UM Students Present Their Research at the Capitol

Posters in the Rotunda showcases undergraduate projects at state universities

University of Mississippi students (left to right) Madison Savoy, Abigail Garrett, Cellas Hayes, Lindsey Miller and Brittany Brown present their undergraduate research during Posters in the Rotunda March 20 at the state Capitol. Photo by Shea Stewart/University Communications

JACKSON, Miss. – Five University of Mississippi students displayed their undergraduate research on topics ranging from the Latino South to therapeutic treatments for cognitive disorders during Posters in the Rotunda Tuesday (March 20) at the Mississippi State Capitol.

They were among 33 students from Mississippi’s eight public universities at the event, which showcased to state legislators and leaders some of the undergraduate research and scholarly activity being conducted at public universities.

“Research experiences at the undergraduate level can be extremely impactful for our students, giving them the first thrill of defining and answering a question no one else ever has,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor of research and sponsored programs. “We have been expanding these experiential opportunities at UM and are excited for this opportunity for our leaders to learn more about the impressive work being produced by our students throughout the state.”

The event provided opportunities for state leaders to visit with students from their districts, allowed students to network with one other and showcased cutting-edge research conducted by undergraduates that benefits Mississippians.

“The work being done by undergraduates with their mentors at the eight state universities is quite impressive,” said Marie Danforth, chair of the steering committee for the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research at the University of Southern Mississippi and coordinator of the event, in a news release. “This event (helps) legislators appreciate the contributions that the students are making to the state in so many areas, including economics, health care and education.”

Ole Miss students presenting at the Posters in the Rotunda event were:

– Brittany Brown, a journalism major from Quitman. “The Latino South: Migration, Identity and Foodways” was the title of Brown’s poster abstract. According to Brown, her research “examines the demographic changes that result from the migration of Latinos to nontraditional settings in the American South.”

“It is important to understand how this increasing population will affect the idea of race and how Southern society views people of Hispanic descent in order to move forward as a region,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

– Abigail Garrett, a mathematics and computer science major from Mountain Brook, Alabama. Garrett’s research involves analyzing and sorting data with the mission of giving others “the ability to easily view and understand vast amounts of data provided about breast cancer patients and their treatments,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

“The research seeks to benefit Mississippi by helping its residents who are affected by breast cancer, and also benefit the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s research in regard to this terrible disease.”

– Cellas Hayes, a classics and biology major from Lena. As life expectancy has increased, so has diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Hayes wrote in his poster abstract. The purpose of his research is to “identify therapeutic treatments for these diseases.”

“Within the last 50 years, life expectancy in Mississippi has increased to almost 80 years of age,” he wrote in his poster abstract. “This increased life expectancy has come with more age-related problems such as increased rates of dementia. Our goal is to understand how cognitive disorders come about in order to find potential therapeutic treatments.”

– Lindsey Miller, a pre-pharmacy major from Corinth. Miller’s poster abstract was titled “Finding the Dimerization Interface of Skp1 from Dictyostelium.” The research is focused “on understanding the function of F-box proteins, which are key proteins in regulating a wide variety of cellular activities in organisms including humans, plants and fungi.”

“Dictyostelium is an amoeba that lives in soil and is a good model system for studying how cells react to their environment,” she wrote in her poster abstract. “We are studying the Skp1 protein from this amoeba to understand how it works with other proteins. This information may help advance medicine and agriculture in Mississippi.”

– Madison Savoy, a communication sciences and disorders major from Southaven. Savoy’s research involves examining “how verb transitivity impacts pronoun interpretation for adults with intellectual disabilities versus typically developing adults,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

“Approximately 14 percent of Mississippians have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Understanding strengths and weaknesses in their language can help identify areas for targeted intervention. These targeted interventions could ultimately save the state of Mississippi a significant amount of funds to help these individuals go on to live independent lives.”

Started in 2016 and modeled after the Posters on the Hill event at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., which includes students from around the country, Posters in the Rotunda is held in some format in 17 states.

Both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature proclaimed March 20 as Undergraduate Research Day.

“Outstanding students from across the state have dedicated their time and have worked tremendously hard on their research projects for Posters in the Rotunda, and these students demonstrate the positive impact that higher education appropriation brings to our state, and supporting students who participate in Posters in the Rotunda is an excellent way for Mississippi to invest in its future,” House Resolution No. 54 stated.

