Study Abroad Leader Visiting South Korea in June

Blair McElroy bestowed a Fulbright award

Blair McElroy

OXFORD, Miss. – The head of the study abroad program at the University of Mississippi has received a Fulbright award to South Korea to create a stronger connection between the university and the country.

Blair McElroy, director of the university’s study abroad program and UM interim senior international officer, was awarded a grant to attend a two-week International Education Administrators seminar in June in South Korea. The grant is made possible through funds appropriated annually by Congress.

“I am delighted and proud to be selected as one of the eight grantees,” McElroy said. “I am excited to experience the Korean culture firsthand as part of a group of passionate individuals in the field of international education.”

The purpose of the seminar is “to create and deepen institutional connections to Korea through visits to universities and meetings with faculty, administrators and government officials,” McElroy said.

“These visits and meetings will enhance UM’s current program offerings in Korea by structuring strategic partnerships in academic areas. The seminar will also increase my knowledge of Korean culture, which will assist in advising students for study in Korea, enhance connections to our current Korean students on campus and, personally, increase my intercultural competence – one can never have enough.”

Typically, the seminar includes a week around Seoul, South Korea, visiting universities and institutions. The second week is generally spent outside Seoul. The seminar also includes tours of historical and cultural sites.

“I am thrilled that Ms. McElroy has been given this opportunity to travel to South Korea and work to expand her expertise and our community’s connection to that country,” UM Provost Noel Wilkin said. “We have a goal to educate and engage global citizens, which entails increasing study abroad and expanding faculty engagement abroad.

“In addition to being an honor for Blair, this award will enable her to advance this goal and build connections to enable these activities.”

After returning, McElroy said she will pursue the goals outlined in her project statement, which includes workshops for faculty and staff on intercultural communication and partnerships in Korea, development of faculty-led programs to Korea and support of events where domestic and Korean students can connect.

“I hope that through these goals we will increase the number of students studying in Korea, especially students who are not currently studying Korean language at UM, and encourage cultural exchange through study, teaching and research,” McElroy said.

A native of Jackson, Tennessee, McElroy earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies, minoring in Chinese and French, from Ole Miss in 2002. She is a graduate of the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She earned her Juris Doctor from the UM School of Law in 2006.

During her academic career, she studied overseas in Beijing for a semester, and at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. She joined the study abroad office in 2006.

According to Jeffrey L. Bleich, chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, the Fulbright program “aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, (and) is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.”

“As a Fulbright recipient and a representative of the United States, you will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with international partners in educational, political, cultural, economic and scientific fields,” Bleich said in a letter to McElroy announcing the award. “We hope that your Fulbright experience will be deeply rewarding professionally and personally, and that you will share the knowledge you gain with many others throughout your life.”

Professor Karen Raber Named Director of Shakespeare Organization

Headquarters of Shakespeare Association of America to be housed at university

UM English professor Karen Raber has been named as the new executive director of the Shakespeare Association of America. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi English professor has been named executive director of a national organization dedicated to the work of William Shakespeare.

Karen Raber, an English professor who specializes in Renaissance literature with an emphasis on ecostudies, animal studies and posthumanist theory, has been officially announced as executive director of the Shakespeare Association of America.

The nonprofit, professional organization advances the academic study of Shakespeare’s plays and poems along with his cultural and theatrical contexts and their roles in world culture. The association, founded in 1972, is housed at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

The headquarters of the organization will move to the Ole Miss campus, and the executive director is the main point of contact for all members.

“I was delighted and a tiny bit terrified,” said Raber of hearing the news. “This is a huge job, with a lot of moving parts, and so the challenge of taking it on is going to be enormous.

“Plus, the previous executive director, Lena Orlin, has been a brilliant administrator for the organization, so I have a high standard to live up to.”

Raber replaces Orlin, an English professor at Georgetown University, and assumes the new position June 1, though she will be involved in planning for next year’s conference and board meetings during this year’s meeting in March. The role is a part-time appointment, meaning Raber will continue to work and teach at Ole Miss.

Raber’s new role will require a commitment from the university, in both funding and space, but Raber said UM Department of English Chair Ivo Kamps and liberal arts Dean Lee Cohen worked to put the necessary resources into Raber’s position.

“I was elated when Karen got the news,” Kamps said. “This is an impressive achievement for her and for the English department. … Karen has been an incredibly productive and well-respected scholar over the last two decades, and she has reached that point in her career where she’s nationally and internationally recognized.

