OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones has made service to others an integral part of everything he does, starting as a medical missionary in South Korea and continuing through his tenure at the UM Medical Center. And since becoming chancellor in 2009, he has worked to make service part of the “Ole Miss DNA.”
In honor of his efforts, representatives of the university’s Class of 2013 surprised Jones Wednesday (Feb. 20) in Jackson with an announcement of a new scholarship fund paying tribute to his leadership in encouraging service activities.
The Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Service Before Self Scholarship Fund will be the living legacy of students who were incoming freshmen when he began his tenure, said class president Jon Daniel McKiever of Jonesboro, Ark., a public policy leadership major. McKiever delivered the news at an Ole Miss alumni luncheon hosted at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
“I will always remember Chancellor Jones as a man who continuously committed himself to serve the university that I love and inspire students to serve both within the university and their own communities,” McKiever said.
Jones said he was “overwhelmed, surprised and happy” when the students announced the gift to establish the fund.
“Anything that further embeds the commitment to service for the university moves us forward, and it makes me very happy that there will be a scholarship, not because it bears my name but because it is going to be a scholarship focused on service,” he said.
“Service is a privilege. Those of us who have been blessed in many ways have an opportunity to serve, and it’s a part of my life because I’ve been so blessed. I’m not conscious of talking about it so much, but apparently I do. It’s very heartwarming to know there are students wanting to share the same heart.”
A longstanding tradition is for the graduating class to leave a permanent gift to the university.
“The senior class took a significant amount of time in deciding what gift we desired to present,” McKiever said. “We wanted a gift that would be both sustainable and meaningful. We decided to enact a scholarship endowment to benefit students for years to come and to honor Chancellor Jones for a variety of reasons. While it is true we were the first freshmen under Chancellor Jones, what made him a perfect candidate for the naming of our scholarships is his great passion for serving both the students and the university.”
Class vice president Tyler McBeth of Biloxi, a psychology major, quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “‘What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.’ This is a perfect quote to describe the dedication to service that Ole Miss students possess. There are many students who have committed themselves to the service of others and to the university, enhancing their college experience. Those students who demonstrate ‘service to others over self’ are recognized through this scholarship as well as the priority Chancellor Jones places on service.
“Prior to his tenure here, he served as vice chancellor of health affair and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Previous to that, he was a medical missionary in South Korea. Our chancellor has brought his personal love for service learning into the university community, with an emphasis that has increased service learning in the classroom and far beyond.”
That emphasis on service as part of the overall Ole Miss experience has been life-changing for David Horton, a Jackson native who serves as class treasurer.
“In my past four years at this university, I’ve definitely learned what it means to serve with sacrifice,” Horton said. “I remember having many long days but not ever being tired because I knew that my service to the community and students at Ole Miss was benefiting someone else, and that’s a legacy I would like to continue with the establishment of this scholarship. Charles Dickens said, ‘No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another,’ and I live by this quote in every aspect of my life.”
The scholarship is a fitting tribute to a chancellor who has made service the focus of his leadership, said Dean of Students Thomas “Sparky” Reardon.
“I am proud that our seniors have chosen to honor Chancellor Jones with this scholarship,” Reardon said. “They realized his leadership has played an important part in the positive experiences they have enjoyed here. This class gift will have an impact on the university for years to come and will also recognize the progress Ole Miss has made under Chancellor Jones’ leadership.”
The chancellor – who has long made service part of his own life – initiated the online service directory “Service DNA: Transformation is at our core” as part of his inauguration activities in 2010.
At that time, Jones said, “At the University of Mississippi, we have the opportunity and responsibility to move beyond the transformation of individual lives. We must purposefully participate in transforming our community, state, nation and world.”
In addition, the university is just days away from hosting The Big Event, a campuswide day of service for the Oxford-Lafayette County community. In 2012, more than 3,000 Ole Miss students participated in service projects that enabled them to give back to the local community and residents and build relationships that might not ordinarily occur.
The March 2 event is expected to be the largest community project in Ole Miss history and further instill the value of service. “Not only does this event support the chancellor’s goal of service for the university community, it will also create well-rounded and humble students,” according to the website volunteers use to register for projects.
“I have had the good fortune to hear about Chancellor Jones’ experiences with medical missions,” McKiever said. “His conviction for service learning is inspiring, and I have since been a part of a service learning project in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The project was located at a home for children with AIDS. I traveled to The Haven to deliver the proceeds from a fundraiser that Ole Miss students had sponsored earlier in the academic year. While we were there, we built a garden to ensure a continuing supply of fresh food for the children. That experience has significantly impacted my life for the better and I will continue to seek new ways to serve others.”
Members of the Class of 2013 have been working on various projects to raise funds for the scholarship endowment. Individuals and organizations interested in contributing can mail contributions by check with the Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Service Before Self Scholarship Fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677 or online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.