Chancellor Vitter’s statements webpage contains statements issued addressing particular matters of importance to the university community.
Update on the Process on School of Journalism Name Change –October 9, 2018
The proposal to change the name of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media has cleared all administrative steps required on our campus to change the name of an academic program. The faculty in the school voted to approve a request made by Dr. Ed Meek to remove his name from the school. The proposal was subsequently approved by the Undergraduate Council, the Graduate Council, and the Council of Academic Administrators. Shortly thereafter, I submitted the proposal to the IHL Board for expedited consideration at its October meeting.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
University Expedites Process to Consider Name Change –September 25, 2018
Based on the request made on Saturday, September 22 by Dr. Ed Meek to remove his name from the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media, University officials are accelerating our standard process for considering a change to the name of an academic program.
On Monday, the faculty of the School of Journalism and New Media voted to accept Dr. Meek’s request, and the dean of the school, Will Norton, asked for expedited consideration of this matter by the councils on campus that must review it. As a result, members of the Undergraduate and Graduate Councils are now voting by email on whether to accept the request to remove the Meek name from the school. These councils are comprised of faculty from across the entire university, and each council has one voting student representative.
If approved by both councils, the request will be considered by the Council of Academic Administrators, which is chaired by the provost. Its voting members include all deans, the Faculty Senate chair, faculty representatives, the three vice chancellors within Academic Affairs, the Associated Student Body president, and the Graduate Student Council president. If approved, the Council of Academic Administrators refers the matter to me as chancellor, and I will refer the request to the IHL Board for consideration on an expedited basis.
There have been comments from members of the public and the media recommending that the university return the naming gift. State and federal law and the terms of the original agreement governing the management of these funds prohibit the University from making such a move unilaterally. Discussions are underway with the Meek family on the most appropriate way to proceed.
We will continue to work to bring this matter to an appropriate resolution.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Response to Statement Issued by Ed Meek –September 22, 2018
The following is a statement from Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter in response to a statement issued Saturday, September 22 by Dr. Ed Meek:
“For more than 50 years, Ed Meek has played a critical role in moving our university forward. While his request tonight to remove his name from the Meek School of Journalism and New Media was made selflessly to permit the university to move forward, it is nonetheless regrettable and poignant. A primary hallmark of leadership is the willingness to sacrifice personal gain for the betterment of the whole. We commend the Meek family for their heartfelt response to the concerns of the UM community. We also acknowledge with appreciation and thanks their ongoing and permanent contributions to the university, which will be recognized by the Meek family’s legacy commitment to all things Ole Miss.”
Message from Leadership About Posts Made by UM Donor –September 20, 2018
To the UM Community:
We are writing about a disturbing incident and the path forward. On Wednesday, the namesake of our journalism school, Ed Meek, posted a comment on Facebook that we condemned as having highly offensive racial overtones.
This social media post was deeply hurtful because of the sentiment conveyed about the presence of African-Americans in Oxford and at Ole Miss. We are outraged that photographs of two of our female African-American students were used to make this point. University leaders have been in contact with the students to give them support and assistance.
The University’s Senior Leadership Group met in emergency session about this incident and its impact on our community. We have important decisions to make, and they will be made in a thoughtful and intentional manner.
As part of this process, we are hosting a listening session for the UM community this evening at 7:30 p.m. at Nutt Auditorium. It is important to come together as a community. We support all members of our community and respect the dignity of each person.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Dean, School of Journalism
Statement From Chancellor Vitter On Sports Betting Law –August 31, 2018
As we begin a new academic year and with the start of a new football season just days away, I am looking forward to another great year for our student-athletes, as they engage in the highest level of NCAA competition and continue to excel in the classroom. I’d like to take this opportunity to talk with you briefly about an important change in the law and the possible ramifications for intercollegiate athletics.
Last spring, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow each state to enact its own laws around legalized sports betting. Since then, our Athletics Department has conferred with the NCAA and worked with staff, coaches, student-athletes, student families, and those who support our athletics programs to ensure that everyone understands the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling for NCAA member institutions like ours. Our highest priority is to safeguard the well-being of our student-athletes.
