As a flagship university, the University of Mississippi fosters freedom of speech and the exchange of diverse opinions. At the same time, we strongly condemn all threatening, racist, bigoted, or otherwise harmful comments, such as those made on social media in recent days and directed at our African American, Jewish, and LGBTQ communities.
This afternoon I learned that a number of students had gathered at the Lyceum to express their concerns about a recent social media post and our response to it. Because I have an open door policy, I invited some of the student leaders to meet with me and other university leaders. The students helped me more fully understand the impact on them of national events and this particular social media post. They expressed great pain, sadness, and concern for their own safety.
To be clear, we condemn the recent social media post by one of our students that referenced lynching. In light of our country’s history, that comment can only be seen as racist, offensive and hurtful, especially to members of our African American community. There is no place in our community for racist or violent acts.
I appreciate the willingness of the student leaders to meet with me and to continue the dialogue. Together, we are committed to moving beyond words toward action, harnessing the transformative power of education to realize the ideals of our Creed.
Today’s blog is a follow-up on the exciting UM Tech Summit we hosted on August 31. We were grateful to have U.S. Senator Roger Wicker highlight an effort to bring key technology leaders to campus to share perspectives from the computer, telecom, Internet, and cyber security industries. These leaders shared valuable insights about how universities — especially our university! — can transform educational paradigms to address the needs of today’s global workplace. Key to that transformation is the growing multidisciplinary field of data science, and at the Tech Summit we explored the opportunities the University of Mississippi has to be a national leader in the field.
The following is a transcript of my charge to the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context during the initial meeting held on August 16, 2016:
Welcome! Thank you for being here today and thank you for agreeing to serve. The work of this committee is one of our highest priorities and will ensure that we continue to be a welcoming place for all.
When deciding the best way to approach contextualization efforts on our campus, we considered a number of factors: The most important was to seek input from the university community. Another was to conduct a scan of the national landscape to identify best practices employed by exemplary universities engaged in similar contextualization efforts.
It’s a good summer to be an Ole Miss Rebel! We have nine — count them nine! — members of the Ole Miss family across three sports in Rio de Janeiro. What a great milestone for our university, as this is the most Rebels ever at any single Olympic games. Some unique bragging rights and I couldn’t be more proud of our #RebsInRio as they get ready to compete on the world’s largest stage — and rep Rebel Nation — in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
In the aftermath of recent acts of violence, Chancellor Vitter and the leadership of University of Mississippi campuses are asking the university community to be guided by our University Creed, to support one another in these difficult times, and to serve as a model for discourse that will lead to sustainable solutions for the challenges we face as a nation. We will immediately begin a series of community discourses around the university to heal and move forward. The first will take place Thursday evening at 6 p.m. outside the Paris-Yates Chapel.
The following is a statement from Chancellor Vitter and the University of Mississippi Sensitivity and Respect Committee: