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Historian’s Grant Preserves Rare Documents

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie


 Bashir Salau, associate professor of history

Bashir Salau, associate professor of history

When carefully studied, historic discoveries sometimes can yield useful insights into modern societal problems. But without access to the artifacts from past eras and cultures, the valuable lessons they teach may be lost.

In efforts to preserve archival holdings related to northern Nigeria, a University of Mississippi historian is leading a service project that will both promote further academic research and provide the public with access to rare documents from the region’s pre-colonial era.

Bashir Salau, associate professor of history, heads the Northern Nigeria: Pre-colonial documents preservation scheme. Using a grant awarded by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme and sponsored by the Arcadia fund, Salau has spent time in the region copying the materials, which will be kept secure in National Archives Kaduna as well as the British Library and other suitable repositories.

“The documents targeted by this project are stored in the National Archives Kaduna,” Salau said. “I visited this archive for the first time in the late 1980s while working on my B.A research essay on the history of the textile industry in the Kaduna region of northern Nigeria. I noticed that many records in the archive in question are in deplorable conditions.”

Since completing his essay, Salau has returned to Kaduna several times and understands that most of the materials are in such bad state because of wear and tear from repeated use and other factors. Targeted antiquities to be photographed include Arabic and Hausa materials from the late 18th century to the British colonial conquest, 1897-1903. Early colonial papers ranging from 1897 to around 1920 are also included.

“The materials are subject to exceptional vulnerability because of their considerable overuse by students and researchers,” Salau said. “This project seeks to digitally copy the materials in line with the standards endorsed by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme so as to enhance public access to these remarkable documents.”

The approximately $15,500 awarded for the three-month project covers the costs of Salau’s travels, laptops and digital cameras for use by his team, compensation for five research assistants/consultants engaged in copying materials and other miscellaneous expenses.

UM administrators expressed great enthusiasm over Salau’s work.

“The award of a prestigious British Library Endangered Archives Programme grant for Dr. Salau’s international scholarship is another validation of his important work,” said Glenn Hopkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.


Palgrave/MacMillan Press (2011)

Joseph Ward, associate professor and chair of history, is particularly supportive of his colleague’s endeavors.

“Given our state’s strong historical connection to West Africa, this is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with Nigeria through Dr. Salau’s preservation efforts,” Ward said. “In so doing, we will help Nigerians reconnect with their past as well as assist American students in learning more about African history.”

The materials form an important part of human culture and heritage, and are of value to anyone interested in the unique culture and history of the African past.

“The unique documents in Hausa and Arabic are important because they document the social, economic and political history of the Sokoto Calipate, which was the largest 19th century Islamic empire in West Africa,” Salau said. “Also contained within these materials are the early years of British colonial rule in northern Nigeria, when many features of Caliphate economy and society were researched by colonial officials.”

The materials are also valuable because they detail colonial policy formation and demonstrate the extent to which officials understood Islam, slavery and unfree labor in what had been the Sokoto Caliphate, he said. The British colonists tried to shape colonial northern Nigeria through reform of Caliphate institutions, a technique used successfully during slavery in the pre-Civil War United States.

“The materials are of value to historians of Africa in general, because such resources deal with labor, culture, intellectual history and inter-group relations in the African pre-colonial era. Such documentation is relatively scarce,” Salau said.

A graduate of York University in Canada, Salau specializes in African and African diaspora history. He teaches “Introduction to African history,” “The history of Africa since 1800,” courses on Islam in Africa and the history of slavery in Africa. His research explores the history of slavery in 19th and early 20th century West Africa, specifically the use of slaves on plantations.

VIDEO: Dr. Salau discusses his latest book, The West African Slave Plantation

Adam Gussow Finds Many Ways to Teach Blues Culture

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie

Professor, music scholar and professional musician blends life experience with academic expertise


Adam Gussow

Adam Gussow

In the mastering room at the Dial Back Sound Recording Studio, the struggles of creation reverberate from the egg crate walls.

Those walls were engineered to deliver pure sounds to inspire musicians and remind them of reasons they came together and wrote songs, or why guitar riffs invoke emotions or why, for a solitary moment, the blues could be understood from the whistle of a harmonica.

Grooving through that mastering room was the duo Satan and Adam’s first studio session in 1990. It featured melodies developed on the streets of Harlem from two different cultures that combined to create a unified sound. The blues duo Satan and Adam still exists, although in a lesser capacity than the late 1980s and early ’90s.

