UM 2020 - Strategic Plan Strategic Planning Council

Strategic Planning Council




he University’s Strategic Planning Council (SPC) is the University’s advisory body on strategic planning. The SPC brings together representatives of various constituencies to promote a broader consideration of campus-wide strategic initiatives of major scope and importance that often include more than one division.

The strategic planning efforts addressed by the SPC will be shared with the University's constituencies through the members. Wherever feasible and timely, the work of the SPC will be integrated with existing planning processes in the University divisions and organizational units.

The SPC will support the University with the development and adoption of the university’s new strategic plan, UM 2020. The SPC will facilitate the planning process by:

  1. analyzing institutional data and  collecting input from the university community,
  2. monitoring and reviewing the institution’s mission and vision, core values,
  3. assessing the institution’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and
  4. renewing the university’s strategic planning framework including UM’s strategic priorities and university-wide goals.


The Strategic Planning Council, chaired by an Associate Provost, includes a representative from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Multicultural Affairs, and Research.
In addition, two representatives from the Dean’s Council, one Department Chair, the presidents of the Associated Student Body and Graduate Student Council, a representative of the Staff Council, and six representatives from the Faculty Senate serve as voting members of the SPC.

A representative from the following planning/infrastructure related positions are represented as (non-voting) ex-officio members, including: International Affairs, Outreach and Continuing Studies, Information Technology, Strategic Planning, Institutional Research, Facilities Planning, Human Resources, Physical Plant, Development, University Libraries, and the institution’s SACS liaison. 

Please click on a picture or name for more information on each member!

Dr. Noel Wilkin

Dr. Noel Wilkin


Associate Provost, Professor of Pharmacy Administration,
and Research Professor in RIPS

Prior to joining the Provost's office, Dr. Wilkin served as Chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration and Director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management in the School of Pharmacy. Dr. Wilkin chairs the Strategic Planning Council, serves on the Crisis Action Team, coordinates the Provost Scholars Program, and serves as secretary of the Council of Academic Administrators. He also assists the Provost in matters dealing with the academic budget, issues, and requests.

Dr. Linda Chitwood

Dr. Linda Chitwood

Interim Associate Provost for Outreach and Continuing Studies and Professor of Exercise Science

Dr. Linda Chitwood was named Interim Associate Provost for Outreach and Continuing Education in 2012. She received the BS and MS degrees in Health and Physical education from Oklahoma State University and the PhD in Human Sciences with emphasis in Exercise Physiology/Nutrition from Florida State University. Previously, Dr. Chitwood served as the Dean of the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Mississippi.

From 1972 to 1986, Dr. Chitwood taught Health and Physical Education in the Oklahoma public schools, at Oklahoma State University, and at Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma, where she also served as assistant director for continuing education. From 1986 to 1991, she served as assistant director of adult fitness at Florida State University and as Cardiovascular Exercise Physiologist for Tallahassee Community Hospital, where she supervised exercise programs for morbidly obese patients. She joined the UM faculty in 1991 as an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science and became chair of the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management in 1997.

Her research has focused on health disparities and the health impact of exercise. She has served on the Mississippi Governor's Commission on Physical Fitness and Sports, as Mississippi chair of the National Coalition for the Promotion of Physical Activity, and as an executive board member for the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine. She has also directed the National Youth Sports Program at Ole Miss, which provides educational and sports training to underprivileged youth. Dr. Chitwood is a lifetime member of Phi Kappa Phi, past-president of the UM Phi Kappa Phi chapter, and a member of the Sally McDonald Barksdale Honors College Advisory Board.

Robert D. Brown

Dr. Robert D. Brown

Professor of Political Science

Robert Brown is Professor of Political Science at the University of Mississippi, where he has been teaching for the past 20 years. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University, focusing on American politics and public policy.

Dr. Brown teaches courses in American politics, and for the past several years has been a faculty member in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. His research interests include political parties, state politics, and voter participation. Dr. Brown is a Research Associate at the University's Social Science Research Laboratory, and in 2006 he received the University's Faculty Achievement Award for teaching and scholarship.

Ken Cyree

Dean Ken Cyree

School of Business, Dean

Dr. Ken Cyree is Dean of the School of Business, Frank R. Day/Mississippi Bankers Association Chair of Banking, and Professor of Finance at the University of Mississippi. Ken received his doctorate and MBA from the University of Tennessee. He is the Director of the Mississippi School of Banking and a faculty member at the Graduate School of Banking at LSU. Ken worked in industry as a Credit Manager in the textile industry for many years before entering academia.

Dr. Alice Clark

Dr. Alice M. Clark

Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs

Dr. Alice M. Clark is The University of Mississippi's (UM) Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs.  She is the spokesperson for research and sponsored programs divisions which work to facilitate research and research funding as well as providing support for all funded projects at UM.  During her tenure as vice chancellor, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has worked to achieve further accreditation, increased levels of funding, as well as partnerships with other academic institutions and the private sector. The ORSP promotes a model of service while pursuing research for the benefit of the university and the state.

Clark previously served as director of the UM National Center for Natural Products Research and was the 1996 Rho Chi National Lecturer, the top award presented by the national pharmaceutical honor society.  The Frederick A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor joined the faculty in 1979 as a postdoctoral research associate, and she has authored or contributed to more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles and numerous invited book chapters, nonrefereed publications and presentations. A member of the Board of Directors of the UM Research Foundation, Clark has extensive experience as a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, several other agencies and private foundations.

Dr. Donald Cole

Dr. Donald Cole

Assistant Provost and Assistant to the Chancellor Concerning Minority Affairs, Associate Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Cole oversees a variety of issues relating to minority affairs at the University of Mississippi, including minority student and faculty recruitment and retention. Dr. Cole also leads the Ronald McNair Program and the NSF Alliance for Minority Participation at the University and he co-directs the Alliance for Graduate Education.

Sandipan Datta

Dr. Christian Sellar

Assistant Professor of Public Policy Leadership

Dr. Christian Sellar, native of Italy, is a human and economic geographer with particular interests in regional economic development, industrial geographies of globalization, Europe, and post-socialism. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and another Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Trieste.

His research program focuses on economic restructuring and local embeddedness of transnational firms. He is interested in the interactions of state institutions and transnational firms, and the ways in which these shape broad processes of geo-political and geo-economic integration at the continental level. He looks at the emergence of regional production networks, transnational value chains, and international systems of governance. In this regard, he studies the geographies and geo-economies of the eastward enlargement of the European Union and the post-socialist transformation of Eastern Europe/Russia.

His primary teaching interests are in the areas of human and economic geography, globalization and international development, Europe and post-socialism. He has experience as an instructor and as a teaching assistant in the United States, Italy, and Russia. He teaches courses dealing with international studies, European Union studies, economic geography, regional geography, economic sociology, and political economy.

Dr. Donna Davis

Mr. Kevin Cozart

President, Graduate Student Council and Coordinator of Operations, Sarah Isom Center for Women's Studies

Kevin Cozart is currently serving as President of the Graduate Student Council and is pursuing a Master's of Journalism with an Integrated Marketing Communications emphasis. He joined the University's staff in 2005 when he was promoted to Guest Service Agent at the Inn at Ole Miss and is presently the Coordinator of Operations for the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies. He is a member of the coordinating team for the Allies Program, advisor to the Gay-Straight Alliance, and serves on the Chancellor's Standing Committee on Sensitivity and Respect. Previously, he has served on the UM Staff Council and the Graduate Student Senate and was the recipient of 2009 UM Commitment to Multiculturalism Award - Staff Category and the 2011 GSA Diversity Award.

Donald L. Dyer, PhD

Donald L. Dyer, PhD

Chair of Modern Languages &
Professor of Russian and Linguistics

Donald L. Dyer is Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Professor of Russian and Linguistics at The University of Mississippi, where he has been teaching for the past 22 years. He obtained his B.A. in Russian (with Honors) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980 and his M.A. (1982) and Ph.D. (1990) in Slavic Linguistics from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Dyer teaches courses in Russian, Linguistics and Honors. His research interests include Slavic and Balkan linguistics, Bulgarian and the Romanian of Moldova, as well as languages in contact, topics on which he has published extensively. Dr. Dyer currently serves as the editor of Balkanistica and the co-editor of Romance Monographs. He has lived and traveled in a number of the countries of the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Dr. Charles W. Eagles

Ms. Kim Dandridge

President, Associated Student Body

Bio coming soon.

