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 nlcc@colin.edu or visit http://www.colin.edu/communit.

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 https://catalog.olemiss.edu/dig-media-st.

 

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.”

UM to Explore State of Education for African-American Students on Tuesday

'The Conversation Continues' panel discussion takes place on campus at 6 p.m. as part of Black History Month

OXFORD, Miss – The state of education for African-American students in Mississippi and strategies to ensure these students receive an equitable education will be explored during a panel discussion at the University of Mississippi on Tuesday.

“The Conversation Continues” will take place at 6 p.m. in Guyton Annex 209. One of UM’s Black History Month events, the discussion is sponsored by the UM School of Education, and the public is invited to attend.

The panel will feature full-time graduate students who are studying education as well as some who are already working in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms in the north Mississippi area, said Nichelle Robinson, diversity officer and associate professor with the School of Education.

Robinson said the title of the event refers to the conversation on this topic that began at a School of Education symposium held in September. During last semester’s symposium, a panel discussion focused on the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared the state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional.

Last semester’s symposium asked the question, “Where is Mississippi 63 years after the court case of Brown v. the Board of Education?” The panel featured individuals who were knowledgeable about the history of education in Mississippi and included members from the Mississippi Department of Education, policymakers, professors and journalists.

Tuesday’s panel discussion will continue this discussion but feature the perspective of students in the school’s doctoral program.

“My thing was, you know what, let’s keep the conversation going that we started in September,” Robinson said. “But this time, let’s use our doctorate students. They are actually in the classroom every day, working with these kids.

“I want to see what their take on the topic is, and see if it is different from the policymakers and those who participated in our panel back in September.”

The panel discussion will be moderated by Steve Becton, associate program director for urban education at Facing History and Ourselves. Panelists will be Alina Harges, special education teacher; Mark Jean-Louis, educator in leadership; Becky Nance, math teacher; and Erica Avent, an elementary schoolteacher.

For more information about this event, contact Robinson at ncboyd@olemiss.edu.

Newell Turner to Receive 2018 Silver Em

UM's highest award in journalism goes to editorial director of Hearst Design Group

Newell Turner

OXFORD, Miss. – Newell Turner, a former University of Mississippi magazine student who rose to become the Hearst Design Group editorial director, will be presented the Silver Em, the University of Mississippi’s highest award in journalism, at a campus event April 18.

Turner is responsible for the collective editorial direction of ELLE DECOR, House Beautiful and Veranda magazines. He served five years as the 22nd editor-in-chief of House Beautiful, and in 2012 under Turner’s leadership, the magazine won its first National Magazine Award for general excellence – the industry’s equivalent of an Oscar – and was a finalist in the category in 2013.

The Silver Em is usually given to a native or resident of Mississippi who has excelled in the field of journalism and media, said Samir Husni, professor and director of the Magazine Innovation Center. Turner was one of his early magazine students.

When Dorothy Kalins, then-editor-in-chief of Metropolitan Home magazine, visited Ole Miss in the mid-1980s, she was impressed by Turner’s passion for the magazine industry.

“Newell, who was in my class, asked her a few questions that left an impact on her,” Husni said. “When she went back, she called and said, ‘Samir, I have an assistant position. I would like to offer it to Newell.'”

Husni said he encouraged Turner to take the job, saying, “If you are going to be in this profession, those opportunities don’t knock twice.”

Turner took the job and eventually became editorial director of the Hearst Design Group, a leader in the publishing world with the development of innovative editorial production models and business strategies across print and digital platforms.

Turner has reported on interior design, architecture, product design and the lifestyles of upscale consumers throughout his 30-plus year career, which has included positions at House & Garden and Metropolitan Home magazines. He was also the founding editor of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens and its sister publications: Palm Beach Cottages & Gardens and Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Southern studies with advanced work specializing in magazine design, all from Ole Miss. Turner is a member of the American Society of Magazine Editors and a trustee on the board of the New York School of Interior Design.

“The roster of Silver Em honorees ranges from difference-makers at the national level to those who made their home state and communities better places to live and work,” said Charles Mitchell, associate dean of the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “Newell Turner has certainly earned a place in this distinct group.”

The Silver Em award dates to 1958, and recipients must be Mississippians with notable journalism careers or journalists with notable careers in Mississippi.

The April 18 Silver Em event and dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium. It coincides with the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience, set for April 17-20. The theme of the 2018 annual magazine industry conference is “Print Proud, Digital Smart.”

