Journalism Dean Receives National Award

Will Norton honored for contributions to professional groups, field of journalism

Will Norton Jr.

OXFORD, Miss. – Will Norton Jr., dean of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, has been honored by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication with its Presidential Award.

The AEJMC Presidential Award is designed to pay special tribute to individuals who have, through their leadership and service, made a difference for the organization and field of journalism.

“I’m honored to present this award to someone who has touched many lives in this room,” AEJMC President Marie Hardin said earlier this month during her speech at the AEJMC conference in Toronto, where the award was presented.

“He is a former president of AEJMC, and he is one of the few academic leaders who has also been president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications and vice president of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.”

Norton is one of the longest-serving deans in journalism and mass communication education and was honored in 2005 as the Scripps Howard Foundation Journalism Administrator of the Year, said Hardin, who serves as dean of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Pennsylvania State University.

“In fact, our honoree has led two great programs: at the University of Nebraska, from 1990 to 2009; and, now, the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi,” she said. “He is an exemplar of servant leadership, having been an informal mentor to many of us and a transformational teacher for hundreds of students over the decades.”

Norton, who also served as chair of the UM Department of Journalism for 13 years before becoming dean at Nebraska, said he appreciated the AEJMC for recognizing the efforts of the Ole Miss journalism school.

“The award says a lot about the support the School of Journalism and New Media is receiving from peers throughout the nation,” Norton said. “What has happened in the school has gained national attention, and we are grateful to Dean Hardin for that recognition.”

Hardin quoted Norton’s friend and longtime AEJMC member Doug Anderson, who described him as “an unselfish, dedicated, considerate, respectful, knowledgeable, positive, nurturing and generous contributor” to AEJMC.

Norton humbly credited his accomplishments to the people he has worked with throughout his career, said Debora Wenger, UM assistant dean and professor of journalism who attended the conference.

“This award is given rarely, but every person I encountered at the conference seemed to have a story about Will helping them in some way or stepping up when no one else would to get a job done,” Wenger said. “It’s clear he has been a huge asset to journalism education, and many people there applauded him for earning this much-deserved honor.”