Learn From the Past, Lead Into the Future

The University of Mississippi, along with many universities across the country, continues on a journey to acknowledge and address the challenging and complex history around the issues of slavery, injustice, and race. The university has long been committed to honest and open dialogue about its history and how to make our campuses more welcoming and inclusive. In 2014, under the leadership of then-chancellor Dan Jones, guided by recommendations from the 2013 expanded Sensitivity and Respect Committee, the university took another step in that direction. The result is generally referred to as the 2014 action plan.

On June 10, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter wrote a letter to the UM community about the University of Mississippi’s efforts related to the 2014 Action Plan. From the beginning of his tenure as chancellor, he has been and continues to be committed to the six recommendations of that plan, and much has been accomplished, as is referenced in the June 10, 2016 letter.

Recommendation 5 of the 2014 action plan focuses on history and context. Beginning summer 2015, a committee of four experts began working to contextualize the Confederate statue in the Lyceum Circle.  This work was completed in summer 2016. In an effort to further UM’s contextualization efforts in a more comprehensive and transparent approach, Chancellor Vitter established the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context (CACHC) to address the remaining important work related to contextualizing campus sites and buildings. Going forward, the CACHC will examine all other sties for potential contextualization (including, for example, Vardaman Hall, Johnson Commons, and Lamar Hall) and will provide a single comprehensive report of recommended contextualization projects.

The committee charge deals specifically with recommendation 5 of the 2014 Action Plan and has two parts:

  1. The initial task of the committee will be to recommend which additional physical sites on the Oxford campus (beyond those already completed) should be contextualized, so as to explain the environment in which they were created or named. Potential additional sites include:
    • monuments;
    • buildings (for example, Vardaman Hall, Johnson Commons, and Lamar Hall);
    • street names.
  2. Once the recommendations have been reviewed by the Chancellor’s office and the list of sites is finalized, the committee will proceed with designing content and format to contextualize the designated sites.

The committee will engage in a transparent and inclusive process that aligns with the UM Creed. The committee will employ a variety of methods to ensure broad community input, including the addition of ad hoc expertise as needed on a project-by-project basis, and will keep the community informed of the status of projects under consideration.