UM Chancellor’s Investiture Hails Transformative Power of Higher Ed

Inauguration for Jeffrey S. Vitter set for 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at Ford Center

Commencement 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Commencement 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Jeffrey S. Vitter will be inaugurated as the 17th chancellor of the University of Mississippi on Nov. 10 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The investiture ceremony, scheduled for 3 p.m., is the centerpiece of a monthslong celebration focused on the inauguration’s theme – selected by Vitter and reflecting an area of deep commitment – “The Power of Higher Education to Transform Lives, Communities and World.”

The investiture of a university chancellor formally installs the institution’s highest-ranking officer, confers upon him the ceremonial accoutrements of office, and gives the larger academic and civic communities an opportunity to convene and celebrate their shared values.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to officially follow in the footsteps of the superlative leaders who have served the University of Mississippi as chancellor,” Vitter said. “I have accepted the leadership role of this great flagship university with an urgent sense of purpose that we have a unique responsibility to transform and elevate our citizens through the opportunities offered through higher education. Nothing is more important to the future success and vitality of society.”

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning named Vitter chancellor on Oct. 29, 2015. The former University of Kansas provost, executive vice chancellor and Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor took office on Jan. 1, 2016.

While serving as provost, Vitter initiated a campuswide strategic plan to transform KU into a top-tier research university. He also oversaw the creation of the first universitywide KU Core curriculum, expansion of the schools of Engineering, Business and Pharmacy, and the growth of multidisciplinary research, funding and entrepreneurship.

Vitter brings that same progress-minded leadership of advancing excellence in learning, discovery and engagement to take the university from great to greater.

Although steeped in tradition, investiture is a time to reflect on UM’s many successes, and an opportunity for the new chancellor to share his goals for the future of the university, said Morris Stocks, provost and executive vice chancellor, as well as chair of the Inaugural Steering Committee.

“The ceremony officially installs Dr. Vitter as our chancellor, and gives him a platform from which to discuss themes that are so important to the entire university community,” Stocks said. “It also marks the start of an exciting new era in the history of the University of Mississippi, an era that will build on the accomplishments of those who came before us and touch the lives of countless people who will come after us.”

In addition to Vitter’s keynote address about the strengths of the university and his vision for the future, the ceremony is slated to include presentations by Brice Noonan, chair of the Faculty Senate; Hal Moore, president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association, Gazel Giles, president of the Staff Council; Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine; and Austin Powell, president of the Associated Student Body.

In celebration of the inauguration, the university is hosting a number of campus events that can be found at http://inauguration.olemiss.edu/. Two such events include the UM Innovation and Entrepreneurship Panel, which was conducted Friday at Holman Auditorium, and the International Reception on Tuesday (Nov. 1) at the Inn at Ole Miss.

The university is encouraging participants posting about inauguration events on social media to use #PowerofHigherEd in recognition of the theme.

A native of New Orleans, Vitter graduated in mathematics with highest honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1977 and earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University in 1980. He also holds an MBA from Duke University.

To allow students, faculty and staff to watch the inaugural ceremony, the university has canceled all classes scheduled between 2:15 and 5 p.m. Nov. 10.

Following the inauguration ceremony, the university community is invited to join Vitter in the Grove for a reception and an opportunity to interact with the new leader from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Those not able to attend the ceremony can watch it from their home or office because it will be streamed live starting at 3 p.m. To view the ceremony, visit http://www.youtube.com/olemiss.

Ross Bjork Named UM Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics

Ole Miss also announces athletics director's contract extended through 2020

Ross Bjork, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Mississippi, has been given a four-year contract extension to remain the leader of the UM athletics program. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

Ross Bjork, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Mississippi, has been given a four-year contract extension to remain the leader of the UM athletics program. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork has been named vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Mississippi.

In announcing that Bjork had been given the new vice chancellor title, university officials also noted that an agreement was reached this summer to extend the athletics director’s contract to June 30, 2020.

UM’s request to give Bjork the title of vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics was approved Thursday by the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions for Higher Learning.

The new title, as well as the extension of Bjork’s contract to reach the four-year maximum allowed by the state, reflects the university’s appreciation and support of the athletics director’s exemplary work since coming to Ole Miss, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“Athletics serves an important role at our university as our ‘front porch’ – capturing the hearts and minds of people and bringing them to campus so that they can experience the full richness of our great university,” Vitter said. “Athletics has played a big role in elevating the Ole Miss brand to its strongest point in school history.

“The success of our athletics program is unprecedented and is directly attributable to Ross’ leadership. Naming him as the vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics will continue that momentum. I expect under Ross’ leadership that athletics will continue to be an integral part of our growth and increased visibility.”

Ole Miss is the fifth school in the SEC to give its athletics director the vice chancellor designation, which more accurately reflects the all-encompassing role of the position.

