Robyn Tannehill Has Vision For Oxford's Future, Respect for Its Legacy

Robyn Tannehill with husband Rhea and children Maggie, Jack and Molly Catherine.

The Vassallo Interviews — Steve Vassallo is a contributor who interviews Oxford’s and our region’s leading personalities.

Steve said, “Very few individuals I have met in my life have a résumé comparable to Robyn Tannehill. With all of her experiences and “hands on” knowledge, one has to pay attention when she takes a position. This lady has “been there and done it.” — Please tell our readers who is Robyn Tannehill.

Robyn — I grew up in Florence, AL. I came to Ole Miss in 1988 because of the passion of a recruiter (Lady Love Long). I majored in Art and Interior Design and joined Phi Mu Sorority. All in all it was a wonderful experience. I also met my husband here.  — You have had some interesting assignments in your professional career.

Robyn — My very first job was working for Ed Meek. Next, I was the Assistant Director of the Chamber and Economic Development Foundation for several years. This led into my next job which was the Executive Director of Tourism. My entrepreneurial spirit then took control when I opened the Tannehill Agency – a full-service marketing firm. — And what occupies your days in 2014?

Tannehill manages to juggle full-time motherhood and her alderman duties.

Robyn — I am a full-time mom with three great kids (Maggie 14; Jack 11; and Molly Catherine 10) and a community volunteer. I represent Ward 2 as Alderman with 3 years remaining. — What led you to seek public office?

Robyn — I have been here now for 26 years and have seen Oxford from the eyes of a student; city employee; parent; and small business owner. Oxford is a very unique place that we cannot take for granted. We are the crown jewel of Mississippi. Many people tell me that they want Oxford to stay like it is, but we all know that is not possible. We are growing faster than the infrastructure can keep pace. I want to see our single family neighborhoods protected. I wanted to be a part of planning for our future. — What are we doing to keep Oxford moving in the right direction in regards to improving our quality of life?

Robyn — We are currently reviewing all our ordinances. We have put teeth into our code enforcement. We are updating our long range plans. This is going slower than I wish, but we are headed in the right direction. — You said earlier that Oxford is the crown jewel of Mississippi. How do we maintain and build upon this image?

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The Double Decker Arts Festival, which has grown exponentially, was Tannehill’s vision.

Robyn — We are branding our image in order to create a sense of place. We are currently removing some buildings such as Fire Station #1 and the old National Guard Armory and  in their places installing green space and signage to make Oxford even more attractive and user friendly. — What is the relationship between Ole Miss and Oxford?

Robyn — Any relationship can be improved upon. We are so closely knit together and  complement each other. It is difficult to draw a fine line regarding where one ends and the other begins. We all have each other’s best interest at heart. The University has recently announced that they are planning to grow to an Oxford campus of 22,000. With only several hundred dorm rooms being added, this will create both opportunities and challenges for our city. — Your background includes a great deal of knowledge about planning.

Robyn with children Jack, 11; Maggie, 14; and Molly Catherine, 10.

Robyn — We must be proactive in this regard. Growth and change are only frightening if you haven’t planned for them. Vision 2020 was implemented in 1999. We are now 15 years into this plan that Georgia Tech facilitated. We are now in the early planning stages to contract for a new Strategic Blueprint. We already have a new Planning Director on board (Andrea Correll) who has a wealth of experience. — Double Decker has been quite a success here. Wasn’t this your vision?

Robyn — In 1993 I decided that we needed an event that showcased the music, food and art of Oxford. The following year, this was the first thing I proposed to the Tourism Council. With a core group of volunteers and many hours of sweat and tears, we made it happen. In our first year (1995) we estimated 9,000 people attended. This year the estimate was about 60,000. It is really amazing to me how it has grown.” — What does your  future look like? What challenges await?

Robyn Tannehill

Robyn — There is so much to do now and with 3 years remaining in my term, I am focused exclusively on doing the best job that I can. I will evaluate things in the future when I reach that crossroads. — You have contributed in other ways to this community above and beyond what we have discussed in the public sector.

Robyn — I am proud to be one of the founding members of Christ Presbyterian Church. Each Sunday we can anticipate around 500 folks attending our services.”

Steve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at or call him at 985-852-7745.


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