School of Journalism and New Media assistant Dean Simmons promoted to provost’s office


OXFORD, Mississippi — Two members of the University of Mississippi community have been promoted to leadership positions in the provost’s office.

Virginia Rougon Chavis and Jennifer Simmons, former vice-dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, have been named vice-rector and vice-rector respectively. They will help Noel Wilkin, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, oversee staff and support office operations.

“Professor Chavis and Ms. Simmons have long been valued members of our academic community and are highly respected by their colleagues,” said Wilkin.

Virginie Rougon Chavis

“While they have served in different roles and responsibilities on our campus – Professor Chavis rising through the faculty ranks and Ms. Simmons rising through the staff ranks – both will bring their unique experiences and expertise to the office. . I am excited about the valuable contributions they will both make to the Provost’s Office and the University of Mississippi.

Chavis was chairman of the Department of Art and Art History for nearly seven years. She has also served on the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Board and Honors Selection Committee, and was selected as a Fellow in the SEC Academic Leadership Development Program.

“I love working with people and talking to them,” Chavis said. “I enjoy solving problems, finding the best solution and seeing things through other people’s eyes.”

Her short-term goals are to make improvements to some of the things she’s learned over the past year as Acting Associate Vice-Rector, including providing directors with structured opportunities to have conversations about how to meet challenges and celebrate accomplishments in their units.

Chavis also plans to continue monthly President and Director workshops and include interactive exercises on the agenda in addition to regular announcements.

“I’m working on creating a year-long curriculum for new presidents,” she said. “This program will equip these new administrators with the resources and contacts they need to provide effective leadership within their own units.

“Finally, I worked with the counseling center on campus to meet their needs to help people on campus. The need for mental health care is important to the health of all individuals on campus.

Jennifer A. Simmons

Chavis’ long-term goals include addressing the lack of space on campus, creating a pathway for staff to grow professionally, and expanding the early learning program.

“It is important to note that last year the faculty’s first Principal Investigator for Institutional Transformation was selected,” she said. “This new position supports the expansion of academic efforts to build a collaborative research team dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.”

Simmons received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and his master’s degree in higher education from the University of Southern Mississippi. A member of the Ole Miss faculty since 2002, she has served on numerous academic and administrative committees.

Simmons said she thought her perspective was somewhat unique since she had worked in both student affairs and academic affairs.

“My former position at the School of Journalism and New Media was a student affairs-type role in an academic unit,” she said. “I understand what it takes to get students to attend UM and what it takes to get them to graduate from UM.

“I want to be a listening ear to be someone who can become a valuable resource for students and faculty by answering questions and providing advice on any concerns they may have.”

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