Marian Montgomery Chancellor (Staff)

Marian Montgomery Chancellor, pictured sitting at a patio table with a stack of books.

As manager of Mississippi State’s Center for Distance Education, Marian Montgomery Chancellor supervises the administration of 36 accredited online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs, as well as professional certificate programs from all eight of the university’s academic colleges.

“Many of our distance students are balancing work, family and financial responsibilities while pursuing their degrees,” Chancellor said.  “I am proud of the programs and services we are able to provide for our students who need a less traditional path to secure their education.”

Chancellor herself took an untraditional route to MSU.  After completing her bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Mississippi, the Columbus native followed her dream of moving to New York City to work in the publishing industry. 

“My far-fetched dream was to be a writer for Rolling Stone magazine,” she laughed. “Some would call it moxie, others youthful naiveté.”
Embracing her spirit of adventure, Chancellor waitressed for six months on the upper east side of New York City, but said “no one wanted to hire an English major fresh out of college to be an editorial assistant.”

Fortunately, a phone call to a friend put Chancellor in touch with an editor at Riverhead Books and helped land her a job at Penguin Putnam, Inc.

“Based on my experiences, I frequently talk with students about how important networking and building relationships are to achieving goals in life,” Chancellor said.  “You have to put yourself out there.” 

It was networking that got her into publishing and eventually writing professionally, first as a freelancer and then as an on-air TV news writer for Fox News.

“Through a friend at Penguin Putnam, I met a guy who worked for Rolling Stone Online,” she said. “I ended up writing interviews, concert reviews, and a Pick-of-the-Week act with coverage for the local music scene,” she said.

An interview with a producer for a Mississippi John Hurt cover album landed her a byline in Rolling Stone magazine, and her youthful dream came true.

Though Chancellor began a master’s degree program at New York University in education, she began to think about moving south.

“Five years had gone by, and the city was starting to wear on me,” she said.

In 2002, Chancellor came to MSU to complete her master’s degree in English. She taught college English classes and intensive English summer courses in the Fulbright pre-academic program for international graduate students before finding her home at the Center for Distance Education in 2008.  Again, networking came into play.

“A friend of mine who worked in CDE mentioned that they were hiring,” Chancellor said.

She began as a coordinator, responsible for distance programs in the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and College of Architecture, Art and Design. Her responsibilities increased with a promotion to lead coordinator, and in August 2016, she became manager.

“We have an incredible team that works diligently to assist departments with their distance programs and provides outstanding customer service to them and our students. We continue to expand our program offerings and enhance the quality of our student services so that the MSU online experience is the best in the country,” Chancellor said.