“Undergraduate research is critical in developing solutions to the needs of Mississippi’s future workforce because it cultivates the students’ goals and aspirations and it encourages students to specialize in the biomedical and (science, technology, engineering and mathematical) fields after graduation.”

Student-Led Organization Promotes Mental Health Week

Active Minds aims to start conversation among students about the importance of mental health

The Send Silence Packing exhibition places a backpack on the ground to represent each college student lost to suicide. The Ole Miss Chapter of Active Minds host the exhibition Monday (March 26). Photo courtesy of Active Minds

OXFORD, Miss. – Active Minds, a University of Mississippi student organization, is hosting a mental health week March 26-29 to start a conversation about the importance of mental health and well-being.

The week will begin with the Send Silence Packing exhibition. This traveling program demonstrates the number of college students lost each year to suicide by placing a single backpack on the ground to represent each student.

More than 1,100 backpacks will be in the Grove from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Each backpack has a story attached to it.

Kathryn Forbes, Ole Miss Active Minds president, wanted to bring this exhibition to campus to illustrate and raise awareness of the impact of suicide while connecting students with mental health resources.

“It opens the campus’s eyes to how many students needed to have these mental health conversations with people,” Forbes said. “I hope some students read the stories attached to these backpacks and see how speaking up could help others. This is a powerful statement about how mental health affects college students.

“I look forward to the conversations started by Send Silence Packing and the positive changes it will make in the way students view the importance of mental health awareness.”

Active Minds is a national organization, founded in 2003 by Alison Malmon, who was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania at the time. She lost her brother to suicide and wanted to implement a way for college campuses to reduce the stigma of mental illness and encourage students who need help to seek it out.

More than 400 chapters of the organization have been created on college campuses. Active Minds has been at Ole Miss for two years, thanks in large part to Forbes.

“I wanted to bring Active Minds to our campus because while I was fighting my own battles against depression and anxiety, I noticed others were secretly struggling as well,” Forbes said. “I was always open about my history and I found that others were wanting to talk about it with me once they realized they were not the only ones who have sought help.”

She said she was particularly drawn to this organization because it lets students know they can and should talk openly about mental health.

“Discussing mental health is important for so many reasons,” she said. “It lets people know that they’re not alone in their struggles or successes. People should know that mental health is just as, if not more, important than physical health, and that the stigmas associated with it are outdated and ignorant.

“Most importantly, the more we talk about mental health, the easier it is for others to do so. It can become a part of normal conversation. Less people will feel the need to hide their struggles with mental health and no longer be ashamed to say they understand what it is like to struggle with depression or anxiety or a long list of other prominent issues.”

The Ole Miss chapter of Active Minds is bringing the Send Silence Packing exhibition to campus as part of Mental Health Week to create conversations around the issue of mental wellness. Photo courtesy of Active Minds

Because students are starting the conversation about mental health, they can work to change the culture that contributes to mental health issues, said Bud Edwards, director of the University Counseling Center.

“If these conversations are based on good information, we can spread good information,” he said. “We can also decrease the stigma associated with mental health. Students are often resistant in seeking mental health until things get bad, and we hope to change that behavior.”

Discussing signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, available resources and ways to encourage others to seek help are all possible outcomes of having conversations about mental health.

“Many of the issues we see here are anxiety, depression and relationship issues, which are all connected stress,” Edwards said.

Factors that contribute to student stress include issues such as substance abuse, lack of sleep, inadequate diet or little to no exercise, all of which can cause an impairment of function in the classroom and the workplace.

“When people think about mental health, they often think about the diagnosis, but the issue is much broader than that,” he said. “The decisions people make play a large role in having a mental health diagnosis, and making good choices can decrease the development of a diagnosable concern.”

The week of events includes guest speakers, exhibits and raffles.

“Ole Miss is special in that its students are so willing to become involved in campus activities, which is why Mental Health Week will reach a lot of students,” Forbes said. “I hope that the students who are currently struggling can look around and see that they are not alone.

“I hope that those who have struggled in the past can share their successes and failures with other students as well. I hope that the conversations Ole Miss has during Mental Health Week begin to take place more often and with louder, more confident voices.”

Here is the full schedule of events:

Monday (March 26)

Send Silence Packing – 9 a.m.-5 p.m., the Grove. Local and campus resource centers also be present to provide information about mental health and seeking help.

