OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA) - The University of Mississippi has enrolled one of its largest freshman classes ever this semester.
And, they weren't on campus long before they got a lesson on this new milestone in their lives.
In fact, they learned more than they ever imagined from someone who had an incredible story to tell.
The students come from various parts of the country and attended a recent orientation session at the Ole Miss campus.
This is a campus that has some of the most stately buildings and is known nationwide for its excellent academics.
It is also a university that is known for its share of conflicts in decades past.
And, someone who knows well about those conflicts is Dr. Don Cole.
He is an Ole Miss math professor and also assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs.
His message to these students is more than just the importance of being at the right place at the right time, but also is also about respect for others and the importance of freedom and that we live in a global society.
These are issues he very much appreciates.
"I often tell the story about a Chemistry class that I walked in my freshman year," recalls Dr. Cole. "And, the books weren't in and the instructor just sort of said, well the books are not in so, pull up next to somebody and look on with those who have books. And, I remember looking around to my left and nobody was in the whole row; to my right, nobody was in that whole row. Nobody was in front of me, nobody was behind me, like a little island."
Information like that gets the attention of the new Ole Miss students.
Dr. Cole also spends much of his time learning more about where the students and their families are from and what they hope to area they hope to study at the university.
Part of the orientation at the university is spent to caution students about being responsible when using social media.
It wasn't that long ago that on the night of the presidential elections that an incident was publicized through social media.
And, school officials say much of the information was false and hurt a lot of what the school had worked hard toward over the years of having the proper image of a respectful campus.
"It just all but destroyed years and years of work. And, so it's important that we give thought to the things that we do," said Dr. Cole.
And, it is different today on the university's campus.
Because today, when men like Dr. Don Cole walk down a sidewalk where he once was confronted, he is instead embraced and has become the center of respect and admiration.