Vitter Launches Flagship Forum at Meeting with Student Leaders

Sustained conversation continues to gather input on UM's future

Chancellor Vitter talks with student leaders at a luncheon as part of the Flagship Forum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Chancellor Vitter talks with student leaders at a luncheon as part of the Flagship Forum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter began his “Flagship Forum” series Thursday (Jan. 28) during a luncheon with student leaders at the Lyceum.

The Flagship Forum serves as a listening and learning tour for Vitter to help him engage with and learn about the many facets of the university, as well as let the Ole Miss family get to know him.

That’s just what happened Thursday when Vitter enjoyed lunch with student leaders, said William Kneip, president of the Columns Society. Kneip said it was “refreshing and reassuring” to be able to have a face-to-face meeting with the new chancellor.

“While in the meeting, it was apparent that although he is new to the job, Chancellor Vitter and his wife, Sharon, have quickly become our strongest advocates as students,” Kneip said. “As a student, I am confident in his ability to not only communicate with us as students, but also his ability to communicate with faculty, staff, state legislators, alumni and friends of Ole Miss.”

The Flagship Forum series will continue throughout the spring. In the process, Vitter will invite all segments of the university community – students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and fans – to share their suggestions on the future of the university.

“As a core value, I believe deeply in directly engaging the entire university community so that the best ideas come forward,” Vitter said. “Through our Flagship Forum, I will be visiting with the UM community to learn what makes us, as a university, great, what makes us distinctive and what must we aspire to in order to be greater.”

In recent decades, UM has earned a reputation for academic excellence, service, national leadership and accessibility for all Mississippians. Vitter wants to engage with all of UM’s constituencies to define and give structure to how, together, the UM family can build upon these past achievements. Topics will include enhancing academic excellence, student success, diversity, community engagement, global understanding and entrepreneurship.

As part of the Flagship Forum, Vitter will hear from students, faculty and staff on UM’s Oxford campus, the regional campuses and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. In addition, he will travel the state and region to meet with members of the Ole Miss alumni chapters and other key stakeholders. For those who aren’t able to attend one of the upcoming forums, they will be able to engage online with Vitter by asking questions and providing comments.

“Nothing is more important to the future success and vitality of our society than higher education,” Vitter said. “With the liberal arts as the heart and soul of the university and with the powerful added dimensions that professional schools bring, higher education forms the basis for our democratic society. Higher education is our seed corn for the future. The ideas and innovations of UM scholars lead to new technologies, enhanced well-being, jobs and economic development.”

Vitter sees synergy as an important enabler for tackling difficult questions.

“Increasingly, we live in a multidisciplinary world,” he said. “No one person or discipline has the full breadth of knowledge capable of solving society’s grand challenges. While our individual creativity has value and power, those ideas will be multiplied and leveraged far beyond our imagination if we share insights and perspectives. I look forward to working with the entire UM community to position the university as an innovation engine and magnet for creative people.”

More details about upcoming events of the Flagship Forum will be posted on the chancellor’s Web page,, and via Twitter @UMchancellor.