UM Recognized Among Country’s Elite Research Universities

Carnegie Classification recognizes R&D investment, doctoral degrees granted and faculty achievement

Caleb Ezell (left) and Eleanor Anthony, both students in the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, work with English professor Gregory Heyworth to examine a 15th century Italian manuscript for Oberlin College. The work is part of the Lazarus Project, which uses multispectral imaging technology to analyze old and/or damaged documents and recover faded or erased text. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Caleb Ezell (left) and Eleanor Anthony, both students in the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, work with English professor Gregory Heyworth to examine a 15th century Italian manuscript for Oberlin College. The work is part of the Lazarus Project, which uses multispectral imaging technology to analyze old and/or damaged documents and recover faded or erased text. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is included in the elite group of R-1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list for the top doctoral research universities in the United States.

UM is among a distinguished group of 115 institutions including Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins in the “highest research,” or R-1 category. This group represents the top 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education.

The Carnegie Classification analyzes Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, data from all U.S. post-secondary institutions and evaluates measures of research activity for doctoral universities in making its assessments, which are released every five years.

“As a flagship university, the University of Mississippi is determined to play a key role in the cycle of research and discovery that drives and sustains our community and world,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “This ranking was achieved thanks to our outstanding faculty and their dedication to research and education.”

The Carnegie Classification’s assignment to categories of highest, higher and moderate research activity is based on research and development expenditures, science and engineering research staff including post-doctoral candidates and non-faculty staff members with doctorates, and doctoral conferrals in humanities and social sciences fields, in STEM fields and in other areas such as business, education, public policy and social work.

Dr. Wael ElShamy, director of the UMMC Cancer Institute’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Program, has received a patent on a method to diagnose and treat several cancer types and subtypes. The method may lead to the first targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer and add to therapies for other cancers.

Dr. Wael ElShamy, director of the UMMC Cancer Institute’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Program, has received a patent on a method to diagnose and treat several cancer types and subtypes. The method may lead to the first targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer and add to therapies for other cancers.

Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, applauded the university’s new classification and affirmed the vital economic role that a world-class research institution plays in the state and region.

“Attaining the Carnegie ‘highest research activity’ classification is historic for our university,” Clark said. “It illustrates the value we place on scholarly inquiry and the application of our expertise to understanding and improving our world and educating future leaders. Our faculty, staff and students deserve this recognition of their efforts to create and innovate.”

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the UM Medical Center, was elated at the Carnegie distinction.

“We are very pleased and proud to be a part of a university where research and scholarly activity are highly valued,” she said. “From internationally renowned basic science research in physiology to large population studies being conducted through the MIND Center and the Jackson Heart Study, UMMC is leading the way in research on the diseases that impact Mississippians most.”

The university received more than $117 million in sponsored awards, with more than $105 million in research and development expenditures, during fiscal year 2015. Of that total, more than $77 million was in federal grants, more than $16 million was from foundations, about $11 million came from the state of Mississippi, approximately $8 million was from industry and roughly $4 million came from other sources.

UM researchers submitted 876 proposals and 546 research projects were funded in the last fiscal year.

Among the university’s most prestigious and longstanding research projects is the Jackson Heart Study. UMMC researchers are collaborating with Tougaloo College and Jackson State University on the world’s largest long-term study of cardiovascular risk factors in African-Americans.

In 2013, the university joined the American Heart Association and Boston University for “Heart Studies v2.0,” which will expand upon the landmark Framingham and Jackson studies to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular ailments.

The population study has followed the health of 5,000 participants, producing data that continues to yield insights into the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease. In 2013, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, each a part of the National Institutes of Health, announced renewed funding for the JHS.

Other long-term prestigious projects are the marijuana research project conducted by the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research, jet noise reduction studies at the National Center for Physical Acoustics, known as NCPA, and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory collaboration through the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Faculty and postdoctoral researchers in the physics department played major roles in the search and discovery of the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle thought to be responsible for all mass in the universe. The discovery was announced July 2012 by scientists at CERN, a multinational research center headquartered in Geneva.

