July 6, 2020

The past few days have brought rising criticism of the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) that questions past action, its current state, and its future direction.  We take those concerns very seriously.  In the coming days, we will be assembling a planning committee that will include faculty and staff of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture (CSSC); a representative from the University of Mississippi (UM) College of Liberal Arts; and representatives of the SFA staff and board.  We will also consult with purposefully diverse voices from broader constituencies, including the world of non-profit institutes, food studies, and other academic organizations with similar missions.

By mutual consent with the SFA, the CSSC will play a leadership role in this process, working to clarify the precise nature of the relationship between them.  As the academic home of undergraduate and graduate programs in Southern Studies and in Documentary Expression, the Center is committed to principles of equity and inclusiveness, and it does not take lightly the implication that these have been inconsistently applied.

On or before September 1, we will share the first steps of a plan for the future of the SFA.  We will work within the framework of UM employment guidelines, as well as within guidelines from the College of Liberal Arts regarding individual unit reviews.  Parts of that plan will necessarily require time for us to develop and implement so that we do not jeopardize the future of the organization as a whole.  Clearly the SFA inspires deep feeling and what comes next for it matters to a great many people, including the two of us.

Kathryn B. McKee
Director, The Center for the Study of Southern Culture

Lee Cohen
Dean, College of Liberal Arts