Frequently Asked Questions
What is ‘contextualization’?
When referring to ‘contextualization’, it means that we will provide historical and well-documented facts about existing physical sites that explain the environment in which they were created or named. Contextualization does not mean that a building is being renamed.
Why should we contextualize any sites on our campus?
The university has long been committed to honest and open dialogue about its history and how to make our campuses more welcoming and inclusive. Contextualization provides a way to acknowledge and address the challenging and complex history around the issues of slavery, injustice, and race.
For more, please read Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter’s June 10, 2016, letter on ‘History, Context, Identity’ here.
How were members of the CACHC selected?
CACHC membership was based upon the following five criteria:
- Expertise in relevant subject matters such as history, sociology, English, law or race relations;
- A demonstrated track record of consensus building and collaboration;
- A deep understanding of the UM community and culture;
- Experience in commemoration and contextualization of historic sites; and
- A commitment to a process that is inclusive, respectful, civil, candid, transparent and honors the UM Creed.
It is important to acknowledge that an individual committee member may not possess all the desired criteria, but collectively the committee possesses these qualities and areas of expertise and will ensure that all voices are heard.
What was the chancellor’s role in the selection process?
The members of the CACHC were selected by the chancellor after careful consideration and consultation from nearly 100 nominations received from the university community. Conducting a scan of the national landscape to identify best practices employed by exemplary universities engaged in similar contextualization efforts helped guide the foundation of the CACHC as a committee based upon defined criteria of expertise and experience rather than upon a constituent representation model.
What is the committee’s charge?
The committee was provided a two-part charge:
- The initial goal was to recommend Oxford campus sites for contextualization so as to explain the environment in which they were created or named (completed December 2016).
- The second and final part of the committee’s charge was to design the content and format to contextualize the designated sites (to be completed by May 31, 2017)
What sites have been chosen for contextualization?
In December 2016, the CACHC completed the first part of its two-part charge and forwarded the chancellor a recommended list of sites for contextualization. In late February 2017, the chancellor gave the committee the finalized list of sites to contextualize. Out of the more than 100 physical structures on the Oxford campus, contextualization work is focused on these seven sites:
- Lamar Hall
- Barnard Observatory
- Longstreet Hall
- George Hall
- Antebellum sites constructed with slave labor — Barnard Observatory, Croft Hall, the Lyceum, and Hilgard Cut
Two other actions will be taken: We will seek to rename Vardaman Hall through university processes, subject to IHL approval. Vardaman Hall was already approved for renovation by the IHL board in May 2016. And we will make a sign clarification at Paul B. Johnson Commons by adding “Sr.” to clarify that it is named after Paul B. Johnson Sr.
Why is Vardaman Hall being renamed?
The historical research conducted by the committee revealed facts about the individual for whom the building was named that are particularly egregious.
What will the process be for changing the name of Vardaman and how long will it take?
Renaming of Vardaman Hall would occur through university processes and be subject to IHL approval.
When will the work of the CACHC be complete?
The work of the CACHC will be completed as a single unit during the 2016-17 academic year and will be submitted to the chancellor by May 31, 2017. The chancellor will consider the committee’s recommendations before making decisions on next steps including approving content and format.
Does this committee’s work include the names ‘Ole Miss’ or ‘Rebels’?
No. The committee is charged with contextualizing existing physical sites. The university will continue to use the terms ‘Ole Miss’ and ‘Rebels’ as endearing nicknames for the university.
How can I submit my input on this process?
The CACHC sponsored extensive opportunities for broad community input through online forms for both Phase I and Phase II, a dedicated CACHC email address (context@OleMiss.edu), as well as two Phase II listening sessions in March 2017.