Monday, January 18, 2021

Ole Miss Athletics Launches Social Responsibility & Engagement Department

As part of its ongoing mission to advance the social impact and personal growth of its student-athletes and staff, Ole Miss Athletics has launched the department of Social Responsibility & Engagement.

Leading the new unit is Dr. Jennifer Saxon, who has been promoted to Senior Associate A.D. for Social Responsibility & Engagement. Saxon is in her seventh year as part of Ole Miss’ senior athletics leadership team and has led the Student-Athlete Enhancement office.

“We are excited to invest in this important area and provide our student-athletes and staff the resources necessary to reach their fullest potential through social impact,” said Keith Carter, Ole Miss Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics. “Jennifer has provided tremendous leadership on this subject during her time on campus, and I look forward to seeing her excel in this new role. With her vision and dedication, Ole Miss can be at the forefront of these discussions in college athletics.

Dr. Jennifer Saxon speaks at an event. Photo provided by Ole Miss Sports.

“Over the past year, we’ve expressed how it’s not enough to just talk about social issues; there must be action. This is another meaningful step in addressing change in our community.”

The department of Social Responsibility & Engagement strives to enhance the experience of student-athletes, staff and coaches by cultivating an environment that aligns with the core values of Ole Miss Athletics.

Key areas that the division will identify, organize and amplify will be: 1) Student-Athlete Enhancement, including career development and personal advancement; and 2) UMity, including community engagement and diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I would first like to extend my gratitude to Keith and our campus leadership for their commitment to the continued growth of our student-athletes and staff,” Saxon said. “College athletics is ever-changing, and I believe the progression of our program is a testament to our dedication in supporting the holistic development of our student-athletes and staff. The Social Responsibility & Engagement unit will allow us to build upon the great work that has been established and will provide the tools to ensure we are leading the way in positively impacting our global society.”

Joining Saxon on the Social Responsibility & Engagement staff are Ravin Gilbert, counselor, and Veronne Clark, assistant.

A native of Orangeburg, South Carolina, Saxon came to Oxford in 2014 after a five-year stint at South Carolina State where she served as Senior Women’s Administrator and Assistant A.D. for Athletics Academic Enhancement. She boasts a bachelor’s degree in physical education/health education services and a master’s in counselor education/secondary education from South Carolina State and a doctorate in higher education personnel with a focus on minority student access to high-impact practices from Ole Miss, in which she won 2019 Dissertation of the Year by the National Society for Experiential Education. 

While at Ole Miss, Saxon spearheaded the establishment of the Ole Miss Training Program, which provides student-athletes with an opportunity to gain valuable professional experience while maintaining their respective athletics schedules She has also emphasized a focus on the postgraduate placement of Rebel student-athletes, who achieved 100 percent job placement in 2018-19 and 96 percent in 2019-20. 

Saxon has also been instrumental in enhancing key relationships on campus, including the Division of Diversity & Community Engagement, UM Career Center and Fraternity & Sorority Life.

Additionally, Saxon serves as the Ole Miss Athletics Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) advisor, while heading life skills programming for nearly 400 student-athletes. The department continues to host a variety of programming that includes Jerseys to Suits Networking Night, Reading with the Rebels, The Marks Project, Where Do I Go from Here (Life After Sports), Majors Symposium, Resume Workshops, Shark Tank Speed Interviewing Night, Professional Branding and Financial Literacy workshops.

Saxon is a 2013 graduate of the Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute, 2018 Women Leaders in Colleges and Sports Institute for Administrative Advancement Participant and delegate at the 2014 NCAA Convention. She holds memberships in the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) and Women Leaders in Colleges and Sports.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports