University of Mississippi
|Motto||Pro scientia et sapientia (Latin)|
Motto in English
|For knowledge and wisdom|
|Type||Public flagship research university|
|Endowment||$674.2 million (2020)|
|Budget||$2.448 billion (2016)|
|Provost||Noel E. Wilkin|
|Students||23,258 (fall 2017)|
|Campus||Rural (small college town) 2,000+ acres|
|Colors||Cardinal red and Navy blue|
|NCAA Division I FBS – SEC|
The University of Mississippi, colloquially known as Ole Miss, is a public research university in Oxford, Mississippi. Including the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, it is the state's largest university by enrollment and promotes itself as the state's flagship university.
The university is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity". According to the National Science Foundation, Ole Miss spent $137 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 142nd in the nation. In addition to the main campus in Oxford and the medical school in Jackson, the university also has campuses in Tupelo, Booneville, Grenada, and Southaven, as well as an accredited online high school. About 55 percent of its undergraduates and 60 percent overall come from Mississippi, and 23 percent are minorities; international students respectively represent 90 different nations. It is one of the 33 colleges and universities participating in the National Sea Grant Program and a participant in the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program.
The university was chartered by the Mississippi Legislature on February 24, 1844, and four years later admitted its first enrollment of 80 students. It closed at the start of the Civil War and served as a hospital for Confederate wounded. It was a center of activity during the civil rights movement when a riot erupted in 1962 following the attempted admission of James Meredith, an African-American, to the segregated campus. Although the university was integrated that year, the use of Confederate symbols and motifs has remained a controversial aspect of the school's identity and culture. In response the university has taken measures to rebrand its image, including effectively banning the display of Confederate flags in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in 1997, officially abandoning the Colonel Reb mascot in 2003, and removing "Dixie" from the Pride of the South marching band's repertoire in 2016.
Founding and early history
The Mississippi Legislature chartered the University of Mississippi on February 24, 1844. Its isolated rural site in the town of Oxford was selected as it was a "sylvan exile" that would encourage academic studies. In 1845, residents of Lafayette County donated land west of Oxford for the campus. The following year, William Nichols oversaw construction of the Lyceum, two dormitories, and faculty residences. On November 6, 1848, the university opened its doors to its first class of 80 students. All but one were from Mississippi. For 23 years, the university was Mississippi's only public institution of higher learning, and for 110 years it was the state's only comprehensive university. In 1854, the university established the fourth state-supported, public law school in the United States, and also began offering engineering education.
New president Frederick A. P. Barnard sought to increase the stature of the university, placing him in conflict with the trustees. His hundred-page 1858 report to the trustees on his proposals resulted in little besides the university head's title being changed to "chancellor". Barnard's northern background—he was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Yale—and Union sympathies resulted in heightened tensions: a student assaulted his slave and the state legislature investigated him. Following the presidential election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Mississippi became the second state to secede, with the articles of secession drafted by the university's mathematics professor Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar. Students organized themselves into a military company called the "University Greys", which merged with the Confederate States Army. Within a month of the Civil War's outbreak, only 5 students remained at the university, and, by fall 1861, the university closed. In its final action, the board of trustees awarded Barnard a doctorate of divinity.
Within six months, the campus was converted into a hospital for Confederate wounded. It was evacuated in November 1862 as general Ulysses S. Grant's Union forces approached. Although Kansas troops destroyed much of the medical equipment, a lone remaining professor persuaded Grant against burning the campus. After three weeks, Grant and his forces left, and the campus returned to being a Confederate hospital. Throughout the war, over 700 wounded died and were buried on campus.
The university reopened in October 1865. During the post-war period, the university was led by former Confederate general A.P. Stewart, a Rogersville, Tennessee native. He served as Chancellor from 1874 to 1886. The university became coeducational in 1882 and was the first such institution in the Southeast to hire a female faculty member, Sarah McGehee Isom, doing so in 1885.
