North Mississippi VISTA Project Hosts Donation Drive for Veterans

OXFORD, Miss. – In honor of the Sept. 11 Day of Service, the North Mississippi VISTA project is hosting a communitywide donation drive for the veterans in residence at the State Veterans Home in Lafayette County.

The Volunteers in Service to America project encourages community members to donate items requested by the State Veterans Home, including wheelchair bags, headphones, acrylic paint and art supplies, black ink pens and stationery supplies, Kleenex, and candy. Donations will be accepted during normal business hours at the Chamber of Commerce, Volunteer Oxford and the United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County.

The drive is ongoing through Sept. 22.

The North Mississippi VISTA Project sponsors 18 organizations throughout north Mississippi and the Delta. VISTA members commit to one year of indirect service where they focus on building sustainable capacity within community-based organizations.

“The Days of Service allow our VISTAs several chances to join direct service efforts throughout the year,” says VISTA leader Edy Dingus. “We hoped that this drive would highlight the importance of impactful service by connecting our community to our VISTAs and our veterans.”

The VISTA Donation Drive for Veterans is just one of the scheduled activities offered through Volunteer Oxford and community partners in honor of the Sept. 11 Day of Remembrance.

For more information about the drive or the North Mississippi VISTA Project, contact VISTA leaders Shannon Curtis and Edy Dingus at VISTA@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2397.

Barbour to Receive Geographic Visionary Award

UM's Mississippi Geographic Alliance to honor former governor Sept. 7

Haley Barbour

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Geographic Alliance at the University of Mississippi will honor former Gov. Haley Barbour with its MGA Geographic Visionary Award at the fifth annual awards ceremony Sept. 7.

News analyst, White House correspondent and author Ellen Ratner will be the keynote speaker. The event is set for 6 p.m. at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.

“Knowing geography is essential to understanding history,” Barbour said. “If you don’t understand history, you are doomed to repeat it.” 

Barbour will join Ambassador John Palmer (2013), George Schloegel (2014), U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (2015), and William Winter and Leland Speed (2016) as Geographic Visionary award recipients. The award honors a Mississippi business or civic leader who recognizes the importance of global understanding and awareness for Mississippians and/or promotes understanding about Mississippi in other parts of the world.

The Jess McKee Award for Distinguished Service to Geography Education also will be presented at the event to Steven White, a teacher at Pearl High School.

“I am very pleased to congratulate Gov. Barbour on this well-deserved recognition of his leadership,” said UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, who plans to attend the event. “From economic development to disaster preparedness and recovery, Gov. Barbour has had a tremendous impact upon the state of Mississippi.

“He understands that success in the modern world depends upon being able to work globally. His leadership has enhanced Mississippi’s global stature and positioned our state to compete for and win important economic development projects.”

As governor, Barbour helped connect Mississippi to the world through his work in recruiting major international companies, including Toyota, and by investing in manufacturing. He was nationally recognized for his swift response during Hurricane Katrina, and he received the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award and the Gulf Guardian Award for his work in helping to rebuild Gulf of Mexico ecosystems.

“His national and international reach along with his long history of supporting education, make him an excellent fit for the Geographic Visionary award,” said Carley Lovorn, assistant director of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance.

“Exports support tens of thousands of jobs in Mississippi. As foreign investment continues to increase in our state, it is more important than ever that we recognize Mississippi leaders who help connect us with the global economy. The MGA Geographic Visionary Award does just that.”

White, a National Geographic Certified Educator and MGA teacher consultant, has held numerous education leadership positions in the state, including officer positions in the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance. He was Rosa Scott High School’s Teacher of the Year 2012-13, the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year 2003-04 and winner of the Jesse Palmer Award for Mississippi Social Studies Educator of the Year in 2015.

In recent years, he has served on staff for the Pre-Service Geography Conference, a geography education conference for education students around the state. He has also served as a judge and scorekeeper for the state-level National Geographic Bee and is a three-time winner of educational and technology grants for enhancing classroom geography education.

He is past president and assistant director of the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies and team leader for public policy for the Mississippi Geographic Alliance. In 2013 he was one of eight in the nation to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award for K-12 educators at the National Conference on Geographic Education.

Mississippians interact with people, companies and governments around the world. The state exports billions of dollars in products to more than 100 countries each year.