PREVIOUS SILVER EM HONOREES

 

1958 – George W. Healy Jr.

1959 – Turner Catledge

1960 – Kenneth Toler

1961 – John Oliver Emmerich

1963 – George McLean

1964 – William B. Street

1965 – Purser Hewitt

1966 – Hal C. DeCell

1967 – Paul Pittman

1968 – Hodding Carter Jr.

1969 – Willie Morris

1970 – T.M. Hederman Jr.

1971 – Joseph R. Ellis

1972 – Wilson F. Minor

1973 – Mark F. Ethridge

1975 – H.L. Stevenson

1976 – William Raspberry

1977 – Joe L. Albritton

1978 – James A. Autry

1979 – James Nelson

1980 – Mary-Lynn Kotz

1981 – Curtis Wilkie

1982 – Harold Burson

1983 – John O. Emmerich

1984 – Hazel Brannon Smith

1985 – Charles Overby

1986 – W.C. “Dub” Shoemaker

1987 – Charles Dunagin (2)

 – Larry Speakes (2)

1988 – Edward Fritts

1989 – Rudy Abramson

1990 – Hodding Carter III

1991 – James L. McDowell

1992 – Rheta Grimsley Johnson

1993 – Dan Goodgame

1994 – Robert Gordon

1995 – Jere Hoar

1996 – Gregory Favre

1997 – Stephanie Saul

1998 – Lerone Bennett

2000 – Jerry Mitchell

2001 – Bert Case

2002 – Ira Harkey

2003 – Jim Abbott

2005 – Otis Sanford

2006 – Dan Phillips

2007 – Stanley Dearman

2008 – Ronnie Agnew

2009 – Stan Tiner

2010 – Terry Wooten

2011 – Patsy Brumfield

2012 – Greg Brock

2013 – W. Randall Pinkston

2014 – Fred Anklam Jr.

2015 – Bill Rose

2016 – Dennis Moore

Honors College Spring Convocation to Focus on Human Trafficking

Freedom for All founder Katie Ford to speak at Tuesday evening event at UM

Katie Ford, founder and CEO of the anti-human trafficking foundation Freedom for All, is the featured speaker for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Spring Convocation at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 20) at the Ford Center. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The issue of human trafficking will take center stage at this year’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Spring Convocation as Katie Ford, the legendary former CEO of the iconic Ford Models Inc. modeling agency, is the guest speaker.

Ford, founder and CEO of the anti-human trafficking foundation Freedom for All, will be joined onstage by Shandra Woworuntu, a survivor of human trafficking who is another leader in the fight against human trafficking around the world.

All members of the University of Mississippi and Oxford community are invited to attend this free program at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 20) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Human trafficking touches the lives of millions of people around the globe and is one of the most lucrative illegal industries. Nearly 46 million people are in slavery, more than at any other time in history, according the 2016 Global Slavery Index. Human trafficking also generates $150 billion in global profits, and is listed as the second-most profitable criminal industry after drug trafficking, according to information on the Freedom for All website.

Ford became more familiar with the issues surrounding human trafficking during her longtime involvement in the modeling and fashion industries.

“As CEO of Ford Models, I brought models from over 50 countries to the United States,” Ford noted in information posted to her Freedom for All website. “Because most were foreign and young, they were potentially vulnerable.

“Ford Models had a history of protecting young women and men by producing housing, shelter, food and medical care if needed. The work I do to fight human trafficking and forced labor is inspired and informed by my previous work.”

Ford said she is pleased to have the opportunity to continue this conversation on the Ole Miss campus.

“I am very much looking forward to speaking at the University of Mississippi and discussing these important issues with students from the Honors College,” she said.

After selling Ford Models in 2007, Ford chose to further develop her philanthropic interests, including founding Freedom for All. The foundation creates programs and media campaigns to combat human trafficking in all its forms, including sex trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor and child labor.

For her anti-human trafficking work, Ford has received numerous honors, including the Women Together Award at the United Nations and the Changing the Game Award from the Advertising Women of New York, both in 2010. She has served as a member of the UN Give Women Leaders’ Council and sits on the board of directors of Verite, the leading international business adviser on forced labor.

Ford holds a bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College and an MBA from Columbia University.

Freedom for All partners with a variety of other organizations that are making long-term, systematic changes to end slavery in their respective justice and penal systems in countries around the world, including the United States. They also rehabilitate, educate, and provide job training and shelter to survivors, and help establish community prevention programs.

One of the organizations Freedom for All works closely with is the Mentari Human Trafficking Survivor Empowerment Program Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps survivors reintegrate back into the society and live independently. Mentari was founded in 2014 by Woworuntu after her own harrowing experience as a victim of human trafficking.

Human trafficking survivor Shandra Woworuntu joins Katie Ford onstage at the Honors College Spring Convocation. Photo courtesy Leslie Menocal Photography

Woworuntu, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance and banking management, worked in Indonesia as a financial analyst and treasury manager before political turbulence and religious persecution convinced her to find a new job in the United States.

She traveled to the U.S. in 2001 to pursue what she believed would be a job opportunity with a major hotel in Chicago. However, after arriving in New York, Woworuntu was sold into the underground sex business by an international human trafficking organization.

Eventually she was able to escape, and she worked closely with the New York Police Department to prosecute her traffickers. Safe Horizon New York, a nonprofit organization, assisted Woworuntu with her efforts to stay legally in the U.S.

Her experience inspired Woworuntu to become an advocate against human trafficking and violations of women and children’s rights. In 2011, she co-founded a survivor leadership program called Voices of Hope, facilitated by Safe Horizon. Three years later, she was instrumental in establishing Mentari.

“We are trying to raise awareness of the risks of coming to the U.S. among people who still see this country as some kind of dream land,” Woworuntu told the BBC in 2016. “Every year, 17,000 to 19,000 people are brought to the U.S. to be trafficked.

“Not all victims of trafficking are poor. Some, like me, have college degrees. I have helped a doctor and a teacher from the Philippines. I have also helped men who were trafficked, not only women, and one person who was 65 years old.”

Woworuntu was appointed by former President Barack Obama to the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. She has lectured at colleges about human trafficking as well as at symposiums and conferences around the world. A New York resident, she was named a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth honoree in 2017.

“We are absolutely honored to have the chance to hear these two influential and courageous women,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Honors College. “We invite the UM community to join us as they tell their personal stories about how their lives were changed and how they have changed lives regarding one of the most important issues of our day.”

In connection with the topic of this year’s Spring Convocation, the Honors College offered a course on Human Trafficking–Law and Policy that is being taught by Michele Alexandre.

To learn more about Freedom for All, visit http://www.freedomeforall.org. To learn more about Mentari, visit http://www.mentariusa.org/.

Ole Miss Theatre Production of ‘Zombie Prom’ Opens Friday

Zany musical features contributions by army of students, faculty and staff

UM students (front, from left) Abby Wilson and Josh McLemore, and (back, from left) Ginnie Brown and Riley McManus rehearse for the Ole Miss Theatre production of ‘Zombie Prom,’ which opens Friday (Feb. 16) at Meek Hall Auditorium. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Zombies are roaming about campus at the University of Mississippi, but rather than seeking out human prey, these ghouls are singing and dancing.

The Ole Miss Theatre production of “Zombie Prom,” the third production of the year, opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Feb. 16) in Meek Hall Auditorium. The show runs through Feb. 25. Tickets, priced at $20 apiece, are available through the Ole Miss Box Office in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts or online at https://olemissboxoffice.com/.

“Zombie Prom” is set during the atomic bomb scare of the 1950s. Senior Josh McLemore, a musical theatre major who has appeared in 10 plays since his freshman year, stars as Jonny Warner, the show’s lead character.

‘”Zombie Prom,’ a musical about teen love in the 1950s and what it takes to accept someone for who they are, sounds more poetic than it actually is,” McLemore said. “My character, Jonny Warner, is a bad-boy, greaser type, who has fallen in love with Toffee.

“Jonny grew up an orphan, and to him, Toffee is the only person in his life who has ever loved him, so things get interesting when her parents force her to break up with him.”

Sophomore business and theater major Ginnie Brown plays the role of Candy. Brown has appeared in one other Ole Miss Theatre production and knows what goes into pulling off a production of this size.

“It definitely takes a village to put up a show!” Brown said. “For example, in ‘Zombie Prom,’ we have 10 cast members, nine understudies, a director, three assistant directors, a stage manager and four assistant stage managers.

“That’s 28 people, and there is probably the same amount, if not more, (of) designers and crew members.”

To prepare for the opening, the cast began rehearsing two weeks before the start of spring semester. The cast rehearses six days a week for three hours, with rehearsals overseen by director Rene Pulliam.

