WELCOME BACK! As two of the newest residents of Rebel Nation, Sharon and I have been excitedly awaiting the start of the second semester so that we could begin to better get to know the nearly 24,000 students who attend this great flagship university. Today marks my 25th day on the job as your chancellor, and I want to share a few things I have learned.
No. 1: The University of Mississippi is blessed with a tremendously talented leadership team. In fact, the strength of that team was one of the factors that made this position so attractive to me. We are also fortunate to have a superior faculty and staff, all of whom have welcomed Sharon and me into the family and are working closely with us to make our transition seamless. I am honored to have been chosen to lead this team, and I will rely heavily on their knowledge and wisdom as we go forward.
No. 2: We have a fantastic athletic program and a superior group of coaches and athletic leaders. Not many chancellors get to spend their first day on the job winning the Sugar Bowl! And immediately afterward, we dedicated the state-of-the-art basketball Pavilion — with two come-from-behind victories over SEC foes. That first week reminded Sharon and me that there is nothing in America like SEC athletics, and it showed us the passion of the Ole Miss family in a personal way. It is easy to understand, in the words of Frank Everett, why “one never graduates from Ole Miss.”
As wonderful as these first 25 days have been, Sharon and I have waited for THIS day — the start of the spring semester — more than any other, for it is the students who form the heartbeat of any university. You and those who came before you are the heart of our campus community.
Over the next several months, Sharon and I will be listening to and learning from all members of the Ole Miss family. We will be in every campus location and will be spending time with you, our faculty and staff, alumni, friends of the university, and others to ensure that we fully understand the many valuable perspectives they offer. I will also be working closely with the university leadership team to maintain the strong momentum achieved under the leadership of former chancellors Robert Khayat and Dan Jones and interim chancellor Morris Stocks, and to identify ways to lead this flagship university to ever greater heights of excellence and national visibility.
But, today is about you. We can’t wait to get to know you better. Meet us at the Pavilion Wednesday night and Sunday to see our Rebels play. Come up to us when you see us on campus and introduce yourself. And be on the lookout for coming announcements of events and gatherings where we can learn more about one another and begin conversations about how to make our great university even greater. And PLEASE follow me on Twitter at @UMchancellor.
It’s a great day to be a Rebel. Hotty Toddy!
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Chancellor and Distinguished Professor