The Mississippi Geographic Alliance, part of National Geographic Society’s Alliance Network, helps prepare Mississippians to interact with the world by increasing geographic literacy through geography education services including outreach to civic leaders and policymakers, awareness raising among the general public, and professional development for K-12 educators.

All proceeds from the MGA Geographic Visionary Awards will go directly toward funding MGA programs in the state, including giant map programs for students and professional development for K-12 teachers.

Sponsorships at multiple levels are available. For more information on sponsorships and registration, go to http://mga.olemiss.edu/events/ or call the MGA office at 662-915-3776.

About the Mississippi Geographic Alliance: The Mississippi Geographic Alliance at the University of Mississippi works to strengthen geographic literacy in the state of Mississippi. A member of the nationwide network of state alliances sponsored by the National Geographic Society, MGA uses workshops, online resources and other programs to help educators prepare students to embrace a diverse world, succeed in the global economy and steward the planet’s resources. For more information, visit http://mga.olemiss.edu/, or contact Carley Lovorn at mclovorn@olemiss.edu or 662-915-3776.

Dedication of New Medical School Bodes Well for Health Care’s Future

Building will allow UMMC to increase class sizes, help fill state's need for new doctors

Johnny Lippincott, a fourth-year student in the UM School of Medicine, addresses a
crowd of dignitaries, students and faculty during dedication ceremonies for the new medical school.

JACKSON, Miss. – Elected officials and other dignitaries attending Friday’s (Aug. 4) dedication of the University of Mississippi’s new, $74 million School of Medicine building celebrated a new era in medical education and health care for the state.

The breadth of the 151,000-square-foot facility on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus means more space for students, more students for each class and, consequently, more doctors for Mississippi.

“This remarkable building will be filled with students endowed with the seeds of greatness,” said Gov. Phil Bryant, who addressed a gathering of an estimated 200 officials, students, faculty members and other guests in the ground-level entrance lobby, before the formal ribbon-cutting.

The facility presents these students with “the greatest opportunity for success,” Bryant said.

Featuring the institution’s familiar, yellow-brick facade, the building’s five stories offer its students something they haven’t had for many years: a single, purpose-built facility, a home of their own.

Dr. Ford Dye, a member of the board of the State Institutions of Higher Learning, said, that as a graduate of the medical school in the 1990s, “I look around at this building and I realize my timing was bad.”

The medical students’ new home replaces a disjointed collection of accommodations and services, including classrooms, labs, lecture halls and training centers – a dispersal resulting from six decades of expansion.

“A glorious chapter is beginning in the history of education in Mississippi,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“History is all around us and is part of this day. It reminds me that we are doing something important. … Something that future stories will be made of.”

The new School of Medicine stands five floors high and has square footage of about 151,000 feet.

For many of those who worked for and supported the construction of the building, this is part of the story that resonates the most: The dimensions allow for a boost in the size of each entering class, and larger classes mean more physicians will be trained each year in Mississippi, a fact noted by Jeffrey Vitter, UM chancellor.

Adding physicians to the state’s workforce, he said today, will “improve access to quality health care for the citizens of Mississippi.”

Mississippi ranks last, at roughly 185 doctors per 100,000 residents, as reported in 2015 by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The only other medical school in the state is at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, which opened in fall 2009 and awards the Doctor of Osteopathy degree, while the university’s offers the Doctor of Medicine, or M.D.

The hope is that many of the school’s graduates will stay in the state, which U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper encouraged them to do in his address: “I say this to the medical students, ‘There’s no place like Mississippi. … There’s no place better.'”

With the new school building, plans are to expand entering class sizes from around 145 students to 155, and to eventually top off at approximately 165 – the total considered necessary to meet the state’s goal of 1,000 additional physicians by 2025.

“This is a project that had unanimous support in the Mississippi Legislature,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “Everyone in the Legislature recognized the need.”

Located on the north side of the campus, between the Student Union and the Learning Resource Center, the site is the educational core of the Medical Center. The building’s neighbors include the schools of Dentistry, Pharmacy and the Health Related Professions, along with the emerging School of Population Health housed in the new Translational Research Center.

The two other schools represented on campus are nursing and graduate studies in the health sciences.

Financing of the new medical school included state funds and a $10 million Community Development Block Grant awarded through the Mississippi Development Authority and administered through the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District for site and infrastructure work.

