Beating Brain Drain – Ole Miss News

An Ole Miss student at the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence participates in a classroom project designed to teach students how to create efficient and balanced assembly lines at the CME factory. A gift from Charles Holder Jr.’s family establishes a bursary at the center with the goal of providing more qualified professionals to the state’s manufacturing industry. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Mississippi – With a donation of $62,500 to the University of Mississippi’s Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, Charles Holder Jr.’s family hopes to keep graduates in the state while honoring their father.

The gift establishes the Charles B. Holder Jr. Scholarship Foundation in honor of Holder, who served as an original board member for the center.

Holder, a native of Louin, is the founder of Hol-Mac Corp., which operates six separate manufacturing facilities in Bay Springs. A graduate of Mississippi State University, his lifelong commitment to education and people development was a driving force in his joining the CME Board of Directors.

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“He was instrumental in creating the CME curriculum,” said Jamie Holder, President and CEO of Hol-Mac and a member of the CME Board of Directors. “We wanted to support the program and what better way to do that than to honor our father and his contribution to the center.”

The CME, created by former Gov. Haley Barbour in partnership with the university and Toyota Motor Corp. Founded in 2010, it welcomed its first class of accounting, economics and engineering students with the goal of preparing them to become leaders in the manufacturing industry.

“The participatory learning process that the CME has leveraged is how the industry trains employees,” said Jamie Holder. His company hired graduates straight from CME.

In fact, students who receive the Holder Scholarship are encouraged to intern with the Jasper County-based Hol-Mac family of companies.

Karl Holder

“The primary purpose of an internship at Hol-Mac is to give students a chance to find out if manufacturing is what they really want to do,” Holder explained. “We thought with internships we could get them to see that there were good jobs in Mississippi and that they could stay here.”

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The goal is to help the state retain more talented workers after graduation, said Scott Kilpatrick, CME interim executive director.

“The Holders are really trying to prevent this brain drain in Mississippi,” Kilpatrick said. “They support students so they can go to school and then come back to support their communities.”

Jamie Holder and his family have close ties to the university. Holder graduated with a degree in business administration in 1985 and was twice the Rebels’ football captain, beginning in 1983. His brother Jeffery graduated with a degree in business administration in 1991 and also played football for the rebels from 1987 until he graduated.

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Additionally, Jamie Holder’s wife, Alison Lay Holder, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Ole Miss. The couple have two children, Bradley and Jordan, the latter also having a UM degree and playing on the soccer team.

Recently, Charles Holder attended the 10th anniversary celebration of the launch of the CME.

“It meant so much to my father to see some of the original board members, CME staff and Governor Barbour,” said Jamie Holder. “He enjoyed seeing the success of the program and having the fellowship announced on his behalf.”

Kilpatrick called Charles Holder “an industrial leader in Mississippi for many years. We were thrilled to be able to honor him as well and to give back to the students and truly recognize the impact they have had on our program.”

The Charles B. Holder Jr. Scholarship Endowment is open to donations from individuals and organizations. Checks with the grant name on the note line may be mailed to The University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online at

To make a gift to the CME, contact Tyler Biggs, Associate Director of External Operations, at [email protected] or call 662-915-2632.

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