‘Succeed with Hearing Loss’ Support Group Sessions Offered this Fall

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and its Speech and Hearing Clinic is conducting a series of support group sessions for individuals with hearing loss.

Significant others, such as partners, children and siblings, also can participate in these sessions.

Examples of topics discussed during these group sessions include tips to improve communication, concerns with using hearing aids, handling difficult listening situations, emergency preparedness and self-advocacy.

During the fall 2018 semester, the sessions are set for 1-3 p.m. Sept. 7 and 21, Oct. 5 and 19, and Nov. 2, 16 and 30 in Room 106E on the first floor of the J.D. Williams library.

You need not have hearing aids to participate in these sessions, which are free of charge.

For those participating in the group aural rehab sessions, parking will be available in the spaces reserved for clients in the parking lot near George Hall. If you are interested in participating in these sessions, contact Rebecca Lowe at rl1@olemiss.edu or Vishakha Rawool at vrawool@olemiss.edu.

Jackson Heart Study Vanguard Center at Oxford Debuts New Leadership

School of Applied Sciences commits to building research capacity in early-stage researchers

Paul Loprinzi (center), associate professor of health, exercise science and recreation management, celebrates his appointment as primary investigator and administrator for the Jackson Heart Study Vanguard Center at Oxford alongside Tossi Ikuta (left), assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders, who will continue to serve as data curator and Vokay Addoh (right), assistant professor of health, exercise science and recreation management, who will serve as the new director of research engagement. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Oxford-based Jackson Heart Study Vanguard Center that serves as a secondary data repository for the largest single-site, prospective, epidemiologic investigation of cardiovascular disease among African-Americans ever undertaken is under new leadership from the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Mississippi.

Paul Loprinzi, associate professor of health, exercise science and recreation management, has accepted the appointment as primary investigator and administrator. Tossi Ikuta, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders, will continue to serve as data curator, and Ovuokerie Addoh, assistant professor of health, exercise science and recreation management, will serve as director of research engagement.

“The purpose of JHS is to engage and mentor faculty and graduate students in collaborative research, analysis and ancillary study requests,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of applied sciences. “Part of mentorship and capacity-building is to recognize unique potential in early stage investigators.

“Each of these faculty have unique skills and can bring novel approaches to this population-based longitudinal study.”

Teresa Carithers

Carithers was invited in as an investigator with the original JHS exam and wrote the initial diet assessment protocols while serving as co-primary investigator for the diet and physical activity sub-study. The sub-study resulted in the validation and calibration of two culturally sensitive food frequency questionnaires in a successful collaboration with USDA researchers.

Carithers, along with Ben Banahan from the UM School of Pharmacy, submitted the IHL request for the Vanguard Center in Oxford and served as the initial co-primary investigators. Banahan will continue as primary investigator for the School of Pharmacy, and Carithers will continue as an investigator and mentor.

The School of Applied Sciences has been intentional about capacity building among faculty researchers, as current research requires more robust and novel conceptual design, Carithers said.

“I expect great success from the new applied sciences leadership based upon their ability to design and execute innovative research with interdisciplinary collaboration and support of minority investigators, both key elements to the overall Jackson Heart Study’s mission,” she said.

“Dr. Loprinzi is a prolific publisher and highly respected mentor with deep familiarity of the data needed to examine health and physical activity. Dr. Addoh, a new assistant professor, came to UM with a medical background before earning his Ph.D. with us, which will lend a new area of expertise to our team. Dr. Ikuta is a neuroscientist who manages monumental amounts of neuroimaging data in his own research, so he brings both technical skill and unique research interest to this study.”

Ben Banahan

Funded by the National Institute of Health, JHS is a community-based cohort study of risk factors for cardiovascular disease among adult African-American men and women living in the Jackson metropolitan area.

A collaboration among three Jackson-area academic institutions, JHS operates a field center and a coordinating center with the University of Mississippi Medical Center; a community outreach center and graduate training/education center with Jackson State University; and an undergraduate training and education center with Tougaloo College.

JHS is supported by contracts from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the National Institutes of Health.

For more information about Jackson Heart Study or the work done at Vanguard Centers such as the one at UM’s Oxford campus, visit http://www.jacksonheartstudy.org.

