Husni Named to Folio’s ‘100 Most Important People in Magazine Media’

'Mr. Magazine' lauded as an Industry Influencer

Samir Husni has been named to Folio's 2016 list of the top 100 "Most Important People in Magazine Media." Photo by Robert Jordan UM Imaging Services.

Samir Husni has been named to Folio’s 2016 list of the top 100 “Most Important People in Magazine Media.” Photo by Robert Jordan UM Imaging Services.

OXFORD, Miss. – Samir Husni, professor and Hederman lecturer in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, has been named to Folio’s 2016 list of the top 100 “Most Important People in Magazine Media.”

Known as “Mr. Magazine, Husni said it’s a great honor that the industry he loves and serves through teaching and consulting recognizes him as the lone person on the list from outside the industry.

“What adds to this honor is the category in which I was recognized, which is Industry Influencers,” Husni said. “Although it feels great to be the only educator on the entire list, it even feels greater to be in such great company as David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, and Bob Sauerberg, CEO of Condé Nast.”

Husni, who calls magazines “the best reflectors of American society,” has more than 30,000 first editions of magazines and uncounted numbers of specials and test issues. They’re housed in five storage units, waiting to be donated to someone to help open a magazine museum, he said.

He says earning a place on the list is a reflection of his students’ work. The magazine notes that each year, Husni attracts industry leaders to Ole Miss for the ACT Experience conference. This provides students with opportunities to brainstorm ideas and forge connections with industry professionals they would not meet without Husni.

Folio, a well-known magazine industry-focused publication, observes that although Husni’s students are “digital natives,” he is a powerful voice in the industry and a major proponent of print magazines.

“Mr. Magazine – the name itself is synonymous with magazine industry positivity,” Folio writes. “Husni is the printed magazine’s most avid collector. He has preached the gospel of print globally, and consulted on more magazine startups and advised more legacy titles than possibly anyone in the world.”

When Husni was hired at Ole Miss in the early 1980s, he knew more about magazines than most magazine publishers and editors, said Will Norton, UM journalism dean.

“For more than 30 years, he has demonstrated that expertise and, by naming him to Folio’s 100 list, the industry acknowledges his influence during these decades,” Norton said. 

“As a senior member of the Meek School faculty, he has elevated Ole Miss to a place of prominence in graduating students who become leaders in the magazine industry.”

UM Journalism Professor Presents Katrina Archive Work at UCLA

Cynthia Joyce will discuss efforts to recover and republish online writings from era after the storm

Cynthia Joyce, University of Mississippi assistant professor of journalism, will present her research on recovering lost Hurricane Katrina online blogs and articles Friday at the University of California Los Angeles.

Cynthia Joyce, UM assistant professor of journalism, will present her research on recovering lost Hurricane Katrina blogs and online articles Friday at the University of California Los Angeles. Submitted photo.

OXFORD, Miss. – A professor in the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media will present her work to discover and republish an archive of lost blogs, emails and other online writing from the years after Hurricane Katrina on Friday (Oct. 14) at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Cynthia Joyce is editor of “Please Forward: How blogging reconnected New Orleans after Katrina,” an anthology released Aug. 29, 2015, the 10th anniversary of the storm. The anthology mined blog posts and widely circulated emails from more than 75 blogs and online websites, many of which are no longer live. It weaves an intimate narrative of the first two years after the storm and the lives of the people who lived through it.

“The contributors to this anthology were so generous in allowing us to resurface their reflections from such a difficult part of their lives,” Joyce said. “We pulled those up and put them into print.

“Those posts – and the original blogs they were excerpted from – also deserve to be discoverable in an online context. Working with Archive-It made that possible.”

Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005 near the Mississippi-Louisiana state line, killed 1,833 people in five states, including 231 in Mississippi. It’s often referred to as the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history.

Joyce is participating in the “Dodging the Memory Hole: Saving Online News” forum at UCLA’s Young Research Library, hosted by Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. She is part of the lightning round of participants, in which each panelist has three minutes to deliver their message.

Will Norton, dean of the Meek School, said Joyce’s colleagues are proud of her work.

“Cynthia Joyce is a first-rate journalist who brings years of work at the cutting edge of new media to her presentation at UCLA,” Norton said. “It says a lot about the Meek School that our faculty members are making presentations at prestigious institutions with other pioneering innovators.”

Joyce and the others involved in the anthology project used Archive-It, a web archiving service of Internet Archive used by more than 450 libraries, archives, universities, governments and researchers to collect, preserve and provide ongoing access to cultural heritage materials published on the web.

The anthology, which was published by University of New Orleans Press, will also be accessible and searchable online via the Internet Archive’s Archive-It database later this year. Jefferson Bailey, director of web archiving at Internet Archive/Archive-It, is also presenting at the conference.

“The web is the most significant publishing platform of our era, democratizing the ability to document our lives and communities for a global audience,” Bailey said. “Yet content on the web is highly ephemeral, often eluding the traditional process of historical preservation.

“We are excited to be able to collaborate with researchers like Cynthia Joyce, who bring local expertise and community knowledge, and work together to identify, archive and provide access to these historically valuable resources so that they remain available long into the future.”

Westbrook Pledges Major Gift to UM Journalism School

Endowment will support new construction, featuring consumer research lab

Leslie Westbrook visits with (from left) Jason McCormick, development officer for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media; UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; and Will Norton, UM journalism dean. UM photo by Bill Dabney

Leslie Westbrook visits with (from left) Jason McCormick, development officer for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media; UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; and Will Norton, UM journalism dean. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – In true Rebel style, University of Mississippi alumna Leslie Westbrook bucked the confines of her generation and became one of the nation’s most successful consumer market specialists with Fortune 500 clients.

“Like all good Southern ladies in that era, I planned to marry my college sweetheart and teach school,” said Westbrook, a Jackson native who was named Miss Ole Miss in 1968. “I was to start the family and add to it the station wagon and dogs. Well, I cancelled the Big Fat Southern Wedding.”

Instead, she landed a job in Procter & Gamble’s Market Research Department and left Mississippi for Cincinnati. The bachelor’s degree in education that Westbrook earned from UM in 1968 would have served her well for teaching, but she required weeks of on-the-job training for her new career as a consumer research specialist and marketing strategist.

“There is a great need to offer extensive consumer research training to students who are majoring in integrated marketing communications through the Meek School of Journalism and New Media,” Westbrook said.

Determined to see students adequately prepared to enter her profession, Westbrook has pledged $500,000 to the university. The Leslie M. Westbrook Journalism Quasi Endowment will ultimately support the construction of a new consumer research laboratory bearing Westbrook’s name.

“Leslie is very generously giving for an area to which she devoted her entire professional life,” said Will Norton, UM journalism dean. “She’s basically saying how thankful she has been for her Ole Miss education and that she wants first-class opportunities that will enable students to prepare for a similar career.

“This is the first major gift for the new building, and it means a great deal to have such a significant kickoff.”

Westbrook said she has discussed the school’s needs with Norton and Meek School namesake Ed Meek over the past couple of years.

Leslie Westbrook instructs students at the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media. UM photo by Bill Dabney

Leslie Westbrook instructs students at the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media. UM photo by Bill Dabney

Besides providing financial support, she participates in faculty support, teaching a Global Brands course during May intersession and co-teaching, guest lecturing and meeting with students several other times a year. She also serves on the board of the university’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

“We found the perfect fit,” she said. “Everything that I learned and put into practice in my career is taught in IMC over the course of the four-year program.

“I can speak from actual experience, from the business world, about how IMC can be utilized in a career and with a wider variety of choices: consumer research, marketing, branding, public relations, advertising, writing and more.”

In class, Westbrook often shares case studies from her work with such brands as Pringles, Pampers, Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee and the Dairy Queen Blizzard.

“I love my time back at Ole Miss, passing it forward, interacting with students,” she said. “If I can impact even one student, I am fulfilled.”

Westbrook’s gift will benefit the university community and beyond, Meek said.

“Leslie’s gift will represent the beginning of a major campaign to build a new building and dramatically expand the reach of the Meek School,” Meek said, adding that Westbrook enjoyed an extraordinary career in corporate practice nationwide. “Her focus is a unique laboratory that will create tremendous instructional, research and service opportunities for students and faculty

After Procter & Gamble, Westbrook joined New Product Insights, a nationally revered new product consulting firm in Kansas City, Missouri, where she practiced qualitative research as a marketing strategist for seven years before starting her own company in Easton, Maryland. During her career, she met with many Fortune 500 companies which later became clients of Leslie M. Westbrook & Associates Inc.

For the past 20 years, she has lived on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay near Washington, D.C., with her husband, Paolo Frigerio of Milan, Italy.

“The loyalty, support and dedication of our alumni like Leslie is a key element to the university’s continued excellence,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Her gift will have a transformative effect on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media as we build for the future.”

The Leslie M. Westbrook Journalism Quasi Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

Overby Event Brings Together Brokaw, Barbour, Ford

Discussions to provide perspective, reactions to presidential debate and campaigns

OXFORD, Miss. – The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi will host Tom Brokaw, former Gov. Haley Barbour and other notables on Friday (Sept. 30) for spirited political reactions to this week’s presidential debate.

Tom Brokaw delivers the commencement address during this year's graduation activities. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Tom Brokaw delivers the commencement address during this year’s graduation activities. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Brokaw, longtime NBC correspondent and former anchor for “NBC Nightly News”; Andy Lack, president of NBC News; and political notables Barbour and Harold Ford Jr., former Democratic congressman from Memphis, will participate in “Election Countdown” at 6 p.m. in Nutt Auditorium.