Most recently, two faculty members within the physics department and NCPA received a $3 million National Science Foundation grant to study nuclear fuel storage safety and stability.

Three Ole Miss professors received Faculty Early Career Development Awards from the National Science Foundation within the past eight months. Patrick Curtis, assistant professor of biology, is the seventh CAREER award recipient at the university in the last eight years. Sarah Liljegren, associate professor of biology, received the award last November and Jared Delcamp, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, earned a similar award in June 2015. This marks the first time three UM faculty members were selected in the same academic year.

From its first class of 80 students in 1848, UM has grown to a doctoral degree-granting university with 15 academic divisions and more than 23,800 students. Located on its main campus in Oxford are the College of Liberal Arts; the schools of Accountancy, Applied Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Journalism and New Media, Pharmacy and Law; and the Graduate School. The Medical Center in Jackson trains professionals in its schools of Medicine, Nursing, Health Related Professions, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Graduate Studies.

In all, more than 100 programs of study offer superior academic experiences that provide each graduate with the background necessary for a lifetime of scholastic, social and professional growth. Strengthening and expanding the academic experience are the acclaimed Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies and Lott Leadership Institute.

For more information about research at UM, visit

Vitter: UM, UMMC Collaboration Promotes Growth, Success

Dr. Jeffrey Vitter (left), the University of Mississippi's new chancellor, gets an explanation of how the trauma room at the pediatric ED operates from emergency medicine pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Dillard.

Jeffrey Vitter (left), the University of Mississippi’s new chancellor, gets an explanation of how the trauma room at the pediatric ED operates from emergency medicine pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Dillard.

When Jeffrey Vitter speaks of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, he speaks of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

“The University of Mississippi is one university, and the two campuses are incredibly important components,” said Vitter, who on Jan. 1 begins work as UM’s chancellor. “We have the synergy and the opportunities to collaborate, grow and expand, and we have a real competitive advantage if we can improve how faculty at both campuses collaborate.”

Vitter on Thursday spent the day at UMMC, meeting with faculty and staff and visiting hospitals and research facilities. His tour led by Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and School of Medicine dean, included the Guyton Research Center, the Conerly Critical Care Hospital, the Children’s Cancer Clinic, and the adult and pediatric Emergency Departments.

He got a bird’s-eye view of the expanse of the Medical Center at the helipad from which AirCare flies, and a visual update on construction of the new School of Medicine and the Translational Research Center.

“It was really an impressive display of how much this Medical Center means to the state of Mississippi,” said Vitter, who comes to UM after serving as provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas. “It really reinforced how important UMMC is to the state and nation.”

A computer scientist and New Orleans native, Vitter earned his undergraduate degree in math from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford. He also has an MBA from Duke.

Vitter, who hopes as chancellor to spend one day a week at UMMC, said during meetings with students on both campuses in October that his key areas of focus will be increasing academic excellence, building international ties, expanding research and fundraising, and improving diversity in faculty and staff.

During his tour of UMMC, Vitter visited Mississippi MED-COM and was briefed about the Medical Center’s critical role in statewide disaster response. MED-COM provides a single point of emergency and disaster contact statewide, explained Jonathan Wilson, UMMC’s chief administrative officer. “On our hand-held radios, we can talk (to emergency responders) from the Gulf Coast to Memphis,” Wilson said.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf Coast unfolded in 2010, “we were the only common link between agencies,” said Donna Norris, MED-COM’s clinical director. “We were the hub that helped everyone link together.”

Dr. Renate Savich, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Neonatology and Newborn Services, and Dr. Bolaji Famuyide, associate professor of pediatrics and neonatology and medical director of NICU and Nursery Services in the Division of Newborn Medicine, escorted Vitter through the 100-bed NICU, where he saw tiny babies receiving specialized care from nurses, physicians, residents and fellows.

“More space, and more modern space – that’s one of our most acute needs,” Woodward told Vitter.

“We have lots of caregivers here,” Savich said. “It’s a phenomenal mentality. We’re working hard.”

When Vitter stopped to chat with a half-dozen pediatric residents and fellows who were in a rounding group, he jokingly asked them what their favorite television medical show is. “Scrubs!” they answered, referring to the comedy that chronicled the lives of employees in a fictional teaching hospital.