More than 20 years later, Adam, or Adam Gussow, is an associate professor of English and Southern studies at the University of Mississippi.

His unusual blend of expertise as professional blues musician and scholar of blues culture is why he is such a natural fit at UM. The New York native is not a blues discographer; rather, a scholar of blues culture and a scholar of blues literature.

“I’m fascinated by the way the blues is about the tension between old times and modernity,” Gussow said. “My own approach to the blues was shaped by the fact that I played with an unusual musician (Sterling Magee, aka Mr. Satan).”

His life experience has made him comfortable in any environment. His self-appointed charge, to maintain an honest dialogue about things such as race, encourages students to explore culture and differences with the hope they take something more out of it.

“I think college classrooms are one of the few places in our society where we can come together as a group of people and explore the more challenging aspects of what it means to be who we are,” Gussow said.

One of his current teaching ventures is a class called “Freedom Summer 1964: Mississippi’s Civil Rights Watershed.” The course explores Mississippi’s Freedom Summer experience and the civil rights movement through text, histories, memoirs, fiction, film and song.

Opening the minds of students in a university classroom is not the only place to hear one of Gussow’s lessons. He remains a blues musician. He has many YouTube videos, in which he not only teaches blues harmonica to anyone in the world via the Internet, but he also teaches the culture behind the music. Gussow acts as a professor to all who know his name and want to share in his vast knowledge.

“If you are willing to be uncomfortable and authentic, you might end up, at the end of the process, less afraid and have more clarity about how you actually fit into the world, and how people around you are seeing themselves,” Gussow said.

Furthermore, his solo album, “Kick and Stomp,” released in 2010 and produced in Oxford, was recently picked up by United Kingdom recording studio Right Recordings. The label plans to distribute it throughout the UK and Europe.

So Gussow may get another chance to tour, and at 55 years old, he could become Britain’s latest “American Invasion.”

Professor Betty Crouther Receives IHL Award

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie

UM art historian named diversity educator

Trustee Shane Hooper, Dr. Betty J. Crouther, associate professor of art, Dr. Morris Stocks, Provost, and Trustee Aubrey Patterson.

Trustee Shane Hooper, Dr. Betty J. Crouther, associate professor of art, Dr. Morris Stocks, Provost, and Trustee Aubrey Patterson.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning held its 2015 Diversity celebration by recognizing campus and community leaders for the impact they have made in advancing diversity and encouraging understanding and respect.

The Board honored faculty from each of Mississippi’s public universities for advancing diversity at their institutions. The honoree at the University of Mississippi is Dr. Betty J. Crouther, associate professor of art.

Professor Crouther teaches courses in the history of art covering chronological periods in early modern, African, and American art history.

She has published articles in the International Review of African American Art, SECAC Review, and MUSE that focus primarily on iconography and African American art. She has chaired and co-chaired sessions and presented papers at the Southeastern College Art Association and the College Art Association conferences, James A. Porter Colloquium and American Visions Symposium. Dr. Crouther has attended professional development seminars in India, Ghana, and New York City. In 1994 she received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Southeastern College Art Conference.

Professor Crouther holds a bachelor’s degree in art education from Jackson State University, Mississippi, a Master of Fine Arts degree from The University of Mississippi, and the Ph.D. in art history from the University of Missouri. She has taught at Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri, Jackson State University, Mississippi, and is Associate Professor at the University of Mississippi.

Read about the other 2015 IHL awardees>>

Ethel Young-Minor, Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie

April 11, 2012 | By Dane Moreton, The Daily Mississippian

Ethel Young-Minor, associate professor of English and African American studies

Ethel Young-Minor, associate professor of English and African American studies | Photo by Alex Edwards/The Daily Mississippian

Ethel Young-Minor, associate professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi, was the recipient of the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a current faculty member.

DM: How did it feel to be named the teacher of the year?
Ethel Young-Minor: Being named the Elsie Hood Teacher of the Year for 2011 was an incredible honor. There are a lot of amazing professors at UM who change students’ lives and make their marks in diverse disciplines. I can’t imagine how the committee can choose to honor one. I am thankful that my students thought enough of me to write letters over the years and more thankful that the committee saw something meaningful and valuable about the work I carry out in the classroom.

