Seven Staff Members Receive Outstanding EEO Awards

Employees recognized for excellence in service categories

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) and Gazel Giles (second from left), president of the Staff Council, congratulate winners of the 2017 Outstanding Staff Member awards: Amanda Blair (second from left), Deetra Wiley, Susan Faust, Terrence Brown, Anne McCauley and Tony Ammeter. Pins, plaques and other recognitions were handed out to employees at the Staff Appreciation Awards Ceremony at the Ford Center. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Anne Dorsey McCauley, assistant director of the Office of Sustainability, is the University of Mississippi’s 2017 Overall Outstanding Staff Member winner.

McCauley was presented a plaque, $1,000 stipend and two season football tickets by Chancellor Jeffery Vitter during the annual Staff Appreciation Awards program Friday (May 19) in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“I was overwhelmed by the announcement,” said McCauley, who has worked at the university since 2008. “My family and I will be moving to Bay St. Louis this summer, so this was a beautiful way to send me off. What a wonderful surprise!”

Six other employees were presented with Service Awards, including a $500 stipend, in their respective EEO categories. Winners included Anthony Paul “Tony” Ammeter, associate provost for undergraduate programs and associate professor of management and management information systems, for EEO1; Deetra Ann Wiley, applications analyst in Business Applications and ERP support, for EEO 3; Susan Faust, executive assistant in the Office of the Provost, for EEO 4; Amanda Howard White, network administrator at UM’s Desoto Center-Southaven campus, for EEO 5; Terrance Terrel Brown, carpenter in the Carpentry Shop, for EEO 6; and Sandra Buford Phillips, senior custodian in Custodial Services, for EEO 7.

“We owe our great staff for making the University of Mississippi a place where students love to study, employees want to work and visitors want to be,” Vitter said. “So, thank all of you for your excellent services rendered to this institution and its many constituents.”

Whitman Smith, director of admissions, introduced long-standing employees, who were presented certificates, lapel pins, plaques and/or keepsakes in recognition of each person’s 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 30-plus years of service to the institution. Employees in Campus Recreation and University Communications also received Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Outstanding Team Service Awards.

“The outstanding staff awards were created in 1990 as a way to honor staff members for their contributions to the university,” said Gazel Giles, receptionist in Facilities Planning and president of the UM Staff Council.

“Staff members can vote for other staff members in their respective EEO categories through myOleMiss. The person with the most votes in their respective EEO category is recognized at our awards day ceremony.”

Anyone can nominate someone for the overall outstanding staff member regardless of EEO category.

“Individuals wishing to nominate a staff member for the overall outstanding award submit a narrative explaining why they believe their nominee should be recognized,” Giles said. “These nomination forms then go before a committee of staff council members who choose the overall outstanding staff member.”

Congratulations to all this year’s winners!

Alice Clark Receives 2017 Distinguished Researcher Award

UM vice chancellor honored for pivotal role in research and creative achievement

Alice Clark

OXFORD, Miss. – Alice Clark, a renowned scientist, F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy and University of Mississippi administrative leader, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award.

The announcement of the prestigious honor, which includes $7,500 and a personal plaque, was made during the university’s 164th Commencement ceremonies in the Grove.

Clark, a member of the Ole Miss community for more than 40 years, serves as vice chancellor for university relations. Previously, serving as vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, Clark played a pivotal role in shaping the university’s research enterprise.

“Alice has had a tremendous impact on this institution – from a stellar student to a noted and accomplished researcher to director of a renowned national center and, for the last 17 years, as an outstanding member of our leadership team,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “At every step, she has fostered innovative and energetic approaches, been a model of dedication and has played a key role in helping our university reach new heights of excellence.

“I am grateful to count her as my colleague, trusted adviser and friend. This award is a well-deserved recognition for Alice.”

The growth achieved during her tenure allowed the university to attain R1: Highest Research Activity designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive honor for doctoral research institutions, representing only 2.5 percent of universities nationwide.

“I am exceedingly moved to receive this award,” Clark said. “My time as vice chancellor for research afforded me the honor of learning about the wonderful and highly impressive research, creativity and scholarly achievement that occurs every day on our campus. It is humbling to be selected among such an outstanding group of people.”

Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, praised Clark’s distinguished career.

“I know I join many faculty members and administrators in being inspired by Alice’s career,” Gladden said. “As a scientist, she has made many groundbreaking discoveries, secured a great deal of competitive funding and won the admiration of her peers and several prestigious societies. As an administrator, she shaped the university and established a thriving research culture.”

