Members of UM Community Invited to Participate in HIT Forum

Free events include pitch competition, presentations form researchers and networking reception

JACKSON, Miss. – The Health Innovation and Transformation Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center invites the LOU community to participate in the inaugural HIT Forum, an interactive event where health innovators from across the state can share their ideas for improving the health of Mississippians, connect with potential collaborators and compete for financial and infrastructural support to help make their ideas a reality.

What counts as a health innovation? The HIT Center is looking for new tools, techniques and applications that could improve how:

  • Clinicians manage or treat their patients
  • Individuals and populations track and meet their health goals
  • Organizations deliver health care or operate wellness initiatives

The HIT Forum, held in cooperation with global innovation company Plug and Play, will be 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 15 in the Norman C. Nelson Student Union on the UMMC campus. The schedule for the event is:

  • 10-11 a.m. – Introduction and keynote speaker
  • 11 a.m.-noon – Pitch competition
  • Noon-1 p.m. – Lunch and poster presentations
  • 1-2 p.m. – Fireside chat
  • 2-3 p.m. – Announcement of winners, awards, and closing remarks
  • 3-4 p.m. – Networking reception

Attendance is free, but you must register here.

The pitch competition is looking for innovative health care solutions from anywhere in the world. To apply for this competition, email a link to your business or innovation webpage to Terrence Hibbert, UMMC director of innovation, at

The winner will receive:

  • $25,000 investment from Plug and Play
  • An opportunity to pilot the solution at UMMC
  • Start-up coaching from the HIT Center
  • Intellectual property review from the UMMC Innovation, Development and Licensing Office
  • A space in the business incubator at the UMMC Translational Research Center

The HIT Forum also will feature a business plan competition open to students and faculty of any Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning member. Entry instructions are available here and must be submitted by April 27. The winner of the business plan competition will receive:

  • $5,000 prize from the HIT Center
  • Start-up coaching from the HIT Center
  • Intellectual property review from UMMC’s IDL office.

IHL members also are invited to submit posters for the poster session before May 4 using the link here.

The forum will also feature a fireside chat with clinicians and researchers who will discuss their innovation journeys.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is working toward home-grown innovation and partnerships with leading innovators from around the globe to reach that goal. Please enter and/or attend if you are interested in learning how Mississippi is innovating in health care or if you are interested in working to move the needle toward a healthier Mississippi.

For more information about the HIT Forum or HIT Center, contact Hibbert at

University Offers Free NCFDD Membership to Faculty, Students and Staff

Professional development, training, mentoring community supports academics' careers

OXFORD, Miss. – The Office of the Provost and Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi have acquired an institutional membership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity.

All UM faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral students and staff can join NCFDD at no cost and access a wide variety of services and programs designed to help those in academia thrive by increasing their research and writing productivity, creating networks of support on campus and across institutions nationwide, and developing a stronger sense of work-life balance.

“Memberships in national organizations help connect our faculty, staff and students to a broader network and valuable resources,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “These networks and the resources offered help our community stay in touch with the national landscape and current issues facing higher education.”

Ole Miss is the first higher-educational institution in Mississippi to join more than 100 other U.S. academic institutions, such as Johns Hopkins and Princeton universities, that have become institutional members of the NCFDD.

“Joining NCFDD is a huge win in our effort to support and retain diverse faculty, students and staff on our campus,” said Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. “I know many individuals who insist that this valuable resource was a game changer in their success in the academy.

“I am glad that all members of our community will now have access to this benefit and I hope that many of them take full advantage of all that it has to offer.”

By becoming an institutional member, all faculty, postdocs, graduate students and staff at UM have access to the following member resources at no additional cost:

To take advantage of this opportunity, activate your confidential, personal membership by completing the following steps:

1) Go to

2) Choose “University of Mississippi” from the drop-down menu.

3) Select “Activate My Membership”

4) Complete the registration form using your institutional email address (i.e.

5) Go to your institution email to find a confirmation email. Click “Activate Account” in the confirmation email.

