UM Announces New Towns for M Partner Community Improvement Program

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Chancellor Glenn Boyce (left) and ecru Mayor Jeff Smith shake hands after signing deals with Mr Partner on Friday January 22. Photo by Thomas Graning / Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Mississippi – Following the successful launch of a pilot program that has helped three cities in Mississippi complete community improvement projects, the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement to University of Mississippi launched phase 2 of its M Partner program with the addition of two other municipalities.

The city of Ecru and the city of Pontotoc are partner communities for the next phase of Partner M, announced on Friday (January 22). The two communities identified priority projects to promote economic development, uplift local history, expand educational enrichment, create public art, and encourage visitors to Tanglefoot Trail.

This next phase of the initiative will run until August 2022.

“The University of Mississippi is defined by a strong sense of shared community, compassion and caring for others,” said Chancellor Glenn Boyce. “It’s true within our university, and it’s true more broadly throughout the state we serve. Our cities are full of potentials that our university can help cultivate and unleash.

“M Partner is a fantastic program and a powerful vehicle for the university to live up to its commitment to Mississippi.”

McLean Institute administrators have expressed high expectations for the growth of the program.

“We are excited to kick off the Spring 2021 semester with the participation of students and faculty from the College of Liberal Arts, Honors College, School of Journalism, and School of Law, and look forward to further collaborations. on campus, “said Laura Martin, M Associate Director and Associate Director of the McLean Institute.

“We know there is a lot of positive momentum for community and economic development along the Tanglefoot Trail. We are grateful to our new community partners for their enthusiasm and willingness to continue this collaboration with the university.

The pilot phase of M Partner worked with Charleston, Lexington and New Albany. In the pilot communities, priority projects focused on economic development, educational attainment, community health and wellness, and beautification.

“The next phase of M Partner will focus on one county, Pontotoc County, and build on our work in New Albany by expanding MU’s involvement on the Tanglefoot Trail,” said Martin. “Projects always revolve around quality of life, with an added focus on the Tanglefoot Trail as more people seek outdoor recreational activities while practicing physical distancing during COVID. “

Officials from both communities said they hoped the university’s involvement would provide “fresh eyes” and that the expertise of faculty and students in certain departments could help solve problems that can sometimes be overwhelming.

“Part of my job is to find ways to improve the quality of life for my constituents and in doing so, retain them and attract other voters,” said Ecu Mayor Jeff Smith. “Finding the needs and wants of people living in the community and then meeting those needs is a goal. We want to have a positive impact on the people of our community.

Chancellor Glenn Boyce (left) and Pontotoc Mayor Bob Peeples sign deals with Mr Partner on Friday January 22. Photo by Thomas Graning / Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Pontotoc Mayor Bob Peeples said his community can benefit from the resources of the university, while allowing UM students to gain hands-on experiences to put their education into practice.

“Pontotoc’s proximity to Ole Miss makes it a perfect fit for this program,” Peeples said. “With cities’ budget constraints, finding new, cost-effective ways to serve fellow Mississippians is a top priority. “

M Partner is one of several community engagement initiatives hosted by the McLean Institute. The institute provides strategic direction for M Partner and acts as an intermediary to connect faculty, staff and students with community partners.

“When these connections are made, students can apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world situations, faculty can pursue community-engaged research partnerships, and community organizations can make tangible progress on their priority projects. Said Albert Nylander, McLean director of the institute. “We strive to practice mutually beneficial and empowering partnerships where everyone can learn and grow. “

The institute has also created links between its flagship programs – M Partner, Catalysing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and North Mississippi VISTA Project – to create additional connection points and foster the sustainability of these community-campus partnerships.

For more information on the McLean Institute and its programs, visit https://mclean.olemiss.edu/.

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