The work of UMMC’s pediatric team, however, is serious, Savich said. “They’re talking about every patient. What’s the plan? What will we be doing for this patient over the next 24 hours?” she explained to Vitter. “It takes hours to round, because there are so many patients.”

“I was very impressed by the Children’s Hospital,” Vitter said following his campus tour. “I was extremely moved by the NICU, and the incredibly tiny infants brought up to be healthy individuals for a lifetime because of their care here.”

Just one example of collaboration between the two campuses, Vitter said, is “reporting data as a whole instead of for separate campuses. “Both campuses can do some much more if they can build on each other’s connections and strengths,” he said.

There’s a huge opportunity, Vitter said, to elevate the university nationally through building on the longstanding UM-UMMC relationship.

“The leadership team at UMMC is very strong,” he said. “I want to work to advance the university and help bring in the necessary resources, and to allow smooth operations with the state so we as a university can be as successful as possible.”

Oliphant-Ingham Named National Top 10 Faculty Member

Secondary education professor honored by Kappa Alpha Theta

Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham is one of 10 outstanding faculty members to be recognized by Kappa Alpha Theta nationwide.

Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham is one of 10 outstanding faculty members to be recognized by Kappa Alpha Theta nationwide.

OXFORD, Miss. – Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham, a professor of secondary education at the University of Mississippi, has been honored by the national Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity as one of the nation’s Top-10 Outstanding Faculty Members.

Oliphant-Ingham has been a member of the UM School of Education faculty since 1998 and is the coordinator of secondary education in the Department of Teacher Education. She was among 10 educators selected from 110 nominees nationwide to receive the honor.

“I knew that I had been nominated by the Ole Miss chapter of Theta, but I had no idea it was for national recognition,” Oliphant-Ingham said. “I was quite surprised when I found out that I had been selected. It really was quite nice.”

Recipients are considered for the award based on nominations provided by students within the fraternity. Gabby Vogt, a sophomore English education major at Ole Miss, nominated Oliphant-Ingham. Vogt is a fellow in the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, where she has worked closely with Oliphant-Ingham.

“Scholarship is Theta’s highest aim,” said Vogt, a native of Metairie, Louisiana. “Dr. O-I makes it clear that academic success is critical. She encourages lifelong learning and sets the example by continuing to take classes in subjects that do not pertain to her field. Dr. O-I continues to be an example of a leading woman and mentor for me and other fellows in METP.”

Established in 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta was the nation’s first Greek-letter fraternity for women. Since 2011, the organization has selected 10 outstanding college faculty members annually to receive this prestigious award.

“Since our founding nearly 150 years ago, scholarship has been our highest aim,” said Laura Ware Doerre, Kappa Alpha Theta national president. “We are delighted to recognize the faculty members who help cultivate our intellectually ambitious women.”

As part of this recognition, Oliphant-Ingham and her work at UM will be featured in the winter edition of the Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine.

Besides Oliphant-Ingham, the 2015 honorees are:

  • George Bent, Washington & Lee University
  • Allison Calhoun, Whitman College
  • Justin Dyer, University of Missouri
  • Peter Gallay, Quinnipiac University
  • Richard Hardy, Indiana University
  • Kristen Jamison, University of Richmond
  • Katherine Merseth, Harvard University
  • Rupert Nacoste, North Carolina State University
  • William Smedick, Johns Hopkins University

Chancellor Vitter’s Start Date and Transition Plan

Dr. Jeff Vitter officially assumes the role of Chancellor on Jan. 1, 2016.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Vitter speaks to members of the media after being named the 17th Chancellor of the University of Mississippi in October. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Dr. Jeffrey S. Vitter speaks to members of the media after being named the 17th Chancellor of the University of Mississippi in October. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi is pleased to welcome Dr. Jeffrey Vitter as Chancellor and Distinguished Professor of Computer and Information Science, effective January 1, 2016. Dr. Vitter and his wife, Sharon, thank the UM community for the warm welcome.

