For more than twenty-five years, the accomplished sociologist Vaughn Grisham has led the McLean Institute for Community Development. The institute was the brainchild of publisher and patron George McLean, whose mission was to raise the quality of life for all Mississippians. The institute that bears his name has cultivated leaders, researched problems, and implemented solutions for communities around Mississippi and the nation.
Founding Director Vaughn Grisham has retired from his faculty position at the University of Mississippi, but his legacy and important work will continue through the institute, which is being greatly expanded in the coming years.
The expanded McLean Institute will be known as “The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement,” and it will rally the entire university to impact the state of Mississippi. Among its goals will be the following:
- Support MS towns in the development and implementation of community improvement projects;
- Pursue and deploy external resources (grants, private dollars, etc.) to support community engagement;
- Establish mutually beneficial partnerships with organizations fighting poverty in Mississippi;
- Reward and support faculty who develop service-learning courses;
- Increase opportunities for faculty and graduate students to pursue community-based research;
- Promote and organize student volunteerism;
- Celebrate community engagement through campus-wide awards and scholarships;
- Systematically gather and use assessment data related to community engagement.
The University of Mississippi is the flagship institution of our state, and we are replete with educational resources and expertise. Through the McLean Institute, those resources and experts will be rallied, organized, and deployed strategically. In the coming years, the goal will always be the same: to fight poverty—and its insidious consequences—throughout Mississippi.