The Greenwood native has used his leadership positions in academia to fight “enduring concentrated poverty” in the Mississippi Delta. As the new director of McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi, Nylander said he plans to continue focusing efforts towards improving statewide and national public good.
“The University of Mississippi has built a solid reputation for community service. I am honored to be associated with these efforts, as well as serve in a leadership role to coordinate future projects addressing poverty throughout the state,” said Nylander, professor of sociology. The McLean Institute existed for many years as a small unit within the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Under founding director Vaughn Grisham, who retired several years ago, the institute became a leader in the field of community development. From that strong foundation, the McLean Institute is being dramatically expanded as part of UM 2020, the university’s recently adopted strategic plan, which calls for an increase in service to benefit Mississippi. The plan to expand the institute has received support from donors, as well, including an anonymous $600,000 gift. The goal of the expanded McLean Institute is straightforward but ambitious: to rally UM to purposefully apply its talent and knowledge to improve lives across the state.
Chancellor Dan Jones said the University of Mississippi faculty, staff, students and alumni have always been leaders in service.
“They look for opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the state, the nation and the world. Under the direction of Dr. Nylander, the McLean Institute will facilitate our students, faculty, and staff participating in civic engagement in more meaningful and productive ways,” Jones said.
Stephen Monroe, Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, agreed and said, “All of us realize that poverty and its related problems abound in our state. Our talented faculty, staff, students, and alumni want to make a difference. The McLean Institute will support and coordinate this important work.”
“The institute will organize and expand volunteerism, service-learning, community-based research, and social entrepreneurship. By establishing long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with school districts and non-profits, our flagship university will seek to fight poverty and improve opportunity for all Mississippians,” he said.
Nylander added that the institute will support and promote new and existing community engagement and service learning activities on campus.
“We already have some impressive service initiatives in place. For example, faculty and students in the School of Engineering are working in the Mississippi Delta to assist with flood planning. Our goal will be to support ongoing projects, even as we encourage new activities. We will also seek to connect faculty who may be unknowingly working in the same area. Oftentimes, we can increase our impact simply by coordinating our efforts.” he said.
Prior to his appointment at UM, Nylander spent 15 years serving as dean of graduate studies and continuing education and chair of the Division of Social Sciences at Delta State University in Cleveland. He was also professor of sociology and community development.
Nylander earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1992 and a master’s in sociology in 1994 from the University of Mississippi. He earned his doctoral degree in sociology in 1998 from Mississippi State University.
For more information on the McLean Institute at the University of Mississippi call Albert Nylander at 662-915-2050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.