“The idea is that this puts the AD at the table with the provost and other academic leaders on campus on a regular basis,” said Ron Rychlak, UM professor of law and faculty athletics representative. “That facilitates communication between athletics and academics, which is good for all parts of the university.”

Bjork has led Ole Miss athletics programs to unprecedented success since his arrival in 2012. Under his guidance, support has increased with record private donations and record attendance numbers in football, basketball and baseball. The athletics budget has increased from $57 million upon his arrival to $105.5 million for the 2016-17 season.

“My family and I are very grateful for the support and confidence shown by Dr. Vitter and the entire university community with a renewed long-term commitment to continue leading Ole Miss athletics,” Bjork said. “Holding the title of vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics is not only symbolic of the department’s core values, but also solidifies our role in the university’s overall mission of educating the next generation of America’s leaders.

“I am a big believer in being fully integrated with the university and will continue forward with a great sense of responsibility.”

As a result, Stephen Ponder, the senior executive associate athletics director for external relations, will be promoted to the title of deputy athletics director.

“Stephen has shown great leadership in so many areas since his arrival four years ago,” Bjork said. “His energy level and ‘can do’ attitude have allowed us to grow our entire athletics program physically, financially, competitively and emotionally.

“This promotion to deputy athletics director is well-deserved and fitting for Stephen as my right-hand person. I am grateful for Stephen’s leadership and blessed to work with the best coaches and athletics staff in the country.”

Bjork’s direction of the Forward Together campaign has garnered more than $170 million in donations, resulting in the construction of The Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium expansion and the renovations of the Gillom Center, Track and Field complex and the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.

Ole Miss student-athletes and fans have witnessed immediate success in competition under Bjork’s leadership. The Rebel football team appeared in post-season bowl games for the last four consecutive years, reaching the Allstate Sugar Bowl last season for the first time in 46 years. Ole Miss soccer reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time in program history.

In 2014, the Ole Miss baseball team competed in the College World Series in Omaha for the first time in 42 years, and Ole Miss men’s basketball claimed the SEC Tournament Championship in 2013. Ole Miss softball reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

Men’s and women’s tennis, women’s golf and track and field have also reached post-season play, with pole vaulter Sam Kendricks claiming back-to-back NCAA championships in 2013 and 2014 and a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Track and field athlete Raven Saunders brought an NCAA Championship to Ole Miss for shot put.

But Bjork’s commitment to success reaches well beyond the field of competition. His strong emphasis on academics has led student-athletes to a record average GPA of 3.0, and the graduation success rate has increased from 72 percent to 81 percent.

His active involvement in other university programs, including the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, led to his recognition by the NCAA as a Champion of Diversity in 2015. He and former UM Chancellor Dan Jones were the first individuals highlighted with this designation for their work to support the interests of ethnic minorities and underrepresented populations.

Bjork encourages community involvement among student-athletes as well. Under his leadership, athletics programs and their members have participated in more than 50 service projects. Additionally, he’s traveled the country over the last five years, speaking to more than 19,000 Ole Miss alumni and fans on the Rebel Road Trip.

“We are extremely proud of what our team has accomplished over the past four-and-a-half years, and I truly believe the best is yet to come for the entire university and our athletics program,” Bjork said. “We are Ole Miss!”

Anthropology Class Digs for Evidence of Slave Life

Public invited to see progress on Rowan Oak excavations Oct. 15

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The public is invited to see archaeological work going on at Rowan Oak on Oct. 15. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi research group and the Center for Archaeological Research are conducting an archaeological investigation on the grounds of Rowan Oak in a search for evidence of slave life.

The public is invited to see the progress at the site Saturday (Oct. 15) during Public Archaeology Day.

The UM Slavery Research Group is interested in the pre-Faulkner era of the property, which was built in the late 1840s by Oxford settler and slaveholder Robert Sheegog. A census in 1850 showed nine slaves lived on the Sheegog Estate, yet there is no evidence of how they lived.

The archaeological excavation is being conducted this semester by UM students under the direction of Tony Boudreaux, associate professor of anthropology and director of the center, and Maureen Meyers, assistant professor of anthropology. It examines seven acres of cleared land surrounding the house at Rowan Oak.

“We want to build a context of the university during the 19th century,” Boudreaux said. “We know a little about the big stuff, but the day-to-day aspects of living falls away. My hope is this adds more information to Rowan Oak’s story during the period of time before the Civil War.”

Students began their research by surveying the land and performing shovel tests, digging shallow holes to find intact deposits before further excavations, every 10 meters. These tests have resulted in several findings, including pieces of glass, ceramic, coal and brick.

In the coming weeks, areas of artifact concentrations will be excavated intensively to try to identify remains of structures. Students will then sort, identify and analyze their findings, which also includes archival research at the Lafayette County Courthouse of land deeds and Sheegog’s will.

