UM Family Remembers Jeanette Phillips for Courage, Service

Longtime administrator forged career of teaching and upgrading nutrition programs

Jeanette Phillips. Photo courtesy of The Oxford Eagle

OXFORD, Miss. – Fearless. Gracious. Principled. Kind. A pioneer. Charming, with “a backbone of forged steel.”

There is no shortage of flattering terms used when people remember Jeanette Phillips, former professor and chair of the University of Mississippi’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management. Phillips, 85, died June 13.

A native of Kewanee, just east of Meridian, Phillips earned a bachelor’s degree from Blue Mountain College in 1953, a master’s degree in home economics from UM in 1954 and a doctorate in 1973. She spent decades teaching at Ole Miss and served as department chair, but was also one of the most respected child nutritionists in the country and successfully brought the National Food Service Management Institute (now the Institute of Child Nutrition) to the university in the early 1990s.

She mentored thousands of students and many faculty members during her time on campus. Kathy Knight, associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management who joined the faculty in 1985, is one of those who learned so much from Phillips.

“She really helped me as a young faculty member,” Knight said. “When I got here, I was green as grass and didn’t know anything. She showed me how to be a professional young woman when, back then, there weren’t very many role models for us.”

With her calming influence, Phillips served as a mentor, adviser and confidant to both teachers and students, Knight said.

“I just don’t know anyone who went into her office and didn’t come out feeling better,” Knight said.

Phillips caring nature and calm demeanor didn’t ever prevent her from taking a stand for what she thought was right. Home economics programs faced elimination in the 1980s, but Phillips, who was then chair, made students aware the program was in peril. They began protests that ultimately saved it.

She went to Jackson to advocate on behalf of keeping home economics at Ole Miss and never wavered in her conviction that it was important.

“She had a backbone of forged steel,” Knight said. “She saved our department.”

Phillips began her teaching career in 1954 at Hurricane High School in Pontotoc County and went from there to University High School in Oxford. After three years, she became a member of the home economics faculty at Ole Miss, teaching family life, nutrition and marriage-focused courses.

Her life’s work was teaching and upgrading nutrition programs throughout the state and nation.

Phillips won many awards, including the university’s Outstanding Teacher Award, the School of Education’s Outstanding Teacher Award, Magnolia Award, Mississippi Dietetics Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession of Nutrition and the Leston L. Love Award for Outstanding Service in the Area of Students and Mortar Board, among others.

She was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, an honorary fraternity that honors excellence in scholarship, leadership and service at the university.

Jim Payne, dean of the School of Education in the 1980s, was among Phillips’ friends and colleagues. At that time, home economics was part of the school, and Phillips was chair.

“She was so impressive in person and kind and soft-spoken, but you didn’t have to be around her long to know she was principled,” Payne said. “I saw her as a real pioneer, and she was always exploring uncharted waters.”

Payne, who had never been a dean before coming to Ole Miss, remembers there not being enough money in the budget for phones; all the lines were cut off except one at the secretary’s desk that the entire department had to use. Buildings weren’t being heating and cooled. There were hiring freezes. The roof leaked and there was no money to fix it. The department even ran out of paper.

Phillips knew of creative ways to get resources for her program when the state budget situation was dire, he said. The program not only continued, but flourished under her leadership.

“She made me look better,” Payne said.

Payne, who had been in the restaurant business before he getting into higher education, noticed the cafeteria that home economics operated had no walk-in cooler, which is essential for any restaurant. He and Phillips decided to have a telethon to raise the money for a cooler, which cost around $50,000.

When it came, Phillips knew exactly how to celebrate its arrival.

“Jeanette had me come over there, and me and (the home economics faculty) got in the cooler,” Payne said. “It was about the size of a large closet, and we walked in and all had champagne.

“We just celebrated in that cooler. I will never forget that moment.”

Upon learning the U.S. Department of Agriculture was hoping to establish an institute for child nutrition professionals, Phillips led the charge to have it established at UM. Her efforts, along with the help of others on campus, led to the National Food Service Management Institute being located here.

At first, the center had no building, but after getting it located here, she secured funds for the building and other needs. The street that passes in front of it is named for Phillips.

Charlotte Oakley, who helped Phillips with efforts to land the center, also served as its director later. Phillips taught Oakley and served on her graduate committee. They became friends and colleagues, and Phillips was her professional mentor for more than 50 years.

Oakley said part of what made her so adept at being an administrator is that she made everyone around her feel like they mattered. 