Ball for Life: A Thousand Threes in Three Days with Phi Delta Theta – 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Galtney Lott Plaza. Basketball goals will be set up for anyone to enter a three-point shot competition. University Sporting Goods will give $1 for each shot made – up to $1,000 – benefiting Active Minds and the William Magee Center for Wellness Education. All participants will be entered into a raffle for prizes.

“A Call to Life” by Michael Ziblich – 7 p.m., Bondurant Hall, Room 204C. Ziblich’s son Keller took his own life in 2012 and he will talk about his family’s story and the importance of reaching out for help.

Tuesday (March 27)

We Listen … with Mr. and Miss Ole Miss – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Circle. This public art installation will feature ‘mood pins’ for students, faculty and staff to select how they feel.

Ball for Life: A Thousand Threes in Three Days with Phi Delta Theta – 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Galtney Lott Plaza.

Humans of Ole Miss exhibit – 4-6 p.m., Bondurant Hall, Room 204C. The exhibit will include stories submitted by members of the Ole Miss community and feature a talk from members of the University Counseling Center.

Wednesday, March 28

Ball for Life: A Thousand Threes in Three Days with Phi Delta Theta – 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Galtney Lott Plaza.

Thursday, March 29

Active Minds table – 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Galtney Lott Plaza. Members of Active Minds will provide information to students about mental health.

UM Honors College Welcomes 15 Scholarship Recipients this Fall

Freshmen awarded some of the university's most prestigious scholarships

Fifteen freshmen in the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College have received a total of $466,000 from five of the university’s most distinguished scholarships. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – One is an award-winning poet. Another is an archer with a love of biology. And one is a violinist who also runs cross country.

These are just three of the 15 freshmen this fall at the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi who received a total of $466,000 from five of the university’s most distinguished scholarships.

Four of the freshmen earned McDonnell Barksdale Scholarships, six were recipients of Doris Raymond Honors Scholarships, two were awarded Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships, two were honored with Annexstad Family Foundation Leaders for Tomorrow Scholarships and one was presented with an Everett-Williams Memorial Scholarship.

“These citizen scholars represent some of the best and brightest students not only at the University of Mississippi but also in the country,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, Honors College dean. “We can’t wait to see what they will accomplish.”

Those students receiving McDonnell Barksdale Scholarships are Anahita Behrouz of Ridgeland, William Ray Bradford of Tupelo, Lawson David Marchetti of Jackson and Robert Cade Slaughter of Hattiesburg.

Doris Raymond Honors Scholarship recipients are Ainsley Parker Ash of Meridian; Nathan Lancaster of Ridgeland; Madeleine Louise McCracken of Austin, Texas; Tyler Jesse Moore of Little Falls, Minnesota; Kylie Elizabeth Rogers of Texarkana, Texas; and Alexander Lawrence Watts of Columbia.

Receiving Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships are Margaret Lee Baldwin of Birmingham, Alabama; and Sarah Marie Peterson of Fenton, Missouri.

Laurel Ashley Lee of Canton and Gloma Marie Milner of Boaz, Alabama, are recipients of Annexstad Family Foundation Leaders for Tomorrow Scholarships.

Receiving the Everett-Williams Memorial Scholarship is Yasmine Malone of Clarksdale.

Ash is a graduate of West Lauderdale High School, where she was president of the student council (and four-year member of the council) and received awards in AP biology, Spanish and personal finance while being named to the National Honor Society. She also graduated from Leadership Lauderdale Youth and the Mississippi Governor’s School, and was an all-district cross country runner. She is majoring in psychology.

A graduate of Spain Park High School, Baldwin was a National Merit Semifinalist; National Honor Society president; member of Mu Alpha Theta, Rho Kappa and National Spanish Society; and earned awards in English, chemistry, algebra, pre-calculus and U.S. history. She also volunteered at Children’s of Alabama hospital and the Birmingham Zoo, and was a math tutor. She is majoring in biochemistry.

Behrouz is a graduate of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School. She was a member of the National Honor Society and received summa cum laude and maxima cum laude honors on the National Latin Exam. She is an archer, and she served as a youth ambassador at the Mississippi Children’s Museum and as an educator at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. She is majoring in biology.

Bradford, a graduate of Tupelo High School, was the valedictorian of his class and also president of the student body. He was a National Merit Semifinalist, an AP Scholar with distinction, twice chosen as student of the year and a member of the National Honor Society, which he served as vice president. A violinist, Baldwin also participated in cross country and track and field. He is majoring in biology.