“You get a different level of education across the board,” said Allie Smith, a UM graduate student from Fort Payne, Alabama. “All the students are getting a taste of the different aspects of archaeology.”

The public can learn more about the excavation and the search for slave quarters from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Rowan Oak grounds. The admission fee to the house will be waived for visitors that day, but donations will still be accepted.

“This project is an opportunity to better understand the role of slavery in Oxford and beyond, and it is the first systematic attempt to archaeologically identify the remains of slavery on university grounds in the Deep South,” said Chuck Ross, the group co-chair, director of African-American studies and professor of history.

“UM has the potential to be the first school in the Deep South to take on this important work.”

In conjunction with the archaeology event, the University Museum will host a Let’s Move Family Activity Day, where children of all ages can explore art and nature by making their way through the museum and to Rowan Oak by way of the Bailey Woods Trail. The free activity runs from 10 a.m. to noon, and no pre-registration is needed.

Parking at Rowan Oak is limited. To accommodate overflow, shuttle transportation will be available from the Old Taylor Lot. Restrooms will also be available onsite.

For more information about the excavation, visit http://car.olemiss.edu. To keep up with the latest information from the UM Slavery Research Group, follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

UM, Oxford Again Ranked Among Nation’s Best and Most Beautiful

University and its hometown pick up four new accolades

The University of Mississippi and Oxford have recently been recognized by several major publications for having the nation's most beautiful campus, the most unique tailgating experience and being among the nation's best college towns. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi and Oxford have recently been recognized by several major publications for having the nation’s most beautiful campus and most unique tailgating experience and for being among the nation’s best college towns. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and Oxford often rank at the top of annual lists of beautiful campuses and best college towns, and this fall has brought a new set of national accolades upon the area.

USA Today’s Reader’s Choice travel awards contest has named UM the nation’s most beautiful campus, while Thrillist named the university on its unranked list of the 20 most beautiful public college campuses. The NCAA recognized Ole Miss’ tailgating environment as the nation’s best. FanSided, which is run by Sports Illustrated and owned by Time Inc., named Oxford the second-best college town in the nation.

Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter, who moved to Oxford from Kansas in January, said there’s a magic here that quickly grabs visitors.

“Over the last 34 years, I have lived and served in a number of great university towns, and there is something truly special about Ole Miss and Oxford,” Vitter said. “Ours is a unique place with extraordinary people. All it takes is just one visit here and you quickly realize why it captures the hearts and minds of so many.”

The university was the only Southeastern Conference school and the only one in Mississippi chosen in USA Today and 10best.com’s list of beautiful campuses. Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, came in second place and Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, came in third.

The USA Today/10best.com ranking notes Ole Miss “comprises 2,000 acres of expansive lawns, wooded trails and historic architecture, like the Greek Revival-style Lyceum.”

Thrillist, which ranks UM alongside the universities of Michigan and Hawaii and other schools, praised the Greek revival architecture of the Lyceum and the beauty of the surrounding buildings.

“When you think of great collections of Greek architecture, only one place comes to mind: Mississippi. No?” Thrillist writes. “Well, the original campus building, the Lyceum, is a classic white-columned structure with massive brick wings that anchors an entire historic district within the campus.

“The Circle, as it’s known, looks more like an area you’d find in D.C. than Oxford, with long, brick buildings stretching throughout. And Ole Miss’ beauty isn’t limited to the architecture, as anyone who’s spent a Saturday tailgating in the Grove can attest.”

Jeff McManus, UM director of landscape services, said the university and his team is “humbled and honored” by recognition of the campus’ beauty. He thanked the administration, including the chancellor, Provost Morris Stocks and Vice Chancellor Larry Sparks for supporting his efforts.

“Our Landscape Services vision, on the ground, in the weeds and trees is to ‘Cultivate Greatness’ – to inspire our students, faculty and staff – to give them an environment in which they can grow and produce,” McManus said. “We set our standards high and today, we are especially proud to be Landscape Rebels.”

The NCAA recently released a video of college football’s most unique tailgates, with the Grove being ranked No. 1, referred to as “the Holy Grail of Tailgating.” Others listed include University of California’s Tightwad Hill, which lets fans view into the stadium and see the game for free, and the University of Washington’s Husky Navy and University of Tennessee’s Vol Navy, which both allow partying near the football stadiums on boats.

FanSided ranks Oxford as the country’s second-best college town, bested only by Athens, Georgia, home of the University of Georgia.

“Ole Miss is another school where enrollment somehow outnumbers the town it resides in in terms of population,” FanSided writes. “The enrollment may be hovering around 23,000, but go to one tailgate in Oxford, MS and you’ll think it’s 100,000. Students and non-students alike love their Rebels.”

Of all the reasons Oxford is getting such attention, the biggest is that people love to call the city home, said Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation. For decades, locals have been serious about making their growing community the best it can be, he said.