While betting on collegiate sports is now legal in Mississippi, the NCAA’s position on the issue has not changed. The NCAA strictly prohibits sports betting by student-athletes, staff members of an athletics department, and non-athletics department employees who have responsibilities within or over athletics. In this spirit, we also want our larger university and sports community to recognize that sports betting by those close to student-athletes and athletics programs, including faculty and staff, can put the university or athletes at risk of violating NCAA rules.
As a NCAA member institution, the University of Mississippi keeps student-athlete health and safety, compliance, and integrity at the forefront. Thank you for standing with us. Your continued support helps all of our student-athletes compete at the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics.
Should you have related questions, please contact Erica McKinley, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-7014.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Chancellor and Distinguished Professor
Proposed Legislation’s Impact Upon Our Campus –February 7, 2018
Two years ago, the Institutions of Higher Learning implemented a comprehensive policy to keep our campuses safe. This policy allows for universities to prohibit guns in specific non-public campus areas. Earlier today, the Mississippi House of Representatives approved House Bill 1083, which, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would override the IHL policy and our University’s specific policies. It would put our campus community, law enforcement, and first responders at great risk by allowing weapons in sensitive places such as classrooms, hospitals, clinics, and athletic and performance venues.
The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and many professional higher education organizations have issued statements opposing legislation like House Bill 1083. Last week the University of Mississippi hosted Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey on our Oxford campus for a series of meetings, and we discussed concerns about the safety and financial risks of allowing guns on university campuses, including potential loss of home sporting events and negative impact upon recruiting. I have attached a letter from Commissioner Sankey outlining several of those risks and the concerns of the SEC.
If this bill were to pass, it would negatively impact the University of Mississippi’s ability to continue to uphold the safety and security for our students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors on all our campuses — the Oxford campus, our regional campuses, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Our state legislators and leaders must consider the negative implications that House Bill 1083 would have across our university campuses. The University of Mississippi and other institutions of higher learning within our state should be provided the authority to prohibit guns in non-public places on our campuses in order to uphold our educational mission and our responsibility to protect the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors.
Our government relations staff will monitor the proposed legislation and continue to voice our institutional concerns.
Statement from Chancellor Vitter Supporting the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville Communities in Wake of Tragedy –August 14, 2017
The University of Mississippi vehemently condemns the racism, bigotry, and the acts of violence committed by hate groups in Charlottesville this past weekend. There is no place for violence and intolerance — not in our communities, on our campuses, or in our country. No words can adequately express how saddened we are by these acts. We stand with the University of Virginia community and send our sympathies to all victims of this tragedy. Please join us in keeping Charlottesville and UVA in our thoughts as they heal, find unity, and move forward. We ask members of the UM community to support one another, follow the principles of our Creed, and access campus resources should they be needed.
UM Support of International Community of Scholars –February 1, 2017
On January 29, I shared a statement with the University of Mississippi community about a recent Presidential Executive Order that limits immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The order also directed the suspension of the refugee admission program for 120 days, and indefinitely for refugee processing of Syrian nationals.
You have my commitment that we will focus upon what is truly best for the well-being, safety, and success of our students and our university. I want to assure all members of our community that as we closely monitor the long-term impact of the recent Presidential Executive Order, we will continue to do as we always have done: support all our students. We will also continue to abide by all federal and state laws, including federal constitutional and statutory privacy rights afforded members of the university.
Here are some of the ways we are supporting our international colleagues and some of the information we are providing to those in our community affected by this action:
- University administrators on the Oxford and Jackson campuses have individually and directly communicated with the 26 students and 11 faculty and staff members from these named countries who are affected by the executive order.
- At this time, we are advising all nonimmigrant-status students, faculty members, and staff members from the named countries to avoid travel outside the United States.
- Individuals from the affected countries who hold permanent resident status in the United States, as well as nonimmigrant-status individuals holding dual citizenship from these countries and a country other than the United States, are advised to consult with the Office of International Programs or an immigration attorney before traveling abroad.
- Housing accommodations will be available for affected students needing assistance over spring break and summer, if necessary.
- The Office of the Chancellor is reaching out to student groups to facilitate discussions on how UM can provide additional support to affected students.