Dr. Morris Stocks and Dr. Noel Wilkin will continue to be engaged in the leadership of academic affairs at the request of Dr. Vitter and with appreciation for their service in interim leadership roles over the past year. Dr. Stocks will be appointed Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, effective January 1, 2016. Effective the same date, Dr. Wilkin will be appointed Senior Associate Provost.

Dr. Vitter also has established the Chancellor Transition Advisory Committee (CTAC) to ensure the smoothest possible transition of leadership. The CTAC comprises the Interview Search Advisory Committee and the UM Senior Leadership team and will be chaired by Dr. Alice Clark. Through subcommittees, CTAC will address key responsibilities related to the transition of leadership. The committee will be soliciting input on these topics from the UM community throughout the coming weeks. For more information see

UM Student Organization Seeks Funds to Fight Hunger Locally

Ignite Ole Miss campaign facilitates effort to raise support for campus food bank

Donating to crowd-funding campaign will help the Kinard Hall-based Food Bank stock its shelves with frozen meals and fresh produce.

Donating to crowd-funding campaign will help the Kinard Hall-based Food Bank stock its shelves with frozen meals and fresh produce.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has launched a crowd-funding campaign in an effort to raise $10,000 to support the Ole Miss Food Bank, a student-run organization that makes nutritious foods available to those in need.

Contributions to the campaign via will help the Kinard Hall-based Food Bank stock its shelves with frozen meals and fresh produce. Additionally, funding will support the bank’s supply of canned goods and personal hygiene items, all of which are made available free to qualified members of the campus community.

“Students’ health and nutrition is important to us here at the Food Bank,” said Toni Cruse, UM Food Bank chair. “We believe every student deserves to feel nourished and satisfied when they go to bed at night.”

The food bank was created in 2012 to foster a healthy college community by working to alleviate hunger on the UM campus. With support from volunteers and donors, the Food Bank has grown ever since.

“It is a grim reality that nutritious meals are not an option for some of our students due to the expense,” Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks said. “Through the Ole Miss Food Bank, we have been able to alleviate hunger in our campus community and make nutritious meals more accessible.”

For more information on the Ole Miss Food Bank, visit, and for information on the Ignite OleMiss campaign, go to or contact Maura Wakefield at

Facebook, LinkedIn Representatives Featured at ‘Data Day’

Students to learn how data can impact businesses, careers

Ole Miss Data Day to be held on Thursday, Nov. 5 at Overby Auditorium.

Ole Miss Data Day to be held on Thursday, Nov. 5 at Overby Auditorium.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi presents the first Ole Miss New Media Data Day on Thursday (Nov. 5) in the Overby Center auditorium.

Data Day will bring in representatives of two of the world’s most recognized social networking entities, Facebook and LinkedIn, to discuss the importance of data and how it is used to build and retain customer relationships.­­­­­

Guest speakers will be Sean Callahan, senior manager of content marketing at LinkedIn, and Eric Schnabel, North America director of Facebook Creative Shop. Callahan and Schnabel will share their expertise and provide insights into trends and opportunities within the industry, and what these mean for those in the marketing and communications professions.

The speakers will conduct identical 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. sessions, with an optional workshop at 11 a.m. The free event will benefit both professionals and students and is open to the public.

The workshop is offered by the UM Office of Institutional Research, Effectiveness and Planning to give journalists and others valuable insight into Ole Miss campus data.

Scott Fiene, director of the undergraduate integrated marketing communications program at UM, said students who know the importance of data and how to use it will have a big advantage in finding jobs after graduation. Data Day will examine some of the careers related to data and ways data can benefit businesses.

“Good communications involves creativity, but it also requires an understanding of targeting, segmenting and using data to make decisions” Fiene said. “Most companies use data, but we thought since so many entry-level jobs today are in the social media arena that it would be good to bring in experts from a couple of the largest social media brands to explain what they’re doing.”

