Ole Miss Inauguration to downplay pageantry

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – The University of Mississippi is gearing up for an active week leading up to Friday’s inauguration of Daniel W. Jones as its 16th chief executive officer. Instead of pomp, though, the focus will be service.
Jones is a cardiologist who formerly headed the university’s Medical Center campus in Jackson as vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. He succeeded Robert C. Khayat as chancellor on July 1, 2009.
The investiture ceremony, set for 10 a.m. in the Ford Center, is the centerpiece of a daylong observance that focuses on community service. The theme of “Transformation through Service” reflects Jones’ personal commitment to the importance of serving others as an educator and physician.
“It’s a meaningful day for me personally, but my hope is that the focus will be on the university and what we are doing as an institution to meet our mission,” he said.
Jones has focused much of his own research on hypertension, a health problem of particular concern in Mississippi’s population. He and his family also spent several years in Korea, where he was a medical missionary.
The inaugural committee invites members of the university to scores of volunteer opportunities as varied as counting bikes and pedestrians for transportation studies, helping teach diabetes management and painting a world map on a school basketball court. Ole Miss family members are invited to share their volunteer passions with others at a Volunteer Fair to be held all week.
“These events are things our people do because of their passion and their desire to help people,” said Associate Provost Noel Wilkin, who chairs the inaugural committee. “The events make it obvious that our people are transforming lives all over the world.”
Special day
Jones plans to begin the day of the ceremony with a private prayer service at Paris-Yates Chapel. After his inauguration, he and his wife, Lydia, will host a luncheon for special friends before attending the initiation for new members of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
“We don’t want this to be so much about us as it is just a special day in the life of our university, and we just happen to be the lucky ones who are there at the front,” Lydia Jones said.
Inaugurals for university leaders often feature lavish ceremonies and weeklong festivities, but this event is being kept low-key in light of the university’s and the state’s budget challenges. Jones will deliver the keynote address himself, joined on the platform by several other campus leaders.
Friday’s 9, 10 and 11 a.m. classes will be canceled to allow students and faculty to witness the investiture. While the Ford Center is expected to be filled, overflow viewing areas will be in Nutt Auditorium, the Overby Center, Holman 30 and the Union Lobby. Regional campuses will also provide viewing locations: Tupelo (main auditorium), Booneville (room 101), and Southaven (room 253).
For more information, log on to www.olemiss.edu/depts/chancellor/inauguration/index.html.
Mitchell Diggs of Ole Miss Media and Public Relations contributed to this article.