New Parking App Available for UM and Oxford Drivers

The Passport parking app will be available both on campus and in the city of Oxford.

The Passport parking app is available both on campus and throughout Oxford.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and the city of Oxford are launching the PassportParking app this month, giving drivers the luxury of paying for parking from their smartphone. Passport will be available at all metered spaces on campus and throughout the city.

The app is designed to make driving around the Oxford area more convenient by allowing drivers to use a smartphone or tablet to pay for a parking session, rather than pulling out change or a credit card after parking.

“The city of Oxford has been working toward improvements in our parking program, so the addition of a mobile payment option was a natural progression for us,” said Matt Davis, Oxford parking director. “We found Passport to be the best solution for our parking environment, and with the launch at Ole Miss, it makes this transition seamless.”

The app also sends reminder notifications to drivers before the end of their parking sessions so they have a chance to extend the session and avoid parking tickets. It also keeps track of all user parking history.

“Having the city introduce the same Passport mobile technology as our campus was important to us,” said Mike Harris, UM director of parking and transportation. “Once we decided that we wanted to offer this option for our meters on campus, it made sense to provide the same service citywide from the leader in mobile payments.”

Users can download the free PassportParking app from the iPhone App Store or Android GooglePlay. Following the sign-up process, drivers can type in the zone number found on a parking meter. The zone for campus is 401. Accounts can be managed at

“When we can bring a solution across a city as well as its university’s campus, it’s very exciting,” said Nathan Berry, vice president of sales at Passport. “We’re looking forward to introducing this parking solution to the city of Oxford and the University of Mississippi.”

Alumni and Friends Provide Record $133 Million to Support University

Private support sustains UM and propels academics, research, athletics across campuses

Students enjoy the fall colors on campus between classes.

Surging enrollment has brought UM recognition as one of the nation’s fastest growing universities.

OXFORD, Miss. – Private donors and foundations committed a record $133 million to support programs, facilities and students at the University of Mississippi during the fiscal year that ended June 30, allowing the university to maintain its momentum despite a continuing difficult financial climate for higher education.

The strong private support, all directed to specific programs, allows the university to strengthen its faculty, increase student scholarships, contribute to research discoveries and help improve health care outcomes for Mississippians, said Morris Stocks, UM acting chancellor.

“Our alumni and friends remain dedicated to helping us reach our goals, and they understand that our institution is committed to excellence,” Stocks said. “Our university has earned record growth as more students seek our degree programs and research institutes, and thanks to those who chose to invest in our future, we are helping realize those goals and those of our students.”

Building faculty support continues as a top priority for UM, which has been identified as the nation’s 13th fastest-growing university by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The state’s flagship university boasts the largest student body among Mississippi’s public universities, making the addition of more than 200 faculty members over the next three years a major priority.

A 2015 gift totaling $11 million from John and Sandy Black of Madison, Miss., is UMMC's largest private gift received in a single year on record.

Private support has enabled expansion of programs at the UM Medical Center, where a priority has been set to educate more doctors, nurses and other health professionals to fill the state’s needs. Photo courtesy UMMC.

Throughout fiscal year 2015, donors cited the visionary leadership of outgoing Chancellor Dan Jones as a critical element of their confidence in Ole Miss. Under Jones’ leadership, the six-year total in private support at UM topped $570 million, with private giving in each of the previous four years exceeding the $100 million mark.

Notably, Jones facilitated the largest gift of 2015 for another need on the Oxford campus, increased facilities dedicated to the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Pledged by the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation of Jackson, an extraordinary $20 million gift set the groundwork for a $100 million campaign to assemble funding for a new building along the university’s Science Row.

Cash gifts of all sizes combined for a total $97.8 million, with new pledges receivable in future years adding up to more than $30 million. Donors committed $5 million in planned and deferred gifts to Ole Miss. Donor participation on the Oxford campus increased by more than 30 percent as the number of gifts rose from 42,000 in 2014 to 52,500 in fiscal year 2015. These generous contributions from alumni, private foundations and corporations, friends, parents and others invested in the success of UM has built an endowment of more than $600 million.

One driver of increased donor participation is UM’s new online crowdfunding platform, Ignite Ole Miss. By utilizing the social networks of alumni, faculty and students, Ignite Ole Miss cultivated more than 2,000 contributions for varied programs across the Oxford campus in FY 2015.