If you have questions or comments, contact Tanya Nichols, project manager for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, at, 662-915-2933. If you have any technical questions, email NCFDD at

Education Professor Wins Elsie M. Hood Teaching Award

Ann Monroe receives UM's top teaching honor with nominations from students

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter presents the 2018 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award to Ann Monroe, assistant dean and associate professor of teacher education in the UM School of Education, during Honors Convocation ceremonies April 5 at the Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Ann Monroe, assistant dean and associate professor at the University of Mississippi School of Education, is the 2018 recipient of the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, the highest honor a UM faculty member can receive for teaching.

Each year, the Hood Award honors one Ole Miss faculty member who represents the highest standard of teaching excellence and student engagement. Students and faculty submit letters of nomination and many award winners are nominated multiple times over years before being selected for the honor.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter presented the award Thursday evening at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts as part of the annual Honors Convocation.

“I am shocked and honored,” Monroe said. “I think that, to me, the most touching part of this award is the fact that the nominations came from students who took away something meaningful from their experience with me and had the willingness to take the time to share it.

“For me, that’s very special. I’m humbled that they would do that.”

During the ceremony, Vitter noted how Monroe’s professional accomplishments complement and inform her excellence in teaching.

“In reading her nomination letters, perhaps most impressive is how, through her example, she has shown her students the value of ‘paying it forward’ as a teacher,” he said. “She helps them see the rewards of teaching for their own merits, from the joy of being in the classroom to the value of engaging with students.”

An educator for more than 21 years, Monroe identifies herself as a third-grade teacher who is preparing future teachers for the classroom – a fact she is quick to point out to others. On the wall of her office in Guyton Hall, Monroe has framed photos of her third-grade classes from her first teaching job at Thrasher Elementary School in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, which she started in 1997.

Monroe still keeps up with a few of her first students – at least one has even crossed her path as an Ole Miss student. She estimates that she has taught more than 5,000 students in her career at both the elementary and college level.

“When I left my third-grade classroom, it was a bittersweet moment, but I had to do it to come here,” Monroe said.

“I still miss the opportunity to be in a third-grade classroom sometimes, but working at the university level, I don’t just impact 25 students at a time. I get the chance to impact future teachers who go on to inspire thousands. For me, that’s awesome.”

Monroe’s teaching philosophy centers on building relationships, and, that’s exactly what she instills in her students at Ole Miss. In their nomination letters, Monroe’s students describe her as “passionate,” “dedicated” and “enthusiastic,” among other praises.

“Teaching is not a one-way relationship,” Monroe said. “There needs to be opportunities for back-and-forth because your students are not going to learn from you if they don’t know you.

“I try to be a model of what good teaching looks like for my students so they can embody that in their own classrooms. I’m not just teaching content, I am teaching how to become an effective teacher. So, without modeling that in my classroom, my message is empty.”

Claire Rearick, a 2017 graduate from Diamondhead, is one of Monroe’s former students who nominated her for the Hood Award.

“Dr. Monroe values teaching and teachers,” Rearick wrote. “She has an excitement about teaching that is infectious. For any student who goes through the School of Education, Dr. Monroe’s name will always be thrown around. Students walking through the halls will advise all of their friends to take (her class).”

Graduating English education major Gaby Vogt, of Metairie, Louisiana, also nominated her favorite professor for the award.

“Although Dr. Monroe’s class was at 8 a.m., I managed to never miss a class,” Vogt wrote. “Dr. Monroe teaches with such passion and enthusiasm that you want to be in every class. Sitting in her classroom is like watching a Broadway performance.

“The stories she shared about her experiences as a third-grade teacher are ones that I will never forget. I have already taken so much of what I have learned from her class with me into my classroom as a student teacher.”

Monroe moved to Oxford with her husband, Stephen Monroe, UM chair of writing and rhetoric, in 2001 for graduate school. She started at the School of Education as a master’s student and teaching assistant.

