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Archive for the ‘women on campus’ Category

Spotlight: Brandi Hephner Labanc

Posted on: May 1st, 2017 by

Spring Time at Ole Miss.
Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

As the spring semester winds down, my colleagues and I experience mixed emotions as we say goodbye to our seniors, students who we have invested considerable time and energy in over the course of their enrollment at the University of Mississippi. What I love most about commencement time is witnessing the tangible result of the work we do in Student Affairs. By “tangible result” I mean the graduates—the holistic outcome of our efforts in higher education. These evolved and developed students are the manifestation of our everyday work. Certainly, students would not be graduates without their academic accomplishments; but beyond conferring and awarding degrees, the impact of the broader collegiate experience is also on display each graduation day.

The work of Student Affairs remains a mystery for many. Our work is often masked behind recruitment efforts, roommate mediations, leadership retreats, academic and career coaching, and wellness interventions. Much of it presents as transactional interactions or co-curricular efforts, but it is so much more. Student Affairs work is wholly educational and intermingles with the curricular experience of each student. While we are often tasked with “handling the issue” or “managing the crisis,” what we really are doing is assessing human behavior and applying our knowledge and expertise to help students develop critical thinking skills, effective decision-making skills, and the ability to act with integrity and sound judgment.

The Student Personnel Point of View, a formative document released in 1971 by the American Council on Education, reveals the primary objective of our work:

The student personnel movement constitutes one of the most important efforts of American educators to treat the college and university students as individuals, rather than as entries in an impersonal roster… In a real sense this part of modern higher education is an individualized application of the research and clinical findings of modern psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, and education to the task of aiding students to develop fully in the college environment. (pg. 3)

Every day, but especially on Graduation Day, I am incredibly proud of the educational work we do in Student Affairs. I know staff have engaged their theoretical training to skillfully guide students as they cognitively, morally, and psychosocially transition from adolescence to young adults as a result of the experiences and challenges they have encountered at Ole Miss. We are faculty without classrooms, and we help students apply their evolving knowledge and co-curricular experiences to navigate the challenges of life. Our work carefully and creatively supports and enhances the acquisition of knowledge provided in the classroom by our academic colleagues. Together, we are all witness to the graduate—the accomplishment of our combined efforts.


Dr. Hephner Labanc provides leadership and direction for all the departments encompassed by the Division of Student Affairs.  She also serves as a faculty member in the Higher Education program in the Department of Leadership and Counselor Education.


Conference on the Philosophy and Development of Student Personnel Work in College and University, & American Council on Education (1937). The student personnel point of view. Washington, D.C.: The American council on education.



Spotlight: Julia Aubrey

Posted on: April 6th, 2017 by

The Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women at the University of Mississippi will highlight women on campus, starting in April 2017.

Photo by Kevin Bain. The Ford Center at sunset.

It has been an exciting and successful 2017-18 season and we look forward to our last two offerings as well as the myriad of activities that use the Ford Center such as India Night, Nepal Night, Phi Kappa Phi, Who’s Who, and Commencement. On April 22 and 23, the UM Opera Theatre and LOU Orchestra present the Benjamin Britten opera, Albert Herring. This is considered the best English comic opera of the 20th century and one that will delight the audience. When I was appointed Director of the Ford Center, I retained my faculty position as the Director of Opera Theatre. As I now sit in two “director’s chairs,” I have the unique opportunity to help create a memorable experience for our music students as they perform in this wonderful facility. Our last presentation of the regular season is the Russian National Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty on April 25. This is a beautiful production and the story ballets are always an audience favorite.

There are new initiatives in place that encourage collaborative projects between the Arts within the university and community. We just offered a live performance-art piece that combined live actors performing the poetry of Ann Fisher-Wirth and featuring the photography of Maude Shuyler Clay accompanied by transitional guitar music. Another big project planned for December 1, 2017 is a community and university collaborative performance of the famous Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors with professional guest artists, university students and faculty, and community singers supported by the LOU Orchestra. On that same evening, the LOU Orchestra with guest singers and the university choirs will present Handel’s oratorio, Messiah, including a sing-a-long with the audience of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

One of my favorite new initiatives is providing live theatre for children. New, and yet well established, is the expansion of the Youth Music Theatre Workshop that has been in place for over 20 years. Now housed in the Ford Center, and offering two separate classes, there will be several professionals joining my husband and me as we offer this popular music theatre workshop from June 12 – 23. Just a hint that it will feature trolls, Moana, and The Pirates of Penzance. And there is more to come for our youngest audience members. Next season I am coordinating with the Oxford schools to bring students into the Ford Center for age-appropriate performances during the day. We want to introduce children to live performances and help them develop an appreciation for the Arts and encourage them to explore the excitement and exhilaration of self-expression in music, theatre, dance, and storytelling.

Our vision is to incubate and curate a variety of performing arts that will entertain and inspire our community. Oxford is an Arts center and the Ford Center will continue to expand its reputation as an Arts leader in the town, state, and region. This facility is a gem and we want to encourage everyone to feel that there is something wonderful to explore as they enter the doors of this amazing performing arts center.

~ Julia Aubrey, Associate Professor of Music, serves as the Director of the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.