The event is part of the Overby Center’s fall series lineup. Overby fellow Curtis Wilkie noted this panel is timed to provide perspective on the first presidential debate of 2016, held Monday at Hofstra University.

“This may be the best lineup of programs we’ve had in the 10-year history of the Overby Center,” Wilkie said. “Coming on the same week as the first presidential debate, we hope the programs will bring some of the political drama back to Oxford that we enjoyed in 2008 when Ole Miss hosted the first presidential debate.”

Lack and Brokaw are no strangers to Ole Miss. Lack, who has ancestors from Greenville, is one of the founders of Mississippi Today, an online news source launched earlier this year that is also cosponsor of the event. He is a strong supporter of UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Brokaw, one of the best-known faces on TV, was UM’s 2016 Commencement speaker. He first came to Ole Miss 16 years ago – for a friend’s birthday party in connection with an Ole Miss game – and he and members of his family have returned repeatedly over the years.

Barbour, a two-term governor of Mississippi, remains one of the dominant figures on the national GOP scene. Before winning office in 2003, he served as national chairman of the party and worked in President Ronald Reagan’s White House. He is a lobbyist in Washington and Jackson.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour remains one of the dominant figures on the national GOP scene. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Former Gov. Haley Barbour remains one of the dominant figures on the national GOP scene. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Ford, a member of the most prominent Democratic family in Memphis, served five terms in Congress. Though he works on Wall Street, Ford – like Barbour – still holds major clout in his party and often appears as a guest commentator on national TV programs.

Other events on the schedule will feature discussions on the civil rights movement, UM students who worked on projects in Africa and also among Mississippi’s Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, and other topics.

Here’s a rundown of the remaining Overby fall series events, all of which will be in the Overby Center auditorium:

– Oct. 11, 6 p.m. – “Mississippi Freelance” an irreverent monthly that poked fun at Mississippi politicians and exposed many irregularities 50 years ago, will be fondly remembered by its founders, Lew Powell and Ed Williams, Ole Miss graduates who went on to careers at the Charlotte Observer.

– Oct. 14, 9 a.m. – “The Embassy,” a new book about earlier turmoil in Liberia, will be discussed by its author, Dante Paradiso, an American Foreign Service officer posted to its capital, Monrovia, at the time.

– Oct. 19, 8 p.m. – “The Last Debate” will be shown on the Overby Center screen, to be followed by a public discussion.

– Oct. 27, 2:30 p.m. – “Mississippi Indians” will be discussed by Overby fellow Bill Rose and students on his team in the latest in-depth reporting assignment, an annual course that has produced a series of prize-winning magazines.

– Nov. 1, 6 p.m. – “The March Against Fear,” James Meredith’s idea that led to an assassination attempt on him and a fractious finish by competing civil rights leaders in 1966, will be recalled on its 50th anniversary by Aram Goudsouzian, author of “Down to the Crossroads” a book about the march, UM political science professor Marvin King, Overby and Wilkie.

– Nov. 2, 6 p.m. – “Ole Miss in Africa” will feature UM journalism students who traveled earlier this year to Zimbabwe and Namibia on a photo expedition and study of wildlife management.

– Nov. 15, 6 p.m. – “The Outcome” of the 2016 presidential campaign – and its impact on the future of the two major parties – will be the subject for a final discussion.

Symposium to Highlight Eggleston Exhibit at UM Museum

Panel discussions to examine photographer's influence and experiences

Eggleston’s work is now on display at the UM Museum in the exhibit The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston.

Eggleston’s work is on display at the UM Museum in the exhibit ‘The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston.’

OXFORD, Miss – “The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston” presented by the University of Mississippi Museum features 36 works from the fine art photographer in an exclusive exhibition of the museum’s permanent collection.

The exhibition, sponsored by Friends of the Museum, runs through Jan. 14, 2017. The public is invited to an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 6.

To further highlight Eggleston’s remarkable color and black-and-white photographs, the museum will host a symposium Oct. 7 at UM’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, featuring notable panelists across different disciplines.

“The University of Mississippi Museum and the Friends of the Museum are exceptionally pleased to present this convening of distinguished panelists and scholars, offering an exploration of the career and influence of the extraordinary William Eggleston,” said Robert Saarnio, the museum’s director.

The first panel at 10 a.m. will feature William Ferris, Maude Schuyler Clay and Megan Abbott, with Lisa Howorth as moderator. The second panel, at 2 p.m., with Ferris as moderator, will feature Emily Ballew Neff, Richard McCabe and Kris Belden-Adams.

The morning panel will approach Eggleston and his work from a perspective of those who have known him personally and have been significantly influenced by his images, Saarnio said.

“Enriched by anecdotes and personal reflections, the panel’s content will include consideration of formative influences and experiences, career highlights and the longitudinal development of an artist, as evidenced by this particular life in visual art and image-making,” he said.

