Nominations Sought for University’s Next TEDx Event

Professors, alumni and students wanted for lineup of third forum with theme 'MOMENTUM'

Josh Mabus discusses ‘Quitting Versus Failing’ during the 2017 TEDxUniversityofMississippi event in the Ford Center. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Faculty, staff, alumni and students are encouraged to submit speaker nominations for the 2018 TEDxUniversity of Mississippi. The theme this year is ‘MOMENTUM.’

Nominations are being accepted online through Aug. 28. The event will be Feb. 2 or 3, 2018.

“Anyone can nominate anyone and submit as many nominations as they like,” said Marvin King, associate professor of political science and African American studies and program coordinator. “We will take seven speakers for the event, including at least one spot reserved for a student speaker. In the fall, we will have an ‘(American) Idol’ type competition to select the student speaker.”

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. After nominations are submitted, the student selection committee uses a blind process to select the speakers they think best represent ideas worth spreading. Students do not know the name, gender or race of any speaker nominee.

In 2015, UM hosted its first TEDx event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. In spring 2016, the TEDxUniversityofMississippi Student Planning Committee submitted a public call for speaker nominations and topic proposals. A second TEDxUM program was presented in January 2017.

“As an R1 research institution and Mississippi’s flagship university, we believe it is our duty to promote and disseminate the best ideas to the biggest possible audience,” King said.

Partners include the offices of the chancellor and provost; the College of Liberal Arts and its departments of African American Studies, History, Physics and Astronomy, Political Science and Theatre Arts; Residential College South; Croft Institute for International Studies; Division of Student Affairs; Office of Research and Sponsored Programs; Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College; Ole Miss Alumni Association; and the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.

To submit MOMENTUM nominations, visit http://bit.ly/2odGhBR, or http://bit.ly/2odqrXT for student speakers. For more event information, go to http://tedx.olemiss.edu/.

Pharmacy Professor Honored with Educational Innovation Award

Jamie Wagner praised for effort to improve focus and understanding in classroom settings

Jamie Wagner

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi pharmacy professor received the 2017 Innovations in Continuing Pharmacy Education Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy at its annual meeting Sunday (July 16) in Nashville.

Jamie Wagner, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, was awarded for a continuing education activity she created that uses polling technology to help an audience retain information and remain engaged. The award honors an individual who develops and demonstrates an original technique to promote pharmacy-related learning.

Wagner’s activity, called “Use of audience response technology to improve participation, understanding and comprehension of content within a HIV pharmacotherapy CPE activity,” was selected by the AACP’s Section of Continuing Professional Development.

“This award helped give me confidence to continue striving for more innovative techniques in my teaching and presentations,” Wagner said.

The awards committee called the technique “a truly an innovative program with creative use of audience response software.”

“Dr. Wagner put forth great effort and care in the design and implementation of therapeutic content to meet the programmatic targets and intended audience,” said Seena Haines, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the UM School of Pharmacy. “This is a well-deserved honor.”

StarTalk Program Gives High School Students Education in Chinese

Classroom instruction, cultural activities create enjoyable summer learning experience

Students enrolled in Mississippi StarTalk, an intensive Chinese language camp on the Ole Miss campus, practice their Chinese reading and writing skills. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Thirty high school students from across the nation are learning how to fluently speak Mandarin Chinese thanks to an intense summer program at the University of Mississippi.

Mississippi StarTalk, which began June 28 and runs through July 28, is a federal program for rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. Besides studying Chinese inside and out of the classroom, students participate in a cultural program introducing them to China, its people and its culture.

All students who complete the program receive college and/or high school credit in Mandarin Chinese.

“The University of Mississippi has one of the premier undergraduate Chinese language programs in the country and it receives special federal funding to send students to study in China,” said Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs and professor of Russian and linguistics in the College of Liberal Arts.

“Students who have become highly proficient speakers of Chinese during their high school and college careers will find themselves with unlimited career opportunities when they finish their education over the coming decade.”

In its 11th year, StarTalk provides three levels of instruction. Instructors are Lynn Tian, Yiwen “Abbie” Wang and Cheng-Fu Chen. Ole Miss Chinese students Liz Newsom, Dean Ramsey and Wesley Hale are serving as tutor-counselors.