Donor impact reaches every area of the university, including its Medical Center campus. A 2015 gift totaling $11 million from John and Sandy Black, of Madison, is UMMC’s largest private gift received in a single year on record.

“This is a year when the impact of private support is felt more than ever, having a positive effect upon the health of this great state and the many communities in which our graduates serve,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “As Mississippi’s only academic medical center, the stakes remain high. Our donors make possible our ability to offer state-of-the-art facilities and care, meanwhile educating the health professionals of tomorrow to address ongoing health concerns.”

Thanks to generous donations, The Pavilion at Ole Miss will open for SEC play in early 2016.

Thanks to generous donations, the Pavilion at Ole Miss will open for SEC play in early 2016.

The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation also had a record year, generating more than $35 million in cash donations, breaking the previous record of $27.4 million set in 2014. With record membership exceeding 12,000, OMAF donors anticipate the soon-to-be-unveiled improvements to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the new Pavilion at Ole Miss made possible by their contributions.

“Our teams made Ole Miss one of only two programs in NCAA Division I athletics to participate in a New Year’s Six Bowl game, the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament and the NCAA Baseball Regional,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork said. “But most importantly, the collective efforts of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, fans and donors have made this one of the most inspiring times in Ole Miss athletics history. We are certainly not finished in our endeavors and will continue to move forward together.”

The Forward Together campaign has topped $137 million in commitments with $25 million in new pledges for the fiscal year, nearing the campaign goal of $150 million.

Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the UM Foundation, which had a five-year investment return of 9.6 percent as of June 30, thanked everyone who supported the university.

“The unwavering support of our alumni and friends is shown not just in dollars, but also in the number of those who gave back,” he said. “We could not be more appreciative of those who entrusted their hard-earned resources to the benefit of the University of Mississippi and its students.”

UM Named Among ‘Mississippi’s Healthiest Workplaces’

Designation honors campus efforts to create a 'culture of wellness'

The University has been named one of the healthiest places to work for in Mississippi.

The University has been named one of the healthiest places to work for in Mississippi.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi, which has aggressively implemented many health and wellness initiatives for its nearly 2,900 employees, has been named one of Mississippi’s Healthiest Workplaces for 2015.

The Mississippi Business Journal, the Mississippi Business Group on Health and the Mississippi Department of Health hand out the designation each year. The university will be honored at a banquet Friday (July 31) in Jackson along with other recipients of the award. 

“The University of Mississippi is pleased to be recognized for its efforts in improving the health and well-being of our faculty and staff,” Acting Chancellor Morris Stocks said. “This is a great achievement and could not have been done without the joint efforts of many throughout our university who have worked to improve the health and quality of life for all of us.”

The recognition honors the UM community’s hard work on health issues, said Andrea M. Jekabsons, UM assistant director of employment and training and project manager with RebelWell.

“The recognition as one of the ‘Healthiest Workplaces’ is an honor,” she said. “The RebelWell team is working to create a culture of wellness. This includes physical activity opportunities, health screenings, general wellness education and nutrition services, as well as constant visual reminders to encourage healthier habits.”

The university benefits from healthy employees for several reasons, Jekabsons said. 

Healthy employees are likely to be more productive, actively engaged and fully present when at work, and may experience improved job satisfaction and organizational commitment,” she said. “These may seem like benefits to the university, but more importantly, an improved health status is a benefit to the individual.”

Campus health programs have benefited from a $250,000 wellness grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. The American Heart Association has also consistently recognized UM as a “Fit Friendly” employer, either at the gold or platinum level since 2009. The university has also made the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” list, which measures employee overall satisfaction, seven of the eight years the list has existed.

The university developed the RebelWell program, which provides a range of opportunities for employees to become educated about living a healthy lifestyle and also offers group fitness classes, cooking demonstrations and nutrition counseling, among other services.

Last year, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc joined the RebelWell team, representing the university’s senior leadership. LaBanc is chair of the RebelWell Campus Committee.

“This is such a critical organizational initiative as evidenced by its inclusion in our strategic plan,”LaBanc said. “Efforts like these reinforce the Ole Miss way – we are a place that cares about one another and wants faculty, staff and students to have a positive and rewarding life experience. I believe the work of the RebelWell has contributed to employee wellness and happiness, and in turn, contributes to a more engaging academic environment for students.”