“Stephen received a fellowship to study Faulkner at Ole Miss and I wasn’t about to let him go alone,” she said. “When I arrived in Oxford, I met with Dr. Fannye Love, the associate dean (of education) at the time, and she offered me an assistantship on the spot because I already had four years of teaching experience. We knew after our first year in Oxford that we wanted to go all the way here.”

In her effort to “go all the way,” Monroe said that she tries to “never say no to an opportunity.” As a result, she has held a series of roles at the school including teaching assistant, graduate instructor, instructor, doctoral student, visiting assistant professor, assistant professor, associate professor and, most recently, assistant dean and director of assessment.

She has also received multiple honors at the school level, including: Outstanding Doctoral Student in Elementary Education (twice), the Outstanding Teacher Award, the Outstanding Student Service Award and others.

Science education major Carly Rock of Oxford is also one of Monroe’s students.

“(Dr. Monroe) is setting the ultimate example of what we, as future teachers, should strive to be when we are teaching in our own classrooms one day,” Rock wrote. “One way I look at this award is that all of the previous recipients are outstanding professors in their content area for so many reasons, but they all have one thing in common … they started out in a classroom being taught by a teacher who inspired them.

“Dr. Monroe is that teacher who inspires us to go into the classroom and change the world one student at a time.”

Living Music Resource Goes Live to Levingston’s Carnegie Hall Concert

Nancy Maria Balach and UM students to interview pianist on location in New York

Nancy Maria Balach, associate professor of music and founder of Living Music Resource, and Bruce Levingston, the Chancellor’s Artist-in-Residence of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, (seated, center) work with four of Balach’s top students as they prepare to travel to New York City where they will produce a special ‘LMR Live’ program. The students are (standing, from left) Lacey Hindman, Melanie Culhane, Ava Street and Jocelyn Sanabria. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – When Bruce Levingston, renowned concert pianist and Chancellor’s Artist-in-Residence of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi, performs this month at Carnegie Hall, he will provide a unique educational opportunity for students involved in the Living Music Resource program.

Levingston and Nancy Maria Balach, UM associate professor of music and founder of Living Music Resource, are working closely together to give select students a chance to hear a great pianist in one of the world’s most prestigious concert venues and to assist with the production of an “LMR Live” program on location in New York City.

Balach, along with four of her top students, dubbed the “Dream Team,” will film and interview Levingston in New York as part of a special edition of “LMR Live,” an interactive web-based talk show series focused on “edutainment,” Balach said.

Living Music Resource was created as a vehicle to bring acclaimed professionals to Mississippi in general and UM in particular, as well as a way to showcase some of Mississippi’s finest artists, such as Bruce Levingston, who was born in the Delta,” Balach said. “LMR allows UM to be the portal for a 21st-century approach to musical experiences.”

LMR offers music majors exceptional educational experiences, links alumni with Ole Miss students and engages an international viewing audience.

Balach, a singer who has appeared throughout the U.S. and in Europe, is dedicated to bridging the musical traditions of the past with the resources of today, along with the latest technology, breaking boundaries between musical genres, redefining stereotypes of classical music, focusing on collaboration and inclusiveness, and being committed to community engagement.

LMR brings acclaimed artists and pedagogues, such as Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winners, Broadway and Metropolitan Opera stars, Ole Miss alumni and local artists, to Oxford. It allows students to interact with professionals in the music business through master classes, question-and-answer sessions and “LMR Live.”

The next “LMR Live” event will take place in conjunction with Levingston’s performance at Carnegie Hall on April 9, the date that Gov. Phil Bryant has proclaimed as “Bruce Levingston Day” in Mississippi. Levingston will perform the world premiere of new works of music he commissioned in honor of the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Mississippi Museum of History and in celebration of the state’s bicentennial.

“It’s a joy for me to work with Nancy Maria and these gifted students during this special weekend in New York City,” Levingston said. “Nancy Maria Balach is a visionary and her founding of the Living Music Resource program is helping to lead these young musicians and the university music program into the highest level of artistic engagement with the musical world.”

