Department of Public Policy Leadership

University of Mississippi








Dr. Melissa Bass; Associate Professor


Office: Odom 108

Phone: 662-915-1440

B.A., Indiana University-Bloomington; M.A. in public affairs, University of Minnesota; Ph.D. in politics, Brandeis University

Specialization: U.S. politics and the policy process, social policy, civic engagement

Dr. Bass is interested in the politics of the policy process and how they influence policy outcomes, especially as they relate to U.S. social policy—education, health care, welfare and the like—and to civic engagement—how citizens are engaged in politics and public life. She has published a book on U.S. national service policy and is currently researching U.S. infant adoption policies.

“My goal in teaching is to help students connect theory and practice, whether through civic engagement projects, service learning or writing research papers that are of use to advocates and policymakers. I want students to know that they can have an impact not just after they graduate but through their education as well.”

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Dr. Weixing (Mark) Chen; Chair and Professor


Office: Odom 104

Phone: 662-915-7347

B.A. in English and literature, Shandong University; M.A. in international relations and law, College of International Relations, Beijing; Ph.D. in political science, Northern Illinois University

Specialization: Comparative political and policy analysis, international politics, and Chinese politics and policy process.

Dr. Chen teaches courses in the category of “international policies”. He is a lecturing professor at Shandong Normal University and North China University of Technology and a Guest Professor at Shandong University in China.  He was a visiting professor at Tsinghua University and Renmin University in China and a visiting research fellow at the National University of Singapore. He served as President of the Association of Chinese Political Studies in 2001-2003 and on the editorial board of three professional journals. Before joining the University of Mississippi as chair of Department of Public Policy Leadership in 2013, Dr. Chen was chair of Department of Political Science, International Affairs & Public Administration at East Tennessee State University (ETSU).

As a scholar, he has published articles in professional journals and books and contributed chapters to many books.


Dr. Kyle Fritz; Assistant Professor


Office: Odom 306

Phone: 662-915-2763

B.A. in Philosophy and History, Millikin University
M.A. in Philosophy, University of Florida
Ph.D. in Philosophy, Florida State University
Specialization: Ethics and Moral Responsibility

Dr. Fritz teaches courses connecting philosophy with public policy. As a philosopher and ethicist, he is concerned with the reasoning processes behind both good and bad policy, as well as with the values that underwrite and are expressed in policy. One theme of Dr. Fritz’s courses is that in the United States there are many diverse values, and these values can lead to inconsistent policies and conflict in policy preference. He aims to help students appreciate the sources of these inconsistencies and conflicts and to resolve them through careful reasoning. Beyond public policy, Dr. Fritz is interested in our normative practices and in the nature and conditions of moral responsibility. He has published in The Philosophical Quarterly and Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

“I believe that a philosophy instructor should teach students how to think rather than what to think. I structure my courses so that students can (1) develop justified, internally consistent beliefs, (2) learn how to critically evaluate not only the beliefs and arguments of others, but also their own, and (3) learn to write and speak more clearly, critically, and persuasively.”


Dr. Joseph (Jody) Holland; Assistant Professor


Office: 106 Odom Hall

Phone: 662-915- 1362

B.A. in Business Administration, Delta State University; MSM in Management, Belhaven University, Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration, Mississippi State University

Specialization: Public policy and administration, food policy, nonprofit management and grant writing, economic development

Dr. Holland teaches public policy course that range from general policy issues to specialized policies such as food policy, economic development, and technology policy. Using a critical analysis perspective, Jody teaches solution-based strategies to enhance the creation and implementation of public policy. In addition, he pursues an engaged scholarship agenda with non-profit organizations that promote rural community development and advocate farmers’ issues. His work can be found in Review of Public Personnel Administration (ROPPA), Handbook of Employee Benefits and Administration, Journal of Transportation and Land Use, Public Works Management and Policy and The Journal of Nutrition and Hunger.

As a researcher, Jody has collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Highway Administration (FWHA), Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Delta Regional Authority (DRA), Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), and the National Center for Intermodal Transportation for Economic Competitiveness (NCITEC).

