Past, Present, and Future

Telling the Ole Miss story.

James Meredith's statue on campus during a sunny day.

Remembering our past, with an eye to the future

Ole Miss has a rich history. What began with a small founding class has become a modern, vibrant university. Throughout our history, Ole Miss has been bold in its academic mission. We have educated leaders in public service, business and academia. Our achievements in research and public health have improved lives in our state and made waves in the marketplace. We've celebrated exciting athletic victories over the years. And we've served as a cultural hub, attracting artists from around the world.

Our history is complex. Painful memories of segregation live within our campus and should not be forgotten. But we also have a history of growth. We honor our alumni, such as James Meredith, who helped break down those barriers. And we keep the lessons we learned in mind as we build toward the future. We're making the investments to ensure Ole Miss is an inclusive community for all.

Ole Miss is committed to maintaining a reputation of excellence. Our  academic divisions provide a first-class academic experience. As an R1 university, we will invest in groundbreaking research that opens up opportunities. And we'll continue to help boost the quality of life in our state and beyond.


Ole Miss Through the Years

For 175 years, Ole Miss has served as Mississippi’s flagship university, producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions.


Here is a glimpse into our history and legacy.

  • 1848: The university opens its doors to 80 students and for 23 years is Mississippi's only public institution of higher learning. 
  • 1848: George F. Holmes becomes the university’s 1st president.  
  • 1849: Augustus Baldwin Longstreet becomes the 2nd president. 
  • 1854: The university establishes the School of Law, which is the fourth state-supported law school in the United States.  
  • 1856: Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard becomes the 3rd president. The title is hereafter changed to chancellor. 
  • 1865: John Newton Waddell becomes the 4th chancellor.
  • 1874: Alexander P. Stewart becomes the 5th chancellor. 
  • 1882: The university becomes one of the first coeducational schools in the South. 
  • 1885: Sarah Isom, as chair of elocution, is the first female faculty member at a coeducational institution of higher learning in the Southeast.
  • 1886: Edward Mayes becomes the 6th chancellor. 
  • 1892: Robert Burwell Fulton becomes the 7th chancellor.
  • 1900: The School of Engineering, the first of its kind in Mississippi, is established. 
  • 1903: The School of Education and a two-year School of Medicine are established on the Oxford campus. 
  • 1906: Richard Capel Beckett, Jr., is the first UM student to become a Rhodes Scholar. A total of 27 UM students have received this prestigious, international scholarship.  
  • 1907: Andrew Armstrong Kincannon becomes the 8th chancellor.  
  • 1908: The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is founded. 
  • 1914: Joseph Neely Powers becomes the 9th chancellor.
  • 1916: The “College of Liberal Arts” becomes the administrative designation for the programs in science, literature and arts that have constituted the university’s original disciplines since 1848. 
  • 1917: The School of Business Administration is founded (as the “School of Commerce”).
  • 1924: Alfred Hume becomes the 10th chancellor. 
  • 1935: Alfred Benjamin Butts becomes the 11th chancellor.
  • 1946: John Davis Williams becomes the 12th chancellor.
  • 1948: The School of Nursing is founded.
  • 1955: The University of Mississippi Medical Center opens in Jackson, and the university’s prior two-year program is transformed to a full degree program. 
  • 1959: The University of Mississippi chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is established. 
  • 1962: The university admits its first African-American student, James Meredith, in October 1962, in circumstances of unrest and violence. Meredith’s bravery begins the breakdown of segregation barriers at the university. 
  • 1963: University of Mississippi Medical Center surgeons perform the world’s first human lung transplant.  
  • 1964: University of Mississippi Medical Center surgeons perform the world’s first heart transplant, from a chimpanzee to a human.  
  • 1965: The Center for Air and Space law is founded, making the University of Mississippi the U.S. platform for Air and Space Law and the only ABA accredited law school to offer an LL.M. in Air and Space Law. 
  • 1967: The School of Pharmacy’s Medicinal Plant Garden becomes home to an NIH-funded venture to grow standardized marijuana for researchers. The marijuana project exists through the present day.
  • 1968: Porter Lee Fortune, Jr. becomes the 13th chancellor. 
  • 1970: In pursuit of advocating the administration for twenty- seven demands related to the quality of life on campus for minorities, students from the Black Student Union staged a nonviolent protest by marching to Fulton Chapel.  
  • 1971: The School of Health Related Professions is established. 
  • 1974: The University of Mississippi becomes the proprietor of Rowan Oak, the historic home of Nobel Laureate William Faulkner. The home becomes part of the university’s Museums & Historic Houses. 
  • 1975: The UMMC School of Dentistry admits its first class. 
  • 1977: The Center for the Study of Southern Culture opens, dedicated to strengthening humanities teaching and scholarship through studies of the American South. 
  • 1979: To address a growing number of career options in accounting, the university elevates its accounting program to a distinct School of Accountancy, which becomes the first in the state to receive accreditation.
  • 1984: Gerald Turner becomes the 14th chancellor.
  • 1984: The McLean Institute for Community Development is founded to foster volunteerism, service-learning, community-based research, and community development and social entrepreneurship projects.    
