UM Advisory Committee on History and Context Submits Final Report

University to implement contextualization of physical sites on Oxford campus

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi announced the recommendations it will be implementing from the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context. The communication outlining the accepted recommendations as well as the committee’s final report can be accessed at context.OleMiss.edu.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter established the CACHC in summer 2016 to address Recommendation 5 of the university’s 2014 Action Plan, a comprehensive set of recommendations related to improving the campus’ environment for diversity and inclusion. Recommendation 5 of the action plan urged the university to “offer more history, putting the past into context” and to do so “without attempts to erase history, even some difficult history.”  

“Contextualization is an important extension of a university’s responsibility to educate and provides an opportunity to learn from history,” Vitter said. “As an educational institution, it is imperative we foster a learning environment and fulfill our mission by pursuing knowledge and understanding. The CACHC embodied this approach in its work, recognizing that while our history is not by any means all that we are, it remains an important part of who we are.”

During the 2016-17 academic year, the CACHC worked to complete its two-phase charge. The initial task of the committee was to recommend which additional physical sites on the Oxford campus (beyond those already completed) should be contextualized, so as to explain the environment in which they were created or named.

Secondly, the committee was tasked with designing the content and format to contextualize the recommended sites. In the final report, the committee explained that “contextualizing the campus reminds us of the enormity and complexity of our shared past” and that “done correctly, and therefore carefully, contextualization is an additive process, not a subtractive one.”

The following Oxford campus sites will be contextualized with plaques: Lamar Hall, Barnard Observatory, Longstreet Hall and George Hall. The antebellum sites of Barnard Observatory, the Croft Building, the Lyceum and Hilgard Cut (a railroad cut on campus) will be collectively contextualized with one plaque to be placed just west of Croft, within sight of the three buildings, noting that these four projects were built with slave labor.

In addition to contextualizing these sites, the university will seek to rename Vardaman Hall. In applying guidelines developed by the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming at Yale University, the CACHC found that James K. Vardaman was an exceptional case for his time because he was an individual who “actively promoted some morally odious practice, or dedicated much of [his life] to upholding that practice.”  

Vardaman Hall was approved by the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning in May 2016 for substantial renovation, an event that often results in consideration of renaming the building. After fundraising and renovation are completed over the next several years, renaming of Vardaman Hall will occur through university processes and be subject to IHL approval.

Additionally, signage at the Paul B. Johnson Commons will be altered to add “Sr.” to clarify that it is named after Paul B. Johnson Sr.

In addition to the seven contextualization sites, the committee’s final report put forth two supplemental sites of university history for contextualization. The first is a plaque for the stained-glass windows in Ventress Hall dedicated to the sacrifice of the University Greys, a company of primarily UM students who fought in the Civil War and suffered 100 percent casualties. The second is for the Confederate Cemetery and related memorial, for which the committee recommended adding individual gravestones to recognize the sacrifice of each person known to be buried there as well as a marker in an appropriate location to recognize the men from Lafayette County who served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War.

These two supplemental sites were not part of the original list of seven contextualization sites accepted by Chancellor Vitter in February 2017 and were therefore not included in the online form to receive public input. To ensure continued community engagement, the university is seeking public input at context.OleMiss.edu prior to taking any action related to the Ventress stained-glass windows and the Confederate Cemetery.

“Throughout this process, the university has sought to listen and engage in constructive and transparent conversations with all university stakeholders,” Vitter said. “In the past year, the product of the CACHC has been enriched and informed by the hundreds of individuals who provided feedback in person, through online web forms, and through individual letters, emails and calls. I am confident that our decisions with regard to these two supplemental items will be equally enhanced by public input.”

The public review and comment period for the two additional items recommended by the CACHC will be open at context.OleMiss.edu through July 31, 2017.

The university’s contextualization approach was established as an academically focused and fact-focused process with the 14 CACHC members selected from nearly 100 nominations received from the university community. CACHC membership was based upon expertise in relevant subject matters such as history, sociology, English, law or race relations; a demonstrated track record of consensus building and collaboration; a deep understanding of the UM community and culture; experience in commemoration and contextualization of historic sites; and a commitment to a process that is inclusive, respectful, civil, candid, transparent and honors the UM Creed.