The nickname "Ole Miss" dates to 1897, when the student yearbook was first published. A contest was held to solicit suggestions for a yearbook title from the student body, and Elma Meek submitted the winning entry. Interviewed by the student newspaper, The Mississippian, in 1939, Meek stated: "I had often heard old 'darkies' on Southern plantations address the lady in the 'big house' as 'Ole Miss'... the name appealed to me, so I suggested it to the committee and they adopted it."  Some historians concur that she derived the term from "ol' missus," an African-American term for a plantation's "old mistresss", while others have alternatively theorized Meek may have made a diminutive of "old Mississippi". This sobriquet was not only chosen for the yearbook, but also became the name by which the university was informally known.
The university began medical education in 1903, when the University of Mississippi School of Medicine was established on the Oxford campus. In that era, the university provided two-year pre-clinical education certificates, and graduates went out of state to complete doctor of medicine degrees. In 1950, the Mississippi Legislature voted to create a four-year medical school. On July 1, 1955, the University Medical Center opened in the capital of Jackson, Mississippi, as a four-year medical school. The University of Mississippi Medical Center, as it is now called, is the health sciences campus of the University of Mississippi.
The Mississippi Legislature between 1900 and 1930 introduced several bills aiming to relocate or otherwise close the University of Mississippi. Some attempts tried to merge the university with Mississippi A&M, now Mississippi State University. All such legislation failed. During the 1930s, Mississippi Governor Theodore G. Bilbo was politically hostile towards the university, firing administrators and faculty and replacing them with his friends. Bilbo's actions damaged the university to such a degree that it lost its accredation. He also tried to move the university to Jackson. Chancellor Alfred Hume gave the state legislators a grand tour of Ole Miss and the surrounding historic city of Oxford, persuading them to keep it in its original setting. In a move to prevent future political intereference, in 1944 the Mississippi Constitution was amended to create a board of trustees insulated from political pressure.
Desegregation came to Ole Miss in the early 1960s with the activities of United States Air Force veteran James Meredith from Kosciusko, Mississippi. Even Meredith's initial efforts required great courage. All involved knew how William David McCain and the white political establishment of Mississippi had recently reacted to similar efforts by Clyde Kennard to enroll at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi).
Meredith won a lawsuit that allowed him admission to the University of Mississippi in September 1962. He attempted to enter campus on September 20, September 25, and again on September 26, only to be blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross R. Barnett, who proclaimed "...No school in our state will be integrated while I am your Governor. I shall do everything in my power to prevent integration in our schools."
After the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held both Barnett and Lieutenant Governor Paul B. Johnson, Jr. in contempt, with fines of more than $10,000 for each day they refused to allow Meredith to enroll, President John F. Kennedy dispatched 127 U.S. Marshals, 316 deputized U.S. Border Patrol agents, and 97 federalized Federal Bureau of Prisons personnel to escort Meredith to the campus on September 30, 1962.
Two civilians were killed by gunfire during the riot, French journalist Paul Guihard and Oxford repairman Ray Gunter. Eventually, 3,000 United States Army and federalized Mississippi National Guard troops quickly arrived in Oxford that helped quell the riot and brought the situation under control. One-third of the federal officers, 166 men, were injured, as were 40 federal soldiers and National Guardsmen.
After control was re-established by federal-led forces, Meredith was able to enroll and attend his first class on October 1. Following the riot, Army and National Guard troops were stationed in Oxford to prevent future similar violence. While most Ole Miss students did not riot prior to his enrollment in the university, many harassed Meredith during his first two semesters on campus.
In 1972, the university purchased Rowan Oak, the former home of Nobel Prize-winning writer William Faulkner. The home is preserved as it was at the time of Faulkner's 1962 death. Faulkner worked as the university's postmaster in the early 1920s and wrote As I Lay Dying at the university powerhouse. His Nobel Prize medallion is displayed in the university library.
In 2002, the university marked the 40th anniversary of integration with a yearlong series of events titled "Open Doors: Building on 40 Years of Opportunity in Higher Education." These included an oral history of Ole Miss, various symposiums, the April unveiling of a $130,000 memorial, and a reunion of federal marshals who had served at the campus. In September 2003, the university completed the year's events with an international conference on race. By that year, 13% of the student body identified as African American. Meredith's son Joseph graduated as the top doctoral student at the School of Business Administration. Six years later, in 2008, the site of the riots was designated as a National Historic Landmark. From September 2012 to May 2013, the university marked its 50th anniversary of integration with a program called Opening the Closed Society.
In 2003, the university retired its mascot, Colonel Reb, due to Confederate imagery. Although a grass-roots movement to adopt Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar (of the Rebel Alliance) gained significant attention, Rebel Black Bear was selected as the new mascot in 2010. This mascot was replaced with another mascot, Tony the Landshark, in 2017. In 2015, "Students Against Social Injustice" (SASI) started a movement to remove Confederate iconography from the campus, such as the Mississippi State Flag (which at that time showed the Confederate flag). In 2018, SASI asked that the Confederate Monument located at The Center be removed from campus. In 2019, during Black History Month, student activists marched twice to support moving the monument. In March 2019, the Faculty Senate, Graduate Student Council, and the Associated Student Body voted to relocate the monument, and in June 2020, the university relocated the Confederate Monument to the University Cemetery.
The University of Mississippi in Oxford is the original campus, beginning with only one square-mile of land. The main campus today contains around 1,200 acres of land (1.875 square-miles). Also, the University of Mississippi owns a golf course and airport in Oxford. The golf course and airport are also considered part of the University of Mississippi, Oxford campus.
The buildings on the main University of Mississippi campus come from the Georgian age of architecture; however, some of the newer buildings today have a more contemporary architecture. The first building built on the Oxford campus is the Lyceum, and is the only original building remaining. The construction of the Lyceum began in 1846 and was completed in 1848. The Lyceum served as a hospital to soldiers in the Civil War. Also on the campus, the Croft Institute for International Studies and Barnard Observatory were used for soldiers during the civil war. The Oxford campus of the University of Mississippi contains a lot of history with the Civil War. The campus was used as a hospital, but also after soldiers died, the campus served as a morgue. Where Farley Hall is now, the prior building was referred to as the "Dead House" where the bodies of deceased soldiers were stored.
Architect Frank P. Gates designed 18 buildings on campus in 1929–1930, mostly in the Georgian Revival architectural style, including (Old) University High School, Barr Hall, Bondurant Hall, Farley Hall (also known as Lamar Hall), Faulkner Hall, Hill Hall, Howry Hall, Isom Hall, Longstreet Hall, Martindale Hall, Vardaman Hall, the Cafeteria/Union Building, and the Wesley Knight Field House.
Today on the University of Mississippi campus, most of the buildings have been completely renovated or newly constructed. There are currently at least 15 residential buildings on the Oxford campus, with more being built. The Oxford campus is also home to eleven sorority houses and fourteen fraternity houses. The chancellor of The University of Mississippi also lives on the edge of campus.
The University of Mississippi campus in Oxford is known for the beauty of the campus. The campus has been recognized multiple years, but most recently, in 2016, USA Today recognized Ole Miss as the "Most Beautiful Campus". The campus grounds are kept up through the University of Mississippi's personal landscape service.
The University of Mississippi's satellite campuses are much smaller than the Oxford campus. The satellite campus in Tupelo started running in a larger space in 1972, the DeSoto campus opened in 1996, and the Grenada campus has been operated on the Holmes Community College campus since 2008.
The student-faculty ratio at University of Mississippi is 19:1, and the school has 47.4 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at University of Mississippi include: Integrated Marketing Communications, Elementary Education and Teaching; Marketing/Marketing Management, General; Accountancy, Finance, General; Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration, Other; Biology, Psychology and Criminal Justice; and Business Administration and Management, General. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student success and satisfaction, is 85.3 percent.
Divisions of the university
The university houses one of the largest blues music archives in the United States. Some of the contributions to the collection were donated by BB King who donated his personal record collection. The archive includes the first ever commercial blues recording, a song called "Crazy Blues" recorded by Mamie Smith in 1920. The Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Collection, highlighted by a wealth of theater and film scripts, photographs and memorabilia, was dedicated in September 2005.
