With graduation only a few days away, the University of Mississippi’s senior class has a lot to look back on.
This is the class that has gone through the full lifecycle of undisputable turmoil that has been related to Chancellor Dan Jones’ career. Starting their freshman year, the university’s on-field mascot was changed to the Rebel Black Bear. “From Dixie with Love” stopped playing at football games, and they watched as streets “Confederate Drive” and “Coliseum Drive” were renamed in 2014. They saw the population of Oxford increase in unprecedented amounts due to record student enrollment under Jones. And in their last semester, they witnessed the non-renewal of Chancellor Jones’ contract and led an impressive rally in the Circle to convince the IHL Board to readmit him.
They saw a failing football program that was 2-10 in 2011 rise to success their senior year, the capstone being a win against powerhouse Alabama. In the fall of 2012, they witnessed the first African American Homecoming Queen at the University of Mississippi walk the field on the 50th Anniversary of James Meredith’s admission. They watched as three new Greek chapters were extended offers to colonize at Ole Miss—Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Phi, and Chi Psi, these three being the first to join the University’s Greek system in decades.
They saw a group of theatre students ridiculed by the audience as they performed “The Laramie Project.” Garrison Gibbons, who was a junior actor in the play at the time, is graduating this May.
“My four years at Ole Miss have been the most challenging years of my life,” he says. “I have faced turmoil and personal struggles. Ole Miss, through it all, provided me with not only a strong group of friends but also a family. This University helped me find my voice, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.” Gibbons will work as a featured dancer in Texas! Outdoor Musical this summer and will be moving to NYC next fall.
Senior Kaitlyn Coghlan shares Gibbon’s sentiments as she reflects back on her time at Ole Miss.
“Despite being sad to see this journey end, I am very excited about graduation and starting a new chapter in my life. I will greatly miss the family that Ole Miss has provided to me during my time here.”
Miller Hollingsworth is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at email@example.com.