“As the work of the CACHC concludes and our formal contextualization process draws to a close, we extend profound thanks to the CACHC members for their tremendous work on this challenging but extremely important task for our university,” Vitter said.

“I also want to commend our university community for staying engaged and supportive throughout the process. Even when our views differ on issues of vital importance to Ole Miss, Mississippi and the nation, we remain inextricably bound together by our belief in the university’s ability to positively transform lives, just as it has changed many of our own lives for the better.”

The university has tasked the vice chancellor for university relations and the vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement with oversight and coordination of implementation of the recommendations including funding and timeline for ordering and installing plaques and markers.

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.

Chucky Mullins Drive Entrance Closed For Roundabout Construction

Roundabout construction where Hill Drive and Hathorn Road meet will run through August

OXFORD, Miss. — The University of Mississippi campus entrance at Chucky Mullins Drive will remain closed through the summer so a roundabout can be built where Hill Drive and Hathorn Road meet.

The work there to install a roundabout will lead to improved traffic flow on the south side of campus, but until the work is complete in August, the entrance will be closed. Drivers will need to use other entrances to campus in the meantime.

“The four-way stop at Chucky Mullins Drive, Hill Drive and Hathorn Road has seen increasing congestion over the past few years,” said Ian Banner, director of facilities planner and university architect. “The new roundabout will allow traffic to flow more freely at this intersection.”

UM police chief Tim Potts encourages carpooling and also advises those attending events near the construction site to use parking on the outskirts of campus, especially along University Place, this summer while the work is ongoing. 

“People should expect delays if they are going to try to utilize Gertrude C. Ford Boulevard or Manning Way,” Potts said. “They should also expect delays if exiting campus using that intersection.

“A left turn from Manning Way onto Gertrude Ford is going to be very difficult, if not dangerous. If that intersection must be used, allow yourself extra time.”  

The best bet for those who need to leave campus and make a left turn onto Gertrude Ford Boulevard is to make a right instead and drive around the roundabout at Old Taylor Road to head back northbound, Potts said. This is a faster, safer alternative, he said.

UM Library Seeks Commencement Memorabilia

Contributions will help fill gaps in Archives and Special Collections

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Department of Archives and Special Collections is looking for photos, programs, invitations and other materials from the university’s previous Commencement ceremonies.

Alumni, visitors, faculty, staff, students and any others who have archival materials related to Commencement ceremonies are invited to donate them to the department, where they will be preserved and made available to researchers and visitors.

“We are seeking to further augment the existing archival UM commencement collections with donations of programs, written memories about past speakers, invitations, news clippings, photographs, ephemera, audio and any other related archival memorabilia,” said Jennifer Ford, head of special collections. “In addition, interested patrons are invited to come view a selection of special collections’ unique archival holdings in the exhibit ‘A Selected History of Commencement at the University of Mississippi,’ featured in two cases outside the front doors of the department.”

These cases are on display during regular library hours on the third floor of the John D. Williams Library.

The university conducted its first Commencement in July 1849 but had no graduates, as this was only a year after the institution opened. In the words of university historian David Sansing, the four-day event surrounding the official program included “sumptuous banquets, a commencement ball and many speeches … and was a gala celebration.”

The 1849 address was given by Alexander M. Clayton and acting university President Albert Taylor Bledsoe. James Jones Quarles was a member of the first graduating class, which included only 15 students, in 1851, and he received the very first diploma issued by the university.

Several illustrious speakers have graced the stage over the course of the university’s 163 previous Commencements, including: U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1978; former President George H.W. Bush in 1985 (then vice president); author John Grisham in 1994; U.S. Sen. Trent Lott in 1998; U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in 1999; author, journalist and historian David Halberstam in 2005; U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker in 2012; civil rights leader Myrlie Evers-Williams in 2013; and journalist, author and historian Tom Brokaw in 2016.

For its 164th Commencement, the university’s keynote speaker will be Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham.

For more information about the initiative or to donate materials, contact Ford at 662-915-7408 or jwford@olemiss.edu.

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.