“After doing important work in the fields of gender studies and early modern British literature, Karen has in recent years expanded her scope to include, first, early modern environmental literature and culture and then the burgeoning field of animal studies, in which she is a true pioneer. Her work has always been historically informed, theoretically and sophisticated, and cutting edge, and her work in animal studies has created a new scholarly paradigm in which other scholars can work and flourish.”

Raber’s appointment as executive director of the Shakespeare Association of America is not only a clear recognition of her qualities but also of the rising esteem of UM, Kamps said. The position has typically been held by a professor from an elite Northeastern university, with Orlin holding the post since 1996.

“Karen’s appointment suggests the premier Shakespeare literary association in the world is pleased to be associated with the University of Mississippi,” Kamps said.

Orlin said the association has long been known for the uniquely democratic nature of its core activity: research seminars, in which scholars of different backgrounds, ranks and approaches come together to advance the state of knowledge about plays and poems that find new fans with every generation.

“‘Shakespeare’ is a language that crosses all borders,” she said. “I know that Karen Raber shares the values that have always guided the officers of the SAA, and I am glad that the organization will be in her good hands going forward.”

Raber joined the UM faculty in 1995, after earning her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and her master’s and doctoratal degrees from the University of California at San Diego. She is the author of three monographs, including “Shakespeare and Posthumanist Theory,” which is being released April 5 by The Arden Shakespeare.

Raber also is the author of 2013’s “Animal Bodies, Renaissance Culture,” a finalist for the 2015 Association for the Study of Literature and Environment Book Award, and “Dramatic Difference: Gender, Class and Genre in the Early Modern Closet Drama,” published in 2001.

She is the co-editor of several other works, including “Early Modern Ecostudies: From the Florentine Codex to Shakespeare” with Kamps and Tom Hallock, associate publisher of Beacon Press in Boston.

In 2014, Raber was honored with the UM Faculty Achievement Award.

The Shakespeare Association of America holds an annual conference each spring for association members to exchange ideas and strategies on Shakespeare, including a program of working research seminars. The association’s 46th annual meeting is March 28-31 in Los Angeles. The association also sponsors a number of seminars and workshops each year.

More than 400 years after his death, the study of Shakespeare is as relevant as ever, said Raber, who started working on Shakespeare with Louis Montrose, a well-known Shakespeare and Renaissance literature scholar, when she worked on her Ph.D. at the University of California at San Diego.

“As my work progressed and changed, shifting toward early modern ecostudies, animal studies and posthumanist theory, Shakespeare’s plays and poems became an even more important touchstone for these developing and important approaches,” she said. “Plus, my teaching has always included a healthy dose of Shakespeare here, where the Shakespeare lecture and other courses on his plays are very popular, and once were required for all majors.”

Flagship Constellations Mini-Conference Set for Jan. 19

Registration is open for event focused on disaster resilience

OXFORD, Miss. – A mini-conference on the Disaster Resilience Flagship Constellation at the University of Mississippi is set for Jan. 19.

Information related to disaster resilience will be shared at the event through a general-information session led by the interim constellation leadership team, a series of five-minute presentations from individual faculty and researchers, and breakout discussions focusing on constellation sub-themes.

The event is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 19 with in-person and online participation options. A location is to be announced. Lunch will be provided.

The mini-conference is open to all faculty and staff, but pre-registration is requested by 5 p.m. Jan. 17.

There are two ways to register. Oxford campus attendees who have not decided to present a five-minute talk can register at http://www.research.olemiss.edu/upcoming-presentations. Be sure to click on the appropriate registration option: in person or remote. Registrants will be contacted later to see if they want to present.

Everyone else – including all University of Mississippi Medical Center personnel and anyone who already knows they want to present – should email Ahmed Al-Ostaz, Brevard Family Chair in Civil Engineering and professor of civil engineering, at alostaz@olemiss.edu. Once again, registrants should specify whether they will attend in person or remotely.

Attendees interested in giving a five-minute talk should specify a title, and provide a 150-word (max) abstract – or an abstract can be offered later.

Questions about this mini-conference should be directed to Al-Ostaz.

The Flagships Constellations are a new UM initiative involving multidisciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students searching for meaningful solutions to complicated issues through collaborative thinking in four areas: big data, brain wellness, community wellbeing and disaster resilience.

UM Black Faculty and Staff Organization Plays Santa’s Helpers

20th annual Books and Bears program provides toys for physical plant workers' children

As usual, bicycles were the most in-demand items at the annual UM Books and Bears distribution. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Nostalgia and excitement filled the air at The Inn at Ole Miss as Facilities Management Department employees gathered for the University of Mississippi’s 20th annual Books and Bears program Friday (Dec. 15).

Sponsored by the campus Black Faculty and Staff Organization, the charitable event distributed hundreds of new teddy bears, children’s books and toys given by UM faculty, staff, students and alumni over the past three weeks. The number of presents donated for the children and grandchildren of facilities management employees reached a new record.

“The thoughtfulness and outpouring of support from the UM family has been nothing short of amazing this year,” said Donald Cole, associate provost and associate professor of mathematics. “By helping others, we have truly captured the spirit of the holidays.”

Cole, along with Janice Murray, associate dean of liberal arts and professor of art, organized the first Books and Bears in 1997 in response to what they saw as a need to help custodial staff provide Christmas gifts to their children. Spread by word of mouth only, the initial response to the call for donations was overwhelming.

“We wanted the staff’s children to have the books for literary development and the bears for nurturing purposes,” Murray said. “People have been responding generously ever since. Somehow, there’s always been enough so no one left empty-handed. It’s truly amazing.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter thanked the employees for their hard work and dedication.

“We truly appreciate all that you do to make the university such a special place that people love to visit,” Vitter said. “We hope that this wonderful program expresses some of our gratitude. Merry Christmas and have a great new year.”

Reception at the event was both reflective and enthusiastic.

UM general maintenance employees select reading material for their children during the 20th annual Books and Bears program at The Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

“I was there for the very first Books and Bears and always felt it would grow,” said Jerry “Duke” Hardin of Abbeville, who has been a general maintenance employee for 33 years. “It’s always a blessing to see how happy people are when they come here. That’s what makes this so special to me.”

Hardin recalled that the most significant present he took home was from the 2011 program.

“It was a great big ole white bear,” he said. “He was 1-1/2 when I gave it to him and he loved that bear; slept with it every night.”

James “Poncho” Wilson of Oxford, who has attended every Books and Bears distribution since the program began, had a similar experience last year.

“I finally won that bike,” said Wilson, who works in the trucking department. “I gave it to my 6-year-old granddaughter. She was ecstatic.”

General maintenance worker Brad Skeeks of Oxford won the first bicycle of the morning. He had his photograph taken with Vitter.

“This is a great way to get a few extra gifts for my daughter and granddaughter,” he said. “It also gives me a chance to see people I don’t get to see much through the year.”

Specificity is not a requirement for Stanley Reynolds of Oxford.

“It doesn’t have to be any particular thing for my children,” said the seven-year employee at The Inn at Ole Miss. “Just seeing the excitement on their faces over whatever they receive is a blessing.”

Black Faculty and Staff Organization members expressed pleasure over the assistance in obtaining toys and books for the children.

“Over the years, Books and Bears just keeps growing and growing,” said Jackie Certion, senior academic adviser in the College of Liberal Arts. “We truly appreciate the leadership of Dr. Cole, who always manages to bring out the best in everyone who works with this program.”

Murray summed up the program succinctly.

“Thanks to Books and Bears, many of the children of these employees have graduated from high school and attended college either at Ole Miss or elsewhere,” she said. “Our original dream has been fulfilled and more.”

UM Researchers Working on Acoustic Detection for Undersea Oil Leaks

Team gets $591,000 grant for work to make crude production safer for the environment

Zhiqu Lu, senior research scientist at the UM National Center for Physical Acoustics, is leading a team working to develop technology to detect leaks in offshore deep-water oil and gas lines and production equipment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Snaking beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are thousands of miles of pipelines carrying oil and natural gas from offshore wells. They carry the fuel that keeps the American economy rolling, with Gulf production accounting for 17 percent of total U.S. crude oil production and 5 percent of total U.S. dry natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Even with safety protocols in place, though, a grave threat to offshore oil and gas operations is the leakage of hydrocarbons – a chief component of oil and natural gas – and the resulting damage to human health and safety, the environment and infrastructure.

Most recently, in October, an oil pipe fractured in the Gulf about 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, releasing between 7,950 and 9,350 barrels of oil before being halted. And, in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon spill leaked more than 3 million barrels into the Gulf.

“Oil exploration in the Gulf brings new economic development opportunities but also brings risks,” said Josh Gladden, University of Mississippi interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “The University of Mississippi has developed expertise in a number of areas, from engineering and sensing technologies to Biosystems, that can be brought to bear to minimize these risks and mitigate the impact.”

With that in mind, a team of UM researchers is working on technology that could quickly detect, locate and characterize these undersea hydrocarbon leakages in offshore deep-water oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week, the trio of scientists received a $591,000 grant from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to assist in their research.

