Law Alumni Griffith, Khayat Receive University’s Top Honors

By: Jillian Steptoe

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi School of Law graduates, Robert Khayat, former chancellor, and Lanny Griffith, chief executive officer of BGR Group, will receive highest honors from the Ole Miss Alumni Association as part of the Association’s Homecoming festivities.

Khayat is being inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame and Griffith is receiving the Alumni Service Award.  The two will be honored with other recipients at a reception on Friday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at the Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner will follow at 7 p.m.

According to the Alumni Association, the Hall of Fame, created in 1974, honors a select group of Ole Miss alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or the University of Mississippi through services or contributions that have perpetuated the good reputation of Ole Miss.

“In addition to being a transformative Chancellor for the university, Robert Khayat was an outstanding law professor who touched the lives of generations of lawyers,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “I am proud to work in a building named for him.”

Khayat, whom after the Robert C. Khayat Law Center was dedicated in April 2011, has been recognized for many outstanding achievements throughout his life.

Khayat received his undergraduate and law degrees from Ole Miss. After completing his education, he joined the University of Mississippi School of Law faculty in 1969 where he served as associate dean and a professor.

In 1980, a Sterling Fellowship enabled him to obtain a master of laws degree from Yale School of Law.

Former Chancellor Khayat is also a member of the Student Hall of Fame at Ole Miss, an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa and was selected as Law Alumnus of the Year in 2014.

Khayat served as chancellor of Ole Miss from 1995-2009, where he increased university enrollment by 43% and raised $100 million in grants for research and development. He also founded the Law Alumni Chapter, which makes many contributions to the school and its alumni.

The Alumni Service Award recognizes those who have demonstrated exemplary service to the university and the Alumni Association over an extended period of time.

This year’s recipient, Lanny Griffith, received his undergraduate degree in business in 1973 and graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1976.

“Lanny Griffith has helped the law school and the university through his unselfish spirit of service and his generosity,” said Gershon. “He never asks for anything in return, which is why it is so wonderful that we can honor him.”

After graduating from Ole Miss, Griffith’s political career began in the early 1980s when he worked for the Republican National Committee.  He served as the executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party for three years and in 1988, served as Southern political director for Vice President Bush’s presidential campaign. In 1989, Griffith was sworn in as special assistant to the president, serving as President Bush’s liaison to governors and other statewide elected officials.

Griffith made many great strides in the advancement of education. In 1991, Griffith was nominated to be assistant secretary of education. At the U.S. Department of Education he assisted Secretary Lamar Alexander in building a national consensus around educational standards and testing.

Griffith represented the U.S. on the Education Committee of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and served as co-chairman of the Advisory Council on Dependent Education, which serves as the school board for all dependent schools worldwide under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Griffith’s work for the Bush family continued with his role as national chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2000 Entertainment Task Force and entertainment coordinator for the 2001 Bush Inaugural. He later served as a ranger and as a member of the Bush 2004 National Finance Committee.

Griffith is a founder of the Trust for the National Mall and currently serves on the board of directors. He serves as national treasurer for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the U.S.

“These awards represent the highest honor bestowed on alumni of the university. It is a wonderful tribute to our law school that two recipients this year are law school graduates,” said Gershon.