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This page, from left to right: James Meredith and Kimbrely Dandridge; Sharyn Alfonsi and Assistant Dean Charlie Mitchell; Lauren Loyless and Dean Will Norton; Hillary Goodfellow; Dr. Nancy Dupont and Margaret Ann Morgan. Inside back cover, from left to right: Emily Roland and her mother; Wanfei Wu and Sharyn Alfonsi; Norman Seawright III and his father Norman Seawright Jr.; Dean Will Norton, Nicholas Will, Stephen Quinn, Norman Seawright, Margaret Ann Morgan, and Assistant Dean Charlie Mitchell; Stephen Quinn and Neal Ann Parker


Publisher WILL NORTON, JR.



Design Consultant DARREN SANEFSKI


Cover photo by MIKKI HARRIS Meek School is published by The University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media, 114 Farley Hall, University, MS 38677. Articles and opinions expressed in Meek School are those of the authors and do not represent the views of The University of Mississippi or the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reprinted in any manner without the written permission of the publisher. On the cover: Ed and Becky Meek.





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LETTER FROM WILL NORTON, JR. tall distinguishedlooking gentleman met me at the Tupelo airport in May 1973.


However, Dr. Farrar had the program on the rise, and he had gained national attention. In 1977 Ole Miss could not match an offer he received to become director of the School of Journalism at the University of Kentucky, and he accepted the position.

Jere Hoar was the interim chair of the Department of Journalism. Ron Farrar, the newly named chair, had asked him to interview me for a faculty position.

The momentum he began continued in the years that followed. The department grew and a move was made to Farley Hall. In fact, in 1979 the Radio/Television degree was moved from the Theater Arts Department, and the number of majors more than doubled, but the department gained only three positions in the process. There was no new equipment and no additional operating budget.

I had just flown in from Tuscaloosa where I had been interviewed for a position on that faculty. I had no idea what to expect from my first encounter with Ole Miss. However, as Dr. Hoar and I talked on our ride to Oxford, I became intrigued by his description of the quality of the Ole Miss program started by Dr. Gerald Forbes and developed by Dr. Sam Talbert. It was small and committed to excellence. We talked about a curriculum that was oriented toward media professions and about students who were eager to become great storytellers. We talked about a faculty with significant media experience and about outstanding alumni who were proof of uncommon quality. We also talked about Brady Hall, a rickety venue that had survived the War Between the States. I loved the campus and the down-home feel of the department. I loved the stories and banter of the students and faculty. However, when I returned to the University of Iowa I was offered a considerable salary to be publisher of The Daily Iowan, and I turned down the Ole Miss offer. And I realized I never would be on the Ole Miss faculty. A year later I was finishing my dissertation at Iowa when I answered a phone call from Dr. Hoar and Dr. Farrar. They had interviewed candidates for the still empty position, but had not received any acceptances. Because I had already seen the campus, and they had interviewed me, they wondered if I would accept an offer. I probably was their last resort. I immediately said yes. The fall of 1974 was my first, and the year was incredible. • The staff of The Daily Mississippian was exceptional. • Dr. Farrar obtained accreditation for the school. • The graduating class was filled with journalists who would leave a mark on the profession and on the nation. Dr. Ed Meek, director of public relations at Ole Miss, began pushing for us to be a school, but the budget was minuscule, there were only five faculty, and the university was reeling from one crisis to another. Administrators could not increase our budget or add to our faculty despite great improvement in enrollment.

