Vitter stepping down as University of Mississippi chancellor

November 9, 2018

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Jeffrey Vitter will step down in January after serving three years as chancellor of the University of Mississippi, state higher education officials said in a news release Friday.

After leaving the chancellor’s post Jan. 3, Vitter will remain on faculty as a tenured “distinguished professor” in the School of Engineering, according to the release from the Board of Trustees for Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

A computer scientist, Vitter was provost at the University of Kansas when he was chosen for the Ole Miss post in October 2015. Before Vitter began work as chancellor in January 2016, higher education officials said he agreed to a four-year contract at $600,000 annually.

No reason was given for his leaving the post a year early. Board president Shane Hooper, reached by telephone, declined to elaborate on statements in the news release in which he credited Vitter with substantial contributions. “His leadership has moved the university forward in numerous ways and we are grateful for his service,” Hooper’s statement said.

In the same release, Vitter said he was honored to serve as chancellor, and that he and his wife would “remain strong citizens of Rebel Nation.”

He said the university grew stronger academically and in funding and private donations during his time as chancellor. “In addition, we are a more diverse community with a more visible dedication to inclusion and civility.”

The board’s news release says Vitter brought the university a “greater level of stature and prominence.” It says his accomplishments included fundraising expansion, initiatives to recruit more international students, and oversight of $709 million in construction projects.

Vitter also oversaw tumult at the university. There was the 2017 resignation of football coach Hugh Freeze amid misconduct allegations and NCAA sanctions. Earlier this year, a prominent donor’s name was removed from the journalism school following a Facebook posting widely viewed as racist.

He also led the university as it continued to deal with legacies of the old Confederacy and slavery. That included the unveiling in March of plaques acknowledging the role of slave labor in the construction of some university buildings, and the university’s historic connections to slave owners and people who fought voting rights and supported segregation.

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