UM Launches Doctoral Program in Social Welfare

Curriculum will train students to become scholars and advanced applied practitioners

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Social Work begins its new Ph.D. program in social welfare this fall, and prospective students are encouraged to apply before the March 1 deadline.

Housed within the university’s School of Applied Sciences, the social work department has experienced tremendous growth since 2013. In four years, the department moved up in national rankings while hiring and promoting tenure-track faculty.

The new doctoral program is a perfect example of the department’s commitment to higher education, said Javier Boyas, associate professor of social work and director of the program.

“The University of Mississippi has been training social workers for over four decades,” Boyas said. “This new program will provide the most rigorous social work academic training and prepare the next wave of researchers and advanced practitioners.

“Graduates will develop interventions to reduce or eliminate some of the more complex social issues that affect the state of Mississippi and this country.”

The Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning approved the curriculum for the doctoral program during in November. 

The UM Department of Social Work continues growing with new doctoral program.

Students will be required to complete 55 post-master’s credit hours, including 31 hours of core work, 16 hours of research methods and statistics, and 18 hours of dissertation tutorial and dissertation. Courses offered in the program include Topics in Research with At-Risk and Vulnerable Populations, History of Social Welfare and Forensic Social Work.

“The program’s curriculum was designed to consider social, environmental, cognitive and genetic factors that contribute to today’s social issues,” Boyas said. “This multilevel approach is needed given the complexity of most social problems.”

The social work department has offered a bachelor’s degree since 1974 and a master’s degree since 2008. In 2011, the department joined with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services to create the UM Child Welfare Training Academy, a 128-hour training curriculum for new caseworkers in the field.

Professors with research interests ranging from child welfare to social work technology will lead the new doctoral program. Research papers by the department’s faculty members have appeared in refereed publications such as Social Work, American Journal of Men’s Health, Children and Youth Services Review, Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Criminology, Justice Quarterly, and Journal of Forensic Social Work.

“The growth in the last few years has been unprecedented,” said Daphne Cain, associate professor and chair of social work. “The Ph.D. program in social welfare is an extension of the productive research and educational capacity within our department.

“It will benefit the state through advanced evidence-informed policy initiatives at every level, as well as expanding social welfare knowledge nationally and internationally through scholarship.”

The new program reflects the hard work of the department’s faculty and staff, said Velmer Burton, dean of the School of Applied Sciences and professor of social work.

“The development of the Ph.D. program in social welfare took over three years,” he said. “I speak on behalf of the whole school when I say that we look forward to minting new scholars as the flagship Mississippi university for social work.”

Graduate assistantships, which include tuition, a stipend and health insurance, will be available for students who meet the March 1 application deadline.

For more information on admission and application guidelines, visit

UM Develops Doctoral Program in Nutrition and Hospitality Management

New track will enroll first students in fall semester

For the NHM doctorate, students will complete 66 post-baccalaureate credit hours including core requirements, program emphasis courses, and 18 dissertation hours.

For the NHM doctorate, students will complete 66 post-baccalaureate credit hours including core requirements, program emphasis courses and 18 dissertation hours.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has been approved to start a Doctor of Philosophy program in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management that will offer concentrations in general nutrition, nutrition policy, sport nutrition and hospitality management.

Housed within the School of Applied Sciences, NHM has more than 500 students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nutrition and hospitality management-related programs. The new doctoral program is a welcome addition, said David H. Holben, professor and chair of NHM.

“This program not only showcases the expert professors in NHM and the work being done here at Ole Miss, but it will also develop new scholars who will leave a positive impact all over the nation,” Holben said. “The expertise of our faculty will attract students from Mississippi and beyond. Our faculty are known internationally for their scholarly work related to sport nutrition, food insecurity and childhood obesity.”

The hospitality industry is the fourth-largest private sector employer in the state, according to data compiled by the Mississippi Tourism Association. Meanwhile, dietitians and nutritionists held more than 67,000 jobs in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

For the NHM doctorate, students will complete 66 post-baccalaureate credit hours, including core requirements, program emphasis courses and 18 dissertation hours. The program will emphasize the science of nutrition and its application within academic, clinical and community settings.

The program strengthens the overall academic environment on the Ole Miss campus, said John Z. Kiss, dean of the UM Graduate School.

“The new doctorate in NHM is a great addition to our graduate offerings at UM,” he said. “I congratulate the School of Applied Sciences and the department for developing this high-quality, innovative degree. I am convinced that this exciting and highly relevant doctoral program will produce excellent scholars who will be in high demand as new faculty in leading universities throughout the U.S.”

