OXFORD (WCBI) Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter is returning to the classrom. The State College Board confirmed Friday that Vitter is leaving his post as Ole Miss Chancellor January 3rd. That is roughly 18 months before his term as Chancellor was scheduled to end.
Vitter’s tenure as Chancellor was marked by several conflicts including the removal of the state flag from campus and the renaming of some streets to distance the school from its ties to the Confederacy. Vitter also received some of the bhlame for the manner the school defended itself during recent NCAA investigations of the football program and other sports.
BELOW IS THE OFFICIAL RELEASE FROM THE IHL BOARD
The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning President Shane Hooper thanked Chancellor and Distinguished Professor Jeffrey S. Vitter for the many contributions he has made to the University of Mississippi as Dr. Vitter announced his intent to return to the faculty.
“Dr. Vitter has made substantial contributions to the University of Mississippi during his three years as Chancellor,” said Trustee Hooper. “His leadership has moved the university forward in numerous ways and we are grateful for his service.”
Dr. Vitter will serve as Chancellor through January 3, 2019 and continue as a tenured Distinguished Professor in the School of Engineering’s Department of Computer and Information Science.
“It has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to serve as the leader of the University of Mississippi during a time of great progress and accomplishment,” Dr. Vitter said. “Being the flagship university is not just a designation, it is a responsibility — to transform lives, communities, and the world. I am gratified that we have grown dramatically in impact, stature, and commitment in the past three years. We are stronger academically, enjoy more support in private giving and research funding, and engage more proactively with the world around us. In addition, we are a more diverse community with a more visible dedication to inclusion and civility.
“There is no more important role on a university campus than as a faculty member,” Dr. Vitter said. “I am excited about the opportunity as a faculty member to advance the university’s research and academic excellence. Both Sharon and I will remain strong citizens of Rebel Nation.”
A renowned computer scientist and national academic leader, Dr. Vitter brought the University of Mississippi to a greater level of stature and prominence during his tenure with a leadership legacy and dynamic strategic plan that extends across academics, research, service, and athletics.
For the university’s core mission, Dr. Vitter oversaw tremendous academic accomplishments and achievement:
- Earning the university’s first-ever, prestigious R-1 designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list for doctoral research universities that places UM among the top 2.5 percent of all colleges and universities in the U.S.;
- Establishing five new academic centers and institutes, including the Haley Barbour Center for the Study of American Politics, the Center for Multi-Messenger Astrophysics, and the University of Mississippi Institute for the Arts;
- Launching the Flagship Constellation program, a multidisciplinary approach to inspire and accelerate meaningful solutions to four of the grand challenges facing society;
- Earning the Flagship Language Program designation for Arabic, an esteemed designation for undergraduate language programs available only at select institutions;
- Creating new and fast-growing degree programs in biomedical engineering and entrepreneurship, as well as new Masters programs in accountancy & data analytics, taxation & data analytics, and industrial pharmaceutical sciences.
To position the university for sustained success for future generations of students, Dr. Vitter oversaw several key initiatives and expansion of the physical campuses by:
- Launching Ole Miss International to recruit and attract more international students and enhance the diversity of our student body starting next fall;
- Overseeing a robust university-wide construction program with $709 million in projects planned or underway;
- Expanding the Oxford footprint through acquisition of the 15-acre site of the former Baptist Hospital facility and development of the new South Campus Recreation Center and the William Magee Center for Wellness Education; and,
- Opening of the new medical education building at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and gaining approval for the expansion now underway at Batson Children’s Hospital.
Private giving and external research funding are more important than ever to support a leading university. In Dr. Vitter’s tenure, external fund-raising expanded in a number of ways:
- Attracting more than $134 million in external research funding in FY2018, representing a 9.3 percent year-over-year increase and reaching its highest level in four years;
- Generating private donations of nearly $117 million in FY2018, the university’s seventh consecutive year in excess of $100 million and culminating the best three-year period in university history;
- Growing fund-raising for the Oxford campus almost 8 percent in FY2018;
- Driving the university endowment to a record high of $715 million; and,
- Hiring the university’s first-ever Vice Chancellor for Development to strengthen its capabilities in this vital area.
Dr. Vitter launched far-reaching initiatives to enhance interaction and communication, while also addressing important aspects of the university’s history by:
- Holding more than 200 events in a listening and learning tour during his first 100 days as Chancellor to meet thousands of supporters of the university;
- Establishing the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context to lead an academically sound, fact-focused process to offer more history and put the past into context at several sites across the campus;
- Hiring the university’s first-ever Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Community Engagement; and,
- Promoting dialogue with all UM stakeholders through launching the annual University Town Hall and engaging actively on social media and through the Chancellor’s blog.
To expand the university’s outreach across the state, Dr. Vitter oversaw new initiatives designed to promote economic development and improve community well-being, including:
- Launching the annual UM Tech Summit, started in 2016, which brings together government and industry leaders, along with UM faculty and staff, to inspire innovation and accelerate the university’s impact in the technology arena;
- Initiating the M Partner program of community engagement, in which faculty, staff, students, and community members partner to build sustainable vibrancy in Mississippi communities; and,
- Championing legislation successfully that now allows the UM Medical Center to operate more efficiently and to engage in joint ventures that support community hospitals and improve access to healthcare.
An Interim Chancellor will be named soon.