UM Advisory Committee on History and Context Hosts Listening Sessions

Group seeking community input for content and design

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context held its second listening session Thursday (March 23) to hear from the community about designing the content and format for physical sites recommended for contextualization.

The meeting Thursday represents the second part of the committee’s work. The first listening session was held March 6 at the Inn at Ole Miss and it focused on input from students, faculty and staff.

Thursday’s event, held at Burns-Belfry Museum in Oxford, allowed the advisory committee to focus on input from the broader community. More than 25 community members and alumni came to the meeting.

In addition to the listening sessions, the committee is accepting input from the community via an online form about facts or other information, such as noted experts or resources to be considered in the design of the content and format. Submissions will be accepted until March 31. The committee also has recently updated its website with a FAQ section.

Don Cole, assistant provost and professor of mathematics, who serves as CACHC co-chair, opened the session and invited UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter to talk about the significance of the committee’s work.

“Our university has long been committed to honest and open dialogue about its history and how to make our campuses more welcoming and inclusive,” Vitter said. “I think it is important to recognize that we are on the forefront of institutions of higher education in the nation to systematically and vigorously undertake contextualization efforts.”

Vitter established the committee in summer 2016 in an effort to address UM’s physical site contextualization efforts in a comprehensive and transparent process informed by expertise.

There are more than 100 structures on the Oxford campus. Seven of those have been identified for contextualization. Designing the content and format for the contextualization of these sites will finish the committee’s work. The group will use the public’s input to help draft their final recommendations to submit to the chancellor by May 31.

The chancellor explained the importance of the listening sessions.

“I’ve made it clear that the committee of experts needs to listen and engage in constructive conversations with all our university stakeholders – students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends – so that they don’t miss anything and so that they weight all relevant information,” Vitter said. “It’s the best of all worlds: a committee of experts but at the same time, very wide and broad input.”

During his remarks, Vitter referenced his March 9 letter in response to misperceptions that emerged from the March 6 listening session. He emphasized that the committee’s work is focused on contextualization of existing physical campus sites.

“No other items are under the purview of the CACHC as a part of tonight’s discussion,” he said. “For example, as I explained in my letter of June 10, the terms ‘Ole Miss’ and ‘Rebels’ are here to stay as positive and endearing nicknames for the University of Mississippi.”

Rose Flenorl, an Ole Miss alumna and manager of social responsibility at FedEx Corp., serves as co-chair of the committee along with Cole. Flenorl talked about how the committee has used community engagement as a key part of its effort.

“Dr. Vitter understands that community input and engagement are paramount to the integrity and success of our efforts,” Flenorl said. “He encouraged the committee to utilize transparent and inclusive mechanisms such as the online form we used in August 2016 to solicit public input into the identification of the physical sites to be considered for contextualization.”

“The committee received 45 separate submissions, and we used those to inform our discussions and guide our recommendations. And we are again using an online form to ask for your input and ideas about the final part of our work.”

The listening session included committee members Andy Mullins and Charles Ross presenting background information about the committee, the work completed so far and the plan to address the final part of their charge.

Ross explained the seven sites to be contextualized include Lamar Hall, Barnard Observatory, Longstreet Hall and George Hall. The antebellum sites of Barnard Observatory, Croft Hall, the Lyceum and Hilgard Cut are to be contextualized with one plaque to be placed just west of Croft, within sight of the three buildings, noting that these four projects were built with slave labor.

In addition, one building, Vardaman Hall, which was already approved for renovation by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Education last spring, will be recommended for renaming. A new name is yet to be determined. The renaming would occur through university processes and be subject to IHL approval.

Also, signage at the Paul B. Johnson Commons will altered to add “Sr.” to clarify that it is named after Paul B. Johnson Sr.

Cole explained the committee’s approach to the final part of its work.

“The CACHC is armed with a wealth of knowledge and perspective through the assemblage of talented faculty, staff, alumni and students,” Cole said. “We are approaching our second task by dividing into smaller work groups, which will each address one or more of the sites. We will organize our effort while we eagerly await the results on the online submission form.”

The committee heard from a handful of attendees including community members, students and alumni.

“The achievements of these people who these buildings were named after must not be understated or overstated,” said UM alumnus Richard Noble of Indianola. “Personal modern day opinions and prejudices are not necessary and are not applicable to explain the facts of their time. If we let the events of the past dictate the decisions of the present, our future will be lost. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to alter the facts of history.”