For more information, visit or contact Fiene at

Jeffrey Vitter Named UM Chancellor

Selection made official after two days of meetings with groups in Oxford and Jackson

Dr. Jeffrey S. Vitter speaks to members of the media after being named the 17th Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Jeffrey S. Vitter speaks to members of the media after being named the 17th chancellor of the University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning voted “unanimously and enthusiastically” today to name Jeffrey S. Vitter as chancellor of the University of Mississippi. A renowned computer scientist and academic leader, Vitter is provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas.

“Dr. Vitter is, without a doubt, an exceptional academician and researcher,” said Alan Perry, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “He is also an experienced and very successful academic leader.

“However, it is his vision and passion for the University of Mississippi that is most compelling. I am confident this vision, coupled with his ability to lead the process of developing and implementing strategic plans, will help take the university to even higher level of stature and prominence.”

Vitter comes to UM after serving as the provost and executive vice chancellor and the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. His academic home is the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and he is a member of the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center. KU includes the main campus in Lawrence, with 10 colleges and schools, the Edwards Campus in Overland Park and the Medical Center campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina, Kansas. As provost, Vitter is the chief academic and operations officer for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

The board’s vote came after Vitter met with campus constituency groups on the UM campus in Oxford. Several hundred students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members were able to pose questions and share their thoughts and concerns with him. Vitter also met with campus constituency groups yesterday at the UM Medical Center in Jackson.

Attendees at both locations were able to provide feedback to the board of trustees. This feedback was reviewed during today’s board meeting on campus.

The reception from all the groups was overwhelmingly positive.

“The search committee of the board stuck to the fundamentals,” said Douglass Sullivan Gonzalez, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a professor of history. “They have brought a candidate who has high credentials in the academy, a proven track record with professors and an openness and a willingness to engage our university and take us to the next level.”

“I think that Dr. Vitter has the qualifications necessary to push the university forward in terms of research, fundraising and all the academic variables and measures that this school and IHL is looking for,” said Alex Borst, an Ole Miss junior from Madison.

Vitter initiated and co-led the campuswide development of KU’s strategic plan, “Bold Aspirations: The Strategic Plan for the University of Kansas, 2012-2017.” The plan is the university’s transformative roadmap toward its vision of excellence as a top-tier public international research university. While at KU, he created the first-ever universitywide KU Core curriculum, oversaw major facilities improvements and expansion and led the expansion of the schools of Engineering, Business and Pharmacy.

He also enhanced multidisciplinary research and funding around four strategic initiatives, including:

  • Alumni outreach and furthering the goals of the capital campaign
  • Major growth of technology commercialization and corporate partnerships
  • Incentivizing innovation
  • Administrative reorganization and efficiency

“I am honored to be given this opportunity by the board of trustees and the Ole Miss family,” Vitter said. “I hold a profound respect for the University of Mississippi and understand the responsibility with which I have been entrusted. As chancellor, I commit, with wholehearted enthusiasm, to building on its rich history to foster excellence and lead the university forward.”

Previously, Vitter was on the faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M, he served as provost and executive vice president for academics and oversaw the academic mission of the university in Galveston, Texas and Doha, Qatar.

Before joining Texas A&M, Vitter served as the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and Professor of Computer Science at Purdue University. As dean, he was the chief academic officer and administrator of the College of Science, responsible for overseeing the discovery, learning, engagement and diversity activities of the college’s seven academic departments.

At Duke University, Vitter held the distinguished professorship as the Gilbert, Louis and Edward Lehrman Professor. He also served as chair of the Department of Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and as co-director and a founding member of Duke’s Center for Geometric and Biological Computing.

Before joining Duke, Vitter progressed through the faculty ranks and served in various leadership roles in the Department of Computer Science at Brown University.

“As a preeminent scholar and a leader in higher education, Dr. Vitter’s experience speaks for itself,” said Alice Clark, chair of the Campus Search Advisory Committee. “During the search process, our alumni, faculty, students, staff and community members provided invaluable information about the qualities they expect to see in the next University of Mississippi chancellor. We listened, and we believe Dr. Vitter exemplifies those qualities. Dr. Vitter’s background and experience combine to make him the perfect choice to lead a strong public research university like ours to even greater success.”

A native of New Orleans, Vitter graduated with highest honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1977 and earned a Ph.D. under Don Knuth in computer science at Stanford University in 1980. He also holds an MBA from Duke University.