Construction was the job of general contractor Roy Anderson Corp., headquartered in Gulfport. Two architectural firms worked in tandem: Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons Architects and Engineers P.A. in Jackson, and Eley Guild Hardy Architects P.A., which has offices in Jackson and Biloxi and designed the Robert C. Khayat Law Center in Oxford.

In Jackson, the task was to build and design the replacement for a school housed in the original Medical Center complex, which opened in July 1955 and, at 490,000 square feet, was considered one of the biggest, and most modern, buildings, in the state.

Over the years, demands for space grew, and, as the Medical Center spread out, the medical school splintered into a network of disconnected sites, including some makeshift offices and labs.

 On top of that, by the early 2000s, the AAMC had predicted a nationwide doctor shortage and asked medical schools across the country to pump up class sizes by about 30 percent. Accreditation standards were also changing, and in order to meet them, the School of Medicine would need more room, an increase and upgrade in simulation facilities, additional classrooms that accommodate interactive group learning, and more.

It was clear to Medical Center officials that a new, state-of-the-art facility was more likely to meet the future needs of medical students. A succession of vice chancellors, including Woodward, guided the venture, starting with Dr. Dan Jones and Dr. James Keeton.

Promoted by administrators as a potential economic development boon, the project gained the support of lawmakers and Bryant, who was lieutenant governor at the time.

After years of planning, UMMC officials staged a ceremonial groundbreaking Jan. 7, 2013 in the parking lot that has been transformed into a new medical school.

“Who would think you would have an emotion about a building?” said Keeton, a 1965 medical school alumnus who retired with emeritus status this year. One of those emotions is “joy,” he said today.

As for the new crop of medical students arriving next week, he said, recalling his own first days as a first-year medical student, “Let me tell you what their emotion is right now: fear.”

Students were among the members of a steering committee that brought back ideas from other medical schools when this one was being planned. For instance, the twin amphitheaters, which function as lecture halls, are modeled after Emory University’s and offer advanced AV equipment, integrated sound systems and sound-dampening features.

Overall, in the words of architect Rob Farr, the design is “student-focused.” The building’s southern face overlooks a courtyard and brings in natural light to student work and study areas.

The second level is organized for “student movement,” while the upper floors are focused on teaching stations and support areas that frame a space-organizing central atrium.

Some architectural details are homages to tradition, as well as to the medical profession: Certain areas are appointed with glass etched with rolling lines simulating an EKG; on the floor of the lobby where the dedication was held is a representation of the great seal of the university: a human eye surrounded by the sun; a wall of the student lounge is decorated with medical terms.

The cutting-edge simulation training area has a dedicated floor and was made possible in great part by nearly $5 million in grants from the Hearin Foundation. It is equipped with a mock operating theater – funded by the UMMC Alliance and the Manning Family Foundation – virtual reality spaces with high-fidelity task trainers, a clinical skills center, flexible-use spaces and more.

“Over the course of the next 50 years, we’re going to deliberately wear it out,” said Dr. Loretta Jackson-Williams, professor of emergency medicine and vice dean for medical education, referring to the building as a whole.

Fourth-year medical student Johnny Lippincott, president of the class of 2018, said he’s particularly proud of the way the building’s technological components are designed to be able to adapt to future updates.

In his remarks today, he also praised the facility’s spaciousness and homage to “natural light.”

Ultimately, though, he said, “This is all about what we do for our future patients.”

The upshot, from the ground up:

Ground floor: Office space, student lounge, cafe, storage lockers

First floor: Classrooms, group studies, twin amphitheaters, Legacy Wall (bearing the names of donors and relating the history of UMMC)

Second floor: Classrooms and group studies (mostly repeats first-floor layout)

Third floor: Basic and Advanced Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training Center, wet and dry labs, training and group study rooms, expandable conference rooms

Fourth floor: Office of Interprofessional Simulation Training Assessment Research and Safety, exam and simulation rooms, Standardized Patient training (with actors who portray patients)

The public is invited to explore the building, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday during an open house with self-guided tours and hosts on each floor.

Volunteers Sought to Fight Poverty in Mississippi

North Mississippi VISTA Project accepting applications for terms of service beginning in August

Jeffrey Peavey, a former VISTA with Delta State University, and Shannon Curtis, co-leader of the North Mississippi VISTA Project, visit while working on a community project. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The North Mississippi VISTA Project is recruiting members to begin a yearlong term of service in August. The Volunteers in Service to America Project sponsors 14 organizations and can recruit up to 25 full-year VISTA members to serve throughout north Mississippi and the Delta.

