Vision for CME

In 2008, Gov. Haley Barbour shared a vision with the leadership of the University of Mississippi and Toyota Motor Corp and together they established the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, a center created to provide students with the academic and real world experience needed to be successful leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in modern manufacturing.

Toyota leadership played a significant role in the creation of CME, as partial funding for the center was provided through a state incentive package that helped attract Toyota to Blue Springs where its $1.3 billion automotive manufacturing plant was being constructed.

Advisory Council Formed

Toyota leadership believed that CME should serve all manufacturers, thus the CME Advisory Council was formed with a diverse representation of manufacturers. Since its inception, the council has served as guide and advisor for CME’s coursework, student opportunities, and industry initiatives.

First Director Named

In 2008, Dr. James Vaughan became the founding director of the CME and began the work of developing the CME curriculum, as well as supporting the construction of CME’s 47,000-square-foot LEED-certified facility.

Growth Continues

In 2010, CME welcomed its first class of 27 freshmen. In 2012, the CME facility was named the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence and, in 2014, CME celebrated its first graduating class.

After serving the university for 35 years, CME founding director Dr. James Vaughan announced his retirement in 2015. In 2021, Dr. Scott Kilpatrick was named the third CME director and continues to lead the center today.

Always Moving Forward

Today, CME is actively involved in manufacturing initiatives across the region, consistently achieves a job or graduate program placement rate at or near 100%, and is the recipient of Mississippi Forge, a grant-funded project from the Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment.

As much as we have grown and accepted new challenges, our priority remains our students and their success. We continuously review our curriculum, with the guidance of CME’s Advisory Council, to ensure it is current and relevant; build partnerships with industry to facilitate co-op and internship opportunities for our students; employ faculty and instructors with manufacturing experience; and take pride in our graduates as they begin their careers in the manufacturing industry.

Since 2008 and continuing today, CME’s passion is preparing great students to make great things.