The research is focused on utilizing acoustic technologies to develop a functional real-time monitoring system that can find leaks in deep-water oil and gas production in the Gulf over a large area while still being cost-effective. Early detection and location of leaks could minimize their impact. Current monitoring techniques are limited, including being unable to monitor in real time.

The Ole Miss team consists of three active researchers in acoustics, physics and electrical engineering. Zhiqu Lu, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Physical Acoustics, is responsible for the experimentation and overview of the project. Likun Zhang, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is responsible for the implementation and development of acoustic bubble modeling. Lei Cao, professor of electrical engineering, is responsible for the development of localization algorithms.

The researchers also are recruiting three graduate students to assist in experiments, programming and investigation in signal processing and acoustic signal modeling.

“When we heard the grant approval news, we were very excited and a little bit surprise, since among 66 submitted proposals only six projects were approved,” Lu said.

“This grant will provide a great opportunity to expand our research area that exploits the advantages of both underwater acoustic sensing techniques and oil spill-induced underwater sound mechanisms, along with an advanced localization technique.”

This project’s results could have tremendous applications in petroleum industries, environmental monitoring and other fields, he said.

“Further testing in the ocean, along with prototyping and commercializing efforts, will be immediately pursued upon the success of the current project,” Lu said. “That will be the next project.”

An “early warning system … is essential for preventing the next oil spill as well as for seafloor hydrocarbon seepage detection,” he said.

The researchers plan to build a network-based, real-time passive monitoring system of hydrophones, or underwater microphones, for detecting, locating and characterizing hydrocarbon leakages.

During an oil spill, the leaked hydrocarbon is injected into seawater at high speeds, creating an underwater sound through gas bubbles. The sounds of the bubbles can be recorded via the hydrophones over long distances that would indicate an oil spill.

“Using a hydrophone network, a triangulation localization method, similar to GPS-based navigation, can be developed to determine the leak location,” Lu said. “The oil-bubble sounds can be further analyzed to estimate the sizes and intensities of the oil leakages.

“Before the technology is full-developed and employed in ocean environments, we are going to first develop and test our detection and localization techniques/algorithm in a small-scale water tank under controlled oil spill conditions. This functional system will help us to acquire the acoustic signatures of bubble sound, improve detection and location techniques, and gain better understanding of bubble sound.”

The grant was one of six announced Dec. 7. The grants, involving research into new technologies that could improve the understanding and management of risks in offshore oil and gas operations, totaled $10.8 million.

Zhiqu Lu demonstrates his team’s approach for developing acoustic technology to detect gas bubbles from deep-water oil and gas leaks. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“These projects address several facets of risk in offshore operations,” said Kelly Oskvig, program officer for the Gulf Research Program’s Safer Offshore Energy Systems initiative. “This includes research on the problem of gas unloading within deep-water drilling risers, development of remote detection capabilities of hydrocarbon releases, design of improved cementing mixtures and better techniques for sealing wells, and development of tools to assist team decision-making in the offshore environment.”

The six projects were selected after an external peer-review process.

The UM researchers are closely collaborating with GOWell International, an international oil and energy company, to ensure the relevance of the experiment to real scenarios and to aid in early prototyping of potential technologies, Lu said.

“The NCPA at the University of Mississippi has a long history of developing acoustics-based solutions for a wide variety of problems,” said Gladden, who is former director of the center. “Dr. Lu has many years of experience in linear and nonlinear acoustics in sediments and soils, and will provide excellent leadership on this project.”

In 2016, U.S. crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico set an annual high of 1.6 million barrels per day, surpassing the previous high set in 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The administration estimates that annual crude oil production in the Gulf could increase to an average of 1.7 million barrels per day in 2017 and 1.9 million barrels per day in 2018.

For more information about the National Center for Physical Acoustics, visit https://ncpa.olemiss.edu/.

The National Academies’ Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The program seeks to enhance offshore energy system safety and protect human health and the environment.

The program has $500 million for use over 30 years to fund grants, fellowships and other activities in the areas of research and development, education and training, and monitoring and synthesis.

Visit http://www.national-academies.org/gulf/index.html to learn more.

UM Town Hall Features Strategic Plan Unveiling

Chancellor, provost share vision for university's future, invite ideas for achieving goals

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter delivers the ‘State of the University’ address during the university’s second Town Hall event Wednesday (Oct. 11) at The Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Responding to ideas and hopes expressed more than a year ago at the University of Mississippi’s first-ever universitywide Town Hall, UM officials unveiled a new strategic plan for the institution’s future success Wednesday (Oct. 11) at the second Town Hall.

