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What Should the Next Chancellor Be Like? More Alumni Share Their Opinions with HottyToddy.com

A student checks her phone while walking past the Lyceum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications
A student checks her phone while walking past the Lyceum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

**Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles concerning University of Mississippi stakeholders and their opinions on which qualities the college board should prioritize in the search for the next chancellor. Join the discussion, send your thoughts to beth.harmon@hottytoddy.com.

Alumni, faculty, students and stakeholders are speaking out about the qualities they believe the next leader of the University of Mississippi should possess.

In a recent survey conducted by HottyToddy.com, stakeholders agree that the selection of the new chancellor is a critical decision, and many feel that the next chancellor should first and foremost hold a degree from the university that he or she will serve.

“I feel strongly that the next Ole Miss Chancellor should have an undergraduate degree from our school,” said alumnus and Oxford businessman Steve Vassallo. “An individual who grew up in our culture best understands the traditions, values, athletic emphasis and academic potential that the University has.”

Vassallo went on to add that he believes the next leader should be a visionary who has a proven track record of excellence in his or her professional field. “Other qualifications would include someone who has been directly involved in capital campaigns and has the personality to relate to the alumni, students and the media and appreciates all viewpoints in any issue,” he said.

Alumnus and former U.S. Senator Trent Lott shared a similar opinion. “Preferably [the new chancellor] will be an Ole Miss graduate with academic and leadership qualifications.That person should be young enough to go, and old enough to know. We need a choice that brings us together.”

Scott Coopwood, alumnus, noted publisher and Ole Miss parent, suggested that the next chancellor be a skilled listener who will have a significant impact on the university’s future.

“This is a critical time for higher education which must respond to the dramatic changes being seen in all sectors of business and industry and society in general,” Coopwood said. “Ole Miss needs a visionary leader, preferably someone from Mississippi who understands our culture, who is skilled at listening to diverse groups, and who can bring about consensus and actions that can prepare our graduates for tomorrow.”

Several alumni suggested that the future leader should have a sense of boldness, but should still be humble enough to listen to the advice of others.

“The new leader must surround himself with a cadre of successful individuals –not puppets –who could assume the leadership role if necessary,” said Joe McCaskill, former Associate Dean of the School of Pharmacy. “The primary function of a university is to provide instruction, research and service to those citizens who come onto its campus, or within its technical options, seeking. And those individuals who are selected to head any institution must soon realize they cannot do it alone.”

Alumnus David Carr agreed, adding that the new chancellor should also balance academics and competitive sports.

“I believe our chancellor should promote Ole Miss as a unique institution and not worry about being politically correct and pleasing every segment of society,” Carr said. “I believe it’s possible to combine high academics as well as competitive sports programs.”

Alumni, faculty, students and other stakeholders will have a final opportunity to voice their opinions on what the next chancellor should be like at the third series of Campus Listening Sessions on Thursday, August 27, at the University of Mississippi Campus in Oxford.

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All discussions at both events will center on the qualities and qualifications stakeholders believe the next institutional executive officer should possess.

The public is asked to participate in an online listening session survey that will provide the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning with feedback on what qualities the public values in potential chancellor candidates. The survey can be found here, and it will be active until Thursday, August 27.

For more information on the search, visit the IHL website here. To be included in the public discussion being hosted by HottyToddy.com, send your comments to beth.harmon@hottytoddy.com.

Beth Harmon is editor of HottyToddy.com. Email her at beth.harmon@hottytoddy.com

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