Women’s Council Legacy Award Salutes Barksdales

April 11 events honor couple for providing opportunities for young people

Donna and Jim Barksdale

Donna and Jim Barksdale

OXFORD, Miss. – Visionary education champions Donna and Jim Barksdale, of Jackson, have been selected for the 2014 Legacy Award given by the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions as philanthropists, leaders and mentors and through these contributions have brought about definitive, positive change in the University of Mississippi, the state and nation.

The Barksdales will be honored April 11 on the Oxford campus. To begin the festivities, they will address students at noon in the Overby Center, followed by a reception with faculty members. The award presentation begins with a 6:30 p.m. reception and 7:30 p.m. dinner at The Inn at Ole Miss.

The couple is being honored because of their extensive and continual efforts to elevate and promote education in Mississippi. They have both initiated and built programs of scholarship and mentoring that have impacted thousands of students. They continue to create new ideas for educational improvement and provide the funds and personal time to see these programs grow and achieve success.

In reflecting on their investments that are changing the future of many Mississippians, Jim Barksdale explained that while working on public education in California, when he was president and CEO of Netscape, he realized his efforts were needed more in Mississippi. He says his home state is a solid investment “because it needs it the most.”

“Donna and I are humbled, proud and delighted to be chosen for the Legacy Award,” Barksdale said. “Happiness comes from knowing we’re doing something worthwhile. We have continued our work because we are inspired by seeing our successes reflected in positive outcomes for thousands of children. We try to make investments in philanthropy efforts where results can be measured.”

Jim Barksdale heads the Barksdale Management Corp., a philanthropic investment company, and Donna Barksdale is president of the Mississippi River Trading Co. Both have served in important leadership roles throughout the state. However, their deep desire to improve education in Mississippi has indeed resulted in effective programs in which they stay closely involved. They both define visionary leadership in education, according to the Ole Miss Women’s Council, or OMWC.

Donna Barksdale initiated and helped establish the Youth Employment Program at Lanier High School in Jackson. The program mentors high school juniors and seniors, placing them in productive summer jobs that help to prepare them for college and/or professional education. Her experiences in helping found and serving as chair of Leadership Jackson, serving as president of the Jackson Junior League and devoting her time to board service such as that for Habitat for Humanity have given her insights into educational needs.

Jim Barksdale led in establishing the Barksdale Reading Institute, which devotes programs, time and energy into discerning ways for all children to read − the basis for success. This program continues to research ways to improve resources and teaching methods that will result in better reading skills for Mississippi’s children. He is also involved with Teach for America and UM’s Principal Corps program, which also positively affects thousands of lives.

The Barksdales continue to support the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, which was key to sheltering a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Ole Miss and is considered among the nation’s top three honors colleges. They have established an extensive scholarship program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, focusing on minority students. They both serve on the board of America’s Promise Alliance, founded by Colin and Alma Powell, and are also involved in other state and national programs that benefit young people,

Mary Ann Frugé of Oxford, OMWC chair, describes the Barksdales as among the most philanthropic couples in the state and nation.

“While there are extremely generous individuals and couples throughout our society, I don’t believe any surpass Donna and Jim Barksdale,” she said. “Their deep-rooted and sincere personal outreach has made and continues to make powerful impacts in many areas. Donna and Jim have used their personal business and life successes to create programs that allow others to flourish. Their separate and individual endeavors and accomplishments epitomize what the Ole Miss Women’s Council tries to teach and support.”

Jan Farrington, a founding member and past OMWC chair, agreed, saying, “Donna and Jim Barksdale are being honored with the Legacy Award because, individually and collectively, they have focused their lives and their resources on making life better for other people. They challenge themselves and others to find ways to make a difference in Mississippi. Both of them have been and continue to be true visionaries as philanthropists, leaders and mentors. Their work in these three areas touches lives in quiet, personal ways but also brings about monumental change that makes our state a better home for everyone.”

The Legacy Award is a focus of the 14-year-old OMWC, which recognizes that meaningful lives and careers in and beyond college rely on strong relationships and nurturing support. Mentorship, therefore, is the cornerstone of OMWC scholarships, and almost 100 students have blossomed under this program.

Previous Legacy Award recipients have been Leigh Ann Tuohy, Olivia Manning, and Gov. William and Elise Winter.

OMWC’s endowments total $10.9 million, and each new scholarship is recognized in the Rose Garden adjacent to the university’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

C-Spire is the presenting sponsor for this year’s Legacy Award. FedEx Corp. is the platinum sponsor, and gold sponsors are FNC Inc., Butler Snow, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Yates Construction. Newk’s, Sigma Chi Fraternity and Sanderson Farms are silver sponsors.

To purchase an award banquet ticket ($125 per person), visit http://www.olemissalumni.com/events or call 662-915-2384. All proceeds from this event will benefit OMWC mentoring programs and leadership training. To learn more about establishing an OMWC scholarship, contact Sarah Hollis, associate director of University Development, at 662-915-1584 or shollis@olemiss.edu, or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/omwc.

