University of Mississippi alumni across the state and nation responded positively to the official naming of a new chancellor, Dan Jones, M.D., a well known and nationally respected physician who soon will leave the Jackson medical campus to lead Ole Miss statewide.
A 60-year-old former president of the American Heart Association, dean of the School of Medicine, and vice chancellor for health affairs, Jones moves to the historic Lyceum office already having a large and supportive base of Ole Miss-connected friends.
He is the first physician to lead the university since its founding in 1848, and he comes to the post from administering a division that is all but an autonomous institution: five academic divisions offering bachelor’s through doctoral degrees, a budget exceeding $1 billion, and thousands of staff, faculty and students, with advanced programs that are sophisticated and internationally known.
Ole Miss is fortunate to have developed a worthy successor to Chancellor Robert Khayat within its own ranks, and while he was not officially “groomed” for the top job, he was recognized early in the search process as eminently capable and prepared for the challenge.
In the best sense, Jones knows the good and the bad about our state. The university hospitals and clinics treat some of the poorest and most disadvantaged Mississippians, and some of the finest students from Ole Miss and other universities study under his leadership to become healers in dozens of health-related disciplines.
Jones worked effectively to increase the enrollment of under-represented student populations, uniquely important in Mississippi with the largest African-American population by percentage nationwide.
The international scope of Jones’ experience and interest is particularly impressive. He and his family were in missionary service in South Korea before he joined the faculty, an exceptional cosmopolitan perspective.
His presidency of the American Heart Association is a singular honor personally and institutionally. UMMC is deeply involved in the study of heart health, one of Mississippi’s major medical problems. His immersion in a nationwide community focused on heart issues can’t help but aid him as chancellor in further developing all the applied sciences.
His statements on Monday that he wants the university to reach out in new and enhanced ways to the state – public sector and private sector – are particularly encouraging. Our universities are a vital and under-used resource for the common good.
We pledge our support for Jones’ efforts in behalf of Ole Miss and the whole state.