“She always magically seemed to have time for everyone,” Oakley said. “She never looked at her watch when you were with her. She just had the ability to draw you in and make you feel important to her.

“She had a real gift for engaging other people and getting you interested in something that is bigger and better than just the day-to-day things.”

Besides her storied academic career, Phillips was the first woman to serve on the board of directors for the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce in 1974-77. She and her husband, Jesse Phillips, also owned and operated Jeannie’s Hallmark Shoppe and Rebel Press Office Supply Co. for decades.

She was an active member of First Baptist Church of Oxford from 1954 until her death.

“I don’t think there is any question Dr. Phillips was a gracious Southern lady of faith,” Oakley said. “She had the most amazing ability to balance life.

“She had family. She always put God first, her family second and her job third. I could talk about her all day. She is just greatly missed.”

Her survivors include two sons, Andy Phillips and Tim Phillips and his wife, Terri, both of Oxford, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Her husband of 60 years, Jessie P. Phillips, and a son, Dan Phillips, preceded her in death.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Daniel M. Phillips Memorial Scholarship at University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655.

History Professor Heads to Amsterdam for EURIAS Fellowship

Nicolas Trépanier plans to use time to collaborate with European colleagues and work on book

Nicolas Trépanier, UM associate professor of history, has received a European Institutes for Advanced Study fellowship. Photo Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Nicolas Trépanier, associate professor in the University of Mississippi’s Arch Dalrymple III Department of History, has received a yearlong research fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Amsterdam.

Trépanier was awarded the European Institutes for Advanced Study fellowship, which brings together scholars in a variety of disciplines, ranging from neurology to art history and from journalism to philosophy. Their projects are not connected to one other, but the fellows are expected to interact. 

The idea behind the EURIAS model is that creative thinkers will benefit from being exposed to other creative thinkers in fields that are unfamiliar to them. 

Trépanier says he’s grateful to EURIAS for the opportunity to collaborate with such an esteemed group. 

“Spending a year at NIAS will allow me to concentrate on that research on a full-time basis, so it’s likely to be very important in the advancement of my research career,” Trépanier said. “It will also allow me to work with a few archaeologists I know in the Netherlands, which is also a precious opportunity because historians in my field rarely engage in such collaborations.”

EURIAS’ fellowship program is part of the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study, which brings together 22 institutes across Europe. Within the network, more than 500 researchers are hosted every year for up to one full academic year, with the goal of creating international and multidisciplinary learning communities.

Trépanier holds a doctorate in Middle Eastern studies/history from Harvard University. His first book, “Foodways and Daily Life in Medieval Anatolia: A New Social History” explores the daily experiences of ordinary folk through the various parts that food played in their lives: from agricultural production to religious fasting and from commercial exchanges to meal schedules.

The fellowship will give him a chance to work on a second book, also focused on Anatolia, in medieval Turkey. This work explores the idea of landscapes, how people living at that time perceived the territory around them and what were the differences in perception between travelers, political elites, peasants and others. 

Trépanier is an exceptional scholar and teacher whose theoretical innovation and productivity in research places him within the top tier of an already accomplished Ole Miss faculty, said Noell Wilson, interim chair and associate professor of history and international studies. 

“His cross-disciplinary study of landscape in medieval Anatolia engages projects of colleagues not only within his home discipline of history, but in archaeology and the broader digital humanities,” Wilson said. “We are thrilled to see international recognition for his work beyond the U.S. academy, and the broader department will benefit from Professor Trépanier’s role as an intellectual bridge between Oxford and European scholars.”

UM Hosts Mississippi Bicentennial Concerts this Weekend

Governor's Concert featuring Marty Stuart will be held in the Grove

OXFORD, Miss. – The Governor’s Concert at the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration North is set for Saturday in the Grove at the University of Mississippi as part of a weekend-long celebration of 200 years of statehood.

High interest in the event prompted state officials to move the concert from the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts to the Grove so many more can attend. The concert is the crescendo of bicentennial programming on campus and in the community this week. All events are free and open to the public.

“Interest in the Governor’s Concert showcasing Marty Stuart and many other Mississippi music stars has been consistent and strong,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “The Grove provides ample space for many more families and friends to gather in celebration of Mississippi’s bicentennial.”

Attendees are welcome to arrive at the Grove early, picnic, and bring blankets and chairs before the exciting evening packed with some of Mississippi’s most talented performers and songwriters.

Ole Miss is tremendously pleased to take part in the state’s bicentennial celebration, Chancellor Jeff Vitter said.

