Commissioner Visits UM Oxford, Tupelo Campuses

Listening tour includes discussions of needs, potential collaborations

Al Rankins Jr., new IHL commissioner, makes Ole Miss his first stop in his tour of all campuses in the state. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – A listening tour by the state commissioner of higher education got off to a great start this week with visits to the University of Mississippi’s Oxford and Tupelo campuses. Alfred Rankins Jr. met with faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders on both campuses.

And thanks to technology used in distance learning, participants from all regional Ole Miss campuses were able to join the conversation.

“We had very productive and perceptive conversations,” Rankins said. “Many of the conversations underscored the need for resources to provide or expand services for students. We also identified areas for additional collaboration on the system level.

“I would like to thank the University of Mississippi campus community for its warm welcome and wonderful hospitality.”

The listening tour was launched to facilitate productive roundtable discussions and conversations with members from all facets of the campus community. The Oxford visit included serving as a keynote speaker at a Rotary Club meeting, where several community members noted the impact of campus growth on the community.

“It was an honor to host new IHL Commissioner Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. at UM-Oxford and UM-Tupelo as he made his first stops on his 100-day listening tour,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We’re excited to work with someone who has dedicated his career to higher education and embraces the powerful role the university system plays in advancing Mississippi.

“We appreciate his initiative in seeking our ideas and know that Dr. Rankins will be a great advocate for our university.”

Participants in the meetings are encouraged to ask questions, provide insight and offer suggestions on how to work together to advance the university system and the state. The listening tour also gives the commissioner an opportunity to learn more about campus facilities and offerings. This stop included a tour of the Advanced Education Center in Tupelo.

Next stop is the University of Mississippi Medical Center on Thursday (July 26). Additional details on the events will be released before each tour stop.

More information, including a survey on various aspects of the university system, is available online at

Named commissioner of higher education on March 23, Rankins began serving in this role on July 1. As commissioner, he provides leadership to the university system, which is composed of the state’s eight public universities.