Similar to the inaugural event, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni attended the two-hour gathering in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom of The Inn at Ole Miss. Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter opened with a “State of the University” address.

“We can see higher peaks, but to reach those peaks, we must continue having the important conversations about, ‘How do we go from great to greater?’ and ‘How will we get there?'” Vitter said. “The four pillars that emerged from the Flagship Forum last year are academic excellence; healthy and vibrant communities; people, places and resources; and athletics excellence.

“Our road map to the future focuses upon these four pillars.”

Audience members posed questions to Ole Miss administrators during a question-and-answer session following Vitter’s address.

Members of the UM community share ideas for the university’s future at the second Town Hall event Wednesday (Oct. 11) at The Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Also during the assembly, Provost Noel Wilkin unveiled the “Flagship Forward” strategic plan, born from the 550 ideas shared at the first Town Hall in August 2016. Wilkin outlined details about the transformative initiatives and goals around the four pillars.

Attendees were among the first in the university community to receive a copy of the new strategic plan.

“Each pillar has its own transformative initiative and specific goals,” Wilkin said. “For example, the academic excellence initiative is to accelerate and inspire solutions to society’s grand challenges. Our goals are to enhance the quality of academic programs, support faculty excellence, enhance student success and increase research and creative achievement.”

UM faculty and staff members discuss ideas and share feedback for the university’s future at the second Town Hall event Wednesday (Oct. 11) at The Inn at Ole Miss. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

During the interactive segment of the Town Hall, participants were asked to brainstorm future “headlines” they hope will be achieved within the next five years and beyond. By the end of the event, more than 150 “headlines” focused around the pillars and goals were shared.

Anne Klinger, a staff member in the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education who attended last year’s Town Hall, said she felt the new strategic plan definitely reflected ideas expressed last year.

“I think that the committee looked at all the great ideas submitted and narrowed them down to these achievable ideals,” she said. “I am inspired by many of them and I can’t wait to see where we are at by the next Town Hall.”

Students in attendance expressed similar hopefulness.

“The thing I most look forward to is achieving a goal within the people, places and resources pillar,” said Abigail Percy, a junior journalism major from Carthage. “I’d most definitely like to see more appreciation for theater and film.”

Logan Williamson, another junior journalism student from Byrum, said the academic excellence pillar is important to him.

“My hope is that as Ole Miss continues to grow, the campus culture will continue to evolve in order for everyone to rise,” he said.

The session was moderated by David Magee, longtime Oxford resident, Ole Miss alumnus and publisher of The Oxford Eagle.

“This is a moment when we all get to actively participate in the future of this great university,” Magee said. “We all love Ole Miss and everything that it has accomplished, but were poised to achieve more than we’ve ever dared to imagine.”

Vitter urged participants to recognize their responsibilities as Ole Miss Rebels and members of the state’s flagship university as they face the world’s many challenges.

“Being an Ole Miss Rebel means we stand up for one another, it means we do not shy away from difficult discussions, it means every voice matters and it means we move forward together in a shared vision for our future,” Vitter said.

UMMC Earns National Telehealth Center of Excellence Designation

The standard of care and record of leadership at the Center for Telehealth has led to UMMC being named a Telehealth Center of Excellence. UMMC photo by Joe Ellis

JACKSON, Miss. — For 14 years, the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center has been a national trailblazer in providing high-quality health care, especially for those with little access to both primary and specialty services.

Its leadership, body of work and mastery of telecommunications technology is being recognized by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. The Medical Center has been designated one of two Telehealth Centers of Excellence, the agency’s top award given only to programs at public academic medical centers.

“The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s successful program is already a model for national telehealth expansion,” said U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. “As a Center of Excellence, UMMC will be able to demonstrate to a broader audience how to use telehealth to increase patient access to care and decrease costs.

“Mississippians can be proud that our state’s telehealth investments have set a high standard for improving health care everywhere.”

The recognition from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was announced during an Oct. 5 news conference in Washington. It includes an initial $600,000 in funding, with the opportunity for an additional $2 million over two years.

The designation allows UMMC’s Center for Telehealth to serve as a national clearinghouse for telehealth research and resources, including technical assistance to other telehealth providers.

The Center for Telehealth connects patients and caregivers to Medical Center health care providers remotely, in real time, using video calls and interactive tools. More than 500,000 patient visits in 69 of the state’s 82 counties have been recorded since the center began with just three sites, expanding to more than 200 sites today, not including the homes of patients.

“UMMC’s selection as a national Telehealth Center of Excellence is affirmation of our mission and responsibility to bring high-quality health care to all Mississippians, especially those in rural, underserved areas,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“We look forward to using our experience to help advance best practices for this increasingly vital service.  I’m grateful for Senator Cochran’s support of our application.”