Vitter and his wife, Sharon, have three adult children.

To view the press conference introducing Vitter as chancellor, go to

UM Takes Down State Flag

University administrators heed campuswide call to remove banner

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Police Department officers lowered and furled the state flag in a Lyceum Circle ceremony as the campus opened Monday morning. The flag will be preserved in the University Archives along with resolutions from students, faculty and staff calling for its removal.

The university’s removal of the flag is the latest development in discussions within the state about whether to change the official state flag, which includes the Confederate battle flag in one corner.

Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks first joined other state and university leaders calling for a change in the state flag in a statement last June.

“The University of Mississippi community came to the realization years ago that the Confederate battle flag did not represent many of our core values, such as civility and respect for others,” Stocks said. “Since that time, we have become a stronger and better university. We join other leaders in our state who are calling for a change in the state flag.”

In recent weeks the focus of campus discussions has shifted from whether the state should change the flag to whether it should fly on campus. After news spread that the Associated Student Body Senate would take up a measure to endorse removing the flag, more than 200 people attended an Oct. 16 campus rally in support of the idea.

On Oct. 20, the student senate voted 33-15-1 to request that the university remove the flag, following three hours of respectful and impassioned debate. Within the next two days, the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Council and the Staff Council joined the student government in asking for the flag to come down.

Stocks lauded the way students, faculty and staff treated one another in the course of debating resolutions encouraging removal of the flag.

“Their respect for each other, despite genuine differences of opinion, was an inspiration to us all,” Stocks said.

Stocks noted that the decision to no longer fly the state flag was not an easy one, adding that the flag means different things to different people.

“As Mississippi’s flagship university, we have a deep love and respect for our state,” Morris said. “Because the flag remains Mississippi’s official banner, this was a hard decision. I understand the flag represents tradition and honor to some. But to others, the flag means that some members of the Ole Miss family are not welcomed or valued. That is why the university faculty, staff and leadership have united behind this student-led initiative.”

Stocks noted that other public universities and local governments have already taken this step, and he continues to encourage state leaders to create a new flag.

“Mississippi and its people are known far and wide for hospitality and a warm and welcoming culture. But our state flag does not communicate those values,” Stocks said. “Our state needs a flag that speaks to who we are. It should represent the wonderful attributes about our state that unite us, not those that still divide us.”

UM Partners with MUW to Expand Jumpstart

Program provides service and teaching opportunities for college students

Ole Miss sophomore Monica Riley is one of 25 UM students volunteering in the UM chapter of Jumpstart.

Ole Miss sophomore Monica Riley is one of 25 UM students volunteering in the UM chapter of Jumpstart.

OXFORD, Miss. – A new partnership between the University of Mississippi and Mississippi University for Women will expand Jumpstart, a national organization that helps children prepare for kindergarten by developing language and literacy skills, into the Columbus area.

Until now, UM has been home to the state’s only Jumpstart chapter. The program, in its fourth year at Ole Miss, is coordinated through the university’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction.

“Jumpstart brings awareness to the importance of early childhood education and allows children to engage in language experiences with trained adults,” said Angela Rutherford, CELI director. “We are happy to help expand Jumpstart to benefit Mississippi children in partnership with faculty and staff at MUW.”

UM has CELI staff and 25 undergraduate Jumpstart volunteers from a variety of academic majors working in four pre-K classrooms in Oxford and Okolona. The initial goal is to have up to 12 volunteers working at centers near MUW. Such a partnership would expand Mississippi Jumpstart programs by nearly a third.

“The education department at MUW values collaboration with and among faculty, students, P-12 educational facilities and between universities,” said Monica Riley, chair of education at MUW. “This is a great opportunity for our students to be involved in the local community while making a difference in the lives of the children. Further, the opportunity to implement the literacy lessons will provide valuable learning for our students.”

Mississippi does not offer universal public pre-kindergarten education and data suggests a huge need in this area. A 2014 assessment by the Mississippi Department of Education found that more than 65 percent of Mississippi children do not possess the literacy skills needed for entering kindergarten. Literacy research suggests that children who enter kindergarten having experienced quality pre-K instruction are much more likely to be proficient readers by third grade, Rutherford said.

