By NEMS Daily Journal
“At the University of Mississippi, we have the opportunity and responsibility to move beyond the transformation of individual lives. We must purposefully participate in transforming our community, state, nation, and world.”
– Chancellor Daniel W. Jones
Chancellor Dan Jones’ inauguration as the University of Mississippi’s 16th leader on Friday will embrace the tradition, history and symbolic pageantry associated with high academic occasions, but the celebration will forego elaborate attendant events, instead, at Jones’ direction, focusing on the university’s service mission.
The muted investiture reflects Jones’ personal choices in a career as physician, missionary, academician and medical school dean, before accepting the chancellorship in 2009.
The inaugural theme also reflects the necessity of financial choices and prioritizing at Ole Miss – and all other Mississippi universities. Budget cuts – implemented and anticipated – have all eight public universities in a financial bind, so that setting the right example from the top down is more than symbolic.
Jones succeeded Robert C. Khayat, the chancellor emeritus who led Ole Miss in a term of extraordinary revival, endowment and investment from 1996 to 2009.
The 10 a.m. investiture in the Ford Center for the Performing Arts is the central focus of the day, and Jones himself will deliver the inaugural address on the theme, “Transformation Through Service.”
It’s reasonable to expect that what Jones says on Friday will be an outline of his long-term expectations and aspirations for his tenure as the vested leader of the 162-year-old university.
We believe necessity will require that Jones and the other university presidents in Mississippi cooperate more fully in expanding the academic marketplace and making it more accessible to all Mississippians who seek a degree.
Hard facts already prove that personal prosperity is directly linked to the level of individual educational attainment – and knowledge nurtured in the process.
Service historically has been part of the university’s core mission, but the challenges and opportunities that come with a new era of internationalism, technology and global economics require that Ole Miss reshape the methods while retaining the core intentions.
The academic regalia at the investiture mirror higher education’s long history, including a symbolic medallion, crest, mace and key specifically reflective of Ole Miss.
Such symbols are rich, but if not backed by effective substance and action are of little value.