Nine Speakers Slated for 2021 TEDxUniversityOfMississippi Event

Photo courtesy of University of Mississippi Communications

Nine speakers will be presenters for the sixth annual TEDxUniversityofMississippi event March 9 at the University of Mississippi.

The in-person event begins at 7 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Ole Miss Box Office at 662-915-7411.

The event will follow the university’s COVID-19 protocols, which include mask wearing and social distancing.

“This year’s theme is ‘Resilience,'” said Caroline Steil, head of PR for TEDxUniversityofMississippi . “The speakers will share ideas on finding strength in challenging times.”

Coordinators for the event are Tallulah Jones, chief of staff, and Kylie Wright, TED assistant chief of staff. Kate Hooper, lecturer of speech in the UM Department of Writing and Rhetoric, serves as faculty adviser for the student organization.

This year’s speakers are:

  • Chris Cutcliffe, head football coach at Oxford High School, and Hunter Taylor, clinical assistant professor and recruiter for the Mississippi Teacher Corps. In fall 2017, Cutcliffe and Taylor began to collaborate on ways to turn OHS football into an organization that has lasting impact on its members. Using improvement science methods, they worked to create a family culture, develop future leaders and maximize the program’s on-field potential. In 2019, the OHS football team won a 6A state championship, the first in its history. They will share their methods, which can extend beyond the field to affect other organizational settings.
  • Kritika Gupta, a Ph.D student in nutrition at Ole Miss. Gupta is passionate about child nutrition, school wellness policies, science communication and mental health. Her research project aims to understand the resilience capacity of school food environments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her talk will emphasize that the pandemic has only “re-emphasized an already existing, horrific need for building hunger-resilient communities.”
  • Christopher Scott Hunter, assistant professor of architecture at Mississippi State University. An architectural historian, his research focuses on socio-cultural influences on the design and construction of early African American church buildings in the United States. Though many researchers have explored African American history and the civil rights movement, less attention has been paid “to the actual buildings that housed the events and hosted the people.”
  • David Magee, director of institutional advancement in the UM Office of Development. Magee works to save the lives of college students. His role as a change-maker in student behavior and wellness solutions started because of his son – an Honors College student and track athlete – who died of an accidental drug overdose not long after graduation. Magee’s memoir, “Dear William” (BenBella), written to his late son, is scheduled for publication in November. The William Magee Center on the Ole Miss campus is named in his son’s honor.
  • Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and Chamber of Commerce. EDF is a public-private partnership with a mission to lead, innovate and create opportunities for responsible economic investment that raises the per capita income for all citizens of Lafayette County. Maynard is an advocate for creating economic development by supporting ecosystems rather than subsidizing large industrial locations.
  • Elijah Mudryk, UM psychology doctoral student. He has published numerous articles on cultural integration that advised the federal leaders of a racial reconciliation program in British Columbia, Canada. His talk will draw from three personal experiences: his work with Syrian refugees in Canada, his graduate research on Black psychology and his studies of linguistic engineering by LGBT groups. By exploring the resilience of different social groups, he shows how we can learn from them and grow from what we share in common.
  • Michael Wade, UM military science instructor. An 18-year active-duty veteran and developer of the Ole Miss Army ROTC Cadet-Students’ Academic Adviser Guide and Workshop, Wade hopes his presentation will help people understand how they can better support and communicate with veterans returning from active duty.
  • Marcela Weber, UM psychology doctoral student. Weber is completing a clinical psychology internship in Albuquerque, providing mental health services to veterans and pediatric polytrauma survivors such as children involved in motor vehicle accidents. She has published eight articles and book chapters on psychological resilience in the context of traumatic events ranging from child abuse to disasters. Her talk will explore the connection between psychological resilience and preparedness.

“We are excited to see our community gather for this event,” Steil said. “This year’s innovative and inspirational TEDxTalks are curated to spark meaningful conversations about resilience in our local community and beyond.”


Written by University of Mississippi

Founded in 1848, the University of Mississippi, affectionately known to alumni, students and friends as Ole Miss, is Mississippi's flagship university. Included in the elite group of R-1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, it has a long history of producing leaders in public service, academics and business. With more than 24,000 students, Ole Miss is the state's largest university and is ranked among the nation's fastest-growing institutions.

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