UM Takes Key Steps to Address History and Context

Wording revised on statue plaque; nominations sought for History and Context Committee

OXFORD, Miss. – The wording on the plaque placed near the Confederate statue on the University of Mississippi has been revised and approved, and nominations are being accepted for members of the new Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context.

These steps represent two of the latest that UM has taken in its ongoing efforts to contextualize campus sites and buildings.

They also reflect the university’s commitment to “embracing the broadest definition of diversity,” according to UM’s Diversity and Inclusion website, which was updated recently.

Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter announced these latest developments in a letter distributed today to UM students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The chancellor notes in the letter that UM, like many other universities, “continues on a journey to acknowledge and address the challenging and complex history around the issues of slavery, injustice and race.”

“We are involved in a profoundly important dialogue to fully understand and articulate our historical truths, while claiming our hard-earned present identity as a national flagship university,” Vitter writes in his letter.

As part of this “important dialogue,” UM is contextualizing the Confederate statue in the Lyceum Circle. A committee of four experts was initially appointed by Provost Morris Stocks to draft the language for the plaque.

After a plaque was installed in front of the statue in mid-March, a variety of comments were received from the UM community. The committee members then expressed a desire to gather additional input from a variety of sources and to reexamine the plaque’s language.

The committee recommended some revisions to the wording and Vitter approved the changes. The new language that will be on the plaque when it is installed in the coming months follows:

“As Confederate veterans were dying in increasing numbers, memorial associations across the South built monuments in their memory. These monuments were often used to promote an ideology known as the ‘Lost Cause,’ which claimed that the Confederacy had been established to defend states’ rights and that slavery was not the principal cause of the Civil War. Residents of Oxford and Lafayette County dedicated this statue, approved by the university, in 1906. Although the monument was created to honor the sacrifice of local Confederate soldiers, it must also remind us that the defeat of the Confederacy actually meant freedom for millions of people. On the evening of September 30, 1962, this statue was a rallying point for opponents of integration.

“This historic statue is a reminder of the university’s divisive past. Today, the University of Mississippi draws from that past a continuing commitment to open its hallowed halls to all who seek truth, knowledge, and wisdom.”

The revised language reflects the input that came from a wide variety of sources, said Andrew Mullins, a member of the committee and chief of staff to Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat.

“After we received hundreds of suggestions and comments from interested people, including students, alumni, faculty, staff and many others, we decided to modify the original wording on the statue plaque,” Mullins said. “We are grateful to all who made suggestions and thank Provost Morris Stocks and Chancellor Vitter for their support during this process.”

Earlier this year, Vitter also announced that he was creating the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context to assist with the university’s ongoing efforts to contextualize campus sites and buildings. While the exact number of members to the new committee has not been determined, it will include the four committee members who worked on the plaque language for the statue.

Members of the community are invited to make nominations to this advisory committee by going to

The deadline to submit a nomination is June 30.