Clark earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmacognosy at UM and joined the university as a research associate and faculty member in 1979.

During her time as vice chancellor for research, Clark found support for the creation and development of several research centers and institutes on campus. She oversaw and championed many university economic development efforts, including the creation of Insight Park, the university’s research park, and the Innovation Hub at Insight Park.

In her role as vice chancellor for university relations, she continues to oversee the university’s economic development efforts as well as communications, public events, federal relations and development.

Before becoming vice chancellor for research, Clark served as the director of the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research. Under her leadership and as a result of her strategic efforts, NCNPR grew from a small unit to an international leader in natural products drug discovery.

“Having known Alice for decades, I am extremely happy to see her receive this recognition,” said Larry Walker, director emeritus of NCNPR and professor of pharmacology. “Alice is a visionary leader with a sharp intellect and a knack for getting people to work together effectively to create progress.

“This was true at NCNPR, and it continues to be true in her role as vice chancellor for university relations.”

As a scientist, Clark has published extensively on the discovery of novel biologically active natural products and pharmaceuticals, authoring and co-authoring more than 100 original research articles, reviews and book chapters. She has presented more than 100 contributed papers at scientific meetings and given 19 invited symposia, seminars and workshop presentations in her field of expertise.

As principal investigator, she received continuous peer-reviewed NIH funding from 1984 to 2014 to conduct research related to the discovery and development of new drugs for opportunistic infections.

Clark has served in several leadership positions in national and international professional associations, including president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy and chair of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Her numerous honors and awards include the 2010 Marcy Speer Outstanding Reviewer Award, the preeminent honor for commitment to peer review given by the National Institute of Health’s Center for Scientific Review. She was the 1996 Rho Chi National Lecturer and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

Clark shares much of her success with husband and longtime collaborator Charles D. Hufford.

In 1984, they received a half-million dollars from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to screen compounds for activity against opportunistic infections threatening the lives of AIDS patients. The grant allowed them to discover a class of potent antifungal drugs called sampangines.

Clark and Hufford continued to work together throughout their careers and shared many research successes, including a $1 million contract renewal in 1987 and a $372,000 grant from NIAID in 1989. That grant, which was renewed four times and became one of the longest continually funded antifungal research programs in NIH history, brought $7.4 million to UM and led to the identification of many new natural products.

“I’m grateful to have worked with Charlie and many other outstanding faculty members and researchers at the University of Mississippi,” Clark said. “Success is ultimately built on relationships and working with others.

“The University of Mississippi has many wonderful qualities, and perhaps chief among them is the quality of our people, who have a strong record of working together, working hard and achieving great heights through collaboration, resourcefulness and bold, innovative thinking.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, which is sponsored by Syed Abidi, a UM alumnus and CEO of Pharmaceutics International Inc. It was initiated during Clark’s time as vice chancellor for research.

The annual honor recognizes a faculty member who has shown outstanding accomplishment in research, scholarship and creative activity. Previous winners are Sam Wang, Larry Walker, Charles Reagan Wilson, Dale Flesher, Atef Elsherbeni, Mahmoud ElSohly, Robert Van Ness, Charles Hussey and Ikhlas Khan.

Jon Meacham Challenges UM Graduates to Change Nation and World

Renowned intellectual delivered keynote address at 164th commencement Saturday

Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter addresses graduates at the University of Mississippi’s 164th Commencement ceremony. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Acknowledging national and global challenges, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Jon Meacham urged University of Mississippi graduating seniors Saturday (May 13) to remain engaged, improve themselves and their communities, and shoulder responsibilities.

“As Americans, we face fundamental economic, political and moral challenges,” Meacham said during his address at the university’s 164th Commencement in the Grove.

“At its best, Ole Miss has armed you for what Oliver Wendell Holmes called the passion and action of the times. Your weapons are the elements that form this school’s sure foundation: grace and strength and love.”

A former editor of Newsweek and a contributor to Time and The New York Times Book Review, Meacham is also a regular guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I’d argue that graduates of Ole Miss are especially well-equipped to lead in epic times,” Meacham said. “You are graduating at a promising hour for our region: old barriers are falling away, new opportunities are opening up and, if we listen very closely, we can hear the music of Lincoln’s ‘better angels of our nature.’ Ole Miss has taught you how to hear those better angels.”

Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter introduced Meacham as “a celebrated writer, historian, editor, journalist and media figure.”

“At Ole Miss we have an impressive and long-standing tradition of bringing nationally and internationally renowned figures to campus for our commencement addresses,” Vitter said. “And this year is certainly no exception. Whether through his journalism, television appearances or by writing definitive historical biographies, Mr. Meacham consistently provides a clear and authoritative voice in national discussions.”

Underneath cloudy skies and amid cool breezes, thousands gathered for the occasion. Individual school ceremonies were slated for later in the day in The Pavilion at Ole Miss, Circle, Grove and other locations across campus.

Author and historian Jon Meacham delivers the address for the University of Mississippi’s 164th Commencement ceremony. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Before Meacham’s speech, Saxon Nelson of Gulfport, a political science major and president of the 2017 senior class, announced his classmates have collected more than $8,100 as a donation to their alma mater.

“Over the past four years, I’ve witnessed many amazing things among us,” Nelson said. “All of these make me extremely optimistic about our future. Let’s hope for the best, prepare for the worst and enjoy what lies ahead.”

Referencing historical figures such as William Faulkner, William James and Abraham Lincoln, Meacham acknowledged the progress that has been made in human equality and envisioned future evolution in societal attitudes.

“To know what has come before, and to know how to think about seemingly disparate and distant events in relation to one’s own time and own complications is to be armed against despair,” Meacham said. “If men and women of the past, with all their flaws and limitations and ambitions and appetites, could press on through ignorance and superstition, racism and sexism, selfishness and greed to form a more perfect union, then perhaps we can, too.”

Meacham urged graduates to be questioning, be vigilant and to remember that the republic is only as good as the sum of all its people.

“Life is not a reality show, so pay attention,” he said. “And always remember, a life well-lived is not measured by the bottom line, but by the big picture.”

2017 University of Mississippi Commencement speaker Jon Meacham signs senior Austin Powell’s program following the ceremony on Saturday, May 13. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications.

This year’s graduating class included some 5,000 applicants for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Attendees included Bill and Laurie Robinson of Raymond, who came to watch their oldest daughter, Meagan, graduate with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.

“It’s been my dream forever for both our daughters to earn degrees from Ole Miss,” said Laurie Robinson, a nurse practitioner who graduated from the UM Medical Center. “Meagan’s sister, Mallory (a junior communicative disorders and sciences major), will graduate next year. We’re all extremely proud.”

Eugene Melvin of Brandon said it is “a proud moment” to see his wife, Arias, graduate with a specialist’s degree in educational leadership.

“She has always been in education,” said Melvin, who was in Oxford with other family members. “This degree will elevate her career and opportunities to a whole new level.”

Members of Corbin Tipton’s family came from Alfreda and Monroe, Georgia and from Kansas City, Missouri, to see her receive her degree in business administration.

“I’m so very proud of all of them,” said Charlotte Frary, Tipton’s grandmother. “Corbin’s the last of one of the four grands to complete her degree. She already has a job waiting, so this is great.”

Following the general ceremony, the College of Liberal Arts and the Oxford campus’ eight schools held separate ceremonies to present baccalaureate, master’s, Doctor of Pharmacy and law diplomas.

Carlton Reeves, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, was the speaker for the School of Law. Retired advertising executive Steve Davis addressed the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Recipients of doctoral degrees were honored at a hooding ceremony Friday evening in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, where three awards were presented by the Graduate School. The Group Award for Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education went to the Department of Modern Languages. Cecille Labuda, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, received the Individual Award for Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education. Kelly Wilson, professor of psychology, was presented the Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring.

During Saturday’s ceremony, John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry, was honored as the recipient of the 2017 Elise M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, presented annually to the campuswide outstanding teacher.

Alice M. Clark, vice chancellor of university relations, was named the recipient of the university’s 10th Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award. Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor of research and sponsored programs, accepted the award on her behalf.

The university also recognized the winners of this year’s Frist Student Service Awards: Robert Brown, professor of political science; Donald Dyer, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and co-director of the Chinese Language Flagship Program; and Whitman Smith, director of admissions.

Street Awarded UM Online Teaching Award

Journalism instructor honored for innovation in online instruction

The Ole Miss Online office recently announced that Robin Street, center, is this year’s winner of the annual Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Learning. Blair McElroy, left, UM director of study abroad and adjunct instructor in the legal studies department, and Jason Solinger, associate professor of English, were named as runners-up. UM photo by Pam Starling

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Adjusting to the ever-changing world of public relations has been a constant in Robin Street’s career. Although she has taught at the University of Mississippi for more than 25 years, the courses she teaches and her teaching style are parts of that continual evolution.