“Attention to detail, high expectations and adherence to a plan to be great is why we are what we are today,” Maynard said. “The university, the city and the county are all committed to making sure that the quality that we have now will remain quality into the future. The toughest challenge that our community faces is growing without messing up that which is Oxford.”

The area’s health care system, beautiful parks, artists and musicians, business owners, entrepreneurs and longtime residents have all helped attract new businesses and also new Oxonians, he said.

“Oxford is the place where great things can happen,” Maynard said. “People from all walks of life, some without any previous affiliation to Ole Miss or Oxford, are finding that they can come and be welcomed into the community.

“They are coming for many reasons, but they are staying because of the quality that is pervasive in our community.”

Implicit Bias Expert Benjamin Reese Jr. to Speak at UM

Duke University VP to lead frank discussion on subconscious attitudes

Ben Reese, senior vice president for institutional equity

Ben Reese Jr., senior vice president for institutional equity at Duke University, speaks Thursday at UM.

OXFORD, Miss. – Benjamin Reese Jr., chief diversity officer and vice president of the Office for Institutional Equity at Duke University, will speak to University of Mississippi faculty, staff and students Thursday (Oct. 6) to discuss the role of implicit bias in people’s everyday lives.

Free and open to the public, the event is set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Ole Miss Student Union ballroom.

“I think everyone is familiar with explicit biases, the conscious behaviors that are discriminatory,” explained Reese, a clinical psychologist with more than four decades of experience. “However, implicit biases refer to the ways in which we behave, or make decisions, that we are not aware of.

“We may think our decisions are fair and equitable, but there is still a subconscious bias.”

Implicit bias is a judgement and/or behavior that is rooted deep in subconscious attitudes and/or beliefs. Implicit biases can be either positive or negative toward a specific group with certain characteristics, such as age, appearance, race, sexuality or weight.

“We want people to be aware that we all have biases,” said Nichelle Robinson, UM School of Education diversity officer, who coordinated the event. “It’s once we are aware of these biases that we can begin to work to change these behaviors.”

During the event, Reese will define implicit bias and share steps that individuals can use to identify and decrease these subconscious judgements.

He will also discuss free implicit association tests that can help individuals identify their own implicit biases. One example is Project Implicit, hosted by Harvard University.

bias“I think it’s important to walk away (from this discussion) with an understanding of how bias develops within us,” Reese said. “There is some compelling research that suggests all of the different ways that implicit bias operates, and I will give some examples so people can gain an understanding of their own everyday decisions.”

Reese also will conduct a special session with students from the School of Education at 9 a.m. Friday (Oct. 7) at the Jackson Avenue Center.

For close to 40 years, Reese has consulted both public and private institutions on organizational change, conflict resolution, race relations, diversity and more.

The event is sponsored by the UM School of Education, Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and Office of Multicultural Affairs.

UM Welcomes Most Accomplished Freshmen Class Ever

State's flagship university celebrates record enrollment as it builds for future

Students head to class at the University of Mississippi, which has experienced record enrollment again this year. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Students head to class at the University of Mississippi, which has experienced record enrollment again this year. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has recorded its 22nd consecutive year of rising enrollment, registering its largest and most academically qualified freshman class ever.

Enrollment at the state’s flagship university hit 24,250 across all campuses, largest in the state, according to preliminary data. The freshman class of 3,982 students posted an average ACT score of 25.2, surpassing the UM record of 24.7, set last year.

“Students and families across the state and nation are noticing that great things are happening here at the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “They recognize the academic excellence and outstanding college experience we offer and continue to join us in record numbers.

“Our faculty and staff work very hard to deliver the very best academic programs at a competitive price, providing all qualified Mississippi students the educational opportunities to transform their lives and our communities. It’s gratifying to see those efforts acknowledged by a growing Ole Miss family.”

Total enrollment is up 412 students, or 1.7 percent, from last fall.

This year’s first-time students include 87 class valedictorians, 54 salutatorians, 94 student body presidents, 92 Eagle Scouts and 13 Girl Scouts who achieved the Gold Award, the organization’s highest youth honor.

“Our university has a long history of attracting and developing student leaders,” Vitter said. “We offer them valuable experiences and help them hone their talents.

“I look forward to seeing what this talented group of freshmen can accomplish. I fully expect them to have a tremendous impact on our local and global communities during their time here and beyond.”

The high school GPA of incoming freshmen also increased, growing from 3.54 last year to 3.57, another university record.

The group bucked declines in average ACT scores both nationally and on the state level. Among new freshmen from Mississippi, this year’s average was 24.8, up from last fall’s 24.4.

The progress in freshman ACT scores actually has been maintained over the past nine years, growing 2.5 points over that span. Several factors have contributed to that success, Provost Morris Stocks said.