“We look forward to the many exciting events that will honor our state’s history, culture, people and places,” Vitter said. “What a great opportunity to showcase the wonderful Lafayette-Oxford-University community and all of the north region.

“We appreciate all the hard work and coordination of Visit Oxford, Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance, Visit Mississippi, Mississippi Development Authority and the Governor’s Office to celebrate the anniversary of Mississippi’s statehood in ways that pay tribute to the state’s accomplishments and contributions over the last 200 years.”

The Bicentennial Celebration North includes a weekend of events beginning Friday (June 23), with a special edition of Thacker Mountain Radio in the Grove at 7 p.m. The show will be taped for future broadcast on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Following the radio show, Damien Wash & Friends will perform an hourlong Mississippi Soul Singer Tribute.

The entertainment begins in the Grove at 5 p.m. Saturday with Anne Freeman & The Garbage Sons. The Governor’s Concert follows at 6:30 p.m. Country and Americana legend Marty Stuart will headline the lineup, appearing with singer-songwriters Mac McAnally and Shannon McNally, and Mississippi’s Music and Culture Ambassador Steve Azar. The concert also features Vasti Jackson, the Roots Gospel Voices of Mississippi, the Mississippi Bicentennial Symphony Orchestra and the Mississippi Bicentennial Singers.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, the university will host a family day tailgate in the Grove with live music from Blackwater Trio. Additional events hosted in Oxford throughout the June 23-25 weekend are listed here.

Acclaimed Writer Rose McLarney Named UM Summer Poet in Residence

Public reading set for June 29 at Off Square Books

Rose McLarney is the University of Mississippi’s 2017 Summer Poet in Residence. Photo by Nicole McConville

OXFORD, Miss. – Rose McLarney, an acclaimed writer and professor whose work is deeply rooted in the South, is the University of Mississippi’s 10th Summer Poet in Residence.

McLarney will be on campus through July 15 teaching undergraduate classes and working with emerging writers in the Department of English’s Master of Fine Arts program. She also will give a reading at Off Square Books at 5:30 p.m. June 29. A book signing at 5 p.m. will precede the free event. 

McLarney’s two poetry collections came out in a two-year period, and she is working on her third and fourth manuscripts. She said she looks forward to working with students here and soaking up the rich culture of the LOU community. 

“Since the first book was published, following an academic career, I have moved between four states and all around the country,” McLarney said. “Currently, I am at work on my third and fourth poetry manuscripts. I very much welcome the time to write granted by the residency.

“And having the chance to participate in a residency that allows me to stay in the South, where my poetry has always been rooted, will be especially beneficial.”

“Its Day Being Gone,” which is the winner of the National Poetry Series, and “The Always Broken Plates of Mountains” are her first two published collections.

The MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences and Warren Wilson College all have awarded McLarney fellowships. She was the 2016 Dartmouth Poet in Residence at the Frost Place and winner of the Chaffin Award at Morehead State University, and she also won the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ New Writing Award for Poetry.

McLarney’s poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, Missouri Review and many other publications. 

She earned her master’s degree from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and has taught there and at other institutions. She is assistant professor of creative writing at Auburn University and co-editor in chief and poetry editor of The Southern Humanities Review.

The LOU literary community looks forward to hosting a talent of McLarney’s caliber, said Beth Ann Fennelly, UM English professor, Summer Poet in Residence director and Mississippi’s poet laureate. 

“We are excited that Rose will be living here for a month, working on her poetry and visiting classes,” Fennelly said. “Her poems are imagine-rich, steeped in the Southern vernacular. She’s from Appalachia and has a deep attention to the natural world and the way we build community through stories.”

Nadia Alexis, a poetry MFA student who helps with the SPiR program, said as a young writer, she is especially looking forward to a chance to spend time with McLarney. 

“In addition to the class visits in which Rose will be doing a range of enriching presentations for undergraduates, MFA students will also have the benefit of meeting with her in a literary salon setting,” Alexis said. “As writers who are in the earlier stages of our careers, I’m excited we’ll have the opportunity to get to know and learn from such a talented, accomplished poet.”

Manning Way Outlet Opens Monday to Improve Traffic Flow

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will open an exit Monday (June 12) to alleviate traffic congestion on Manning Way and the south side of campus as construction of a roundabout on Chucky Mullins Drive continues through the summer. 

The alternate route, which will be open between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, will allow vehicles leaving campus to travel from Manning Way to the South Parking Lot and then turn right onto Old Taylor Road. Drivers will not be allowed to turn left onto Old Taylor Road and should continue up Manning Way to Gertrude Ford Boulevard if they wish to go north. 

