UM Graduates Land Rewarding Careers with U.S. Probation Office

Three criminal justice alumni improve lives for offenders and community

Three graduates of the UM criminal justice master’s program, including Emma Burleson (left) and William Fennell, serve as officers in the U.S. Probation Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Emma Burleson, a 2017 graduate of the master’s program in criminal justice at the University of Mississippi, spends her days protecting the community by supervising people charged with federal crimes while they await trial and after they have been convicted.

Her ultimate responsibility as a U.S. probation officer for the eastern district of Arkansas is to connect offenders to the resources they need to thrive on the outside – an opportunity to improve lives and the reason Burleson pursued her line of work.

“I was interested in pursuing a job within the field of criminal justice that was as much about healing and bettering individuals as it was about enforcing the law,” Burleson said. “I believe that the role of a probation officer is just that. We seek to not only protect and improve the community, but also to genuinely help the clients that we supervise make positive changes in their lives.

“I definitely find it rewarding to be working for a department that is so focused on improving individual lives and protecting and healing the community. I do not believe I could have found a better place for me.”

She is among three recent UM graduates who work in the office, along with William Fennell and Ashley Pratt. All three credit their time at Ole Miss with guiding their career paths.

As U.S. probation officers, these alumni are responsible for gathering and verifying information about people who come before the courts, preparing reports that judges rely on to make release and sentencing decisions and supervising those released to the community by the courts and paroling authorities.

For Burleson, the most rewarding aspect of her job is directing offenders to services that help them stay on the right side of the law, including substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, medical care, training and employment assistance.

Burleson credits her Ole Miss experience for her smooth transition to the workforce.

“I was granted invaluable experiences as a graduate assistant and through my participation in academic conferences, where I presented my thesis research,” she said. “My time at Ole Miss helped give me the skills and knowledge I needed to successfully get through the hiring process and succeed at my job.”

Fellow probation officer Fennell found his passion for restorative justice through his faith-based volunteer work with the Mississippi State Penitentiary and work with Linda Keena, UM interim chair of legal studies.

“Dr. Keena’s passion for community corrections was a major influence in my decision to pursue a career in probation,” Fennell said. “She also helped me develop the writing skills that I rely on in my current position.”

Fennell investigates the histories of defendants who are awaiting sentencing in federal criminal court and prepares reports to offer judges as much relevant information as possible before imposing a sentence. He previously spent two-and-a-half years supervising federal defendants who were awaiting trial on bond and federal offenders who had been released from prison or were sentenced to probation in northeastern Arkansas.

Ashley Pratt

“That supervision included helping clients use community resources and counseling services to help them readjust to society, helping them improve their decision-making process to avoid future issues and ensuring their compliance with all court-ordered conditions of release,” he said. “In essence, my job was to help protect the community by providing clients with a meaningful opportunity to change.”

Pratt graduated with her Master of Criminal Justice from Ole Miss with a job offer on the table from the Transportation Security Administration. Shortly after working part time with TSA, she began working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

In March, she joined Fennell as a U.S. probation officer, followed by Burleson in August.

“The driving force behind my career path was my child,” Pratt said.

Pratt said she is grateful to Keena and Danny Hall, senior lecturer in legal studies, for guidance during her time at Ole Miss as she pursued her graduate degree as a single mother.

“Both of these professors not only understood it, they embraced my child with open arms,” Pratt said.

“It is important to me that my child understands that everyone deserves a second chance, and that given the right help, people who were once labeled as ‘bad’ people could change their way of thinking and abide by the law.”

Eddie Towe, chief U.S. probation and pretrial services officer for the district, relies on universities with quality programming, such as the Ole Miss criminal justice program, to continually provide great officer candidates.

While Burleson, Fennell and Pratt lacked extensive probation experience, their aptitude, motivation, passion and personality traits matched those of highly functioning officers. Their submission packets, education, references, backgrounds and interviews also indicated they were the best candidates.

“In combination with working in an outcome-based learning organization that provides intensive initial training programs along with ongoing education and research opportunities, Ashley, William and Emma will make great officers,” Towe said.