  • 1986: The Jamie L. Whitten National Center for Physical Acoustics is launched, providing a home for world-class acousticians working on projects at the forefront of science and technology. 
  • 1989: Congress establishes the Institute of Child Nutrition, administered through the School of Applied Sciences, as the only federally funded national center dedicated to applied research, education and training, and technical assistance for child nutrition programs.  
  • 1995: Robert C. Khayat becomes the 15th chancellor.
  • 1995: The National Center for Natural Products Research, located within the Thad Cochran Research Center, becomes the only university-affiliated research center devoted to studying natural products to improve human health and agriculture. 
  • 1996: The University of Mississippi Medical Center opens Children’s of Mississippi Hospital (originally known as Batson), the only children’s hospital in the state. 
  • 1997: Academic excellence grows with the founding of both the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies.
  • 2000: The Trent Lott Leadership Institute is founded with a primary mission to prepare young people to assume positions of leadership.  
  • 2001: Phi Beta Kappa selects the university to shelter a chapter of the nation's oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honor society. UM is the first public institution of higher education in Mississippi chosen for this honor. 
  • 2001: The School of Applied Sciences is founded. 
  • 2001: The School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences is established at UMMC.  
  • 2003: The newly constructed Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts embarks on a mission to enrich the intellectual and cultural environment of the university and region.  
  • 2003: The Chinese Language Flagship Program is established by a grant from the National Security Education Program. It will later be joined by an Arabic Flagship Program in 2018. 
  • 2003: The UM Creed is established as part of the university’s dedication to nurturing excellence in intellectual inquiry and personal character in an open and diverse environment. 
  • 2006: The John D. Bower School of Population Health is established on the UMMC campus. 
  • 2008: Two unique and high-performing academic programs are launched: The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence and Center for Intelligence and Security Studies.  
  • 2008: The university hosts the first of three presidential debates by U.S. presidential candidates Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.  
  • 2009: The School of Journalism and New Media is created as an outgrowth of the former Department of Journalism. 
  • 2009: Daniel W. Jones becomes the 16th chancellor.  
  • 2011: The university establishes the Common Reading Experience.  
  • 2011: The Multi-Disciplinary Studies program is established. 
  • 2014: The Department of Biomolecular Sciences is founded, comprising a “super department” of Environmental Toxicology, Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacognosy and Pharmacology.  
  • 2016: Jeffrey S. Vitter becomes the 17th chancellor. 
  • 2016: The John D. Bower School of Population Health is established at UMMC.  
  • 2018: UM is included in the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity released by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the top doctoral research universities in the United States. 
  • 2019: Glenn F. Boyce becomes the 18th chancellor. 
  • 2020: The seven-story Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi opens at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which more than doubles the square footage of the state’s only children’s hospital.  
  • 2021:  Ole Miss Women’s Golf wins the 2021 NCAA national championship. 
  • 2021: The university launches the Pathways to Equity strategic plan to strengthen a diverse and equitable campus environment. 
  • 2021: The university breaks ground on the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology, a new facility that will be the largest building on campus and will boost STEM education and support growth in the state and region. 
  • 2021: The university launches the largest comprehensive campaign in the history of Mississippi universities, Now & Ever, to generate at least $1.5 billion in private support. 
  • 2022: Ole Miss Baseball wins the 2022 NCAA Men’s College World Series.

Our Future

Investments in Our Students

We are continually enhancing our offerings and facilities so that our students will have a competitive edge in the marketplace. Our major recent initiatives to support academic excellence include the Institute for the Arts, the Declaration of Independence Center for the Study of American Freedom, the Center for Practical Ethics, and a new home for our Patterson School Of Accountancy. 

The Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation is more than halfway through construction and on pace to open in the fall 2024. When it opens, it will be one of the nation’s premier environments for STEM education, and will enable our university to produce graduates who are effective problem-solvers, team players, and innovators with technical skills that are essential for our future. It will also help address significant unmet needs in Mississippi and across the country for STEM professionals.

Building a Campus for All

To promote a campus community that is welcoming to all, the university announced the five-year Pathways to Equity diversity plan in 2021. The overarching goals are to advance institutional capacity for equity, cultivate a diverse and equitable community, and foster an inclusive campus climate. Efforts include identifying and decreasing gaps in outcomes across groups by examining key institutional metrics such as graduation, retention, tenure, employment and advancement.  

In fall 2022, the University of Mississippi launched its new strategic plan, Empower Now: Accelerating Discovery, Growth, and Success. Empower Now represents our key institutional priorities and provides a unifying framework with a foundational commitment to equity.