Dr. Maurice Eftink

Dr. Maurice Eftink

Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr. Eftink oversees a wide variety of issues relating to the Graduate School, graduate students, and faculty. As Dean of the Graduate School, he is responsible for reviewing all applications for tenure and promotion by faculty. He also responds to issues relating to accreditation and assessment, and he acts as liaison between the office of the Provost and the department of Information Technology. In addition, Dr. Eftink chairs the Graduate Council.

Dr. Kathy Gates

Dr. Kathy Gates

Chief Information Officer

Kathy Gates has served as the Chief Information Officer for the University of Mississippi since February 2006. Prior professional experiences include working as a software developer for AT&T Bell Laboratories and as a technical consultant for the Mississippi Center for Supercomputing Research. Gates received M.S. degrees in Mathematics and Computer and Information Science from The Ohio State University and the Ph.D. degree in Engineering Science from the University of Mississippi. She is involved in many initiatives related to technology and higher education. Current areas of focus include SOA architectures, mobile computing, and Web applications that interface with SAP.

Mary Harrington

Ms. Mary Harrington

Director of Institutional Research & Assessment

Mary Harrington has served as the Director of Institutional Research and Assessment at the University of Mississippi since 2003. After receiving her MA in Mathematics, she joined the Office of Information Technology in 1985, eventually becoming the Director of Administrative Computing. Mary co-chaired the SACS Reaffirmation Leadership Team at Ole Miss, and has served as both an on-site and off-site SACS evaluator as the Institutional Effectiveness reviewer. Mary received the prestigious Best Visual Award for work presented at the 2006 Annual AIR Conference, and was named one of Mississippi’s Dynamic Women of 2008. Throughout her career, Mary has assumed leadership positions in a variety of professional organizations and is active in numerous campus committees.

Dr. Glenn Hopkins

Dr. Glenn Hopkins

Dean of the College of Liberal Arts

Glenn Hopkins received the BA (1970) and MA (1971) degrees in Mathematics at the University of Texas at Arlington, and the PhD degree in Mathematics (1977) from Purdue University. In 1977 he joined the faculty in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Mississippi. He was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1987 and that same year was appointed to the position of Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts, a position which he held until 1992. He served as Chair of the Department of Mathematics 1992-1998 and was appointed Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in July, 1998.

Dr. Hopkins has published articles in the areas of algebraic geometry, ring theory, and graph theory, and is the co-author of a textbook for freshmen, Mathematical Thinking and Quantitative Reasoning.

Clay Jones

Clay Jones

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Human Resources

Clay provides leadership and management for the University's human resources organization, programs and services, including policy development, strategic planning and administration, departmental reorganization consulting, employee and labor relations, staffing, training and development, benefits, compensation, payroll and human resource information systems.

He ensures that the department delivers "world-class" customer service for all faculty, staff, students and visitors. He is the primary contact for general issues or concerns regarding HR service, policies, programs or strategy.

Dr. Michael Metcalf

Dr. Michael Metcalf

Associate Provost for International Affairs and Professor of History

Dr. Metcalf oversees the conclusion of agreements between the University and partner universities abroad, administers the Chinese Language Flagship in collaboration with Professor Donald Dyer, and administers the ROTC Chinese Language & Culture Program. Dr. Metcalf also oversees the University's participation in the Boren Scholarship, Boren Fellowship, and Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship programs.

Jim Morrison

Ms. Amanda Walker

President, Staff Council and Recruiting Coordinator, Career Center

Amanda L. Walker serves as the current President of Staff Council. As Staff Council President, she represents the staff in matters that affect the welfare of the institution and/or its staff. Amanda hopes to increase communication and access for staff members in her upcoming year of service. Since becoming President, Amanda has created a Twitter account for staff members to follow for the most up to date information on Staff Council activities as well as creating an easy email address for staff members to email suggestions or concerns to Staff Council.