We hired Neale Copple, dean of the College of Journalism at the University of Nebraska, to help us develop a more integrated curriculum for the two programs. In 1981 the department added Dr. Jim Pratt, and in 1980 Willie Morris began teaching an advanced writing class. In 1984 Service Journalism was created through a gift from the Meredith Corporation because of the leadership of Jim Autry, and Dr. Samir Husni was hired. Minimal opportunities existed to raise funds, but we made every effort we could to do so, and Charles Overby, then vice president for communications at the Gannett Co., Inc., led in obtaining a major scholarship endowment for students of color. Dr. Meek kept pushing for the department to gain school status that would provide opportunities for a professional program like the elite campuses throughout the nation. Unfortunately, his efforts were unsuccessful, and the academic ceiling for journalism at Ole Miss seemed very real. Meanwhile, Dean Copple had liked the excellence he had seen at Ole Miss and nominated me for several positions throughout the nation. Finally, he asked me to apply at Nebraska and, after the usual search process, I accepted. I realized I never again would be on the Ole Miss faculty. I was at the University of Nebraska 17 years when Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat accepted a gift from Ed and Becky Meek, creating a school of journalism and new media. After much thought and discussion, I applied when the Meek School deanship opened. Today, the school’s status has provided national and international exposure for the university, and the possibilities are endless for our students and our faculty. During my four years back at Ole Miss, I have reflected on Dr. Hoar’s description of a program of excellence. I have been grateful for the tenacious perseverance of Dr. Meek, and the selfless contributions of so many others. Similarly, as you read this edition of the Meek School, I hope you will reflect on an excellent education and memories of good times on a campus nestled in the hills of northern Mississippi. Hotty Toddy. MEEK SCHOOL


article by katie williamson photo by Mikki harris

meet meek S

ince the sixth grade, Ed Meek has been involved in journalism. For six years he worked long hours after school, on weekends and over the summer at the Mississippi Sun, a little newspaper in Charleston. It became his home away from home, and the owners became his surrogate parents. “It was great. I didn’t care about the money,” Meek said. “I was learning. It kept me busy and focused. “That caused me to go into journalism.” Journalism always has been a passion for Meek, but after high school, he never expected to end up at Ole Miss. The idea of going to college did not even cross his mind until his high school English teacher discovered his potential. “I was not a good student,” Meek said. “In my senior year, my teacher in English said you have to write a term paper. I made an A in the class. My teacher came to me on the last day of school and she said, ‘Why don’t you go to college?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’” The only experience Meek had with universities was when his band went to camp at Mississippi State University. He considered his options and decided that Ole Miss was where he should attend. “Here’s a redneck from Charleston, just stepped off the bus, who had never been to Oxford, didn’t even know what the University of Mississippi was, being picked up by the chairman of the journalism department,” Meek said. “He put his arm around me and said ‘Come on, son, let’s look at the campus.’”

Dr. Jere Hoar, professor emeritus of the journalism department, said the faculty quickly recognized Meek’s potential. “I doubt if he had $50 in his pocket,” Hoar said. “He didn’t have the best of academic backgrounds, but he had ambition, the desire to learn, and the willingness to work hard. Government-backed student loans and grants didn’t exist then. Not even the Work-Study program had been established.” The moment Meek stepped on Ole Miss soil, he made an imprint on the campus. Former Chancellor Robert Khayat said Meek was “entrepreneurial.” “Ed learned at an early age how to provide for himself and those he loved,” Khayat said. “He seemed to have an endless supply of energy.” After graduation and for the 51 years since, Meek has continued to work with and for the university to improve the quality of the journalism program by mentoring students, influencing curriculum and, with his wife Becky, making the $5.3 million gift to establish the Meek School of Journalism and New Media in 2009. And he hasn’t slowed. “He moves like his shoes are on fire, one thing to another, one idea to another,” Hoar said. “Who can keep up?” “We owe Ole Miss everything,” Meek said. “My wife and I came to Oxford with virtually nothing. The university has educated our children and tried to educate me. Everything we have, we owe to what Ole Miss did for us, and we want to pay that back, every way we can.”