Undergraduate degrees in criminal justice at UM offer three distinct emphases in correctionshomeland security and law enforcement. The Master of Criminal Justice program requires 36 hours of coursework and is based on the principle that students need skills and experiences in the areas of critical thinking, scholarly research, analysis, communication and ethical thinking. 

Both undergraduate and graduate-level programs are offered through the Department of Legal Studies in the School of Applied Sciences.

The UM School of Applied Sciences offers professional preparation programs that integrate academic study, clinical training, creative research, service-learning and community outreach, leading to the development of leaders whose professional endeavors will improve health and well-being. For more information, go to

UM Nutrition Expert Shares Healthy Snack Tips for Children

Good nutrition principles are fundamental for proper diet

Dr. Laurel Lambert, child nutrition expert, says all snacks should follow "basic nutrition principles.”

Laurel Lambert, child nutrition expert, explains how all snacks should follow ‘basic nutrition principles.’

OXFORD, Miss. – Combating the state’s obesity epidemic starts with teaching our children the principles of healthy eating, which is the focus of Laurel Lambert, associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management at the University of Mississippi.

While Lambert’s past experiences as a registered dietitian include medical nutrition therapy and institutional food services, her research focus is child nutrition.

“To get children excited about nutrition and meals is very rewarding,” Lambert said. “For example, a director of child nutrition in schools has an impact on students’ health from the time they enter the school until they leave.”

Along with school meals, schools also often prepare afternoon snacks. Healthy snacks can be prepared and consumed both in and out of school with a little nutrition know-how.

“Snacks are a great choice because children have little stomachs,” Lambert said. “We don’t want them to eat until they’re stuffed. In the past, I’ve worked with child nutrition development researchers, and they found that by age 5, children can lose the skill to identify when they’ve eaten too much, so snacks can teach basic feeding principles.

“You want to develop healthy snacks based on good nutrition principles. The goal is to learn the principles of nutrition and apply them to snacks. These are good starters, not a definitive list, but a list that can guide parents and children to make healthy choices.”

Healthy Homemade Snacks for Children

(Examples taken from the USDA’s Choose My Plate initiative)

  1. Trail Mix (dried fruit, unsalted nuts and popcorn): “Dried fruit is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. For unsalted nuts, I prefer almonds, but cashews and pistachios are also good sources of nutrients. Popcorn is important because it can be prepared as a low-fat food, which decreases the overall calories of the snack. Plus, popcorn provides bulk and makes it more filling.”
  2. Veggie Sticks with Hummus: “Made from chick peas, hummus has become popular as a spread for different vegetables. It goes well with celery or carrots. It can even be placed on whole-grain crackers and pita bread.”
  3. Fruit Kabobs: “Fruit kabobs are prepared using a variety of fruit – bananas, apples, watermelon, cantaloupe or grapes, to name a few. I suggest having your child help with preparation. Your child can begin to learn knife skills, decide on the types of fruit to use and the order the fruit appears on the stick, therefore becoming involved with the food he or she eats.”
  4. Apple Wedge with Turkey: “Child nutrition programs often make snacks interesting by combining foods. You’re not just giving a child an apple; you’re giving him or her an apple wedge with a good source of protein, such as turkey. Luckily, fresh turkey is low-sodium by nature. It’s also important to notice that this is an apple wedge. We’re serving children, and it may be difficult to bite and chew on a whole apple. They need something easy to handle for their snack.”
  5. Peanut Butter Fruit-wich (whole-grain bread, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, thinly sliced apple or banana): “If you have the chance to choose whole-grain over wheat, go for it. Whole-grain means the child is getting the complete grain, including the germ and the bran for extra fiber, vitamins and minerals. Only 2 tablespoons of peanut butter because portion control is important.”
  6. Ants on a Log (thinly spread peanut butter on celery sticks, topped with a row of raisins): “Ants on a log is always popular. Children enjoy it because of its name and the way it looks, and they have a fun time preparing it, too.”

“All of these snacks follow basic nutrition principles,” Lambert said. “They contain vitamins, minerals, high fiber, low sodium and low saturated fat.”

Parents should consider serving healthy beverages to their children, including water and 100-percent juice, she said. “Juice should never replace water because of the calories. However, a 1/2-cup of juice for breakfast or with a snack is a good choice.”