The university has also updated its employee policies to allow more flexibility and time for employees to work on their health.

University leaders created the UM2020 strategic plan with specific wellness objectives. They included developing and implementing a multiyear plan for promoting and advancing health, nutrition, exercise and individual wellness among all workers. UM also set itself as a beacon of leadership on health issues across Mississippi by educating and fostering a community that is committed to healthy and sustainable lifestyles and campus environment. The vision also included developing and integrating industry-leading programs and initiatives that will transform nutrition, health promotion, exercise and employee wellness.

In an effort to enhance the university’s individual health, community well-being and positive work life balance, the university’s leadership has also made changes to two employee policies in 2015 to promote a more healthy work environment.

Department heads are allowed to be flexible with scheduling to let employees participate in physical activity and UM wellness programs. Managers are also allowed to let their employees participate for up to three hours each month in approved wellness-related activities such as university-hosted walks, cooking demonstrations and physical fitness activities on campus. Employees can also be allowed to attend on-campus wellness seminars.

Employees are also allowed breaks twice per day to encourage them to stretch, walk or take short bike rides around campus, which can benefit work performance and individual health.

Each “Healthiest Workplace” honoree will be featured and recognized and will receive their award during the presentation program, said Alan Turner, Mississippi Business Journal publisher. The program is slated for 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Jackson Hilton Hotel. The Mississippi Business Journal will publish a special glossy magazine in August with profiles of all honorees that will be sent to all MBJ print and digital subscribers and will also be available on the website. 

“We’re delighted to see Ole Miss participating in this event and taking the lead in providing a healthy working environment for staff, as well as students,” Turner said. “We’re excited and hope this will translate to many other employers, agencies and institutions, as the importance to our state of improving the physical health and well-being of our citizens can hardly be overstated.”

Mossing Left Lasting Mark at UM

Endowment celebrates and continues efforts of Susan Mossing

629_180x239_2 copy

Susan Mossing

OXFORD, Miss. – Michael Mossing, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Mississippi, has committed a generous gift to the UM Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning to honor and memorialize his late wife, UM administrator, counselor and educator Susan Mossing.

The Susan Lynn Mossing Memorial Endowment will provide support for the center, continuing her sustained efforts to assist students struggling with academic demands and college life.

Susan Mossing, 55, died from an aggressive cancer in November 2013. Employed for many years in UM’s Academic Support Center, she most recently served as the associate director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, or CETL.

“Dr. Sue Mossing was a valued mentor, colleague, friend and advocate to so many individuals,” CETL colleagues Nancy Wiggers, Rebekah Reysen and Sara Hill said collectively. “She found purpose and meaning in her quest to help others and saw the positive qualities in people that were often overlooked, either by society or by themselves. She made it a point to foster the development of those who were struggling on both an academic and personal level, and encouraged students to move past their challenges and persevere despite difficult life circumstances.

“A lifelong learner herself, Sue was a proponent to tailoring the needs of students using a holistic, not one-size-fits-all approach. And although she was busy with numerous roles on campus and in the community, Sue always found the time to be the support system that so many people needed. The endowment that has been made in her honor will help carry her spirit for many years to come.”

The late Susan Mossing has been honored by family and friends with a memorial endowment at the University of Mississippi to continue her legacy of service to UM students struggling to make the transition from high school to college. This photo was taken by her husband, UM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Mike Mossing, of the then-22-year-old Susan Mossing, waiting for her husband to finish a late night in the laboratory. Until her death in 2013, Susan dedicated her career to helping students find their place on a large college campus, many grappling with similar displacement issues she had as a young student.

The late Susan Mossing has been honored by family and friends with a memorial endowment at UM to continue her legacy of service to students struggling to make the transition from high school to college. This photo was taken by her husband, UM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Mike Mossing, of the then-22-year-old Susan, waiting for her husband to finish a late night in the laboratory.

In 1998, the Mossings visited Oxford with their four children as Mike considered a faculty position in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. While Oxford would be a change from the big cities the family had resided in thanks to academia, they felt it would be a good fit. After Mike accepted the position, the couple received several copies of the Oxford Eagle newspaper from new colleagues: a photo of Sam, their youngest, had been taken at a local playground and appeared on the front page. The couple, touched by the outpouring of welcome from new friends, decided it was a good omen.