“I believe that students attend my class to gain knowledge that they can use inside and outside of the classroom. I believe each class has its own personality, and therefore, the students have a variety of expectations and skills that will empower them to take advantage of the learning environment. It is my intent to help students become engaged learners, collaborative thinkers, and effective communicators.”


Crystal Jones; Administrative Coordinator II


Office: 105 Odom 

Phone: 662-915-7347; Fax: 662-915-1954

B.B.A in Business Administration and Management, University of Mississippi

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Crystal Ferrier Jones serves as the Administrative Coordinator II for the Department of Public Policy Leadership. She began working at The University of Mississippi June of 1999 and started working in Public Policy Leadership in August of 2013.


Photo at Ole Miss Crop 300ppi

Dr. David Rutherford; Associate Professor; Executive Director, Mississippi Geographic Alliance 


Office: Odom 111; Office Hours: T’s & Th’s 11:00 – Noon & 2:00 – 3:00, or by appointment

Phone: 662-915-1337


B.A. in geography, University of California, Santa Barbara; M.A. in geography, California State University, Fullerton; Ph.D. in geography and geographic education, Texas State University, San Marcos

Specialization: Geography and major forces of change in the contemporary world

Dr. Rutherford teaches about the diverse peoples, places, environments and processes of change in the contemporary world so that students will be better prepared to exercise leadership and informed decision making at local, national, and global levels.

Dr.Rutherford’s broad background in research and teaching in geography covers physical, human, regional, technical and educational components of the discipline, and his specialty is in education policy related to geography at both K-12 and university levels. Rutherford is executive director of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance, which works to strengthen K-12 geographic education throughout the Magnolia State and is headquartered at The University of Mississippi. Rutherford’s professional employment has included visitor service and resource management positions in state and national parks, outdoor education, and teaching geography and earth science at the secondary level.

Dr. Christian Sellar; Associate Professor


Office: Lott 308

Phone: 662-915-6613


curriculum vitæ

B.A. and M.A. in communication studies, Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy; Ph.D. in geo-history and geo-economy of border regions, Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy; Ph.D. in geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Specialization: Economic and human geography

Dr. Sellar’s primary teaching interest is in the area of regional economic/social development, economic governance, international political economy and institutional change. He focuses on the integration of the European Union, the post-socialist transformation of Eastern Europe and Russia, and the role of foreign direct investments in triggering economic and political change. His teaching draws on economic geography, particularly regional geography, economic sociology and political economy.

“My teaching has been heavily influenced and shaped by the opportunity to work with colleagues and students in the United States, Italy and Russia. My undergraduate and Ph.D. studies in Italy, along with teaching experience in Russia, accustomed me to lecturing and the idea that a good teacher is able to set a relatively high bar in order to let each student feel positively challenged but not frustrated.”

Nidhi Vij Portrait

Dr. Nidhi Vij Mali; Assistant Professor


Office: Odom 110

Phone: 662-915-1336

B.A. in Economics (Hons), University of Delhi, India

M.A. in Economics, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India

Ph.D in Public Administration, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Syracuse

Specialization: Public Management & Policy Analysis, Social Welfare Policies, Information Communication Technologies, Collaborative Governance

Dr. Vij teaches courses in policy design and analysis. Her research focuses on the use mobile technologies in public administration, and social welfare policies in a global comparative context. She is interested in the impact of these new ideas on bureaucratic processes, collaborative governance, and community public participation. She is also interested in developing impact evaluation designs and implementation for social programs. Dr. Vij has published in American Review of Public Administration and International Journals such as IDS Bulletin and Human Affairs.

“I believe in three pedagogical principles: clarity of concepts, creative understanding, and critical thinking. Clarity of theoretical concepts is like playing with Lego blocks- “breaking down the blocks and building them up again.” Creative understanding involves learning in more than one way by articulating theories differently based on the context, relevance and application, and also understanding plural perspectives through shared experiences. Critical thinking enables the students to a gain a comprehensive perspective, not only from their own beliefs but also from a contradictory viewpoint. These skills are essential in policy development and analysis.”