New York Times Columnist to Deliver Honors College Keynote

Popular journalist-opinion writer David Brooks to reflect on presidential campaigns

New York Times columnist David Brooks speaks at UM Thursday for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Fall Convocation. (Submitted photo)

New York Times columnist David Brooks speaks at UM Thursday for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Fall Convocation. (Submitted photo)

OXFORD, Miss. – David Brooks, acclaimed author and New York Times columnist, is the keynote speaker Thursday (Oct. 20) evening for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College’s Fall Convocation at the University of Mississippi.

The public program begins at 7 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s annual assembly is among the signature investiture events for the university’s 17th chancellor, Jeffery S. Vitter.

“It is truly an honor for the university to host David Brooks as the keynote speaker at the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Fall Convocation,” said Vitter, who will introduce Brooks. “It is an exciting time in the life of our university, especially with the 20th anniversary of SMBHC coming up in the spring.

“The opportunity for our students to hear from a well-known and critically-acclaimed commentator and author like David Brooks is illustrative of the transformative power of higher education.”

Brooks’ comments promise to be intriguing and insightful, especially at this pivotal point in U.S. history, said Douglass Sullivan-González, Honors College dean.

“Mr. Brooks is a gifted columnist, frequent commentator on ‘PBS Newshour’ and he will reflect on the coming presidential election and its impact on American politics,” Sullivan- González said. “With the third debate concluded Wednesday evening, Mr. Brooks will provide us his insights on the tectonic shifts in U.S. politics and the possible directions and repercussions on a Clinton or Trump presidency.”

An American political and cultural commentator, Brooks has worked as a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal, as a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception, as a contributing editor at both Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly.

He is the author of several books, including “Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There” (Simon & Schuster, 2000), “On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense” (Simon & Schuster, 2004), “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement” (Random House 2011) and “The Road to Character” (Random House, 2015).

Born in Toronto, Brooks spent his early years in the middle-income Stuyvesant Town housing development in lower Manhattan. His family moved to the Philadelphia, and he graduated from Radnor High School. He earned a degree in history from the University of Chicago and later was awarded honorary degrees from Williams College, New York University, Brandeis University and Occidental College.

Upon graduation, Brooks became a police reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago, a wire service owned jointly by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times. He applied and was accepted as an intern on William F. Buckley’s National Review. After his internship, Brooks spent some time at the conservative Hoover Institute at Stanford University and then landed a job writing movie reviews for the Washington Times.

Brooks was hired by the Wall Street Journal, where he worked first as an editor of the book review section. The WSJ posted him as an op-ed columnist to Brussels, whence he covered Russia (making numerous trips to Moscow), the Middle East, South Africa and European affairs.

On his return, Brooks joined the Weekly Standard and edited an anthology, “Backward and Upward: The New Conservative Writing” (Vintage Books, 1996).

The New York Times’ editorial page editor, Gail Collins, recruited Brooks as a replacement for outgoing columnist William Safire, and he joined the staff in September 2003.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit

Katrina Caldwell Named Inaugural UM Vice Chancellor for Diversity

Experienced administrator brings track record of successful planning and implementation

Katrina Myers Caldwell is the incoming Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi. (Submitted photo)

Katrina Myers Caldwell is the incoming vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement at UM. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – After a national search, the University of Mississippi has selected Katrina Caldwell as its first vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.

“I was both humbled and excited when I learned that I was being offered the job,” said Caldwell, who officially joins the administration Jan. 1, 2017, pending approval from the board of trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

“It’s an opportunity for me to return home and to contribute to the significant legacy of providing a quality education and transformative experience for students at the University of Mississippi.”

The assistant vice president for diversity and equity at Northern Illinois University, Caldwell has a track record of more than 20 years of successful strategic planning and implementation of diversity and engagement programs at Chicago-area higher education institutions.

“We are pleased that Dr. Caldwell is joining our leadership team,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Throughout our talks with her, she demonstrated a strong vision to move our university forward by leveraging our ongoing diversity and community engagement endeavors in a concerted, coordinated approach.

“We are grateful to Dr. Donald Cole, who has served as our chief diversity officer since 2003, and we look forward to Dr. Caldwell filling that role as well as facilitating the university’s expanding activities in community engaged scholarship.”

Caldwell will report directly to Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Morris Stocks. Her responsibilities will be to organize and integrate an infrastructure that facilitates and encourages community engagement, develop partnerships to effectively facilitate transformation, and identify and support target areas to maximize the university’s impact.

