Chancellor Vitter announced the formal establishment of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context which will be charged with undertaking campus contextualization projects in a process that is transparent, inclusive, and aligned with the UM Creed (spring 2016). The Advisory Committee will recommend which sites should be contextualized, so as to better explain the environment in which they were created and how those environments compare to our core institutional values.
Changes to provide context and recognize diversity:
- The entrance of the newly named Manning Center was designated the Williams-Reed Foyer, recognizing Ben Williams and James Reed, the first two African-American football players at the university.
- Coliseum Drive was renamed “Chucky Mullins Drive,” honoring the heroic spirit of an African-American football player who battled against life-ending injuries sustained during a football game.
- Confederate Drive was renamed “Chapel Lane.”
- The university named the pond at the Sorority Row entrance to campus Silver Pond, after former University of Mississippi history professor, James “Jim” Silver. Silver taught history at Ole Miss from 1946-1957 and also wrote a number of books. In his most famous book “Mississippi: The Closed Society,” he discussed the racial customs in the South and mentioned James Meredith, the first African-American student who enrolled at Ole Miss. He became Meredith’s friend and advisor through the intense time of ridicule and death threats in the early 1960s.
- The university honored Will Campbell, civil rights activist and former director of religious life, by naming the plaza adjacent to the Paris-Yates Chapel in his honor.
- The university recognized Coolidge Ball, the first African-American student-athlete at the university, with a plaque at the front entrance of The Pavilion, the new basketball arena.
- The university will provide dedicated space in the newly renovated Student Union for the Black Student Union and National Pan-Hellenic Council.
- The National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek Garden will provide a visible presence and serve as a symbolic space for the nine African-American Greek organizations, as none of those organizations have properties on campus. This student-centered area will be a visible monument that represents important history and critical campus engagement opportunities (fall 2016).
- A four-person context committee developed a plaque to contextualize the Confederate statue at Lyceum Circle. The creation of the plaque was in response to a key recommendation of the 2014 action plan. The plaque contextualizes the environment in which the monument was created.