The university is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity". According to the National Science Foundation, Ole Miss spent $137 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 142nd in the nation.
The university operates the University of Mississippi Field Station, which includes 223 research ponds. The site supports long-term ecological research.
University of Mississippi Medical Center surgeons, led by James Hardy, performed the world's first human lung transplant, in 1963, and the world's first animal-to-human heart transplant, in 1964. The heart of a chimpanzee was used for the heart transplant because of Hardy's research on transplantation, consisting of primate studies during the previous nine years.
Since 1968, the school operates the only legal marijuana farm and production facility in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) contracts to the university the production of cannabis for use in approved research studies on the plant as well as for distribution to the seven surviving medical cannabis patients grandfathered into the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program (established in 1978 and canceled in 1991).
The Center for Intelligence and Security Studies (CISS) delivers academic programming to prepare outstanding students for careers in intelligence analysis in both the public and private sectors. In addition, CISS personnel engage in applied research and consortium building with government, private and academic partners. In late 2012, the United States Director of National Intelligence designated CISS as an Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence (CAE). CISS is one of only 29 college programs in the United States with this distinction. The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME) was established in June 2008. Named in honor of Ole Miss alumnus, former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, the Lott Leadership Institute offers a wide range of leadership and outreach programs. The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College was established in 1997 through a gift from the Jim Barksdale family. The university also offers the Chinese Language Flagship Program (simplified Chinese: 中文旗舰项目; traditional Chinese: 中文旗艦項目; pinyin: Zhōngwén Qíjiàn Xiàngmù), a study program aiming to provide Americans with an advanced knowledge of Chinese.
The University of Mississippi is a member of the SEC Academic Consortium. Now renamed the SECU, the initiative was a collaborative endeavor designed to promote research, scholarship and achievement among the member universities in the Southeastern Conference. The SECU formed to serve as a means to bolster collaborative academic endeavors of Southeastern Conference universities. Its goals include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty, students and its universities and advancing the academic reputation of SEC universities. In 2013, the University of Mississippi participated in the SEC Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia which was organized and led by the University of Georgia and the UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. The topic of the symposium was titled "Impact of the Southeast in the World's Renewable Energy Future."
Rankings and accolades
|U.S. News & World Report||162|
|U.S. News & World Report||364|
For the last 10 years, the Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Mississippi as one of the "Great Colleges to Work For", putting the institution in elite company. The 2018 results, released in the Chronicle's annual report on "The Academic Workplace", Ole Miss was among 84 institutions honored from the 253 colleges and universities surveyed. In 2018, the Ole Miss campus was ranked the second safest in the SEC and one of the safest in nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Professional MBA program at the UM School of Business Administration in the top 50 among American public universities, and the online MBA program ranks in the top 25. All three degree programs at the University of Mississippi's Patterson School of Accountancy are among the top 10 in the 2018 annual national rankings of accounting programs published by the journal Public Accounting Report. The undergraduate and doctoral programs are No. 7, while the master's program is No. 9. The undergraduate and doctoral programs lead the Southeastern Conference in the rankings, and the master's program is second in the SEC. One or more Ole Miss programs have led the SEC in each of the past eight years.
The university has had 27 Rhodes Scholars. Since 1998, it has 10 Goldwater Scholars, seven Truman Scholars, 18 Fulbright Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, three Udall Scholars, two Gates Cambridge Scholars, one Mitchell Scholar, 19 Boren Scholars, one Boren fellow and one German Chancellor Fellowship.
Varsity athletic teams at the University of Mississippi are offered for women in the sports of basketball, cross country, golf, rifle (this sport is sponsored by the Great America Rifle Conference, a special conference within the NCAA), soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. Men's varsity teams are offered in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis, and track & field.
The University of Mississippi athletic teams have collected numerous championships including:
- Tennis - Five overall SEC championships (1996, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2009) and one NCAA Singles Champion, Devin Britton.