“Jumpstart provides an organized workforce that can benefit pre-K students at both public and private centers,” said Olivia Morgan, Jumpstart site manager for CELI. “It also reduces the adult-to-child ratio in classrooms, allowing for more individualized instruction.”

Each Jumpstart volunteer makes a commitment of at least 300 volunteer hours in an academic year, which includes training, lesson preparation and professional evaluation. As part of Jumpstart training, volunteers complete 30 hours of preparation before entering the classroom, including early learning knowledge assessments.

“It’s wonderful to volunteer with children because you can literally have an impact on their future,” said Nicole Johnson, a sophomore hospitality management major and Jumpstart volunteer from Rockwall, Texas. “Having someone to help you learn to read is a huge privilege that helps shape the people in our community. I think being part of this program will help me be a better parent one day and a better community member.”

In four years, Jumpstart has proven to be beneficial to multiple educational facilities working with UM’s chapter.

“Jumpstart has made a huge difference here,” said Jane Prater, a pre-K teacher at ABC Learning Center in Oxford. “In just four years, I would say we have gone from just being a day care facility to being an academic center that supports literacy development.”

The new Jumpstart chapter at MUW should be operating by year’s end with support from CELI staff. CELI’s long-term goal is to identify partner institutions to continue to grow the program throughout the state.

For more information about Jumpstart, visit

Classics Professor to Discuss Economics of Color in Ancient Rome

Hilary Becker to lecture Oct. 28 on campus as Humanities Teacher of the Year

Hilary Becker

Hilary Becker

OXFORD, Miss. – A classics professor selected as the 2015 University of Mississippi Humanities Teacher of the Year is delivering a lecture as part of her honor.

Hilary Becker, assistant professor of classics, addresses “The Economy of Color in Ancient Rome: A Case Study of the Pigment Trade” at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in Bryant Hall, Room 209. The free public event is co-sponsored by the UM College of Liberal Arts and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

The lecture is based on Becker’s recent work at the excavation of S. Omobono in Rome, the site of the only pigment shop known from ancient Rome.

“This lecture goes behind the scenes of Roman paintings to flesh out the economics of the ancient pigment supply industry,” she said. “Certain colors in ancient Rome were exorbitantly expensive, providing not only opportunities to show off wealth but also creating an occasionally dodgy market with some counterfeit materials.

“This interdisciplinary study uses not only archaeology, ancient texts and an understanding of ancient trade, but also the tools of ancient and modern science.”

The award recognizes outstanding contributions of humanities faculty during October, which is National Arts and Humanities Month, and at the council’s annual awards ceremony in the spring. Becker said the award will encourage her to keep looking for new challenges and opportunities for her students.

“Because the Mississippi Humanities Teacher of the Year award honors individuals who make outstanding contributions as faculty, Professor Becker is an ideal recipient,” said Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “When you consider her significant scholarly contributions along with the high praise she receives from the students that enroll in her classes, I am very pleased she is being recognized at the state level.”

Becker is a great choice for the award, said Molly Claire Pasco-Pranger, UM chair and associate professor of classics.

“Dr. Becker is one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated teachers I’ve ever worked with,” Pasco-Pranger said. “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. We are all looking forward to what she has to say in her lecture.”

A member of the Ole Miss faculty since 2012, Becker teaches courses in Etruscan, Roman and Greek art and archaeology. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Carolina.

Becker’s research focuses on the archaeology of the Mediterranean basin and in particular on the economy of the Romans and Etruscans. She has published articles dealing with Etruscan property, archives, settlement patterns and Etruscan economy, as well as Roman women in the commercial workplace. She is working on a book on the topic of the lecture, entitled, “Commerce in Color.”

The Mississippi Humanities Council sponsors, supports and conducts a wide range of public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines designed to promote understanding of our cultural heritage, interpret our own experience, foster critical thinking, encourage reasonable public discourse, strengthen our sense of community and empower Mississippi’s people with a vision for the future.