The Mississippi Legislature chartered the University of Mississippi on February 24, 1844. The university opened its doors to its first class of 80 students four years later in 1848. For 23 years, the university was Mississippi's only public institution of higher learning, and for 110 years it was the state's only comprehensive university.
When the university opened, the campus consisted of six buildings: two dormitories, two faculty houses, a steward's hall, and the Lyceum at the center. Constructed from 1846 to 1848, the Lyceum is the oldest building on campus. Originally, the Lyceum housed all of the classrooms and faculty offices of the university. The building's north and south wings were added in 1903, and the Class of 1927 donated the clock above the eastern portico. The Lyceum is now the home of the university's administration offices. The columned facade of the Lyceum is represented on the official crest of the university, along with the date of establishment.
In 1854, the university established the fourth state-supported, public law school in the United States, and also began offering engineering education.
With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, classes were interrupted when almost the entire student body (135 out of 139 students) from the University of Mississippi enlisted in the Confederate army.
The Lyceum was used as a hospital during the Civil War for both Union and Confederate soldiers, especially those who were wounded at the battle of Shiloh. Two hundred-fifty soldiers who died in the campus hospital were buried in a cemetery on the grounds of the university.
During the post-war period, the university was led by former Confederate general A.P. Stewart, a Rogersville, Tennessee native. He served as Chancellor from 1874-1886.
The university became coeducational in 1882 and was the first such institution in the Southeast to hire a female faculty member, Sarah McGehee Isom, doing so in 1885.
The student yearbook was published for the first time in 1897. A contest was held to solicit suggestions for a yearbook title from the student body. Elma Meek, a student, submitted the winning entry of "Ole Miss." Meek's source for the term is unknown; some historians theorize she made a diminutive of "old Mississippi" or derived the term from "ol' missus," an African-American term for a plantation's "old mistress." This sobriquet was not only chosen for the yearbook, but also became the name by which the university was informally known. "Ole Miss" is defined as the school's intangible spirit, which is separate from the tangible aspects of the university.
The university began medical education in 1903, when the University of Mississippi School of Medicine was established on the Oxford campus. In that era, the university provided two-year pre-clinical education certificates, and graduates went out of state to complete doctor of medicine degrees. In 1950, the Mississippi Legislature voted to create a four-year medical school. On July 1, 1955, the University Medical Center opened in the capital of Jackson, Mississippi, as a four-year medical school. The University of Mississippi Medical Center, as it is now called, is the health sciences campus of the University of Mississippi. It houses the University of Mississippi School of Medicine along with five other health science schools: nursing, dentistry, health-related professions, graduate studies and pharmacy (The School of Pharmacy is headquartered on the Oxford campus).
Several attempts were made via the executive and legislative branches of the Mississippi state government to relocate or otherwise close the University of Mississippi. The Mississippi Legislature between 1900 and 1930 introduced several bills aiming to accomplish this, but no such legislation was ever passed by either house. One such bill was introduced in 1912 by Senator William Ellis of Carthage, Mississippi, which would have merged the college with then-Mississippi A&M. However, this measure was soundly defeated, despite the bill only seeking to form an exploratory committee. In February 1920, 56 members of the legislature arrived on campus and discussed with students and faculty the idea of consolidating MS A&M, MS College of Women and Ole Miss to be located in Jackson, rather than appropriate $750,000.00 of funds requested by then-Chancellor Joseph Powers which were needed to repair dilapidated and structurally unsound buildings on the campus, which was discovered following the partial collapse of a dormitory in 1917 and a scathing review of other buildings later that same year by the state architect. These funds, plus an additional $300,000.00 were appropriated to the school, which was used to build 4 male dormitories, a female dormitory and a pharmacy building, which partially resolved a longstanding issue of inadequate dormitory space for students. During the 1930s, Mississippi Governor Theodore G. Bilbo, a populist, tried to move the university to Jackson. Chancellor Alfred Hume gave the state legislators a grand tour of Ole Miss and the surrounding historic city of Oxford, persuading them to keep it in its original setting.
During World War II, UM was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which offered students a path to a Navy commission.
Desegregation came to Ole Miss in the early 1960s with the activities of United States Air Force veteran James Meredith from Kosciusko, Mississippi. Even Meredith's initial efforts required great courage. All involved knew how violently Dr. William David McCain and the white political establishment of Mississippi had recently reacted to similar efforts by Clyde Kennard to enroll at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi).
Meredith won a lawsuit that allowed him admission to The University of Mississippi in September 1962. He attempted to enter campus on September 20, September 25, and again on September 26, only to be blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross R. Barnett, who proclaimed that "...No school in our state will be integrated while I am your Governor. I shall do everything in my power to prevent integration in our schools."
