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.

Jeffrey Vitter Inaugurated as UM Chancellor

Leader unveils several initiatives to move university 'from great to greater'

Jeffrey Vitter was officially named 17th Chancellor of the University of Mississippi during his Investiture ceremony Thursday, Nov. 10. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Jeffrey Vitter was officially named 17th chancellor of the University of Mississippi during his investiture ceremony Thursday (Nov. 10). Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi community celebrated a momentous occasion in the university’s life Thursday (Nov. 10) afternoon with the investiture of its 17th chancellor, Jeffrey S. Vitter.

In his inaugural address, Vitter called on the Ole Miss family to imagine what the future could look like if the full power of higher education was used to help people lift themselves above their circumstances and disadvantages.

He went on to recognize and praise the legacy of excellence that has grown at the university over recent decades through the efforts of visionary administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, government leaders and friends who have invested their time, talents and resources.

“We are standing atop a peak in our history, and, from where we now stand, we can see higher peaks,” Vitter said. “In becoming what we are, we have created greater capacity for what we can be.”

The new chancellor declared that the university must continue to seek greatness and announced that he will call on the UM community to develop ideas for high-impact multidisciplinary research initiatives called Flagship Constellations.

These clusters of faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners will tackle compelling challenges that require multidisciplinary collaborations. The Flagship Constellations will include joint degree programs across disciplines and campuses, engage in strategic growth of graduate programs, and develop key partnerships revolving around innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Just imagine what we can do if we identify universitywide priorities where we can be international leaders in addressing the important challenges in our state and world,” Vitter said. “Imagine what we can do if we take our collective strengths, leverage them, exploit multidisciplinary synergies and in the process come up with imaginative solutions to these grand challenges.

“No one discipline has all the answers, and only collaboration and deep insights from multiple points of view will discover solutions. Intersecting our disciplines will take many forms.

“As an example, imagine what we can do when we build upon the momentum from our recent CEO Technology Summit to establish an interdisciplinary program in data science and big data, which will inform and support discovery and decision making across the spectrum from health and medicine to science and engineering to the arts, humanities and social sciences.”

This is not the first time Vitter has encouraged input and collaboration from the Ole Miss community. In January, he conducted the Flagship Forum, a 100-day listening and learning tour from which emerged four themes for the university to create a roadmap into the future: academic excellence, athletics excellence, building healthy, vibrant communities and being key enablers of people, places and resources.

He also held a town hall meeting in August based on these four themes that resulted in more than 550 ideas for opportunities at the university.

Vitter also announced plans Thursday to develop a cultural gateway to the UM campus east of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The goal is to bring together arts and cultural programs and create space for performance, experiential learning and enrichment opportunities.

He also plans to increase the university’s endowment from the existing $600 million to $1 billion. Those plans include an athletics endowment initiative, an endowment specifically to support the development, retention and engagement of talented staff, and growth of faculty excellence by creating new endowed professorships around the Flagship Constellations.

About 1,200 state officials, guests and members of the university community gathered for the ceremony at the Ford Center. Glenn Boyce, Mississippi commissioner of higher education, administered the oath of office.

“Dr. Vitter, I charge you to preside with fairness, humility and strength, striving always for excellence, knowledge and truth,” Boyce said. “I charge you to maintain and celebrate a climate that encourages the search for truth, a passion for justice and an expansion of the limits of knowledge. I charge you to serve the university with good stewardship, to protect and defend the university and to build the university to heights never before seen.”

In response to Boyce’s charge, Vitter responded in a uniquely Ole Miss fashion with the opening lines of the Hotty Toddy cheer: “Hell yeah, damn right.”

U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker highlighted previous accomplishments and welcomed Vitter to Ole Miss.

“Ole Miss continues to grow and prosper, producing leaders that have helped shape it into the world-class university it is today,” Cochran said. “I look forward to working with Chancellor Vitter to build on these successes. I look forward to seeing Ole Miss prosper and grow under his leadership.”

Wicker noted the historic nature of opportunities ahead.

“Chancellor Vitter has an impressive record upon which to build,” Wicker said. “His job is straightforward. Keep this historic university a place where Faulkner and Welty and Willie Morris can coexist with cutting-edge technology.

“Know this, Dr. Vitter: hundreds of thousands of alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends are counting on you and wishing you the best.”

Vitter said he was drawn to Ole Miss because of its rich tradition of academic excellence, strong sense of community and recognized history as an economic driver and thought leader.

He closed his address with a challenge to the university community.

“The next chapter in the life of this magnificent university sits squarely in all of our hands, waiting to be written – and read by future generations,” Vitter said. “All of us will ultimately be defined by what we leave behind.

“It is our destiny as a flagship university to desire more, to give more, to be more and to leave more behind. It is our calling to transform lives, communities and the world.”

For the full text, visit http://inauguration.olemiss.edu/.