Markers will be in place to guide motorists. 

“It is our hope that providing this additional exit will alleviate the congestion on Manning Way during these peak times,” said Mike Harris, director of parking and transportation.

The campus entrance at Chucky Mullins Drive will remain closed through the summer so a roundabout can be built at where Hill Drive and Hathorn Road intersect with Chucky Mullins Drive. The project is expected to improve traffic flow on the south side of campus. 

Drivers have been using other entrances to campus since the work began in May. It’s expected the new outlet from Manning Way will be in place until the work on the Chucky Mullins Drive roundabout is complete. 

Job Fairs Address Workforce Needs for New Campus Dining Options

250 jobs available for students and local community

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s upgraded dining options will offer far more choice than ever when students arrive on campus this fall. The new restaurants also will create 250 new jobs, and several upcoming job fairs aim to fill them. 

The biggest improvements will be made to the dining experience at the Ole Miss Student Union, which is undergoing a massive renovation and expansion project. The university, Ole Miss Dining and Aramark have announced several new dining options, including a McAlister’s Deli, Which-Wich, Chick-fil-A, Panda Express and Qdoba.

Ole Miss Dining is seeking a number of employees with a variety of skill sets, ranging from dishwashers, general utility workers and food service workers to cashiers, food prep workers and experienced culinary professionals to fill positions at these locations. 

“We are pleased to offer students more variety, convenience and value,” said Amy Greenwood, Ole Miss Dining/Aramark marketing manager. “All of the enhancements we made to the dining program are based on student feedback, and are designed to provide students with even more opportunities to enjoy their meals, as well as their overall dining experience.”

The first level of the Student Union will feature Chick-fil-A, with an expanded menu and multiple points of sale for speed and convenience. Qdoba, Panda Express and Which-Wich will be part of the downstairs food court. A full-service McAlister’s, featuring soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees with dedicated seating, will anchor the second level.

Ole Miss Dining is hiring students and workers from the area for these locations and others on campus.

Interview dates and times are as follows:

  • June 7 – Job Fair for community members at the Pontotoc WIN Job Center, 182 Highway 15 North in Pontotoc, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • June 13 – Job Fair for community members at the Batesville Governor’s Job Fair, Batesville Civic Center, 290 Medical Center Dr. in Batesville, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • June 28 – Job Fair for community members at the Oxford WIN Job Center, 204 Colonnade Cove, Suite 1, in Oxford, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • July 10 – Job Fair for community members at the Batesville WIN Job Center, 103-16 Woodland Road in Batesville, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • July 12 – Job Fair for community members at the Tupelo WIN Job Center, 3200 Adams Farm Road in Belden, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

UM Sophomore Raises $41K to Fight Blood Cancers

Riley Juenger became involved in efforts to honor classmate who died from leukemia

UM sophomore Riley Juenger, of St. Louis, has raised more than $41,000 to fight bone cancers and has been named Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Student of the Year for the St. Louis area. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi sophomore Riley Juenger set a goal to raise $25,000 to fight blood cancers. On the surface, this seems like an overly ambitious objective for just one person. 

It turns out she wasn’t alone in her efforts and in just a few short weeks, the sophomore banking and finance major from St. Louis raised $41,434 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of St. Louis.

Juenger recently was named LLS Student of the Year there after raising the most funds. Her total is a new record for the Student of the Year campaign. 

“When I first embarked on my fundraising campaign, I would sit in my apartment and think to myself, ‘How am I ever going to raise $25,000?'” Juenger said. “I honestly couldn’t have done it without a great team behind me.

“I am very blessed to have so many wonderful people working with me, including last year’s LLS Woman of the Year, Michelle Jordan-Berndt, who was the driving force behind our successful campaign.”

Juenger will continue this fundraising effort through the end of June in hopes of raising $50,000. If that total is reached, the funding will qualify for an LLS research portfolio grant so the funds can be 100 percent directed to a specific blood cancer. She is using a website for receiving online donations. 

She credits her parents, Kevin and Melissa Juenger, as well as her brother, Sam, and many friends and family for helping her raise the money. She also cherishes the opportunity to meet two St. Louis-area children affected by illness, whom the LLS group is honoring this year. This experience was much more rewarding than winning the award, she said. 

“Talking with them and their families and seeing how happy they were is what it’s all about,” Juenger said. 

LLS is the world’s leading nonprofit voluntary health organization dedicated to finding cures for blood cancers and ensuring that patients have access to lifesaving treatments.