Furthermore, Amanda is beginning her fifth year as the Recruiting Coordinator at The University of Mississippi Career Center. Amanda is responsible for employer activities and a variety of services to students and employers that include on-campus interviews, information sessions, and job postings for both full-time positions and internships. She is also the Career Center liaison with faculty and administrators to publicize career opportunities for students via e-mail or other marketing avenues. Amanda corresponds with potential employers, collects employer information, and coordinates the employer literature library. She is responsible for scheduling and planning the daily operations of the on-campus interview program.

In addition to her university duties, she serves as the Marketing and Technology Director for The Mississippi Association of Colleges and Employers (MACE). Amanda has a true passion for technology and social media. She currently manages the Web pages and Social Medias for the Career Center, Staff Council, and MACE.

Prior to joining the Career Center, Amanda was the Coordinator of Recruiting for The University of Mississippi Graduate School for three years. Amanda developed recruiting schedules, developed and implemented communication plans for recruiting, initiated the launch of an online database for program information (Hobson's), organized and developed graduate orientations each year, and managed the Graduate School website.

Walker received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Masters in Arts in Higher Education/Student Personnel from The University of Mississippi. She is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Higher Education at Delta State University.

Ms. Tiffany A. Edwards

Dr. Oliver Dinius

Croft Associate Professor of History and International Studies

Oliver Dinius is Croft Associate Professor of History and International Studies with a specialization in modern Latin America. A native of Germany, he earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2004 and joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi the same year. Dinius's research focuses on the history of social and economic development in 20th century Brazil. In 2011, Stanford University Press published his first book, Brazil's Steel City: Developmentalism, Strategic Power, and Industrial Relations in Volta Redonda, 1941-1964. He co-edited of Company Towns in the Americas: Landscape, Power, and Working-Class Communities (University of Georgia Press, 2011).

In the history department, Dinius offers lecture classes, upper-division seminars, and graduate course on Brazil and modern Latin America. For the Croft Institute of International Studies, Dinius teaches a core course on Latin America (Inst 207) as well as upper-division courses on "The War on Drugs in Latin America" and on "The Problem of Inequality in Latin America." He also advises Croft senior theses on a wide range of Latin American topics.

Ashton Pearson

Ashton Pearson

Director of Physical Plant Department

Ashton Pearson serves as the Interim Director of the Physical Plant Department at the University of Mississippi. The Physical Plant Department is responsible for the daily maintenance and operation of the University’s structures, facilities, and infrastructure.

Pearson received a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mississippi. He also serves on a variety of university committees.

Dean Julia M. Rholes

Dean Julia M. Rholes

Dean of Libraries

Julia M. Rholes was appointed Dean of Libraries of the University of Mississippi in June 2003. Prior to coming to the University, Rholes held administrative positions at the University of Kansas (interim dean, assistant dean) and at Texas A&M University (interim assistant dean, Head of Reference and Instruction). She received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College, an M.A. from the University of Texas (Austin), and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University.

The Dean leads efforts to develop distinctive research collections and innovative library services and programs. Dean Rholes is responsible for providing leadership, planning, and oversight for approximately 60 fulltime library faculty and staff for the University Libraries, including the J. D. Williams Library, the Science Library and the Library Annex, a remote storage facility for archival materials and low use circulating collections. Other expectations of the dean are to oversee the budget and be actively involved in the ongoing development of external funding sources.

Dr. Annie Davis Weber

Dr. Annie Davis Weber

Project Coordinator, Office of Strategic Planning

Dr. Annie Davis Weber represents the Office of Strategic Planning on the Strategic Planning Council. She joined the OSP in 2011 as a Project Coordinator and, in that role, has supported the efforts of the Strategic Planning Council to create the UM 2020 Strategic Plan and has facilitated the unit-level planning process across campus. She also provides assistance to the Provost's Office, including co-chairing the Chancellor's Standing Committee on Accessibility and coordinating the Provost Scholars Program. Previously, she was a prospect research analyst at the University of Mississippi and also at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale.