DM: What did/does it mean to you?
EYM: As a professor, it was especially nice to feel that my work is honored and respected by my peers. I am still surprised by how much it means to other people. It will always have positive meaning in my life. It is the one award on campus that seems impossible to earn, so I am humbled to be included in the list of prestigious recipients who preceded me.

DM: Are there any perks to receiving the award?
EYM: Yes, I received a monetary award from the university and my name was placed on a plaque in the UM library. I am thankful that my children and grandchildren will be able to walk past that plaque and remember that my life had meaning to people who came through UM.

DM: Why did you begin teaching?
EYM: Teaching is one of the most amazing ways to stay in contact with younger generations. I am passionate about literature and love having the opportunity to help other people see how literature can enhance their lives. I also love teaching writing because it empowers students. They gain skills that can help them advance in many skills when they sharpen their ability to articulate ideas, communicate with diverse audiences and sustain logical arguments.

DM: Will you be speaking during convocation? If so, what is the basic idea you would like to impress upon your audience?
EYM: I am speaking at convocation and would like to remind students that they are gifted with certain skill sets so that they can enhance the lives of other people. I hope to remind them of the importance of servant leadership, community action and continued personal growth.

Celebration of Achievement Honors Minorities, People of Color

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by erabadie

Annual event begins at 5:30 p.m. May 8 in Tad Smith Coliseum


As part of University of Mississippi’s Commencement activities, the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement is honoring more than 230 minority graduates who have excelled during their tenure as students.

The annual Celebration of Achievement is set for 5:30 p.m. May 8 in Tad Smith Coliseum. The free event is open to the public.

“This event is an opportunity for family, friends and the university community to come together and honor graduating students of color and other underrepresented populations,” said Courtney Pearson, a graduate assistant and program co-coordinator. “Each honoree is invited to have an escort who will have the privilege of presenting them with a medal that honors their achievements here. We would like to increase the number of attendees that come out and support these graduates that are being honored.”

Program participants include Brandi Hephner Labanc, vice-chancellor for student affairs; Valeria Ross, associate dean of students; Charles Ross, associate professor of history and director of the African American Studies program; Donald Cole, special assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs and associate professor of mathematics; and Julia Bussade, instructor in Spanish and Portuguese for the Department of Modern Languages.

Chase Moore, former director of the UM Gospel Choir and associate director of the Student Activities Association, will sing the university alma mater. Student reflections will be given by Camila Versaquez, president of the Latin American Student Organization, and Briana O’Neil, president of the Black Student Union.

Begun by Valeria Ross years ago, the Celebration of Achievement program has become very meaningful to students who have been honored.

“To a first-generation college student coming from a family who thought they would never be able to afford to put their child through college, the Celebration of Achievement ceremony means everything,” said Cedric Garron of Winona, a 2014 recipient. “As a minority student, my decision to attend the University of Mississippi was questioned by my community, my classmates and sometimes by my friends. For an extended period of time I began to doubt my own choice, but I entered in the fall of 2009 with very high hopes.”

Garron said his tenure at UM was never a perfect, stress-free journey.

“I struggled academically and socially during my freshman and sophomore year, but with the help of the amazing faculty and staff members I was able to eventually fill out the first of hopefully many degree applications,” he said.

As graduation approached, Garron found himself thinking of how he wasn’t going to be recognized as an honor graduate or be the person wearing multiple cords from those prestigious honor societies so many of his classmates had joined. What he did have to look forward to was the Celebration of Achievement ceremony.

“Seeing how proud my mother was to escort me to the front of hundreds of my fellow minority graduates and place a medal of achievement around my neck created an indescribable amount of emotion,” he said. “We as a family were able to take a minute to reflect on just how large of an accomplishment my graduation was. Celebration of Achievement was not only a chance to celebrate my success, but the success of hundreds of my brothers and sisters in the Ole Miss family. That is a memory I will cherish forever.”

For more information, contact the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement at 662-915-1689 or

Faculty, Staff, Students Join MLK Day of Service

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by erabadie
Marvin King, associate professor of political science and African American Studies

Marvin King, associate professor of political science and African American Studies

University of Mississippi students and staff are leading efforts to improve living conditions in Lafayette County and Oxford during 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances.

The Lafayette-Oxford-University MLK Day of Service opening ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 19 at the Oxford Activity Center. Program participants include UM Dean of Students Melinda Sutton, Oxford Mayor George “Pat” Patterson and Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Jeff Busby. Marvin P. King Jr., UM associate professor of political science and African American Studies, will deliver the keynote address.