The University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, directed by Albert Nylander, professor of sociology, works with the Corporation for National and Community Service and to lead the North Mississippi VISTA Project.

VISTA members commit to one year of service, where they focus on building sustainable capacity within community-based organizations and delivering a measurable impact on the impoverished populations they serve.

“My years serving with VISTA have been two of the most enriching and fulfilling professionally and personally of my life,” VISTA leader Shannon Curtis said. “My time in service with the North Mississippi VISTA Project has allowed me to hone skills and knowledge that allows me to build capacity for my sites, as well as my own resume, while working toward eradicating poverty in Mississippi.”

The North Mississippi VISTA Project is recruiting for several organizations based on campus and in Lafayette County, including sites such as the University Museum and the United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County. Positions outside the county include Title I school districts and nonprofit organizations such as the North Panola School District and Sunflower County Freedom Project.

Prospective applicants must be motivated, reliable team players who are 18 years or older and have earned at least a high school diploma or GED. Interested individuals are invited to visit http://vista.olemiss.edu/ for application instructions. The priority deadline for applications is May 1.

Project leaders plan to continue to develop host sites around north Mississippi, cultivate projects and place VISTAs with community partners that fight poverty through education. In the 2016-17 program year, the VISTA project contributed more than $650,000 to the region.

Alumna Lauryn DuValle, who served as a VISTA with at the UM School of Education before becoming a North Mississippi VISTA leader, is an Eli J. Segal Policy Fellow at the Service Year Alliance in Washington, D.C.

“My experience with the North Mississippi VISTA Project helped me garner the resilience necessary to succeed in life,” DuValle said. “The supportive collaboration of university students, faculty, staff, Mississippi’s many communities and the passion led by my fellow VISTAs helped in solidifying the theory of serving your fellow man as a means of us all succeeding. We are only as great as the least of us.”

Many North Mississippi VISTA alumni have gone to graduate programs at Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University and Stanford University, as well as to find work in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

For more information on VISTA service opportunities, contact VISTA leaders Sara Baker and Shannon Curtis at VISTA@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2397.

Marty Stuart to Headline Concert at Mississippi Bicentennial North

June 24 event also features Mac McAnally, Steve Azar and salute to state's musical heritage

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant join country singer Steve Azar, Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson and Craig Ray, director of Visit Mississippi, at Rowan Oak to announce plans for the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration North, set for June 24 in Oxford. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Country and Americana music legend Marty Stuart will headline the Governor’s Concert at the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration North, set for June 24 in Oxford. The free event is part of celebrations around the state during 2017.

“In a state known for master storytellers, Oxford is a literary capital,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “There is no better backdrop for a celebration featuring some of Mississippi’s greatest songwriters than the land of William Faulkner, where our literary tradition thrives.”

Stuart will lead the Governor’s Concert lineup at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi. The Philadelphia native began his career as a sideman for country legends Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash before striking gold and platinum in his solo career, which spans more than three decades.

The Governor’s Concert also will feature singer-songwriter Mac McAnally, a hitmaker for Kenny Chesney and Alabama and a longtime member of Jimmy Buffett’s backing band, plus Mississippi’s Music and Culture Ambassador, Steve Azar, and Shannon McNally.

“We Are Mississippi,” a salute to the state’s musical heritage conducted by Jay Dean, executive director of the Arts Institute of Mississippi, will kick off the concert. Additional acts in the showcase include Vasti Jackson, the Roots Gospel Voices of Mississippi, 2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest winner David Lee, the Mississippi Bicentennial Symphony Orchestra, the Mississippi Bicentennial Singers and the 200-voice Mississippi Bicentennial Chorus.

“As shown by our more than 200 Blues Trail and Country Music Trail markers, Mississippi is very fortunate to have generations of talented musicians to lead us in celebration during the bicentennial year,” said Glenn McCullough Jr., executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

The Bicentennial Celebration North officially begins from 5 to 6:30 p.m. June 23 with the “Mississippi: 200 Years of Statehood” exhibit in the Faulkner Room at university’s J.D. Williams Library. A live taping of Thacker Mountain Radio in the Grove will follow at 7 p.m.

“The state’s bicentennial celebration is a great opportunity to showcase the wonderful Lafayette-Oxford-University community and all of the north region,” UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We appreciate all the hard work by the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration Commission and partner organizations to mark the 200th anniversary of Mississippi’s statehood.”