- If you believe you may be affected by the executive order or are uncertain about whether these orders affect you or someone you know, we encourage you to contact the Office of International Programs. If you are seeking advice in confidence, you may call 662-915-7404. Additional resources and support are available from
I want to reiterate my frequently stated conviction that the many members of our international community enrich our Flagship university and add great value. As one of the key initiatives I highlighted in my investiture address on November 10, we will make our great learning and research environment even greater by expanding international presence on our campuses and educating our students to prosper in a global society.
I ask all members of the Ole Miss family to please join me and our leadership team in lending support to our international students, faculty, and staff. Having a robust international community — with its diversity of talents, cultures, and contributions — enriches and enhances the vitality of our university and our state.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Statement from Chancellor Vitter Regarding Presidential Executive Orders –January 29, 2017
As a public international research institution of higher education, the University of Mississippi is focused upon education and the success of our students in a global society. We are a community of scholars committed to fostering a diverse environment, and we benefit greatly from a strong international and multicultural presence.
One of our top priorities is a safe and welcoming environment for all our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. However, we recognize that for many in our community, there is significant anxiety, fear, and uncertainty related to recent Presidential Executive Orders.
We are currently gathering information and evaluating the impact of the executive orders upon members of our university community. If you believe you are affected, or are uncertain about whether these orders affect you, please contact the Office of International Programs.
We value all members of our university community and extend our support to our international students, faculty, and staff during this uncertain time. We call upon all members of our community to support one another. We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation and keep the university community updated as more information becomes available.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Statement from Chancellor Vitter Regarding Misunderstandings Related to Sanctuary Campus –December 3, 2016
There have recently been misunderstandings arising from a draft student resolution and online petition calling for the University of Mississippi to become a sanctuary campus. To be clear, the university does not have the power or ability to create a ‘sanctuary’ that would be exempt from any federal or state laws. As I stated on Nov. 29, the University of Mississippi will continue to uphold all federal and state laws, as well as policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. As a public institution of higher education, we will always focus upon education and the success of our students.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter’s Statement Regarding ASB Draft Resolution –November 29, 2016
I am aware of the resolution drafted by a few Associated Student Body Senators and some student organization presidents calling for the university to become a sanctuary for undocumented members of our community. Leaders from our Associated Student Body have informed us that the resolution has been pulled from tonight’s agenda and will not be discussed.
As chancellor, my responsibility is to administer and operate the university within applicable Federal and state laws, as well as the policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.
I do believe it is an important part of the educational process — and central to our UM Creed — for students to discuss the difficult issues of our day, and it is equally important that all voices be a part of that healthy debate. I can assure you that we will also continue to uphold our legal responsibilities and our university policies.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter’s Statement on Election Day –November 8, 2016
As we head to the polls for the 56th presidential election in our country’s history, it is an exciting time, especially for many of our students who will be casting their first-ever votes. We also recognize that for many in our community, there is significant anxiety, fear, and uncertainty associated with this election.
Many students, faculty, and staff have worked diligently in recent weeks to encourage everyone to vote and to respect the opinions and perspectives of others. I applaud and support their work.
These individuals and groups, together with the university leadership, call upon our community to support each other during and after the election. The safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors is our top priority. We will not tolerate violent or threatening behavior. Any concerns about the health and safety of any faculty, staff, or student should be reported to the University Police Department at 662-915-7234.
Higher education has a crucial role in addressing the challenges we face together. Here at the University of Mississippi, we embody our commitments to one another in the UM Creed. As this election season concludes, we must let the Creed guide our way so that we approach each other with respect, with dignity, and with civility. By following the Creed, we can model how to have the respectful discussions, in person and online, that we must have as a family, a community, and a country.
I extend my appreciation to the following groups who devoted much time and energy to this important effort:
- Associated Student Body
- Bipartisan Coalition
- Black Student Union
- Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement
- College Democrats
- College Republicans
- Department of Political Science
- Faculty Senate
- Fraternity & Sorority Life Councils
- Graduate Student Council
- Office of the Dean of Students
- Office of the Student Union
- Residential Hall Association
- Student Housing
- UM Counseling Center
- University Communications
University Announces Conclusion of NCAA Case Involving Track & Women’s Basketball –October 7, 2016
The University has announced its NCAA case involving Track & Field and Women’s Basketball has reached a conclusion. Please click here for the official website and the communication from the chancellor on the status of the NCAA investigation: http://athleticsworking.wp2.olemiss.edu/.