“The afternoon panel will focus on the body of work across Eggleston’s career, with content including the influence of the work on the field of photography, its influence on other artistic and creative fields, the evolution of critical reception to Eggleston, how the work has had shifting meaning over time, and the meaning of the work today to contemporary audiences and contemporary practitioners.”

Howorth, a native of Washington, D.C., has called Oxford home since 1972. She and husband Richard Howorth opened Square Books in Oxford in 1979. After earning master’s degrees in library science and art history, she worked at Ole Miss as a reference librarian and an associate professor of art and Southern studies. She is editor of “The South: A Treasury of Art and Literature” and other books on Southern culture, writes for Garden & Gun and Oxford American magazines, and published “Flying Shoes,” a novel, in 2014.

Ferris is associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South and a history professor at the University of North Carolina. He is also the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at UM, where he served as a faculty member for 18 years. A longtime friend of William Eggleston and a collector of his work, Ferris donated all pieces that are on display at the UM Museum. He has written or edited 10 books and will sign his new photography book, “The South in Color,” inspired by Eggleston, at 5 p.m. Oct. 7 at Square Books

Acclaimed photographer, first cousin and Eggleston protege Clay served as a consulting adviser for the exhibition. In 2015, Clay’s own photography collection of portraits titled “Mississippi History” was produced by German photo book publisher Steidl. The publisher discovered her photographs while working with Eggleston on the multivolume set “Chrome” (2011) and “Los Alamos Revisited” (2012). Clay was the 2015 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Visual Arts.

Detroit native and author Abbott also guest curated the exhibition. As the former John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence, she has drawn her own inspiration from Eggleston’s work. Abbott is an Edgar Award-winning author for her novels “Queenpin,” “The Song Is You,” “Die a Little,” “Bury Me Deep,” “The End of Everything” and “Dare Me.” Her latest novel, “The Fever,” was chosen as one of the best books of the summer by the New York Times, People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and one of the best books of the year by several media outlets.

Neff , executive director of the Memphis Brooks Museum, spent nearly 20 years as curator of American painting and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where she organized numerous major exhibitions. Neff also served as director and chief curator of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma.

McCabe, curator of photography at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, has curated more than 30 exhibitions and is also a photographer whose work has been the subject of several exhibitions. He has also taught photography courses at Xavier University in New Orleans, the Pratt Institute in New York, Montclair State Institute in New Jersey and Fairfield University in Connecticut.

Belden-Adams, an assistant professor of art and art history at UM, earned a doctorate in modern and contemporary art history, specializing in the history of photography, at the City University of New York. Additionally, she earned an master’s degree in art history, theory and criticism from the School of Art Institute of Chicago. Belden-Adams is the editor of the book “Photography and Failure” (2017). Her scholarly work in art history and photography has been published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many journals.

Overby Center’s Fall Lineup Includes Brokaw, Barbour and Mabus

Slate focuses on upcoming elections as well as race and history

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, internationally respected journalist Tom Brokaw and other notables make up the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics' fall programs schedule, which begins with a talk by Mabus Friday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, internationally respected journalist Tom Brokaw and other notables make up the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics’ fall programs schedule, which begins Friday with a talk by Mabus.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi will host 10 programs featuring well-known media members and political heavyweights, the first of which begins Friday (Sept. 16) and continues as momentum builds toward the presidential election.

The fall series begins with a speciadl appearance by U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at 6 p.m. Friday at the Overby Center.

Other programs include Tom Brokaw, longtime NBC correspondent; former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who also served chair of the Republican National Committee; Andy Lack, president of NBC News; and Stuart Stevens, a Mississippian who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Two programs include UM students who worked on projects in Africa and also among Mississippi’s Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes.

The fall offerings include a diverse set of speakers, said Charles Overby, chairman of the center.

“The fall lineup of programs ranges from serious to quirky, with a great array of interesting, accomplished personalities,” Overby said.

For the first program, Mabus will talk with Overby about his career. The Ackerman native, who graduated from Ole Miss in 1969, has a distinguished record of public service that may be matched by only one other Mississippian in history, 19th century statesman L.Q.C. Lamar. Mabus has served as state auditor, governor, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and as secretary of the Navy for the past eight years.

A reception follows the discussion.

The rich variety of speakers complement the university’s journalism programs, but also will draw attendance from the Oxford community, said Curtis Wilkie, UM Cook Chair and associate professor of journalism. The broad spectrum of guests is by design, he said.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, right, an Ole Miss graduate and former governor, will open the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics fall programs schedule with an appearance there Friday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. Photo by Robert Jordan

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, right, an Ole Miss graduate and former governor, will open the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics’ fall programs schedule with an appearance at 6 p.m. Friday. Photo by Robert Jordan

“We also want to emphasize an important word at Ole Miss: diversity, so that the programs and panelists are not dominated by a bunch of old white guys pontificating but deal straight-up with race, still a critical issue in our state,” Wilkie said.

There’s also an emphasis on attracting opposing political ideologies to enrich the discussion, he said.

“We try to be scrupulously nonpartisan, inviting guests from all kinds of political backgrounds,” Wilkie said. “We hope we’re provocative and provide the kind of commentary that would have been forbidden on this campus 50 years ago – when I was a student – and political forces in Mississippi imposed a ‘speakers ban’ at Ole Miss, which denied a forum to forbidden voices.”

Overby and Wilkie, who were journalists during the civil rights movement, will also appear on a panel Nov. 1 with political science professor Marvin King to discuss James Meredith’s “March Against Fear” in 1966. The discussion also features Aram Goudsouzian, author of “Down to the Crossroads” a book about the march.

Meredith was the first black student to enroll at Ole Miss, which sparked deadly rioting in 1962, and four years later he was shot while protesting segregation by walking through Mississippi. The talk comes on the 50th anniversary of Meredith’s march.

“The civil rights movement of 1966 was different than in earlier years,” King said. “Decreased harmony, fraying of purpose and less solidarity marked 1966, and the Meredith march exemplified all this tension. Our panel will highlight this tension through focus on the Meredith march.”

All Overby Center events are free and open to the public, and arrangements are being made to provide parking for all evening programs this fall. Parking for guests will be available in the lot next to the Overby Center for the duration of the event. With the exception of a Sept. 30 forum at Nutt Auditorium, events will be held at the Overby Auditorium.

Here’s a rundown of the discussions that follow Mabus’ talk Friday:

— Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. – “A Critical Eye on the Campaign” with Stuart Stevens, a leading Republican consultant who has been outspoken in his condemnation of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

– Sept. 30, 6 p.m., Nutt Auditorium – “Election Countdown” with Lack and Brokaw of NBC News, along with special guest Barbour. The political discussion will be moderated by Maggie Wade from Jackson’s NBC affiliate. The program is co-sponsored by Mississippi Today, the state’s online news operation.

– Oct. 11, 6 p.m. – “Mississippi Freelance” an irreverent monthly that poked fun at Mississippi politicians and exposed many irregularities 50 years ago, will be fondly remembered by its founders, Lew Powell and Ed Williams, Ole Miss graduates who went on to careers at the Charlotte Observer.

– Oct. 14, 9 a.m. – “The Embassy,” a new book about earlier turmoil in Liberia, will be discussed by its author, Dante Paradiso, an American Foreign Service officer posted to its capital, Monrovia, at the time.

– Oct. 19, 8 p.m. – “The Last Debate” will be shown on the Overby Center screen, to be followed by a public discussion.

– Oct. 27, 2:30 p.m. – “Mississippi Indians” will be discussed by Overby fellow Bill Rose and students on his team in the latest in-depth reporting assignment, an annual course that has produced a series of prize-winning magazines.

– Nov. 1, 6 p.m. – “The March Against Fear,” James Meredith’s idea that led to an assassination attempt on him and a fractious finish by competing civil rights leaders in 1966, will be recalled on its 50th anniversary by Goudsouzian, King, Overby and Wilkie.

– Nov. 2, 6 p.m. – “Ole Miss in Africa” will feature UM journalism students who traveled earlier this year to Zimbabwe and Namibia on a photo expedition and study of wildlife management.

– Nov. 15, 6 p.m. – “The Outcome” of the 2016 presidential campaign – and its impact on the future of the two major parties – will be the subject for a final discussion.

UM Welcomes Most Accomplished Freshmen Class Ever

State's flagship university celebrates record enrollment as it builds for future

Students head to class at the University of Mississippi, which has experienced record enrollment again this year. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Students head to class at the University of Mississippi, which has experienced record enrollment again this year. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has recorded its 22nd consecutive year of rising enrollment, registering its largest and most academically qualified freshman class ever.

Enrollment at the state’s flagship university hit 24,250 across all campuses, largest in the state, according to preliminary data. The freshman class of 3,982 students posted an average ACT score of 25.2, surpassing the UM record of 24.7, set last year.

“Students and families across the state and nation are noticing that great things are happening here at the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “They recognize the academic excellence and outstanding college experience we offer and continue to join us in record numbers.

“Our faculty and staff work very hard to deliver the very best academic programs at a competitive price, providing all qualified Mississippi students the educational opportunities to transform their lives and our communities. It’s gratifying to see those efforts acknowledged by a growing Ole Miss family.”

Total enrollment is up 412 students, or 1.7 percent, from last fall.

This year’s first-time students include 87 class valedictorians, 54 salutatorians, 94 student body presidents, 92 Eagle Scouts and 13 Girl Scouts who achieved the Gold Award, the organization’s highest youth honor.