Lancaster graduated from Saint Joseph Catholic School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and twice earned summa cum laude on the National Latin Exam. A Questbridge Finalist and Scholar, he was a member of the varsity football and bowling teams, along with the Gaming Club and the Astronomy Club. He is majoring in civil engineering.

Lee won awards in Mississippi studies, Spanish, geometry, zoology, world history, human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, nutrition and wellness, and algebra during high school. She also was a member of the All A’s Honor Roll for four years, was captain of the Germantown High School dance team, and was a member of the Beta Club, Spanish Club and Art Club. She is majoring in biology.

A Clarksdale High School graduate, Malone was a member of the school’s marching/concert band, student council and newspaper, and sang in her school and church choir while serving on the principal’s advisory committee. She also was a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. She was on the Delta Innovative Youth Council. She is majoring in political science.

Marchetti, an Eagle Scout, is a graduate of Jackson Preparatory School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, Cum Laude Society and Mu Alpha Theta, and served as Patriot Man, the school’s mascot. A poet, he was a Poetry Out Loud state finalist and Poetry Out Loud state champion, earning a national honorable mention. He co-founded the Jackson Prep Film Club. He is majoring in music.

A Veritas Academy graduate, McCracken was a member of the National Honor Society and earned multiple awards in English and Latin, maxima cum laude honors on the National Latin Exam and was selected as an AP Scholar. She was a member of the Veritas Academy Speech and Debate Team, where she was a state finalist. She also played on the varsity soccer and tennis teams. She is majoring in classics.

The salutatorian of her class at Albertville High School, Milner was a National Merit Commended Scholar, AP Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. An Alabama All-State Chorus participant and member of the show choir, serving as president and section leader, Milner also was a member of the Math Team and captain of the Scholars Bowl team. She is majoring in pharmaceutical sciences.

Moore graduated from Little Falls Community High School, where he was valedictorian and a member of the National Honor Society. He earned academic all-state honors in cross country and track and field – also serving as captain of the teams – and was twice named the St. Cloud Times Runner of the Year. He also played in the school’s jazz band and brass quintet. Moore is majoring in engineering.

Peterson is a graduate of Rockwood Summit High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and a Gold Scholar. Captain of her varsity golf team, Peterson earned all-conference and all-district honors in the sport while being a state golf qualifier her senior year. She also served as a counselor at Camp Rainbow, an overnight camp for children with cancer. She is majoring in biochemistry.

Rogers is a graduate of Pleasant Grove High School, where she was the salutatorian and an AP Scholar, while also being a University Interscholastic League Prose and Poetry Medalist and Literary Criticism Medalist. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Quill and Scroll Society, Science Club, student council and yearbook staff. She also was a varsity soccer player, serving as captain. She is majoring in English.

The valedictorian at Sacred Heart Catholic High School, Slaughter was a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Future Business Leaders of America and Hattiesburg’s Dream Youth Leadership Council. He also was a member of the yearbook staff and student council, serving as president his senior year, and played on the school’s varsity tennis team. He is majoring in public policy leadership.

A graduate of Presbyterian Christian High School, Watts was a member of the Key Club and Mu Alpha Theta, and was a district and state winner at the Academic Betterment Competition. He also participated in the show choir and in drama, and was a member of the annual staff, chemistry club and Beta Club. He played in the Mississippi Baptist All-State Youth Choir and Orchestra. He is majoring in public policy leadership.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit

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.

Students Share Experiences from New York and D.C. Summer Internships

UM program helps students make transition from college to career

Grant Gaar (right) of Ripley, a senior integrated marketing major, got to meet several of his favorite Food Network stars, including celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, during his summer internship with Scripps Networks Interactive, the media company that perates lifestyle channels including HGTV, The Travel Channel and DIY Network. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Preparing for the transition from college to career can be intimidating. The University of Mississippi Internship Experience Program, in its 10th year, helps make that move successful for students through career preparation and internship opportunities in New York and Washington, D.C.

Participants in the summer 2017 cohort recently presented an overview of their internship experiences during a presentation for Ole Miss students, faculty and staff.

“Fostering these experiences is one of the ways that the university is showing a commitment to our students,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s provost, who encouraged students to keep stepping out of comfort zones to make positive changes in their lives.