Her efforts were recognized this month when she was awarded the eighth annual UM Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching.

“In some classes, such as history or math, the materials taught pretty much remain the same each semester,” Street said. “But this class looks at current public relations cases and situations. You never know when a situation will occur that creates a public relations nightmare for an organization.”

Last year, Street, a senior lecturer in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, worked to translate her Journalism 492: Public Relations Case Problems course into an online format. She credits her success in creating this course to looking at online course creation in a different way.

“I once attended a workshop on good writing called ‘Think Like a Fish,'” Street said. “The speaker, a renowned writing coach, explained the title. Her father was an excellent fisherman. When asked what his secret was, he replied, ‘I think like a fish.’

“In designing the online JOUR 492 class, I decided to think like a student. Today’s students have short attention spans and are very visual. They do not read lengthy documents, but prefer to skim instead. I thought about what would attract their attention in the class and filled the online class with folders, icons, charts, to-do lists and other visual reminders of what to do next.”

Each year, the UM Office of Online Design and eLearning recognizes a UM faculty member who has excelled in online teaching through the annual Paragon Award. The nominee must exhibit good practice in course design and innovative use of technologies. Nominees’ efforts are acknowledged for engaging students as well as their commitment to providing students with a quality education.

“While I expect that there will always be a need for an on-campus educational experience, the digital-immersive, online learning environment is growing and evolving,” said Noel Wilkin, UM acting provost, during the Paragon Award presentation April 7 in the Lyceum.

“In that realm, design and innovation enhance the educational experience. It is inspiring to see our faculty members dedicate considerable effort to innovate on this evolving platform.”

When asked about developing a successful online class, Street said that organization is key.

“The layout of the class was easy to follow and keep up with,” said Kailee Wilson, a December graduate from Allen, Texas. “The lesson folders were so convenient.

“We had everything for that week laid out so there was no reason or excuse for not knowing what to do. I especially loved the to-do lists that were posted each week.”

Street created a private Facebook page account where students were required to take part in weekly discussions about the class topics.

“I chose to use Facebook because the students were already comfortable with this medium,” Street said. “They were able to see photos and learn about each other from the very first post where they introduced themselves.

“They also responded and reacted to each other’s posts. Student comments about that experience were very positive.”

YouTube and other popular social sites also were used to give students a greater grasp on current PR situations and campaigns to discuss what strategies might be best for a PR professional in certain situations.

“Students are not just reading a text and listening to a lecture, but observing public relations at work,” Street said. “They can watch PR events take place in real time while visiting the sites of the organization being studied.

“Students are asked to watch videos to learn not just theory from the text, but realities of public relations practice and careers today.”

Sydney Rubin, a senior marketing and corporate relations major from Raleigh, North Carolina, said her favorite part of the class was creating PR plans.

“I am currently applying for jobs in public relations and companies are asking me for writing samples, “Rubin said. “Now, I have lengthy campaigns that I was able to create on my own and get feedback on as a part of this class. I now feel more confident applying for these jobs and submitting my work.”

By using multiple forms of media in the course, Street maximized student engagement and maintained their interests, said Wan Latartara, instructional designer and training specialist.

“Her course design did more than meet the eye,” Latartara said. “She strategically placed elements so to catch students’ attention and guide them through the course right from the beginning.

“By thinking like a student, Robin made a commitment to meet students where they are.”

This year’s runner-up category for the Paragon Award featured two online courses taught by Blair McElroy, UM director of Study Abroad and adjunct instructor in the UM legal studies department, and Jason Solinger, associate professor of English.

Nominations Sought for Annual Frist Awards

UM honor recognizes outstanding service to students

Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor for student affairs, presents Brett Cantrell, assistant professor of accountancy, with his Frist Award at the 2016 Commencement. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Being away from home and their familiar support systems, college students often encounter difficulties, but at the University of Mississippi, faculty and staff members often step in to lend a helping hand or simply provide advice and encouragement.

These efforts often go unacknowledged, other than the students’ gratitude and success. But students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff can formally recognize those who have truly “gone the extra mile” to help students by nominating them for the Thomas Frist Student Service Award.