After the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held both Barnett and Lieutenant Governor Paul B. Johnson, Jr. in contempt with fines of more than $10,000 for each day they refused to allow Meredith to enroll, Meredith, escorted by a force of U.S. Marshals, entered the campus on September 30, 1962.
Two people were killed by gunfire during the riot, a French journalist, Paul Guihard and an Oxford repairman, Ray Gunter. One-third of the US Marshals, 166 men, were injured, as were 40 soldiers and National Guardsmen.
After control was re-established by federal forces, Meredith, thanks to the protection afforded by federal marshals, was able to enroll and attend his first class on October 1. Following the riot, elements of an Army National Guard division were stationed in Oxford to prevent future similar violence. While most Ole Miss students did not riot prior to his official enrollment in the university, many harassed Meredith during his first two semesters on campus.
According to first person accounts, students living in Meredith's dorm bounced basketballs on the floor just above his room through all hours of the night. When Meredith walked into the cafeteria for meals, the students eating would all turn their backs. If Meredith sat at a table with other students, all of whom were white, the students would immediately get up and go to another table. Many of these events are featured in the 2012 ESPN documentary film "Ghosts of Ole Miss".
In 2002 the university marked the 40th anniversary of integration with a yearlong series of events titled "Open Doors: Building on 40 Years of Opportunity in Higher Education." These included an oral history of Ole Miss, various symposiums, the April unveiling of a $130,000 memorial, and a reunion of federal marshals who had served at the campus. In September 2003, the university completed the year's events with an international conference on race. By that year, 13% of the student body identified as African American. Meredith's son Joseph graduated as the top doctoral student at the School of Business Administration.
Six years later, in 2008, the site of the riots, known as Lyceum-The Circle Historic District, was designated as a National Historic Landmark. The district includes:The Lyceum
The Circle, including its flagpole and Confederate Monument.
Croft Institute for International Studies, also known as the "Y" Building
Brevard Hall, also known as the "Old Chemistry" Building
Additionally, on April 14, 2010, the university campus was declared a National Historic Site by the Society of Professional Journalists to honor reporters who covered the 1962 riot, including the late French reporter Paul Guihard, a victim of the riot.
From September 2012 to May 2013, the university marked its 50th anniversary of integration with a program called Opening the Closed Society, referring to Mississippi: The Closed Society, a 1964 book by James W. Silver, a history professor at the university. The events included lectures by figures such as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the singer and activist Harry Belafonte, movie screenings, panel discussions, and a "walk of reconciliation and redemption." Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of Medgar Evers, slain civil rights leader and late president of the state NAACP, closed the observance on May 11, 2013, by delivering the address at the university's 160th commencement.
The university was chosen to host the first presidential debate of 2008, between Senator John S. McCain and then-Senator Barack Obama which was held September 26, 2008. This was the first presidential debate to be held in Mississippi.
The university adopted a new on-field mascot for athletic events in the fall of 2010. Colonel Reb, retired from the sidelines of sporting events in 2003, was officially replaced by "Rebel", who is a black bear. All university sports teams are still officially referred to as the Rebels.
The university's 25th Rhodes Scholar was named in 2008, and, over the past 10 years, the university has produced seven Truman, 10 Goldwater and 10 Fulbright scholars, as well as one Marshall, two Udalls and one Gates Cambridge scholar.
The student-faculty ratio at University of Mississippi is 19:1, and the school has 47.4 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at University of Mississippi include: Elementary Education and Teaching; Marketing/Marketing Management, General; Accountancy, Finance, General; Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration, Other; Biology, Psychology and Criminal Justice; and Business Administration and Management, General. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student success and satisfaction, is 86.5 percent.
The degree-granting divisions located at the main campus in Oxford:School of Accountancy
School of Applied Sciences
School of Business Administration
School of Education
School of Engineering
College of Liberal Arts
School of Law
School of Pharmacy
School of Journalism and New Media
General Studies Program
The schools at the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus in Jackson:School of Dentistry
School of Health Related Professions
School of Nursing (with a satellite unit at the main campus)
School of Medicine
School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences
University of Mississippi Medical Center surgeons, led by Dr. James Hardy, performed the world's first human lung transplant, in 1963, and the world's first animal-to-human heart transplant, in 1964. The heart of a chimpanzee was used for the heart transplant because of Dr. Hardy's research on transplantation, consisting of primate studies during the previous nine years.
The University of Mississippi Field Station located in Abbeville is a natural laboratory used to study, research and teach about sustainable freshwater ecosystems.
Since 1968, the school operates the only legal marijuana farm and production facility in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) contracts to the university the production of cannabis for the use in approved research studies on the plant as well as for distribution to the seven surviving medical cannabis patients grandfathered into the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program (established in 1978 and canceled in 1991).