The comments from the listening sessions along with the online feedback will be used by the committee to inform their recommendations to the chancellor.

UM Students to Present Research at Capitol for Posters in the Rotunda

Four University of Mississippi students are among undergraduates from all eight of the state’s public universities who will share their research and creative activities on topics ranging from health care to cultural heritage to environmental issues with legislators and state leaders at Posters in the Rotunda.

The event is set for 7:30-9:30 a.m. Thursday (March 23) in the rotunda of the state Capitol. The students will show how their research addresses some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems.

The event provides opportunities for legislators to visit with students from their districts, allows students to network with one other as they learn about work on other campuses, and showcases cutting-edge research conducted by undergraduates that benefits the entire state and its residents.

“Posters in the Rotunda epitomizes both the diversity and high quality of the scholarship being done by students and their faculty mentors,” said Marie Danforth, chair of the steering committee for the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research at the University of Southern Mississippi and coordinator of the event.

“This year, we’ve been able to expand the event to include more undergraduates from each university. Two students representing Mississippi INBRE, a statewide program focusing on biomedical research, are also participating.”

Ole Miss students participating in the event are:

  • Jarett Bell, presenting “Evaluating the Land Use Land Cover Change in the Coastal Watersheds of Mississippi”
  • Nathaniel Greene, “Giving Wings But Keeping Them Clipped: The Relationship Between Overprotective Parenting and Student Psychological Well-Being During the Transition to College”
  • Heather Poole, “Improving Health of Rural Mississippians through Farmers’ Markets”
  • Sarah Sutton, “Spectroscopic and Computational Study of Chlorine Dioxide/Water Interactions”

Modeled after the Posters on the Hill event in which students from across the country share their work in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Posters in the Rotunda event is similar to ones in 17 other states.

“I am so pleased that the Posters in the Rotunda event has been expanded to include even more students for its second year,” said Glenn Boyce, commissioner of higher education. “This is an excellent program that highlights the value of undergraduate research and the impact university research has on solving Mississippi’s most pressing problems.

“Participating in undergraduate research projects provides a great experience for the students, strengthening their academic, leadership and presentation skills and preparing them for research on the graduate level.”

More information on the Posters in the Rotunda event is available at http://postersintherotundams.org.

UM Law School Hosts Boyce Holleman Debate

Topic to address globalization and inequality concerns

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law is hosting the 2017 Boyce Holleman Debate Series, which focuses on concerns about globalization, Wednesday (March 1) in the school’s Weems Auditorium.

This year’s debate will feature Robert Howse, law professor at New York University School of Law, and Antonia Eliason of the Ole Miss law faculty. The debate, which begins at 12:45 p.m., is titled “Globalization and its Institutions: Reset, Reform or Reject.”

“Globalization has become something of an epithet in recent years, both in the Global North and in the Global South,” Eliason said. “Recently, calls for disruption of institutions linked with globalization, like the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, have increased.

“This debate engages with questions of how the legal frameworks of global institutions can be used to address concerns with globalization, and to what extent disruption is necessary to address inequality and to save globalization from itself.”

Howse is the Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law at NYU School of Law and the 2017 Boyce Holleman Lecturer.

Eliason is an assistant professor of law at UM, where she teaches International Trade Law, International Business Transactions, European Union Law, Law of Armed Conflict and Contracts. Her research focuses on international trade law, international finance, EU law and Roma rights.

The Boyce Holleman Debate Series was established in 2003 by Tim and Dean Holleman in memory of their father. Boyce Holleman earned both undergraduate and juris doctor degrees from Ole Miss and enjoyed a long law career as a district attorney and criminal defense attorney on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The Boyce Holleman Debate Series is open to contributions from individuals and organizations. Donors wanting to provide support may do so at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or by mailing checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677. Checks should be made payable to the foundation, and donors should note “Boyce Holleman Debate Series.”

$3 Million Grant to Provide Pre-K Prep for Mississippi Educators

Consortium, UM prepare 'bundle' of strategies for teachers, administrators

OXFORD, Miss. – A three-year, $3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will help University of Mississippi faculty provide educators across the state with specialized training to use new research and meet upcoming training demands facing the early childhood education workforce.

The funds will be awarded in $1 million increments over the next three years to the North Mississippi Education Consortium, or NMEC, which is housed on the university’s Oxford campus and will host a variety of training opportunities with faculty support from the UM Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning.