New Chair Brings Opportunities for Communication Sciences and Disorders

Vishakha Rawool contributes rich clinical expertise, research background to program

Vishakha Rawool

OXFORD, Miss. – The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Mississippi, under the leadership of a new chair, Vishakha Rawool, is poised to enhance its training of speech-language-pathologists by expanding clinical services to individuals with speech, language and/or hearing disorders and research activities in the field.

The School of Applied Sciences welcomed Rawool as the new department chair for CSD on June 1, beginning her tenure at UM as the department explores spaces off-campus to expand its training, research and clinical operations.

“With 45 years of experience in audiology and speech-language pathology, Rawool has extensive clinical experience in providing comprehensive diagnostic and rehabilitative audiological services and overseeing graduate students in clinical practicum,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of applied sciences.

Chief among Rawool’s areas of research expertise are auditory processing, hearing disorders, prevention of hearing loss and age-related deficits in speech perception – all critical elements of the clinical services the department offers through its Speech and Hearing Center, HILL Program for children with receptive and expressive language disorder, early intervention services and literacy programming.

Rawool comes to Ole Miss from West Virginia University, where she was a tenured professor, director of graduate study in audiology and director of the Audiology Research Laboratory.

Before her work at West Virginia, Rawool served in tenured professor roles in communication sciences and disorders at Southwest Missouri State University and the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology at Bloomberg University.

She is the author of two textbooks and several publications, serves on the international editorial review board for the Journal of Audiology and Otology and has served as a peer reviewer for more than a dozen journals, including the American Journal of Audiology, the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, Audiology Research and Health Education Research.

“Dr. Rawool brings with her a rich history of mentorship and scholarship,” Carithers said. “She is respected internationally for her contributions to the field of communication sciences and disorders. She will be an incredible addition to this thriving department, and I look forward to even greater productivity under her charge.”

The department is looking for an off-campus location to increase the amount of space for its clinics and programs that help thousands of people throughout the region each year. More square feet designated for operations will provide more room for clinicians to offer vital community services and train graduate students.

Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate students (center, right) Ann Hazel of Tupelo and Rae Godart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, perform a routine evaluation in the UM Speech and Hearing Center. Photo by Sarah Sapp

During the 2016-17 academic year, 122 students earned bachelor’s degrees and 31 earned their master’s. In the last year, associated clinics, under the directorship of clinical instructor Brad Crowe and clinical assistant professor Rebecca Lowe, provided speech-language-hearing screening services to 4,066 individuals, completed speech-language diagnostic evaluation for 23 clients, and provided speech-language therapeutic services to 101 clients and audiological services to 732 clients.

Meanwhile, the HILL Program served 27 children, offering hands-on training to 18 undergraduate and 29 graduate students. All these services and programs are housed in 11,640 square feet of space in George Hall.

Besides making a clinical impact in the community, faculty in the department published research across diverse areas of research.

Davis Henderson is lead author of “Dynamic assessment of narratives among Navajo preschoolers,” soon to be published in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research. Toshikazu Ikuta was lead author of “White matter integrity in the fronto-striatal accumbofrontal tract predicts impulsivity,” published in Brain Imaging and Behavior earlier this year. This study is the first ever to isolate impulsivity pathways in the human brain.

In 2017, Susan Loveall was lead author of “A cross-sectional analysis of executive function in Down syndrome from 2 to 35 years,” published in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, while Gregory Snyder was lead author of “The role of mirror neurons relative to the core stuttering pathology and compensatory stuttering behaviors,” published in Clinical Archives of Communication Disorders.

The department capped off the academic year on a strong note as faculty garnered statewide and national honors in their field.

At the national level, Carolyn Higdon, professor of communication sciences and disorders, was inducted into the National Academy of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology as a distinguished scholar and fellow. At the state level, Lisa Ivy, clinical instructor and speech-language pathologist, won the Mississippi Speech Language Hearing Association’s Clinical Achievement Award, and Lowe won the Honors of the Association awards for her years of dedication and service to MSHA.

With a new department chair, prospective new facilities, growing clinics and faculty drawing statewide and national attention for their contributions to the discipline, the department and the populations it serves have a lot to look forward to in the year ahead.

For more information about the UM Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, visit http://csd.olemiss.edu/or call 662-915-7652.