“We offer more and more outstanding programs for excellent students,” Stocks said. “For example, the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program is now admitting 30 students per year. These are honors-quality students planning to be teachers, and they have committed to teach in Mississippi upon graduation.

“Then there’s the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, which brings in 60 top-level freshmen each year who are interested in the intersection of engineering, business and accounting. And over at the School of Accountancy, we’re admitting more students with ACT scores over 30 than we’ve ever had, and a lot of that stems from the school being ranked in the Top 10 for several years in a row now.”

Stocks also cited the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, Chinese Language Flagship Program and the Arabic language and Provost’s Scholars programs for helping attract more high-achieving students. The university also offers more top-level scholarships, such as the Stamps Leadership Scholarships, than in the past, he said.

“We’re now competing against the best universities in the country for the best students in the country,” Stocks said. “At the same time, we remain committed to educating the people of Mississippi and giving all qualified Mississippi students a chance to succeed and make better lives for themselves and their families.”

The university’s efforts to help new students adjust to college life and be successful – including FASTrack and the Freshman Year Experience program – also continue to pay dividends. Student retention remained near record levels, with 85.3 percent of last year’s freshmen returning to campus to continue their studies this fall.

The majority, 59.4 percent, of Ole Miss students are from Mississippi, including students from all the state’s 82 counties. The university also attracts students from around the nation and world. Overall, the student body includes representatives from every state, the District of Columbia and 90 foreign countries.

Minority enrollment totaled 5,548 students, or 22.9 percent. African-American enrollment is 3,166 students, or 13.0 percent of overall enrollment.

With a newly expanded building, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College continues to grow, enrolling 1,420 students this fall, more than doubling over the past 10 years. It received 1,484 applications for this fall, up 15 percent from last year’s 1,293 submissions. The Honors College has a record 474 incoming freshmen, with 59 percent being Mississippi residents.

Once it settles into its new space and completes renovations on the existing facility, the Honors College has a target enrollment around 1,500 students. The new space allows faculty to broaden the challenges and opportunities for its students, Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

“It gives us the physical capacity to go deep into conversation in public space,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “At a time when civil discourse is so lacking in America, we want to create a space where we can model civil debate on ideas, even ones that appear threatening.”

While many of the university’s schools and programs experienced growth, its accounting and journalism schools enjoyed the largest increases.

Enrollment in the Patterson School of Accountancy grew 9 percent, to 1,380 students this fall, compared to 1,261 last year. The school has been a mainstay in the Top 10 rankings for several years, and all three of its programs are again in the top eight this fall.

In the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, undergraduate enrollment increased 8 percent, growing from 1,375 students in fall 2015 to 1,486 this year. Founded in 2009, the school has benefited from being on a beautiful campus, with economical tuition, excellence in athletics and an exceptionally effective Office of Admissions, Dean Will Norton said.

“We have a program that focuses on preparing graduates for media careers in the modern world, not for 20 years ago, and we have a faculty who held significant positions in the media, many just within the last few years,” Norton said. “Because of this, many of them also are well-versed in social media, and they can help students master those areas.”

The school offers opportunities for students that are rare among journalism programs, he said.

“Not many places offer students a chance to do documentaries or depth reporting courses, or campaigns for companies throughout the region, but we offer all that here,” Norton said. “Our international projects also have been exceptional.”

Fall enrollment at the university’s Medical Center remained nearly level, largely because of space constraints.

“We are near or at capacity in all of our programs, with the exception of some of our online offerings,” said Dr. Ralph Didlake, UMMC associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Areas enjoying growth include the School of Medicine, from 563 students to 577; the Medical Center’s residency and fellowship programs, from 626 to 640; and the School of Dentistry, from 143 to 148.

The increase should accelerate with a new 151,000-square-foot, $74 million School of Medicine building set to open in fall 2017, Didlake said. The new building “is not only going to allow the School of Medicine enrollment to increase, but it will decrease pressure on other teaching space, allowing our other programs to grow.”

Enrollment should rise dramatically in the future, including the addition of a new School of Population Health, the seventh school on the medical campus. It opens to students in fall 2017.

To help accommodate the growing student population in Oxford, the university has opened two new five-story residence halls on the former site of Guess Hall, adding housing space for 603 students.

The university has launched a three-year project to expand and modernize the Student Union and is working on a new recreation center and transportation hub, a $32 million project on the south end of campus. Work also has begun on a $20 million renovation to Garland, Hedleston and Mayes halls, providing space for the School of Applied Sciences.

The university’s new STEM building, which will add 200,000 square feet of education and research space in the Science District for an estimated $135 million, will boost the university’s capacity to address workforce needs and enhance UM’s status as a Carnegie R-1 Highest Research Activity institution.

For more information on enrollment and programs at UM, go to http://www.olemiss.edu.