“We are creating a system of training to build certain capacities in school districts,” said Cathy Grace, the Graduate Center’s co-director. “Different training opportunities will allow both teachers and principals to get information that is appropriate to their role. We also want to inform teachers of what will be expected of them by the state as it changes its requirements and evaluations.”

Starting in 2018, the Mississippi Department of Education will require all the state’s public school teachers to hold a special license endorsement to teach in any public early childhood classroom. Training opportunities to be provided with the new funding will provide multiple options for teachers to meet this requirement.

Grace describes the initiative as a “bundle of strategies,” with the aim of supporting high-quality pre-K classrooms. The focus will be exposing both teachers and administrators to the latest research in neuroscience and professional practice related to the rapidly evolving field of early childhood education.

The training programs planned in conjunction with MDE will benefit assistant teachers, teachers, principals and school superintendents working with pre-kindergarten students. These opportunities, scheduled in various locations across the state over the next three years, can train hundreds of early childhood teachers and school administrators on the most effective teaching practices for young children.

Online staff development courses designed for teachers seeking to receive their pre-K endorsement will also be offered. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact NMEC or visit the Graduate Center website to get specific training information.

These opportunities will utilize state resources, as well as bring in national experts in early childhood education and school administration, and will be based on proven strategies that have yielded increased student outcomes and engaged families in communities.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, several studies show that quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics. The studies also indicate that every $1 invested in public pre-K education generates a $7 return in the form of long-term cost savings.

The School of Education also offers two programs that can help teachers earn a pre-K license endorsement from MDE, including its online Master of Education degree in early childhood education, as well as 12-hour undergraduate endorsement program.

“We, at the North Mississippi Education Consortium, are excited to be a part of this grant opportunity,” said Susan Scott, program coordinator at NMEC. “As educators, we see the value of early childhood education and the impact it has on the educational achievement of Mississippi’s children.”

UM Support of International Community of Scholars

On January 29, I shared a statement with the University of Mississippi community about a recent Presidential Executive Order that limits immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The order also directed the suspension of the refugee admission program for 120 days, and indefinitely for refugee processing of Syrian nationals.

You have my commitment that we will focus upon what is truly best for the well-being, safety, and success of our students and our university.  I want to assure all members of our community that as we closely monitor the long-term impact of the recent Presidential Executive Order, we will continue to do as we always have done: support all our students.  We will also continue to abide by all federal and state laws, including federal constitutional and statutory privacy rights afforded members of the university.

Here are some of the ways we are supporting our international colleagues and some of the information we are providing to those in our community affected by this action:

  • University administrators on the Oxford and Jackson campuses have individually and directly communicated with the 26 students and 11 faculty and staff members from these named countries who are affected by the executive order.
  • At this time, we are advising all nonimmigrant-status students, faculty members, and staff members from the named countries to avoid travel outside the United States.
  • Individuals from the affected countries who hold permanent resident status in the United States, as well as nonimmigrant-status individuals holding dual citizenship from these countries and a country other than the United States, are advised to consult with the Office of International Programs or an immigration attorney before traveling abroad.
  • Housing accommodations will be available for affected students needing assistance over spring break and summer, if necessary.
  • The Office of the Chancellor is reaching out to student groups to facilitate discussions on how UM can provide additional support to affected students.
  • If you believe you may be affected by the executive order or are uncertain about whether these orders affect you or someone you know, we encourage you to contact the Office of International Programs. If you are seeking advice in confidence, you may call 662-915-7404.  Additional resources and support are available from

I want to reiterate my frequently stated conviction that the many members of our international community enrich our Flagship university and add great value. As one of the key initiatives I highlighted in my investiture address on November 10, we will make our great learning and research environment even greater by expanding international presence on our campuses and educating our students to prosper in a global society.

I ask all members of the Ole Miss family to please join me and our leadership team in lending support to our international students, faculty, and staff.  Having a robust international community — with its diversity of talents, cultures, and contributions — enriches and enhances the vitality of our university and our state.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Statement from Chancellor Vitter Regarding Presidential Executive Orders

As a public international research institution of higher education, the University of Mississippi is focused upon education and the success of our students in a global society.  We are a community of scholars committed to fostering a diverse environment, and we benefit greatly from a strong international and multicultural presence.

One of our top priorities is a safe and welcoming environment for all our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  However, we recognize that for many in our community, there is significant anxiety, fear, and uncertainty related to recent Presidential Executive Orders.

We are currently gathering information and evaluating the impact of the executive orders upon members of our university community.  If you believe you are affected, or are uncertain about whether these orders affect you, please contact the Office of International Programs.