But the Mossings’ story – and Sue’s calling as an adviser, counselor and specialist for faltering college students – started much earlier. They met in 1976 as high school seniors departing a tour bus during a scholarship competition for incoming freshmen at Michigan State University.

The couple married in 1979, just before their senior year. Sue Mossing’s transition from valedictorian of her small-town high school to one of hundreds in her introductory science classes was not easy. She changed her major several times and eventually took a break from college and went to work as Mike completed a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.

A few years later, as Mike finished a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin, children Christopher and Caroline were born. Besides completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology, Sue helped manage grocery and child care cooperatives in the UW married housing complex.

They moved to Boston in 1986. Mike completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sue received an MBA at Boston University. In 1990, the family went to South Bend, Indiana, where Mike taught biology at Notre Dame.

In South Bend, Sue flourished in full “mom mode.” As a Brownie leader, swim team organizer, Parent Teacher Association leader and more, she worked to make sure her children were fulfilled musically, academically and athletically. The move to Oxford gave Sue an opportunity to pursue an additional master’s degree in educational psychology and a Ph.D. in counselor education. With that completed, she made time to volunteer in the community and her children’s activities.

“Sue was dedicated,” said Suzanne Wilkin, who worked with Mossing in the Oxford High School Band Boosters. “She so wanted and worked for the kids to have whatever they needed. She was a quiet yet remarkable person who helped as many people as she could.”

In her professional life, she found a role on the UM campus developing programs for undecided and at-risk students. During her tenure, she oversaw the implementation of study skills workshops, academic counseling and new freshman courses EDHE 101 (Academic Skills for College) and EDHE 202 (Fundamentals of Active Learning). She also assisted with the Freshmen Absence-Based Intervention program and Supplemental Instruction.

Her husband believes that her personal experience as a young college student and eventual climb through the ranks of academia inspired her career.

“One of the things that allowed her to recognize opportunities was her empathy,” Mike Mossing said. “Sue was valedictorian of her small high school and really did feel lost at that huge college. So I think that translated into a career path. She drew on her experience working with students, and that was sometimes academic, sometimes transitional and sometimes emotional. She knew that it wasn’t easy and believed that with the right tools and support, they could be set up to succeed.”

Just weeks before her death, with a prognosis confirmed, Sue Mossing was still passionately advocating for UM students. She had been coming in to work as often as she felt able, preparing the CETL for her departure. She sent Provost Morris Stocks an email outlining her recommendations, and among them, she detailed suggestions for an upcoming faculty development series. As she suggested themes and speakers, she also insisted that “panels should include someone who will speak for and protect the students.”

Stocks will remember Mossing for her dedication to the UM community.

“Even after learning of her diagnosis, Sue remained committed to her work advocating for academic student support measures,” said Stocks, now UM’s acting chancellor. “She was a tireless leader in the University of Mississippi’s efforts to ensure access to higher education for all students and understood the importance of classroom success and earning a four-year degree. This endowment from her family will undergird our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and maintain her strong presence of encouragement for those students in need.”

Born in South Haven, Michigan, Mossing is survived by her husband, Michael; her children: Christopher (Alexandra) Mossing of New Orleans and granddaughter Agnes Ann, Caroline Mossing of San Antonio, Texas, Daniel Mossing of Princeton, New Jersey, and Samuel Mossing of Evanston, Illinois; and 13 siblings in Michigan.

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the Susan Lynn Mossing Memorial Endowment by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting online at; or contacting Sandra Guest at or 662-915-5944.

UM Again ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ Finalist

Chronicle of Higher Education surveys university employees nationwide, finds high satisfaction at Ole Miss

OXFORD, Miss. – Continuing to establish its reputation for employee satisfaction, the University of Mississippi has again been recognized as one of the nation’s “Great Colleges to Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

University of Mississippi has again been recognized as one of the nation’s "Great Colleges To Work For" by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The University of Mississippi has again been recognized as one of the nation’s ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

UM was cited for excellence in three categories: collaborative governance, employee confidence in the university’s senior leadership and supervisor/department chair relationship. The Chronicle has recognized “Great Colleges to Work For” for the last eight years. UM has been recognized in seven of those years.