Gift from Mississippi Scottish Rite Helps Fund Literacy Program

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, community children benefit from annual gift

Brad Crowe (left), co-director of the UM Speech and Hearing Center; Gloria Kellum, CSD professor emeritus; Teresa Carithers, interim dean of the School of Applied Sciences; Lisa Ivy, clinical instructor and speech-language pathologist; Pam Michael, former interim CSD chair; and Bill Sloan, deputy of the Supreme Council for the Mississippi Scottish Rite, celebrate the establishment of the Mississippi Scottish Rite Literacy Program. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – A recent gift to the University of Mississippi established the Mississippi Scottish Rite Literacy Program, which will offer literacy programming for area children, with the potential for statewide outreach.

All literacy programming, provided by certified speech-language pathologists and graduate student clinicians from the UM Speech and Hearing Center, will be designed to improve children’s reading skills and make interventions available for children with reading disabilities. The program will provide quality services for children diagnosed with a reading disability and those at risk for learning to read, as well as clinical training for graduate students in the UM Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, or CSD.

This program expands the Mississippi Scottish Rite‘s support of children with language and literacy problems through direct service as well as through educating graduate students who will continue this work in their professional practices.

“On behalf of the approximately 2,400 Scottish Rite Masons of Mississippi, it is with great pleasure that we partner with the University of Mississippi to establish a literacy program for children, while enabling student practitioners to hone their skills,” said Bill Sloan, deputy of the Supreme Council for the Mississippi Scottish Rite.

“The Scottish Rite Masons work hard to help support the identification of dyslexia and literacy issues with children to improve their learning abilities at the earliest stage as possible,” Sloan said. “This leads to a more positive learning environment, enhancing their perspective and comprehension and bringing about better-prepared young adults and more productive citizens.

“We look forward to many years of supporting Mississippi’s youth and teachers in this field through this partnership with the University of Mississippi.”

Ann Michael, who just completed her term as interim chair of the CSD department, initially reached out to the group because of its strong record of supporting language and literacy programs at a state and national level.

The Scottish Rite is well-known for its philanthropy with programs that help children achieve their greatest potential, said Sue Hale, CSD alumna and advisory board member and former American Speech-Language-Hearing Association president.

“Scottish Rite has a distinguished history of providing funding to language and literacy programs nationwide, and I am grateful that CSD at Ole Miss will be able to extend its good work through their contribution to this partnership,” Hale said.

The Mississippi Scottish Rite Literacy Program will directly address components of UM’s mission by creating, sharing and applying knowledge in a format that trains students to use evidence-based practice to serve the people of Mississippi.

The student training and client remediation for this program will be based on the latest research recommendations for reading instruction. Designed to meet the unique characteristics and needs of each child, the remediation will include explicit one-to-one instruction as well as some small-group interactions.

Offering comprehensive reading evaluations to identify targets for intervention is a top priority for the CSD department, which operates the Speech and Hearing Center. CSD is also focusing on creating an after-school literacy program, preventive programs in collaboration with local schools and summer literacy camps.

“We are incredibly grateful for this gift from the Mississippi Scottish Rite, because it allows us to provide a critical service to children and a clinical opportunity for our graduate students to expand their practical experience and research,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of the School of Applied Sciences.

For more information about the Mississippi Scottish Rite Literacy Program, call 662-915-7652.

To contribute to the program, send a check with the initiative’s name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

Online Master’s in Hospitality Management Opens Doors for Workers

Application deadline for those interested in beginning new program in August is July 15

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is rolling out a new online Master of Science degree in hospitality management to help meet the needs of a growing industry. The program is designed for people working in the industry in management roles to develop more effective operational and analytical skills, talents needed for top-level jobs in a global hospitality marketplace.

“There was no program like this in the state for working people in the hospitality industry to advance their careers,” said Jim Taylor, UM associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management. “We have established an incredibly strong graduate program here in Oxford, but offering this program 100 percent online allows people from all over to benefit from our comprehensive curriculum and faculty experts.”

With the hospitality industry’s projected growth at 6 percent in lodging, 11 percent in meetings, conventions and events, and 9 percent in food service from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, businesses are looking for tomorrow’s leaders. From hotels and travel companies to restaurant groups and tourism, the need for executive-level professionals who have skills to oversee complex operations is increasing.