“Ms. Tian teaches at the Hutchison (Middle) School in Memphis,” Dyer said. “Ms. Wang teaches at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, and Dr. Chen is joining our Chinese faculty this fall after several years of teaching at Framingham State University in Massachusetts.”

Days consist of classes, workshops and Summer College activities. Students learn Chinese calligraphy, cooking, paper cutting and Chinese tea culture. Other activities include dinner at a Chinese restaurant, shopping in a simulated Chinese market, tai qi (martial art) instruction and a panel on studying abroad in China.

“Mississippi StarTalk is a chance to begin or continue the study of Chinese under ideal circumstances and with opportunities to continue during the coming year and into college,” said Brendan Ryan, a UM Stamps leadership scholar who serves as program coordinator. Both Ryan and Hale participated in the StarTalk program in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

A mathematics and Chinese major, Ryan participated in the Fulbright Hayes Group Project Abroad in Xi’an, China and will return in August to partake in the Capstone year of the Chinese Flagship Program.

StarTalk program participants said they have benefitted already from being in the program.

“I love this program and its intensity,” said Mary Entrekin, a Level 1 student from Gulfport. “I catch myself saying things in Chinese that I did not think I knew how to say simply because of all of the exposure that I’m getting to the language and the culture.”

Entrekin said she plans to keep up her Chinese skills with a tutor since Chinese is not offered at her high school.

“I also plan to be able to communicate with Chinese-speaking students in a more efficient way,” she said. “I love learning foreign languages and their corresponding cultures, and this program was the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

Other StarTalk program participants are Robert Anderson, Cara Calhoun, Tabitha Ellis, Abigail Melssen and John Tichenor IV, all of Edmond, Oklahoma; Donald Beck of Sikeston, Missouri; Briana Berger Slowinski of Clinton; Aristide Brown and Yurik Warren, both of Charlotte, North Carolina; Rachel Cieplak of Culpeper, Virginia; Madison Conroy of Miami Beach, Florida; Johanna Cooper of Knoxville, Tennessee; Samantha Fabian of Omaha, Nebraska; Daniel Ferro of Rockville Centre, New York; Harrison Fox of Gulfport; Quinn Gordon of Brandon; Taliya Harman of Gaithersburg, Maryland; Sophia Hellams of Miami; Mackenzie Huffman of Houston; Ethan Joss of McLean, Virginia; Emily Lambert of Hattiesburg; Lucy Meehan of Worcester, New York; Madeline Meyer of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Avery Pearson of Dallas; Sophia Ranck of Eugene, Oregon; Sebastian Rouse of New Orleans; Olivia Saunders of Tallahassee, Florida; Francena Sekul of Biloxi; and Alex Yang of Appleton, Wisconsin.

UM offers the state’s only Mandarin Chinese degree program and is home to one of 12 Chinese Flagship programs in the U.S.

“We run one of the largest and most successful summer StarTalk programs in the country, from which we recruit excellent students for our flagship program,” Dyer said.

For more about UM’s Chinese Language Flagship Program, go to http://chinese.olemiss.edu/. For more about Mississippi StarTalk, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/youth/startalk/.

LOU Community Named All-America City Finalist by Reading Group

Results of literacy collaboration draw national recognition

LOU Reads volunteers deliver free books to children during summer learning activities. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Lafayette County, Oxford and University of Mississippi community is among 27 places across the nation designated as an All-America City Finalist by the National Civic League and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a national organization dedicated to improving reading proficiency among low-income children.

The finalists were honored in June at the campaign’s national awards ceremony in Denver. Also, 15 other cities were named All-American Cities, an honor that will be awarded again in 2020.

LOU’s designation is the result of work from multiple local leaders within the LOU Reads Coalition, a collaboration established in 2015 that works to improve outcomes for low-income children in four areas: grade-level reading (measure of outcomes), school readiness (measure of preparedness), school attendance and summer learning opportunities.

“Literacy is a measure of a community’s prosperity,” said Suzanne Ryals, the new LOU director of early childhood and reading development and leader of LOU Reads. “We have a lot of great resources and through LOU Reads, we are no longer working in isolation.”

Ryals, formerly principal at Bramlett Elementary School in Oxford, attributes LOU’s success to the work of several local educators and community leaders. In her new role, she hopes to help improve literacy outcomes for children via data collection, assessment and continued parent engagement and workforce development.

The LOU community has some hard numbers to back up its recent honor.