Meek said he remained in Oxford because of the opportunities the university gave him. He could follow his passion as a teacher while maintaining his entrepreneurial spirit. He began his career in public relations in 1963 and, at 24, became the youngest department head at that time. He began teaching in 1974. In the meantime, he established Oxford Publishing, Inc., among other companies. “I love journalism, and I am a great believer in the responsibility of the press,” Meek said. “I am concerned in our society with the decline of the printed press and television and the whole thing. Who’s going to be the check on government and society?”After Meek sold Oxford Publishing, he met with Khayat about creating the Meek School to prepare generations of students to take up the torch. Journalism is constantly changing, and Meek hopes the new school will be able to train students to adapt. “When we provided the funds to create the school, there were two criteria in that agreement with the university,” Meek said. “One was that the school would always support and defend First Amendment rights, which is simple. Second, the school would focus on the future rather than the past.” To address the future Meek advocated an integrated marketing communications program. It combines traditional journalism with advertising, public relations, brand management and customer insight research. The bachelor of science degree program, with a minor in business, is to give students a new set of skills that will enable them to more actively engage audiences in a changing marketplace.

You can sell products, ideas, concepts, around the world in half a second for free. That’s the future. That’s journalism. That’s marketing. That’s sales. It’s a whole new focus. ED MEEK

“I see everybody scrambling to try and understand this new media,” Meek said. “I am hoping we can create a generation of people, who look for the long term, use the short term but are prepared to take advantage of all those wonderful new technologies as they come online. It’s a whole new world, and I think that this program is the key to the future of that world.” “That optimism is also a Meek hallmark,” Hoar said. “He is cheerful and optimistic. He loves people. His motto seems to be, ‘Come, let us reason together,’ but that doesn’t mean he takes abuse. He’s tenacious. He’ll lawyerup with one of the best firms in the state and give an opponent hell if sweet reason doesn’t persuade.” Meek also has established HottyToddy. com as a way for students to get more hands-on experience in the field. The website offers students opportunities to report on local events through writing, photography and social media. He provides the building, salaries and time; everything else goes to scholarship funds. In the first two months, the site climbed to 27,000 readers. “What I see here, is students having a great experience,” Meek said. “It’s not just a website. Behind that website is a whole bunch of busy bees doing things that are

making things happen. That’s what integrated marketing communications is. There are just tons of technologies popping up here and there, and nobody knows what’s going to happen. The power of that is absolutely phenomenal.”

institution. He spent his career developing the journalism program into a competitive experience for students who want to make a difference in the world. He has been able to carry on those ideals with his donation and

“Many alums love Ole Miss and give generously,” Hoar said, “but I don’t know of anyone else who pledged to work the rest of his life for this university, students who want to come here and the school he founded.”

Today, the entrepreneur can be found in a small building off Jackson Avenue, where he maintains an active role in the lives of aspiring journalists. He has created a more involved and engaged student workforce that will graduate from Ole Miss with more realworld experience.

“He and Becky have built a strong family, confronted difficult problems and strengthened their relationship through the years — hard times as well as happy times,” Khayat said. “His faith is important to him and is being driven by his belief that God expects us to love each other and make the world a better place.” In 1999, Meek retired from his positions as assistant vice chancellor for public relations and marketing, and associate professor of journalism after 36 years at the university. Throughout his career at Ole Miss, Meek prided himself most with having helped change the perspective of the university from the dark events surrounding the 1962 integration to a modern and progressive

“You can sell products, ideas, concepts around the world in half a second for free,” Meek said.

“That’s the future.

“That’s journalism.

“That’s marketing.

“That’s sales.

“It’s a whole new focus.

“I believe if we educate people to deal with that, the world is going to belong to people who can handle those tools.” Katie Williamson is a senior in the Meek School. She is from Oxford, Miss MEEK SCHOOL


