University of Mississippi


University of Mississippi
M Partner
Case Type
Program Stories
School Size
20,000 - 40,000
Focus Areas
Democratic Governance, Economic and Social Inclusion
Anthropology, Biology, Hospitality Management, Leadership, Library Sciences, Marketing, Nutrition, Pharmacy, Public Policy, Sociology

M Partner

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M Partner aligns university resources with community priorities to improve quality of life. The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement has adapted the national EPIC model to best suit the dynamics of campus and community partners. The EPIC Model, which stands for Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities, creates time-bound partnerships between universities and the elected officials of a selected municipality. While many EPIC programs work with large cities where member universities are located, M Partner works with municipalities with populations ranging from 1,200 to 8,000. As a result, M Partner blends curricular and co-curricular approaches to maximize community engagement opportunities. This innovative strategy earned M Partner recognition as a finalist for the EPIC Network’s 2020 Outstanding Program Award.

The pilot phase of M Partner took place from 2018-2020. The inaugural M Partner communities were Charleston (Tallahatchie County), Lexington (Holmes County), and New Albany (Union County). During the pilot phase, 25 faculty and staff members engaged more than 400 students in 35 courses and projects, 18 programs and special events, and 15 national service placements in M Partner communities. These efforts reached an estimated 8,000 individuals across the three pilot communities.

The current phase of M Partner is working in Ecru and Pontotoc, two communities located in Pontotoc County. These partnerships permit the McLean Institute to build momentum along the Tanglefoot Trail corridor, and to promote economic development, expand educational enrichment, elevate local history, and encourage visitors to the Tanglefoot Trail. During the 2020-2021 academic year, 22 faculty and staff members engaged more than 165 students and VISTA members in 18 courses and projects, 4 special events, and 3 national service placements.

Fun Facts about M Partner

The University of Mississippi launched their pilot year in response to a challenge from their chancellor. 

“Imagine what we can do if we channel the talents of our university — our entire university — to partner with towns and cities — one at a time — to enhance every aspect of community life.  Imagine!”

– Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, inaugural address, Nov. 4, 2016. 

The M Partner program is another example of an institution adopting the EPIC Model and the support from EPIC-N as a school-wide initiative.

M Partner will be a joint effort between the UM Oxford campus and the UM Medical Center in Jackson. This approach has the potential to impact partner communities across the state with a broad range of courses and programs.

Highlight Articles/Videos

UM, Community Partners Organize Bilingual Health Fair in Pontotoc
McLean Institute Teams with Pontotoc Leaders to Help Small Businesses
UM Announces New Towns for M Partner Community Improvement Program
M Partner Celebrates Successful Pilot Phase
M Partner Celebrates Successful Pilot Phase in Charleston
M Partner Celebrates Successful Pilot Phase in Lexington
M Partner Celebrates Successful Pilot Phase in New Albany

City Partners

2018 | Charleston • Population: 1,800
2018 | Lexington • Population: 2,200
2018 | New Albany • Population: 8,800

Contact Details

Laura Martin
M Partner Director
Associate Director
(662) 915-2078

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