“Dr. Caldwell has extensive experience in leading similar divisions at other major universities,” Stocks said. “Through her expertise, commitment and ability to foster goodwill, I am confident that Dr. Caldwell will work to strengthen and promote our university community by encouraging diversity and personal growth and development, and to establish strong community partnerships that will enhance our learning, discovery and engagement mission.”

“As the first person in this position, I will have the opportunity to live out the strategic vision of Chancellor Vitter and Provost Stocks, to build on the important work that has already been done by stalwart leaders like Drs. Donald Cole and Brandi Hephner LaBanc (UM vice chancellor for student affairs) and to implement the ambitious goals in the UM Diversity Plan that were crafted by faculty, staff and students committed to this effort,” Caldwell said.

The Memphis, Tennessee, native is widely recognized in the field of diversity and inclusion in higher education. In 2011, she was recognized as a recipient of Diversity/MBA Magazine’s Top 100 under 50 Emerging and Executive Leaders Award as a result of her leadership and vision in the field.

Other honors and awards include the White House’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, the Illinois College Personnel Association Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Social Justice” and induction into Who’s Who in Black Chicago.

She holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College. She was also a Diversifying Faculty in Illinois fellow.

Caldwell served eight years at DePaul University, where she created cultural programs that celebrated the values of the university’s diverse communities. As director of the Center for Intercultural Programs, she also served on the President’s Diversity Council.

At the University of Illinois at Chicago, Caldwell served as assistant dean of minority affairs developing and successfully implementing a strategic plan to increase outreach to prospective students, improve retention/graduation of graduate fellowship students and expand professional development programs.

UM Junior Receives Prestigious Study Abroad Scholarship

Biloxi native is living and studying in Berlin this academic year

Savannah Coleman

Savannah Coleman

OXFORD, Miss. – Savannah Coleman, a junior at the University of Mississippi, has been given the opportunity of a lifetime this academic year to study abroad in Germany on a scholarship funded by the German Academic Exchange Service.

The Biloxi native is majoring in international studies with a concentration in Europe at UM. A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, she is also studying German, global business and economics.

“I have always been interested in learning about different cultures and the world around me,” said Coleman, who is living and studying in Berlin for two semesters. “International studies and studying abroad just seemed totally natural for me.”

The German Academic Exchange Service – Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst in German, known as DAAD – is a German government-funded program that not only offers scholarships to those wanting to study in Germany, but also to German students wanting to study outside in other countries. The scholarship provides a monthly stipend of 650 euros for 10 months, a funded pre-semester language program, additional funds to defray travel and research expenses, and health insurance.

“I have to say that living in a city like Berlin has exceeded my wildest expectations,” Coleman said. “I have never in my life fallen so completely in love with a city. I feel like I have found a place where I could belong and create a life. There is something for everyone here.”

Each year, about 500 to 600 Ole Miss students study abroad. Many other students believe that studying abroad is out of reach, but the UM Study Abroad Office helps guide students through their journey. The office’s staff helps students plan their programs without getting behind on classes. Financial aid and scholarships apply to study abroad programs, and additional scholarships are available.

Many classes are taught in English, so students without a foreign language background can study all over the world. Studying abroad also looks great on resumes, and international internship opportunities are available in the fall and spring semesters and summer.

Studying abroad offers several benefits, said Blair McElroy, director of the Study Abroad Office.

“Students step out of their comfort zones and experience a new way of life and a new culture,” she said. “But in addition to learning about a new culture, students also learn so much about themselves, including increased tolerance, independence and empathy. They also gain lifelong friends and experiences that stay with them forever and mold their future academic, professional and personal goals.”

Coleman encourages fellow students to take advantage of the opportunities.

“I understand that it can be scary and a bit nerve-wracking, but it is the most incredible adventure you can embark on,” Coleman said. “I feel like study abroad opens doors and opportunities that one could never dream of while back home.”

Anyone interested in studying abroad can visit the Study Abroad Office’s website at For information on applying for the DAAD scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year, visit

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

Ole Miss Law Wins World Championship in Space Law

Team of three students triumphs over groups from India and Greece en route to victory

UM School of Law wins world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem

A team from the UM School of Law wins the world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem.

OXFORD, Miss – The University of Mississippi School of Law has won the world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem. The team beat India’s Nalsar University of Law in the semifinals and triumphed over National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, today (Oct. 15) in the final round.

UM is one of three law schools in the world to offer a Master of Laws in Air and Space Law, but the only school to offer a certificate in remote sensing, air and space law at the Juris Doctor level, a distinction that contributed to the team’s success.

“The law school congratulates our team on their truly outstanding accomplishment – the University of Mississippi School of Law’s first international moot court championship,” said Debbie Bell, UM law dean.

“Success like this only further highlights the strength of our advocacy programs and space law program in general.”

The championship team includes Olivia Hoff of Gulfport and C.J. Robison from Lubbock, Texas, both third-year law students in the space law certificate program. Joining them is Ian Perry of Ellis County, Texas, a 2013 J.D. recipient who is working on his space law LL.M., and Michael Dodge, an adjunct assistant UM professor who graduated from the school’s space law program in 2008.

Competing at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the teams each argued a hypothetical case involving an asteroid mining dispute and liability for a failed attempt to divert an asteroid from colliding with the Earth. Three members of the International Court of Justice served as judges for the competition.

In its 24th year, the competition takes place under the guidance of the International Institute of Space Law, headquartered in Paris, and attracts more than 60 law schools from around the globe. Three members of the International Court of Justice served as judges for the competition.

The team won the national championship March 21 at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition at Georgetown University Law Center, which qualified them to compete in the world finals.

“I am so proud of our students,” said Jacquie Serrao, director of the university’s LL.M. program in air and space law. “Their hard work, determination, substantive knowledge and oral and written advocacy skills really set them apart from others in the competition. That, combined with the amazing professors at the law school who contributed so much of their time in mooting our students, really made the difference.”

This victory builds on a string of successes for the Ole Miss law school’s advocacy programs, which include winning the nation’s pre-eminent environmental law moot court competition in February for the fourth time in five years, winning four national championships in 2014 alone, earning a top 18 national ranking for the school’s moot court board in 2014, receiving second place at the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition last fall, and achieving a top-eight finish at the moot court National Championship hosted by the University of Houston Law Center in January.

UM Principal Corps Admits Seventh Cohort

Elite K-12 leadership program expands placements to eastern Mississippi

OXFORD, Miss. – Eleven outstanding educators from school districts across the state make up the seventh cohort of the Principal Corps, the University of Mississippi’s elite program for K-12 leadership.

The seventh cohort of the Principal Corps (Left to Right): Melanie Wells, Leslie Mikell, Brantley Pierce, Tristal Watson, Brock Ratcliff, Brad Blake, Emma Cornwall, Kristy Dunning and Stephanie Crowell. Stephanie Crowell and Alyson Saucier not pictured. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The seventh cohort of the Principal Corps (Left to Right): Melanie Wells, Leslie Mikell, Brantley Pierce, Tristal Watson, Brock Ratcliff, Brad Blake, Emma Cornwall, Kristy Dunning and Liz Towle. Stephanie Crowell and Alyson Saucier not pictured. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The group includes Brad Blake of the Vicksburg-Warren School District, Emma Cornwall of the Columbus School District, Stephanie Crowell of the Quitman County School District, Kristy Dunning of the DeSoto County School District, Leslie Mikell of the Lauderdale County School District, Brantley Pierce of Perry County Schools, Brock Ratcliff of Harrison County Schools, Alyson Saucier of Harrison County Schools, Elizabeth Towle of Marshall County Schools, Tristal Watson of Hattiesburg Public Schools and Melanie Wells of Rankin County Schools. Each recruit was nominated for admission into the Principal Corps by his or her district superintendent.

With participants hailing from Columbus and Meridian, the seventh class marks a new presence in east Mississippi for the program. Established in 2009, the 13-month program awards graduates with a master’s or specialist degree in educational leadership from the UM School of Education and has a near-perfect success rate in landing its graduates jobs as educational leaders.

“This program will be a challenging experience that prepares you to serve as a transformational leader,” said Tom Burnham, interim director of the Principal Corps and two-time state superintendent of education. “Each of you will learn to make difficult decisions and the skills and processes needed to serve as an instructional leader focused on moving a school toward higher levels of success, even when it’s challenging.”

One of the most valuable K-12 leadership scholarships in the nation, the program includes full tuition, books and fees, as well as housing and living expenses while completing coursework at Ole Miss The Principal Corps also provides funding to maintain recruits’ salary during the program.

“Our goal is have every Principal Corps graduate in a leadership role in a Mississippi school,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “We know the impact that building level leaders have on student achievement. We need great principals to lead positive change in each school in our state.”

The program focuses on combining theory with experience-based learning. During full-time internships, recruits work closely with mentor administrators, often serving as acting assistant principals. They graduate with a year of full-time experience and often receive job offers from internship sites.

“The most attractive aspect for me was that you come out of the program with a year of full-time experience,” said Leslie Mikell, a recruit from Northeast Lauderdale Elementary in Meridian. “I feel so privileged to be part of such a competitive and prestigious program.”