The senior fellow at UM’s Residential College South, King received his doctorate in political science from the University of North Texas after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He has co-authored or authored publications on racial polarization in the electorate, representation of the black electorate, and the effect of race in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. King teaches undergraduate courses in Introduction to American Politics and African American Politics, and an undergraduate and graduate course in Politics of the American South.

Following King’s speech, three awards will be presented to outstanding LOU volunteers in student and community categories. Honorees include Victoria Burgos of Oxford, a UM student who implemented a pilot composting program on campus; Barbara Wortham of Oxford, GED program instructor at the Oxford School District Learning Center; and Matt Gaw and Mari Susan Massey of Oxford, United Way volunteers.

Other activities scheduled during the day include a service fair featuring representatives from local nonprofits and organizations, a book drive for local correctional facilities, a letter-of-appreciation writing campaign for three area civil rights leaders and activities at five local assisted living facilities.

“It is exciting that University of Mississippi students and staff are choosing to make a difference in the lives of others,” sad Coulter Ward, assistant dean of students for leadership and involvement. “Volunteering builds communities and strengthens relationships. To have our students take opportunities to participate in endeavors like these is awesome.”

UM staff involved in planning of MLK Day of Service events expressed enthusiasm about participating in such a worthy cause.

“Learning the larger history surrounding civil rights and MLK is important, but we see a need to educate our students about living leaders who made great movements right here in Mississippi,” said Haley Kesterson, coordinator of the letter writing campaign. “We hope to give proper gratitude to local leaders. We hope to educate students on the civil rights movement here in Mississippi and give them a local, current perspective about the continuous issue.”
Campus participation is crucial to the success of the observance, said Sarah Ball, director of Volunteer Oxford.

“This national day of service honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and commitment to transforming our nation through service to others,” Ball said. “The LOU MLK Day of Service offers community members a chance to engage in a variety of volunteer opportunities that are designed to give back to the community.”

A recreation administration major, Burgos was awarded a $3,000 grant from the UM Green Fund for the pilot composting project, followed by an additional $5,234 grant to continue and expand it. She has also volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and Camp Lake Stephens, a United Methodist Church facility.

A two-time recipient of the Learning Center Teacher of the Year award, Wortham is the Lafayette County Adult Basic Literacy Education program coordinator. Through her work with the GED Prep course at Burns United Methodist Church, she has helped an estimated 100 people obtain their GEDs.

Working together, Gaw and Massey were the first to assist local non-profits with fundraising, donating equipment and countless hours of volunteer time. Their work has been essential in the building of Lafayette County’s first Born Learning Trail in Avent Park.

For more information about LOU MLK Day of Service, contact Coulter Ward at or Sarah Ball at

VIDEOS: Inaugural TedxUM Talks

Posted on: December 8th, 2015 by erabadie

TedXUM logoThe University of Mississippi hosted its inaugural TEDx talks October 31, 2015 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The 9 a.m. event featured 10 brief lectures from university faculty members to showcase ideas worth spreading.

TEDxUM 2015 used the TED Talks conference format to bring together lecturers and other participants in a globally popular set of conferences run by the Sapling Foundation under the slogan “Ideas worth spreading.” Under the rules set by TED for the event, it will be open to only about 100 audience members this year, but organizers plan a much larger TEDxUM event for 2016.

“We believe it critical that Mississippi and the University of Mississippi, in particular, showcase the many ideas we have that are worth spreading,” said Marvin King, UM associate professor of political science and African American Studies. “We have incredible researchers and activists in our community, and the TED platform is among the best ways to make sure that Mississippi is a part of engaging discussions leading to real, positive change.”

“The event theme is In Plain Sight,” said TEDxUM organizer Elizabeth Wicks, a senior international studies and French major from Ocean Springs.

“It highlights the great minds that we have here on our campus and shows the world the amazing work being done in the Oxford area,” Wicks said. “In Plain Sight notes those aspects of life which are right before our eyes, yet must be illuminated in order to receive recognition.”

She said audience members were engaged by a diverse group of speakers and participated in interactive breakout sessions.

“The importance of an event such as TEDxUM on our campus cannot be understated,” Wicks said. “This will be the first event of its kind to occur at any university within the state of Mississippi and will be the second of its kind within the state as a whole. I believe that it will be an event that will better our community tremendously as well as show the world the talent and promise that we have here at Ole Miss.”