“I know there were steps that I took that changed the course of my life for the good. I hope these internship experiences will do the same for you. The real value is what you learned and how it changed your perspective on your career field and the world.”

Since its inception in 2008, the program has sent more than 100 students to Washington and New York. In summer 2018, students also can be part of a new cohort living and working in Atlanta.

The program is a two-way pipeline between these cities and the university, said Laura Antonow, director of college programs for the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education.

“UM students have the opportunity to work with successful UM alumni in their field of interest,” Antonow explained. “In return, these alumni have the opportunity to stay connected to the students and happenings on our campus.”

Networking and gaining professional experience is the key role of the program, which also helps students earn academic credit while interning in a metropolitan location. The 2017 participants spent the spring semester enrolled in a career-preparation course on campus that provided insight into what employers are looking for and how to make the most of an internship experience.

“This program really opened my eyes to another world,” said Aurielle “Sunny” Fowler, an Ole Miss junior from Clinton.

Fowler, a psychology major who is minoring in biology and chemistry, plans to attend medical school upon graduation. Her internship at the National Rural Health Administration helped her to dive into many of our country’s most pressing medical issues, she said.

“I was working on analysis of the American Health Care Act and how it would affect patients in rural areas of the country,” Fowler said. “I was present at congressional briefings, where I took notes and then published the key points online.

“I was able to learn so much in my workplace, but also I felt inspired by the other young adults working in the city.”

Will Hughes, a senior from Savannah, Georgia, also spent the summer on Capitol Hill while serving as a congressional intern for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Rep. Tom Graves, both of Georgia.

“Growing up, I had visited D.C. a few times, and it was very awe-inspiring to me,” Hughes said. “I was grateful for the opportunity to work there this summer and for the opportunity to help people in my home state.”

UM senior Aurielle ‘Sunny’ Fowler of Clinton spent her summer interning with the National Rural Health organization, where she researched and shared information concerning the most pressing medical and health needs for people living in less populated areas of the country. Fowler was one of four Ole Miss students preparing for future careers as participants in the university’s Washington Internship Experience program last summer. Submitted photo

Hughes said he worked on research briefings for the senator concerning important issues such as veterans’ affairs, immigration, gun rights and health care. He also fielded phone calls, emails and letters from constituents and presented their concerns to the senator’s staff.

“The senator’s office would get thousands of phone calls a day,” Hughes said. “It’s busy, but exhilarating.”

Hughes plans to attend graduate school, but said he hopes to return to D.C. to work on a political campaign.

Fellow D.C. interns included Kenric Wright, a senior management information systems major from Greenwood, and junior public policy leadership major David “Walker” Oglesby of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wright’s summer internship with First Global helped him to learn more about the behind-the-scenes work of an international organization, he said.

“There is a lot of preparation and handling of logistics with international partners,” Wright said. “It was exciting and the environment really encouraged and celebrated diversity.”

Nine UM students interned in New York City this summer: Caroline Block of Athens, Georgia; Sam Dargene of Dallas; Grant Gaar of Walnut; Anna Clara Lee of Atlanta; Jack Lynch of Atlantic City, New Jersey; Rachel Mudd of Perryville, Missouri; Anna Bess Pavlakovich of Denver; Malki Pridgeon of Horn Lake; and Brittany Pringle of Jackson.

Gaar, a senior integrated marketing communications major, hosts a regular cooking show on UM’s NewsWatch 12 television station. This summer, he used his love of food and media to land an internship in New York with Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of several cable channels including Food Network and HGTV.

“It really was a dream come true,” Gaar said. “I got to meet several of the cooking celebrities, and I also was able to network with people in the industry who really inspired me.”

Gaar served as a digital video producer who created content for the network’s social media channels. His favorite part of the internship was a passion project that his supervisor asked interns to present to a team of producers, he said.

Hence, “The Fried Chicken Chronicles” was born. The episodes that feature Gaar sharing different ideas for cooking fried chicken will be shown on the Food Network’s website later this fall, he said.

Before leaving New York, Gaar applied for full-time employment with the media group following graduation in the spring.

“It’s amazing how one conversation with someone in your field can change your outlook for the future,” he said. “I think this summer was really an investment in myself that I’ll reap the benefits of for years to come.”

UM’s Internship Experience Program is taking applications for Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C., interns for summer 2018. Students interested in the program should visit The application deadline is Nov. 10.