“Our university has a long history of attracting and developing student leaders,” Vitter said. “We offer them valuable experiences and help them hone their talents.

“I look forward to seeing what this talented group of freshmen can accomplish. I fully expect them to have a tremendous impact on our local and global communities during their time here and beyond.”

The high school GPA of incoming freshmen also increased, growing from 3.54 last year to 3.57, another university record.

The group bucked declines in average ACT scores both nationally and on the state level. Among new freshmen from Mississippi, this year’s average was 24.8, up from last fall’s 24.4.

The progress in freshman ACT scores actually has been maintained over the past nine years, growing 2.5 points over that span. Several factors have contributed to that success, Provost Morris Stocks said.

“We offer more and more outstanding programs for excellent students,” Stocks said. “For example, the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program is now admitting 30 students per year. These are honors-quality students planning to be teachers, and they have committed to teach in Mississippi upon graduation.

“Then there’s the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, which brings in 60 top-level freshmen each year who are interested in the intersection of engineering, business and accounting. And over at the School of Accountancy, we’re admitting more students with ACT scores over 30 than we’ve ever had, and a lot of that stems from the school being ranked in the Top 10 for several years in a row now.”

Stocks also cited the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, Chinese Language Flagship Program and the Arabic language and Provost’s Scholars programs for helping attract more high-achieving students. The university also offers more top-level scholarships, such as the Stamps Leadership Scholarships, than in the past, he said.

“We’re now competing against the best universities in the country for the best students in the country,” Stocks said. “At the same time, we remain committed to educating the people of Mississippi and giving all qualified Mississippi students a chance to succeed and make better lives for themselves and their families.”

The university’s efforts to help new students adjust to college life and be successful – including FASTrack and the Freshman Year Experience program – also continue to pay dividends. Student retention remained near record levels, with 85.3 percent of last year’s freshmen returning to campus to continue their studies this fall.

The majority, 59.4 percent, of Ole Miss students are from Mississippi, including students from all the state’s 82 counties. The university also attracts students from around the nation and world. Overall, the student body includes representatives from every state, the District of Columbia and 90 foreign countries.

Minority enrollment totaled 5,548 students, or 22.9 percent. African-American enrollment is 3,166 students, or 13.0 percent of overall enrollment.

With a newly expanded building, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College continues to grow, enrolling 1,420 students this fall, more than doubling over the past 10 years. It received 1,484 applications for this fall, up 15 percent from last year’s 1,293 submissions. The Honors College has a record 474 incoming freshmen, with 59 percent being Mississippi residents.

Once it settles into its new space and completes renovations on the existing facility, the Honors College has a target enrollment around 1,500 students. The new space allows faculty to broaden the challenges and opportunities for its students, Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

“It gives us the physical capacity to go deep into conversation in public space,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “At a time when civil discourse is so lacking in America, we want to create a space where we can model civil debate on ideas, even ones that appear threatening.”

While many of the university’s schools and programs experienced growth, its accounting and journalism schools enjoyed the largest increases.

Enrollment in the Patterson School of Accountancy grew 9 percent, to 1,380 students this fall, compared to 1,261 last year. The school has been a mainstay in the Top 10 rankings for several years, and all three of its programs are again in the top eight this fall.

In the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, undergraduate enrollment increased 8 percent, growing from 1,375 students in fall 2015 to 1,486 this year. Founded in 2009, the school has benefited from being on a beautiful campus, with economical tuition, excellence in athletics and an exceptionally effective Office of Admissions, Dean Will Norton said.

“We have a program that focuses on preparing graduates for media careers in the modern world, not for 20 years ago, and we have a faculty who held significant positions in the media, many just within the last few years,” Norton said. “Because of this, many of them also are well-versed in social media, and they can help students master those areas.”

The school offers opportunities for students that are rare among journalism programs, he said.

“Not many places offer students a chance to do documentaries or depth reporting courses, or campaigns for companies throughout the region, but we offer all that here,” Norton said. “Our international projects also have been exceptional.”

Fall enrollment at the university’s Medical Center remained nearly level, largely because of space constraints.

“We are near or at capacity in all of our programs, with the exception of some of our online offerings,” said Dr. Ralph Didlake, UMMC associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Areas enjoying growth include the School of Medicine, from 563 students to 577; the Medical Center’s residency and fellowship programs, from 626 to 640; and the School of Dentistry, from 143 to 148.

The increase should accelerate with a new 151,000-square-foot, $74 million School of Medicine building set to open in fall 2017, Didlake said. The new building “is not only going to allow the School of Medicine enrollment to increase, but it will decrease pressure on other teaching space, allowing our other programs to grow.”

Enrollment should rise dramatically in the future, including the addition of a new School of Population Health, the seventh school on the medical campus. It opens to students in fall 2017.