Thank you for your support of the Meek School Nancy H. and Richard B. Akin Margaret D. and Robert J. Allen Jenny A. Anderson Gary A. Avery Paul C. Brooks Hanh N. Bullion Maralyn H. Bullion Daniel K. Carpenter Jean M. Clinton John E. Cook Peggy T. and James P. Cothren Katherine K. Crook Jane F. and D. Richard Cross Mary A. and Sidney S. Curry Carolyn B. Davidson and Charles H. Davidson V Charlotte J. and Christopher W. Dicus Rosemary L. and David W. Dillard Camille B. Dixon Dow Chemical U.S.A. Josh K. Erickson Shevaun and John Festervand William Fisher Brian M. Folk Freedom Forum & Newseum Ashley B. Futrell, Jr. Nola K. Gibson Anna Beth and Steven N. Godfrey Thomas A. Grier Kerry W. Hamilton Mary A. and W. Patrick Harkins Laurie A. Heavey Amy F. Hersey Virginia T. and William J. Hickey III Mary C. and James W. Hipp Susan M. Houde F. Berkley Hudson Rebecca F. and Bryan D. Hunt Journal Publishing Company Suzanne M. Kerr Mary L. and Nick Kotz Barbara L. and Jeffrey T. Lawyer Wanda C. and Jerry D. Lyle

David B. Mackay Stewart M. Madison Carol Martin Jean J. and M. C. Mauney Becky W. and Edwin E. Meek Lola E. Meek Elizabeth B. and Stanley E. Mileski William E. Miller III Charles D. Mitchell Tim Murphy Robert L. Nelson Susan L. and Will Norton, Jr. Nancy Jane Otto Andrea G. and Charles L. Overby Jennifer B. and John E. Owen Daniel C. Pair Celia X. Pan Susan S. Pope Leann Pope-Allison and Donald S. Allison Susan K. Puckett Carlton M. Rhodes, Jr. Larz G. Roberts Brandon S. Ross Tara and John Runge C. Lee Sanders Sanofi-Aventis Lu Ann H. and Thomas G. Smith Jennifer W. Stanford Ygondine W. Sturdivant J. M. Tonos, Jr. Susan T. and Larry L. Tyner, Jr. United Way of the Bay Area Kimberly R. and Ronald J. Vaughan, Jr. Vanessa G. Vise Alexa R. and L. Kenton Watt, Jr. Edward J. Webb, Jr. Tracy and Larry D. Weeden, Sr. Kenneth M. Weightman William Randolph Hearst Fndn. Dana S. and Joel R. Wood WTVA, Inc. Jane P. and Frank M. Yerger

2012-2013 Donors



ASSEMBLY PETITION Gene Policinski, senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, explores what the First Amendment means in 2013.



photo contributed by gene policinski


n 2013, the First Amendment’s protection for our core freedoms has never been stronger.

From recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that defend the right of even the most obnoxious groups to shout their messages in public to the boundless opportunities for communication and the marketplace of ideas embodied by the World Wide Web to the invigorating diversity of religious faiths across the nation — it’s a great era for those five freedoms: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. But at the same time, those rights face an unprecedented assortment of legal challenges, proposed statutory restrictions or repeal and even public outrage. Many of those actions and reactions involve the fear of things new — from online content to unfamiliar religions — to reflect the longstanding tension between patriotism and protest, or concerns over increased corporate involvement in election finance. Even as most Americans have more access than at any other time in history to more sources of news and to more opportunities to hold journalists accountable, respect and reliance on news outlets continues to decline. Even the very definitions of “news” and “journalist” are up in the air, thanks to the Internet that enables every user to be a reporter and editor, and that gives even the trivial a global audience. In short, never since its ratification in 1791 in the Bill of Rights has the First Amendment been more engaged, more involved, more topical — and perhaps more at risk from those who would just “adjust” part of the 45 words in response to this or that issue. In just recent years: * The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the group known as the Westboro Baptist Church and others to spout hateful messages in public protest, at that most solemn of moments – funerals, particularly those of U.S.

military personnel who have been killed in combat.

a California law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

Though public opinion by any measure is critical of the group’s tactic to gain attention, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the 2011 decision: “Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain … we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

Yet, even as those landmark decisions defend First Amendment freedoms, threats to those freedoms are peaking, as well, for reasons that range from national security to the ever-growing cyber world to just the simple desire to just be left alone.