The Department of Theatre Arts has 13 full-time faculty members. Although the success of a production depends mostly on the cast and crew, productions would not run as smoothly without the department’s faculty.

“I think casting is definitely a huge part of the production and probably sways how some things are going to be put into motion,” McLemore said. “However, the faculty works really hard and schedules design, concept and production meetings before and throughout the rehearsal process.

“They determine how everything will be built, paid for, designed, and discuss the themes of the show. Those meetings are really what make the production come to life, not the casting, in my opinion.”

Ole Miss Theatre opens auditions to the entire student body as well as the Oxford community. However, theater majors always participate in a production in some manner.

Brandon Skaggs, project coordinator for the production department, shared what goes on behind the scenes.

“A lot of the students in our department help out with the productions, whether with props, costumes, scenes or ushering at the different performances,” Skaggs said. “Students within the department create a lot of the costumes and sets that are used in the show.

“We actually have a scene shop in the back of Fulton Chapel where students can get hands-on experience building sets.”

Each season, the Department of Theatre Arts puts on four productions, two per semester. Courses in the department touch on areas of musical theater, acting, costume and set design, lighting, sound design, dancing, and cinema production and acting.

“Ole Miss’ theater department is very professional,” Brown said. “We follow the same structures and guidelines as set by Actors’ Equity, which hundreds of actors and stage managers are part of on Broadway and throughout professional performance groups.

“It definitely is preparing all of us within the department for the real world of working in theatre after we graduate.”

For more information about dates and times for “Zombie Prom” or future productions, visit http://theatre.olemiss.edu/index.html.

UM to Launch New Program for International Students

Agreement supports recruitment and academic success, enhances university's global reputation

Officials from the University of Mississippi and Boston-based Shorelight Education gather in the Lyceum to observe the signing of a contract that will help attract more international students to the state’s flagship university. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

BOSTON and OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and Shorelight Education have agreed on a new joint program that will broaden global access to UM’s highly regarded undergraduate and master’s degrees for international students.

This new partnership will support the recruitment, retention and success of international students at Ole Miss, as well as elevate the global presence of the university.

UM and Shorelight will together create an innovative program to enhance the educational experience of students who come to Ole Miss from around the world, as well as those students who come from every county in Mississippi, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said, announcing the agreement.

“In today’s increasingly interconnected world, we continually strive to attract students from many backgrounds and to educate our students – tomorrow’s leaders – to prosper in a global society,” Vitter said. “Creating an atmosphere that welcomes and celebrates a broad spectrum of cultures, experiences and populations goes hand in hand with fostering academic excellence.”

The development and implementation of the partnership is expected to broaden educational opportunities for students from across the globe by helping them successfully transition to UM. With an English language accelerator program and intensive advising and acculturation experiences, the program will help the university become a model for international access and student success for both undergraduate and graduate students.

“Shorelight is thrilled to create a program with the University of Mississippi that will provide international students with a life-changing educational experience at a premier U.S. higher education institution,” said Tom Dretler, CEO of Shorelight Education. “Ole Miss is the perfect learning environment for this innovative program.”

The partnership, approved recently by the board of trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, also will promote recruiting international students for direct admission to the university.

“This strategic initiative advances the university’s goal to educate and engage global citizens,” said Richard Forgette, UM associate provost. “It is essential for UM students to be able to thrive in a global economy and society.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter signs a contract partnering the University of Mississippi with Boston-based Shorelight Education to attract more international students to the university. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“This new partnership will strengthen the university’s reputation as an international campus by showcasing our excellent academic programs while also promoting our student diversity.”

Shorelight Education’s recruitment network will highlight the university’s stellar academic programs and attract high-achieving students from around the world, said Blair McElroy, UM interim senior international officer and director of study abroad.

“We are excited for the opportunities available through this partnership in increasing international student enrollment at the University of Mississippi,” she said. “International undergraduate and graduate students will be supported through a streamlined application process and ‘high-touch’ student services.

“Collaborating with Shorelight Education will also be beneficial by providing all UM students with global experiences as international students join classrooms in disciplines all over campus and bring a variety of perspectives into the learning environment at Ole Miss.”

Increasing enrollment of international students and helping all Ole Miss students become globally minded alumni will prove beneficial to every UM student and the entire state, Vitter said.

Shorelight Education CEO and co-founder Tom Dretler signs a contract partnering with the University of Mississippi to attract more international students to the university. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“As we strive to prepare our students to prosper in a global society, our international students – with a rich diversity of talents, cultures and contributions – enrich and enhance the vitality of our university and our state,” he said.

