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University Launches Faculty Laureates Program

By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

Ole Miss students from art professor Philip Jackson’s class paint landscapes at Greenfield Farm, author William Faulkner’s mule farm and the site of a writers retreat under development by the University of Mississippi and its Mississippi Lab. The Mississippi Lab is also developing a Faculty Laureates program to encourage creativity among faculty of all disciplines on campus. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The University of Mississippi is launching a new program to promote creativity among its faculty.

Faculty Laureates showcases excellence in academic inquiry, creative endeavor and communication. Developed and managed by the Mississippi Lab, the program includes stipends for travel and project development, and reduced course loads for the laureates’ terms.

John T. Edge, Mississippi Lab director, consulted with Ole Miss faculty members and Provost Noel Wilkin, and he researched programs at other universities, including Penn State and Ohio State, while developing the program.

“We define creativity in an expansive way, by recognizing that all faculty, no matter their discipline, are creative,” Edge said. “This complements another Mississippi Lab project, Staff Creative Residencies, which serves the University of Mississippi mission by investing in the inventive work of staff members.”

The Faculty Laureates program is underwritten by the Dr. Daniel W. Jones Endowment for Faculty Support. Jones was the university’s 16th chancellor, serving from 2009 to 2015.

“The laureates program creates a mechanism and framework through which faculty can help the campus, the state and the region understand the importance of faculty work and the importance of higher education in the landscape of today’s society,” Wilkin said. “By being representatives of their fields to the state, region and nation, and through the projects that they plan to implement during their time as one of our laureates, faculty will help to shape society’s understanding of educators and our university.

“It will enable faculty to think about how creativity underpins their work and how their own creativity will empower the way they elevate the state’s understanding of their field.”

A selection committee will choose two to three laureates every two years. After six months, laureates will propose full projects and apply for additional funding.

Requirements for eligibility include:

  • At least five years of experience at UM
  • All academic disciplines are eligible
  • Rank of lecturer, instructional associate professor, associate professor or higher

Applications will be accepted through Jan. 30, 2024. The committee will choose five finalists by Feb. 15, and the inaugural laureates will be announced April 1. Their terms begin Aug. 15, 2024.

“The laureates program will facilitate introducing Mississippi and the country to all the great things Ole Miss faculty are seeking to accomplish,” said Thomas Andre, assistant professor of exercise science and one of seven jurors who will review applications.

“This program will nurture and empower our creative faculty across a multitude of areas to kindle a spark that encourages and enables groundbreaking work. I felt called to serve as a juror because of the program’s potential to facilitate this.”

The program provides more latitude to faculty, said Cecille Labuda, associate professor of physics and astronomy and a fellow juror.

“While sabbatical provides a release from some parts of our jobs to allow us to focus on research and creative achievement, it generally limits faculty to working in their disciplines,” she said. “I believe the freedom it will provide will lead to greater refreshing and refocusing of faculty after completing the program.”

Applicants must have a letter of support from their department chair. They also will submit a 1,000-word essay detailing why they want to serve as a laureate, what programs and projects they will research and plan, and how the projects will benefit the state and region.

To apply, faculty members should send an email to hr@olemiss.edu and fill out the form posted here.

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