Safe, Welcoming Environment Our Top Priority –September 28, 2016
As a flagship university, the University of Mississippi fosters freedom of speech and the exchange of diverse opinions. At the same time, we strongly condemn all threatening, racist, bigoted, or otherwise harmful comments, such as those made on social media in recent days and directed at our African American, Jewish, and LGBTQ communities.
Our top priority is a safe and welcoming environment for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors to our campus. We have a number of mechanisms to achieve this goal.
Later this week, I will provide more information about opportunities to engage in conversations and activities designed to share concerns and find solutions. As we continue to work together, I offer the following tips to apply the principles of the UM Creed on social media to promote responsible and civil dialogue:
10 Ways to Apply the UM Creed on Social Media
- Understand that social media is an extension of our campus and community space.
- If you feel that speech endangers someone, report it!
- See something harmful to members of our community? Speak up!
- Challenge it! “As a community, we condemn this language.”
- Consider the intent and impact of your words. Words matter!
- Practice civility and encourage education. Allow others to learn from their mistakes.
- Suspend your emotion. Critically analyze the conversation.
- Take it off-line. “Let’s have a conversation later when we aren’t so angry.”
- Know when to disengage from the conversation.
- Closely monitor your own posts for offensive or harmful comments.
We take very seriously the health and safety of every member of our faculty, staff, and student body, as well as every person who visits our campus. Any incidents or concerns should be reported to the University Police Department at 662-915-7234. To report a bias incident, click here.
Responding to Meeting with UM Students –September 24, 2016
This afternoon I learned that a number of students had gathered at the Lyceum to express their concerns about a recent social media post and our response to it. Because I have an open door policy, I invited some of the student leaders to meet with me and other university leaders. The students helped me more fully understand the impact on them of national events and this particular social media post. They expressed great pain, sadness, and concern for their own safety.
To be clear, we condemn the recent social media post by one of our students that referenced lynching. In light of our country’s history, that comment can only be seen as racist, offensive and hurtful, especially to members of our African American community. There is no place in our community for racist or violent acts.
I appreciate the willingness of the student leaders to meet with me and to continue the dialogue. Together, we are committed to moving beyond words toward action, harnessing the transformative power of education to realize the ideals of our Creed.
UM Creed to Guide Our Community After Recent Tragedies –July 17, 2016
In the aftermath of recent acts of violence, Chancellor Vitter and the leadership of University of Mississippi campuses are asking the university community to be guided by our University Creed, to support one another in these difficult times, and to serve as a model for discourse that will lead to sustainable solutions for the challenges we face as a nation. We will immediately begin a series of community discourses around the university to heal and move forward. The first will take place Thursday evening at 6 p.m. outside the Paris-Yates Chapel.
The following is a statement from Chancellor Vitter and the University of Mississippi Sensitivity and Respect Committee:
The University of Mississippi vehemently condemns the recent acts of violence that have taken place in our nation, and we lend support and comfort to those affected by the killings in three states during the past two weeks. We mourn the loss of the two African-American males killed in Louisiana and Minnesota. We mourn the loss of the five police officers killed in Dallas. We mourn the loss of the law enforcement personnel killed in Baton Rouge. We stand in support of those in law enforcement in our community and across the country who put their lives in harm’s way every day to protect all citizens. We also stand in support of all people of color who endure unwarranted prejudice, targeting, and injustice.
We recognize that our university’s African-American community, people of other races, and law enforcement personnel are dealing with these tragic incidents in myriad ways, and we pledge our support. We want each member of this community to know that we support you as you seek to understand these incidents and determine the best way to move forward.
As an academic institution, we realize that education will serve as a key component to prevent future occurrences of such acts as well as serve as a healing mechanism for our community. We ask all members of our campus to join in applying the most effective tool of the educator — civil dialogue — in addressing the issues leading up to these disturbing events and processing our emotions and reactions to these tragedies.
