10/25/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Presidential Debate Host, Ole Miss, Conjures Message Of Change

OXFORD, Miss. -- As the University of Mississippi prepares to hold the first debate of the presidential campaign on campus this Friday, it is also preparing a message for the millions who will be watching: Ole Miss has changed.

The university's chancellor, Robert C. Khayat, a former Ole Miss football star, sees the debate as an unprecedented opportunity to supplant the image of the university formed in 1962, when white students and residents rioted, leaving two dead, in protest of the enrollment of the university's first black student, James Meredith.

"For many people, 1962 is locked in their memory, as far as Ole Miss is concerned," Mr. Khayat said. "Now, 46 years later, we're hosting the presidential debate and one of the candidates is an African-American. That, I think, speaks volumes about where we were and where we are."

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