Board of Trustees Names Preferred Candidate for UM Chancellor

Campus listening sessions were held on the campuses in Oxford and Jackson in July and August with constituency groups for the members of the Board Search Committee and the Campus Search Advisory Committee

Campus listening sessions were conducted in Oxford and Jackson in July and August with constituency groups for the members of the Board Search Committee and the Campus Search Advisory Committee

OXFORD, Miss. – The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning has selected Jeffrey S. Vitter as the preferred candidate for the chancellorship of the University of Mississippi. A renowned computer scientist and academic leader, Vitter is provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas.

Vitter was recommended by the Board Search Committee, chaired by Alan Perry, the IHL president, with input from the Campus Search Advisory Committee and the Interview Search Advisory Committee following careful review of all applications and interviews.

“The Board of Trustees is beyond pleased to announce Dr. Vitter as the preferred candidate,” Perry said. “His credentials and experience are stellar. He has demonstrated tremendous leadership at a number of exceptional institutions and has been recognized as a leading researcher in the field of computer science.”

Vitter serves as provost and executive vice chancellor and the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. His academic home is the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and he is a member of the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center. KU includes the main campus in Lawrence, with 10 colleges and schools, the Edwards Campus in Overland Park and the Medical Center campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina, Kansas. As provost, Vitter is the chief academic and operations officer for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Vitter initiated and co-led the campuswide development of KU’s strategic plan, “Bold Aspirations: The Strategic Plan for the University of Kansas, 2012-2017.” The plan is the university’s transformative road map toward its vision of excellence as a top-tier public international research university.

While at KU, he created the first-ever universitywide KU core curriculum; oversaw major facilities improvements and expansion; and led the expansion of the schools of Engineering, Business and Pharmacy.

He also enhanced multidisciplinary research and funding around four strategic initiatives:

  • Alumni outreach and furthering the goals of the capital campaign
  • Major growth of technology commercialization and corporate partnerships
  • Incentivizing innovation
  • Administrative reorganization and efficiency

Previously, Vitter was on the faculty of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M, he served as provost and executive vice president for academics and oversaw the academic mission of the university in Galveston, Texas, and Doha, Qatar.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Vitter

Dr. Jeffrey S. Vitter

Before joining Texas A&M, Vitter served as the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and professor of computer science at Purdue University. As dean, he was the chief academic officer and administrator of the College of Science, responsible for overseeing the discovery, learning, engagement and diversity activities of the college’s seven academic departments.

At Duke University, Vitter held a distinguished professorship as the Gilbert, Louis and Edward Lehrman Professor. He also served as chair of the Department of Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and as co-director and a founding member of Duke’s Center for Geometric and Biological Computing.

Before joining Duke, Vitter progressed through the faculty ranks and served in various leadership roles in the Department of Computer Science at Brown University.

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

Vitter and his wife, Sharon, have three adult children.

Campus listening sessions were conducted on the campuses in Oxford and Jackson in July and August with constituency groups for the members of the Board Search Committee and the Campus Search Advisory Committee to hear what qualities and qualifications stakeholders believed the next institutional executive officer should possess. After careful review of all applicants, the Campus Search Advisory Committee submitted the names of several candidates unranked to the Board Search Committee and nominated fellow members to serve on the Interview Search Advisory Committee.

“I would like to thank the members of the Campus Search Advisory Committee, under the leadership of Dr. Alice Clark, for devoting their time and expertise to this process,” Perry said. “Each one understood the weight of the decision and took the responsibility as the voice of the campus community very seriously. Their input was vital throughout the search.”

The members of the UM Campus Search Advisory Committee were Alice Clark, Michele Alexandre, Claiborne Barksdale, Michael Barnett, Ross Bjork, Rod Bridges, Jimmy Brown, Robert Brown, Claude Brunson, Ralph Didlake, Jack Dunbar, Jan Farrington, Rose Flenorl, Mike Glenn, Charles Hussey, Trentice Imbler, Andrea Jekabsons, Jesse Mitchell III, Charles O’Mara, Pat Patterson, Lisa Percy, Rachna Prakash, David Rock, Charles Ross, Mary Sharp Rayner, Larry Sparks, Sovent Taylor, Melinda Valliant, Alex Vasios-Sivopoulous, Wendell Weakley, Clarence Webster III, Noel E. Wilkin, Roy C. Williams and Ethel Young-Scurlock.

“The Campus Search Advisory Committee and I appreciate the feedback that we received from the campus community during the listening sessions,” said Clark, who chaired the Campus Search Advisory Committee. “Dr. Vitter is an exceptional academician, educator, researcher and leader. He understands what it means to be a top-tier public research university and has a vision for leading the University of Mississippi to even greater success.”

Vitter will meet with campus constituency groups Oct. 29 in Oxford. A detailed schedule will be announced soon.

Updates on the search progress will be posted to the Chancellor Search website,, and on Twitter @UM_Search.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi: Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University, including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi, including the UM Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.