To help accommodate the growing student population in Oxford, the university has opened two new five-story residence halls on the former site of Guess Hall, adding housing space for 603 students.

The university has launched a three-year project to expand and modernize the Student Union and is working on a new recreation center and transportation hub, a $32 million project on the south end of campus. Work also has begun on a $20 million renovation to Garland, Hedleston and Mayes halls, providing space for the School of Applied Sciences.

The university’s new STEM building, which will add 200,000 square feet of education and research space in the Science District for an estimated $135 million, will boost the university’s capacity to address workforce needs and enhance UM’s status as a Carnegie R-1 Highest Research Activity institution.

For more information on enrollment and programs at UM, go to http://www.olemiss.edu.

Ruth Cummins of the UM Medical Center contributed to this report.

UM Journalism School Wins Third Kennedy Award

Depth reporting class exposé on 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act winner in college category

University of Mississippi student Mollie Mansfield, right, interviews civil rights activist and business owner Vernice Sanders, center, with Professor Bill Rose at Vernice's Upholstery in Leland, Miss., Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

University of Mississippi student Mollie Mansfield, right, interviews civil rights activist and business owner Vernice Sanders, center, with Professor Bill Rose at Vernice’s Upholstery in Leland on March 11, 2014. Photo by Thomas Graning

OXFORD, Miss. – For the third time in seven years, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi has won an annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award.

UM’s depth reporting class won in the college category for “Land of Broken Promises.” The exposé examines the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Mississippi Delta 50 years later.

The winning project was led by Willard “Bill” Rose, visiting professor and a fellow of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics; Mikki Harris, assistant professor; and Darren Sanefski, assistant professor of multiple platform journalism.

“Winning the Kennedy Award for college journalism is a testament to the quality of teaching by Mikki Harris, Bill Rose and Darren Sanefski,” said Will Norton Jr., professor and dean of the journalism school. “These three individuals have demonstrated repeatedly that they are uncommonly effective, student-oriented teachers. We are grateful to have professionals of their caliber on our faculty in the Meek School.”

Twenty-seven students spent spring break 2014 conducting interviews and photographing images for the 132-page, four-color magazine. It was published and distributed in January 2015.

Students who worked on the project included Eliza McClure, Debra Whitley, Erin Scott, Jason Burleson, Logan Kirkland, Thomas Graning, Clancy Smith, Katie Adcock, Karson Brandenburg, Phil McCausland, Cady Herring, Phillip Waller, Mary Marge Locker, Kayleigh Skinner, Alex Edwards, Allison Moore, Mollie Mansfield, Christina Cain, Taylor Davenport, Kristen Ellis, Conner Hegwood, Jessica Hotakainen, Lauren Keossian, Ignacio Murillo, Savannah Pounds, Kimberly Sanner, Madisen Theobald and Ellen Whitaker.

Three reporters both wrote and captured photographs. One worked on the design and captured photographs, and four were dedicated to photojournalism for the project.

“This was a wonderful and unique opportunity for our journalism students to work as multimedia journalists in a very diverse setting,” Rose said. “It’s one of the things I love about working here. Students who are driven to be the best can get opportunities here they won’t get at other journalism schools.”

The project focused primarily on documenting the work of activists in the civil rights movement and their struggles to help people in impoverished areas register and vote in local, state and national elections.

“These students tracked down civil rights legends Andrew Young and John Lewis and lesser known, but influential, civil rights workers to capture what happened here after the Voting Rights Act was passed,” Rose said. “They tackled the tough conversations on race and did it impressively.”

The result was a print depth report produced to raise awareness of this community.

The award is nice, but the experience with the students is the best reward, Harris and Sanefski agreed.

“We used a significant number of archival photos to tell a visual story of major events that happened in the past,” said Harris, who edited the photos to fit the written stories. “The process of spending hours looking at the AP’s archive of images was eye-opening and emotional.”

Archival images selected for inclusion in the project showed activist Fanny Lou Hamer speaking to delegates attending the Democratic National Convention in 1964, civil rights leader Lawrence Guyot as a young man in 1963, covered with marks from a police beating, and Martin Luther King, Floyd McKissick and Stokely Carmichael marching together for equality.

“The images from the 1960s provide a visual of the blood, sweat and strength that laid a foundation for today,” Harris said.

Sanefski’s digital design students spent more than a semester designing the award-winning publication.

“We were not able to accomplish it in one semester, so me and three other students from that class wrapped it up early the next semester,” Sanefski said. “Design is always about making content easier to understand. I’m very proud of my students and all the students who have pooled their talents together to create a great product.”

The journalism school has won previous RFK Awards for magazines on poverty in the Delta and attempts to help residents of an island off the coast of Belize.