UM Graduates Land Rewarding Careers with U.S. Probation Office

Three criminal justice alumni improve lives for offenders and community

Three graduates of the UM criminal justice master’s program, including Emma Burleson (left) and William Fennell, serve as officers in the U.S. Probation Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Emma Burleson, a 2017 graduate of the master’s program in criminal justice at the University of Mississippi, spends her days protecting the community by supervising people charged with federal crimes while they await trial and after they have been convicted.

Her ultimate responsibility as a U.S. probation officer for the eastern district of Arkansas is to connect offenders to the resources they need to thrive on the outside – an opportunity to improve lives and the reason Burleson pursued her line of work.

“I was interested in pursuing a job within the field of criminal justice that was as much about healing and bettering individuals as it was about enforcing the law,” Burleson said. “I believe that the role of a probation officer is just that. We seek to not only protect and improve the community, but also to genuinely help the clients that we supervise make positive changes in their lives.

“I definitely find it rewarding to be working for a department that is so focused on improving individual lives and protecting and healing the community. I do not believe I could have found a better place for me.”

She is among three recent UM graduates who work in the office, along with William Fennell and Ashley Pratt. All three credit their time at Ole Miss with guiding their career paths.

As U.S. probation officers, these alumni are responsible for gathering and verifying information about people who come before the courts, preparing reports that judges rely on to make release and sentencing decisions and supervising those released to the community by the courts and paroling authorities.

For Burleson, the most rewarding aspect of her job is directing offenders to services that help them stay on the right side of the law, including substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, medical care, training and employment assistance.

Burleson credits her Ole Miss experience for her smooth transition to the workforce.

“I was granted invaluable experiences as a graduate assistant and through my participation in academic conferences, where I presented my thesis research,” she said. “My time at Ole Miss helped give me the skills and knowledge I needed to successfully get through the hiring process and succeed at my job.”

Fellow probation officer Fennell found his passion for restorative justice through his faith-based volunteer work with the Mississippi State Penitentiary and work with Linda Keena, UM interim chair of legal studies.

“Dr. Keena’s passion for community corrections was a major influence in my decision to pursue a career in probation,” Fennell said. “She also helped me develop the writing skills that I rely on in my current position.”

Fennell investigates the histories of defendants who are awaiting sentencing in federal criminal court and prepares reports to offer judges as much relevant information as possible before imposing a sentence. He previously spent two-and-a-half years supervising federal defendants who were awaiting trial on bond and federal offenders who had been released from prison or were sentenced to probation in northeastern Arkansas.

Ashley Pratt

“That supervision included helping clients use community resources and counseling services to help them readjust to society, helping them improve their decision-making process to avoid future issues and ensuring their compliance with all court-ordered conditions of release,” he said. “In essence, my job was to help protect the community by providing clients with a meaningful opportunity to change.”

Pratt graduated with her Master of Criminal Justice from Ole Miss with a job offer on the table from the Transportation Security Administration. Shortly after working part time with TSA, she began working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

In March, she joined Fennell as a U.S. probation officer, followed by Burleson in August.

“The driving force behind my career path was my child,” Pratt said.

Pratt said she is grateful to Keena and Danny Hall, senior lecturer in legal studies, for guidance during her time at Ole Miss as she pursued her graduate degree as a single mother.

“Both of these professors not only understood it, they embraced my child with open arms,” Pratt said.

“It is important to me that my child understands that everyone deserves a second chance, and that given the right help, people who were once labeled as ‘bad’ people could change their way of thinking and abide by the law.”

Eddie Towe, chief U.S. probation and pretrial services officer for the district, relies on universities with quality programming, such as the Ole Miss criminal justice program, to continually provide great officer candidates.

While Burleson, Fennell and Pratt lacked extensive probation experience, their aptitude, motivation, passion and personality traits matched those of highly functioning officers. Their submission packets, education, references, backgrounds and interviews also indicated they were the best candidates.

“In combination with working in an outcome-based learning organization that provides intensive initial training programs along with ongoing education and research opportunities, Ashley, William and Emma will make great officers,” Towe said.

Undergraduate degrees in criminal justice at UM offer three distinct emphases in correctionshomeland security and law enforcement. The Master of Criminal Justice program requires 36 hours of coursework and is based on the principle that students need skills and experiences in the areas of critical thinking, scholarly research, analysis, communication and ethical thinking. 

Both undergraduate and graduate-level programs are offered through the Department of Legal Studies in the School of Applied Sciences.