Joey Vasilyev, a 2003 graduate from the hospitality management program, understands the demands of the industry and sees great value in offering this advanced course of study in an online format.

Work schedules of the hospitality workforce are wide-ranging and unique, said Vasilyev, CEO of V2 Inc., a franchisee of Taco Bell.

“The online program will offer a solution to hospitality management individuals who seek an alternative method of educational advancement in the industry,” Vasilyev said. “It is very exciting to see the program continue to grow and evolve since my time as the first freshman to enroll in hospitality management.

“This program, with its competitive tuition cost and flexibility of schedule, will promote retention for hospitality professionals.”

Advanced food-service, lodging and service quality management classes coupled with advanced marketing, leadership and research course work are at the core of the curriculum. Faculty members tout expertise in sustainability practices, menu analysis, social media marketing, service quality management, consumer behavior, nutrition, human resources and financial analysis, so graduate students will have mentorship and support across a wide array of research interests.

Research is an important part of the program, and students will learn the methods and statistics needed to conduct meaningful studies for their organizations. Students will conduct professional research or complete a thesis on an industry topic important to them or their employer.

“We encourage people interested in this program to talk to their employers about tuition reimbursement for this endeavor,” said Mary Roseman, professor of nutrition and hospitality management and director of the hospitality management program. “They will bring to their organizations a new level of expertise that benefits both the employee and the business.”

The average cost of a master’s degree is between $30,000 and $120,000, according to FinAid.org. Tuition for the online M.S. in hospitality management costs $16,740 for a 36-hour program that students complete over the course of two academic years.

“Yes, this degree is one of the most affordable you will find of its kind, but beyond that, it is flexible,” Roseman said. “We’ve designed this program specifically for working people in an incredibly busy industry to log in according to their schedule.

“Our faculty made a commitment to be available to help students in an online format to the same extent that we make that commitment to our students in a live classroom setting every semester. We have to meet our students where they are. For people in this industry already in management positions, that could be any time of day or night they find in their schedule.”

Online graduate programs at Ole Miss are already garnering national attention for graduating exceptional professionals with advanced degrees. With the online MBA ranked No. 20 and the School of Education’s online graduate programs tied for No. 35 in the nation this year, according to U.S. News and World Report, UM is gaining a solid reputation for providing quality graduate-level programs in an online setting.

The application deadline for those interested in beginning the program in August is July 15.

For information about the program, the application or any other details, visit http://nhm.olemiss.edu/onlinemshm or call 662-915-1505.


Communication Sciences and Disorders Workshop for Parents of Children with Disabilities Set for Saturday

Clinician and educator address children's behavioral problems as potential sensory issues

OXFORD, Miss. – The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Mississippi will offer a free parent workshop on Saturday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to noon to help families better understand if their child’s behavioral issues are actually sensory issues.

“A child’s tantrums or inattentiveness are not always strictly behavioral problems – they can be sensory issues,” said Amy Livingston, a UM instructor and speech-language pathologist with the HILL Lab, an on-campus learning-language program for children with moderate to severe receptive and expressive language disorders.

A joint presentation by a licensed special education teacher and a licensed speech-language pathologist will offer strategies for parents whose children with disabilities may have a sensory issue such as being hypersensitive to sights, sounds, textures, flavors, smells and other sensory input.

The program will be held at Willie Price Lab School on UM’s Oxford campus in 107 Kinard Hall. Free child care will be available for children of all abilities.

A “Sib Shop” will offer free games, snacks and activities for siblings (ages 6 and up) of children with disabilities.

The HILL program specializes in maximizing children’s language-learning capabilities while providing clinical training for undergraduate and graduate students seeking careers as audiologists, speech-language pathologists and SLP associates. The program works to engage with the community and conduct research that positively affects the lives of children in Mississippi and beyond.

For more information about this event, contact Livingston at ajliving@olemiss.edu or call 662-915-2942.

