Khayat Set for Conversation Friday at Overby Center

Former chancellor to discuss experiences, stories behind major decisions

OXFORD, Miss. – Robert Khayat, who has written a memoir about his legendary career and his 14 years as chancellor of the University of Mississippi, will discuss his experiences Friday (Oct. 11) in a program at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

Khayat is in the midst of a national tour in connection with the publication of his book, “The Education of a Lifetime” (Nautilus Publishing) and his appearance is designed to give the Ole Miss community and visiting alumni and friends an opportunity to hear Khayat on campus. The program is slated for 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium.

By scheduling Khayat at this hour, the Overby Center is making a one-time return to its former schedule of programs on late Friday afternoons before Saturday football games. The “Gatherings Before the Grove” practice was discontinued because of parking places, but university officials are keeping nearby parking lots open for the Khayat event after 5 p.m. Friday. The lots will be cleared afterward for Saturday’s football game with Texas A&M.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will be held afterwards.

Khayat will engage in a conversation with Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie, who was a student with him at Ole Miss in the late 1950s. They are expected to cover more than a half-century of Khayat’s personal history, from his exploits as a member of championship football teams to his years of leadership at his alma mater.

Though “The Education of a Lifetime” touches on Khayat’s childhood in Moss Point and his enrollment at Ole Miss to join Coach Johnny Vaught’s powerhouse squad, the book is dominated by his role as chancellor from 1996 until his retirement in 2010. He writes not only of triumphs at the school during his administration – winning a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and hosting the first presidential debate in 2008 – but he also gives details of his controversial decisions to eliminate some of the Civil War symbols that he felt were devastating to the school’s image.

“Robert Khayat’s extraordinary life has had more rough patches than most observers would believe,” said John Grisham, the best-selling novelist who was once Khayat’s student in the Ole Miss law school. “In this engaging memoir, he provides and unflinching look at the challenges, the adversity, and the ups and downs of a career that ultimately transformed a great American university.”