“This university is composed of so many faculty and staff who go above and beyond to help students,” said Anne McCauley, UM assistant director of sustainability who won the honor in 2015. “Each student could probably name at least one person who has made a real impact on his or her life, and we hope to capture everyone’s attention about the nomination process to encourage students to nominate that person, whether it be an office, custodial, support staff, counselor, student organization adviser, mentor, coordinator or faculty member.”

Students, alumni, friends, faculty and staff can submit nominations for the annual awards online through April 3. Any full-time faculty or staff member, except previous winners, is eligible for the award, which includes a $1,000 prize and a plaque.

Written and submitted by individuals, nominations can be entered at http://www.olemiss.edu/frist_award/. Past nominations also may be considered.

Nominations should not focus on classroom teaching or tutoring efforts. Letters that cite only teaching-related activities may not be considered for the award.

The Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award, announced at the annual Honors Day convocation, recognizes excellence in that area.

The nomination narrative should differentiate between obligation and service by citing specific examples in which the person being nominated has gone beyond the call of duty to help a student or group of students.

“Many of our faculty and staff go above and beyond the call of duty to demonstrate their commitment to students,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “It is a privilege to honor two such individuals each year who provide such an example for us all.”

All nominees are notified that they have been so honored, and a campus committee appointed by the chancellor chooses the winners. Awards are to be presented May 13 at UM’s spring Commencement.

The 2015 Frist winners were Brett Cantrell, assistant professor of accountancy, and Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, assistant director of the Office of Violence Prevention in the University Counseling Center

Previous recipients include current faculty members Aileen Ajootian, Luca Bombelli, Don Cole, Charles Eagles, Ellen Meacham, Terry Panhorst, Ken Sufka and Eric Weber; and current staff members Thelma Curry, Carol Forsythe, Dewey Knight, Ginger Patterson, Valeria Ross, Amy Saxton, Marc Showalter and Linda Spargo.

The Frist Student Service Awards were established with a $50,000 gift from the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate.

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/frist_award/.

UM Moves Up in Measures of Academic and Research Performance

University included in several rankings of the nation's and world's best institutions

The University of Mississippi is ranked among the nation’s best public institutions in several third-party evaluations of academic and research performance. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Efforts by faculty, staff and students to excel in their pursuit of knowledge have given the University of Mississippi, the state’s flagship university, new momentum in its mission to lead the way in learning, discovery and engagement for the state and nation.

UM has been ranked among the nation’s best public institutions in several third-party evaluations of academic and research performance, and the university has climbed in recent measures of those areas.

In 2016, the university was included for the first time among the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the nation’s top doctoral research universities. UM is among a distinguished group of 115 institutions, including Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins in the highest research category, which includes the top 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education.

The university also achieved its highest-ever standing in the 2017 U. S. News & World Report annual rankings of Best (Undergraduate) Colleges and Universities, where UM tied for No. 64 in the Top Public Universities category, up seven places from the previous year’s rankings. The rankings reflect 15 indicators of academic excellence, such as graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, financial resources and alumni giving rates.

Chemical engineering students conduct an experiment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“These achievements and rankings reinforce our flagship status and are a testament to the value of our degrees, the impact of our research and the competitiveness of our students, staff and faculty,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “While they provide important benchmarks for our university, we remain committed to achieving even higher levels of excellence.

“We will focus upon growing the reach and impact of Ole Miss to continue making a positive difference for Mississippi, our nation and the world.”

The university ranked in the top 20 percent of U.S. institutions for total research and development expenditures in a report issued by the National Science Foundation based upon 2015 expenditures. For the 10th consecutive year, the university was ranked in the top 20 percent in this report.

The university also performed well in the inaugural ranking of U.S. colleges and universities by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education publications. This measure ranked UM 74th among all the nation’s public universities.

This ranking constitutes a comparative assessment of more than 1,000 colleges and universities, measuring factors such as university resources, student engagement, outcomes and environment. The latter includes a gauge of the university’s efforts to build a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff.

“Many of our academic offerings continue to gain exposure and recognition,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “I fully expect this trend to continue because of the quality and commitment of our faculty and staff.”

Success in international education and research partnerships contributed to the university’s standing on U.S. News’ 2017 list of Best Global Universities. Among the top 1,000 research universities in 65 countries, UM ranked in the top third on this year’s list.

