The University of Mississippi

History and Background

The Alma Mater

The alma mater of the University of Mississippi was written in 1925 by A.W. Kahle and her husband, W.F. Kahle. It has been sung and played at athletic events, commencement ceremonies, the inauguration of chancellors, funerals and memorials, class reunions and other special events.

When the alma mater is played, there should be an attitude of respect. Those in attendance should stand (if able), remove hats or caps, and sing the words:

Way down south in Mississippi, There’s a spot that ever calls
Where among the hills enfolded. Stand Old Alma Mater’s Halls.
Where the trees lift high their branches, To the whisp’ring southern breeze.
There is Ole Miss calling, calling, To our hearts fond memories.
With united hearts we praise thee, All our loyalty is thine,
And we hail thee, Alma Mater, may thy light forever shine;
May it brighter grow and brighter, And with deep affection true,
Our thoughts shall ever cluster ’round thee, Dear Old Red and Blue.
My thy fame throughout the nation, Through thy sons and daughters grow,
May thy name forever waken, In our hearts a tender glow,
May thy counsel and thy spirit, Ever keep us one in this,
That our own shall be thine honor, Now and ever dear Ole Miss.

History and tradition

When it chartered the University of Mississippi on Feb. 24, 1844, the Mississippi Legislature laid the foundation for public higher education in the state. The university opened its doors to 80 students four years later, and for 23 years it was Mississippi’s only public institution of higher learning. For 110 years, it was the state’s only comprehensive university.

The University of Mississippi is alive with a history of achievement that chronicles the development of the state and its people. Known affectionately as Ole Miss, Mississippi’s flagship university established the fourth state-supported law school in the nation (1854) and was one of the first in the nation to offer engineering education (1854). It was one of the first in the South to admit women (1882) and the first to hire a female faculty member (1885).

Ole Miss also established the first College of Liberal Arts, School of Law, School of Engineering, School of Education, accredited School of Business Administration, Graduate School, School of Nursing, and accredited bachelor’s and master’s accountancy programs in the state. It has the only School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, School of Dentistry and School of Health Related Professions in Mississippi.

From its first class of 80 students, Ole Miss has grown to a doctoral degree-granting university with 15 academic divisions and more than 23,000 students. Located on its main campus in Oxford are the College of Liberal Arts; the schools of Accountancy, Applied Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Journalism and New Media, Pharmacy and Law; and the Graduate School and Honors College. The Medical Center in Jackson trains professionals in its schools of Medicine, Nursing, Health Related Professions, Dentistry and Graduate Studies. Ole Miss continues to expand academic courses and degree offerings on its regional campuses in Southaven, Tupelo, Grenada and Booneville.

In all, more than 100 programs of study  offer superior academic experiences that provide each graduate with the background necessary for a lifetime of scholastic, social and professional growth. Strengthening and expanding the academic experience are the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, Lott Leadership Institute and Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

Recognizing UM’s outstanding academic programs, Phi Beta Kappa selected the university in 2001 to shelter a chapter of what is recognized as the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honor society. UM was the first and remains the only public institution of higher education in Mississippi chosen for this honor.

Also reflecting the quality education Ole Miss provides, UM students regularly are chosen for prestigious scholarships. UM’s 25th Rhodes Scholar was named in 2008, and, since 1998, the university has produced seven Truman, 10 Goldwater and 14 Fulbright scholars, as well as one Marshall, one Udall and one Gates Cambridge scholar.

UM’s research enterprise including programs in acoustics, atmospheric physics, health care, remote sensing, Southern studies, space law and pharmaceutical sciences is renowned internationally. The university holds more than 40 patents for inventions including a fire ant trap, an algal herbicide, novel drug-delivery systems, a thermoacoustic refrigeration device, immune system stimulators and possible treatments for cancer, malaria, pain and infections. This work takes place across the university, which is home to more than 20 major research centers. In addition, the university is a center for Faulkner studies, offering one of the finest collections of the Nobel Prize-winner’s work and maintaining his Rowan Oak home as a literary shrine.

At the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, surgeons performed the world’s first lung (1963) and heart (1964) transplants in man. Physiologists at the health sciences campus defined the role of the kidneys in controlling blood pressure. Today, the Medical Center is collaborating with Tougaloo College and Jackson State University on the Jackson Heart Study, the world’s largest study of cardiovascular risk factors in African-Americans and has partnered with the American Heart Association and Boston University for “Heart Studies v2.0” to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular ailments.

Four specialized hospitals on the Jackson campus include the only children’s hospital in Mississippi, a women and infants’ hospital, and a critical care hospital. UMHC offers the only level one trauma center, the only level three neonatal intensive care nursery and the only organ transplant programs in the state.