UM Journalism School Offers Narrative-Focused Master’s Degree

Students will take multimedia storytelling, documentary classes

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media has developed a specialized professional master’s degree to train journalists in the art of narrative storytelling.

The new program is aimed at helping media professionals improve their narrative storytelling across multiple media platforms. The new degree comes at a time when journalism is evolving.

“Journalism is changing so much,” said Joseph B. Atkins, UM professor of journalism. “The program is not only for traditional students, but professional journalists who want to raise their skills up a notch and also have the time to do those projects they don’t have the time to do in a newsroom today.”

The new master’s program was approved by the Meek School’s Graduate Faculty Committee in March 2013 and by the UM Graduate Council in October. The school joins a growing number of universities offering the same kind of course and programs, including the University of Texas, New York University and the University of California at Berkeley.

The core classes offered in the program are Multimedia Storytelling I and II, Narrative Journalism and Multimedia Documentary. In addition to those 12 hours of core courses, students will take 12 hours of electives, plus six hours devoted to a thesis project. The Meek School envisions four areas of emphasis within the new master’s track: media management, print media, broadcast media and branded media. Students would take their 12 elective hours in the area they choose.

The program benefits from the rich storytelling tradition found in the UM-Oxford community, which offers the perfect backdrop for such a program, Atkins said. The area was home to noted writers such as Stark Young and William Faulkner and to more modern writers and journalists including Willie Morris and Curtis Wilkie, the university’s Cook Chair of Journalism and a longtime reporter for the Boston Globe.

Meek School Dean Will Norton credits Atkins for starting the valuable master’s degree program.

“Professor Atkins has worked diligently to develop a program that focuses on advanced journalism techniques across multiple platforms,” Norton said. “He has used the writing workshop at the University of Iowa and other professional programs at elite universities to fashion a curriculum that will be taught by a faculty of gifted writers and editors.”

Journalism School to Host Integrated Marketing Conference

Goal is to share campus expertise with journalists and business owners

Rob King

Rob King

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media is hosting the first “Expand Your Brand” conference, an intensive, one-day event for journalists, marketers, business owners and anyone interested in growing their business through the power of social and mobile media.

The event is scheduled for 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 27 in Farley Hall.

The keynote speaker will be Rob King, ESPN senior vice president of content for ESPN Digital & Print Media, who recently took control of the network’s “SportsCenter” program. King plans to share insights about ESPN branding and editorial strategies across multiple platforms.Read the story …

Mission Accomplished!

UM Engineers Without Borders team finishes school construction project in Togo

The Ole Miss Engineers Without Borders team visited Togo, West Africa over winter intersession to build a school for the children of the Hedome village. Photo courtesy Sudu Upadhyay.

OXFORD, Miss. – January denotes the beginning of the year, but for a team of University of Mississippi students and faculty, the month marked the end of a service project that was years in the making.

Between August 2012 and January 2014, the UM Engineers Without Borders student chapter successfully designed and built a school for the Hedome Village in the West African nation of Togo. Three faculty members representing the School of Engineering and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media accompanied 12 students to the impoverished nation. During two separate two-week trips late last summer and early last month, team members modified the designs they made to accommodate unforeseen complications of inadequate equipment and building materials.

“This has truly been a life-changing service experience for many,” said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of engineering and EWB co-faculty adviser. ”I could not possibly be more proud of our students!”

Kendricks and Cristiane Surbeck, associate professor of civil engineering and EWB co-adviser, led engineering students David Austin of McComb, Ontario Berry of Mendenhall, Maddie Costelli of Gulfport, Courtney Cunningham of Chicago, Jamie Douglas of Flowood, Vera Gardner of Memphis, Tenn., Chinelo Ibekwe of Lagos, Nigeria, Diana Kaphanzhi of Oxford, David Pryor of West Point, Tara Shumate of Clinton, Haley Sims of Ridgeland and Joey White of Springfield, Ill.Read the story …

Journalism Students Gain Valuable Media Experience

UM partnerships with media help students get their work published, aired

Rachael Walker and Katie Williamson interviews Frank "Rat" Ratliff in front of Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Miss., March 15, 2013. Ratliff passed away 13 days after University of Mississippi students interviewed him about the hotel. Photo by Phillip Waller

OXFORD, Miss. – Students at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media have been gaining valuable work experience through partnerships with print and broadcast media outlets across the state.

Each year, about 60 students participate in newspaper reporting trips on which they spend a weekend writing stories or shooting photos for different papers. Broadcast students also have been working on pieces for Tupelo’s WTVA-TV and a local news website as part of the program.