The first students are expected to arrive in 2019.

Members of the community are invited to a Provost Forum on Internationalization and the Shorelight Partnership at 3:15 p.m. Jan. 30 in the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, third floor multipurpose room.

About the University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is the state’s flagship university. Included in the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, it has a long history of producing leaders in public service, academics and business. With nearly 24,000 students, Ole Miss is the state’s largest university and is ranked among the nation’s fastest-growing institutions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school, nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy, and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action.

About Shorelight Education

Shorelight Education is reinventing the international education experience for students worldwide. Based in Boston, the company partners with top-ranked, nonprofit American universities to build comprehensive programs and services that are both high-touch and technology-driven to help talented students succeed on campus and become globally minded alumni.

Mississippi Governor Proclaims April 9 as ‘Bruce Levingston Day’

UM artist-in-residence to celebrate honor with concert at Carnegie Hall

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has proclaimed April 9, 2018, as ‘Bruce Levingston Day’ in Mississippi. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – As a result of his celebrated performances in some of the world’s most renowned concert halls, his series of critically-acclaimed albums and a lifelong commitment as a supporter of the arts, Delta-born classical pianist Bruce Levingston has enhanced Mississippi’s international reputation as a cultural center.

In recognition of Levingston’s artistic contributions to the culture and people of the state, Gov. Phil Bryant has proclaimed April 9, 2018, as “Bruce Levingston Day” in Mississippi.

“Bruce Levingston has been our greatest ambassador for the arts in Mississippi,” Bryant said. “He has reached the pinnacle of the classical music world and has represented the best of Mississippi all over the globe. I am honored to recognize Bruce’s many achievements with this deserving proclamation.”

Levingston, the Chancellor’s Artist-in-Residence of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi and the inaugural holder of the university’s Lester Glenn Fant Chair, will observe the day with a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

This April 9 concert will feature Levingston performing 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. He introduced a brief portion of this music last month when he performed at an opening ceremony for the two new museums in Jackson.

“I am humbled and touched by this honor,” Levingston said. “I love my home state of Mississippi and I am moved beyond words to be recognized in such a way. I want to thank Gov. Bryant and the wonderful people of our state for their longtime support of our work in the arts.

“I am grateful to have been born in a place so rich in cultural history that produced writers like William Faulkner and Eudora Welty, musicians like Leontyne Price, Muddy Waters and B.B. King, and painters like Theora Hamblett and Marie Hull.”

The announcement about the “Bruce Levingston Day” proclamation comes as Levingston releases his seventh solo album, “Windows.” Levingston’s focus for this recording, available Friday (Jan. 26), is on works which, he writes, “reflect a myriad of overlapping artistic influences” and feature compositions that are influenced by painting, poetry and nature.

On the same day the album is released, tickets go on sale for Levingston’s Carnegie Hall concert. Centerpieces of the concert will include the world premiere performances of the new works celebrating the bicentennial of Mississippi by composers David T. Little and Mississippi-born Price Walden.

These upcoming projects are among the latest highlights of Levingston’s multifaceted career that already contains numerous accomplishments, many of which are mentioned in the governor’s proclamation.

For instance, the proclamation notes that while he was born in Greenville and raised in Cleveland, Levingston studied at notable universities in the United States as well as in Sion, Switzerland, and The Royal Conservatory of Toronto as a Rotary International Fellow. He regularly performs in prestigious venues such as the Royal Opera House of London, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the United Nations in New York, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Teatro Reggio in Italy, Teatro del Lago in Chile, Theatre de Croissette in Cannes, France, and in music festivals throughout the world.

Even though Levingston’s artistic abilities have taken him around the world and earned him international acclaim, he continues to devote much of his time, energy and talent to promoting the culture and people of Mississippi.

He is the author of “Bright Fields,” the biography and survey of the works of famed Mississippi artist Marie Hull, and he served as the curator of the largest exhibition ever assembled of Hull’s works at the Mississippi Museum of Art. He received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2006 and was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2017.

Despite an intense schedule, Levingston continues to perform throughout the state, including giving a concert in Tupelo earlier this week. As the Honors College artist-in-residence and Fant chair, he teaches seminars and classes at Ole Miss, mentors numerous students and plays an instrumental role in bringing prominent guest speakers and performers to campus.

