The University of Mississippi

Grove Plaza Dedicated In Memory of Frances Haik

Sunny and Mac Haik made a gift to honor his late mother, Frances Haik Jordan. Photo by Amy Howell/UM Development

A son’s love for his mother and her great affection for the University of Mississippi and the iconic Grove were on display today with the dedication of the Grove Plaza — the first major signage ever identifying the Grove, the 10-acre park enjoyed by thousands each year.

Donors Sunny and Mac Haik of Houston, Texas, were honored at a ceremony dedicating the Grove Plaza to his mother, the late Frances Haik Jordan of Meridian and Decatur, Mississippi. The new campus landmark includes landscaping and a plaque that reads, “In memory of Frances Haik. She loved Ole Miss and the Grove.”

A gathering of Haik family members listen to Chancellor Glenn Boyce as he thanks Sunny and Mac Haik for their support of Ole Miss. Photo by Amy Howell/UM Development

Chancellor Glenn Boyce led the ceremony, thanking the Haiks for their $1.5 million gift, a portion of which was used to build the Grove Plaza.

“Behind the gift we celebrate today is the immeasurable love of a son for his mother. We are honored to celebrate the memory of Frances Haik Jordan, whose devotion to Ole Miss is the inspiration for this entire Grove Plaza,” he said. “… Frances possessed all of the spirit and charm we associate with the very best of Ole Miss. Although she did not attend college, she adopted Ole Miss as her own and called it the most beautiful place she had ever seen.

“The Grove is the most beloved and beautiful spot on the University of Mississippi campus. On a campus filled with beautiful places, that’s really saying something! The gift of the Grove Plaza stands to make it even better,” Boyce said.

Mac Haik, an alumnus and former stand-out Rebel football player, shared how his mother — a self-made business woman who persevered and became successful — came into her relationship with Ole Miss.

“She knew nothing about football, and I mean absolutely nothing. She attended all my high school and Ole Miss games. She loved the atmosphere and meeting the players and their families. The players called her the team mom.”

At his M-Club Hall of Fame photo session in the Grove, Haik recalled his mother saying, “You know honey, this is the most fun I have ever had in my whole life! Very softly, almost like she was dreaming … she said, “Maybe someday we can do something for Ole Miss. Congratulations, Mother, today is your day, and you will not be forgotten. Thank you, Ole Miss.”

Frances Haik Jordan died in September 2012. For 20 years, she provided leadership as vice president and business development officer of Peoples Bank of Mississippi. She also served as manager for 18 years of Roth Department Store. She was active in her church and community and was selected as Decatur’s “Citizen of the Year” in 2009. Haik’s father, Joseph Albert Haik, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, died when Mac was 8 years old.

Haik’s athletic prowess was recognized by Ole Miss coaches Johnny Vaught and Frank “Bruiser” Kinard, who offered him a full scholarship to play for the Rebels.

“They came to Meridian to talk to Mother and me about playing football at Ole Miss,” Haik recalled. “I couldn’t get a word in the conversation because my mom was so charming. Finally, I decided to jump in and sign my contractual agreement because I was afraid she might want to go to Ole Miss on my scholarship.”

Haik enjoyed an impressive academic and football career at Ole Miss, earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1968 and completed work toward a master’s degree in marketing. He was named to the Ole Miss M-Club Hall of Fame and the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame.

The Haik family, of Houston, Texas, at the May 14, 2024 at the dedication of the Grove Plaza, a new campus landmark at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Amy Howell/UM Development

Haik’s pro career began in 1970 when he was the top draft choice of the Houston Oilers. Shortly after injuries hastened his retirement from football, he established Mac Haik Enterprises. MHE has grown from a startup entity of two people to an organization with 11 affiliated companies that employs approximately 3,250 associates, generates revenue over $3 billion per year and owns land, commercial office buildings, retail space, medical facilities, restaurants, hotels and 1,200 billboards.

MHE also includes Mac Haik Automotive Group – the largest independent automotive group in Texas and the 15thlargest independent group in the nation. Five of the 19 dealerships are in Jackson, Mississippi.

At Ole Miss, the Haiks have provided generous support to athletics and academics. Haik’s interest in starting businesses inspired another of his commitments: a major gift that supports the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) within the School of Business Administration. Additionally, the gift established two scholarships — the Sunny Sue Haik and the Francis Haik Jordan awards for entrepreneurship — honoring Haik’s wife and mother respectively and benefiting qualified freshman and sophomore business students.

To learn more about supporting Ole Miss programs, contact Nikki Neely Davis, assistant vice chancellor for development, at nlneely@olemiss.edu or 662-915-6678.

By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development