Thursday, May 13, 2021

An Evening With Robert Khayat Is Informative, Inspiring

Chancellor Robert C. Khayat
Chancellor Robert C. Khayat
Scott Coopwood is an Ole Miss grad a a successful publisher. Scott is publisher of Delta Magazine, Delta Business Journal and a HottyToddy.com blogger. He recently attended an event where former Ole Miss Chancellor Robery Khyat spoke. His impression of the talk follow:
A couple of weeks ago, I attended Delta State University’s Colloquia Speaker Series at the university in Cleveland. Former Ole Miss Chancellor, Robert Khayat was the speaker. As we all know, he was the Chancellor at Ole Miss from 1995 to 2009 and while there he led the charge transforming Ole Miss from a sleepy small university in the hills to now one of the best universities in the SEC.
Khayat raised $1 billion while he was Chancellor and brought a lot to that university such as landing a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, updating and renovating the campus and buildings, bringing new schools and courses of study and increasing enrollment significantly.
However, before accomplishing all of these things, Khayat achieved many other goals earlier in his life.
Scott Coopwood
Scott Coopwood
Khayat played on the historic 1959 Ole Miss football team, played pro-football for the Washington Redskins, received a law degree from Ole Miss and a higher legal degree at Yale. He then taught at the Ole Miss law school for several years before becoming Chancellor.  No doubt, he has led a remarkable life and a few months ago he wrote about it in his memoir, “The Education of a Lifetime”. As of this writing, Khayat’s book was ranked No. 29 on the New York Times 75 Best Selling Education books of 2013.
As an Ole Miss graduate, I’m delighted he chose to lead Ole Miss, however Khayat could have easily been the CEO of any Fortune 500 company in America. He could have also been one of our governors or senators. But, perhaps the most impressive thing about Khayat is that for all of his success, he does not brag about it, actually doesn’t even want to talk about it. That is the sign of a true leader — someone who has achieved greatness and is humble about it. Or even better, someone who points any and all of their success to the hard work of others.
His talk at Delta State centered around leadership and the many valuable lessons he learned throughout his life. Khayat said one of the best lessons he learned was to delegate to others and in doing so give them the power of authority to carry out their mission and not get in their way. Only then can an organization grow he told the audience.
Khayat also said upon his arrival in the Chancellor’s office, his first priority was to identify the problems of the school. He put a committee together made up of the faculty and students and they returned with a list of things the university needed to work on.
Another point of emphasis in his talk, he said in order to move the school into modern times he knew it was going to be a great challenge and  he met significant resistance from a large portion of the alumni who did not agree with his vision, especially the part about doing away with some of the “negative symbols and images”  associated with the school … the Rebel flag in particular.
It was a great evening and I learned a lot listening to Khayat. While Ole Miss has been blessed with many leaders over the years, in my view, Khayat will go down in history as the one who really moved the needle.
Thank you, Mr. Chancellor for your vision, hard work, and determination. It worked and now many generations to come will benefit in a significant way from your effort.
If you have not read his book, I encourage you to do so because it is a must read.
Scott Coopwood, a seventh-generation Deltan, lives in Cleveland, Miss. issippi, with his wife Cindy and their three children. Scott is the publisher and owner of Delta Magazine, one of the South’s leading lifestyle publications, the Delta Business Journal, the first business publication in the Mississippi Delta; and Cleveland’s weekly newspaper, The Cleveland Current .  
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