“The University is Mississippi is once again honored to be recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a ‘Great Place to Work For,'” said Clay Jones, UM assistant vice chancellor and director of human resources. “This repeated recognition validates our commitment to treat our employees in the fairest manner possible and also strengthens our resolve to continue to make improvements to our work environment. Our entire campus community is committed to continual advancements in all areas, which certainly include a better work place for all of our employees.”

UM’s repeated success is directly caused by its committed faculty and staff, who work hard to make the university a great place to work, said Noel Wilkin, interim provost.

“Every day, I interact with people who live our creed, who genuinely care about our success, and who use their talents to make our university one of the best in the world,” Wilkin said. “These efforts are reflected in this ranking.”

2015GCWF_4CsingularThe full results of the survey of employees at universities and colleges across America will be featured in the Chronicle’s Academic Workplace Special Issue, which debuted today on the Chronicle of Higher Education webpage. The print edition of the award recognition program will be published and mailed soon thereafter.

Earlier this year, the university participated in the survey, which is designed to recognize institutions that have built great workplaces. The surveys designed specifically for higher education were sent to a sample of each institution’s full-time faculty, administrators, and exempt and non-exempt staff.

Survey answers were submitted anonymously. Questionnaires were processed by ModernThink LLC, an independent third-party company.

The recognition comes at a time when many universities across the nation are dealing with budget struggles, while at the same time trying to keep tuition costs as low as possible for students. The head of the company that handled the Chronicle survey said those institutions that were able to keep employees happy during tough times deserve extra credit.

“It’s easier to be a great workplace during good times, but it’s when times are tough that the commitment to workplace quality really gets tested,” said Richard K. Boyer, principal and managing partner of ModernThink. “And those institutions that measure up during times of economic hardship reinforce their already strong cultures and put even more distance between them and their peer institutions for whom they compete for talent.”

Search Committee Expects New UM Chancellor by Year’s End

Campus listening session brings call for new leader to recruit and think globally

OXFORD, Miss. – The committee charged with finding a new University of Mississippi chancellor expects to have a preferred candidate selected before the end of the year, the group’s members said at an on-campus listening session with alumni, faculty, staff and students.

Board Search Committee chair Alan Perry speaks during a Listening Session conducted by the committee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Board Search Committee chair Alan Perry speaks during a Listening Session conducted by the committee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The UM Board Search Committee is tasked by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning to find the next chancellor through a nationwide search. The UM Campus Search Advisory Committee is assisting. The R. William Funk and Associates firm is helping with the search, and the group is also taking candidate suggestions from the public.

Alan Perry, a UM graduate who chairs the UM Board Search Committee, said he expects very high interest in the opening.

“Ole Miss is a destination job,” Perry said. “We think it’s a good enough job that we can attract very, very good applicants.”

The UM Board Search Committee met with the UM Foundation and UM Alumni Association boards of directors Tuesday (July 14), and along with the UM Campus Search Advisory Committee, held listening sessions with alumni, faculty, staff and students. Those meetings were all open to the public. All voices will be heard and the committee truly wants as much input as possible, Perry said.

“We want to hear the characteristics you are looking for in your next chancellor,” Perry said. “We do not assume that we know everything.”

The committee will hold more listening sessions during the process. Those sessions will be Aug. 20 at the UM Medical Center in Jackson and another Oxford campus session on Aug. 27.

The interview process for candidates will be private. Ideally, the group would have a preferred candidate chosen by the end of the fall semester and that candidate would be available for public forums with the university community before being hired, Perry said. The new chancellor could take over in the spring 2016 semester, if all goes as planned, he said.

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, speaks during a Campus Listening Session conducted by members of the Board Search Committee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, speaks during a Campus Listening Session conducted by members of the Board Search Committee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Faculty, staff members and administrators told the committee Tuesday they want the next chancellor to build on UM’s strong reputation as a research institution. They also want someone who has a strong academic background and fundraising acumen. This candidate should also be chosen from a diverse pool of applicants, the board was told. Perry agreed those items were all important factors in the committee’s decision.

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, said he feels the next leader needs to have worked at a university and also be able to understand the needs of tenured faculty. He also noted the importance of someone who has fundraising capabilities.

But the next chancellor must also understand UM competes with the world for students, faculty and resources, he said.

“Our competition is not Mississippi State. Our competition is not Jackson State,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “Our competition is coming from Beijing. It’s coming from Berlin and it’s coming from Buenos Aires. It’s coming from New Dehli. That’s the world we live in. We have to get out of this monolithic vision that this is a zero-sum game and look at the broader picture and choose a leader that is thinking that way.”

Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, serves as chair of the Campus Search Advisory Committee. She said she’s honored to be a part of the process and feels the committee is an outstanding group of professionals with the best interest of the university at heart.

“The university is at a position of unprecedented success and we’re on a tremendous upward trajectory with momentum,” Clark said. “We expect to identify a leader for the university that will take us forward and capitalize on our current success. What we want is great leadership and the vision and ability to inspire people to greater heights.”

Nomination letters, applications (including a letter of interest, resume/CV and references) or expressions of interest can be submitted to the R. William Funk and Associates firm through email to Other contact information is available at Candidates may apply until Sept. 1 for best consideration. To track progress on the search or get additional information, visit or see the Twitter account @UM_Search

Cohen Named Dean of UM College of Liberal Arts

The former Texas Tech psychologist will lead university’s largest academic division beginning Aug. 1

Lee Cohen

Lee Cohen

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has hired Lee Cohen, professor and chair of Texas Tech University’s psychological sciences department, to become the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He is set to begin his new post Aug. 1. 

Cohen, who will also teach psychology, said he’s excited and humbled by the selection and looks forward to beginning his work at UM.

“I know that the appointment of a new dean is an important decision and I very much appreciate being given the opportunity to lead the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi,” Cohen said. “I am excited to get to work and learn all I can about the college as well as the traditions, legacies and history of Ole Miss.

“I am also very much looking forward to building upon existing relationships and forging new ones within the college and across the university and local community.” 

Cohen has demonstrated exemplary personal and professional qualities as a leader and an educator, and the university’s faculty and administration look forward to his arrival, said Morris Stocks, UM acting chancellor. 

“We are extremely pleased that Dr. Lee Cohen will be joining the University of Mississippi,” Stocks said. “He has excellent qualifications that will serve him well as he leads the College of Liberal Arts into the future. Dr. Cohen will bring a deep understanding of the values of a liberal education, as well as focused energy and enthusiasm for the continued transformation of our university.”

Acting Provost Noel Wilkin touted Cohen’s success as an administrator and also his distinguished career as a faculty member. 

“Dr. Cohen understands the important roles that faculty play on our campus and brings with him valuable experience that will serve him well as he assumes leadership of our largest academic unit on campus,” Wilkin said. 

Cohen holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of California at San Diego. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Oklahoma State University. For the past 15 years, he’s been a faculty member at Texas Tech. There, he has also served in administrative roles, which includes director of the nationally accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology, in addition to serving as chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences.

He has taught both undergraduate and graduate-level classes, and also has been involved in important research on nicotine addiction. He established a research program that explores the mechanisms that contribute to nicotine use, withdrawal and dependence. He said he has mainly been interested in identifying healthy alternative behaviors that complement smoking cessation efforts.

His wife, Michelle, is an occupational therapist and an assistant professor at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. The couple has three children: Ross, 12, Rachel, 9, and Rebecca, 3.

UM Economics Instructor Wins Excellence in Teaching Award

Yan Li honored for dedication to students, curriculum and instruction

Yan Li

Yan Li

OXFORD, Miss. – Yan Li is the recipient of the University of Mississippi’s 2015 Graduate Instructor Excellence in Teaching Award.

Li was recognized during the doctoral hooding ceremony Friday (May 8) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to being presented a trophy and $1,000, Li’s name is being added to the perpetual plaque displayed in the J.D. Williams Library and posted on the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning website.

“I was ecstatic,” Li said upon learning of her recognition. “When I teach and help students to make progress, it’s like I make a difference every single day. Hence, I find teaching to be very fulfilling.”

A native of China, Li earned her bachelor’s degree from Nanchang University in China and her master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati. A fifth-year economics doctoral candidate at UM, she graduates this summer.

“I have taught principle of microeconomics for six semesters at the University of Mississippi,” she said. “My passion for teaching not only comes from the content of the course, but mostly stems from the interaction with students. I believe all my students, with effort, can make great achievement.”

Li is considering multiple job offers after graduation, including one from the Mississippi Department of Education.

“I have given this offer a lot of consideration,” she said. “It would be an exciting experience joining the MDOE to continue my passion for students and education. It would be very rewarding to impact the younger generation on education by utilizing my Ph.D. training in economic research.”