Applied Sciences Recognizes Schoolwide Honors and Awards Winners

Students lauded for academic excellence, service and leadership

The UM School of Applied Sciences produced a record number of 2018 graduates, including dozens of winners of school and university awards. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – The School of Applied Sciences at the University of Mississippi recently wrapped awards season for the 2017-18 academic year. The following students were honored for academic achievements, service and leadership:

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Marianne Tillman Scholarship in Speech and Language Pathology Endowment – Rebekah Bosley, of Southaven; and Marianne Rivers Wylot, Prosper, Texas

McRight Biology Scholarship Award – Meliah Grant, Jackson; Destiny Hodges, Baldwyn; Bailey Clare McLemore, Madison; Carolyn Brooke Owens, Brandon; and Emily Claire Reedy, Horn Lake

Patricia Ann Ridgway Endowment Award – Madison Taylor Savoy, Southaven; Leah Margaret Strope, Bolivar; and Peyton Willoughby, Tupelo

Robert Guy Millis Endowment Award – Sydney Gully, Saltillo; Lexy Lindsey Pharr, Golden; and Courtney Walden, Booneville

Tommy and Susan Thames Communicative Disorders Endowment Award – Kathryn Calahan Grisson, Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Jennifer Ann Grove, Forest; Sara Kingsley Tolson, Lynn Haven, Florida; Emma Thome, Peachtree City, Georgia; and Amy Walker, Batesville

Patricia Ann Ridgway/Sue Hale Scholarship – Lacie Preston, Aberdeen

Graduate Achievement Award in Communication Sciences and Disorders – Molly Grace Williams, Corinth

Clinical Speech-Language Pathologist Award – Shelby Elisa Whitsell Edmonds, Holly Springs


Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management

Robert Blackburn Graduate Award in Exercise Science – Samuel Louis Buckner, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Leon Garrett Achievement Award in Health Promotion – Emily Frith, Stanford, Kentucky

Ryan P. Malone Undergraduate Achievement Award in Exercise Science – David Edward Green, Gautier

Graduate Achievement Award in Health and Kinesiology – Scott Dankel, Howell, New Jersey; and Emily Frith, Stanford, Kentucky

Gordon McMurray Graduate Achievement Award in Sport and Recreation Management – Alison Hovatter, Meridianville, Alabama; and Sydney Elizabeth Malone, Tuscumbia, Alabama


Legal Studies

Columbus B. Hopper Scholarship Endowment Award – Natalie Swords, New Albany

Chief Richard Michael Popernik and Joan Grisham Popernik Legal Studies Scholarship Award – Janice Dewitt, Renton, Washington

Robert Langley Memorial Scholarship Award – Adrianna Cheyenne Guin, Guntown

Robert T. Warren Outstanding Criminal Justice Student Award – Jason Hunter Robbins, Shannon

Outstanding Legal Studies Graduate Student Award – Kirby Rhodes, Bay St. Louis

Outstanding Criminal Justice Student Award – Allison Dillon, Belden; Ja’Michael Handy, Water Valley; and Maryana Tyshkivski, Olive Branch

Outstanding Paralegal Student Award – Emma McNair, Brandon; and Hunter Story, Oxford


Nutrition and Hospitality Management

Outstanding Coordinated Program Student in Dietetics – Virginia Ellen Mitchell, Memphis, Tennessee

Outstanding Student in Dietetics and Nutrition Award – Elizabeth Baylee Edwards, Birmingham, Alabama

Outstanding Student in Hospitality Management Award – Mallory Kaitlyn McAlister, Southaven

Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Nutrition and Hospitality Management – Prabhdeep Sandha, Jalandhar, Punjab India

NHM Faculty Award for Student Service – Charles Sheriff, Marietta, Georgia

Sydney E. Pucheu HM Scholarship – Elizabeth Hurdle, Oxford; Nadia Radowick, Munster, Indiana; and Harley Saxton, Water Valley

Ole Miss Hospitality Management Scholarship – Danielle Foster, San Antonio, Texas; and Katherine Grizzel, Lorton, Virginia

Susan Haskins Scholarship – Emma Cousins, Plainfield, Illinois; and Chandler Law, Birmingham, Alabama

Tommy Ramey Scholarship – Caroline Acomb, Pass Christian; Meghan Bullock, Columbia; and Marlee Young, Oxford

Louise Burnett Scholarship – Katelyn Tarr, Pawnee, Illinois

Vasilyev Family Scholarship – Danielle Foster, San Antonio, Texas; and Chandler Law, Birmingham, Alabama


Social Work

Velmer Stanley Burton III Memorial Scholarship – Ericka Barnes, Greenwood Springs

Liz Triplett Walker Scholarship – Austin Conner, Batesville; Alexandra Eben, Olive Branch; and Ashleigh Jones, Oxford

“We are so proud of these students and all they’ve accomplished,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of applied sciences. “We commend them and wish them continued success in all of their academic endeavors.”

