The institute will be housed at the university, the Barksdales' alma mater, but will be a state-wide program, sources said.
"Jim has been very interested in education," the source said, noting that his daughter is a school teacher. "His feeling is that literacy is the cornerstone of the rest of your education. With it, children will be able to lead productive lives."
The donation eclipses the couple's $5.4 million gift to the university in 1996 to establish the McDonnell-Barksdale Honors College.
At the time, Barksdale told university officials that his dream was for the "University of Mississippi to offer the richest educational experience available...I hope its graduates will be a positive force that will impact Mississippi's educational, economic and cultural life as they invest, create and produce in the context of their native state."
That year, Barksdale was inducted to the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame, and a year later, in 1997, he participated as a panelist for an episode of "Firing Line" that was filmed at the university, according to an article published in today's college paper.