The NHM department already sponsors the UM Nutrition Clinic which provides nutrition services for students, faculty, staff and the Oxford-Lafayette County community; Lenoir Dining, an educational food lab and restaurant where students gain experience in hospitality management; and the Center of Health and Sport Performance, which educates student-athletes on the importance of nutrition and diet.

“This program is a wonderful accomplishment of our many outstanding faculty and administrators at UM,” Provost Morris Stocks said. “We appreciate the efforts of the School of Applied Sciences and the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management to create a quality doctoral program in a critical area of study.”

The program is yet another stride taken to fulfill the school’s “scholar model” said Velmer Burton, dean of the School of Applied Sciences.

“The research and knowledge created and disseminated by the program’s faculty and graduate students will work to improve the lives and conditions of Mississippians and their communities,” Burton said.

For admission into the program, send official transcripts, coursework and a Graduate Record Exam score to the Graduate School. For more information, visit

UM Nutrition Program Helping Create Children’s Area for Double Decker

Department to educate families on importance of healthy living at 20th annual arts festival

Children enjoy Double Decker festivities just as much as adults.

Children enjoy Double Decker festivities just as much as adults.

OXFORD, Miss. – Children attending the 20th annual Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford this year will have their own area of fun hosted by University of Mississippi’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management.

As a part of the festival’s Square Fair, set for April 25, the children’s area will be in the Lafayette County Chancery Courthouse parking lot. The area is designed to educate parents and children on the importance of nutrition through various interactive booths with games and food. Sports-themed booths will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The way our department uses this event is to give nutritional information to the community, so they can understand what healthy living is about,” said Jeremy Roberts, instructor and coordinator of marketing and events for nutrition and hospitality management.

The NHM department has teamed with NASA and the UM School of Pharmacy to create this event for the arts festival.

For more information on the Square Fair children’s area, call Jeremy Roberts at 662-915-2621 or email

Texas Parents Support Nutrition and Hospitality Management Program

Strong Travel Services Endowment created for UM department's long-term needs

Jim and Kay Strong

Jim and Kay Strong

OXFORD, Miss. – A $25,000 gift to the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management at the University of Mississippi will provide longtime support for facility upgrades, thanks to Jim and Kay Strong of Dallas.

The couple has created an endowment named for their family business, Strong Travel Services. A respected leader in the luxury travel industry, Strong Travel Services was established in 1975 as a corporate-based travel agency. The agency’s market focus shifted to the vacation traveler in the mid-1990s, and more than 40 staff members serve clients.

Jim and Kay Strong’s relationship with UM began in 2011 when their son, James, joined the UM student body and enrolled in the hospitality management program. James is on track to graduate in May.

“We were drawn to Ole Miss because of the graciousness and friendliness of both the campus and the people,” Jim Strong said. “And since the hospitality management program focuses on service, we felt it was natural for the Strong Travel Agency to create this connection.”

Students in the hospitality management program actively study many areas of the industry, such as travel, food service and lodging. Students also gain hands-on experience at Lenoir Dining, an education restaurant serving the public and operating within the department. Funds in the Strong Travel Services Endowment will be held permanently and invested, with annual income designated for use in the department’s renovations, upgrades and acquisitions in classrooms, labs and Lenoir Dining.

“We really value the wonderful support Jim and Kay Strong have given to our program,” said Mary Roseman, associate professor and director of the hospitality management program. “They often visit campus, and Jim devotes his time talking to many of our classes and providing insight on industry issues. Students appreciate the outstanding information on the service industry that Jim provides.”

Jim Strong remarked that the relationship between Strong Travel Services and the department was natural, as both are dedicated to service.

“We wanted to do something that supported this program, and we hope this endowment can grow over time with the help of Ole Miss and other people in the travel industry,” he said.

Individuals and organizations interested in contributing to the endowment can send checks with the endowment noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38677. For more information, contact Michael Upton, development director, at 662-915-3027 or

NFSMI Director Accepts Presidential Appointment

Katie Wilson takes role with USDA

Dr. Katie Wilson

Katie Wilson

OXFORD, Miss. – Katie Wilson, executive director of the National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi, has been appointed by President Barack Obama as deputy undersecretary of food, nutrition and consumer services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The role includes a variety of responsibilities, including oversight over the development of dietary guidelines and nutrition programs across the country.

