Dr. Marvin P. King has become an active member of the Oxford community in the last ten years.
King was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. He completed his undergrad at the University of Texas in Austin, and got his PhD at the University of North Texas. He lived in three big Texas cities before moving to the small town of Oxford in 2005.
“It was a bit of an adjustment,” King says. “For me the adjustment wasn’t moving from Texas to Mississippi, it was moving from a big city to a small town.”
However, King has seemed to adjust just fine, he founded a running club and is on the board of the Oxford’s Parks Commission, in addition to all of the work he’s done at the University. King is an assistant professor of political science and African American studies. He has published many works on elections and elections and race.
He aims at getting the students involved in the community as well.
King is the Senior Fellow at the Residential College South dorm on campus. He and his family live in the building, and he helps with activities and programming. Last year, he added a service requirement to the dorm. Students living in the RC must complete eight hours of community service a semester.
“It’s really a great way to learn not only about the community you live in, but about yourself,” King says. “Figuring out what things really motivate you and what drive you.”
King practices what he preaches. He volunteers about 15 hours a week to his running club, Run Oxford. He started the club in 2013 with a grant from the University. He created a couch to 5k program to help get members of the community physically active. Over an eight week period, he got citizens that didn’t exercise to run a three mile race.
One of the ladies in the program got off her diabetes medication because of her participation with Run Oxford.
“I’m really proud of that you know, that there can be really good concrete results,” King says.
Since the club started two years ago, the organization has created more races and group runs in the community. Next year, Run Oxford is planning a half marathon for the city. The running group recently started giving back to the community. The group started raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, after a member of the running group’s granddaughter passed away from cancer.
The Run Oxford club has about 70-80 runners of all different ages. Jody Holland, the assistant professor of the department of public policy and leadership, joined the running group six months ago.
“We’ve seen a lot of different age groups which is pretty cool because a lot of students are getting involved in it,” Holland says. “We have kind of a core group of individuals that are community leaders or continuing to stabilize the organization.”
King says the key to success in college is community engagement and physical activity. He brings the two together with his Run Oxford program. He wants students to gain this perspective in their time at Ole Miss. King wants students “to find a way to make it not work, but kind of a lifestyle.”
A lifestyle he has adapted to in Oxford.
King says the University of Mississippi influenced him to get involved. He said the previous chancellor, Dan Jones, really emphasized community involvement. “It’s just something that I’ve learned,” says King. “It’s a part of me being here.”
King’s move from a big city to a small town, forced him to engage with his community, and learn all that it has to offer. He says service gives him a larger perspective of his surroundings.
“We’re all focused on things you have to do that day,” King admits. “Your friends, your class, your family. Doing service forces you to think about what do they need, what do they want, how can I help someone else. It’s a good thing to experience and grow from. It forces us to think about others.”
King’s best advice for students is to explore the town of Oxford and get involved during their four years at school. “You’re here for four years,” King says. “That's a long time. The time is there, it's just how you use it.”
In his ten years at the University, King has engaged and made an impact on his community.