The number of children in the Oxford School District who have the reading skills needed to start kindergarten has risen from 29 percent in 2014 to 50 percent in 2016, according to data from the Mississippi Department of Education.

Some 95 percent of Oxford-area children are reading proficiently by third grade.

“I think there is a lot to be learned from the LOU community,” said Ashley Parker Sheils, director of the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which works with nine affiliated communities. “The LOU community has really brought people together and formed powerful subgroups around all four of the campaign focus areas.”

One example of the LOU community meeting the grade-level reading challenge can be seen in the attendance category. LOU Reads leaders have built relationships with local parents through outreach programs such as “Breakfast at the Bus Stop,” where LOU leaders bring breakfast foods to children and parents in the morning to discuss chronic absenteeism at local bus stop locations.

By building relationships and community partnerships, the impact for children has been a positive one. Some 47 percent of local second-grade students missed 10 or more days in 2011-15, but this number was reduced to 17 percent in 2016, according to locally collected data.

“(LOU Reads) has definitely moved the needle for outcomes for children in our community,” said Angela Rutherford, director of UM’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction, one of multiple Ole Miss entities that is part of the organization.

“We want to do whatever we can to support LOU Reads’ goal of increasing literacy achievement. In 2020, we want to be an All-American City.”

UM organizations that are members of LOU Reads include: CELI, College Corps, Dr. Maxine Harper Center for Educational Research and Evaluation, Horizons, Jumpstart and the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement.

Other community member organizations include: Boys & Girls Club of North Mississippi, Excel by 5, Lafayette County Literacy Council, Lafayette Country School District, Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library, Leap Frog, LOU-Home, North Mississippi VISTA Project, Oxford Park Commission, Oxford School District, Oxford University School, United Way of Oxford and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

“This is a community that values literacy and values its children and is actively working to provide the best opportunities it can for its youngest members,” Ryals said.

UM Again Named Among Nation’s Best Universities to Work For

Ole Miss on Chronicle of Higher Education's list for ninth time, makes Honor Roll

For the ninth consecutive year, UM has been named to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of ‘Great Colleges to Work For.’ Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi employees enjoy a strong work-life balance, have confidence in senior leadership and feel appreciated. Those glowing job satisfaction reports have led the Chronicle of Higher Education to name UM a “Great College to Work For” for the ninth time.

The university has made the list, which was released Monday (July 17), nine of the 10 years it has existed. Ole Miss was not only on the list, but it also was recognized for the second year in a row in the Chronicle’s 2017 Great Colleges Honor Roll, an award given to only 10 universities with an enrollment of more than 10,000 students.

It’s rewarding for the university to receive this award for nine straight years because it recognizes the respectful and supportive atmosphere that emanates across all UM campuses, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“Our people are our greatest asset,” Vitter said. “Our faculty, staff and administrators are deeply invested in our university and are responsible for our outstanding campus culture of genuine caring for each individual. They continue to make our vibrant work and learning environments ever greater.”

The Chronicle is a major source of news and information for college and university faculty members and administrators. Online, the Chronicle is published every weekday.

The Great Colleges to Work For recognition is based on thousands of surveys anonymously filled out by higher education employees across the country. 

It’s a great honor for the university to be named to the Chronicle list yet again, said Clay Jones, assistant vice chancellor for administration and human resources. 

“Receiving this acknowledgement multiple years in a row indicates the dedication we have in ensuring our workplace is one of integrity, inclusiveness and fairness,” Jones said. “We take great pride in doing the best we can with the resources we have to ensure our workplace is in fact a great place to work.

“Our faculty and staff are committed to maintaining the levels of excellence we have achieved, and the recognition proves these efforts are getting results.” 

More than 250 UM employees answered the questionnaire earlier this year. Their responses revealed they enjoy collaborative governance, have high confidence in senior leadership, work on a diverse campus, have high job satisfaction and have professional career development opportunities. They also feel respected and appreciated.

Workers report good relationships with their supervisors and department chairs. They also tout the positive work-life balance at Ole Miss. 

The perennial ranking on the Chronicle’s list builds on the university’s sterling reputation as a great place to work. In 2015 and 2016, UM was named one of Mississippi’s Healthiest Workplaces by the Mississippi Business Journal, the Mississippi Business Group on Health and the Mississippi Department of Health. 