The four student members of the LMR Dream Team scheduled to travel to New York next month are: Ava Street, a junior education major and Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College scholar from Purvis; Jocelyn Sanabria, a senior vocal performance major from Atoka, Tennessee; Lacey Hindman, a senior vocal performance major who also is from Atoka; and Melanie Culhane, a graduate assistant from Memphis who is pursuing her master’s degree in vocal performance.

“LMR teaches students to market themselves, to discipline their lives and to continually better their craft through research and collaboration,” Street said. “Professor Balach has encouraged and inspired me to pursue greatness.”

Sanabria said Levingston’s rise to the top tier of internationally recognized pianist serves as an inspiration to her and other artists in the South.

“I am very excited to see Bruce Levingston perform in Carnegie Hall,” Sanabria said. “I hope that by being on location in New York City, we will be able to showcase what the University of Mississippi has to offer.

“I hope to return to UM a better musician with new connections for collaboration and methods for teaching.”

Besides having an opportunity to see Levingston perform at Carnegie Hall, Culhane said she is looking forward to working with her professor and fellow students to overcome whatever challenges may arise from producing a “LMR Live” program in an unfamiliar setting.

“It will be an experience that artistically minded individuals and people who appreciate art can enjoy,” Culhane said. “I think it’ll be a great experience for the LMR Dream Team to travel to New York City and to be working on location.”

Levingston, who is also the inaugural holder of the university’s Lester Glenn Fant Chair, said he is deeply moved by the students’ desire to come to see him perform in New York.

“These are incredibly talented students from the university who work with this wonderful LMR program, and I am inspired and honored by their interest in coming to this event,” Levingston said.

“They are the next generation of emerging artists who have much to give and much to teach. I know that I learn as much from them as they learn from me.”

Levingston’s enthusiasm in being a part of the “LMR Live” program illustrates the pianist’s heartfelt commitment to the university and its students, Balach said.

“I am truly fortunate to call Bruce Levingston a friend and a colleague at the University of Mississippi Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Department of Music,” she said. “He is a person dedicated to music, mentorship, education and public spirit.”

Many Mississippians are expected to attend the Carnegie Hall concert, and Balach encourages music lovers from the Ole Miss community to join them by securing tickets now.

“We cannot wait to be in the audience at Carnegie Hall and experience this Mississippi-born artist sharing musical excellence in New York City,” she said.

Everyone is invited to watch the “LMR Live” interview in real time from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. (CDT) Saturday (April 7) via the LMR website at The program also will be archived at this website for those unable to watch it live.



RFK’s ‘Delta Epiphany’ to be Discussed at Overby Center

UM professor to talk about her new book at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Bill Rose

OXFORD, Miss. – Ellen Meacham, author of “Delta Epiphany,” a new book on Robert F. Kennedy’s dramatic tour of the Mississippi Delta in 1967 and its impact on the region, will discuss her work at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday (April 3) at the University of Mississippi’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

Bill Rose, a former Overby fellow who was working as a journalist in the Delta at the time, will join Meacham in the discussion of her research and conclusions involving Kennedy’s foray to investigate the problems of hunger among poor people.

The event is free and open to the public, and a reception follows the program. Parking will be available in the lot adjacent to the Overby Center Auditorium.

“Ellen’s book is a valuable addition to the corpus of written material about Robert Kennedy,” Overby fellow Curtis Wilkie said. “Though other books have touched on Kennedy’s trip to the Delta, no one has concentrated on his mission among impoverished black families, an experience that lasted only one day but helped radicalize his politics for the remaining year of his life.”

This is the fourth in a series of programs at the Overby Center this spring dealing with social unrest in America in the 1960s that culminated in historic explosions in 1968 that included the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

Ellen Meacham

Meacham, a member of the Ole Miss journalism faculty, writes not only of the Congressional inquiry that concluded with stops in Greenville, Cleveland, Mound Bayou and Clarksdale in April 1967, but also explores the aftereffects that still have resonance in the Delta.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s trip, Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, led a well-publicized tour of the region last summer. In 1967, she was a civil rights attorney in Mississippi and served as Kennedy’s guide.