Roberts said, “As a nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.” * The Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United decision to strike down long-standing bans on corporate and union spending in elections — though not a ban on direct contributions — no doubt increased record spending in the 2012 election cycle. But as Justice Samuel Alito said in speaking later about the decision, “The question is whether speech that goes to the very heart of government should be limited to certain preferred corporations; namely, media corporations. Surely the idea that the First Amendment protects only certain privileged voices should be disturbing to anybody who believes in free speech.” * In a 2011 decision involving violence and video games, apart from the particulars of that decision, the justices rejected an attempt to add another exception, violence, to protected speech, even to protect minors in the manner of laws against obscenity that are deemed to meet a constitutional test. The court noted that violent content has been present in American literature and art throughout history, and demanded more proof of ill effects on young people before endorsing additional limitations on free expression. “Disgust is not a valid basis for restricting expression,” proclaimed Justice Antonin Scalia in his majority opinion that overturned

Ironies abound in this new age of free expression. We’ve never had more opportunity, easier, to communicate with each other — whether it’s down the street, across town or around the globe. And yet, for reasons ranging from personal privacy to intrusive and unwelcome sexual images, some call for content limits that can far exceed those ever applied to earlier media. The court’s decision on corporate campaign spending prompted immediate and strong opposition, even to critical comments by President Barack Obama in front of several justices at the 2012 State of the Union address. In the latest attempt to reverse the court on that issue, in January, U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., introduced two constitutional amendments, one to give Congress and states the authority to regulate political spending, and the other to declare that corporations cannot be treated as individuals with constitutional rights. A variety of states and municipalities have passed laws aimed at limiting the visibility of groups like Westboro Baptist at funerals and such ceremonies, with the certainty that some will be challenged by the group as too limiting. Even traditionally strong protections for a free press and free speech may be threatened, as concerns over crude or sexual content online, online predators and Web-based bullying spur moves to limit access or material available to young people. U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning faces trial

Gene Policinski is senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center. He is co-author of the weekly syndicated newspaper and online column, “Inside the First Amendment.” Policinski began his career in Indiana, where he worked as a newspaper reporter and later as state bureau chief for Gannett News Service. In 1980, he became a correspondent in the GNS Washington bureau, reporting on Congress, politics and other issues. In 1982, he was named Washington editor of USA Today during its development, and he held that post when it launched on Sept. 15. In 1983 he was named a Page One editor. In 1985, he was named deputy managing editor/sports and later managing editor/sports. He is the founding editor of USA Today Baseball Weekly (now Sports Weekly). From 1991 through 1993, he was the on-air host of three news, sports and information programs on USA Today Sky Radio.

in March over providing massive amounts of classified documents to the group Wikileaks, which in turn has posted tens of thousands of pages on the Web. The backlash from the Wikileaks disclosures include a role in stymieing efforts to gain approval of a so-called federal “shield law” for journalists and their sources, and the possibility — still remote — that newspapers that publish such “leaks” might be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act, never yet used against a mainstream news organization.

aggregation of personal data for commercial, law enforcement or — as some fear — criminal purposes, has caused some public support to erode for access even by news media to the most basic government records such as driver’s licenses, arrest records or autopsy reports. And a nationwide flap over a New York state newspaper’s decision to print the names of gun permit holders in its area, in the wake of the Newton, Conn. school shooting, has fueled the drive to close off the availability of those public records.

A continued frustration for First Amendment advocates is a lack of education about the particulars of those essential freedoms. The latest “State of the First Amendment” national survey by the First Amendment Center showed that only one freedom — religion — was named by more than half of respondents, that no more than 4 percent could name all five freedoms and that more than 30 percent could not name any of the five.

The list of flash points over First Amendment freedoms goes on. Protests over the building of mosques range from New York City to Murfreesboro, Tenn., despite the guarantee of religious freedom. The issue of the presence of religion in public schools simmers and occasionally boils over in lawsuits some 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that prayer by individual students is fine but instruction or endorsement by educators or school systems is not.

