A few years ago when I first met Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones, I remember him distinctly saying to me, “The University of Mississippi is a better place because you chose to come here.”
I am certain that he has told other students that as well. Frankly, I believe he sincerely means those words when he says them.
Those words have stuck with me throughout my last three years on campus.
Yesterday while he was addressing the newly inducted Columns Society members, he shared with us two anecdotes that shape his outlook on humble service. To the best of my ability, I will recall what he spoke about yesterday.
One of the stories involved his father. Jones spoke about how his father would go to extraordinary lengths to help one particular young boy.
The chancellor noted that his father often inconvenienced himself as well as Jones when aiding this young man.
However, that is not what makes the service Jones’ father provided amazing.
It is the fact that the chancellor’s father continually helped this young man despite the fact that he did not show any gratitude.
Jones’s father routinely gave the young man rides around town knowing he would not get anything in return.
That is the spirit in which we should aspire to serve not only our university but the Oxford community as a whole.
The second anecdote the chancellor provided may be the most extreme example of humble service I have ever heard.
He told us of a deacon he met during his time in Korea. In my opinion, this man embodies every quality of a truly selfless person.
He sold his home and lived in a tent not once but twice to raise money for a greater cause.
I admired the man’s magnanimous generosity. Chancellor Jones admired the man’s courage to put his wife through that ordeal twice.
As I listened to the stories Jones shared, I suddenly realized exactly the kind of man he is: He is someone who will go to extraordinary lengths to serve this university. He is a man who puts the needs of others before self.
You are certainly a leader like no other.