Jeffrey Vitter Named UM Chancellor

Selection made official after two days of meetings with groups in Oxford and Jackson

Dr. Jeffrey S. Vitter speaks to members of the media after being named the 17th Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Jeffrey S. Vitter speaks to members of the media after being named the 17th chancellor of the University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning voted “unanimously and enthusiastically” today to name Jeffrey S. Vitter as chancellor of the University of Mississippi. A renowned computer scientist and academic leader, Vitter is provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas.

“Dr. Vitter is, without a doubt, an exceptional academician and researcher,” said Alan Perry, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “He is also an experienced and very successful academic leader.

“However, it is his vision and passion for the University of Mississippi that is most compelling. I am confident this vision, coupled with his ability to lead the process of developing and implementing strategic plans, will help take the university to even higher level of stature and prominence.”

Vitter comes to UM after serving as the provost and executive vice chancellor and the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. His academic home is the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and he is a member of the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center. KU includes the main campus in Lawrence, with 10 colleges and schools, the Edwards Campus in Overland Park and the Medical Center campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina, Kansas. As provost, Vitter is the chief academic and operations officer for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

The board’s vote came after Vitter met with campus constituency groups on the UM campus in Oxford. Several hundred students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members were able to pose questions and share their thoughts and concerns with him. Vitter also met with campus constituency groups yesterday at the UM Medical Center in Jackson.

Attendees at both locations were able to provide feedback to the board of trustees. This feedback was reviewed during today’s board meeting on campus.

The reception from all the groups was overwhelmingly positive.

“The search committee of the board stuck to the fundamentals,” said Douglass Sullivan Gonzalez, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a professor of history. “They have brought a candidate who has high credentials in the academy, a proven track record with professors and an openness and a willingness to engage our university and take us to the next level.”

“I think that Dr. Vitter has the qualifications necessary to push the university forward in terms of research, fundraising and all the academic variables and measures that this school and IHL is looking for,” said Alex Borst, an Ole Miss junior from Madison.

Vitter initiated and co-led the campuswide development of KU’s strategic plan, “Bold Aspirations: The Strategic Plan for the University of Kansas, 2012-2017.” The plan is the university’s transformative roadmap toward its vision of excellence as a top-tier public international research university. While at KU, he created the first-ever universitywide KU Core curriculum, oversaw major facilities improvements and expansion and led the expansion of the schools of Engineering, Business and Pharmacy.

He also enhanced multidisciplinary research and funding around four strategic initiatives, including:

  • Alumni outreach and furthering the goals of the capital campaign
  • Major growth of technology commercialization and corporate partnerships
  • Incentivizing innovation
  • Administrative reorganization and efficiency

“I am honored to be given this opportunity by the board of trustees and the Ole Miss family,” Vitter said. “I hold a profound respect for the University of Mississippi and understand the responsibility with which I have been entrusted. As chancellor, I commit, with wholehearted enthusiasm, to building on its rich history to foster excellence and lead the university forward.”

Previously, Vitter was on the faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M, he served as provost and executive vice president for academics and oversaw the academic mission of the university in Galveston, Texas and Doha, Qatar.

Before joining Texas A&M, Vitter served as the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and Professor of Computer Science at Purdue University. As dean, he was the chief academic officer and administrator of the College of Science, responsible for overseeing the discovery, learning, engagement and diversity activities of the college’s seven academic departments.

At Duke University, Vitter held the distinguished professorship as the Gilbert, Louis and Edward Lehrman Professor. He also served as chair of the Department of Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and as co-director and a founding member of Duke’s Center for Geometric and Biological Computing.

Before joining Duke, Vitter progressed through the faculty ranks and served in various leadership roles in the Department of Computer Science at Brown University.

“As a preeminent scholar and a leader in higher education, Dr. Vitter’s experience speaks for itself,” said Alice Clark, chair of the Campus Search Advisory Committee. “During the search process, our alumni, faculty, students, staff and community members provided invaluable information about the qualities they expect to see in the next University of Mississippi chancellor. We listened, and we believe Dr. Vitter exemplifies those qualities. Dr. Vitter’s background and experience combine to make him the perfect choice to lead a strong public research university like ours to even greater success.”

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

Vitter and his wife, Sharon, have three adult children.

To view the press conference introducing Vitter as chancellor, go to