The university has policies that allow employees to take two 20-minute breaks during the day to walk around campus, which research has shown improves overall employee morale and productivity.

 Ole Miss also has developed RebelWell, which offers a wide range of opportunities to become educated about living a healthy lifestyle and also offers group fitness classes, cooking demonstrations and nutrition counseling, among other services for employees. The university was also recognized for offering employees many professional development opportunities.

Andrea M. Jekabsons, associate director of human resources, said in addition to recognition for job satisfaction and work-life balance, she’s appreciative of the Chronicle honoring UM’s professional and career development programs.

Those programs have many benefits to employees.

“It’s rewarding to work with employees who are growth-minded and interested in all areas of wellness,” Jekabsons said. “We also continue to support our employees’ professional development efforts and interests, by offering further education benefits, salary increases for those who obtain either an applicable certificate, license or degree and LEAD, which is our employee leadership series.”

Team Effort Funds Improvements for Ole Miss Baseball

Bullpen Club makes major gift to upgrade Oxford-University Stadium

Ole Miss baseball players greet Rebel fans at Swayze Field. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – A ritual has emerged within Ole Miss baseball that compels the Rebels to pump their fists in unison to the beat of the 2007 hit song “Love is Gone.” Now, with a major gift, the sport’s fan base wants to show its players that the love is back.

The Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club has committed $150,000 toward Oxford-University Stadium enhancements primarily designed to benefit the student-athletes.

“As a former player and coach, I’m happy to see these improvements being made on behalf of the players,” said Matt Mossberg, associate athletics director for development and major gifts. “Everyone knows the allure of Swayze Field, and the previous enhancements to the stadium have been crucial to that fan experience.

“Personally, I am extremely excited to help in the effort to improve the space our talented coaches and student-athletes work in every day.”

Thanks in part to the Bullpen Club’s gift, players will soon enjoy a state-of-the-art locker room and team meeting room, new hitting and pitching facilities, weight room enhancements and more. The gift will also help fund the M-Club Rooftop Plaza, which utilizes space on top of the performance center for additional seating.

“When I arrived here in the summer of 2000, one of the first people I met was Ernie LaBarge, the president of the Bullpen Club,” said Mike Bianco, head baseball coach. “I knew I wanted Ernie and the Bullpen Club to be an integral part of the program.

“Ernie built the club to over 1,000 members before his passing and then the club was named in his memory. The ELBC has continued to be instrumental in our growth as a program, helping supplement our budget.”

A longtime friend of the university and Rebel fan, LaBarge died in March 2008.

Members of the Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club present the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation with a $150,000 gift to be used for stadium enhancements that will benefit student-athletes. Submitted photo

Of the Bullpen Club’s gift, $100,000 was donated as part of the $200 million Forward Together campaign, which was launched in 2011 to strengthen Ole Miss athletics in its continuous commitment to excellence. The additional $50,000 is committed to support other baseball projects within the athletics department.

These team-related stadium enhancements are possible because of private giving, said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. Previous stadium renovations, such as the addition of the Diamond Club, were made possible by revenue-generating components, such as the sale of premium seats.

“While there are some new premium seats in this renovation, philanthropy is key to this whole project,” Carter said. “We needed people to step up and the Bullpen Club once again did that. I believe our players will be very grateful.”

For more information about the Forward Together campaign, contact Carter at jkcarter@olemiss.edu, call 662-915-7159 or visit http://givetoathletics.com/forward-together/. For more information about the Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club, click here.

First Charles Walker Real Estate Scholarships Awarded

Family members, former students established award to honor longtime professor and attorney

Charles H. Walker Real Estate Scholarship winners Pittman Phillips (left, front) and Forrest Timmons (right, front) are the first recipients of the scholarship named for Walker (center). UM photo by Stella Connell

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Business Administration’s first Charles H. Walker Real Estate Scholarships, which honor the dynamic, long-serving professor and local attorney, have been awarded to two rising seniors.

Walker taught business law and real estate law courses at the business school and the Patterson School of Accountancy for 38 years while locally practicing law. He mentored hundreds of real estate, business and law professionals.

His family members and former students established a scholarship honoring him in 2014. Pittman Phillips, a managerial finance and real estate major from Oxford, and Forrest Timmons, a real estate finance major from Tupelo, are this year’s recipients.

It’s a high honor to have former students create an endowment for Walker, said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration.