Eleanor Anthony, an Honors College graduate who is finishing her law degree at Stanford University School of Law, said of her experience as Levingston’s student:

“Bruce has been an invaluable mentor to me and countless other Mississippi students. His unique perspective, incredible talent and dedication to teaching are outstanding, as is his commitment to introducing students to some of the most important artists, thinkers and leaders today. Whether Bruce is on a stage or in the classroom, he remains an advocate for his students, sharing his successes with them as he empowers them to seek their own.”

Designating April 9 as “Bruce Levingston Day” is a well-deserved honor for someone so devoted to his home state and Ole Miss, Chancellor Jeffery Vitter said.

“This proclamation is an outstanding way to recognize and honor Bruce for his phenomenal talent and steadfast commitment to raising the profile of the arts in Mississippi,” Vitter said. “We are particularly grateful that Bruce is a vital member of our University of Mississippi community.

“Beyond his tremendous stature as an internationally-renowned artist, he is also well known for excellence in teaching and for the exceptional opportunities he brings to our community and state. This distinction is further recognition that Bruce’s name is rightfully included among the cultural greats of Mississippi and our nation.” 

For more information about the April 9 concert at Carnegie Hall, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2018/04/09/bruce-levingston-0730pm. For more information about Levingston’s latest album, visit http://www.brucelevingston.com/news/.

Volunteers Sought to Fight Poverty in Region

North Mississippi VISTA Project accepting applications for terms beginning in February

OXFORD, Miss. – The North Mississippi Volunteers in Service to America Project is recruiting members for a yearlong term of service beginning Feb. 5, 2018.

The VISTA Project, which is led by the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi, sponsors 13 organizations and has a capacity to host 25 full-year VISTA members serving throughout north Mississippi and the Delta. The McLean Institute, directed by Albert Nylander, UM professor of sociology, has a seven-year relationship with the Corporation for National and Community Service.

VISTA members commit to a year of service where they focus on building sustainable capacity within community-based organizations and delivering a measurable impact on the populations that they serve. VISTAs work to manage and recruit volunteers, create opportunities for low-income youth, build social entrepreneurship, write grants, increase access to higher education and more.

“My service years with VISTA have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said VISTA leader Edy Dingus. “The opportunities that I’ve been given as a VISTA have allowed me to develop my professional skills, while ensuring that our campus and community partners have sustainable systems to further their missions to alleviate poverty through education.”

The North Mississippi VISTA Project seeks to place members at several community partner organizations, including the Lafayette Literacy Council in Oxford, United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County, Crenshaw Elementary School, DeSoto County Youth Court in Hernando and North Panola High School in Sardis.

Prospective applicants must be motivated, reliable team players who are at least 18 and have earned at least a high school diploma or GED.

Besides yearlong VISTA members, the North Mississippi VISTA Project is also seeking an AmeriCorps VISTA leader to support members and strengthen the program through professional development, performance measurement and building partnerships. This person will be based at the McLean Institute and work closely with VISTAs placed in the program.

To be considered for this position, applicants need to have completed at least one year of VISTA service or one term of full-time service, serving 1,770 hours or more, with either AmeriCorps State and National or Americorps National Civilian Community Corps, or at least one traditional term of Peace Corps service. They should have demonstrated leadership ability to work constructively with community volunteers, supervisors, sponsoring organizations and low-income communities.

Interested individuals are invited to visit http://vista.olemiss.edu for application instructions for both service opportunities. Applications are being accepted.

In the next year and beyond, the North Mississippi VISTA Project will continue to develop host sites around the area, cultivating projects and placing VISTAs with community partners that fight poverty through education. In the 2017-18 program year, the project will bring nearly $600,000 to the region.

Examples of VISTA projects include programmatic and fundraising collaborations for LOU Excel By 5 and many other nonprofits around the community, the Traveling Trunks program at the UM Center for Archaeological Research and a mentoring program connected to the DeSoto County Youth Court.

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

Denae Bradley, a 2015 Ole Miss graduate who served as a VISTA with the university’s Office of Sustainability, is pursuing a master’s degree in sociology with a focus on race and ethnicity, community development, and poverty.

“I served with NMVP because it felt right,” Bradley said. “Our duty as humans should be to take every opportunity we get to impact the lives of people forgotten within the system. NMVP welcomed me with open arms and made my year of service feel that much more worthwhile.”

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

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

Nylander, too, said he looks forward to recruiting new members and expanding the program.

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

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