The UM School of Applied Sciences offers professional preparation programs that integrate academic study, clinical training, creative research, service-learning and community outreach, leading to the development of leaders whose professional endeavors will improve health and well-being. For more information, go to

UM Creed Week Highlights Institutional Values

Annual observance focuses on principles of civility and inclusion

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in a series of events next week (Aug. 28-Sept. 1) promoting the UM Creed and the institutional values it embodies.

Presented by the Associated Student Body, the fifth annual Creed Week features activities designed to unite the campus community. Each tenet stated within the creed is highlighted one day during the week.

“The goal of Creed Week is to expose new community members to these shared values, as well as remind the rest of Ole Miss what it means to live by the Creed,” said ASB President Dion Kevin III, a senior public policy and pre-med major from Oxford. “Students, faculty and staff alike should value the events of Creed Week because of the inherent value of its basis.”

All events, unless otherwise specified, meet on Galtney-Lott Plaza near Holman and Conner halls. Daily highlights and the schedule include:

Aug. 28 – Respect for the Dignity of Each Person: Meet Your Senators, 10:30 a.m.-noon; Rebels Against Sexual Assault, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; and Marion Lazan, Holocaust survivor, 7 p.m., Overby Center auditorium.

Aug. 29 – Fairness and Civility: Coffee and Donuts with a Cop, 8-10:30 a.m.; Mississippi Votes table, 9-11 a.m.; Meet Your ASB Exec, 10:30 a.m.-noon; and Ross Bjork, athletics director, 6 p.m., Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Aug. 30 – Personal and Professional Integrity: UM Creed book signing, 10:30-11:30 a.m.; pep rally, 5 p.m., Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Aug. 31 – Good Stewardship of Our Resources: Sno-Biz, 2:30-3:30 p.m., The Inn at Ole Miss; Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill, 4 p.m., The Inn at Ole Miss.

Sept. 1 – Academic Honesty and Academic Freedom: UM Creed book signing, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Participants can register for daily giveaways, including a restaurant gift card, football sideline pass, JCG Apparel gift card, aluminum water bottles, Scantron sheets, flash drives and pencils.

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.

Ten UM Seniors Inducted into Hall of Fame

Recipients honored for achievement, service and potential for success

The 2017 Hall of Fame inductees are front row ( L to R) Acacia Santos, Leah Gibson, Yujing Zhang, Alex Martin. Back Row (L to R) Austin Dean, Chase Moore, Austin Powell, Miller Richmond, John Brahan, James Roland Markos. Photo by Robert Jordan Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten University of Mississippi seniors have been inducted into the university’s 2016-17 Hall of Fame, one of the highest honors afforded students at UM.

The inductees were honored Friday (April 7) in a ceremony at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. A committee in accordance with policy developed by the Associated Student Body chooses Hall of Fame members. Selections are based on academic achievement, community involvement and potential success.

This year’s Hall of Fame members are John Brahan of Hattiesburg; Austin Dean of Hammond, Illinois; Leah Gibson of Starkville; James-Roland Markos of Jackson, Tennessee; Jane Martin of Madison; Chase Moore of Horn Lake; Austin Powell of Corinth; Miller Richmond of Madison; Acacia Santos of Southaven; and Yujing Zhang of Oxford.

“The students who are inducted into the Hall of Fame are leaders, scholars and community servants,” said Mindy Sutton Noss, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. “Their combined list of accomplishments and contributions to the university community is impressive and inspiring.

“They each leave a legacy at Ole Miss, and I know they will all go on to make a difference in the world around them. I believe we will hear more about the achievements of these individuals throughout their lives.”

John Brahan.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The 10 students were among 150 Ole Miss seniors recognized for inclusion in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. They are to be listed in the national publication’s 2017 edition.

Brahan, pursuing a double major in public policy leadership and theatre arts, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a Trent Lott Institute Scholar. He served in several roles over the course of his education, including ASB vice president; director of Greek affairs for RebelTHON, the Miracle Network dance marathon benefitting the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital; and vice president of standards for the Interfraternity Council. Brahan served the community as a Leap Frog tutor and mentor. He’s performed in theatrical productions of “Clybourne Park” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and plans to pursue a career in the entertainment industry upon graduation. His parents are Tammy Kolbo and John Brahan of Hattiesburg.