“I have partnered with the USDA a number of times over the years,” Wilson said. “I’ve taken part in many of their expert panels on nutrition, so the connection has always been there.”

Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, contacted Wilson in January about the possibility of becoming deputy undersecretary. She accepted the job earlier this month.

“Katie has had a wealth of experience in school nutrition, serving in a variety of positions,” Concannon said. “She has testified before Congress and served in leadership roles in the School Nutrition Association. Her clear and lifelong passion for improving the health of schoolchildren and her vast experience in this field make her a perfect choice to hit the ground when she joins us later this spring.”

Wilson has served as NFSMI’s executive director since 2010. Established by Congress in 1989, the institute is the only federally funded center dedicated to education, training and technical assistance for child nutrition programs.

“I love NFSMI. It’s a passion of mine,” Wilson said. “We have developed a wonderful staff that’s very capable of doing their jobs. It’s sort of a sweet sorrow, but I’m not worried. The institute is in good hands.”

Velmer Burton, dean of the School of Applied Sciences, praised Wilson’s appointment, noting that she did an exemplary job as the institute’s director.

“Katie will truly be missed as she leaves for Washington, D.C.,” Burton said. “However, we are very excited for her in this new role, which naturally reflects well on Dr. Wilson, the talented NFSMI staff and the initiatives she has established as director here at the University of Mississippi.”

Wilson begins her new position May 1 at USDA, where she expects to begin discussions about national nutrition standards in schools.

“I believe children should have the highest quality of food in their schools,” she said. “We should be serving meals based on the science of nutrition.”

Eighth Annual Applied Sciences Career Fair Set

Feb. 25 event brings a number of career opportunities to students

The Career Fair is a great way for students to network with working professionals and gain information about future employment options.

The career fair is a great way for students to network with professionals and gain information about employment options.

OXFORD, Miss. – Most than 30 potential employers are set to be on hand for the University of Mississippi’s School of Applied Sciences  annual career fair, coming up Feb. 25 at the Inn at Ole Miss.

“This is the most vendors we’ve had since the first fair in 2008,” said Teri Gray, coordinator of the Applied Sciences Career Fair, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Career vendors will be available to meet and advise students from departments such as Legal Studies; Social Work; Communication Sciences and Disorders; Nutrition and Hospitality Management; and Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management. This year’s vendors include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi State Department of Health, St. Joe Club and Resorts, and Oxford Health and Rehab.

“The more vendors we have encourages student involvement,” Gray said. “In the past, we’ve had over 500 students attend the fair. We’re expecting a similar turnout for 2015.”

After the event, a networking reception begins at 4 p.m. Students are welcome at the reception, which will include the presentations of the Thomas Crowe Alumnus of the Year award and the Linda Chitwood Student Merit award.

The event not only offers career opportunities, but allows employers to meet talented students completing their degrees, said Velmer Burton, dean of the School of Applied Sciences.

“The hard work of our school’s faculty is evidenced by our highly-skilled students,” Burton says. “And this event has become a platform to showcase our students.”

For more information about the Applied Sciences Career Fair, contact Teri Gray at or 662-915-7901.

Nutrition Clinic Begins Weight Management Classes in January

Classes open to the public and include weekly group meetings, cooking demos and one-on-one consults

Janie Cole gives a tour of a local grocery store.

Janie Cole gives a tour of a local grocery store.

OXFORD, Miss. – Janie Cole, registered dietitian and adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management at the University of Mississippi, leads a group of six through an Oxford grocery store.

She hands out a “Grocery Store Shopping guide that provides tips such as “Plan ahead and make a list” and “Don’t be on your phone while shopping. It gets you off task.” Cole tells the group to examine and compare nutrition facts for deli meats, bread, cereal and bacon.

In one of the aisles, Cole says, “Pay attention to calories, sodium content and saturated fat.”

The grocery store tour is a part of the weight management program organized by UM’s Nutrition Clinic, which is devoted to helping the community with weight loss, eating disorders and other nutrition issues. The program offers weekly group meetings, food record analysis, cooking demonstrations, tastings and one-on-one consults.

“Walking through the store and comparing labels helps the participants make healthy choices,” Cole said, regarding the grocery store tour. “Oftentimes, they are pleasantly surprised by what is considered a healthy choice.”

The program started in 2011 after the clinic got requests to begin a weight management class. But people take the class for reasons beside weight loss, Cole said.

“They want to eat better, improve their overall health and basically have a healthier lifestyle in general,” she said.

And the classes are improving lifestyles. The program has consistent success in lowering weight, blood sugar and cholesterol, and improving energy levels.