Finally, it is important to follow a snack schedule when feeding your child, Lambert said.

“After children come home from school, they are probably hungry,” she explained. “Having a snack prepared is a good choice. The easier you make it, the more likely the child is going to eat it.”

UM Doctoral Student Remembered as a Determined Spirit

Kevser Ermin Memorial Lecture will honor passionate, dedicated student and instructor

Local cyclists, friends and family are led in the 2013 Kevser Ermin Memorial Ride by Yavuz Ozeren, Ermin’s husband, pictured front in green and black. Ozeren endowed a lectureship in health and kinesiology in Ermin’s memory.

OXFORD, Miss. – Kevser Ermin, a doctoral student remembered for her tragic 2011 death while cycling one clear October morning between Oxford and Sardis Lake, left a lasting legacy at the University of Mississippi beyond simply a parable about transportation safety and sharing the road.

Thanks to husband Yavuz Ozeren’s recent gift to the UM Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, Ermin will be known by future students for her many personal strengths and professional talents.

The Kevser Ermin Memorial Lecture in Health and Kinesiology will be an annual lecture series for faculty, students and area professionals to interact and learn from a leader in the field of health sciences. Ermin was an accomplished academic, athlete and volunteer, a daughter, sister, wife and aunt who cherished her family, both in Oxford and in her native Turkey.

“Kevser was always very inquisitive, one of the best graduate students that I have worked with over my career,” said Mark Loftin, associate dean of the School of Applied Sciences and professor of exercise science. “Kevser was a wonderful emerging scholar whose life was tragically cut short; this lecture series will honor her memory for many years.”

“We’ve done many things to keep her memory alive through memorials and events, but we wanted this gift to go toward a legacy for her that reflected her research and her work,” Ozeren said. “She wasn’t just studying to get a degree or finish school; she lived her life as a part of her work. She did all she could to learn more about obesity, health, exercise science, physiology – she liked it. Our hope is that this will keep her research going through future students.”

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Phi Kappa Phi Initiates Fall 2012

The University of Mississippi’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi welcomed 206 new members in an initiation ceremony Sunday, Oct. 28, at the David Nutt Auditorium. Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines. Membership is based on a student’s sound character and academic standing. Juniors must have completed 72 credit hours and rank in the top 7.5 percent of their class, while seniors and graduate students must rank in the top 10 percent of their class.  

  The following students are new members of Phi Kappa Phi:

College of Liberal Arts Hollie E. Ables Samira Nadia Abunemeh Sarah Elizabeth Allen Adam Blackwell Jacqueline Grace Boyce Grace Anne Boyd Sabrina Nicole Bradford William Wallace Bumpas III Patrick Carr Henry Ian Davis Granison Edward Eader Lee Ellison Patrick W. Fields Ashli Fitzpatrick Kara Fowler Megan Justine Fowler Melissa Steele Gunner Adam Mitchell Guntharp Patrick Harris Tasnuva Hassan Byron Head Shruti Jaishankar Ashley Johnson Alexandra Jones James Ryan Kirchner Mary Kirkpatrick Laura Marianne Lampert Vivian Lang Brooklee Lightsey Megan L. Lindsay Chandler McCarley Llana Mary Ball Markow Michael McLarty Walker Lee Messer Shannon Elizabeth Moree Sarah Parker Morris Stephanie Parrish Alexis Marie Peddy Dason Sebastian Pettit Charles Pritchard Jake Reed Joshua Nicholas Reed Cecily Riley Colby Roberts Taylor Holmes Rodgers Davis Lane Rogers Jessica Simpson Abigail Stanec Stephanie Marie Staszko John Magruder Sullivan Courtney Taylor James Drew Toppin Victoria Lael Vaughan Eric David Villarreal Luan Vu Ashton Walters William Caleb White Keitshawna Williams Alexandra Mae Wood Sarah Price Wright Rachel Yi Christina Zuccaro