Local Officials Join to Volunteers for Service Recognition Day

Event spotlights community involvement and needs

OXFORD, Miss. – Local elected officials will join representatives of volunteer organizations serving the Lafayette-Oxford-University community Tuesday (April 4) at the Pantry to observe Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service.

Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson and Jeff Busby, president of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, are set to join volunteers and staff from the Lafayette County RSVP, Lafayette County Foster Grandparent Program, the North Mississippi VISTA Project at the University of Mississippi and Volunteer Oxford at 8:45 a.m. for a morning workday.

The annual observance spotlights the importance of citizen engagement, recognizes the dedication of national service members such as RSVP volunteers, foster grandparent volunteers and AmeriCorps VISTAS, and inspires more people to get involved in their community.

“Overall, we want to recognize the positive impact of national service in Oxford and Lafayette County, to thank those who serve and encourage more people to give back to the community,” Patterson said.

The group will get to pitch in to help meet a community need, said Arledia Bennett, director of the Lafayette County RSVP and Foster Grandparent Program.

“Tuesdays are usually busy days at the Pantry with food trucks coming in and shelves needing to be stocked, so we thought helping the Pantry would be a perfect way to celebrate Mayor and County Day and highlight national service volunteers that give back daily through so many volunteer activities” Bennett said.

Given the many social needs facing communities, county and city leaders are increasingly turning to national service as a cost-effective strategy to meet local needs. The day is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and Cities of Service.

“AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers make our counties better places to live,” Busby said. “As president of the Board of Supervisors, we are grateful for the dedication of these citizens, who are helping make our county stronger, safer and healthier.”

For more information, contact Arledia Bennett at 662-232-2773 or rasvp@oxfordms.net.

UM Advisory Committee on History and Context Hosts Listening Sessions

Group seeking community input for content and design

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context held its second listening session Thursday (March 23) to hear from the community about designing the content and format for physical sites recommended for contextualization.

The meeting Thursday represents the second part of the committee’s work. The first listening session was held March 6 at the Inn at Ole Miss and it focused on input from students, faculty and staff.

Thursday’s event, held at Burns-Belfry Museum in Oxford, allowed the advisory committee to focus on input from the broader community. More than 25 community members and alumni came to the meeting.

In addition to the listening sessions, the committee is accepting input from the community via an online form about facts or other information, such as noted experts or resources to be considered in the design of the content and format. Submissions will be accepted until March 31. The committee also has recently updated its website with a FAQ section.

Don Cole, assistant provost and professor of mathematics, who serves as CACHC co-chair, opened the session and invited UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter to talk about the significance of the committee’s work.

“Our university has long been committed to honest and open dialogue about its history and how to make our campuses more welcoming and inclusive,” Vitter said. “I think it is important to recognize that we are on the forefront of institutions of higher education in the nation to systematically and vigorously undertake contextualization efforts.”

Vitter established the committee in summer 2016 in an effort to address UM’s physical site contextualization efforts in a comprehensive and transparent process informed by expertise.

There are more than 100 structures on the Oxford campus. Seven of those have been identified for contextualization. Designing the content and format for the contextualization of these sites will finish the committee’s work. The group will use the public’s input to help draft their final recommendations to submit to the chancellor by May 31.

The chancellor explained the importance of the listening sessions.

“I’ve made it clear that the committee of experts needs to listen and engage in constructive conversations with all our university stakeholders – students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends – so that they don’t miss anything and so that they weight all relevant information,” Vitter said. “It’s the best of all worlds: a committee of experts but at the same time, very wide and broad input.”

During his remarks, Vitter referenced his March 9 letter in response to misperceptions that emerged from the March 6 listening session. He emphasized that the committee’s work is focused on contextualization of existing physical campus sites.

“No other items are under the purview of the CACHC as a part of tonight’s discussion,” he said. “For example, as I explained in my letter of June 10, the terms ‘Ole Miss’ and ‘Rebels’ are here to stay as positive and endearing nicknames for the University of Mississippi.”

Rose Flenorl, an Ole Miss alumna and manager of social responsibility at FedEx Corp., serves as co-chair of the committee along with Cole. Flenorl talked about how the committee has used community engagement as a key part of its effort.

