Late Senator Cochran’s legacy expanded at University of Mississippi

(Written by Tina H. Hahn – University of Mississippi)

The University of Mississippi, as well as the state and nation, lost one of its strongest voices of support with the passing of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran on May 30.

Image courtesy of the University of Mississippi

Thanks to alumni and friends dedicated to expanding his legacy, an endowment has been established for scholarships, educational opportunities and preserving his congressional archives.

The UM School of Law hosted a tribute event recently to honor the service of the 10th longest-serving senator in American history and build resources in several areas. The Cochran Endowment provides law scholarships, an international law fellowship, a military promise program, preservation of his collection in the University Libraries’ Modern Political Archives and resources to the law dean’s strategic initiatives.

“We are so grateful to all individuals and organizations who contributed to these endowments,” said Susan Duncan, UM law dean. “Sen. Thad Cochran has impacted the lives of all Mississippians, and we are honored to continue his legacy.  The generous contributions from alumni and friends to honor Sen. Cochran will change the lives of so many students who wish to pursue legal careers and help current and future generations understand American history.”

“The endowments support areas of great importance to the longtime public servant who earned both undergraduate and law degrees from Ole Miss,” Duncan said.

Cochran studied international law at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, which greatly influenced his life. Before his political career, he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy and was an educator of military law and public policy.

Scholarships from the Cochran Endowment assist community-oriented Mississippi residents with a dedication to service earn law degrees at Ole Miss. The Thad Cochran International Law Fellowship recognizes the importance of international education by providing Mississippi students at the law school with opportunities to study abroad, gaining new perspectives and cultural exposure.

The Thad Cochran Military Promise Program portion of the endowment provides law scholarships for students seeking careers in the military. It also provides scholarships for veterans seeking legal education.

In 2017, Cochran donated more than 3,500 linear feet of physical records and 5 terabytes of electronic record from the last 45 years of his career. This political archive collection will serve as a resource for researchers who can explore correspondence, reports, photographs, and recordings of significant political events in recent history.

Many thanks go to donors who honored Cochran with gifts of all sizes. Those who made major gifts include:

  • Southern Company Charitable Foundation
  • Entergy Corp.
  • C Spire Foundation
  • Sanderson Farms

Other major gifts include Airbus Group, Altria Client Services LLC, Boeing, H.F. McCarty Jr. Family Foundation; Huntington Ingalls Industries, John N. Palmer Foundation, Leidos Inc., Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.

In 1972, Cochran was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Fourth District of the state. In 1978, he successfully ran for the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Republican in more than 100 years to win a statewide election in Mississippi.

As in the House of Representatives, his interests in the Senate reflected issues crucial to Mississippi: education, agriculture, economic development, and defense. His authorship of legislation helped to support initiatives in teacher training, adult literacy, wilderness protection, shipbuilding, military bases, and farm programs, as did his distinguished service as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

To support the Cochran Endowment, individuals and organizations can mail a check, with the endowment’s name in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or visit

For information, contact Suzette Matthews at or 662-915-1122.

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