School of Accountancy Christie Marie Allen Laura Barrier Barrett Austin Binion Katrina Briscoe Sydney Anne Brown James Burt Philip Cole Michelle Davidson Gann R. Duke Claire Griffin Foster Patrick Davis Galagan Ryan Garland Virginia Rutherfoord Gilmore Jennifer Cove Green Chelsea J. Harris Erin Hearnsberger Traci Leigh Kelly Mathew S Kiernan Kenny Lamb Sarah Timmons Leatherman Courtenay Martindale Kelcey McLemore Ann Marie Mercier Devin Mills Margaret Olander Tanner Phillips Kaleb Pitts Kesler Roberts Michelle Elizabeth Rose Lee Sanderson Rachel Shaw Ben Sigman Jack Slaughter Elizabeth Blaine Stephens Nicolas Stephens Nickole Tigrett Gerald Waltman, III Mallary Watson Matt Williams Stephen Wittmann Ye Xiao Karan Lorraine York

School of Applied Sciences Jenny L. Armstrong Madeline Boyce Jacob Blake Daniels Katherine Farris Allison Lucovich Matthew Mosow Jamie Nichols Tammy Mask Shamlin Alesia Traci Smith Andrea Merit Steward Jessica A. Stewart Ty’Kereia Stubbs Krista Sturm Jennifer Kaye Tetrick Kaitlyn Toner Mary Bailey Wickham Meredith Wooley

School of Business Administration Colin Peter Applewhite Meghann Beamer Blake Biddy Jennifer Catherine Cain Stevie Jeanne Farrar Melissa Hanley Nicholas Alexander Knudsen Margaret Anne McDonald Morgan Kelsey Tidwell

School of Education Tabitha Leigh Arcutt Kathryn Elizabeth Bishop Donna T. Browning Allison Diane Bunn Alexis Campagna Jenna Lee Cialone Tammy Elizabeth Criddle Amy Ruth Davis Sandra England Keri Ann Fleming Jacob Gentry Tonya S. Hall Sandra Broome Hamm Dawn Renee Holman Matt Jaggers Jennifer Logan Tammie H. Eldred Miller Vanessa Lisette Patterson Shay Perry Brenda S. Reel Bayleigh RhaeAnne Suiter Deidre Anne Sullivan Leigh C. Turner Jennifer Lynn White Alisha Whitehead

School of Engineering Courtney Leigh Ash Erin Leigh Dyer Rana Gordji John Robert Stefancik

School of Journalism Kaitlin Bachmeyer Rachel Hammons Jennifer Sue Peterson

School of Pharmacy Neelam Barot Taylor Elise Bogue Caroline Boydstun Anna Blair Brown Katlyn Brooke Carpenter Laura Brooke Carter Katie Cook Kori Daniels Emily Draper Kelli Dulaney Anna Claire Flake Christine Hayden Kelsey Hennis Mary Claire Jarrell Mary-Haston Leary Carmen Lewis Adria Chiu man Luk Ruvini Omattage Natalie Poole Matthew Baxter Purvis Alexandre Raymond Patrick Reed Colleen Riley Sidra Sarker Kelsey Stephens Megan Claire Theus Mallory White Blake Williams Delaney Rose Wren Jesse Juncong Xie

Graduate School Laura Ellen Antonow Carissa Nicole Bacon Theresa A. Bates Erika Carpenter William A. Carter Garrett Logan Clark Chelsea Gregory Katherine McNerney Horstkotte Stephanie Lockett Kelly Mulderig Bethany Pratt María del Carmen Sánchez García Jessica Foshee Simpson Jordan N. Troisi Creshawna C. Wilson Jason J. Zerbe

Criminologist Velmer Burton Named UM Dean of Applied Sciences

OXFORD, Miss. – Velmer S. Burton Jr., a noted expert and author on criminology, has been named the new dean of the University of Mississippi’s School of Applied Sciences. Burton is special assistant to the senior vice president for system academic administration and professor of social work at the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities. He officially joins the UM faculty Aug. 1, pending approval from the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

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UM Students Initiated Into Phi Kappa Phi