The university houses one of the largest blues music archives in the United States. Some of the contributions to the collection were donated by BB King who donated his entire personal record collection. The Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Collection, highlighted by a wealth of theater and film scripts, photographs and memorabilia, was dedicated in September 2005. The archive includes the first ever commercial blues recording, a song called "Crazy Blues" recorded by Mamie Smith in 1920.
The Center for Intelligence and Security Studies (CISS) delivers academic programming to prepare outstanding students for careers in intelligence analysis in both the public and private sectors. In addition, CISS personnel engage in applied research and consortium building with government, private and academic partners. In late 2012, the United States Director of National Intelligence designated CISS as an Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence ("CAE"). CISS is one of only 29 college programs in the United States with this distinction.
The university offers the Chinese Language Flagship Program (simplified Chinese: 中文旗舰项目; traditional Chinese: 中文旗艦項目; pinyin: Zhōngwén Qíjiàn Xiàngmù), a study program aiming to provide Americans with an advanced knowledge of Chinese.
The Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi is a privately funded, select-admissions, undergraduate program for high achieving students who pursue the B.A. degree in international studies. Croft students combine a regional concentration in Europe, East Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East with a thematic concentration in global economics and business, international governance and politics, or social and cultural identity. The program emphasizes intensive foreign language training, qualitative and quantitative skills, mandatory study abroad for a semester or more, and a yearlong senior thesis.
The University of Mississippi has several student organizations to help students get to know one another and adapt to life at the university. One organization is the "ISO," which organizes activities and events for international students. Notable events of the "ISO" includes a cultural night, date auction and ISO international sports tournament.
The University of Mississippi is a member of the SEC Academic Consortium. Now renamed the SECU, the initiative was a collaborative endeavor designed to promote research, scholarship and achievement among the member universities in the Southeastern Conference. The SECU formed to serve as a means to bolster collaborative academic endeavors of Southeastern Conference universities. Its goals include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty, students and its universities and advancing the academic reputation of SEC universities.
In 2013, the University of Mississippi participated in the SEC Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia which was organized and led by the University of Georgia and the UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. The topic of the symposium was titled "Impact of the Southeast in the World's Renewable Energy Future."
The University of Mississippi was No. 18 on the 2012 Forbes Best Value Colleges list, part of the annual America's Top Colleges section. It was the only SEC school to make the Top 20 list. In 2009-2012, the Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Mississippi as one of the "Great Colleges to Work For", putting the institution in elite company. The 2012 results, released in The Chronicle's fifth annual report on The Academic Workplace, are based on a survey of more than 46,000 employees at 294 colleges and universities. The University of Mississippi was included in "Fiske Guide to Colleges 2012" featuring more than 300 of the best and most interesting colleges and universities in three nations. UM is the only Mississippi institution included in the publication. In 2012, the Ole Miss campus was ranked safest in the SEC and in the top 10 nationally by CollegeSafe.com. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Professional MBA program at the UM School of Business Administration as one of the top 14 in the nation. The university's Patterson School of Accountancy is ranked No. 4 in the nation – atop all other SEC programs – for undergraduate education in the August 2013 issue of the Public Accounting Report. Also, the school's master's and doctoral programs are ranked at Nos. 5 and 8, respectively, in their categories.
The Army ROTC program received one of eight prestigious MacArthur Awards in February 2012. Presented by the U.S. Army Cadet Command and the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation, the award recognizes the ideals of "duty, honor and country" as advocated by MacArthur. For its life-changing work in 12 Delta communities, the UM School of Pharmacy won the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy's 2011-12 Lawrence C. Weaver Transformative Community Service Award. AACP presents the award annually to one pharmacy school that not only demonstrates a major commitment to addressing unmet community needs through education, practice and research but also serves as an example of social responsiveness for others. Ole Miss continues to be the premiere destination for college tailgating as the Grove claimed second place in Southern Living's "South's Best Tailgate" contest in 2012. The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi was honored by the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies with its 2012 International Award. The accolade from the nonprofit organization devoted to promoting civil and human rights around the world was presented in New Orleans.
The North Mississippi Japanese Supplementary School at The University of Mississippi (NMJSS; ノースミシシッピ日本語補習校 Nōsu Mishishippi Nihongo Hoshūkō), a Japanese weekend school, is operated in conjunction with the university. Its classes are held at Bishop Hall. The Japanese school opened in April 2008, and it was previously scheduled to be held at Della Davidson School.