For more information about the School of Applied Sciences, visit http://sas.olemiss.edu/ or call 662-915-7900.

Communicators Lauded at Statewide Conference

Staff recognized for newswriting, design and creative partnership

Sarah Sapp (left), communications specialist for the UM School of Applied Sciences, accepts her first-place award in the senior division news story category at the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi’s annual conference. Photo courtesy Holmes Community College Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Communications officers from the University of Mississippi’s School of Applied Sciences and Division of Outreach and Continuing Education were recognized at the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi’s annual conference and awards ceremony for outstanding writing, design and creative partnership.

Sarah Sapp, communications specialist for the School of Applied Sciences, won first place in the senior division news story category for her story, “UM Students and Faculty Help Children Develop to their Potential.” Sapp also brought home first-place accolades in the admissions and recruitment piece category for the School of Applied Sciences’ departmental program handouts.

The Division of Outreach brought home awards in the single piece of artwork and creative partners categories. Anna Sayre, web developer and senior graphic designer, won second place for her StudyUSA design, while Pam Starling, assistant director of creative services and marketing, and Kris Zediker, web developer and senior graphic designer, brought home second for their Two-Plus-Two Grenada marketing project with Holmes Community College.

Starling was nominated to represent Ole Miss on the CPRAM board of directors for the 2018-19 academic year.

Twelve Mississippi four-year colleges and universities competed, submitting more than 100 entries to the competition.

Pam Starling (left), assistant director of creative services and marketing for the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, accepts a second-place award in the creative partners category at the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi’s annual conference. Photo courtesy Holmes Community College Communications

Robin Street, UM senior lecturer in journalism, presented the opening conference session about the Meek School of Journalism and New Media‘s internal public relations campaign, “It’s all about (Me)ek.”

Ole Miss alumni representing colleges and universities from across the state met with Street following the presentation. The group included Donna Thomas of Itawamba Community College; Julie Bauer of Northwest Mississippi Community College; Steve Diffey, Barin von Foregger and Mary Margaret Busby of Holmes Community College; Natalie Davis of Copiah-Lincoln Community College; Nell Luter Floyd of Millsaps College; and Cathy Hayden of Hinds Community College.

For more information about the conference, visit http://www.cpram.ms.

New UM Graduates Begin Tenure-track Appointments Across the South

Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management sends six students into faculty positions

The 2018 doctoral graduates from the UM Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management include (from left) J. Grant Mouser, Samuel Buckner, Matthew Jessee, Kevin Mattox, Robert Davis, Sam Wilson, Charles Caleb Williams and Vokay Addoh. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – During Commencement ceremonies earlier this month at the University of Mississippi, the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management celebrated a record number of health and kinesiology doctoral students walking across the graduation stage directly into full-time, tenure-track appointments across the South.

“We had a remarkable group of nine doctoral students hooded this year,” said Allison Ford-Wade, professor and graduate program coordinator. “Of those, seven of the nine have accepted tenure-track faculty positions and one is pursuing a second doctoral program.”

Vokay Addoh, of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, was invited to join UM’s own faculty. Samuel Buckner, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will join the faculty of the University of South Florida. Matt Jessee, of Claremont, North Carolina, accepted a position at the University of Southern Mississippi.

J. Grant Mouser, of Norman, Oklahoma, will begin his new appointment at Troy University in August. Charles Caleb Williams, of Lake Butler, Florida, will join the faculty at LaGrange College in Georgia. Sam Wilson, of Senatobia, will begin his tenure at Georgia Southern University.

Finally, Robert Davis, a December graduate, joined the University of Arkansas as an assistant professor of public health in January.

When you ask these students what attracted them to Ole Miss, their answers have a common thread: a talented, dedicated faculty and administration, the beautiful campus and all the resources that come along with studying at a flagship research university with Carnegie R1 status, indicating the highest research activity.