OXFORD, Miss. — The University of Mississippi’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi welcomed 119 new members in an initiation ceremony April 12 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines. Membership is based on a student’s sound character and academic standing. Juniors must have completed 72 credit hours and rank in the top 7.5 percent of their class, while seniors and graduate students must rank in the top 10 percent of their class. The following students are new members of Phi Kappa Phi: College of Liberal Arts Madison Bell Cody Bobe Tyler Campbell Robert Liming Corban Martina Cotelo Kara Ashlynn Cravens Elton Herbert Darby III Hardy Isaac DeLaughter Mary Frances Dukes Danielle Dykes Jacob Elrod James Howard Evans Jordan Felder Richard Forgette Nicholas Christopher Galanos Robert McLaughlin Gore Travis Lenti Gray Andrew Grice Amanda Hall Julie Holtzman Mary Hughart Elyse Cosette Jensen Chase Killebrew Erica Lewis Oliver S. Liu Ian Mallett Megumi Diane Mathis Susan Anderson Nicholas Hunter Nicholson Ashley Oakes Camila Adriana Pareja Hecimovich Hadley Pearson Amanda Kate Powers Jenny Reynolds Sarah Robinson Noah Lee Sanford Elizabeth Seratt Joshua Noel Steward Jordan Tippitt Loan Tran Shantala Fabiola Weiss Emma Willoughby Sarah Katherine Woods Stephen Colby Woods   Graduate School Nicholas J. Baugh Laura Blair Andrea K. Buccilla Jessica N. Buchanan Megan Buning Sheryl L. Chatfield April Price Cole John William Dever Khaled M. Elokely Rebekah Joanne Flake Meghan E Gallagher Gabriel Alexander Garrido Sumedhe Karunarathne Tracie Clark Mallard Kimberly M. Matthews Elizabeth Anne Mumaw Jennifer E. Patrick Tyler Rogers Binyam Tadese   Patterson School of Accountancy Graham Jones Jinal Patel Kunal J. Patel Sophie Smith Austin Steward Mary Morris Williams Tsz Chun Yim Tsz Man Yim Joseph Zegel   School of Applied Sciences Victoria Ard Dr. Carol Minor Boyd Anne Hall Brashier Brea Shevaun Burkett Haley Ann Davis Isabelle Finly Cynthia Reed Jill Schmidt Shelby Smith Andrea K Stark Jennifer Varner Coury Sikes Zachary   School of Business Administration Anthony P. Ammeter Brett Bailey Carolyn Wynne Campbell Nirmal Dharmaratne Allie Hearnsberger Thomas Platt Marshall S Redd Candace Rodriguez Kristina L. Worrell   School of Education Dylan Cole Baldwin Kerri Leann Baugh Shannon Terese Buell Stephanie Burkholder Stephanie Hardin Jessica Nicole Lee Rachel Noble Amanda Provine Amanda Shea Rigby Jenny Scott Settlemires Simsie L. Shaw Victoria Rachel Sloan Morgan Caroline Wagner   School of Engineering Bradley Balducci Cameron Bonds Stephanie Amber Hall Lauren Brooke Harrelson   Meek School of Journalism and New Media Benjamin Hurston Austin Kent Miller Miriam O’Neal Taylor   School of Law Patrick R. Lofton Emiley Stedman Anna Sweat   School of Pharmacy Katherine Conely Jentry Fairchild Kathryn Kiefer Mislan                                    

