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Ole Miss Chancellor Vitter to deliver keynote at fall convocation

By Edwin Smith

University of Mississippi

Jeffrey S. Vitter, the University of Mississippi’s 17th chancellor, will deliver the keynote address to the institution’s first-year and transfer students Tuesday during the annual Fall Convocation.

The event begins at 7 p.m. in The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Incoming freshmen and transfer students receive a free, limited edition commemorative coin as part of the program.

Others on the program with Vitter include Morris Stocks, provost and executive vice chancellor; Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs; Melinda Sutton, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students; and Austin Powell, Associated Student Body president.

“It is an honor to speak at freshman convocation,” Vitter said. “I’m especially excited to have an opportunity to engage with the Class of 2020 during my first fall at OleMiss and to challenge them to examine and commit to the principles of our Creed.

“Higher education has great power to transform lives, and by engaging with one another with civility and respect, we open our minds to new perspectives and possibilities.”

Stocks encouraged students to come be inspired by Vitter.

“Among the many fine chancellors this university has had, Jeffrey Vitter is on his way to becoming one of the absolute best,” Stocks said. “Those who hear him share his reflections during the Fall Convocation are sure to leave challenged and inspired.”

The coin distribution has become a much-anticipated part of the ceremony, Hephner LaBanc said.

“I have the privilege of presenting these coins each year, and it is one of the highlights of the year for me,” she said. “The coins signify the importance of their transition into the UM community, but is a physical reminder of their responsibility to work, every day, toward graduation day.”

Students also received a copy of Sherman Alexie’s best-selling collection, “Ten Little Indians” (Grove Press, 2004), which was selected earlier this year as the 2016 Common Reading Experience. They were instructed to read the volume before the start of classes.

“’Ten Little Indians’ is a collection of poignant and emotionally meaningful stories of Native Americans at cultural and personal crossroads,” said Leslie Banahan, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and co-chair of the Common Reading Experience Committee. “The book was selected for a number of reasons, including the belief that students would enjoy the variety of this collection of very readable short stories. The story themes vary but speak to both universal experiences as well as those that are specific to the Native American condition.”