All Principal Corps graduates make a five-year commitment to stay in Mississippi after graduation and receive a $10,000 bonus upon signing a contract as a principal or assistant principal and beginning work. With 66 graduates, the ranks of Principal Corps alumni could grow to 77 next year.

“For me, this is a chance to seek opportunities and enhance my discipline,” said Brantley Pierce, a recruit from Perry Central High School in New Augusta. “So far, it’s been inspiring to surround myself with people who have the same career goals and are invested in improving education in Mississippi.”

During June, recruits will complete coursework at the Oxford campus before reporting to their first internship site in the fall and a second site in the spring. Each principal-in-training also attends classes at Ole Miss one weekend a month throughout the year.

Originally funded with $2 million in startup money from the Jim and Donna Barksdale Foundation in 2009, the program received additional funding in October 2012, when the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation awarded Principal Corps $1.5 million in new funding to expand placements across the state.

Generosity, Faith and Service

Capertons support UM with Ole Miss Women's Council scholarship

UM Chancellor Dan Jones (left) and Debbie Vaughn (right), senior executive director of development for UM, thank Winston “Cape” and Barbara Caperton of Warrenton, Va., for establishing the Barbara Caperton Scholarship Endowment.

OXFORD, Miss. – Winston “Cape” and Barbara Caperton of Warrenton, Va., attended a recent Ole Miss football game as guests of Chancellor Dan Jones, in gratitude for their longtime support and for the establishment of the Barbara Caperton Ole Miss Women’s Council Scholarship Endowment.

A native of Noxapater, Cape Caperton is a University of Mississippi alumnus and supporter, both financially and spiritually.

“I’ve said many prayers for you, Chancellor, because you have had trying times in the past during your leadership and I’ve admired how you’ve handled them,” he told Jones.

“I appreciate that,” Jones said. “I knew when I took this job we would have some trying moments, but they are also teachable moments. That’s part of life for a university. Thank you for your prayers – and please don’t stop.”

The Capertons, accompanied by their son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Rebecca Caperton, also of Warrenton, assured Jones that their thoughts would continue for his administration.

The Capertons’ visit came as they were dedicating additional funds to the scholarship endowment they first pledged back in 2007. As part of the Ole Miss Women’s Council, the Caperton scholarship helps provide tuition and books for young men and women, as well as guidance and training in leadership skills, career development and personal growth throughout the student’s tenure at the university.Read the story …

UM Graduate Student Teaches Physics Concepts at Tougaloo Summer Camp

University of Mississippi graduate student Arif Mohd (fourth from left) spends some time with his students at the Physics Summer Program at Tougaloo College.

OXFORD, Miss. – One of the highlights of Arif Mohd’s summer was spending a week teaching complex physics concepts – from quantum mechanics to astrometry – to high school students as part of the Physics Summer Program at Tougaloo College in Jackson.

“My choice of topics was geared towards giving the students as much exposure to physics as possible, the latest discoveries and how we got there,” said Mohd, a graduate physics student at the University of Mississippi.

Read the story …

UM Center for Mathematics and Science Education Hosts Educators from Botswana

Mannie Lowe (left), FIRST program manager for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Mississippi, explains a LEGO robot simulation to University of Botswana faculty members Shana Mompoloki Suping (second from left), Sesutho Koketso Kesianye and Kgomotso Gertrude Garegae. UM photo by Ryan Whittington.

OXFORD, Miss. – Since its launch six years ago at the University of Mississippi, the Center for Mathematics and Science Education has garnered worldwide acclaim for its approach and methods.

And just last week, professors and instructors from the University of Botswana visited Ole Miss to meet with CMSE representatives and faculty from other science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments as part of efforts to create a similar center in Botswana.

Sesutho Koketso Kesianye, Shana Mompoloki Suping and Kgomotso Gertrude Garegae, faculty members with the Department of Math and Science Education at the University of Botswana, visited Ole Miss after deciding that the CMSE is the best of its kind. Besides touring CMSE facilities and teacher workshops, the trio also met with representatives from UM’s Provost Office, School of Education and other campus departments.

Read the story …

Disaster Resistant University Project Schedules Public Meeting

OXFORD, Miss. – The leaders of the University of Mississippi’s Disaster Resistant University project are set to discuss the hazards of severe weather and how development of new campus facilities have changed the risks at an April 24 public meeting in Oxford.

Everyone from the Oxford-Lafayette County community is invited to the meeting, set for 6 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.Read the story …