About 60 prospective faculty and staff lecturers were nominated to speak. A nine-member committee of five students and four faculty-staff members selected 10 speakers for TEDxUM 2015. Watch their presentations here:

Randy Wadkins
, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, discusses nanotechnology

Matthew Wilson, assistant professor of theatre arts, lectures on humor

Gregory Heyworth, associate professor of English, lectures on digital humanities

Laura Johnson, associate professor of psychology, lectures on cross-cultural engagement

David Rock, dean of the UM School of Education, discusses classroom technology

Marc Slattery, professor of pharmacognosy, talks about drug research from the ocean

Mitchell Robinson, of Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, discusses diversity and environmental activism

Cathy Janasie, research counsel for the National Sea Grant Law Center, lectures on water scarcity

Michèle Alexandre, professor of law and Leonard B. Melvin Lecturer in Law, talks about “The B Word”

Chris McCurdy, professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacology, lectures on natural products used to diagnose neural damage

VIDEO: University Commemorates 50 Years of Integration with Concert

Posted on: December 8th, 2015 by erabadie

It’s as much fun listening to George Dor talk about the upcoming 2012 Black History Month concert as it is hearing him perform, and that’s saying a lot.

On Feb. 23, audiences will have a chance to do both when Dor, associate professor of music at the University of Mississippi, joins several UM student ensembles to present a musical commemoration called “Celebrating 50 Years of Integration.”

The free public event is set for 7:30 p.m. in Nutt Auditorium. The program features performances by the African Drum and Dance Ensemble directed by Dor, the UM Steel Band directed Ricky Burkhead, associate professor of music, and the UM Jazz Ensemble directed by Michael Worthy, associate professor of music. The evening also features special performances by music graduate students Caline Waugh (soprano) of Jamaica and Fred Dunlap (percussionist) of North Carolina. Oxford resident Guelel Kumba, on vocals and guitar, rounds out the performers.

Dor, a native of Ghana, said he wanted to do something “truly special to mark the university’s 50th year of integration.”

“This is more than a celebration of black history; it’s a celebration of history, period,” he said. “When the University of Mississippi opened its doors (to minorities) in 1962, it offered hope for the entire state. I simply want to celebrate that hope and this university’s growth with song and music.”

And because Dor had a song in his heart, he decided to write an original composition about James Meredith, the man who opened doors at UM.

“Imaginative Reflections and Celebration” touts Meredith’s sacrifice and bravery, Dor said.

“Mr. Meredith was instrumental in making Ole Miss what it is today, an outstanding university opened to anyone who wants the best in higher education,” he said. “My composition is an acknowledgment of his sacrifice and is a small way to thank him for his dedication.”

Dunlap said he is proud to have been recruited to spotlight an African-American artist for this year’s Black History Month celebration.

“I was floored when Dr. Dor called and said he wanted to highlight a work by James H. Latimer and that he wanted me to perform,” said Dunlap, a native of Sanford, N.C. “Latimer’s ‘Variations on the Westminster Clock Theme’ is an outstanding composition. Its music and melody can truly be heard on pitch drums.”

Jeff Jackson, 2012 UM Humanities Teacher of the Year

Posted on: December 8th, 2015 by erabadie

Sociology professor to lecture on Mississippi poverty

Jeff Jackson. UM photo by Kevin Bain

Jeff Jackson. UM photo by Kevin Bain

An interest in the globalization of the developing world has earned a University of Mississippi professor a statewide honor.

Jeff Jackson, associate professor of sociology, has been named the 2012 Humanities Teacher of the Year at the University of Mississippi, and will give a lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday Nov. 8 in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory. The event is free and open to the public.

His lecture, “Mississippi and the Global South: The Contemporary Paradox of Poverty Amid Plenty,” is an exploration of how inequality in Mississippi compares to other parts of the world and how the theoretical concept of the global South can help people overcome scholarly divides in the effort to understand the world-wide disparities that connect all of us.

The event is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

“The Humanities Teacher of the Year award recognizes Dr. Jackson’s outstanding work and his significant contributions to teaching,” said Glenn Hopkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Each year, 30 awards are given, along with a check for $500, to a scholar in the humanities at every institution of higher learning in the state.