- Track & Field - Brittney Reese won the NCAA indoor and outdoor long jump title in 2008, and went on to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Barnabas Kirui won the 2006 SEC Cross Country Championship and won four SEC titles in the 5000 and 10,000 meter races, and two 3000 meter steeplechase championships. Antwon Hicks won the NCAA Indoor Championship in 60-meter hurdles twice (2000, 2001).
- Baseball - 7 overall SEC championships (1959, 1960, 1964, 1969, 1972, 1977, 2009); 5 appearances at College World Series (1956, 1964, 1969, 1972, 2014).
- Football - Six SEC championships (1947, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962, 1963), 1960 National Champion.
There are hundreds of students organizations, including 25 religious organizations.
- The Daily Mississippian is the student-published newspaper of the university, established in 1911. The publication celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011–12.
- TheDMonline.com is the online version of The Daily Mississippian and also includes original content that supplements the print publication - photo galleries, videos, breaking news and student blogs.
- The Ole Miss student yearbook is a 368-page full-color book produced by students.
- WUMS-FM 92.1 Rebel Radio, is a FCC commercially licensed radio station. It is one of only a few student-run, commercially licensed radio stations in the nation, with a signal stretching about 60 miles across North Mississippi. Its format features Top 40, alternative and college rock, news and talk shows.
- NewsWatch is a student-produced, live newscast, and the only local newscast in Lafayette County. Broadcast through the Metrocast cable company.
These publications and broadcasts are part of the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center at Ole Miss.
Approximately 5,300 students live on campus in 13 residence halls, 2 residential colleges, and 2 apartment complexes.
Despite the relatively small number of Greek-letter organizations on campus, a third of all undergraduates participate in Greek life at Ole Miss. The tradition of Greek life on the Oxford campus is a deep-seated one. In fact, the first fraternity founded in the South was the Rainbow Fraternity, founded at Ole Miss in 1848. The fraternity merged with Delta Tau Delta in 1886. Delta Kappa Epsilon followed shortly after at Ole Miss in 1850, as the first to have a house on campus in Mississippi. Delta Gamma Women's Fraternity was founded in 1873 at the Lewis School for Girls in nearby Oxford. All Greek life at Ole Miss was suspended from 1912 to 1926 due to statewide anti-fraternity legislation.
Today, sorority chapters are very large, with some having over 400 active members. Recruitment is fiercely competitive and potential sorority members are encouraged to secure personal recommendations from Ole Miss sorority alumnae to increase the chances of receiving an invitation to join one of the eleven NPC sororities on campus. Fraternity recruitment is also fierce, with only 14 active IFC chapters on campus.
Associated Student Body
The Associated Student Body (ASB) is the Ole Miss student government organization. Students are elected to the ASB Senate in the spring semester, with leftover seats voted on in the fall by open-seat elections. Senators can represent RSOs (Registered-Student Organizations) such as the Greek councils and sports clubs, or they can run to represent their academic school (i.e., College of Liberal Arts or School of Engineering). The ASB officers are also elected in the spring semester, following two weeks of campaigning. Following the elections, newly sworn-in ASB officers release applications, conduct interviews, and eventually choose their cabinet members for the coming school year. The student body, excluding the Medical Center, includes 18,121 undergraduates, 2,089 graduate students, 357 law students and 323 students in the Doctor of Pharmacy program. African-Americans comprise 12.8 percent of the student body.
In addition to Meredith, Nobel Prize-winning writer William Faulkner is among Ole Miss' most notable alumni. Its alumni include 5 US senators and 10 governors. Its alumni include three Miss Americas and one Miss USA. Quarterbacks Archie and Eli Manning played for the university. Notable journalist alumni include Boston Globe correspondent Curtis Wilkie and broadcast journalist Shepard Smith. Thomas F. Frist Sr., co-founder of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) (the largest private operator of health care facilities in the world), also graduated from Ole Miss.
Tennis player and winner of 4 Grand Slam doubles titles.
Nobel Prize-winning novelist.
John S. McCain Sr.
United States Navy admiral.
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