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Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks Welcomes Back Students, Staff in First Address

Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks addressed the University of Mississippi student body, faculty and staff this morning in an email to ring in the 2019 spring semester.

Larry Sparks has served as Interim Chancellor since Jan. 4, 2019. Photo by by Rod Guajardo.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning named University of Mississippi Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Larry D. Sparks as Interim Chancellor in late 2018. His interim tag was effective Jan. 4, 2019. He remains in the position until a permanent chancellor is named.

Sparks replaces former Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter who resigned Nov. 9. Vitter will continue as a tenured Distinguished Professor in the School of Engineering’s Department of Computer and Information Science.

Sparks said he wants to “facilitate a smooth transition period” in the letter below:


Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Welcome to the spring 2019 semester at the University of Mississippi. I am honored to serve our university community as interim chancellor. It is a great responsibility, and I will do my best to serve as an effective steward and facilitate a smooth transition period until we welcome our next chancellor.

As an Oxford native, Ole Miss alum, and UM administrator for more than two decades, the university has played a central role at all stages of my life. Serving as vice chancellor for administration and finance since 2006 has allowed me to know and work with many of the people across campus who make this university run smoothly, day in and day out.

I know we all have questions about how we will move forward as an institution until a new chancellor is selected. While I don’t have answers to all of those questions today, I can share a few priorities that will guide me and our leadership team in the coming months.

We will work together, as one university community, to continue to serve our students and our state.

Our decisions during this transition period will be based on advancing the interests of the university and its students, faculty, and staff. We are not in a holding pattern.

We will continue to rely on our experienced campus leaders, many of whom have previously been through leadership transitions. We will come out of this period in a position of strength and poised to help our new chancellor hit the ground running on Day One.

We will remain committed to our mission to provide access to a world-class education to qualified Mississippi students while, at the same time, continuing to attract a geographically diverse student body and build our national profile.

We have much to celebrate and build on, including nationally ranked academic programs, renewed R1 designation as one of the nation’s top research universities, and continued success in driving economic development and delivering impact for the people and the communities of Mississippi. We also have a pair of exciting basketball teams that are turning heads, and I hope you will head over to The Pavilion to support them.

I love this university and all that it offers. I’m excited about our future and can’t wait to see what great things are in store for this semester and the coming year.

Larry D. Sparks

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