“This class is different from others available in that we teach you how to eat healthy without eliminating your favorite foods,” Cole said. “It’s so simple, but it works.”

The weight management classes begin Jan. 21 at Lenoir Hall and are open to the public. The fee for the 12-week course is $150. Participants can register for the classes by calling the UM Nutrition Clinic at 662-915-8662 or by emailing

UM Nutrition Expert Shares Healthy Snack Tips for Children

Good nutrition principles are fundamental for proper diet

Dr. Laurel Lambert, child nutrition expert, says all snacks should follow "basic nutrition principles.”

Laurel Lambert, child nutrition expert, explains how all snacks should follow ‘basic nutrition principles.’

OXFORD, Miss. – Combating the state’s obesity epidemic starts with teaching our children the principles of healthy eating, which is the focus of Laurel Lambert, associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management at the University of Mississippi.

While Lambert’s past experiences as a registered dietitian include medical nutrition therapy and institutional food services, her research focus is child nutrition.

“To get children excited about nutrition and meals is very rewarding,” Lambert said. “For example, a director of child nutrition in schools has an impact on students’ health from the time they enter the school until they leave.”

Along with school meals, schools also often prepare afternoon snacks. Healthy snacks can be prepared and consumed both in and out of school with a little nutrition know-how.

“Snacks are a great choice because children have little stomachs,” Lambert said. “We don’t want them to eat until they’re stuffed. In the past, I’ve worked with child nutrition development researchers, and they found that by age 5, children can lose the skill to identify when they’ve eaten too much, so snacks can teach basic feeding principles.

“You want to develop healthy snacks based on good nutrition principles. The goal is to learn the principles of nutrition and apply them to snacks. These are good starters, not a definitive list, but a list that can guide parents and children to make healthy choices.”

Healthy Homemade Snacks for Children

(Examples taken from the USDA’s Choose My Plate initiative)

  1. Trail Mix (dried fruit, unsalted nuts and popcorn): “Dried fruit is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. For unsalted nuts, I prefer almonds, but cashews and pistachios are also good sources of nutrients. Popcorn is important because it can be prepared as a low-fat food, which decreases the overall calories of the snack. Plus, popcorn provides bulk and makes it more filling.”
  2. Veggie Sticks with Hummus: “Made from chick peas, hummus has become popular as a spread for different vegetables. It goes well with celery or carrots. It can even be placed on whole-grain crackers and pita bread.”
  3. Fruit Kabobs: “Fruit kabobs are prepared using a variety of fruit – bananas, apples, watermelon, cantaloupe or grapes, to name a few. I suggest having your child help with preparation. Your child can begin to learn knife skills, decide on the types of fruit to use and the order the fruit appears on the stick, therefore becoming involved with the food he or she eats.”
  4. Apple Wedge with Turkey: “Child nutrition programs often make snacks interesting by combining foods. You’re not just giving a child an apple; you’re giving him or her an apple wedge with a good source of protein, such as turkey. Luckily, fresh turkey is low-sodium by nature. It’s also important to notice that this is an apple wedge. We’re serving children, and it may be difficult to bite and chew on a whole apple. They need something easy to handle for their snack.”
  5. Peanut Butter Fruit-wich (whole-grain bread, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, thinly sliced apple or banana): “If you have the chance to choose whole-grain over wheat, go for it. Whole-grain means the child is getting the complete grain, including the germ and the bran for extra fiber, vitamins and minerals. Only 2 tablespoons of peanut butter because portion control is important.”
  6. Ants on a Log (thinly spread peanut butter on celery sticks, topped with a row of raisins): “Ants on a log is always popular. Children enjoy it because of its name and the way it looks, and they have a fun time preparing it, too.”

“All of these snacks follow basic nutrition principles,” Lambert said. “They contain vitamins, minerals, high fiber, low sodium and low saturated fat.”

Parents should consider serving healthy beverages to their children, including water and 100-percent juice, she said. “Juice should never replace water because of the calories. However, a 1/2-cup of juice for breakfast or with a snack is a good choice.”

Finally, it is important to follow a snack schedule when feeding your child, Lambert said.

“After children come home from school, they are probably hungry,” she explained. “Having a snack prepared is a good choice. The easier you make it, the more likely the child is going to eat it.”

School of Applied Sciences Welcomes New Faculty to HESRM

New HERSM faculty members from left to right: Kofan Lee, Paul Loprinzi, Yang-Chieh Fu and Jeremy Loenneke.

New HERSM faculty members from left to right: Kofan Lee, Paul Loprinzi, Yang-Chieh Fu and Jeremy Loenneke.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreational Management has welcomed four new faculty members for the 2014-2015 academic year. The new professors, many of whom arrived on campus this fall, are considered among the best young scholars in their respective fields.

The new faculty members are Yang-Chieh Fu, KoFan Lee, Jeremy Loenneke and Paul Loprinzi.

The new professors will help improve the department’s national rankings, said Jay Garner, associate professor of exercise science and interim chair of HESRM.

“We are tremendously excited about our recent hires,” Garner said. “This puts us on track to continue our rise in becoming one of the top programs in our field.”

With nearly 800 students, the department equips students to help improve the health and fitness of individuals and communities. From exercise science to recreational administration, the department offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs.

Velmer Burton, dean the School of Applied Sciences, said he is proud of HESRM’s recent recruitments in faculty.

“These new tenure-track scholars are important to the department’s future and add to the existing talent and strengths of our HESRM faculty,” Burton said.

Loenneke, a recent Ph.D. graduate of the University of Oklahoma, has conducted and published extensive research in skeletal muscle physiology.

“Dr. Loenneke arrived on campus with a strong record of productivity and excellence,” Garner said. “We have seen nothing but excellence as a scholar with unlimited potential at Ole Miss and in our department.”

Lee recently completed his doctorate in leisure behavior at Indiana University at Bloomington. He is an accomplished scholar with research exploring social-psychological perspectives in leisure studies.

“His experience and work in the field make him a great asset for our burgeoning recreation administration program,” Garner said. “He will be a wonderful success in our program.”

Loprinzi received his Ph.D. in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. With numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, Loprinzi focuses his research on physical activity promotion.

“He will bring a fresh perspective to the department by combining his training at a top research institution,” Garner said. “We expect him to continue his growth as a scholar here at Ole Miss.”

Fu earned his doctorate in kinesiology from the University of Georgia. His ongoing research and publications focuses on the functional and biomechanical performance of patients who have undergone a modern unicompartmental knee construction by camera-based motion analysis and videofluoroscopy techniques. He joined the department in 2013.

“Dr. Fu’s experience and training make him a wonderful hire for the department and school,” Garner said.

New Fund Created for UM Speech Therapy Program

Oxford mother focuses on building support to help others


Rheagan and Naden Vaughn with their son, Swayze

OXFORD, Miss. – Communication therapy has been an important focus for Rheagan Vaughn ever since her son Swayze was diagnosed with autism. For many children with the disorder, communication impairments can be an obstacle.

“We’ve been blessed that Swayze is on the high-functioning end of the spectrum,” said Vaughn, of Oxford. “But there are parents in this community who have children on the other side of the spectrum, and they need help too.”

After being involved in a number of national fundraisers for autism, Vaughn wanted to do something different. “I decided to find something local to support,” she said.

Early this year, the University of Mississippi’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders established the Hearing-Impaired Literacy and Language Laboratory. The program focuses on pre-school-level students with problems in speech, hearing and literacy. In its first year, the program achieved a number of positive results, such as children speaking for the first time. This success can be attributed to sessions between students and a staff of language-speech pathologists.

The program captured the attention of Vaughn after she learned it could help autistic children in areas of communication and literacy.

“What I specifically like about this program is that parents can sit and watch their children during lessons,” she said.

With an initial gift of $600, Rheagan Vaughn created the Swayze Vaughn Fund in dedication to her 7-year-old son. Vaughn hopes the Oxford community will contribute to the public fund and help the cause.

The Swayze Vaughn Fund will have a direct impact on the program, said Lennette Ivy, chair of the communication sciences and disorders department.

“(The fund) will help by providing whatever is needed,” Ivy said. “If we need any educational materials, we can utilize these resources.”

Ivy also suggested that the fund could help Oxford-area residents affected by autism.

“We could create support groups for parents of children with autism,” she said. “We could also bring in professional speakers and trainers. There are a number of things we can do with this fund.”

In the spring of 2015, Rheagan Vaughn hopes to organize an autism awareness walk in Oxford with the proceeds going directly to the Swayze Vaughn Fund.

“Every fundraiser I work from now on will benefit the Swayze Vaughn Fund,” she said.

Individuals and organizations interested in contributing to the Swayze Vaughn Fund can send checks with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677. For more information, contact Michael Upton, development director, at 662-915-3027 or