Gift Bolsters Journalism Award Fund

Sturdivant family honors matriarch and school's founding dean

Ygondine Walker Sturdivant

OXFORD, Miss. – A recent major gift to the University of Mississippi will bolster the Sturdivant Journalism Award Endowment Fund, created in 2010 to recognize students poised to graduate with highest honors from the School of Journalism and New Media.

The Sturdivant family made the gift in honor of their matriarch, Ygondine Walker Sturdivant, a former Miss Ole Miss who earned a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology in 1948.

“This is a lovely surprise and one that I appreciate,” said Sturdivant, of Glendora. “I have been very blessed with a wonderful family and that they would make this gift in my name makes it even more meaningful to me.”

The family’s gift also represents Sturdivant’s respect for Will Norton, UM journalism dean.

“I think he’s done such a wonderful job,” she said. “I am a great admirer of his work with the School of Journalism and New Media. He’s given excellent leadership since he has been at Ole Miss, and I feel confident that his continued leadership will accomplish great things for the school.”

Norton said he is honored by the gift.

“We are grateful for the kindness of Mrs. Sturdivant and her family,” he said. “It’s my pleasure to serve the University of Mississippi by leading the School of Journalism and New Media, but to be recognized for that service with such a generous gift is very humbling”

Norton said he has always admired Sturdivant.

“She is a woman of grace and charm and the very definition of a Southern lady. She is the standard by which we should measure all those who are Miss Ole Miss.”

In college, Sturdivant was president of Chi Omega sorority, vice president of the Women’s Student Government Association, a member of the Glee Club and a participant in campus religious organizations. She played the clarinet in the marching band and was one of its two baton twirlers.

Ygondine Walker Sturdivant (seated) reigns as Miss Ole Miss with her court. Submitted photo

She also received academic honors – Mortar Board, Committee of 100 and Alpha Lambda Delta – and was inducted into the student Hall of Fame.

“I think anyone who goes to Ole Miss has a special love for the university and certainly I am one of those,” Sturdivant said. “I had a very rewarding and happy four years there.”

After graduating, Sturdivant married the late Mike Sturdivant, a leader in the Mississippi and U.S. agriculture industry, a participant in the early growth of the Holiday Inn hotel chain and a two-time candidate for governor. They have five children, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

The Sturdivant Journalism Award Endowment Fund is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. Checks, with the endowment noted in the memo line, can be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Gifts can also be made online by visiting

For more information on ways to support the School of Journalism and New Media, contact Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, at or 662-915-3120.