The Medical University of South Carolina was also selected as a Telehealth Center of Excellence.

Mississippians will directly benefit from the honor, said Michael Adcock, the Center for Telehealth’s executive director who joined the operation in 2015. The designation “sets us apart. We were selected because we have one of the most comprehensive telehealth programs in the country.”

Adcock said the designation allows the center to focus on four work areas: assessing the impact of telehealth on health care spending; creating new and/or refining payment methods; improving physician and patient awareness; and expanding its overall research portfolio.

“While our center has been able to show some impressive outcomes, we have not had the staff to focus on researching telehealth delivery models and outcome comparisons,” Adcock said.

“That is vital work that needs to be done, and we are well positioned to do it.  This funding and designation will allow us to build on our comprehensive program and develop the research to support further changes in models of delivery.”

The Telehealth Center of Excellence honor brings with it the responsibility to create a new knowledge base for telehealth through research, said Dr. Richard Summers, UMMC professor of emergency medicine and associate vice chancellor for research. 

The grant funding “will help UMMC to build the infrastructure for research in telehealth and allow us to bring a national leadership to this emerging special area of medical practice,” he said.

The Center for Telehealth provides remote, on-site access to caregivers in more than 35 specialties, including urgent care, trauma, mental health, dermatology, cardiology, infectious diseases, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care.  Pediatric telehealth specialties include remote concussion evaluation, cardiology, neurology, psychiatry, genetics and urology.

Telehealth nurse practitioners are stationed in the emergency departments of 17 rural Mississippi hospitals to treat patients via a multidisciplinary team that includes a certified emergency medicine physician on the UMMC campus.

And, the center recently debuted its “UMMC 2 You” online minor medical care program offered throughout Mississippi to those who are on the state employee insurance plan and their families. It’s also offered through select schools and companies.

“Our drive to address health care challenges with innovation is what has allowed us to be recognized as a leader in telehealth, nationally and internationally,” Adcock said.

School of Applied Sciences Welcomes New Faculty

New faces bring wealth of analytic expertise and diverse cultural backgrounds

Teresa Carithers (center), interim dean of the School of Applied Sciences, welcomes new faculty members (from left) Saijun Zhang, Francis Boateng, Davis Henderson and Minsoo Kang. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Over the past six years, the University of Mississippi School of Applied Science has experienced unprecedented growth. A six-year assessment revealed enrollment is up 17 percent, and the number of degrees awarded has increased 82 percent. The number of peer-reviewed manuscripts is up an incredible 326 percent.

These upward trends attract accomplished teacher-scholars from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds, such as the four new faculty members who recently joined the school.

Faculty and students in the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management have a new chair and professor in Minsoo Kang. From 2004 to earlier this year, he served on the faculty at Middle Tennessee State University, where he received the Distinguished Research Award in 2013.

MTSU and University of Illinois have the only nation’s only programs in kinesmetrics, the application of measurement theory, statistics and mathematical analysis to the field of kinesiology. Kang brings with him to Ole Miss his experience as director for the Measurement and Statistical Consulting Service for the MTSU Kinesmetrics Laboratory. He plans to provide the same type of research-based consulting on health and human performance research projects to UM researchers and students.

“Dr. Kang brings the vision and knowledge to help us expand our tremendous research potential in health, sports and recreation through his data science and analytic expertise,” said Teresa Carithers, the school’s interim dean.

Kang earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Seoul National University and his doctorate from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders welcomed Davis Henderson as a new assistant professor. Henderson received his doctorate in speech and hearing science from Arizona State University.

A certified speech-language pathologist and native Navajo Indian, Henderson specializes in language development and impairment, language assessments among culturally and linguistically diverse populations, psychometrics and Navajo linguistics. Through his dissertation research, Henderson developed a dynamic assessment to identify Navajo children who need speech-language pathology services from those with normal, cultural speech differences.

He plans to continue pursuing his research into creating speech and language assessments for Navajo children that accurately reflect their abilities.

“Dr. Henderson’s research has already revealed how culture can and should influence our teaching, research and clinical practice,” Carithers said. “We anticipate that his findings could positively impact practice beyond the Navajo populations as well.”

Saijun Zhang joins the Department of Social Work as an assistant professor.

“The Department of Social Work is delighted to welcome Dr. Saijun Zhang to the social work team,” said Daphne Cain, the department’s chair. “Dr. Zhang earned his Ph.D. and Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and served as a postdoctoral research associate and research assistant professor and research specialist with the Children and Family Research Center there.”