Archie Manning's uniform number, 18, is the official speed limit of the Oxford campus. In March 2012, Ross Bjork was named the university's new athletics director.The Daily Mississippian (DM) is the student-published newspaper of the university, established in 1911. Although it is located on the Ole Miss campus, it is operated largely as an independent newspaper run by students. The DM is the only college newspaper in the state that is published five times a week. The staff consists of approximately 15 editors, plus about 25 writers and photographers, and a five-person student sales staff. Daily circulation is 12,000. The award-winning publication celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011-12.
TheDMonline.com is the online version of The Daily Mississippian and also includes original content that supplements the print publication - photo galleries, videos, breaking news and student blogs. Page views average up to 360,000 a month.
The Ole Miss student yearbook is a 368-page full-color book produced by students. It has won many awards, including a Gold Crown.
WUMS-FM 92.1 Rebel Radio, is a FCC commercially licensed radio station. It is one of only a few student-run, commercially licensed radio stations in the nation, with a signal stretching about 60 miles across North Mississippi. Its format features Top 40, alternative and college rock, news and talk shows.
NewsWatch is a student-produced, live newscast, and the only local newscast in Lafayette County. Broadcast through the Metrocast cable company, it is live at 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and livestreamed on newswatcholemiss.com
These publications and broadcasts are part of the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center at Ole Miss.
Approximately 5,300 students live on campus in 11 residence halls, two residential colleges and three apartment complexes. All freshmen (students with less than 30 credit hours) are required to live in campus housing their first year unless they meet certain commuter guidelines. The Department of Student Housing is an auxiliary, meaning that it is self-supporting and does not receive appropriations from state funds. All rent received from students pays for housing functions such as utilities, staff salaries, furniture, supplies, repairs, renovations and new buildings. Most of the residence staff members are students, including day-to-day management, conduct board members and maintenance personnel. Upon acceptance to the University of Mississippi, a housing application is submitted with an application fee. The cost of on-campus housing ranges from approximately $4,000 to more than $8,000 (the highest price being that of the newly renovated Village apartments) per academic or calendar year, depending on the occupancy and room type. Students (with more than 30 credit hours) have the option to live off campus in unaffiliated housing.
Graduate students, undergraduate students aged 25 or older, students who are married, and students with families may live in the Village Apartments. The complex consists of six two story buildings, and is adjacent to the University of Mississippi Law School. Undergraduates over 25, married students, and graduate students may live in the one bedroom apartments. Graduate students and students over 25 may live in studio style apartments. Students with children may live in the two bedroom apartments. Children living in the Village Apartments are zoned to the Oxford School District. Residents are zoned to Bramlett Elementary School (PreK-1), Oxford Elementary School (2-3), Della Davidson Elementary School (4-5), Oxford Middle School (6-8), and Oxford High School (9-12).
Despite the relatively small number of Greek-letter organizations on campus, a third of all undergraduates participate in Greek life at Ole Miss. The tradition of Greek life on the Oxford campus is a deep-seated one. In fact, the first fraternity founded in the South was the Rainbow Fraternity, founded at Ole Miss in 1848. The fraternity merged with Delta Tau Delta in 1886. Delta Kappa Epsilon followed shortly after at Ole Miss in 1850, as the first to have a house on campus in Mississippi. Delta Gamma Women's Fraternity was founded in 1873 at the Lewis School for Girls in nearby Oxford. All Greek life at Ole Miss was suspended from 1912 to 1926 due to statewide anti-fraternity legislation.
Today, sorority chapters are very large, with some boasting over 400 active members. Recruitment is fiercely competitive and potential sorority members are encouraged to secure personal recommendations from Ole Miss sorority alumnae to increase the chances of receiving an invitation to join one of the eleven NPC sororities on campus. Fraternity recruitment is also fierce with only 14 active IFC chapters on campus.
The Associated Student Body (ASB) is the Ole Miss student government organization. The student body, excluding the Medical Center, includes 16,060 undergraduates, 1,992 graduate students, 520 law students and 223 students in the Doctor of Pharmacy program. African-Americans comprise 16.5 percent of the student body. The current Associated Student Body president is Austin Powell.Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner, who also served as the university's postmaster from 1921 to 1924. In 1929, Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in the university's power plant, where he worked as a fireman and night watchman.
Best-selling legal thriller writer John Grisham received his Juris Doctor degree at Ole Miss Law.
United States Senators Trent Lott, Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran earned their undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Mississippi, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen earned a master's degree.
NFL quarterback Archie Manning attended Ole Miss and played football for the Rebels.
Manning's youngest son, NFL quarterback Eli Manning, also played at Ole Miss.
Mahesh Bhupathi, tennis player and winner of 12 Grand Slam titles
The university has produced three Miss Americas: Susan Akin, Mary Ann Mobley and Lynda Lee Mead.
Charlie's Angel Kate Jackson and longtime "As the World Turns" star Anthony Herrera attended the university.