In one of Meacham’s final research efforts in a project that consumed nearly a decade, she traveled on the bus with Edelman.

“Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi” was published this spring by University Press of Mississippi.

Former Gov. William F. Winter has hailed the book.

“Ellen Meacham uses her superb talents as a historian and writer to record a transcendant … event in our state’s conflicted history,” Winter said.

Highly Anticipated Lens Collective Returns to UM

Events include mentoring, book signing and a tour of Delta locales

Students head to and from classes at Farley Hall, home of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi will host the Lens Collective, an annual multimedia workshop that features collaborations with mentors, students and eight universities, on March 28-31.

This year’s focus is on stories about civil rights in the Mississippi Delta.

“The Lens Collective is fun and intense,” said Alysia Burton Steele, UM assistant professor of journalism. “We have incredible mentors helping students and sharing their inspiring work.”

Three distinguished guests who mentor students and present their work are Smiley Pool, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist from the Dallas Morning News; Eric Seals, a nine-time regional Emmy Award-winner from the Detroit Free Press; and Josh Birnbaum, award-winning photojournalism professor at Ohio University and author of the coffee table book “Dream Shot: The Journey a Wheelchair Basketball National Championship” (University of Illinois Press, 2017).

Birnbaum will have a book signing as part of the activities. See for the schedule.

“We plan to take a bus tour in the Delta, enjoy dinner with people we’re documenting and will premiere student work on the last night of the program,” Steele said.

Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, has partnered with the Lens Collective to provide a civil rights heritage tour of the area. The tour will include the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden in Ruleville, the historic town of Mound Bayou and a Mississippi Delta soul food experience at The Senator’s Place restaurant in Cleveland.

Herts, Lee Aylward and Sheila Winters of The Delta Center organized the tour and connected the Lens Collective with Delta residents whose stories are being documented.

“We are pleased to host for a second year this group of talented students and mentors from across the country,” Herts said. “They are documenting and preserving important Mississippi Delta stories.”

This is also the second year the Ole Miss journalism school has partnered and will sponsor all other events, which provide an opportunity for participants to build their resumes and portfolios.

“Universities that can provide immersive field experiences to their students like the Lens Collective are taking their education seriously,” said Charles Mitchell, the school’s assistant dean. “They understand that classroom alone is not sufficient for a media practitioner.

“They find out how much fun it can be and their college work is better because seeing what it’s really like being out in the field inspires them.”

Events are free and open to the public. Meals are reserved for faculty and students only. For more information about the activities, go to

Overby Center to Host ‘A Conversation About Race’

Free event set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

OXFORD, Miss. – As the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. approaches, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi is hosting a discussion of race in America, featuring two authorities on the subject.

Gene Dattel, author of “Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure,” and Otis Sanford, who wrote “From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics,” will conduct “A Conversation About Race” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (March 28) in the Overby Center Auditorium.

The event is free and open to the public. Parking will be available in the lot outside the auditorium, and a reception follows the program.

“These two native Mississippians know about race naturally,” said Curtis Wilkie, Cook Chair and associate professor of journalism. “We look forward to having both of them back at the Overby Center.”

A native of Ruleville who lives in New York, Dattel appeared previously at the Overby Center in connection with his 2009 book, “Cotton and Race in the Making of America.” Mississippian Morgan Freeman said, “Gene Dattel’s book masterfully captures America’s history and its painful legacy.”

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a law degree from Vanderbilt University, he went to work in international finance. Dattel soon developed a reputation for his energetic exploration of racial problems in this country.

Sanford grew up near Como and graduated from UM in 1975. A frequent guest at the Overby Center, he had a distinguished career in journalism before joining the faculty at the University of Memphis, where he holds the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism.

A former managing editor of the Commercial Appeal, Sanford still writes a Sunday column for the newspaper. His extensive coverage of race in Memphis led to the publication of his book in 2017.

In its review, the Memphis Flyer praised Sanford for his “accuracy and grace” and called his work “a textbook case of how to handle the black and white realities of Memphis’s political evolution with appropriate shadings of gray.”

