UM Opens Search for Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement

Committee established to find qualified candidate


A committee has been established to find UM’s vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is seeking to fill the new position of vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.

This position is one of the key components of UM’s comprehensive action plan designed to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment on all its campuses. The action plan was announced in August 2014, and an earlier search to find a candidate for this position was unsuccessful.

Renewing the effort to hire UM’s first vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement is among Chancellor Jeff Vitter’s top priorities, he said.

“As key components of the UM Creed, the values of diversity and multiculturalism are core to the University of Mississippi community,” said Vitter, who became chancellor on Jan. 1. “I share that strong commitment to diversity.

“For that reason, my first major administrative action is to launch the search for vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. We will recruit an outstanding leader to partner with people and units throughout the university in creating a welcoming and inclusive multicultural environment for all students, faculty and staff.”

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Morris Stocks has established a search committee to oversee this effort to find the person who will serve as the university’s chief diversity officer.

Once hired, the new vice chancellor will report to Stocks.

Don Cole, assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs, assistant provost and associate professor of mathematics, has served as the university’s chief diversity officer since 2003. Cole joined UM in 1993 and was recognized in 2003 with the Frist Student Service Award.

Vitter and Stocks expressed appreciation to Cole for his leadership and steadfast commitment to enhancing the campus climate for all.

“Don Cole has shown a remarkable talent first for listening carefully to the concerns of a wide array of individuals, and then working cooperatively with many people and programs within the university, our community and the state to effect positive change within our university,” Stocks said.

Vitter also praised Cole for his impact at UM.

“We are deeply grateful to Don Cole for helping our university make important progress in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all,” Vitter said.

Among the responsibilities of the new vice chancellor will be to engage in efforts to address issues of race and diversity at UM. This vice chancellor will also work with other existing campus organizations that focus on these issues, Stocks said.

Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs, will serve as chair of the search committee.

Other members of the search committee are Tony Ammeter, Michael Barnett, Alice Clark, Don Cole, Derek Cowherd, Sandra Cox-McCarty, Phillis George, Susan Glisson, Maria Gondo, Sue Grayzel, Carl Hill, Andrea Jekabsons, Linda Keena, Shawnboda Mead, Chase Moore, Sathyanarayana Murthy, Albert Nylander, Rachna Prakash, Sujith Ramachandran, Evangeline Robinson, Jocelyn Tipton and Ryan Upshaw.

“I feel privileged to lead the committee that will identify and recommend a strong leader for this critically important campus role,” Hephner LaBanc said. “Numerous committee members from the earlier process have returned to serve during this search process. I know, without any doubt, they will remain highly engaged and work diligently to seek out an individual who will bring immense talent and passion to our great university.”

To assist the search committee, a firm will be hired to recruit qualified candidates.

Once the search is open, information will be available on the Office of the Provost’s Web page.

Poets Advise Honors Students to Use Their Imagination to Influence Communities

OXFORD, Miss. – After flipping a coin to determine who would speak first, poets Brenda Hillman and Robert Hass encouraged University of Mississippi honors students to keep poetry in their lives while working for social change.

Delivering the keynote address for the recent Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College fall convocation, the husband-and-wife duo even sensed poetry in the event’s setting, the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“We are in a place where Barack Obama and John McCain debated, and it is awe-inspiring,” said Hillman, winner of the coin toss.

Hass, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1995 to ’97, teaches at the University of California-Berkeley and is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner. Hillman, whose work has been described as eclectic, mercurial and sensuous, is one of the country’s foremost avant garde poets. Both are internationally renowned, prominent environmental and political activists.Read the story …

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OXFORD, Miss. – The Rebel Mascot Selection Committee is excited to announce the Rebel Black Bear as the new on-field mascot for the Ole Miss Rebels.

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OXFORD, Miss. – Former President Bill Clinton’s appearance today (Oct. 14) at the University of Mississippi will offer students an opportunity to hear firsthand about the importance of exercising their right to vote.

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Former President Clinton to Speak Thursday in Grove

Former President Bill Clinton will visit the University of Mississippi Thursday (Oct. 14) to discuss the value of voting and the importance of participating in the election process. Clinton plans to speak at 11:45 a.m. on the Grove stage.

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Solo Theater Performance, Workshop Oct. 16 Mark LGBT History, Diversity Awareness

OXFORD, Miss. – A monodrama performance and workshop on documentary theater are scheduled Oct. 16 at the University of Mississippi to recognize October as LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) History Month and National Diversity Awareness Month. The events are free to the public.

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Top Ranked Dance Company Performs at Ford Center Oct. 26

OXFORD, Miss. – One of the world’s foremost modern dance companies, the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company is slated to perform Oct. 26 at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

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Staff, Faculty Members Recognized for Excellence in Advising Students

… Inaugural award to be presented annually

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi faculty and staff members who have consistently demonstrated excellence in advising students have been selected for special recognition.

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Fifth Annual Civil War Conference Addresses Multiple Issues Leading to War

OXFORD, Miss. – Focusing on a variety of issues that propelled that nation into a bloody four-year conflict, the fifth annual Civil War conference at the University of Mississippi coincides this year with the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s 1860 election and the beginning of the secession crisis.

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New Exhibit Features Civil War Artifacts, Documents

OXFORD, Miss. – A new exhibit at the J.D. Williams Library titled, “‘This Fiery Trial’: An Exhibit on Mississippi and the American Civil War,” features a large collection of Civil War artifacts and documents.

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