“The MHC believes that this is an important way to support humanities teachers, encouraging excellence in teaching while at the same time recognizing their research and other interests and bringing these myriad, often fascinating topics to public audiences; in other words, we want to promote interaction among professional humanists and a wide audience of Mississippians who can enjoy the fruits of their scholarship,” said Barbara Carpenter, executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council in Jackson.

Lecture posterJackson grew up in Wisconsin but considers Mississippi his home. He earned a bachelor’s degree  in sociology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

While living in Cuernavaca, Mexico for a year, he worked as an intern for the Center for Global Education at Augsburg College and developed a greater interest in teaching and in conducting research on the relationship between the United States and the developing world. He was a Mellon Fellow in Latin American Sociology and spent a year conducting fieldwork on the international development profession in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Jackson moved to Oxford in 1999 and teaches courses at UM on race and ethnicity, globalization and international development.

In 2007, he published “The Globalizers: Development Workers in Action” (Johns Hopkins Studies in Globalization), which examines how development assistance promotes globalization in the developing world.

His research projects include a study of new donors of development aid such as China and Brazil, a study of the history of mascots at UM and a project on the concept of “the global South” as it relates to Mississippi, which is the topic for his lecture on Thursday and is based on collaborative work with the UM Interdisciplinary Faculty Working Group on the Global South. The group was formed in 2005 and is made up of faculty in English, Southern studies, history and sociology.

“The university has been very supportive of our Global South Working Group,” Jackson said. “I’m really looking forward to sharing some of our work with the larger university community.”

Jackson said he was very surprised and honored to have been chosen for the award.

“I was completely shocked; it’s really such a tremendous honor,” he said.  “The Mississippi Humanities Council does such important work to promote the humanities and the humanistic social sciences throughout the state and to be recognized for this award is very humbling. I just want to thank all of my UM students and colleagues with whom I’ve collaborated over the years. I owe them a lot for providing such a supportive environment in which to teach and conduct research.”

Sociology Professors Launch Racial Climate Study

Posted on: December 8th, 2015 by erabadie


A monument honoring James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi. | Photo by UM Communications.

A monument honoring James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi. | Photo by UM Communications.

Three University of Mississippi sociology professors are launching a comprehensive study to understand racial and ethnic issues on campus and are seeking student participants to chronicle their experiences in online diaries.

Professors Kirk A. Johnson, Willa M. Johnson, and James Thomas are seeking volunteers to confidentially journal their experiences with race issues at UM. The identities of the students will be known only to the investigators. For now, the study is expected to last at least until the end of the school year, but the hope is to continue it through coming academic years.

“We’re casting a broad net, so all students are eligible to participate,” Kirk Johnson said. “We want to hear from undergraduate or graduate students, those taking classes on the main campus or satellite campuses and those from all races and ethnic groups as long as they have some sort of racial and ethnic experience to share.”

Kirk Johnson

Kirk Johnson

The professors will collect diary entries and then analyze them to see what sort of factors lead to everyday incidents of racial and ethnic tensions or conversely, racial and ethnic cooperation. The professors are still making arrangements for other universities to join the project, so for the time being, UM is the only school being studied.

Students who wish to enroll in the study can click this link. The link takes students to an online consent form, after which they’ll be directed to the diary website. There’s also a brief tutorial that explains how to write a diary entry.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Deadly riots ensued when James Meredith became the first black person to enroll at the university in 1962. Over the years, other racial incidents have been reported at the university. In response to those incidents, Chancellor Dan Jones recently issued a comprehensive report with recommendations for making the university a more welcoming environment for all. Part of that recommendation is that the university deal head-on with issues of race.

Willa M. Johnson said the university is in a unique position to study the issue.

“We think that the University of Mississippi is well situated to discuss these things,” she said. “We think our history gives us an opportunity. Rather than just look at this as the grave problem that it truly is, we look at it from the perspective of the opportunity that it affords the University of Mississippi to both understand race and also to put scholarship out that explains prejudice, both where it comes from, how it’s expressed in all its iterations.”

Willa Johnson

Willa Johnson

Since the nation elected its first black president in 2008, many wonder if the country is “post-racial,” Willa Johnson said. She doesn’t believe that’s the case, but thinks the study can be a valuable look into how racial and ethnic dynamics work.

“We’re not post-racial, but where are we?” she added. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

Professors who would like their students to participate in the diary project for extra credit should contact Kirk Johnson at