All events during the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration are free and open to the public. Due to limited seating, the Governor’s Concert is free with ticketed admission. Attendees must reserve tickets online at http://www.visitmississippi.org/200. Visitors are limited to two tickets each.

“By hosting these bicentennial events in three major regions of the state, we are able to celebrate with our towns and communities and showcase what makes Mississippi truly great,” said Craig Ray, Visit Mississippi director.

Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration events are also planned for Dec. 9 in Jackson during the grand opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. For more information on the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration, visit http//www.visitmississippi.org/200.

Entrepreneur Center Presents 2017 Spring Webinar Series

Financing to be focus of next panel

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Development Authority’s Entrepreneur Center continues its 2017 Spring Webinar Series at noon Tuesday (April 18) with a panel presentation on financing, moderated by Robert Hough of Trustmark Bank.

The webinar series is designed to help both aspiring and existing entrepreneurs boost their business profile in communities around the state.

The webinars are presented in partnership with the University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement. All sessions start at noon and end promptly at 12:50 p.m.

To register for week two, go to http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EC59D785814638.

The remaining schedule for the 2017 Spring Webinar Series:

April 25 – Business Modeling, presented by Joe Donovan, Entrepreneur Center director

May 2 – Minority Certification, by Derek Finley, of the MDA Minority and Small Business Development Division

May 9 – Social Media, by Tim Mask of Maris West & Baker

For more information, contact Nash Nunnery at nnunnery@mississippi.org.

McLean to Host Hope Credit Union Founder Bill Bynum

Public invited to Tuesday's free event

Bill Bynum

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement will host Bill Bynum, CEO and founder of Hope Credit Union, Tuesday (Feb. 21) in the Robert C. Khayat Law Center auditorium as part of Black History Month observances.

The 5 p.m. event is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will follow Bynum’s address, which is titled “Poverty and Mobility in Mississippi.”

Bynum has dedicated his career to improving the lives of financially vulnerable populations by providing them with increased economic opportunities. With 14 locations in Mississippi, Hope Credit Union assists hundreds of thousands of Mississippians in building assets and improving their lives by providing access to high-quality financial products and services.

The McLean Institute shares Hope’s vision to provide people with the tools and resources to foster community development, with a specific focus on using education to fight poverty and further the engagement of the university with communities throughout the state.

The McLean Institute’s CEED Program, or Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, works to empower students and faculty to create community partners and engage purposefully in the economic advancement and development of these communities.

Vera Gardner, a CEED innovation scholar, spent last summer leading financial literacy workshops in Vardaman. With support from Catholic Charities and the Caterpillar Foundation, Gardner worked with Laura Martin, assistant director of the McLean Institute, to provide residents of Calhoun County useful tools and resources to improve their financial literacy.

“In my first year of involvement with McLean through the CEED program, I have already seen how student engagement can impact individuals within a community,” said Nikki Park, a CEED innovation scholar. “I saw how children attending Vera’s classes in Vardaman understood basic financial concepts that had been foreign to them at the beginning of the workshop.

“I have seen the excitement in young kids from our own Oxford and Lafayette County communities as they open their own bank accounts through McLean’s LOU Saves program, which combines asset building with financial education.”

By continuing to learn from leaders like Bynum, McLean Institute officials hope to create effective and sustainable programs that improve Mississippian’s quality of life.

The mission of the McLean Institute is to advance transformative service at the university and to fight poverty through education in Mississippi. The mission of Hope Credit Union is to strengthen communities, build assets and improve lives in economically distressed areas of the Mid-South by providing access to high quality financial products and related services.

Statement from Chancellor Vitter regarding misunderstandings related to sanctuary campus

“There have recently been misunderstandings arising from a draft student resolution and online petition calling for the University of Mississippi to become a sanctuary campus. To be clear, the university does not have the power or ability to create a ‘sanctuary’ that would be exempt from any federal or state laws. As I stated on Nov. 29, the University of Mississippi will continue to uphold all federal and state laws, as well as policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. As a public institution of higher education, we will always focus upon education and the success of our students.”

North Mississippi VISTA Project Seeks Recruits

Sixth year of community-building program begins in January 2017

nmvp-logo-copyOXFORD, Miss. – The North Mississippi Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA, Project is recruiting members interested in helping community organizations that combat poverty across the region for the coming year, its sixth year of operation.