For more information, contact Curtis Wilkie at 662-915-1787.

UM to be Well Represented at Natchez Literary Celebration

Seven UM faculty and a student to be featured at 29th annual event

Charles Reagan Wilson

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will be well-represented at the 29th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration this week.

Besides the four William Winter Scholars from UM who will be recognized, two history professors will be honored and two additional professors will give presentations at the event, set for Thursday-Saturday (Feb. 22-24) at the Natchez Convention Center. Organized annually by Copiah-Lincoln Community College, the festival is free and open to the public.

As part of this annual event, students and faculty of the liberal arts departments from schools around Mississippi are recognized as William Winter scholars, in honor of former Gov. William Winter. Each winner will be recognized during the opening ceremony on Friday.

Harrison Witt

Attending as William Winter scholars from Ole Miss will be three faculty members: Beth Spencer, lecturer in English; Simone Delerme, McMullen assistant professor of Southern Studies and assistant professor of anthropology; and Harrison Witt, assistant professor of theatre arts. Laura Wilson, a graduate student in English, rounds out the William Winter scholars.

While one student and one faculty member from each university is typically recognized as a William Winter Scholar, UM was granted four representatives, said Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Russian and linguistics.

“I contacted the Department of English, theater arts, anthropology, sociology and Southern studies back in December asking for nominations,” Dyer said. “I explained that we would like the College of Liberal Arts to be represented in this.

“I was overwhelmed with the number of nominees I received from each department. Therefore, I emailed the head of the community college asking if Ole Miss could sponsor more than two individuals as this year’s William Winter scholars.”

Receiving the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence will be Charles Reagan Wilson, professor emeritus of history and Southern studies. The award, established in 1994, is named in honor of the famed Mississippi author and goes each year to outstanding writers and scholars with strong Mississippi ties.

Simone Delerme

Wilson, who recently retired as the Kelly Gene Cook Chair of History and Southern Studies at UM, is the author of many works of Southern history, including “Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause” and “Judgment and Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis.”

Previous winners of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence include Shelby Foote, Curtis Wilkie, Greg Iles, Barry Hannah, Beth Henley, Kathryn Stockett, William Raspberry, Rick Cleveland, Jerry Mitchell, James Meredith and Stanley Nelson.

The Thad Cochran Award for Achievement in the Humanities will be presented to David Sansing, UM professor emeritus of history and the author or co-author of several acclaimed history books, including “The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History,” “A History of the Governor’s Mansion” and “Mississippi Governors: Soldiers, Statesmen, Scholars, Scalawags.”

The Thad Cochran Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities, established in 2009, honors U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran for his support and tireless efforts on behalf of the humanities in the state. Lauded as “a driving force in supporting the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Arts Commission,” Cochran has been key to the success of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration and a member of the events’ steering committee, organizers at Copiah-Lincoln Community College said.

Beth Spencer

This award is presented to someone who, “like Sen. Cochran, has dedicated years of time, talent and expertise to the field of humanities in Mississippi and the surrounding region,” they said.

The theme of this year’s festival is Southern Gothic, and it will feature many different speakers touching on related topics. Among those giving presentations at the event are Jay Watson, the UM Howry Chair in Faulkner Studies and professor of English, who will discuss “William Faulkner and the Southern Gothic Tradition,” and Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism, who will discuss “The Journalism of the Ole Miss Riots.”

Dyer encourages UM faculty, staff and alumni to join the families and friends of the Ole Miss representatives who will be a part of this year’s Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. For more information, call 601-446-1208, email or visit

Tech Firm Official to Discuss New Technology’s Effect on Health Care

UM alumnus Jim St. Clair to present information on blockchain's potential to secure records

Jim St. Clair

OXFORD, Miss. – A technology called blockchain has drawn attention for its use of digital currencies, such as bitcoin, and for its potential to help identify and discredit “fake news” online. More recent discussions focus on its use to enhance security and operations in the health care industry.