Zhang specializes in child welfare and youth behavioral health with rich experience in program evaluation and policy analysis. His other research endeavors include youth substance abuse and mental health and social contexts on the wellbeing of children and families.

Last year, Zhang presented his research at the 20th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research on the prevalence of human trafficking of children in Illinois and the characteristics of those children who come to the attention of child protective services. Zhang completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at East China Normal University in Shanghai.

Francis D. Boateng joined the Department of Legal Studies in October of last year from University of Minnesota at Crookston, where he served as an assistant professor of criminal justice in the Department of Liberal Arts and Education.

He received his doctorate in criminal justice and criminology from Washington State University and is working on series of projects testing organizational justice and support theories in a comparative context. Boateng is also developing a book manuscript that provides both historical and contemporary accounts of policing in Ghana.

His main research interests include comparative criminal justice, comparative policing, police legitimacy, international security, victimology, quantitative research, crime, law and justice. Besides presenting papers at professional conferences, such as the American Society of Criminology, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and Western Association of Criminal Justice, Boateng gas published papers recently in a number of well-respected journals.

“He did not begin his services at Ole Miss until October last year, and since then, he’s aggressively attacked the incredibly time-consuming labor of planning and teaching new courses, writing proposals and churning out a large number of refereed manuscripts,” said Linda Keena, interim chair of the Department of Legal Studies.

“He has been highly effective in managing all those conflicting demands on his time and energy. Our department is very pleased with his productivity.”

“We have had a wonderful start to our academic year and welcome these new teacher-scholars, as is my custom, with great expectations,” Carithers said.

Dedication of New Medical School Bodes Well for Health Care’s Future

Building will allow UMMC to increase class sizes, help fill state's need for new doctors

Johnny Lippincott, a fourth-year student in the UM School of Medicine, addresses a
crowd of dignitaries, students and faculty during dedication ceremonies for the new medical school.

JACKSON, Miss. – Elected officials and other dignitaries attending Friday’s (Aug. 4) dedication of the University of Mississippi’s new, $74 million School of Medicine building celebrated a new era in medical education and health care for the state.

The breadth of the 151,000-square-foot facility on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus means more space for students, more students for each class and, consequently, more doctors for Mississippi.

“This remarkable building will be filled with students endowed with the seeds of greatness,” said Gov. Phil Bryant, who addressed a gathering of an estimated 200 officials, students, faculty members and other guests in the ground-level entrance lobby, before the formal ribbon-cutting.

The facility presents these students with “the greatest opportunity for success,” Bryant said.

Featuring the institution’s familiar, yellow-brick facade, the building’s five stories offer its students something they haven’t had for many years: a single, purpose-built facility, a home of their own.

Dr. Ford Dye, a member of the board of the State Institutions of Higher Learning, said, that as a graduate of the medical school in the 1990s, “I look around at this building and I realize my timing was bad.”

The medical students’ new home replaces a disjointed collection of accommodations and services, including classrooms, labs, lecture halls and training centers – a dispersal resulting from six decades of expansion.

“A glorious chapter is beginning in the history of education in Mississippi,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“History is all around us and is part of this day. It reminds me that we are doing something important. … Something that future stories will be made of.”

The new School of Medicine stands five floors high and has square footage of about 151,000 feet.

For many of those who worked for and supported the construction of the building, this is part of the story that resonates the most: The dimensions allow for a boost in the size of each entering class, and larger classes mean more physicians will be trained each year in Mississippi, a fact noted by Jeffrey Vitter, UM chancellor.

Adding physicians to the state’s workforce, he said today, will “improve access to quality health care for the citizens of Mississippi.”

Mississippi ranks last, at roughly 185 doctors per 100,000 residents, as reported in 2015 by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The only other medical school in the state is at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, which opened in fall 2009 and awards the Doctor of Osteopathy degree, while the university’s offers the Doctor of Medicine, or M.D.

The hope is that many of the school’s graduates will stay in the state, which U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper encouraged them to do in his address: “I say this to the medical students, ‘There’s no place like Mississippi. … There’s no place better.'”

With the new school building, plans are to expand entering class sizes from around 145 students to 155, and to eventually top off at approximately 165 – the total considered necessary to meet the state’s goal of 1,000 additional physicians by 2025.

“This is a project that had unanimous support in the Mississippi Legislature,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “Everyone in the Legislature recognized the need.”

Located on the north side of the campus, between the Student Union and the Learning Resource Center, the site is the educational core of the Medical Center. The building’s neighbors include the schools of Dentistry, Pharmacy and the Health Related Professions, along with the emerging School of Population Health housed in the new Translational Research Center.