Colleagues said she is most deserving of the accolade.

“Ms. Li is a highly regarded and effective instructor that is always willing to go an extra mile for her students,” said Joe Moen, chair and professor of economics. “She consistently obtains some of the highest teaching evaluations in the department.”

“Approximately 90 percent of her students recently ranked her as superior or excellent,” said Walter Mayer, professor of economics and graduate program coordinator. “Her effectiveness is also supported by department faculty who have attended and reviewed her classes.”

For more information about UM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, go to or call 662-915-1391.

Three Faculty Members Receive Liberal Arts Teaching Awards

UM announces annual honors at graduation ceremonies

2015 College of Liberal Arts Teaching Award Recipients.  (from left): Cora Lee Graham Outstanding Teacher of Freshman: Hilary Becker, Outstanding Teacher of Year: Kathryn McKee,Outstanding Instructor of Year  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

2015 College of Liberal Arts Teaching Award Recipients. (from left): Cora Lee Graham Outstanding Teacher of Freshman: Hilary Becker, Outstanding Teacher of Year: Kathryn McKee,Outstanding Instructor of Year Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi recognized three faculty members Saturday (May 9) for their excellence in teaching.

The Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher of the Year award went to Kathryn McKee, McMullan associate professor of Southern studies and associate professor of English. Hilary Becker, assistant professor of classics, was given the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen. The Liberal Arts Outstanding Instructor of the Year honor was presented to Karen Forgette, core instructor for the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

Each recipient was recognized at the college’s commencement ceremony and received a plaque and $1,000. Their names were also added to an award plaque in the dean’s office.

“We commend this year’s recipients for their outstanding dedication to teaching and service to our students,” said Rich Forgette, interim dean of liberal arts. “These awards symbolize the importance of teaching excellence to the college’s mission.”

Each recipient reflected upon the meaning of her selection for the prestigious honors.

“I was delighted,” McKee said. “Many fine colleagues and good friends have won it in the past, and I’m humbled to join their company. Teaching well is the most important part of my job; class is the most important part of my workday.”

Becker said she is pleased and honored that her students and the college had chosen to recognize her commitment to teaching.

“While at the University of Mississippi, I have been able to create many opportunities for students to learn about the ancient world in context, whether that is taking students to Rome to excavate, taking students to museums and galleries in New York City or providing opportunities in different classes for students to work with Greek and Roman objects from our University Museum,'” Becker said. “Whether those encounters take place locally, nationally or internationally, they contribute to what’s happening in the class but also contribute to the students’ intellectual growth.”

Winning her teaching award makes Karen Forgette, who joined the faculty 10 years ago, feel more connected than ever to the university and those who have walked its halls in the past two centuries.

“UM has so many outstanding teachers, and I am delighted to be associated with them,” she said. “This honor is especially gratifying to me because I truly enjoy my job. Working with young writers is like having a window into the future, and I am continually delighted and often amazed at the creativity and innovation of the next generation.”

All three honorees have degrees from the University of North Carolina. Becker was a 2004 Fulbright Scholar and received a research fellowship at Ohio State University last summer. McKee won the Cora Lee Graham Award and the Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher of the Year award for the UM campus in 2001.

Criteria for the awards include excellence of class instruction, intellectual stimulation of students and concern for students’ welfare. Administrators praised the commitment and expertise of all the honorees.

“Dr. McKee is a consummate English professor who received the highest accolades from her students, and who has the respect and admiration of her colleagues in the English department,” said Ivo Kamps, chair and professor of English. “She is well-known for teaching rigorous, well-organized classes in 19th- and 20th-century American literature that inspire graduate students and undergraduates alike.”

Molly Claire Pasco-Pranger, chair and associate professor of classics, said Becker is one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated teachers she’s ever worked with.

“She is unstintingly generous in giving extra attention to those who are struggling, but spends just as much time encouraging and mentoring those who are thriving to push themselves to places they didn’t know they could go,” Pasco-Pranger said. “It goes without saying that she knows her stuff, and knows it well. She has taught at least a dozen different classes in her three years at the university and is as strong a teacher of Latin as she is of her specialty courses in Roman and Etruscan art and archaeology.”

Similar praises for Karen Forgette came from Robert E. Cummings, director and associate professor of writing and rhetoric.