Ole Miss students attending the PULSE Sophomore Leadership get to interact with Corporate Execs from FedEx, Hershey’s, Chico and others. PULSE is a two-day sophomore leadership workshop that brings together sophomore students from a variety of roles on campus to learn about themselves and their leadership potential. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The Best Global Universities list ranks each institution’s international and regional research reputation, including a statistical analysis of peer-reviewed publications, citations and international collaborations. The university ranked in the top 10 percent in international collaborations, and the university’s research areas of physics and pharmacology/toxicology were ranked in the top 20 percent.

“The reputation of the university in national and international research circles has been steadily growing over the past few decades,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “We have seen this trend through an increasing number of national leadership positions in societies and consortia, an increase in the number of grant awards, as well as in statistical reports such as U.S. News and World Report.

“It is an exciting time for the research community at the university, and I look forward to increasingly higher impact of UM research.”

U.S. News and World Report ranked two of the university’s graduate academic programs in the top 25 nationally among public universities: the online MBA program (No. 19) and pharmacy (No. 23). Here are some of the other U.S. News rankings of UM graduate programs among public universities:

  • School of Education online program (tied No. 35)
  • History (tied No. 48)
  • Master of Business Administration (tied No. 51)
  • English (tied No. 56)
  • Clinical psychology (tied No. 67)
  • Civil engineering (tied No. 70)
  • Education (tied No. 72)
  • Social work (tied No. 77)
  • Physics (tied No. 84)
  • Electrical engineering (tied No. 85)
  • Mathematics (tied No. 91)

In national rankings by other sources, the university achieved several additional accolades among all public and private universities:

  • Patterson School of Accountancy (all three degree programs ranked in the top 10 nationally by the journal Public Accounting Report)
  • Patterson School of Accountancy master’s and doctoral programs (No. 1 in SEC)
  • Patterson School of Accountancy undergraduate program (No. 2 in SEC)
  • Creative writing (No. 6 among “Top 10 Universities for Aspiring Writers” by CollegeMagazine.com)
  • Online health informatics undergraduate program (No. 3 by the Health Informatics Degree Center)
  • Business law program in the School of Law (one of only four schools to earn a perfect score of A+ by preLaw Magazine, ranking it as one of the country’s top programs)

The university’s efforts to achieve excellence in all its endeavors also has helped recruit talented students to learn and contribute on all its campuses. The Chronicle of Higher Education named the university as the nation’s eighth-fastest growing among both public and private colleges in its Almanac of Higher Education, moving up from 13th in 2014.

The ranking is based upon enrollment growth from fall 2006, when the university enrolled 14,497 students, to fall 2016, with 24,250 students registered.

The university’s incoming freshmen continue to be better-prepared for the rigor of college, posting an average ACT score of 25.2 in fall 2016, surpassing the school record of 24.7 set in 2015. The high school GPA of incoming freshmen also increased, growing from 3.54 to 3.57, another university record.

“Ole Miss is committed to student success,” Vitter said. “The demand for a University of Mississippi degree is unprecedented, and the success of our programs and initiatives aimed at helping students stay in school and graduate is clear in our increasing retention and graduation rates.

“Each and every day, our faculty and staff demonstrate strong commitment to transforming lives through higher education.”

University to Host Open House for 2017 K-12 Summer Camp Options

Locals invited to stop by Feb. 7 for info about variety of academic summer programs available

RebelQuest participants watch as a counselor tests one of their Lego bridges by loading the structure with water bottles to determine how much weight it can bear. The Office of Pre-College Programs will host an open house 4-6 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Yerby Conference Center so parents can learn more about the more than 20 academic summer camp options available to K-12 students in a variety of subjects and formats. UM photo by Larry Agostinelli

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Summer activities for school-age children are a hot topic this time of year as parents look to secure spots and decide on the best camp options for their children.

Local parents can get a head start on planning a fun academic experience for their children this summer when the University of Mississippi Office of Pre-College Programs hosts an open house Tuesday (Feb. 7) at the E.F. Yerby Auditorium.

The come-and-go event is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Camp directors and staff will be on hand to answer questions about the 20 different academic camps taking place at Ole Miss this summer for rising first- through 12th-grade students. Information will also be provided concerning costs, financial aid and payroll deduction options.

Anna Sayre, of Oxford, recently registered her 9-year-old daughter Nora for the university’s popular Rebel Quest weekly camps available for three age groups of elementary school children.

“I wanted my daughter to have a fun learning experience this summer,” Sayre said. “It is convenient for her to be on campus so close to my office, and the weekly camp options were reasonably priced. I think the variety and different subject matters will keep learning interesting for her over the summer.”