Dr. Weber received her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University in 2011, and has research interests in higher education fundraising, college access and college student retention. She also holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science and German from Vanderbilt University and a master's in Public Administration from Ohio University.

Ryan Upshaw

Dr. Michael C. Mossing

Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Dr. Mossing received the BS in Biochemistry from Michigan State University, the Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at MIT. He served an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame before joining the faculty of the University of Mississippi in 1998. Dr. Mossing studies the biophysical chemistry of protein-nucleic acid interactions, and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Biochemistry, Biophysical Chemistry and Molecular Biology.

Dr. Mossing has chaired the City of Oxford Pathways Commission since its creation in 2007. The work of the commission has been instrumental in Oxford's recognition as Mississippi's first Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists and in the development of several active transportation projects in recent years.

Robert Barnard

Dr. Robert Barnard

Associate Professor

Robert Barnard is Associate Professor of Philosophy. Barnard joined the faculty in 2000, received his Ph.D. from the University of Memphis and holds an MA from The American University. Barnard's research focuses on the nature of truth, the metaphysics of abstract objects, and the history of 20th Century philosophy. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Continuum Companion to Metaphysics.

Wendell Weakley

Dr. Judson Durward Watson III

Associate Professor of English

Jay Watson, a native of Athens, Georgia, received his B.A. from the University of Georgia (1983) and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University (1985, 1989). He joined the U of M English department in 1989 and was named Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies in 2010. During the 2002-2003 academic year he served as Visiting Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.

His publications include Forensic Fictions: The Lawyer Figure in Faulkner (U of Georgia P, 1993), Conversations with Larry Brown (UP of Mississippi, 2007), and Faulkner and Whiteness (UP of Mississippi, 2011), and his articles on southern literature and film, law and humanities, and psychoanalytic theory have appeared in American Quarterly, American Literature, American Imago, Mississippi Quarterly, and numerous other journals and essay collections. He was a co-founder and, from 1995 to 2000, co-editor of Journal x: A Journal in Culture and Criticism.

He is currently serving as President of the William Faulkner Society and revising a forthcoming book on representations of the body and embodiment in southern narrative from the 1890s to the 1980s — or, if you prefer, from Mark Twain to Bobbie Ann Mason. He and his wife, Susan, have two teenage children, Katherine and Judson.

Wendell Weakley

Wendell Weakley

President, CEO

Wendell Weakley of the prestigious PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm accepted the leadership baton from retiring president/CEO Don Frugé, along with the challenge of fueling the unprecedented momentum UM has experienced in private giving over the last decade.

The University of Mississippi Foundation and University Development play vital roles—soliciting, processing, investing and disbursing private gifts to the University—each year. An increase in contributions will strengthen every school and college within the University, as well as the library. Growth of the endowment will ensure a consistent source of permanent funding for academic excellence at The University of Mississippi, thereby fulfilling its mission of education, research, and public service.

Ms. Mona Haron

Dr. Brandi Hephner LeBanc

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Leadership and Counselor Education

Dr. Brandi Hephner LaBanc became The University of Mississippi's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs in July, 2012. In this role she provides leadership and direction for the Division of Student Affairs with a focus on most effectively advocating for and supporting student enrollment and success. Prior to joining The University of Mississippi, she most recently served Northern Illinois University as the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs. Dr. Hephner LaBanc earned her B.S. degree in Accounting at The University of Akron, her M.Ed. degree in Higher Education Administration and College Student Personnel at Kent State University, and her doctorate in Adult & Higher Education at Northern Illinois University.

Former members

The SPC would like to thank the following members whose appointments to the Council have recently expired. Their tireless efforts over the last year have been greatly appreciated.

  • Dr. Donna Davis, Associate Professor of Law
  • Dr. Charles Eagles, William F. Winter Professor of History
  • Ms. Tiffany Edwards, Past President, Staff Council
  • Ms. Mona Haron, Past President, Graduate Student Council
  • Mr. Taylor McGraw, Past President, Associated Student Bodies