Juenger has a personal connection to the issue, which became the catalyst of her efforts. When she was in fourth grade, one of her schoolmates at Visitation Academy in St. Louis was diagnosed with leukemia and courageously battled the disease until it took her life a few months later.

At the time, Juenger didn’t understand the disease that her schoolmate, Molly Gleason, was battling and asked her parents to explain it. The difficult realization that illness and death can strike anyone at any time came to her then.

Knowing Molly and her story instilled a lifelong conviction in Juenger to fight blood cancers and raise money and awareness in hopes of finding a cure. She has run 5-Ks and 10-Ks to support the cause and has been involved in other efforts to fight the disease.

University of Mississippi sophomore Riley Juenger, of St. Louis, poses with her award for being named Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Student of the Year for the St. Louis area. Submitted photo

Her parents also have supported efforts to help those struggling with the disease.

“Molly’s story had a profound impact on me,” Juenger said. “She battled this cancer with courage, dignity and a strong faith. I knew at that moment I needed to be involved and somehow give back to those fighting blood cancers.”

Every nine minutes, someone in the U.S. dies of a blood cancer, said Debbie Kersting, LLS executive director.

Through programs such as Student of the Year, LLS has invested more than $1 billion in research to advance breakthrough therapies. Money raised through LLS’s Student of the Year is used for research to advance targeted therapies and immunotherapies that are saving thousands of lives, blood cancer information, education, support for patients and creating policies to ensure patients have access to blood cancer treatments.

“Congratulations to our 2017 Student of the Year, Riley Juenger, and to all of our candidates and campaign team members who participated in this year’s Student of the Year campaign,” Kersting said. “These exceptional volunteers are all passionate and determined individuals, and leaders in their communities. Together, we are getting closer to LLS’s goal of a world without blood cancer.” 

Chris Offutt Wins Kentucky Literary Award

UM professor, author honored for 'My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir'

Chris Offutt, UM associate professor of English and screenwriting, has won the Kentucky Literary Award. Submitted photo by Melissa Ginsburg

OXFORD, Miss. – Chris Offutt, University of Mississippi associate professor of English and screenwriting, has won the Kentucky Literary Award for his book “My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir.”

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest partnership recently announced the award. The Kentucky Literary Award is a celebration of the state’s writing, and eligible books include those from Kentuckians or books with a substantial Kentucky theme. Fiction and nonfiction books are recognized in alternating years, this year being the year for nonfiction. 

Offutt, a Kentucky native, is an award-winning author and screenwriter.

“All my books are set in Kentucky or are about people from Kentucky,” Offutt said. “That this particular award is from my home state means more to me than any other honor.” 

The New York Times calls the book “A generous reminiscence … ruminative and melancholy … Offutt somehow manages to summon compassion for his father. That, ultimately, is what makes this memoir so unexpectedly moving.” 

“Chris Offutt cuts his relationship with his dead father open and reveals it to the world in ‘My Father the Pornographer,'” said Jonathan Jeffrey, KYLA selection committee member. “In this angst-ridden memoir set in Appalachian Kentucky, Offutt tackles the often difficult relationship between a strong, driven father and a son yearning for a ‘normal’ father-son bond. 

“The fact that Chris Offutt’s father was a prolific pornographic and science fiction novelist only increases the anguish. The unique nature of this memoir intrigued all the members of the selection committee, but it was Offutt’s crisp, honest prose that resulted in it winning the award.” 

The award announcement was made at the Knicely Conference Center at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest Meet the Authors Reception on April 21, the night before the main Book Fest event. Offutt was recognized with a commemorative certificate and a monetary gift received by his sister Scotty Hyde.

Offutt said he’s immensely grateful to the UM Department of English and his colleagues for their support while he worked on the book, which is the first one he’s written while teaching at Ole Miss. 

He has written both fiction and nonfiction, this title being his third memoir. He has written five other books, including collections of short stories and novels. His first book, published in 1992, is a collection of stories called “Kentucky Straight.” 

Offutt has worked as a screenwriter for “Weeds” and “True Blood,” among other TV shows. His new novel, which is to be released next spring, is called “Country Dark.”

The award is much deserved, and the author is a tremendous asset to the university, said Ivo Kamps, UM chair of English. Kamps calls Offutt a supremely talented writer and a sought-after teacher.

“He offers classes in screenwriting, creative nonfiction and fiction, and his students consistently praise him for his dedication and for his ability to bring his vast experience as a widely published author into the classroom,” Kamps said.