“Dr. Vitter understands that community input and engagement are paramount to the integrity and success of our efforts,” Flenorl said. “He encouraged the committee to utilize transparent and inclusive mechanisms such as the online form we used in August 2016 to solicit public input into the identification of the physical sites to be considered for contextualization.”

“The committee received 45 separate submissions, and we used those to inform our discussions and guide our recommendations. And we are again using an online form to ask for your input and ideas about the final part of our work.”

The listening session included committee members Andy Mullins and Charles Ross presenting background information about the committee, the work completed so far and the plan to address the final part of their charge.

Ross explained the seven sites to be contextualized include Lamar Hall, Barnard Observatory, Longstreet Hall and George Hall. The antebellum sites of Barnard Observatory, Croft Hall, the Lyceum and Hilgard Cut are to be contextualized with one plaque to be placed just west of Croft, within sight of the three buildings, noting that these four projects were built with slave labor.

In addition, one building, Vardaman Hall, which was already approved for renovation by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Education last spring, will be recommended for renaming. A new name is yet to be determined. The renaming would occur through university processes and be subject to IHL approval.

Also, signage at the Paul B. Johnson Commons will altered to add “Sr.” to clarify that it is named after Paul B. Johnson Sr.

Cole explained the committee’s approach to the final part of its work.

“The CACHC is armed with a wealth of knowledge and perspective through the assemblage of talented faculty, staff, alumni and students,” Cole said. “We are approaching our second task by dividing into smaller work groups, which will each address one or more of the sites. We will organize our effort while we eagerly await the results on the online submission form.”

The committee heard from a handful of attendees including community members, students and alumni.

“The achievements of these people who these buildings were named after must not be understated or overstated,” said UM alumnus Richard Noble of Indianola. “Personal modern day opinions and prejudices are not necessary and are not applicable to explain the facts of their time. If we let the events of the past dictate the decisions of the present, our future will be lost. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to alter the facts of history.”

The comments from the listening sessions along with the online feedback will be used by the committee to inform their recommendations to the chancellor.

UM Students to Present Research at Capitol for Posters in the Rotunda

Four University of Mississippi students are among undergraduates from all eight of the state’s public universities who will share their research and creative activities on topics ranging from health care to cultural heritage to environmental issues with legislators and state leaders at Posters in the Rotunda.

The event is set for 7:30-9:30 a.m. Thursday (March 23) in the rotunda of the state Capitol. The students will show how their research addresses some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems.

The event provides opportunities for legislators to visit with students from their districts, allows students to network with one other as they learn about work on other campuses, and showcases cutting-edge research conducted by undergraduates that benefits the entire state and its residents.

“Posters in the Rotunda epitomizes both the diversity and high quality of the scholarship being done by students and their faculty mentors,” said Marie Danforth, chair of the steering committee for the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research at the University of Southern Mississippi and coordinator of the event.

“This year, we’ve been able to expand the event to include more undergraduates from each university. Two students representing Mississippi INBRE, a statewide program focusing on biomedical research, are also participating.”

Ole Miss students participating in the event are:

  • Jarett Bell, presenting “Evaluating the Land Use Land Cover Change in the Coastal Watersheds of Mississippi”
  • Nathaniel Greene, “Giving Wings But Keeping Them Clipped: The Relationship Between Overprotective Parenting and Student Psychological Well-Being During the Transition to College”
  • Heather Poole, “Improving Health of Rural Mississippians through Farmers’ Markets”
  • Sarah Sutton, “Spectroscopic and Computational Study of Chlorine Dioxide/Water Interactions”

Modeled after the Posters on the Hill event in which students from across the country share their work in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Posters in the Rotunda event is similar to ones in 17 other states.

“I am so pleased that the Posters in the Rotunda event has been expanded to include even more students for its second year,” said Glenn Boyce, commissioner of higher education. “This is an excellent program that highlights the value of undergraduate research and the impact university research has on solving Mississippi’s most pressing problems.

“Participating in undergraduate research projects provides a great experience for the students, strengthening their academic, leadership and presentation skills and preparing them for research on the graduate level.”

