As we wrap up 2019, we’re excited to celebrate significant successes that defined this year for the University of Mississippi. We created new knowledge, deepened our collective impact, enhanced our community of caring and strengthened the connections across our university community. From our classrooms and playing fields to our laboratories and libraries, here are a few of the points of pride that made 2019 a year to remember.
At our core, our mission is to educate students. That’s why I’m most proud of these accomplishments — we reached an all-time high first-year retention rate of 86.8 percent, which means our students are persisting, and we conferred a record number of 5,340 degrees, which means our students are graduating and prepared to build successful lives.
Our graduates are the best in the state at finding employment and keeping it, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education compiled in a ranking from Zippia. After 10 years, 91.42 percent of Ole Miss graduates remain employed. That’s not only the best percentage of all Mississippi universities, but Ole Miss is one of only three “Power Five” universities to tout its state’s highest graduate employment rate.
UM is proud to continue an illustrious track record of producing top-notch scholars. Two students of note this year are Arielle Hudson of Tunica, who became the university’s 27th student to win the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, and Addison Roush of Oxford, who became the 14th Ole Miss student to receive a coveted Goldwater Scholarship.
The university’s annual economic impact totals $2.9 billion and enables 43,121 jobs across the state. To put it another way, one out of every 37 jobs in Mississippi is supported by the activities of UM and its students. And, we produce a great return on investment for Mississippi taxpayers by generating $4.40 in state tax revenue and public sector savings for every $1 in state funds that supports the university.
We take pride in offering a great value to our students and our home state. Ole Miss ranked No. 39 on the list of Best Value Schools among public universities in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. For the ninth year in a row, USNWR ranked the university among the top 100 public universities across the nation, making UM the highest-ranked university in Mississippi.
Annie Cafer, UM sociology professor, was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. She’s the first Ole Miss faculty member – and the first faculty member from any Mississippi university – to receive the fellowship, which comes with a $200,000 grant for her work in the field of community resilience.
Year in and year out, our scholars create new knowledge that benefits the state, region and world, including technology to accelerate the process of removing land mines around the world and new forensic tools for law enforcement to trace 3D-printed firearms using chemical fingerprints. We also performed the state’s first pediatric haploidentical bone marrow transplant as a curative option for sickle cell disease and earned our fourth patent for a product that will treat poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.
U.S. News and World Report ranked the UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute’s patient programs among the top 10 percent of cancer centers in the nation, which reflects the dedication and expertise of our faculty and staff to offer top-notch cancer care and to improve procedures and technology continually for Mississippians.
Our physical campus grew and received major upgrades in 2019 with the opening of the expanded Ole Miss Student Union, the renovated Garland, Hedleston and Mayes complex that is now home to our School of Applied Sciences, the dedication of the new South Campus Rec Center and the William Magee Center for Wellness Education. These enhancements all play a pivotal role in our effort to serve students, faculty and staff with state-of-the-art facilities that build on our legacy as home to the country’s most beautiful and inviting campus.
In his first year at Ole Miss, men’s head basketball coach Kermit Davis earned SEC Coach of the Year honors. We welcomed a familiar face to lead Ole Miss Athletics with the naming of Keith Carter as athletics director, and we can’t wait for next fall after feeling the excitement and national attention generated by hiring Lane Kiffin as the Rebels’ 39th head football coach.
This year, we marked major anniversaries of several significant university programs, including a half century of our federally funded marijuana growing contract and the 30th anniversaries of the Mississippi Teacher Corps, the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and the Institute for Child Nutrition.
For the 11th consecutive year, UM was one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to a new survey published by The Chronicle of Higher Education. UM made the Honor Roll listing and was recognized in eight categories this year, including job satisfaction and work-life balance, among others.
Each one of you should take great pride in your impact on this university through your academic achievements, research endeavors, dedicated work ethic, generous alumni support and all of your passion and pride that strengthen the work of the University of Mississippi. I’m grateful for the Ole Miss family.
Be sure to check out our Year in Photos video below. Best wishes for a joyful holiday and a happy and healthy 2020. HottyToddy!
Glenn F. Boyce