“Students are asked to work hard in her classes, and she pushes them to find new writing capabilities,” Cummings said. “But the fact that they see the benefit and realize their gains quickly enough to record their gratitude at the end of the semester is a testament to her dedication and effectiveness. Students leave her classroom motivated and inspired to continue their development as college writers.”

Established 30 years ago by Cora Lee Graham of Union City, Tennessee, the Graham award was established to help retain better professors who teach freshman classes in the College of Liberal Arts. Criteria for this annual award also include excellence of class instruction, intellectual stimulation of students and concern for students’ welfare.

Founded in 1848, the College of Liberal Arts is the university’s oldest and largest academic division. For more information, visit

Charles Hussey Named 2015 UM Distinguished Researcher

Chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry honored for achievement, creativity

Dr. Charles Hussey accepts the University of Mississippi's Distinguished Research Creative Achievement Award. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Charles Hussey accepts the University of Mississippi’s Distinguished Research Creative Achievement Award. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Whether or not it’s true that good things comes in threes, that’s certainly been the case for Charles L. Hussey, who received the University of Mississippi’s 2015 Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award on Saturday (May 9).

The UM chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry was presented the prestigious honor, which includes $7,500 and a personal plaque, during the university’s annual Commencement ceremonies in Tad Smith Coliseum. Hussey also received the Electrochemical Society’s Max Bredig Award in Molten Salt and Ionic Liquid Chemistry last October and the Southeastern Conference’s Faculty Achievement Award in April.

“I think this is the most important of the three because it recognizes a lifetime of scientific achievement at UM resulting from hard work, sacrifice, as well as a bit of good luck,” Hussey said upon learning of his third accolade this academic year. “There are many deserving researchers/scholars on this campus, and I was very fortunate and humbled to be chosen from this pool of very accomplished people.

“I have been very privileged to work with a number of outstanding colleagues across the U.S. and Europe, as well as great doctoral and postdoctoral students. And most importantly, I have a very tolerant family who put up with my extra hours at work, many business trips and military reserve duty, too.

Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, said Hussey is most deserving of the award.

“In Dr. Hussy’s prolific career, he has produced more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, including several that have been cited more than 100 times and a seminal article leading to the birth of ionic liquids that has been cited more than 1,500 times,” Clark said. “He has an impressive track record of extramural competitive funding and his lab was recognized recently by R&D Magazine for developing a novel aluminum plating system that was considered to be one of the 100 most technologically significant products in 2014.

“His many accomplishments demonstrate his leadership in the field, his scientific creativity and his instinct for innovative thinking.”

Hussey, who holds a doctorate in chemistry from UM, joined the faculty in 1978 after serving a four-year active duty term as a military scientist at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Frank J. Seiler Research Lab. For more than 30 years, he has researched the electrochemistry and transport properties of ionic liquids and molten salts, an outgrowth of the work he began at the Seiler Lab.

He has authored or co-authored more than 140 refereed journal articles, book chapters, patents and government technical reports. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Alcoa, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Defense. He is technical editor of the Electrochemical Society journals.

“Dr. Hussey’s research record is truly impressive, and he is a model for other faculty in the college,” said Rich Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of political science. “Chuck is a leader in his field of electrochemistry, and our chemistry department has flourished under his leadership.”

Hussey said he already has plans for how he will spend funds that come with his award.

“My three grandchildren, Olivia, Charles and Maddie, have requested another trip to Disney World,” he said. “This trip should take care of the stipend money.”

Created in 2008, the annual honor recognizes a faculty member who has shown outstanding accomplishment in research, scholarship and/or creative activity. Much like Hall of Fame inductions, recipients can receive the honor only once. Nominees must be an associate or full professor (including research associate professors or research professors who are not tenure-track faculty) and must have been continuously employed full-time by the university for at least five years.

Past honorees include Sam Shu-Yi Wang, F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering; Larry Walker, director of the National Center for National Products Research; Charles Reagan Wilson, the Kelly Gene Cook Chair of History and professor emeritus of Southern studies, Dale Flesher, Arthur Anderson Lecturer in the Patterson School of Accountancy; Atef Elsherbeni, professor of electrical engineering and associate dean of research and graduate programs in the UM School of Engineering; and Robert Van Ness, Bruce Moore Scholar of Finance and director of the Doctor of Finance program.