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.

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/.