In September, several students went to the Leland Progress newspaper and wrote pieces that will be used to create a magazine for visitors and newcomers. The students brought a fresh perspective, as many of them had never been to the small Delta town, said Stephanie Patton, editor and publisher of the Progress. That perspective is particularly useful for the magazine, which is also geared toward people who may not have been there before.

“It’s a great program, not just for the communities and the benefits Leland gets out of it, but it’s great for the students to get out and see different parts of Mississippi they haven’t been exposed to and also have this interaction with real business and city leaders,” Patton said. “That’s great real-world experience that you can’t always get inside a classroom.”

While in Leland, the students did a piece on Muppets’ creator Jim Henson’s ties to the area, the blues music scene and other stories.

Read the story …

Journalism Students Have Hand in New Season of ‘Oxford Sounds’

Series premieres Nov. 7 on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, some students credited as associate producers

Jimbo Mathus

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and its Meek School of Journalism and New Media will play a key role in the production this season of “Oxford Sounds” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, airing at 9 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 7).

An hourlong series documenting and discovering the music and musicians that are a part of the Oxford community, “Oxford Sounds” was filmed in part with the involvement of students from the school. The show features well-known talent such as the North Mississippi Allstars, Charlie Mars, Jimbo Mathus, Cedric Burnside, Bass Drum of Death, Shannon McNally and others whom call the town home.

“‘Oxford Sounds’ was fortunate to be able to capture many of the amazing sights and sounds of the Oxford music world,” said Marie Antoon, a producer for the series. “With nine hours of music and interviews, the series brings the audience inside the recording studios around Oxford. Mississippi is known for its place in the history of the music world, and Oxford demonstrates that its legacy will continue far into the future.”

Read the story …

Media Executives Set to Speak at ACT 4 Experience

UM Magazine Innovation Center to host fourth annual conference



OXFORD, Miss. – The Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi is preparing for its fourth annual Amplify, Clarify & Testify, or ACT, Experience conferment this week at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

This year’s event will focus on digital and print as an integrated force – not either/or, but a conjoining of the two entities to bring an audience of readers, advertisers and consumers the best possible experience when it comes to their magazine entertainment and enjoyment. ACT 4 will open with a reception and dinner Tuesday evening (Nov. 5)  and continue with seminars and lectures on Wednesday and Thursday (Nov. 6-7).

The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday with a welcome by Samir Husni, the Magazine Innovation Center’s founder and director. Panel discussions on topics including New Magazine Launches, the Future of Print and the Printing Presses, Creating Editorial Content That Sells, The Magazine Distribution Channel and The Challenges It Faces will be moderated and conducted for the combined audience of students, professionals and the public. Read the story …

Overby Panel to Focus on JFK’s Influence on Politics, Media Coverage

Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant and CBS News' Susan Spencer set for 'Hail and Farewell'

Susan Spencer of CBS News

OXFORD, Miss. – The late President John F. Kennedy’s role in revolutionizing American politics and press coverage will be the focus of a panel discussion at 5:30 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 7) at the University of Mississippi’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

This semester, Overby Center Chairman Charles Overby and Overby fellow Curtis Wilkie have been teaching a class on the Kennedy administration and its impact on the press and the nation. They will participate in the panel “Hail and Farewell,” which also features longtime Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant, who worked with Wilkie at the Globe, and Oliphant’s wife, Susan Spencer of CBS News. Oliphant and Spencer both possess keen insights into Kennedy’s influence, Wilkie said.

The event comes almost 50 years after Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Read the story …

Wear Purple Day

Convincing a building of Ole Miss faculty and students to all wear purple the week before the football game against LSU might seem like a large feat, but Ole Miss students were eager to prove their support for a national cause. Pictured are journalism students and faculty supporting national “Wear Purple” day which is a campaign that seeks to provide support for anti-bullying and tolerance.

Journalist Jack Ford Finds Inspiration, ‘Second Home’ at UM

CBS News legal analyst's new novel, "Walls of Jericho," inspired by trips to area

CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford

OXFORD, Miss. – CBS News legal analyst and award-winning journalist Jack Ford’s many trips to the University of Mississippi and Oxford over the years have made the area feel like his second home.

The visits also inspired his latest novel, “The Walls of Jericho,” which is set in the area.

Ford spoke Thursday (Oct. 10) at the UM School of Law in an event co-sponsored by the law school and the Meek School of Journalism. Ford talked about cases he’s covered in his nearly three-decade news career, including the O.J. Simpson trial, the Trayvon Martin case and the Casey Anthony murder case, among others. But he also talked his new book, which is set in Mississippi.

Ford draws inspiration from the area for “Walls of Jericho,” which deals with an unsolved murder from the 1960s.

“Coming down to Ole Miss is always one of my favorite trips,” Ford said. “I’ve been coming down here for probably about 17 or 18 years. … It was one of those places where I felt comfortable visiting. I enjoy being enveloped by the history and the tradition, wandering over to Rowan Oak. There’s also good football.”Read the story …