Ruth Cummins of the UM Medical Center contributed to this report.

Ole Miss and Hopscotch Launch New Mobile App

Technology offers new fan-engagement capabilities

athleticsappsOXFORD, Miss. — Just in time for the college football season, Ole Miss and Hopscotch, a mobile-technology leader for sports and live events, launched a new mobile app. The Ole Miss Athletics app is free and available for immediate download on the App Store and Google Play.

“The new Ole Miss Athletics app gives Rebel fans more than just a gameday app. It gives students, alumni and fans a 24/7/365 connection to the action, the student-athletes and the school they love,” said Michael Thompson, Ole Miss Senior Associate Athletics Director, Communications & Marketing. “Hopscotch has been awesome to work with, and their technology and service is best in class.”

With the new app, Rebel fans receive:

  • All-team access: The school’s app is a one-stop shop for all men’s and women’s varsity teams. Fans can select their favorite student-athletes and teams to personalize app content.
  • Scores: Fans can access live-game scoreboards, box scores and stats via an integration with Stats.com.
  • Schedules: Fans can buy tickets to upcoming home games on their mobile devices via a Spectra integration.
  • Fan Zone: Fans can listen live on game day via a TuneIn integration and join in on trivia, polls and contests via a Lodestone Social integration.
  • Breaking news: Fans get exclusive videos, articles and photos, plus social streams.

“When it comes to the intersection of fan engagement and technology, Ole Miss is a leader in college athletics,” said Laurence Sotsky, Hopscotch Founder and CEO. “It has been a privilege to bring their vision of a best-in-class mobile experience to life.”

Hopscotch also integrated its mobile platform with DoubleClick by Google for ad serving and SSB for data warehousing and business intelligence. This gives Ole Miss new capabilities to provide each fan a more personalized experience, based on geolocation, app preferences and app behaviors.

As the multimedia rights partner of Ole Miss Athletics, IMG helped to facilitate the relationship.

“We are excited to work together with Ole Miss to develop a great technology solution that will help Rebel fans engage with the school and its athletic programs,” said Stewart Marlborough, Senior Vice President, Head of Digital, IMG College. “Hopscotch offers fans unique content that improves the viewing and game day experiences and, in turn, helps brands connect more directly to the university’s core audience.”

Hopscotch (GoHopscotch.com) is a leader in mobile-platform technology that makes it easy for colleges, sports teams and event organizers to build scalable, affordable mobile apps. The Hopscotch platform combines a feature-rich content-management system with an open-API architecture, aggregating a variety of mobile technologies into a single fan-engagement destination. Hopscotch customers include Auburn, Ole Miss, University of Central Florida and more than 35 sports teams.

IMG is a global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, operating in more than 30 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is one of the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, a leading global entertainment agency.

UM Accountancy Programs Maintain Top 10 Standing

Undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs continue string of elite rankings

Conner Hall Photo by:UM Brand Photography

Conner Hall, home of the Patterson School of Accountancy

OXFORD, Miss. – All three degree programs at the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy are among the top 10 in the 2016 annual national rankings of accounting programs published by the journal Public Accounting Report.

The undergraduate program is ranked No. 7, the master’s program is No. 8 and the doctoral program is No. 7. The master’s and doctoral programs lead the Southeastern Conference in the rankings and the undergraduate program is second in the SEC. Each of the three degree programs has ranked first in the SEC for three of the past four years.

The Patterson School has become a mainstay on the national scene, with its programs ranked in the top 10 nationally for six consecutive years, and among the top 20 in the nation for nine straight years. The PAR has been ranking accounting programs for 35 years.

The rankings are based on a survey of accounting professors in the United States. Other undergraduate SEC programs ranked in the top 25 are Texas A&M, at No. 5; Alabama, 8; Florida, 10; Georgia, 11; Missouri, 14; and Tennessee, 23.

Among the highly ranked master’s programs are Alabama, at No. 9; Georgia, 10; Texas A&M, 11; Florida, 13; Missouri, 15; and Tennessee, 21. The doctoral rankings include Alabama, No. 8; Texas A&M, 9; Georgia, 12; Florida, 16; and Missouri, 20.

In other results, a new ranking category was established this year, which was a ranking by region.

“In the South region, we ranked No. 1 for both undergraduate and master’s programs, and would have also ranked No. 1 for doctoral programs had they been included,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “The South region, which constitutes 30 percent of the approximately 1,000 PAR votes in 2016, includes 10 states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.”

Undergraduate and master’s program rankings for 2016 were also compiled based only on votes by professors who did not vote their own schools No. 1 in the survey. Ole Miss fared extremely well in these rankings, coming in at No. 3 nationally for both the undergraduate and master’s program. The top schools in these rankings are Texas and Brigham Young.