We value all members of our university community and extend our support to our international students, faculty, and staff during this uncertain time. We call upon all members of our community to support one another.  We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation and keep the university community updated as more information becomes available.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Don Dyer Delivers Lecture at Ohio State Symposium

Associate liberal arts dean met with other past Naylor Lecturers

Former Naylor lecturers present at Ohio State University. Donald Dyer, fourth from right in the back row.

OXFORD, Miss. – Donald L. Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs, professor of Russian and linguistics, and co-director of the University of Mississippi’s Chinese Language Flagship Program, recently attended a special event featuring past Naylor Lecturers at Ohio State University.

Dyer’s was among 16 papers delivered by former Naylor lecturers, all of whom had returned to OSU for a three-day gathering on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Kenneth Naylor Lecture Series in South Slavic Linguistics. The theme of the three-day symposium was “The Current State of Balkan Linguistics – Where Do We Stand?”

Dyer presented “Indeterminedly Definite after All These Years: A Tribute to Naylor 1983.” His paper traced an idea originally presented by Naylor in an article he published in 1983 and which Dyer expounded upon in a 1988 publication of his own.

After the two wrote about this in the 1980s, other scholars picked up on the idea and referred to it as an important finding over the next 20 years.

“The symposium was a gathering of the preeminent Balkan Slavists in the world, bringing together the most productive 21st-century scholars in this field,” said Dyer, who delivered the 17th Naylor Lecture in 2014. “It was quite a treat to be to be brought back for an encore presentation and honored in this way, but to also have the opportunity in one place and at one time to associate with such a group of scholars, to hear each others’ papers and to support each other in our work.”

In 1997, Brian Joseph became the first appointed Kenneth E. Naylor Professor. He established an annual lecture on South Slavic linguistics in Naylor’s memory that brings leading scholars in the field to OSU each spring for a public lecture. They also speak in Joseph’s South Slavic and Balkan classes. Each lecture is subsequently published as a monograph article in the Naylor Lecture Series.

For more information on the lecture and lecturers, visit https://slavic.osu.edu/kenneth-e.-naylor-memorial-lecture.

Statement from Chancellor Vitter regarding misunderstandings related to sanctuary campus

“There have recently been misunderstandings arising from a draft student resolution and online petition calling for the University of Mississippi to become a sanctuary campus. To be clear, the university does not have the power or ability to create a ‘sanctuary’ that would be exempt from any federal or state laws. As I stated on Nov. 29, the University of Mississippi will continue to uphold all federal and state laws, as well as policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. As a public institution of higher education, we will always focus upon education and the success of our students.”

Statement from Chancellor Vitter regarding ASB’s resolution on sanctuary campus

“I am aware of the resolution drafted by a few Associated Student Body Senators and some student organization presidents calling for the university to become a sanctuary for undocumented members of our community.  Leaders from our Associated Student Body have informed us that the resolution has been pulled from tonight’s agenda and will not be discussed.

“As chancellor, my responsibility is to administer and operate the university within applicable Federal and state laws, as well as the policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

“I do believe it is an important part of the educational process ­­— and central to our UM Creed — for students to discuss the difficult issues of our day, and it is equally important that all voices be a part of that healthy debate.  I can assure you that we will also continue to uphold our legal responsibilities and our university policies.”

Statement Regarding Swastikas Found in Elevator

Reports of images of swastikas found in a Residential College South elevator have been made to the University of Mississippi Department of Student Housing, the University of Mississippi announced in a statement released Friday (Nov. 11). Following a review of surveillance footage, a student has been referred to the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct.

“We’re aware of this incident and we’re allocating every resource available within our department to address this situation,” said Lionel Maten, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and director of student housing. “Our top priority is the safety of our residents and maintaining an inclusive, healthy community conducive to the learning experience.”

As a community committed to our UM Creed and the success of our students and staff, we do not condone acts of bias and intolerance. This racist, anti-semitic symbol has no place at UM.

As Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter noted in his statement to the campus community earlier this week, “The safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors is our top priority. We will not tolerate violent or threatening behavior.”

We encourage all residents to report incidents to the proper authorities. Any time a community member is fearful or needs immediate support, contact the University Police Department at 662-915-7234. To report a bias incident, which includes conduct, speech or expressions that are threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, or hostile and are motivated by a person’s identity or group affiliation, please complete a Bias Incident Report Form.