For Addoh, the prevalent health disparities in Mississippi and the need for health care professionals were another important aspect of his decision to join the program. His dissertation examined a potential method to enhance the positive experience of exercise, an area of health behavior research with potential ramifications for physical activity promotion.

“Moving forward, I intend to extend my inquiry on methods to enhance the experience of exercise and to further contribute to the science on physical activity translational research,” Addoh said.

Addoh credits Paul Loprinzi, associate professor of health, exercise science and recreation management, for his mentorship throughout the doctoral program.

Loprinzi not only is highly regarded by students for his caring mentorship, but he is one of the department’s most prolific publishers. Having published 73 peer-reviewed papers in 2017 alone, Loprinzi’s work has been cited more than 5,000 times since 2011.

Under Loprinzi’s direction, Addoh added 26 scholarly articles to his list of published works.

The potential to work alongside an intensely productive researcher drew Buckner, Jessee and Mouser to Ole Miss as well, specifically to study skeletal muscle adaptations to resistance exercise with Jeremy Loenneke, assistant professor of health, exercise science and recreation management and director of the Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory, affectionately called the Ole Miss Muscle lab.

Jessee, who accrued 40 publications while at UM, explained that it was Loenneke’s passion for science and ability to prepare students for success that drew him to stay for his Ph.D.

“I felt that I could learn so much more from him than going elsewhere, because he is always pushing people to think critically and not just align with the status quo,” said Jessee, who will continue studying skeletal muscle health and function in his new research faculty role. He will be searching for new ways to attenuate muscle function loss due to aging and immobilization or injury.

While Mouser counts producing one of the largest published studies on blood flow following exercise as his most exciting project to date, Buckner found his passion in exploring the relationship between changes in muscle size and changes in muscle strength.

“The work we have done here is changing the way people think about skeletal muscle and how it adapts to resistance exercise,” said Buckner.

Loenneke also advised spring doctoral graduate Kevin Mattox of Pittsburgh, who is interviewing for assistant professor positions at a variety of institutions.

“I am both excited and sad to see these students graduate and move on with their careers,” Loenneke said. “All of them have done tremendous research here at the University of Mississippi, and it has been really special to work with each of them over the past three to four years. Their futures are bright.”

Martha Bass, associate professor and former graduate program coordinator, advised Williams’ research examining changes in bat swing kinematics in different areas of the strike zone among collegiate baseball and softball players. She also directed Wilson’s dissertation, where he found his true research interest.

“Our lab’s findings in this dissertation included novel aspects of possible roles of the neuromuscular system in the slip recovery process,” said Wilson, who plans to expand this research, examining older adults and special populations in his new role at Georgia Southern. “We hope we can translate these findings into effective ways of mitigating fall-related injuries and mortality.”

Minsoo Kang, chair of the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, congratulates Xi Jin at the 2018 Commencement exercises for the UM School of Applied Sciences. Jin will begin her second doctoral program in nutrition and hospitality management this fall. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

Xi Jin of Harbin, China, also a May graduate, will expand her research base by pursuing a second doctoral degree in nutrition and hospitality management in the UM School of Applied Sciences while assisting Teresa Carithers, interim dean, with the new undergraduate applied gerontology program.

Each of the graduates pointed to the outstanding professional and academic values of their fellow graduate student cohort, indicating the quality of their experience directly related to the academic profile and camaraderie of this particular group.

Davis, who is conducting studies focusing on substance use behavior and its association with mental health concerns since starting his career at the University of Arkansas, explained that it wasn’t only the talented faculty mentors, such as Bass, who helped pave his way to success.

“I am immensely thankful to have studied with the group of grad students,” Davis said. “I was fortunate enough to come through the HESRM department at a time of immense progress concerning scientific exploration and rigor.

“The quality of students who came through the program with me should be admired. These are some of the finest minds that I have had the pleasure of encountering. As great as the faculty I studied under are, I can say that I would not be the scientist I am without the advice, challenge and leadership exhibited in these friends.”

This progress in scientific exploration is exhibited not only in the success of this graduating doctoral class, but in the sheer number of peer-reviewed publications produced by the department. Faculty, with the help of these doctoral students, published 134 unique publications in 2017.

On average, faculty members in the field publish 3.6 peer-reviewed papers a year, said Minsoo Kang, HESRM chair, citing data from the 2015 National Academy of Kinesiology Doctoral Program Review. The Ole Miss department’s score of 9.57 publications is much higher than the national average.

