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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

College of Liberal Arts James Meredith Changemaker Award

James Meredith Changemaker Award

Photo of crystal award presented to winner of the James Meredith Changemaker award

The crystal award presented to Mr. James Meredith during the 60th anniversary of integration celebration in Fall 2022.

About the Award

The College of Liberal Arts James Meredith Changemaker Award honors an extraordinary graduating undergraduate senior majoring in the College of Liberal Arts who has made significant positive change in broadening access, participation, and opportunities in higher education for individuals from minoritized or underrepresented groups. This award is intended to highlight the work for change that is often not recognized at the time it is being done. It is an award that also recognizes the personal courage and resilience required to do such work while also pursuing a college degree. Given the varied nature of the many academic disciplines contained within the College, this award will reflect the multitude of ways that students in these disciplines– the fine and performing arts, the natural sciences and mathematics, the humanities, and the social sciences – can use the knowledge they gain to change the world for the better. Mr. Meredith has dedicated a lifetime of work to ensuring that all Mississippians – and all people – have full access to the power of education. Awardees of the College of Liberal Arts James Meredith Changemaker Award will be students who walk in his footsteps, continuing the difficult and critical work of change and transformation.

James Meredith in cap and gown at UM graduation.

James Meredith at the University of Mississippi commencement ceremony.


Nominations for potential award recipients will be open November 30, 2023 through February 7, 2024. Faculty, Staff, and students may nominate graduating seniors majoring in the College of Liberal Arts. Self nominations are welcomed. Nominees will be invited to complete applications for the award. The winner of the award will receive a monetary award from the College.

Student Application Submissions

Nominees will receive a notification from the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts inviting them to submit their application for consideration. Nominations will be reviewed, and finalists will be selected by the College of Liberal Arts James Meredith Changemaker Award, Co-Chaired by Dr. Kirsten Dellinger and Valeria Beasley Ross. The finalists will be announced at the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s Annual Award Event on April 4, 2024. The winner of the award will be announced at the Annual College of Liberal Arts Award Event on April 25, 2024. Each finalist will received the College of Liberal Arts Medal. The winner will receive the College of Liberal Arts James Meredith Changemaker Award Medal, a plague, and a monetary award.

Additional Information

Please watch your email and/or the College of Liberal Arts website for additional information in the new year! Any questions about the award can be directed to Kirsten Dellinger, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, College of Liberal Arts at or Valeria Ross, Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, College of Liberal Arts at

James Meredith shaking hands with College of Liberal Arts Dean, Lee Cohen on stage at the Ford Center. Dean Cohen is presenting an award to Mr. Meredith.

Lee M. Cohen, dean of liberal arts (right), congratulates James Meredith during an event honoring the 60th anniversary of Meredith’s enrollment at the University of Mississippi.

History and Background

On September, 28, 2022, Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, announced the James Meredith Changemaker Award, which will recognize graduating undergraduate students majoring in the College of Liberal Arts who have helped broaden access, participation and opportunities in higher education for minorities or individuals from underrepresented groups.

Meredith, who in 1962 became the first African American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, graduated in August 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in political science which is a major and an academic Department housed in the College of Liberal Arts. Following graduation, he continued to study political science at University of Ibadan in Nigeria before earning a law degree at Columbia University.

Student listening intently

Pathways to Equity

We are engaged in a 5-year “Pathways to Equity” strategic plan at the University and College levels and are committed to institutional transformation in practices and policies that will support the work of scholars in these fields. As the flagship public institution in the state of Mississippi, we are committed to increasing access to education for all Mississippians. We seek to increase capacity for robust inclusive teaching and mentoring practices that will create pathways of support and success for students from historically underrepresented and marginalized groups and desire candidates with demonstrated commitment and promise in these areas.

Past Finalists and Winners

Alumnus James Meredith and Judy Meredith (seated) with finalists for the College of Liberal Arts James Meredith Changemaker Award (wearing medals) and Kirsten Dellinger, Lee M. Cohen, and Val Ross