Austin Dean. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

An integrated marketing communications major, Dean has served as vice president of the Columns Society, an organization of 24 of the top students who serve as official hosts for the university. He also served as vice chairman of the University Judicial Council in the Office of Conflict Resolution and on the board of the directors for The Big Event, the largest community service project at the university. Dean was awarded Excellence in Integrated Marketing Communications and the Christine Wallace Service Award. After graduation, he plans to move to Washington, D.C., to work for a firm focused on running campaigns for legislation and political candidates. His parents are James Dean and Christy Amey of Hammond, Illinois, and Katrina and Tyrone Wilkins of Atwood, Illinois.

Leah Gibson.Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Gibson, a journalism major, is a member of the Columns Society and a McLean Institute Innovation Scholar, a distinction awarded to students with interest in entrepreneurship and economic development in Mississippi’s rural communities. She is Miss University 2017. Gibson served as station manager of Rebel Radio at the Student Media Center and special events coordinator of the Black Student Union. After graduation, she will compete in the 60th anniversary Miss Mississippi pageant in June and plans to spend a year traveling abroad. Her ultimate goal is to work as a television host on her own network. Her parents are Kelvin and Tamara Gibson of Starkville.

James Roland Markos.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Markos is completing a triple major in public policy leadership, biological sciences and biochemistry. He is a student director of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a Trent Lott Institute Scholar. Markos is president of Sigma Nu fraternity and served as president of the UM Interfraternity Council in 2015. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of the UM Undergraduate Research Journal, a yearly, peer-reviewed publication of research articles written by UM undergraduate students. Markos was awarded a Taylor Medal, an award given to fewer than 1 percent of students each year for outstanding scholarship in their field. Upon graduation, Markos will attend the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, to pursue M.D. and Master of Public Health degrees to prepare for a career as a clinical physician. His parents are George and Clare Markos of Jackson, Tennessee.

Alex Martin. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Martin is double-majoring in international studies and mathematics. She is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies. Martin has served as executive director of The Big Event, managing editor of the UM Undergraduate Research Journal and ASB director of academic affairs. She has been inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and was awarded a Taylor Medal. Martin plans to work as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and pursue a career in economics research. Her parents are Trey and Rebecca Martin and Traci Tigert of Madison.

Chase Moore. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

A business management major and member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Moore founded and served as president of Student Affairs Leaders of Tomorrow. He served in the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate achievement program, designed to prepare students for graduate research. Moore also served as student assistant for the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, director of the UM Gospel Choir and an ASB senator. After graduation, Moore plans to attend Ohio State University to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs, with hopes of later earning a doctorate in management. His parents are Milton and Phyllis Moore and the late Nigela Patreece Moore of Horn Lake.


Austin Powell. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Powell, completing a double major in public policy leadership and philosophy, He served as ASB president during the 2016-17 academic year. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a Trent Lott Institute Scholar, and he was a Rhodes Scholar finalist last spring. Powell also served as assistant director for The Big Event and is a member of the Columns Society. He has been accepted to graduate school at the University of Oxford in England and will pursue a master’s degree in criminology. His parents are Eric and Gwen Powell of Corinth.


Miller Richmond.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Richmond is an international studies major and a member of both the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies. He served as executive co-director of The Big Event and chief of staff for the ASB. Richmond is also a member of the Columns Society and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He also conducted research with Syrian refugees in Jordan while studying abroad during the 2015 fall semester. He plans to continue his work globally in the public health field and attend medical school in the future. His parents are Jim and Jennifer Richmond of Madison.

Acacia Santos. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

A mechanical engineering major, Santos is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. During her time at Ole Miss, she has served has president of the Columns Society, community assistant for the Department of Student Housing and an orientation leader for incoming students. In 2016, Santos was elected Miss Ole Miss by the student body. She also served as committee chair for recruitment and retention for the Black Student Union. After graduation, Santos plans to go to Disney World, catch up on sleep and then attend graduate school at Boston University. Her parents are Paula Santos of Southaven and Francisco Santos Jr. of Bremerton, Washington.


Yujing Zhang. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Zhang is a pharmaceutical sciences major and is member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She is a member of the Columns Society, served as RebelTHON director of catering and was a member of the Honors College student senate. Zhang also was awarded a Taylor Medal and inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Upon graduation, she plans to attend the UM School of Pharmacy to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy. Her parents are Darryl Scott and Jinping Stevens of Oxford.


UM Moves Up in Measures of Academic and Research Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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