University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter, who goes by “Jeff,” joined the Ole Miss family on Jan. 1, 2016 and capped off his first day with a Sugar Bowl victory in his hometown of New Orleans. The Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning had earlier voted “unanimously and enthusiastically” on Oct. 29, 2015, to name Vitter as UM chancellor.
“I am honored to be given this leadership opportunity by the board of trustees and the Ole Miss family,” Vitter said. “I hold a profound respect for the University of Mississippi and understand the responsibility with which I have been entrusted. As chancellor, I commit, with wholehearted enthusiasm, to build upon the university’s rich history and foster enhanced excellence in learning, innovation, engagement, and healthcare.”
A renowned computer scientist and academic leader, Vitter comes to Ole Miss after serving as provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas.
“Dr. Vitter is, without a doubt, an exceptional academician and researcher,” said Alan Perry, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “He is also an experienced and very successful academic leader.
“However, it is his vision and passion for the University of Mississippi that is most compelling. I am confident this vision, coupled with his ability to lead the process of developing and implementing strategic plans, will help take the university to (an) even higher level of stature and prominence.
Since being named the 17th UM chancellor in October, Vitter and his wife Sharon have made several visits to the Ole Miss campus to get to know the students, faculty and staff.
In addition to serving as provost and executive vice chancellor, Vitter was the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. His academic home was the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and he was a member of the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center. KU includes the main campus in Lawrence, with 10 colleges and schools, the Edwards campus in Overland Park, and the Medical Center campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina. As provost, Vitter served as the chief academic and operations officer for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.
Vitter initiated and co-led the campuswide development of KU’s strategic plan, Bold Aspirations: The Strategic Plan for the University of Kansas, 2012–2017. The plan is the university’s transformative road map toward its vision of excellence as a top-tier public international research university. While at KU, he created the first-ever universitywide KU Core curriculum, oversaw major facilities improvements and expansion, and led the expansion of the schools of Engineering, Business and Pharmacy. As part of Bold Aspirations, he worked to enhance multidisciplinary research and funding around four strategic research initiatives. He also contributed to major growth of technology commercialization and corporate partnerships, incentivized innovation across the mission of the university, and initiated administrative reorganization and efficiencies.
Prior to joining the University of Kansas, Vitter was on the faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. He also served as provost and executive vice president for academics and oversaw the academic mission of the university in Galveston, Texas, and Doha, Qatar.
Before his time at Texas A&M, Vitter served as the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and professor of computer science at Purdue University. And before working at Purdue, he held the distinguished professorship as the Gilbert, Louis and Edward Lehrman Professor at Duke University, where he also served as chair of the Department of Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and as co-director and a founding member of Duke’s Center for Geometric and Biological Computing. He rose through the faculty ranks while at Brown University.
Dr. Vitter’s research expertise is data science and big data, especially dealing with the algorithmic aspects of processing, compressing, and communicating massive amounts of information. He has been elected a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator, a Fulbright Scholar, and an IBM Faculty Development Awardee.
Vitter received a B.S. with highest honors in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame (1977), a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University (1980), and an M.B.A. from Duke University (2002).