PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Ole Miss deserves accolades

I’m not one to be all jingoistic, raving about my alma mater. I have a small decal on my car, not one of those grotesque boys urinating upon a rival’s logo, although in the case of Auburn or LSU, it might be appropriate.
Frankly, that’s very c-o-m-m-o-n, my grandmother, the beautiful and willful Rosalie Dial, often said in a whispered tone.
But there do come times when you just can’t ignore something really fine.
This week, a commentary in the respected Chronicle of Higher Education gave the University of Mississippi perhaps the finest compliment it can get, and summed up so succinctly what retired Chancellor Robert C. Khayat, his leadership team, staff and faculty worked so hard to accomplish during his 14 years at the helm.
From a soon-to-be-published book, two writers-professors asked the question, “Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission?”
As they traveled around the country, they said they found some colleges they thought were doing their job well.
And they thought the University of Mississippi “the most appealing” of all the flagship colleges they visited.
Here’s what they said:
“Today Ole Miss is a university where reconciliation and civility are at the heart of the educational mission. Much of the transformation has been the work of Robert Khayat, who retired from the chancellorship in 2009.
“In his 14 years there, he raised academic standards, tripled African-American enrollment and banned Confederate flags from athletic events. Under his leadership the university reached into its past for different pieces of the state’s history. Think Eudora Welty, William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams.
“Ole Miss has a Center for the Study of Southern Culture that focuses on the art, literature, music and food of the region, black and white.
“The campus has the feel of a liberal-arts college. Its Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College offers as fine an education as one might find at Carleton or Kenyon Colleges.”
The writers list below – I emphasize below – Ole Miss the other colleges they thought were doing their job well: Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey, the University of Notre Dame, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Berea College, Arizona State University, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, University of Colorado at Boulder, MIT, Western Oregon University and Evergreen State College in Washington.
Years ago, when Robert Khayat began to describe Ole Miss as “A Great American Public University,” you’d find some folks snickering at the very idea.
After the James Meredith 40-years anniversary was hailed internationally, after the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, after the 2008 Presidential Debate and so much more, Chancellor Khayat, nobody’s snickering any more.
Our state is a better place when its educational system offers the very best.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfied/NEMS Daily Journal