“He is known for taking student writing very seriously, and for providing detailed feedback that helps them improve their work and become better editors of their own writing. He does all this with a prodigious sense of humor.”

 

Psychology Professor Wins UM Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award

Kelly Wilson lauded as a role model and dedicated friend of students

Psychologist Kelly G. Wilson has won the university’s 2017 Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award. Submitted photo by David Brohede

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi psychology professor Kelly G. Wilson has won the university’s 2017 Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award in recognition of his outstanding efforts to help students in and out of the classroom. 

Wilson, who has been a member of the UM faculty for 17 years, has not only mentored many students, but his passion for being a role model is also an inspiration to them, his colleagues said. Wilson said he’s fortunate to work on a college campus and be a positive force in the lives of others.

He credits his own mentors and teachers for awakening a passion in him for helping others. 

“To this day, I feel privileged to breathe the air on a college campus,” Wilson said. “I feel privileged to be a member of the academy and to have a chance to transmit what I found.

“I have loved my students and have loved watching them grow. To be recognized for this by my peers, and especially by my students, means the world to me.”

Besides helping students with academic matters, Wilson and his wife, Dianna, organize an “Orphan Thanksgiving” each year at their home for students and faculty who can’t be with their families. This is a testament to his commitment to making sure those students and faculty who work with him have a good experience, said Michael Allen, a fellow professor of psychology. 

“He cares deeply about the training experiences that students get while working with him,” Allen said. “He has been a true asset to the Department of Psychology for many years.” 

Wilson is a past president of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, representative-at-large of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, and is one of the co-developers of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. He received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Gonzaga University and his doctorate at the University of Nevada at Reno.

After running a National Institutes on Drug Abuse clinical trial in Reno, he joined the Ole Miss faculty in 2000. He later established the Mississippi Center for Contextual Psychology on campus.

“Kelly’s winning the award demonstrates what a terrific asset he is to undergraduate and graduate education,” said Alan M. Gross, another fellow professor of psychology. “He is truly dedicated to students.

“His lab is an academic community where students are nurtured and supported and encouraged to develop personally and professionally.”

Rebekah E. Smith, chair and professor of psychology, credits Wilson for graduating 17 doctoral students. Those students have all gone on to have successful careers in academia, clinical settings and private practice, she said.

“Dr. Wilson is dedicated to the success of his students and his support allows them to achieve what they did not think was possible,” Smith said. 

Modern Languages Department Offers New Doctoral Program

Degree will prepare graduates to work in industry or run higher education programs

The Department of Modern Languages will offer a new Ph.D. in second language studies this fall. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Beginning this fall, the University of Mississippi’s Department of Modern Languages will offer a doctorate in second language studies. 

The degree is designed to educate professionals who can provide second language training for firms that conduct business globally and need workers who can speak Spanish and other languages. The program also will train future modern language administrators for universities and other institutions.

“We aim to train language professionals to meet certain needs today in education and in the private sector,” said Daniel O’Sullivan, professor of French and interim chair of modern languages. “There is an increasing need for people to administer language programs. Also, companies with international business require a cadre of language professionals to help them train their workers.”

The degree program has two tracks. One is in applied linguistics, which is geared toward understanding empirical data about languages, the evolution of languages and various dialects in the media and across the nation, among other aspects.

The second track is in Spanish. It focuses on meeting the growing demand for professionals and academics who understand the language and culture of Spanish-speaking communities, O’Sullivan said. 

Many different faculty members from the department, which teaches 11 languages, will be involved in the new classes. The goal is to have a cohort of five people enter the program per year. 

“It’s the first new Ph.D. in the College of Liberal Arts in a very long time, and we’re very proud of that,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s going to highlight the achievements of the faculty, who are very active in research.

“We’re going to build a name for ourselves for developing language programs to train those who run programs at other universities and institutions.”

The degree will prepare students to be leaders locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, said Felice Coles, the program’s graduate coordinator and professor of modern languages.

“The emphases in applied linguistics and Spanish will give students a greater understanding of how to learn, teach and work with speakers of many languages around the world,” Coles said. “Using their valuable and marketable skills, our Ph.D. graduates will happily find jobs in education, government and industry.”

The program represents a big step in the continued growth of modern languages at the university, said Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Russian and linguistics. 

“With the development of certain areas of research and teaching focus, the Department of Modern Languages has worked for nearly a decade to develop a unique doctoral program in second language studies and applied linguistics, a program which will provide training for future foreign language educators in academic positions at universities throughout the country,” Dyer said.