The issue of privacy is among the most vexing of public concerns. For decades, the push for more transparency in government enjoyed wide citizen support, as a means of holding government accountable and of empowering those wishing to change or support government polices and practices. But the new online opportunities for online

The “Occupy” movement and “Tea Party” protests reinvigorated those who see assembly and petition as a citizenry’s effective check on those in power. But the long-term impact of both groups and their missions remains to be seen. History does provide no greater, gleaming

examples today of the value — and power — of all five First Amendment freedoms than the ongoing celebrations around the 50th anniversaries of milestones in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. From churches that sheltered the opponents of racial injustice to the marches and protesters who demanded change, to the Freedom Riders who galvanized the attention of a nation, to a free press that, after years of benign neglect if not outright racist views on integration, literally brought home the images of bigotry and violence of the era — the amendment nourished the nation’s most seminal change of heart and law. Just one day before Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, he delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, saying that “… somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.” In 2013, the challenge for Americans is to preserve the amendment, unique among the nations of the world, which for nearly 222 years has defended, preserved and encouraged the five core freedoms that give hope for such greatness. MEEK SCHOOL


PHOTOS BY harris

Mikki Harris joined the Meek School in 2012 as a photography and multi-media professor. Her subjects range from President Obama to Condoleeza Rice; George W. Bush to the Clintons; the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Olympic Gold Medalists Charles Barkley and Vonetta Flowers; and the photo-shy Jimmy Carter. These are two of her favorite photos.

The Lagoon. This is a photo of a boy named Kebo, taken as he rests in a boat in the Codrington Lagoon in Barbuda, West Indies. What I like about the photo is that it is a timeless photo that speaks to an experience of my ancestors. Generations of boys in Barbuda, including my great-grandfather and grandfather, have learned from the elders to fish and swim in the lagoon.

Once a Man, Twice a Child. My grandmother used this expression throughout my childhood. I captured a photo that put a visual on the expression during her final year of life. My father dedicated at least six hours a day to her care as she battled Alzheimer’s. At the close of each day, he fed, bathed and got her ready for bed, as she did for him when he was a child. Photographing my dad as he tucked Mama in has been one of the best moments I’ve photographed. It’s a moment I will always hold in my heart.




this issue’s featured alumni are taking the name of ole miss journalism to the next level.


Article by Deborah Purnell PHoto contributed by deb wenger

Berkley Hudson


erkley Hudson, a 1973 graduate of the University of Mississippi and associate professor of magazine journalism at the University of Missouri, received a $2,500 Southeast Conference Visiting Faculty Travel Grant. Hudson used the grant to return to his undergraduate alma mater during the first week of April to present his research on racial representations in the media as well as work on an ongoing project. “We were delighted to invite a scholar and a journalist of the caliber of Dr. Berkley Hudson to be on our campus during the spring semester,” wrote Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, in the invitation letter for Hudson becoming a visiting faculty member. Hudson is in the midst of planning an exhibit and symposium on the works of O.N. Pruitt, who captured more than 80,000 images during the early and mid-1900s of Columbus, Miss., Hudson’s hometown. Pruitt photographed everything from family picnics to river baptisms, carnivals, parades, fires, tornadoes, and even two of the last public executions by hanging in Mississippi as well as the 1935 illegal lynching of the two African

American farmers, Bert Moore and Dooley Morton. Columbus had 18 documented lynchings. The photograph collection has become what Hudson calls a photo-biography of a place. Hudson is currently working on completing a book based on 150 of Pruitt’s photographs. His in-depth research into the subject and the photographs led to his appointment as a special curator of the O.N. Pruitt-Calvin Shanks Collection at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2006. Hudson hopes to have the exhibit and symposium in 2016. This summer, UNC will stage an initial exhibition from June 17 to Sept. 2, “The Life of a Southern Town: Images of Columbus, Mississippi, from the Pruitt & Shanks Photographic Collection.”

ested in studying how media contribute to that gap. All of these topics are still important to understand how media participate in race relations. “I hope to convey a sense of wonder that I have about Mississippi and its cultural history in terms of journalism and photographs,” Hudson said. Hudson presented his research regarding Southern racial and cultural representations in the media and guest lectured to Ole Miss students on literary journalism, magazine writing and editing, and visual studies.

