Bjork. "I'm excited about his leadership and the future of our athletics foundation."

Bjork emphasized how these changes will further support the positive efforts in recent years to connect with and build the Rebel fanbase.

"This new unit and structure will continue the momentum established by (Senior Associate A.D.) Michael Thompson's team in marketing and communications," Bjork said. "Our leadership must have an open door to fans and strive to touch everyone who is a part of our program. Growing Rebel Nation is a major step in our path to competing for and winning championships."

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