CATEGORY: EDT Editorials


Editorial, Friday, Nov. 6, 1998

Mississippi made real its first commitment to public higher education 150 years ago today when the University of Mississippi opened its doors in Oxford.

The sesquicentennial convocation today in The Grove, the landmark heart of the Oxford campus, celebrates the university's organic relationship with the state and its historic institutional commitment to the liberal arts and sciences.

Ole Miss' story includes more than the usual share of traumas in a 150-year span. Its student body virtually was wiped out in the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, less than a decade and a half after the founding. Damaging interference by state political leaders in the early 20th century brought down the wrath of accreditation agencies. Violence surrounding its desegregation in 1962 almost resulted in its closure.

The university's resilience, and its repeated pheonix-like rise from events that exceeded the control of university officials, reflect a remarkable core of loyal supporters and alumni determined to lead Ole Miss toward its highest, best aspirations.

Ole Miss, as state universities are measured, remains small. Its size, however, becomes an asset set in the context of alumni with an uncommon inclination to remaining connected far beyond their college years. The networking produces tangible benefit from the national political sector and some of the most successful business leaders in the nation.

Chancellor Robert Khayat, the 60-year-old alumnus who arguably has become the most visible and ardent of all Ole Miss' chief executives, is expected to announce an unprecedented financial challenge today. The campaign to dramatically enlarge the university's $205 million endowment (money donated from private sources) could move Ole Miss substantially toward its goal of becoming a premier public university, with competitively limited enrollment, and focused on the liberal arts and sciences.

Every university has a great anniversary. Today is Ole Miss' grand moment, and its celebration, in fact, belongs to all Mississippians.

Editorial 2

CREATE Foundation's announcement of $57,000 in grants for commuity-based organizations in five counties and communities demonstrates its commitment to improving the quality of life regionwide.

CREATE, a Northeast Mississippi community foundation in Tupelo and owner of this newspaper, makes grants and underwrites programs across a 15-couny region. Its investment in 1998 already has hit $160,000.

Grants announced this week include $25,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Tupelo-Lee County to begin a satellite program in the Tupelo Middle School for children in the Ida Street area west of the school. The club's main operations are on North Green Street, and part of the new grant will help sustain those activities.

CREATE, the sole shareholder of stock in Journal Publishing Co., also made a $14,386 grant to Okolona for a community mini-park that would be the center for community activities and performances. Bringing people together in the common ventures of life promotes unity and understanding, one of CREATE's underlying philosophical commitments.

A $5,000 grant to the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council in Oxford-Lafayette County will be yoked with money from the National Endowment for the Arts for a comprehensive arts and culture planning process. Oxford-Lafayette County's thriving arts community has won nationwide notice; the grant will help enhance and coordinate that asset.

Local history shapes community attitude and engenders pride. The grant of $7,500 to the Calhoun County Genealogical and Historical Society will help develop a reliable archive for its rich heritage.

A $5,000 rant to the Alliance of Corinth/Alcorn County will help that history-rich community further its Historic Preservation and Tourism Master Plan.

CREATE's resources help cultivate and sustain worthy community plans and actions, all aimed at the development of people and enhancing their quality of life.

The grant process is open to inquirers. Interested organizations should call 601-844-8989 to find out how to start.

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