Oxford professor challenges the public to Run Oxford

Jac Bedrossian
The Oxford Eagle

An Oxford professor is challenging community members to take charge of their health by joining a club he recently helped found called Run Oxford.

San Antonio native Marvin P. King completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas in Austin, earning a doctorate from the University of North Texas. King lived in three big Texas cities before moving to Oxford in 2005.

“It was a bit of an adjustment,” he said. “For me, the adjustment wasn’t moving from Texas to Mississippi. It was moving from a big city to a small town.”

King has since helped bring some big ideas to Oxford. He helped  found a running club and serves on Oxford Parks Commission board.

King is also an assistant professor of political science and African American studies, who has published many works on elections and race.

He is also 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,” he said. “(You’re) figuring out what things really motivate you and what drive you.”

King volunteers about 15 hours a week for 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 community members physically active. Over an eight week period, he motivated citizens who didn’t exercise to run a three-mile race.

One of the ladies in the program eliminated 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,” he said.

Since the club started two years ago, the organization has created 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 by raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, after a member of the running group’s granddaughter passed away from cancer.

Run Oxford has about 70-80 runners of all different ages.

Jody Holland, 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 said. “We have kind of a core group of individuals who are community leaders or continuing to stabilize the organization.”

King said the key to success in college is community engagement and physical activity. He merges the two with Run Oxford, and he wants more students to become involved.

King says the University of Mississippi influenced him to get involved. Previous chancellor, Dan Jones, really emphasized community involvement.

“It’s just something that I’ve learned,” King said. “It’s a part of me being here.”

King’s move from big city to small town forced him to engage with his community and learn all it has to offer. He said service gives him a larger perspective of his surroundings.

“We’re all focused on things you have to do that day,” King said. “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.”

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