The VISTA Project, which is overseen by the University of Mississippi’s  McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, sponsors 15 community-based organizations and has funding for up to 25 full-year VISTA members to serve throughout north Mississippi and the Delta. 

The McLean Institute is a natural home for the North Mississippi VISTA Project, which previously was administered by the university’s College of Liberal Arts, said Albert Nylander, a professor of sociology and McLean Institute director.

“The McLean Institute’s mission of advancing transformative service and fighting poverty through education in Mississippi is bold,” Nylander said. “This initiative will continue establishing and fostering beneficial partnerships and programs that advance education in underserved communities across the state.”

Prospective applicants must be motivated, reliable team players who are 18 years or older and have earned at least a high school diploma or GED. Interested individuals can visit http://vista.olemiss.edu/ for application instructions. The deadline for applications is Dec. 12.

North Mississippi VISTA Ellen Olack (left) helps with Food Day activities at the Ole Miss Student Union. Submitted photo

North Mississippi VISTA Ellen Olack (left) helps with Food Day activities at the Ole Miss Student Union. Submitted photo

“The work of our VISTA members has been exemplary,” said Stephen Monroe, UM assistant dean of liberal arts and founder of the North Mississippi VISTA Project. “Across Mississippi, VISTAs have strengthened vital nonprofits and schools; they have written and received dozens of grants; they have organized national days of service; they have increased our flagship university’s capacity to connect meaningfully to neighboring communities.

“All of this work has shared the singular purpose of fighting poverty through education. We are proud of our previous VISTAs and excited about the future.”

VISTA members commit to one year of service within community-based organizations. VISTAs work to manage and recruit volunteers, create opportunities for low-income youth, build social entrepreneurship, write grants and increase access to higher education.

“Service has long been a part of my life,” VISTA leader Sara Baker said. “The opportunity to serve as a VISTA has allowed me to develop the skills to ensure that our campus and community partners create sustainable systems to further their missions to alleviate poverty.”

The NMVP serves several organizations based on the Ole Miss campus or in Oxford, including Good Food for Oxford Schools, the Horizons summer program, the Lafayette County Literacy Council and the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies. Positions outside Lafayette County are available at Crenshaw Elementary School in Crenshaw, North Panola High School in Sardis and Youth Opportunities Unlimited in Marks.

In the next year and beyond, the NMVP will continue to develop host sites around north Mississippi, cultivating projects and placing VISTAs with community partners that fight poverty through education. In the 2016-17 program year, the VISTA project will bring more than $650,000 to the region.

North Mississippi VISTAs Liam Clements and Chelsea Herbert (right) work the United Way booth in the Grove at the University of Mississippi. Submitted photo

North Mississippi VISTAs Liam Clements and Chelsea Herbert (right) work the United Way booth in the Grove at the University of Mississippi. Submitted photo

Examples of VISTA projects include the creation of College Corps, programmatic and fundraising collaborations for LOU Excel By 5 and many other nonprofits in the community, the Traveling Trunks program at the UM Museum, and a mobile farmers market that offered fresh, local produce to residents of low-income housing developments.

Most VISTAs have been recent graduates of UM programs, such as the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Sylvia Stewart, who graduated from UM in 2014 and served as a VISTA with the United Way before becoming a North Mississippi VISTA leader, is studying poverty alleviation at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

“For me, the most fulfilling aspect of serving with the North Mississippi VISTA Project was being part of the movement to make Mississippi a better place,” Stewart said. “I feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to meet and work alongside the intelligent, caring and passionate people involved in the struggle to alleviate poverty in our community.

“The friendships and professional relationships I formed will forever impact my life. I found my calling working with VISTA, but I also gained the skills to make my professional aspirations a reality.”

Many other VISTAs have followed a similar path, going on to graduate programs at Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, Stanford University and the University of Georgia.

“Community partnerships inspire the work of the McLean Institute,” said Laura Martin, assistant director of the McLean Institute. “We are thrilled to support VISTA members as they build capacity among our campus and community partners to impact quality of life in Mississippi.”

The association with the McLean Institute will help sustain and expand the VISTA Project, Nylander said.

“The goals and mission of NMVP and the McLean Institute align perfectly, and we look forward to NMVP’s future growth and continued success,” he said.