“I believe this best exemplifies the impact that Charles had on students over the years, and we are happy to have this legacy to honor him,” Cyree said. “It is a wonderful way to remember a professor and mentor, and we are thrilled to have this scholarship that bears his name to help continue his impact for future generations.

“We are grateful for his dedication and commitment, and we are happy to see him being honored in this way.”

Phillips said winning the scholarship is a huge honor, and he wants to follow Walker’s example. 

“Mr. Walker has been a role model for many during his teaching and working career, and one day I hope to live up to his legacy,” Phillips said. “It is my goal to expand on this scholarship by getting more students interested in real estate and the numerous aspects that surround the major.”

Timmons said he hopes the scholarship will allow him to make connections in the real estate world.

“Meeting Charles was a great honor and a privilege of mine,” Timmons said. “This scholarship is not just money going into my pocket. I see it as a representation to carry on that spirit and love for real estate that Charles Walker has.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this scholarship and plan to use it to further my education and make an impact in the real estate market here in Oxford.”

George and Annie Haymans of Oxford, Ole Miss alumni who have been influenced by Walker both personally and professionally, wanted to give back to Ole Miss. The couple chose to establish the endowment in honor of the man who shaped their lives profoundly.

George Haymans (JD 06), who met Walker in 2003 while purchasing his first house, is a real estate attorney in Oxford. Annie Haymans (BA 06, BAE 11) was one of Walker’s students and rented a place from him and his wife, Mary, while attending Ole Miss.

George Haymans said they wanted to find a way to honor such a wonderful person, lawyer and mentor.

“When Charles retired and asked me to start teaching his real estate and business law classes, it was a huge compliment and I had very big shoes to fill,” Haymans said. “We hope to honor him for a long time with the scholarship.

“This will allow for students to find a way to become involved in the many different aspects of a career in real estate.”

Will Lewis, one of Walker’s friends and clients and co-owner of Neilson’s Department Store on the Square, contributed to the scholarship fund.

“Charles has a genuine interest in everyone he meets, be they students, clients or casual acquaintances,” Lewis said. “That is a wonderful legacy.”

To make a gift to the Charles H. Walker Real Estate Scholarship Endowment, contact Tim Noss, development officer for the School of Business Administration, at tlnoss@olemiss.edu or 662-915-5932. Checks also can be mailed with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

English Professor Wins Pushcart Prize for Best Essay

Chris Offutt also won Kentucky Literary Award for nonfiction this year

Chris Offutt. Photo by Sandra Dyas

OXFORD, Miss. – Even for someone who is already a respected, prize-winning author and screenwriter, winning the prestigious Pushcart Prize is a rewarding experience.

“The Pushcart Prize is a personal milestone,” said Chris Offutt, associate professor of English and screenwriting at the University of Mississippi. Offutt won the top annual literary honor for his essay “Trash Food,” originally published in Oxford American magazine.

“When I first started writing seriously, I read several volumes of the Pushcart Prize anthology in a public library,” he said. “It seemed far-fetched to imagine that one day I’d write something that would be in there. I’m still surprised that my commitment to writing has worked out.”

The Pushcart Prize is an American literary prize that honors the best “poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot” published in the small presses over the previous year. Awarded annually since 1976, the prize is considered one of the most prestigious in its field.

Magazine and small press editors are invited to submit up to six works for consideration. Pushcart Press publishes annual anthologies of the winners. 

Offutt wrote the essay at the request of John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, which is part of the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture. The essay is about race and class in the South – an issue of great importance to Offutt – and how it plays out in the food people eat.

“The award meant that I’d gotten my points across well,” he said. “It also meant more people would read it. According to the editor at Oxford American, the essay went viral online.”

Ivo Kamps, UM chair and professor of English, praised Offutt’s latest achievement.

“We’re very happy, though not surprised, that Chris Offutt has been chosen for the honor,” Kamps said. “Mr. Offutt is an accomplished and prolific writer, and winning a Pushcart Prize on the heels of the 2017 Kentucky Literary Award for a memoir about his father further underscores the power and far-reaching impact of his prose.

“For the last six years, he has been an enormous asset to our English department. It’s truly wonderful that our aspiring young writers can study with someone of his caliber and dedication.”

Offutt worked on the HBO drama “True Blood” and the Showtime series “Weeds.” His books include “Kentucky Straight,” “The Same River Twice,” “The Good Brother,” “Out of the Woods” and “No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home.”