Jim St. Clair, chief technology officer of the Dinocrates Group, will present “Blockchain: Separating Hype from Opportunity” at 7 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 22) in the University of Mississippi’s Overby Center Auditorium. Free and open to the public, St. Clair’s presentation will focus on how blockchain technology affects the creation, storage and transfer of health care documentation.

The discussion, sponsored by the UM interdisciplinary minor program in digital media studies, is a timely one, said Robert Cummings, the university’s executive director of academic innovation and associate professor of writing and rhetoric.

“Jim St. Clair will be promoting the use of blockchain technology for the secure sharing of health care documentation,” Cummings said. “The technology presents interesting affordances around security and authentication, which have received a lot of attention as applied to cryptocurrencies.

“However, there are additional applications of blockchain beyond bitcoin, which ultimately may prove more transformative.”

Blockchain involves a distributed database stored on multiple servers that provides a secure, traceable means of recording transactions, storing information and more.

St. Clair, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ole Miss, is also the founder of the Institute for Healthcare Financial Technology, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health care value chain to reduce costs and streamline access and delivery of health care. The institute builds on the innovations of financial, insurance and health care technology, especially in such concepts as distributed ledgers, blockchain, robotic process automation and artificial intelligence.

At Dinocrates, a boutique strategy and technology consulting firm, he leads the company’s transformation technology initiatives in the adoption of blockchain, robotic process automation and addressing ongoing challenges in security and compliance.

St. Clair’s talk will allow Ole Miss students and other attendees to learn more about blockchain technology and how it can affect the future of health care records.

For more information about the UM interdisciplinary minor program in digital media studies, go to


Fisk University Singers Coming to UM for Black History Month Concert

Thursday performance at Ford Center free to the public

The Fisk Jubilee Singers perform Feb. 22 for the first time at UM for the 2018 Black History Month Concert at the Ford Center. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Music is bringing the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers to campus this week for the university’s 2018 Black History Month Concert.

The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 22) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free and open to the public.

The concert is billed as “Be a Harmonizing Voice for Diversity” and also will feature the UM Concert Singers in a joint performance on the closing numbers. The Ole Miss African Drum and Dance Ensemble will perform as stage warmers before the show. The event is coordinated by George W.K. Dor, UM professor of music and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Chair of Ethnomusicology.

“We use the Black History Month Concert to promote and celebrate diversity,” Dor said.

“The concert will feature two ensembles, one from a predominantly black institution and the other from a predominantly white university. The optics of symbolic interaction can send a powerful message of the determination of these two universities, taking their diversity projects to another level.”

Paul Kwami, Fisk University professor and the director of the choral group, will present “The History of the Fisk Jubilee Singers,” at 1 p.m. in Nutt Auditorium. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Established in 1871, the Fisk Jubilee Singers are credited for popularizing “Negro spiritual” music in the United States and Europe. In the late 19th century, the group traveled all over the Northeast and ventured to England, Germany and other European nations, performing this unique American genre to help raise funds to prevent Fisk University’s closure.

By the end of the group’s tours, it had raised enough money to guarantee the school’s survival and build Jubilee Hall, the university’s first academic building.

Fisk University, founded in 1866, is a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee, and was a leader in ensuring education for African-Americans following the Civil War. Notable alumni include sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Dubois, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel O’Leary, U.S. Rep. John Lewis and acclaimed pianist Matthew Kennedy.

Karen Davidson Smith, UM clinical assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, attended Fisk University and was a member of the Jubilee Singers from 1990 to ’94. The Oxford native said she is excited “beyond words” to have the celebrated choral group at Ole Miss.

More than 150 years after the group’s founding, “the Jubilee Singers are still spreading magic through music that is both enchanting and thrilling,” Davidson Smith said.

“As a graduate of an historically black college who now teaches at a predominantly white institution, I have often felt that no one here is really interested that my culture is in full existence,” Davidson Smith said. “I am excited that both majority and diverse students have an opportunity to learn about the rich history of the Jubilee Singers and Fisk University.”