Dr. Robert Khayat: A Conversation With Chancellor Emeritus of The University of Mississippi

Dr. Robert Khayat: A Conversation with Chancellor Emeritus of The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) about remarkable changes in the image of the university, campus infrastructure, and students. Dr. Khayat’s distinguished leadership changed Ole Miss image.

Dr. Robert Khayat, Chancellor Emeritus (1995-2009), The University of Mississippi

Dr. Robert C. Khayat served as the 15th Chancellor of The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) from 1995 until his retirement in 2009. Educated at Yale and Ole Miss where he was an Academic All-American football and baseball player, Dr. Khayat received the NFL Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award. Under his outstanding leadership, the university experienced amazing changes, increased enrolment, campus infrastructure renovation, and addition of new facilities. Ole Miss hosted Obama’s First Presidential Debate in 2008.

Recently I met Chancellor Khayat regarding my new book on infrastructure management. Dr. Khayat spoke about Ole Miss and the amazing change that we observe and experience on the campus: grove, students, cultural diversity, and infrastructures. See video of Dr. Khayat’s conversation.

Highlights of Dr. Khayat’s conversation:

  • When Dr. Khayat became the Chancellor of Ole Miss, he talked about how he applied a philosophy of involving everyone on campus as a “team player” contributing to the growth and development of Ole Miss and its adaptation to the changed times, be it from technological standpoints to  architectural standpoints (from adding benches/trash cans everywhere on campus to prevent the littering of the campus and/or its scenic environment, to renovating/building entirely old buildings to fit the needs of the students). This philosophy was born from his being raised in a family with 6 other children, including the bonding and individual contribution to a football team as a whole while he was a player for the Ole Miss and NFL.
  • As Ole Miss was known for its negative image of riots against James Meridith, Khayat sought and brought gradual, positive changes for the University of Mississippi when he became Chancellor. It is often agreed within the Oxford community entirely that Khayat’s leadership itself was one of the most, if not THE most impactful, positive changes that happened for Ole Miss.
  • Beautiful but neglected campus of the university and increased student enrolment were top priorities that Khayat pursued to change including renovation of infrastructure, sustainable development, maintenance, and cultural diversity.

Dr. Khayat spoke highly about the scholarly qualities of engineering students and their  strengths in math and sciences, as well as being good citizens. He is glad to see the tremendous growth in the School of Engineering.

Dr. Uddin’s note: Dr. Khayat’s distinguished career as the 15th Chancellor changed the University of Mississippi campus like never before, culminating at the Civil Rights Monument dedication to honor the legacy of Dr. James Meredith, which I personally witnessed, and the 2008 Obama’s First Presidential debate. We appreciate the opportunity to hear from the Chancellor himself about his team approach to bring these extraordinary changes and national focus on the new face of the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, Mississippi.

Chancellor Khayat led the campaign to strengthen School of Engineering which grew over 100 percent in student enrolment to over 1,000 students with the addition of several new buildings and laboratory facilities.

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