His work has appeared in such anthologies as “The Best American Essays” and “The Best American Short Stories.”

“I’d like to express my deep appreciation to Ivo Kamps and to all my colleagues in literature and creative writing,” Offutt said. “I have found a home here – physically and intellectually. My experience of teaching here for the past six years has been terrific in every way.”

To read “Trash Food,” visit http://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/item/550-trash-food.

UM Library, Grove Among Sites for Oxford Blues Fest

Annual event this weekend features concerts, interviews and brunch

OXFORD, Miss. – The J.D. Williams Library and the Grove Stage at the University of Mississippi are scheduled sites for Saturday events during the eighth annual Oxford Blues Festival this weekend (July 14-16).

A panel discussion with Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, one of the greatest blues guitarist of all time, begins at 11 a.m. Saturday in the library. It is followed by a guided tour of the university’s Blues Archive with Greg Johnson at 12:15 p.m. Both events are free to the public.

Musicians will begin performing free 45-minute concerts at 1:15 p.m. on the Grove Stage. Besides Watkins, the lineup includes Hill Country Stomp, Seven Mile Mushroom, R.L. Boyce Band, the King Bees and the Cedric Burnside Project. Donations are accepted.

The festival opens at 6 p.m. Friday at Tallahatchie Gourmet restaurant on the Oxford Square. Featured performers are Ben Wiley Payton and “The Great” Effie Burt.

The closing event on Sunday is a Gospel Brunch at the Mesquite Chop House restaurant, starting at 11 a.m. A Family Affair Gospel Singers will perform. Tickets are available for a suggested $10 donation.

For more information, contact Joyce Byrd at joyce.byrd@oxfordbluesfest.com or visit the festival website at http://oxfordbluesfest.com/.

 

Journalism Dean Tapped for Press Association Hall of Fame

Will Norton joins Carolyn Wilson for this year's class of inductees

Carolyn Wilson, former executive director of the Mississippi Press Association, and Will Norton Jr., UM journalism dean, show off their plaques after being inducted into the trade group’s Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy Mississippi Press Association

OXFORD, Miss. – Will Norton Jr., professor and dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, has been inducted into the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame.

Joining Norton on the list of those who have made lasting contributions to journalism is Carolyn Wilson, longtime chief executive of the state newspaper trade group.

Both were inducted Saturday (July 8) at the MPA convention in Biloxi.

Norton, who previously served on the faculty and as chair of the Department of Journalism at Ole Miss, returned to Mississippi in 2009 as inaugural dean of the Meek School. He holds a doctorate in mass communications from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.

A partner in The South Reporter in Holly Springs, Norton was serving as dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln when the innovative school was launched at Ole Miss.

Under his leadership, the school has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment and in scholarship dollars earned by its students.

He has been an active member of both MPA and the Nebraska Press Association, where he was inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame in 2009.

Norton has been crucial in establishing newspaper “reporting expeditions” to member papers. Funded by the MPA Education Foundation, the trips allow teams of journalism majors to work over the course of several days on assignment for member newspapers.

“Will is a tremendous advocate for excellence in both the curriculum and practice of journalism,” said Layne Bruce, MPA executive director. “He also has been invaluable in strengthening the relationship between Ole Miss and our member newspapers.”

Wilson, who lives in Sandy Hook, served as MPA executive director for 22 years and was one of only two employees when she joined the staff in 1982. She was promoted to executive director in 1985.

Under her leadership, the organization grew to a peak of a dozen employees and handled more than $5 million in advertising placements for its member papers through its business subsidiary, Mississippi Press Services.

An Arkansas native, Wilson worked on behalf of newspaper members on such cornerstone issues as open records and sunshine laws, as well as internships for journalism students and continuing education for member employees. She was also a key player in the purchase of two headquarters locations for MPA in 1987 and 2002.

She retired in 2007 but continued to consult with MPA on contract through 2009.

“Those years of Carolyn’s hard work, along with the leadership of board members through the decades, has ensured MPA continues to be in a strong position to serve its members during an age of rapid change in our industry,” Bruce said. “She certainly deserves this honor, and we couldn’t be happier for her.”

The Hall of Fame was created in 1986. Inductees are chosen by a committee of previous honorees and past presidents of the association.