More than 1,000 schools in the United States offer accounting programs, and around 500 of those, including UM, are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business as being among the best accountancy and business programs in the world, said Dale Flesher, associate dean and holder of the Burns Chair of Accountancy. PAR voters who determine the rankings are influenced by several other factors that set the Patterson School apart.

“Many voters, some of whom may not know much about Ole Miss, know that the university houses the AICPA Library, the largest accountancy library in the world,” he said. “Also, a recent study showed that we are the only university of our size in the country that has every accounting class taught by a professor with CPA designation.

“The main criterion for the undergraduate and master’s rankings is success of graduates in public accounting. Therefore, having every class taught by a CPA makes it easier for students to identify with the needs of the profession.”

UM also has hosted a number of faculty from other schools in recent years, whether to visit the AICPA Library or to present their research to Ole Miss faculty and doctoral students, Wilder said.

“For example, these faculty come from places like the universities of Texas, Illinois, North Carolina and also from Ohio State and Duke,” he said. “Invariably, they all leave impressed with the quality of our faculty, students and program. They are also impressed with the collegiality of our faculty and the beauty of our campus.”

Wilder credits the school’s faculty, students and alumni for having a positive impact on its reputation.

“We have an outstanding faculty of top teachers and researchers that are also very much focused on serving and mentoring students,” he said. “Our faculty all work together toward our common goal of having one of the top accounting programs in the nation.

“The Patterson School is also fortunate to have outstanding students who go on to have phenomenal careers. The academic profile of our accountancy student body gets stronger every year, a fact that is certainly being recognized in the marketplace.”

Wilder also noted the importance of private support in the school’s successful equation.

“The successes we are enjoying are directly attributable to the loyalty and generosity of our alumni and friends,” he said. “Their support helps us to offer scholarships to attract outstanding students, to reward our faculty and to strengthen our program.

“We are grateful for their loyalty and willingness to give back to the school. It is absolutely a difference-maker for us and allows our successes to be built upon and perpetuated.”

For more information about the Patterson School of Accountancy, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/accountancy/.

Dios, UM’s New K-9 Cop, to be Sworn in Sept. 6

Dog's value to UPD goes far beyond his ability to detect narcotics and other contraband

Rosa Salas pets University Police K9 Dios during Coffee with a Cop on the Union plaza. The University Police Department's new K-9 officer, Dios, will be sworn in Sept. 6. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Rosa Salas pets University Police K9 Dios during Coffee with a Cop on the Union plaza. The University Police Department’s new K-9 officer will be sworn in Sept. 6. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Police Department is getting a well-trained, sociable new officer, but this one isn’t typical. He has four feet, is covered in fur and is only a year old.

Dios, the university’s new K-9 officer, will be sworn in at a campus ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 6 in the Lyceum. The Belgian Malinois from Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Indiana, was certified Aug. 12 and is already working on campus.

He can handle tight spaces and large crowds, is sociable and has expert detection skills. The dog will spend about 80 percent of its time working with the community with his designated handler, Officer Justin Watson, UPD Chief Tim Potts said. Only about 20 percent of Dios’ time will be spent on training and response to police calls.

“As far as our department, we are excited for the K-9 team to return to campus,” Potts said. “While Dios will certainly provide the ability to detect narcotics where humans fail, Dios and Officer Watson will do so much more for the university.

“They will provide demonstrations and programming to our community and help to further develop the bond between our department and our community.”

The team plans presentations for the Ole Miss Department of Student Housing, as well as any other campus groups that want to learn more about the team and what it offers campus.

Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Dios and his handler will work Tuesday-Friday from 3 p.m. to midnight or 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., which is a different shift than any other UPD officer, and will also work some weekends.

The university developed a new policy on how the K-9 team will be used in residence halls, which includes collaboration with the Department of Student Housing and the university’s general counsel. The team also works with fraternities and sororities when requested.

Dios answers all drug complaints while on duty, and will be used to help assist the Oxford Police Department and the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office. Routine patrols though the housing wings where students live are not planned at this time.

If a complaint is received, the K-9 unit will proceed to that specific location, but if Dios detects something on the property in another location, it will be noted and he will return after an initial investigation is complete.

The dog will visit residence hall lobbies on a frequent basis, Potts said.

The new K-9 officer will also be used during athletics events, but not for crowd control. Rather, he will be used only for detecting contraband.

Dios was purchased and trained with $17,285 from Ole Miss Family Leadership Council funds. He should be a valuable educational ambassador to students on behalf of UPD, said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“Students will be drawn to him, then, in the process of interacting with him they will have the opportunity to learn about our campus polices related to drugs,” Hephner LaBanc said. “The core of UPD’s mission is to enhance safety – that begins with knowledge.

“Dios will provide a unique opportunity for his handler and other officers to talk with students about the dangers of drug use.”

For more information about scheduling a presentation with Dios, contact UPD at 662-915-7234.