While at Ole Miss this April, Hudson met with his team members for the project, including Charles Reagan Wilson, co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, and Mark Dolan, a journalism professor who studies media representation of music of the American South.

Hudson, a 25-year magazine and newspaper writer and editor, earned a master’s in journalism from Columbia University in 1974 and a doctorate in mass communications from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2003. In spring 2012, Hudson was named the new editor of Visual Communication Quarterly, an international, peer-reviewed journal of theory, research, practical criticism and creative work in all areas of visual communication.

Hudson said there is a gap between how Mississippi views itself and how the rest of the world views Mississippi, and he is inter-

Deborah Purnell is a communications specialist in the Office of University Communications at Ole Miss. MEEK SCHOOL



john fortenberry W

hen Hollywood and Ole Miss are mentioned together, “The Blindside” and “The Help” are two recent blockbusters that come to mind. However, when talking about Hollywood in relation to Ole Miss, one name that should be thought of is John Fortenberry. Indeed, there’s a pretty good chance that most Americans have watched multiple television shows and movies directed by the 1980 graduate. His directorial credits include television shows such as “Arrested Development,” “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “2 Broke Girls,” “Memphis Beat,” and “Rescue Me.” If that seems like an extensive list, it doesn’t even begin to crack the surface of the shows he has worked on — more than 65 since 1988. When features are added to the list, he’s been at the helm of more than 90 projects.

Almost anyone alive in the 1990s saw what is perhaps Fortenberry’s most popular work, “A Night At The Roxbury.” Based on an SNL skit, the 1998 film follows Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan as they travel from club to club bobbing their heads to Haddaway’s “What Is Love” all the while. Fortenberry did not attend USC, UCLA or any of the other famous California film schools. The Jackson native stayed in his home state for college, heading to Oxford in 1977 to study film and television. He attributes much of his success to things he learned at Ole Miss, not just in the classroom, but through the hands-on experience he got at Bishop Hall. “When I got here, Ole Miss had this amazing facility, which was this closed circuit cable station that went out to the campus and community,” Fortenberry said. “It had three cameras, lighting, a control room and everything. And at

the time, no one was interested in television. ... Myself and a few others who were interested in it basically had the run of the place.” Fortenberry first began making films during his time working at the cable station. “They would let us take the ENG camera out and we were making short films on our own ,basically,” Fortenberry said. “If I had gone to NYU or USC, you know one of the big film schools of the country, I’d probably not have touched the camera until my senior year.” It was a good thing he didn’t have to wait until his senior year for hands-on experience, because after his sophomore year he headed to New York City with the hopes of landing a summer job working in film. “A friend of mine who was a film editor up here said, ‘Forget about film, there’s this new thing called videotape and it’s going to replace

Article by Alex Lowe PHoto contributed by john fortenberry

film,’” Fortenberry said. “So I went to a lot of early videotape edit facilities and ended up getting a summer job in a videotape library in this edit facility in New York. And that really got my foot in the door.

“We would work with him a lot editing our sketches and films and videos we made,” Pross said. “John was always saying ‘I’m hoping to direct stuff myself one day’ and sure enough, in a few years he was directing.”

“From there I met and befriended one of the editors. That next summer that editor had gone to start a new edit facility with Lorne Michaels, and that’s how I ended up at that facility.”

While many Hollywood directors are viewed as brash, narcissistic people who would just as soon bite off your head as angrily yell “Cut,” Fortenberry provides a stark contrast to that stereotype. He’s reserved and slow to talk about his accomplishments, a manner to which Pross attributes Fortenberry’s longevity and success.

