Graduate School Staff
The Graduate School staff is here to assist you throughout your graduate education. Among the duties of the office are to receive applications, coordinate their review, communicate with prospective students regarding their admission status, maintain academic records, monitor students’ progress, process assistantship appointments, advise students and interpret academic policies established by the Graduate Council.
We are here to help you, so please feel free to contact us any time.
John Z. Kiss joined the University of Mississippi in September 2012 as dean of the Graduate School. Kiss is a professor of biology and a research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. His research is in the area of plant physiology and molecular biology, and he has had six spaceflight experiments on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station with funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Kiss has mentored 18 M.S. and Ph.D. students as well as five postdoctoral associates, and his vision is to promote excellence in graduate education in all disciplines. He believes that increasing the number of individuals who hold graduate degrees will provide economic benefits to the state and the nation. As dean, he continues to seek ways to expand interdisciplinary collaborations among graduate programs since these approaches will provide the best opportunities for students and are the pathway to the future.
Christy M. Wyandt serves as associate dean of the Graduate School, professor of pharmaceutics and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She joined the faculty of the School of Pharmacy in 1989, served as chair of the Department of Pharmaceutics from 1999-2003 and became associate dean of the Graduate School on July 1, 2003. She received a B.A. in chemistry from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics from the University of Iowa. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked in product development in the pharmaceutical industry for seven years.
Robin Wiebe earned her Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Mississippi. Wiebe manages the graduate assistant health insurance program and oversees the admissions and records processes.
Kegan Armstrong is a 2009 graduate of the University of Mississippi. He majored in political science with a minor in English. Armstrong is happily married to Lethea Jackson with one son, Landon. His hobbies include reading, writing and watching every sport known to man!
Connie DeFazio began working at the University of Mississippi in 2006 for the School of Business-Undergraduate Student Services. DeFazio comes to the Graduate School with more than 25 years of experience in clerical/secretarial experience. In addition to her university experience, she has held positions at the Department of Defense, area hospitals and her community church. Her job responsibilities include maintaining the phone system, completing travel authorizations and reimbursements for faculty and students, as well as facilitating other day-to-day office activities. She has two daughters, Vanessa and Caiti.
Michelle Dickson began her employment with the Graduate School in 2003 as office manager. After a brief departure, she returned as coordinator of records and is now administrative coordinator. Her duties include reconciling and monitoring budget statements; supervising student workers; and processing payroll, accounts payable/receivables, tuition and nonresident scholarships for minority students, financial aid for graduate assistants and electronic forms.
Paige Duke joined the Graduate School in July 2007 as an activities specialist. She received her B.B.A. from the University of Mississippi in 1992. Her job responsibilities include orientation, recruiting, student counseling, alumni connections and creating new programs for our graduate students. She also acts as a liaison for the Graduate Student Council and graduate program coordinators and is webmaster for the Graduate School.
Candace Oswalt’s job responsibilities include maintaining information on admitted, currently enrolled and recently degreed graduate students, and verifying graduate requirements. She is also responsible for receiving and processing applications for graduate degrees; receiving and approving the formatting of thesis and dissertations; and administering graduating student surveys.
Veda Taylor’s job responsibilities at the Graduate School include processing admissions applications as well as receiving all relevant admissions documents such as resumes, recommendations and statements of purpose.
Tameka Smith’s duties at the Graduate School include processing and maintaining admission applications, and scanning transcripts, GRE and TOEFL scores. She also receives letters of recommendation, resumes and statements of purpose. Smith graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1998 with a degree in banking/finance and real estate.
Donald R. Cole, Ph.D.
Assistant Provost and Assistant to the Chancellor for Multicultural Affairs;
Associate Professor of Mathematics
In his capacities as assistant provost and assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs and associate professor of mathematics, Donald R. Cole plays an active leadership role in policy making, teaching, research and diversification at the university. Cole holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Mississippi, M.A. degrees from the State University of New York and the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College. Believing that education is the “great equalizer” and the central feature in the prevailing endurance of mankind, he is a stern advocate for education, particularly for minority students. He devotes his time and energy to projects and causes that promotes the teaching, training and guidance of our children – particularly towards advanced degrees.
Cole is originally from Jackson, Miss., where he was a member of the St. Matthews M.B. Church. During his travels, he has been an active member of Holy Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, (Fort Worth, Texas) and Prayer Temple Church of God in Christ (Tallahassee, Fla.). He is currently an active member of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., serving as a church trustee, Sunday school superintendent and director of Christian education. He is a firm believer that “With God All Things Are Possible,” and he yields his life to the direction of the Holy Spirit. His wife, Marcia, is a minister of the Gospel, and they have three children, Donald II, Mariah and William.
Assistant Director of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program at the University of Mississippi
Demetria Hereford, a native of Tupelo, Miss., obtained a Bachelor of Arts in sociology at Stillman College in 1995. While attending Stillman, Hereford was a dean’s list scholar, student support services participant and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She received a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Mississippi in 1997. As assistant director of the McNair Program, she is responsible for its daily operation and management. In addition, she assists participants in career planning, conducts needs assessments and provides academic counseling. Her special interests are demographics, population analysis and community/economic development.