Alumni, Friends Provide Record $194.3 Million to Support UM

Private support sustains university and propels academics, research, athletics across campuses

OXFORD, Miss. – Strong private support, primarily directed to specific programs, enables the University of Mississippi to strengthen its faculty, increase student scholarships, contribute to research discoveries and help improve health care for all ages.

Incoming freshmen assemble DNA models during Biology Bootcamp, a five-day intensive program to prepare them for BISC 160: Biological Sciences. Private giving supports academic programs such as these, as well as scholarships, faculty, outreach and more. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Incoming freshmen assemble DNA models during Biology Bootcamp, a five-day intensive program to prepare them for BISC 160: Biological Sciences. Private giving supports academic programs such as these, as well as scholarships, faculty, outreach and more. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

In the UM Foundation’s fiscal year ending June 30, private donors and foundations committed a record $194.3 million to support programs, facilities and students across all campuses.

The contributions supported academics on the Oxford campus, the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and on UM’s regional campuses throughout the state. Additionally, private giving supports Ole Miss athletics programs, facilities and student-athletes.

“The University of Mississippi has a unique role in advancing society through the discovery, creation and dissemination of knowledge,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We are so grateful for the generous donations of our loyal alumni and friends. Their support is helping us transform lives through education and elevate the quality of life for all our citizens.”

Fiscal year 2016 was bolstered by a number of major gifts: a $25 million gift to the Forward Together Campaign for athletics from Jerry “Doc” Hollingsworth of Niceville, Florida; a $20 million pledge to Batson Children’s Hospital from the Friends of Children’s; a $10 million pledge from Joe and Kathy Sanderson, of Laurel, to kick off a $100 million campaign for Children’s of Mississippi at UMMC; and a $2 million gift from the Brockman Foundation to establish a chair within the Patterson School of Accountancy in honor of the late Don Jones of Oxford.

Administrators acknowledge it’s unlikely that single gifts of this magnitude will be repeated in the 2017 fiscal year, but university development staff will be reaching out to alumni, friends, corporations and foundations to continue the fundraising success. Private support for UM has exceeded $100 million in each of the last five years.

“Private giving is vital to recruiting and retaining the nation’s best educators to teach and mentor our students,” said Alice Clark, interim vice chancellor for university relations. “Less than 15 percent of our operating revenue comes from state appropriations, so the resources provided by our generous donors are absolutely essential to reach our goals in bolstering faculty support, as well as attracting funds for student scholarships, construction, library resources and more.”

The state’s flagship university boasts the largest student body among Mississippi’s public universities, necessitating the addition of more than 200 faculty members over the next three years.

Cash gifts of all sizes combined for $118.8 million, with new pledges (as yet unrealized) adding up to more than $61 million. Donors committed more than $14 million in planned and deferred gifts to Ole Miss.

“Our fiscal 2016 private support totals are truly outstanding,” said Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the UM Foundation, which had a five-year endowment investment return of 5.2 percent as of June 30. “However, we must continue to push even harder to meet the growing cash needs of the university.”

Donor participation on the Oxford campus increased by more than 16 percent as the number of gifts rose from 52,500 in 2015 to 55,000 in fiscal year 2016. These generous contributions from alumni, private foundations and corporations, friends, parents and others have built an endowment of more than $600 million.

Donor impact reaches every area of the university, including its Medical Center campus.

“Every gift is a stepping stone toward our goal of a healthier Mississippi,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “Our generous donors took us closer to that goal this year, giving the record amount of $60 million.

“We are especially grateful to Joe and Kathy Sanderson’s capable leadership of our $100 million Children’s of Mississippi campaign and their financial gift that pushes us a long way toward our goal. Year after year, the people of Mississippi rise to the challenge in terms of giving.”

The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation also had a record year, generating $45.6 million in cash donations, breaking the previous record of $35.2 million set in 2015. With the highest-ever membership at 17,773 and counting, OMAF donors anticipate the soon-to-be-unveiled improvements to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Swayze Field and other sports facilities made possible by their contributions.

“On behalf of Ole Miss athletics, including our coaches and our talented student-athletes, I would like to thank Rebel Nation for their generous contributions over the past year that set a new standard in fundraising,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork said. “The Ole Miss family continues to grow, and the support allows us to continue giving Rebels the highest quality student-athlete experience.”

The Forward Together campaign has topped $167.5 million in commitments with $30 million in new pledges for the fiscal year. The foundation reached the original goal of $150 million for the Forward Together campaign during 2016 and raised the goal to $200 million. With $32.5 million remaining, the new mark is anticipated to be met by June 2017.

“Alumni and friends who give back play an integral role in helping the university improve,” Weakley said. “We could not be more appreciative of those who’ve shared their hard-earned resources with the university and our students.”

For information on providing financial support to the University of Mississippi, visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.