The camps provide opportunities for both academic and personal development for K-12 students.

The goal of these on-campus summer academic programs and camps is to bridge the gap between secondary and post-secondary education for area youth. Children have opportunities to develop skills and garner interest in a variety of academic areas.

“There can be this learning gap that takes place in the summer months,” said Matthew DeLoach, director of student services for UM Pre-College Programs. “That’s why these summer academic exploring opportunities are so important.”

CSI Summer Camp participants photograph and document a body in a staged crime scene as well at gathering data on other evidence at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Along with Rebel Quest for younger ages, a variety of week and monthlong camps are offered for middle and high schoolers to sharpen their skills in a number of areas, including creative writing, ecology, engineering, math and theater.

Resume and transcript-building options also are available for high school students preparing for college.

The UM Summer College for High School Students provides an opportunity to enroll in six hours of college credit courses while developing friendships and independence. Session one is offered May 30-June 27, with session following on June 29-July 28.

As with all programs for middle and high school students offered by the Office of Pre-College programs, students have the option to stay on-campus or commute to campus during the sessions.

For more information about the variety of summer youth program opportunities, stop by on Feb. 7 or visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/summercamps.

Liberal Arts Administrator Named Associate UM Provost

Rich Forgette brings 'administrative abilities, perspectives and knowledge' to post

Senior Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Richard Forgette will serve as Associate Provost beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

Rich Forgette, senior associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will serve as associate provost beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

OXFORD, Miss. – Rich Forgette will begin 2017 serving as associate provost of the University of Mississippi, bringing decades of leadership and education experience to the role.

He said he is honored to serve the university in this capacity.

“I am excited by the opportunity, humbled to be given the opportunity and privileged to work with a great team of people in the provost office,” Forgette said. “I’ll serve in the best interests of the University of Mississippi as a whole, and I’m going to work hard and try to do my very best to continue to move the university forward.”

Forgette served as chair of the UM Department of Political Science from 2003 to 2011, when he was named senior associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He was interim dean of liberal arts during the 2014-15 academic year.

The College of Liberal Arts is the university’s largest academic unit, and Forgette said he believes that background of general education allows him to have a better understanding of UM’s needs moving forward.

“The college delivers all the general education for all of our students so, in essence, all students are part of the college,” Forgette said. “It’s important that they be integrated as they transition in the degree program of their majors. I think having that perspective in the provost office would be helpful.”

Forgette said the role of associate provost is both to work as a team member within the Office of the Provost to assist in day-to-day management of central academic affairs, and to ensure there is an efficient line of communication between the office and all other academics offices across the university.

“I think, first as a faculty member myself, I hope to be a voice for faculty concerns and needs,” Forgette said. “As an administrator, I hope that I bring a very broad depth of knowledge of university policies and procedures grounded in my years as a chair and at the dean’s level.”

Before his arrival at Ole Miss, Forgette was an assistant professor and associate professor of political science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, from 1992 to 2003. Additionally he served as the 1996-97 American Political Science Association William Steiger Congressional Fellow, working in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Forgette has published numerous articles and books on congressional elections and public policy. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in public policy and political science from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina.

Aside from bringing extensive experience in teaching and research to his new position, Forgette also has recently had an opportunity to view the university from a family perspective. His son Matt and daughter Christie are enrolled in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, studying international studies and education, respectively.

Daughter Annie is a high school junior and a prospective UM student. Additionally, his wife, Karen, is an instructor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

“One of the things that will help me in this job is that I’m a parent of two students at the University of Mississippi, so I have a different view of the UM than some others,” he said.

When Forgette is not spending his time thinking or talking about the university, he enjoys running and staying active in the Oxford community in different ways.

“I am pleased and honored to be joined in the provost office by Dr. Rich Forgette,” Interim Provost Noel Wilkin said. “He is respected on campus for his administrative abilities, perspectives and knowledge of our academic programs. He brings a wealth of experience and ability to the office that will significantly contribute to our ability to facilitate the success of the university, its units and its programs.”

Forgette, along with Donna Strum, chair and professor of pharmacy administration and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, will assume their associate provost roles Jan. 1.

Jeffrey Vitter Inaugurated as UM Chancellor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wicker noted the historic nature of opportunities ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sue Keiser Named UM Chief of Staff

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

Sue Keiser. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Sue Keiser. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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