“Throughout his life, my father held a deep commitment to freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “He would invite reporters and news crews to join him in the most impoverished city neighborhoods, to Indian reservations and communities in Appalachia, California’s Central Valley or rural Indiana – places that often lacked electricity and plumbing – and he would ask the press corps why it wasn’t covering those issues and these places.

“The journalists who followed his ’68 campaign created the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards in his name, to honor those who covered the issues most important to him.”

This year’s Book and Journalism Award winners were chosen from more than 300 submissions. Historian Michael Beschloss chaired the judges’ panel for the 2016 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

The journalism awards ceremony, in its 48th year, will be presented May 25 by Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. All honorees will receive a bust of Robert F. Kennedy in recognition of their award.

For more information about the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit http://meek.olemiss.edu.

UM Journalism Student Wins Statewide Public Relations Award

Honor one of many presented to Tori Olker this semester

Tori Olker, a graduating senior, was named Outstanding PR Student by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, as well as being awarded the Taylor Medal for the highest GPA in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media recently. Olker, a print major with a PR emphasis, is pictured here with her nominating instructor Robin Street. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell

Tori Olker (left), a graduating senior, was named Outstanding PR Student by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, as well as being awarded the Taylor Medal for the highest GPA in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Olker is congratulated by her nominating instructor, Robin Street. Photo by Stan O’Dell

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi journalism student has been named Mississippi’s Outstanding PR Student by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi.

That award is just the latest of many for Tori Olker, a senior print journalism major with an emphasis in public relations. Olker was also awarded a Taylor Medal, the university’s highest academic honor, and posted the highest GPA in the university’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

She and team partner Victoria Lanza, of Richardson, Texas, also won first place in the Southeast Journalism Conference onsite public relations competition. Olker was named the Oxford-Ole Miss PRAM chapter’s Student of the Year and to Who’s Who and Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism Honorary Society.

“Winning the Outstanding PR Student award provided me with the validation that I am on the right track as a professional journalist, and it showed me how much I want to accomplish after graduation,” said Olker, from Spring Grove, Illinois. “I am extremely proud and humbled to have been selected among so many other college students.”

During her years at UM, she has worked in all aspects of media. She has been a disc jockey on Rebel Radio, a writer for the yearbook and a feature reporter for The Daily Mississippian. She has also completed several public relations and journalism internships.

The PRAM award, which includes a $250 scholarship, was presented April 8 at the organization’s state conference in Jackson. Public relations instructors at all Mississippi universities could nominate a student to compete for the award. Robin Street, a senior lecturer at UM, nominated Olker.

A panel of PR professionals selected the winner based on the nominating letter and on factors including academic excellence, honors, public relations activities, and campus and community involvement.

“I am in awe of Tori’s multiple accomplishments and activities,” Street said. “She truly is one of the most impressive students I have ever taught. She not only excels in the classroom, but in putting that classroom work into reality through her internships and part-time jobs.”

For more information on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit http://meek.olemiss.edu.

UM Offers New Minor in Digital Media Studies

Program will include four emphases with common areas of technology and problem-solving

The new minor in digital studies is designed to equip undergraduate students from many different degree majors with digital computing, design and communication skills. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The new minor in digital studies is designed to equip undergraduate students from many different degree majors with digital computing, design and communication skills. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will offer a new interdisciplinary minor in digital studies designed to equip undergraduate students from many different degree majors with digital computing, design and communication skills to complement their main academic focus.

The new minor, offered beginning in fall 2016, will be housed and administered in the College of Liberal ArtsDepartment of Writing and Rhetoric. Robert Cummings, chair and associate professor of writing and rhetoric, will serve as director of the minor.

Faculty members affiliated with the program will meet periodically to consider changes to the curriculum and assist in the advising process.

“Students can now prepare for exciting and contemporary technology applications by combining their current major with the DMS minor, which offers a choice of emphases in computing, digital arts and/or digital communications,” Cummings said. “The digital media studies minor offers a novel pathway for students to extend their knowledge in to the creative economy of the information age.”

The College of Liberal Arts, School of Engineering and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media jointly proposed the undergraduate minor. Faculty from across academic programs, UM Libraries and Information Technology met to formulate the proposal and flesh out the courses to be included.

The DMS minor aims to teach students basic web authoring and programming skills, how to critically evaluate digital information and also how to apply digital skills and expertise in multiple fields.

Students will take 18 credit hours, which includes six hours of core classes. They choose the remaining 12 hours from an approved list of options.

The minor includes four emphases from which to choose: computing, digital communications, digital arts or a generalist track. The emphases have different, but connected paths of digital technology and problem-solving, according to the developers of the course.

Richard Forgette, senior associate dean of liberal arts and professor of political science, played a major role in the development of the program. He said there was wide interest from the student body.

“Thanks to all the faculty from across the university who made this happen,” Forgette said. “The new minor will allow students to develop skills needed for emerging career paths in web development, data analytics, computational art, graphic design, data visualization and digital media marketing.”