UM Students Receive Taylor Medals

OXFORD, Miss. – Sixty-four University of Mississippi undergraduates were recognized as recipients of Taylor Medals April 12 during the 69th annual Honors Convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Taylor Medals, the university’s highest academic award, recognize no more than 0.45 percent of undergraduates for meritorious scholarship and deportment. Recipients of the award must have at least a 3.90 grade-point average. The award was established at UM in 1904 by Dr. William A. Taylor of Booneville in memory of his son, an honored 1871 alumnus of the university. Following is a list of the spring 2012 Taylor Medalists: Caitlin Elizabeth Adams, Meek School of Journalism and New Media Brian Davis Barnes, College of Liberal Arts Caitlin Marie Brock, College of Liberal Arts Chany Fehr Buchanan, College of Liberal Arts Norma Katharine Butts, College of Liberal Arts Casey Allan Chinn, College of Liberal Arts Katherine Suzanne Conely, School of Pharmacy Hallie Virginia Cook, School of Pharmacy Burleigh Wyatt Dabney, College of Liberal Arts Joanna Leigh David, School of Engineering Vihara Anjalee Dharmaratne, College of Liberal Arts Corrine Anna Doornberg, School of Engineering Emily Elaine Duke, School of Applied Sciences Ryan Keith Ezelle, College of Liberal Arts Logan Dwayne Fair, College of Liberal Arts Sarah Joangela Farris, School of Engineering Apral Patrice Foreman, College of Liberal Arts Kerri Leann Franks, School of Education Elizabeth Ramsey Frey, College of Liberal Arts Megan Elise Gargiulo, College of Liberal Arts Joseph Wellington Golden, College of Liberal Arts Jill Elaina Haley, College of Liberal Arts Kimberly Rebekah Harris, College of Liberal Arts Molly Hunter Harris, College of Liberal Arts Sara Stevens Hazard, School of Accountancy Matthew Powers Herring, School of Engineering Hillary Michelle Howell, College of Liberal Arts Amanda Kathryn Hutcheson, School of Applied Sciences Ellen Marie Karp, School of Business Administration Cody Paul LeBlanc, College of Liberal Arts Carroll Darlene Lee, School of Education Camille Lyn Lesseig, College of Liberal Arts Patrick Kin-Wing Lo, School of Accountancy Rebecca Lane MacNeill, School of Applied Sciences Kely Jo Markley, School of Engineering Taylor Michael McGraw, College of Liberal Arts Matthew Brannon Miller, College of Liberal Arts John Abraham Montgomery II, College of Liberal Arts Mary Margaret Myers, School of Accountancy Hunter Owen Nicholson, College of Liberal Arts Mariel Aubra Kittredge Parman, College of Liberal Arts Matthew Craig Pharr, School of Education Gabriela Rangel, College of Liberal Arts Timothy Sean Ray, College of Liberal Arts Ianthony Marie Reiner, School of Applied Sciences Daniel Safley Reynolds, School of Accountancy Daniel Windham Robbins, College of Liberal Arts Sarah Kathryn Sams, School of Engineering James Corbett Senter, School of Engineering Jessica Elaine Sewell, College of Liberal Arts Tracey Erin Sisco, School of Engineering Alyssa Rae Smith, School of Engineering Katharine Elizabeth Smith, College of Liberal Arts Brian Michael Spurlock, College of Liberal Arts Thomas Daniel Strini, School of Applied Sciences Cody Ryan Swindle, School of Pharmacy Kira Jordan Thomas, College of Liberal Arts David Ford Thompson, School of Accountancy Kathryn Eileen Trabue, College of Liberal Arts Derek Anthony VanDunse, School of Accountancy Anna Lee Whitley, School of Engineering Emily Erin Wicks, School of Business Administration Meredith Leigh Wilson, College of Liberal Arts Steven Brian Worley, School of Engineering

UM Student Project Creates Chili Cook-off as Benefit for Local Boy Scouts

… Inaugural event features two divisions, cash prizes and entertainment Cool winter days are ideal for enjoying a steaming “bowl of red,” and chili lovers can get their fix – and help out area Boy Scouts – next month in Oxford at the inaugural “Chilly” Chili Cook-Off. The event, set for Feb. 18 at the Oxford Conference Center, 102 Ed Perry Blvd., also includes a Boy Scout district camporee and live music. The competition features two divisions, each with cash prizes for winners, and is open to individuals and teams. Entry fees are $5 for Scouts and $15 for the general public, and registration is open through Feb. 16. The cook-off is being organized by Sarah Ball, a University of Mississippi graduate student from Thousand Oaks, Calif. Ball, who is pursuing a master’s degree in park and recreation management, came up with the idea while working on her Directed Event Programming (PRM 654) class.

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UM Professors Help Children Learn Healthy Eating Habits through Gardening

Professors in the nutrition & hospitality department at Ole Miss are working with I.T. Montgomery Elementary School in Mound Bayou to teach kids about eating well.

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David Rock Returns as New Dean of School of Education

OXFORD, Miss. – David Rock, dean and professor of mathematics education at Columbus State University, is set to return to the University of Mississippi as the new dean of its School of Education.David-Rock

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