Inaugural Creed Week to Celebrate Tenets of UM

Creed introduced 10 years ago, has become 'words to live by' for faculty, students and alumni

Inaugural Creed Week

OXFORD, Miss. – It took two years of collaboration and negotiation, but the 86 carefully-selected words that comprise the University of Mississippi Creed have indeed become words to live by. Ten years after its creation, the UM Creed is being celebrated by a weeklong series of events organized by the Associated Student Body.

“We want to bring attention to this important document in a way that allows students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community at-large to connect to the words that exemplify what our university stands for,” said Gregory Alston, ASB president and a lead organizer for Creed Week.

Creed Week will begin with an opening ceremony at noon Monday (Sept. 16) in front of the Student Union. Alston will join Sparky Reardon, UM dean of students, to speak about the Creed and present a large, leather-bound Creed book to the university. The book, which includes a copy of the Creed, will be available in the Student Union for students, faculty, alumni and friends to sign throughout the week.

Reardon, who first approached former Chancellor Robert Khayat about developing the Creed, is touched by the commitment the ASB is making to the celebration.

“The tenets of the Creed are important because they give us a way to hold ourselves accountable, and for the world at large to hold the university accountable,” Reardon said. “Creed Week is a great reminder about the standards we set for ourselves. When we went through this process 10 years ago, we could not have imagined that it would be celebrated in this way. It is quite an honor.”

A committee of faculty, staff and the community came together to develop the Creed. Focus groups were conducted to gain input both before and after words were selected and the tenets were drafted.

Reardon says a pivotal moment came with the selection of the phrase “I believe” rather than a much-discussed option of “I pledge,” giving a stronger sense of personal belief and deepening the connection to the Creed. The process was at times emotional and tumultuous. Some people became so angry during the process that they actually quit the committee but came back to the table when cooler heads prevailed, Reardon said.

“For me, it just demonstrated how much this meant to people and how important it was for people to feel that their connection to this beloved university was being conveyed through a set of words that would be passed down for generations,” he added.

Alston says he hopes that Creed Week will honor that legacy and provide a new opportunity to introduce incoming students and others to the Creed each year.

“We hope that what we do this year will become an annual event,” Alston said. “The Creed inspires me to want to exceed the expectations dreamed by the people who took part in creating it, and I look forward to sharing that connection with our entire Ole Miss family during Creed Week.”

As part of Creed Week, Ross Bjork, UM athletics director, will deliver a keynote address about “Living the Creed” at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 17) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“Creed Week is a terrific platform to showcase the greatness of the University of Mississippi and our campus community,” Bjork said. “All of us have core values that we live by and we are nothing without these guidelines for living a successful personal and professional life. The UM Creed embodies all the right ingredients for success and I am honored to be chosen to speak to the Ole Miss community about ‘Living the Creed.'”

“As a university, we are obligated to enact the ideals and truths that our community will use for a lifetime,” Reardon added. “If we produce students who believe and strive to live out the elements of the Creed, then we will have contributed to the good of society.

The week will culminate with a closing ceremony at 4 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 19) in Fulton Chapel, and a day of service on Friday (Sept. 20). During the closing ceremony, Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor for student affairs, will present awards to both a student and a faculty or staff member who best exemplify the Creed. Recipients were chosen from a pool of nominations submitted by students, faculty and staff.

A full list of Creed Week events is available on the Associated Student Body’s website. All events are free and open to the public, though tickets are required for admission to the Ford Center. Free tickets are available from the UM Box Office in the Student Union.