More information on the Posters in the Rotunda event is available at http://postersintherotundams.org.

UM Law School Hosts Boyce Holleman Debate

Topic to address globalization and inequality concerns

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law is hosting the 2017 Boyce Holleman Debate Series, which focuses on concerns about globalization, Wednesday (March 1) in the school’s Weems Auditorium.

This year’s debate will feature Robert Howse, law professor at New York University School of Law, and Antonia Eliason of the Ole Miss law faculty. The debate, which begins at 12:45 p.m., is titled “Globalization and its Institutions: Reset, Reform or Reject.”

“Globalization has become something of an epithet in recent years, both in the Global North and in the Global South,” Eliason said. “Recently, calls for disruption of institutions linked with globalization, like the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, have increased.

“This debate engages with questions of how the legal frameworks of global institutions can be used to address concerns with globalization, and to what extent disruption is necessary to address inequality and to save globalization from itself.”

Howse is the Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law at NYU School of Law and the 2017 Boyce Holleman Lecturer.

Eliason is an assistant professor of law at UM, where she teaches International Trade Law, International Business Transactions, European Union Law, Law of Armed Conflict and Contracts. Her research focuses on international trade law, international finance, EU law and Roma rights.

The Boyce Holleman Debate Series was established in 2003 by Tim and Dean Holleman in memory of their father. Boyce Holleman earned both undergraduate and juris doctor degrees from Ole Miss and enjoyed a long law career as a district attorney and criminal defense attorney on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The Boyce Holleman Debate Series is open to contributions from individuals and organizations. Donors wanting to provide support may do so at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or by mailing checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677. Checks should be made payable to the foundation, and donors should note “Boyce Holleman Debate Series.”

$3 Million Grant to Provide Pre-K Prep for Mississippi Educators

Consortium, UM prepare 'bundle' of strategies for teachers, administrators

OXFORD, Miss. – A three-year, $3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will help University of Mississippi faculty provide educators across the state with specialized training to use new research and meet upcoming training demands facing the early childhood education workforce.

The funds will be awarded in $1 million increments over the next three years to the North Mississippi Education Consortium, or NMEC, which is housed on the university’s Oxford campus and will host a variety of training opportunities with faculty support from the UM Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning.

“We are creating a system of training to build certain capacities in school districts,” said Cathy Grace, the Graduate Center’s co-director. “Different training opportunities will allow both teachers and principals to get information that is appropriate to their role. We also want to inform teachers of what will be expected of them by the state as it changes its requirements and evaluations.”

Starting in 2018, the Mississippi Department of Education will require all the state’s public school teachers to hold a special license endorsement to teach in any public early childhood classroom. Training opportunities to be provided with the new funding will provide multiple options for teachers to meet this requirement.

Grace describes the initiative as a “bundle of strategies,” with the aim of supporting high-quality pre-K classrooms. The focus will be exposing both teachers and administrators to the latest research in neuroscience and professional practice related to the rapidly evolving field of early childhood education.

The training programs planned in conjunction with MDE will benefit assistant teachers, teachers, principals and school superintendents working with pre-kindergarten students. These opportunities, scheduled in various locations across the state over the next three years, can train hundreds of early childhood teachers and school administrators on the most effective teaching practices for young children.

Online staff development courses designed for teachers seeking to receive their pre-K endorsement will also be offered. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact NMEC or visit the Graduate Center website to get specific training information.

These opportunities will utilize state resources, as well as bring in national experts in early childhood education and school administration, and will be based on proven strategies that have yielded increased student outcomes and engaged families in communities.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, several studies show that quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics. The studies also indicate that every $1 invested in public pre-K education generates a $7 return in the form of long-term cost savings.

The School of Education also offers two programs that can help teachers earn a pre-K license endorsement from MDE, including its online Master of Education degree in early childhood education, as well as 12-hour undergraduate endorsement program.

“We, at the North Mississippi Education Consortium, are excited to be a part of this grant opportunity,” said Susan Scott, program coordinator at NMEC. “As educators, we see the value of early childhood education and the impact it has on the educational achievement of Mississippi’s children.”