Dear Students, Alumni, Colleagues, and Friends of the Graduate School,
As I write this welcome to our Fall/Winter 2020 Newsletter, I am struck by how difficult this year has been. At this point, a number of us have lost someone we know to COVID-19 and, although news on the vaccine front is promising, the current case numbers are rising. The situation has affected our students, faculty, and staff in a myriad of ways. We are proud of what graduate students and the faculty who teach them accomplished this semester.
Despite the challenges created by COVID-19, we have worked to move the Graduate School forward. In this issue, I am excited to share with you the Graduate School’s Commitment to Action—a commitment to work towards change that addresses racial inequities. We also added Dr. Murrell Godfrey to the Graduate School leadership to serve as our inaugural Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Already he is working to advance some of his ideas for a “both/and” approach to graduate education. In particular, he is developing the Cole-Eftink Fellows program (named after some of our past leaders who repeatedly demonstrated a profound commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion). This program provides a small scholarship to doctoral students from underrepresented groups who are interested in a career in academia. We have 5 participants in our first cohort and the program will provide important opportunities for community building and professional development. Because those professional development opportunities carry costs, we have created a mechanism through which individuals can help contribute financially to the success of the program (https://umfoundation.givingfuel.com/cole-eftink-fellows-program) and we look forward to engaging some of you to share your expertise and experiences with these outstanding students.
We also will be launching a new scholarship program, Advancing STEM, in the Fall of 2021 to help increase the diversity of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professoriate. The program will provide scholarships of $500/yr for three years to support deserving STEM graduate students whose background, achievements, and experience demonstrate a commitment to contributing to the advancement of women in STEM, regardless of the recipient’s gender or gender identity. We have a goal of endowing this award so that we can make at least one new award a year each year in perpetuity. (To contribute to this new scholarship, please visit https://umfoundation.givingfuel.com/advancing-stem-scholarship).
Finally, despite the pandemic, our students have been busy and continue to do amazing work. In this newsletter, you can read about seven graduate students whose contributions beyond the classroom show why the University of Mississippi Graduate School is such a force for good in our state and nation. I hope you enjoy reading about the exciting work of Donald Guillory, Chesney Mardis, Elise Denoulet, Linh Nguyen, Margaree Jackson, Quenton Gilmore, and Travis Endicott. They represent seven distinct disciplines in four different Schools or the College. I hope you will find their stories as refreshing as I have during what is admittedly a very different year.
As we look towards 2021, we hope it will be a year that is less remarkable, and that finally it will be safe for you to visit our beautiful campus again, renew your memories, and include a visit with us in the Graduate House. We miss the chance to connect with our students, alumni, and friends in person. Until then, we would also love to hear how you are doing as part of our “Grad Notes” initiative. Please send along these exciting “Grad Notes” including your degree, area of study, and year of graduation, so that we can share them with our readers.
We appreciate your support of the Graduate School and our graduate students at the University of Mississippi.
Annette S. Kluck, Ph.D.
Dean of the Graduate School
Professor of Leadership and Counselor Education