However, civil dialogue will mean nothing if it does not lead to change for the better, and it will be our students who will be at the forefront of that change.
As Chancellor Vitter stated in a recent post: “We are all bound together by the human need to be known, understood, and valued. At the University of Mississippi, we embody these mutual commitments to one another in the UM Creed, a part of which states our belief in fairness and civility and in the respect for the dignity of each person. I urge all members of the UM family to embody these beliefs as we reach out to one another in the coming days.”
We also would like to remind all campus community members of university policies and of the resources available should they be needed. These recent events have evoked a number of painful emotions among many on our campus. Please do not feel insecure or ashamed about seeking assistance from our university’s support services.
Our university is marked by care for one another, respect for one another, and a genuine desire to understand one another. We will all get through these difficult days and emerge stronger and more unified by staying true to our Creed.
The University of Mississippi does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status or genetic information.
University of Mississippi Resources for Students, Faculty and Staff Bias Incident Response Team
Shawnboda Mead: 662-915-1689
Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement
Shawnboda Mead: 662-915-1689
Chancellor’s Standing Committee on LGBTQ Affairs
Office of the Chancellor: 662-915-7111
Chancellor’s Standing Committee on Sensitivity and Respect
Donald Cole: 662-915-7111
Equal Opportunity & Regulatory Compliance
Becki Bressler: 662-915-7735
Muslim Student Association
Oxford Muslim Society
Office of the Dean of Students
Val Ross: 662-915-7247
Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies
Shawnboda Mead (Student Training): 662-915-1689
Kevin Cozart (Faculty/Staff Training): 662-915-5916
UM Pride Network
Spencer Pleasants: email@example.com
University Counseling Services
Bud Edwards: 662-915-3784
Brett Harris: 662-915-1537
Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation
Susan Glisson: 662-915-6734
Responding to Tragedy with Respect, Dignity, and Civil Discourse –July 9, 2016
Our country is hurting as we process the tragic events of this past week. We mourn for everyone. I believe in the transformative effect of higher education and that it has a unique and powerful role to play in our path from here. We must approach each other with respect, with dignity, and through civil discourse. There are no easy answers, but we have strength in our voice and a responsibility to further the conversation.
We are all bound together by the human need to be known, understood, and valued. At the University of Mississippi, we embody these mutual commitments to one another in the UM Creed, a part of which states our belief in fairness and civility and in the respect for the dignity of each person. I urge all members of the UM family to embody these beliefs as we reach out to one another in the coming days.
Many in our country are speaking and writing about these painful events. Frank Bruni of the New York Times provides us with words to start moving forward:
“There’s only one cause here: taking the appropriate steps — in criminal justice, in police training, in schools, in public discourse — so that each of us goes about our days in as much peace as possible. And the constituency for that is all of America.”
Mr. Bruni’s article struck a chord with me. Here’s a link to the full article; it’s well worth reading: http://nyti.ms/29uCiZY.
Response to NCAA Notice of Allegations –May 31, 2016
Last Friday, May 27, Athletic Director Ross Bjork and I issued a joint letter regarding the NCAA Notice of Allegations and the University of Mississippi’s detailed response to the allegations. We will continue to work through the process with the NCAA. To see the entire Notice of Allegations and our response, please go to umncaacase.com.
Statement from Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter –April 5, 2016
Dear members of the UM community,
Some of you have inquired about how recent legislation will affect our campus operations and ethos. I am writing to reaffirm that the mission and values of the University of Mississippi have not changed. Our primary purpose is to be an academic institution that creates, evaluates, shares, and applies knowledge in a free, open, and inclusive environment of intellectual inquiry.
Our main campus in Oxford, our four regional campuses, and our academic health center provide academic, research, and professional programs and health care to tens of thousands of people. The members of the university and those we serve are part of a diverse community of different religions, ages, political perspectives, physical abilities, races, sexual orientations, gender expressions, nationalities, cultures, fields of study, and other characteristics.
Diversity is a hallmark of education and enriches the environment and experiences of all our campus constituents. We will always support all members of our community and uphold the UM Creed, which calls on us to respect the dignity of each person.
Jeffrey S. Vitter