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Ole Miss chancellor shares vision for university's future

Staff photo by Zack Steen

The University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (center) and UM Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Ross Bjork (far right) talk with Tri-State Rebel Club board members Charles Carr, Tony Smith and Tyler Wilson.

BY ZACK STEEN zsteen@dailycorinthian.com

"Flagship Forward."

It's the simple, yet profound strategic plan for The University of Mississippi, and one UM's top official is immensely proud of.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter was among the Ole Miss royalty at the Crossroads Arena on Thursday as the BancorpSouth Rebel Road Trip made its seventh stop in Corinth.

"This is a amazing turnout and definitely the biggest crowd we have had so far," Vitter told the more than 400 Rebel faithful in attendance. "It is great to see so many passionate Ole Miss Rebels here, and it's even greater to be able to share with everyone the momentum we have right now across our entire flagship university."

As chancellor for the state's first public university, Vitter came onboard less than three years ago and began a bold transformation that ended with "Flagship Forward."

"It is our roadmap of excellence," Vitter said of the strategic plan. "It is our mission to transform lives and communities throughout the world. It's based on four pillars of everything we do."

"Flagship Forward" has a common goal heard among Ole Miss administration - to inspire, discover and transform through academic excellence, healthy and vibrant communities, people, places and resources and athletics excellence.

"I am so excited and passionate about what we are doing at Ole Miss that I keep a copy of the strategic planning in my back pocket wherever I go," he said.

According to Vitter, Ole Miss is the tenth fastest growing university in the country over the past 10 years.

"That's because we are in demand. People want to be at Ole Miss," said the chancellor. "We have a billion dollars of construction just finishing, underway or about to start in Oxford and, in Jackson at our medical center, we have just completed a $76 million medical education building to train future doctors."

He shared other "Flagship Facts," including the university's nine year ranking as one of the top colleges to work for and continually being awarded as having the most beautiful campus.

"I may be most proud of reaching a major milestone recently as the university was elevated to the Carnegie R1 Highest Research Activity classification, placing us in the top 2.5 percent of colleges and universities nationwide," added Vitter. "That's a great way of retaining the very best here in Mississippi."

Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Ross Bjork also made the trek to Corinth, along with Ole Miss Football Coach Matt Luke, Men's Basketball Coach Kermit Davis and Women's Basketball Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin.

Bjork said, "since 2012, we've been coming to Corinth and every year it's a packed house."

The road trip is presented locally by the Tri-State Rebel Club, who uses funds raised from the events to support it's scholarship fund.

"This is a club that raises money for scholarships," said club board member Tyler Wilson. "I think we sometimes lose sight of that in all the fun and games, but we are really grateful for everyone who attends our events and in return we are able to continue to give out money for scholarships."

This year's scholarship recipients were Belmont High School's Ashton Swader and Tishomingo County High School's Isabella Webb. Both teens plan to attend Ole Miss in the bio chemistry field. They were awarded $1,000 each from the club.

Wilson said an additional $1,000 will also be awarded to a local student to attend Northeast Mississippi Community College.

(For more information, visit tristaterebelclub.com.)