Diversity and Community Engagement

The University of Mississippi

Recommendation 5: The University of Mississippi should offer more history, putting the past into context, telling more of the story of Mississippi’s struggles with slavery, secession, segregation and their aftermath

Chancellor Vitter announced the formal establishment of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context charged with undertaking campus contextualization projects in a process that was transparent, inclusive, and aligned with the UM Creed (spring 2016). The Advisory Committee recommended sites to be contextualized, so as to better explain the environment in which they were created and how those environments compare to our core institutional values.

Changes to provide context and recognize diversity:

  • A Civil Rights Monument featuring a statue of James Meredith is located in the area between the Lyceum and the J.D. Williams library. The monument was dedicated on October 1, 2006, 44 years to the day that Meredith successfully enrolled in classes at the university.
  • The entrance of the newly named Manning Center was designated the Williams-Reed Foyer, recognizing Ben Williams and James Reed, the first two African-American football players at the university.
  • Coliseum Drive was renamed “Chucky Mullins Drive,” honoring the heroic spirit of an African-American football player who battled against life-ending injuries sustained during a football game.
  • Confederate Drive was renamed “Chapel Lane.”
  • The university named the pond at the Sorority Row entrance to campus Silver Pond, after former University of Mississippi history professor, James “Jim” Silver. Silver taught history at Ole Miss from 1946-1957 and also wrote a number of books. In his most famous book “Mississippi: The Closed Society,” he discussed the racial customs in the South and mentioned James Meredith, the first African-American student who enrolled at Ole Miss. He became Meredith’s friend and advisor through the intense time of ridicule and death threats in the early 1960s.
  • The university honored Will Campbell, civil rights activist and former director of religious life, by naming the plaza adjacent to the Paris-Yates Chapel in his honor.
  • The university recognized Coolidge Ball, the first African-American student-athlete at the university, with a plaque at the front entrance of The Pavilion, the new basketball arena.
  • The university will provide dedicated space in the newly renovated Student Union for the Black Student Union and National Pan-Hellenic Council.
  • The National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek Garden, which serves as a physical space for the nine African-American Greek-letter organizations that do not have properties on campus, was dedicated May 2017. The garden is located next to the new residence hall between Crosby Hall and the Northgate housing complex, and provides an outdoor space for learning, celebration, reflection and community building.
  • A four-person context committee developed a plaque to contextualize the Confederate statue at Lyceum Circle. The creation of the plaque was in response to a key recommendation of the 2014 action plan. The plaque contextualizes the environment in which the monument was created.
  • Following a a transparent and inclusive process aligned with the UM Creed and employing a variety of methods to ensure broad community input, Chancellor Vitter announced the final report of the CACHC and the resulting university actions, which included several contextualization plaques and two additional projects put forward in Section B.  Six contextualization plaques were installed on campus, and an unveiling ceremony took place on March 2, 2018. Officials unveiled contextualization plaques for Barnard Observatory, Lamar Hall, Longstreet Hall, and George Hall; a plaque recognizing the university’s enslaved laborers in the construction of Barnard Observatory, the Old Chapel (now Croft), the Lyceum, and Hilgard Cut; and a plaque contextualizing the stained-glass Tiffany windows in Ventress Hall that recognizes the University Greys, a Civil War company of primarily UM students that suffered 100 percent casualties — killed, wounded or captured.

Updated: April 2018