For more information on VISTA service opportunities, contact VISTA leaders Sara Baker and Shannon Curtis at VISTA@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2397.

Provost Stocks Announces Return to Full-time Faculty Status in the Patterson School of Accountancy

Chancellor names Wilkin as interim provost and will appoint committee to conduct national search

Morris Stocks. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Morris H. Stocks announces he will return to faculty of the Patterson School of Accountancy. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. — The University of Mississippi announced today that its provost and executive vice chancellor, Morris H. Stocks, will return to the faculty of the Patterson School of Accountancy after serving in high-level administrative roles for over 14 years. For the past nine years as provost, interim chancellor and executive vice chancellor, Stocks has provided vision and leadership related to many academic honors and advancements at the university. His move to the faculty takes effect Jan. 1, 2017.

“I consider it a high privilege and a great honor to have served the University of Mississippi as provost for the last nine years,” Stocks said. “The university has changed tremendously during that time and is poised for new academic directions and challenges. I am confident about the future of the university and look forward to joining my colleagues in the Patterson School of Accountancy as a faculty member.”

“Dr. Stocks has served the University of Mississippi exceptionally well for almost a quarter of a century, and in the last nine years he has played a pivotal role in our dramatic gains in important metrics such as enrollment and retention rate,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “I am personally grateful to Morris for his friendship, guidance and institutional knowledge during my transition to Ole Miss. I believe that we are all ultimately remembered for what we leave behind. Morris’ administrative legacy is substantial, and the fruits of his work will be visible across our campus and state for years to come.”

Noel Wilkin, currently senior associate provost, will serve as interim provost and executive vice chancellor pending a national search for a permanent replacement.

“I am very grateful to Dr. Stocks for his leadership and for serving as both a mentor and friend to me over these past years,” Wilkin said. “It is my goal to continue the commitment to excellence and access that he started as we build on this solid foundation of accomplishment. I am happy to know that he will stay in the Ole Miss family as a professor.”

Under Stocks’ leadership as the university’s chief academic officer, overall student enrollment has grown by over 40 percent and minority student enrollment has grown by over 60 percent. Student success measures have also improved with freshman retention and six-year graduation rates each increasing by roughly 7 percent.

As Stocks noted, “I am thankful that the university has maintained its commitment to access and excellence, and that we have measurable outcomes that demonstrate our commitment.”

In addition to his many accomplishments as a higher education administrator, Stocks is — first and foremost — a highly talented teacher, having won the coveted Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award in 1998 as a member of the faculty of the Patterson School of Accountancy.

“While we respect and reluctantly accept Dr. Stocks’ decision to leave his administrative role, we are thrilled that he will reassume a faculty position and continue to influence the lives of our students,” Vitter said.

Before assuming the provost responsibilities, Stocks served the university as senior vice chancellor for planning and operations and as dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy. Under his leadership as dean, the Patterson School was ranked for the first time in its history as one of the top 25 accounting programs in the country, a status it has retained ever since. Before his service as dean, Stocks was associate provost for three years, with responsibilities for the academic budget and undergraduate curriculum.

Stocks’ accomplishments include a number of actions to advance diversity and inclusion on the UM campus.

“Dr. Stocks has long been a strong and consistent force in the development and implementation of measures such as the UM Creed and the 2014 action plan for diversity,” said Donald Cole, assistant provost and assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs. “Morris is a trusted friend and seasoned administrator who realizes the importance of diversity in the pursuit of academic excellence, and I have leaned heavily upon his wisdom during my tenure here. His legacy of service forms a strong base for our continued focus on these important areas.”

A highly respected and beloved member of the UM faculty since 1991, Stocks’ colleagues note his change of roles with mixed feelings.

“I understand Dr. Stocks’ decision to return to the faculty after many years of hard work on the tough academic issues and challenges that face a university,” said Sue Keiser, chief of staff to the chancellor, “and I will miss our daily interactions — both as colleagues and as friends — which were always marked by kindness and warmth.”

Stocks received his undergraduate degree in accounting from Trevecca Nazarene University, his master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. He is a certified public accountant in the state of Mississippi. He and his wife, Cindy, have four adult children.

Wilkin received both his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and his Ph.D. degree at the University of Maryland and joined the UM pharmacy faculty in 1996. He has received a number of academic honors and was recognized as teacher of the year three times by the UM School of Pharmacy. Wilkin currently serves as senior associate provost, professor of pharmacy and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.