“Considering that the top 25 percent of doctoral programs published only 5.52 publications per faculty per year, we just had a remarkable year in 2017,” Kang said. “We could potentially be ranked No. 1 in the nation in the number of publications category.”

The department’s research productivity exemplifies the teacher-scholar model, preparing students to lead their own research teams in an R1 environment, Carithers said.

For more information about the UM Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, visit http://hesrm.olemiss.edu/.

Social Work Advances in National Rankings of Top Master’s Programs

U.S. News and World Report ranks UM at No. 62 among public universities

Susan Allen (center), director of the UM Master of Social Work program, discusses crisis counseling and domestic violence with her students. The program has moved up significantly in national rankings and is among the nation’s top 100 programs. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – U.S. News and World Report has ranked the University of Mississippi’s graduate program in social work among the top 100 in the country, up an impressive 60 spots in the national rankings since the program started in 2011.

The latest report ranks the Master of Social Work at UM tied at No. 62 among the nation’s public universities.

Since 2014, the Department of Social Work grants and contracts have grown 111 percent. Faculty generated peer-reviewed articles are up 230 percent, and national and refereed faculty presentations have increased by 250 percent.

“The School of Applied Sciences has invested the resources needed to build and promote the Department of Social Work,” said Daphne Cain, department chair.

“We have hired nine tenure-track faculty from premier schools of social work across the U.S., and in collaboration with our more senior faculty, the more junior faculty have dedicated themselves to research, teaching and service that has translated into national visibility through scholarship, teaching and service. That positive national visibility translates into improved national rankings.”

Although thrilled to move up in the rankings, Susan Allen, director of the Master of Social Work program, points to other important indicators of success that reinforce those numbers.

“For example, Patricia Tortora, a 2015 graduate, was the only M.S.W. student selected for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Leadership Initiatives for Tomorrow Fellowship,” Allen said. “Based on a competitive nomination process, only 22 students were selected nationwide and 21 were Ph.D. students.

“I believe that is a quality measure based on a tangible indicator. Our 100 percent pass rate on the Licensed Master of Social Work exam last year is another tangible indicator of the quality of the program.”

Viktor Burlaka, assistant professor of social work, agreed that the infusion of faculty from some of the nation’s top programs has significantly enhanced the department’s teaching and research capacity.

“I feel proud that our students have the ability to learn from dynamic scholars with active research agendas,” Burlaka said. “Surrounded by caring and enthusiastic faculty, they thrive academically, develop critical thinking and hone their clinical skills to become competitive and successful social workers.”

Despite the incredible growth in enrollment – nearly doubling the number of full-time M.S.W. students from 2016 to 2017 – the department has purposely maintained a low student-to-faculty ratio, said Jandel Crutchfield, assistant professor of social work.

“The program has been able to maintain its small class sizes while expanding its reach and rigor,” Crutchfield said. “The rise in the rankings of our M.S.W. program reflects the concerted effort of our faculty and the exemplary students in each cohort.”

Maintaining that small class size and close-knit relationship between faculty and students is a major factor in student success, said Younghee Lim, associate professor of social work.

“I also think that the caring mentorship these talented faculty provide to the students increased retention and graduation rates, which contributed to the increased ranking,” Lim said.

Recent graduate Claire Griffin, of Decatur, said the program helped her grow both as a professional and as a person.

“The smaller classroom setting provided a positive environment for students to have healthy discussion on the variety of topics covered within this program,” Griffin said. “The relationships I built with teachers helped me to develop a confidence in myself and in my capacity to be a clinician that I never thought possible.

“The best takeaway I gained was the importance of taking the time to stay up-to-date with the latest research because delivering the best services for clients is, in part, a result of knowing this information.”

Consistent student success leads to consistent employment for graduates. In a 2016 employment survey conducted by the department as a part of its accreditation process, 89 percent of the program’s graduates found employment within six months of graduation – 25 percent in community mental health, 25 percent in aging/gerontology, 13 percent in child welfare, 13 percent in schools, 13 percent in nursing home/assisted living and 13 percent in in-patient mental health.

For more information about the Department of Social Work, visit http://sw.olemiss.edu/.