The two other schools represented on campus are nursing and graduate studies in the health sciences.

Financing of the new medical school included state funds and a $10 million Community Development Block Grant awarded through the Mississippi Development Authority and administered through the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District for site and infrastructure work.

Construction was the job of general contractor Roy Anderson Corp., headquartered in Gulfport. Two architectural firms worked in tandem: Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons Architects and Engineers P.A. in Jackson, and Eley Guild Hardy Architects P.A., which has offices in Jackson and Biloxi and designed the Robert C. Khayat Law Center in Oxford.

In Jackson, the task was to build and design the replacement for a school housed in the original Medical Center complex, which opened in July 1955 and, at 490,000 square feet, was considered one of the biggest, and most modern, buildings, in the state.

Over the years, demands for space grew, and, as the Medical Center spread out, the medical school splintered into a network of disconnected sites, including some makeshift offices and labs.

 On top of that, by the early 2000s, the AAMC had predicted a nationwide doctor shortage and asked medical schools across the country to pump up class sizes by about 30 percent. Accreditation standards were also changing, and in order to meet them, the School of Medicine would need more room, an increase and upgrade in simulation facilities, additional classrooms that accommodate interactive group learning, and more.

It was clear to Medical Center officials that a new, state-of-the-art facility was more likely to meet the future needs of medical students. A succession of vice chancellors, including Woodward, guided the venture, starting with Dr. Dan Jones and Dr. James Keeton.

Promoted by administrators as a potential economic development boon, the project gained the support of lawmakers and Bryant, who was lieutenant governor at the time.

After years of planning, UMMC officials staged a ceremonial groundbreaking Jan. 7, 2013 in the parking lot that has been transformed into a new medical school.

“Who would think you would have an emotion about a building?” said Keeton, a 1965 medical school alumnus who retired with emeritus status this year. One of those emotions is “joy,” he said today.

As for the new crop of medical students arriving next week, he said, recalling his own first days as a first-year medical student, “Let me tell you what their emotion is right now: fear.”

Students were among the members of a steering committee that brought back ideas from other medical schools when this one was being planned. For instance, the twin amphitheaters, which function as lecture halls, are modeled after Emory University’s and offer advanced AV equipment, integrated sound systems and sound-dampening features.

Overall, in the words of architect Rob Farr, the design is “student-focused.” The building’s southern face overlooks a courtyard and brings in natural light to student work and study areas.

The second level is organized for “student movement,” while the upper floors are focused on teaching stations and support areas that frame a space-organizing central atrium.

Some architectural details are homages to tradition, as well as to the medical profession: Certain areas are appointed with glass etched with rolling lines simulating an EKG; on the floor of the lobby where the dedication was held is a representation of the great seal of the university: a human eye surrounded by the sun; a wall of the student lounge is decorated with medical terms.

The cutting-edge simulation training area has a dedicated floor and was made possible in great part by nearly $5 million in grants from the Hearin Foundation. It is equipped with a mock operating theater – funded by the UMMC Alliance and the Manning Family Foundation – virtual reality spaces with high-fidelity task trainers, a clinical skills center, flexible-use spaces and more.

“Over the course of the next 50 years, we’re going to deliberately wear it out,” said Dr. Loretta Jackson-Williams, professor of emergency medicine and vice dean for medical education, referring to the building as a whole.

Fourth-year medical student Johnny Lippincott, president of the class of 2018, said he’s particularly proud of the way the building’s technological components are designed to be able to adapt to future updates.

In his remarks today, he also praised the facility’s spaciousness and homage to “natural light.”

Ultimately, though, he said, “This is all about what we do for our future patients.”

The upshot, from the ground up:

Ground floor: Office space, student lounge, cafe, storage lockers

First floor: Classrooms, group studies, twin amphitheaters, Legacy Wall (bearing the names of donors and relating the history of UMMC)

Second floor: Classrooms and group studies (mostly repeats first-floor layout)

Third floor: Basic and Advanced Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training Center, wet and dry labs, training and group study rooms, expandable conference rooms

Fourth floor: Office of Interprofessional Simulation Training Assessment Research and Safety, exam and simulation rooms, Standardized Patient training (with actors who portray patients)

The public is invited to explore the building, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday during an open house with self-guided tours and hosts on each floor.

UM Family Remembers Jeanette Phillips for Courage, Service

Longtime administrator forged career of teaching and upgrading nutrition programs

Jeanette Phillips. Photo courtesy of The Oxford Eagle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“She made me look better,” Payne said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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