Oxford, MS professor traces 150-year history of Ole Miss
"There is a mystique about Ole Miss," David G. Sansing says in his new
book The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History
(University Press of Mississippi, cloth $37.00).
Sansing, a professor emeritus of history, says the University and its
story hold a special attraction for those who have learned there. "Some
have called it holy ground, others hallowed ground. During a recent
Black Alumni Reunion Danny Covington called Ole Miss addictive."
Few Southern institutions have such a storied past. After its founding,
the University assembled one of the finest scientific collections in the
antebellum South. Closed during the Civil War, the University endured
and re-opened to expand from a liberal arts institution to one with
highly developed professional schools. In the civil rights struggle Ole
Miss became a battleground. Since 1963 the University has made
remarkable progress in serving the racial and ethnic diversity of its
Working with the university libraries, the Department of Archives and
History, and countless alumni, Sansing unfurls this 150-year history in
The University of Mississippi, a book he labored on since 1995.
Capturing dramatic changes was key to Sansing's efforts. The University
that began with four professors and boasted electric power in 1901 is
now listed by the internet site Yahoo! as one of the nation's most
"wired" universities, referring to the University's level of hardware
and internet access.
African American historian John Hope Franklin, who had visited the
campus during the civil rights struggle, visited again in 1998 and found
"a complete revolution in race relations on campus" and declared, "we
don't have quite as far to go as we thought we did."
Sansing says, "In a world of ravishing change, when Ole Miss Alumni come
back to Oxford, they do not just stroll across the campus and through
the Grove, they retrace the steps of their forebears, not just over
place and space, but back through time as well.
"For many alumni Ole Miss is more than their alma mater; it is a link, a
nexus to who they were and are, to where they came from," Sansing says.
"This sesquicentennial history is written for them, the students,
faculty, friends, patrons, and alumni of the university."
David G. Sansing is the author of A History of the Mississippi
Governor's Mansion (with Carroll Waller), Making Haste Slowly: The
Troubled History of Higher Education in Mississippi, and Mississippi: A
Study of Your State (with Ray Skates). In 1990, he was named Teacher of
the Year at the University of Mississippi.
432 pp., 75 b&w illustrations