UM Chancellor’s Investiture Hails Transformative Power of Higher Ed

Inauguration for Jeffrey S. Vitter set for 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at Ford Center

Commencement 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Commencement 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Jeffrey S. Vitter will be inaugurated as the 17th chancellor of the University of Mississippi on Nov. 10 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The investiture ceremony, scheduled for 3 p.m., is the centerpiece of a monthslong celebration focused on the inauguration’s theme – selected by Vitter and reflecting an area of deep commitment – “The Power of Higher Education to Transform Lives, Communities and World.”

The investiture of a university chancellor formally installs the institution’s highest-ranking officer, confers upon him the ceremonial accoutrements of office, and gives the larger academic and civic communities an opportunity to convene and celebrate their shared values.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to officially follow in the footsteps of the superlative leaders who have served the University of Mississippi as chancellor,” Vitter said. “I have accepted the leadership role of this great flagship university with an urgent sense of purpose that we have a unique responsibility to transform and elevate our citizens through the opportunities offered through higher education. Nothing is more important to the future success and vitality of society.”

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning named Vitter chancellor on Oct. 29, 2015. The former University of Kansas provost, executive vice chancellor and Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor took office on Jan. 1, 2016.

While serving as provost, Vitter initiated a campuswide strategic plan to transform KU into a top-tier research university. He also oversaw the creation of the first universitywide KU Core curriculum, expansion of the schools of Engineering, Business and Pharmacy, and the growth of multidisciplinary research, funding and entrepreneurship.

Vitter brings that same progress-minded leadership of advancing excellence in learning, discovery and engagement to take the university from great to greater.

Although steeped in tradition, investiture is a time to reflect on UM’s many successes, and an opportunity for the new chancellor to share his goals for the future of the university, said Morris Stocks, provost and executive vice chancellor, as well as chair of the Inaugural Steering Committee.

“The ceremony officially installs Dr. Vitter as our chancellor, and gives him a platform from which to discuss themes that are so important to the entire university community,” Stocks said. “It also marks the start of an exciting new era in the history of the University of Mississippi, an era that will build on the accomplishments of those who came before us and touch the lives of countless people who will come after us.”

In addition to Vitter’s keynote address about the strengths of the university and his vision for the future, the ceremony is slated to include presentations by Brice Noonan, chair of the Faculty Senate; Hal Moore, president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association, Gazel Giles, president of the Staff Council; Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine; and Austin Powell, president of the Associated Student Body.

In celebration of the inauguration, the university is hosting a number of campus events that can be found at http://inauguration.olemiss.edu/. Two such events include the UM Innovation and Entrepreneurship Panel, which was conducted Friday at Holman Auditorium, and the International Reception on Tuesday (Nov. 1) at the Inn at Ole Miss.

The university is encouraging participants posting about inauguration events on social media to use #PowerofHigherEd in recognition of the theme.

A native of New Orleans, Vitter graduated in mathematics with highest honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1977 and earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University in 1980. He also holds an MBA from Duke University.

To allow students, faculty and staff to watch the inaugural ceremony, the university has canceled all classes scheduled between 2:15 and 5 p.m. Nov. 10.

Following the inauguration ceremony, the university community is invited to join Vitter in the Grove for a reception and an opportunity to interact with the new leader from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Those not able to attend the ceremony can watch it from their home or office because it will be streamed live starting at 3 p.m. To view the ceremony, visit http://www.youtube.com/olemiss.

Sue Keiser Named UM Chief of Staff

Longtime staff member represents chancellor's office on campus and beyond

Sue Keiser. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Sue Keiser. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Chancellor Jeff Vitter has announced that Sue Keiser, special assistant to the chancellor, is his new chief of staff.

“I am very pleased that Sue has agreed to assume the role of chief of staff,” Vitter said. “For almost 20 years now, she has been a cornerstone for our university and brings tremendous experience, knowledge and dedication to the position.

“Sue is one of our most respected and well-known ambassadors. She is absolutely the best representative Ole Miss could have, and I rely on Sue on a daily basis.”

Keiser has been with the university since early 1998, serving primarily as assistant to four chancellors. However, her connection to Ole Miss goes back much further. She came to UM from Greenville as a nontraditional student in the late 1970s, when she earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

“To be asked to serve as chief of staff to the chancellor for the University of Mississippi – an institution that opened the doors to a completely new world of knowledge and opportunity that changed the direction of my life and my children’s lives more than 35 years ago – is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me,” Keiser said.

“I am honored that Chancellor Vitter has entrusted me with this responsibility, and I look forward to working with him as we continue to change and transform lives through education in the future.”

Her duties include responding to a variety of questions and concerns from IHL board members, alumni, students and other members of the university community. She acts as a liaison between the office of the chancellor and vice chancellors and various departments and constituents on the Oxford campus.

Keiser also oversees the chancellor’s office and its staff, and serves as a chancellor’s office representative on many university committees.

She was honored with the Staff Council’s Outstanding Staff Member-Overall award in 2006.

She is married to Edmund Keiser, professor emeritus and chair emeritus of the university’s Department of Biology. She has four children, Mark, Skip, Julie and Jen, and six grandchildren.