Published on September 4th, 2023 | by University of Mississippi


Rebecca Oliver Named University of Mississippi Honors College Assistant Dean

New hire brings experience, vision to position

The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi has named Rebecca Oliver as its assistant dean of undergraduate academics.

The St. Louis native will combine her years of experience with a fresh vision for the future.

“I am thrilled to be working with the team in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College because of their mission to ‘prepare citizen scholars who are fired by the life of the mind,'” Oliver said. “Honors education has been my life for 20-plus years and to have the opportunity to be part of dynamic group of faculty and staff who are all dedicated to the student experience, I am blessed to have this new professional role that plays to my professional and personal strengths.”

Oliver comes to Ole Miss after serving 13 years as director of the honors college at Arkansas State University. She also served in various positions at Temple University, the University of Kansas and Florida State University.

“The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College is fortunate to have Rebecca on our team,” said Ethel Scurlock, Honors College dean. “She brings decades of experience in higher education and a solid record of leadership in honors. Her expertise with academic assessment and with building student-centered learning programs will play a key role in building communities across campus.

“She is already building strong relationships with key leaders across our campus, engaging student leaders and crafting a vision to enhance our student engagement in Honors, Residential College South, and the Luckyday Residential College.”

Part of Oliver’s vision involves collaborating with colleagues in Luckyday Residential College and Residential College South, along with the Honors Living-Learning Community in Pittman Hall.

“I want to focus on programs to advance student learning and encourage student engagement, so this was a new challenge and professional experience I was honored to accept,” she said.

Oliver spent her first year at ASU as a consultant, where she authored a strategic plan for undergraduate honors education. The university then hired her to execute that plan and later named her to ASU’s Staff Centennial Wall of Honor for her role.

“This recognition is the one I am most proud of,” said Oliver, who has also been involved in the National Collegiate Honors Council for the past 20 years. “I was nominated by a colleague who I sincerely respect and was selected by a committee of staff peers for this honor. “

Oliver didn’t come to Ole Miss alone. Her husband, Tim Oliver, is the new director of bands and a professor of music.

But another member of the Oliver family preceded the couple’s arrival. Their son, Ben, is a senior public policy leadership major. He is also a member of the Honors College, plays the euphonium and baritone in the marching band, is an Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy scholar recipient and a member of the Columns Society. Their daughter, Gwen, is a high school senior who is also interested in UM.

“Ben likes to say that he came here first, and we loved it so much, that we just had to follow him to Oxford,” Oliver said.

By Edwin B. Smith

Rebecca Oliver. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

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About the Author

The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy; and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s most beautiful, Ole Miss's main campus is in Oxford, which is routinely recognized as one of the nation's best college towns.

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