Yes, the Lorne Michaels Fortenberry met is the same Lorne Michaels of SNL fame. Michaels promised Fortenberry a full-time job at Broadway Video as soon as he graduated from Ole Miss, which he did in December of 1980. “I had accumulated enough credits to graduate a semester early,” Fortenberry said. “I had been exposed to Saturday Night Live that summer, and quite honestly I was very tempted not to come back because it was a really great job. Lorne actually said, ‘Look you should go back and finish college and there’s a job waiting for you when you get out.’ So that was a great situation I landed in. … I finished that last semester, and then graduated a semester early and went to New York right away.” Fortenberry credits finding a job before leaving college to the skills he learned working on Ole Miss productions, specifically, the Steve Sloan show, which was a weekly program focused on the football team. “The fact that coming out of Ole Miss I had the skill, I knew how to edit ... that was what got me into the edit facility with Lorne Michaels,” Fortenberry said. “It wasn’t something that they taught in a course, it’s something that I learned by working on the Steve Sloan show every week. That actually provided some real, genuine experience that I did use later in life.” Emmy-winning screenwriter Max Pross first met Fortenberry in the late ’70s when Fortenberry was working at Broadway Video. The two first worked together in 1983 on “The New Show,” a show similar to SNL but not shot live, where Fortenberry was an editor and Pross was a writer. The two have kept in touch and collaborated on multiple projects in the last 30 years.

“The fact that coming out of Ole Miss I had the skill, I knew how to edit ... that was what got me into the edit facility with Lorne Michaels.” JOHN FORTENBERRY “I think that’s why he’s had a good career,” Pross said. “He’s very easy going and gets along with a lot of people. In TV you don’t want a director that’s too pushy. ... You’re working with so many different people on a regular basis that you want a sort of go-with-the-flow guy.” Pross said his experience working with Fortenberry has always been positive, and they try to work together as frequently as possible. “When the crunch time comes, and Tom (Gammill) and I are producing something and we need four directors quickly to direct these four different episodes, John will certainly be on that list,” Pross said. Fortenberry’s most recent project was the pilot of the new Nickelodeon show “Wendell and Vinnie.” That pilot aired Feb. 16, 2013, and has received overwhelmingly favorable reviews so far. Fortenberry is also currently working on “The Neighbors,” an ABC sci-fi sitcom that airs Wednesday nights.

the Oxford Film Festival — which is currently in its tenth year — as great assets to the community. “Ole Miss was always a school where law, medicine, engineering kind of ruled, and the arts were not the proper choice,” Fortenberry said. “But I can certainly see the tide turning there, and I’m really glad that they are moving out into the arts.” “I think it’s great to have (the film festival and cinema program) now,” Fortenberry said. “It makes it a legitimate interest for the students and for the university. (Now) if you’re interested in film production or any of the aspects of film and television you don’t have to go out of state. You can get a good education in that area.” Although he has not had the opportunity to film something in his home state, Fortenberry says that coming back to Mississippi for a project is something he would definitely be interested in. “I would love to shoot something in Mississippi,” Fortenberry said. “Certainly if I had a script like ‘The Help’ or something of that nature. ... I think it would be great.” Fortenberry’s advice for students looking to follow in his footsteps is to get as involved as possible in actual hands-on experience, and to always put in effort whenever an opportunity arises. “Making an impression as a hard working, bright, young, willing person is the best you can do,” Fortenberry said. By following his own advice, Fortenberry has had a long and successful career so far, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. “He chose the right profession for his personality,” Pross said. “I think he’s really good at what he does.” Alex Lowe is a senior in the Meek School. He is a scholarship athlete from Batavia, Ill.

Fortenberry views the growth of the cinema program at Ole Miss and the development of MEEK SCHOOL



SHARYN ALFONSI “You hear students say that they want to do a lot of things, but Sharyn would always say, ‘I just want to be a kick-ass reporter,’ and that really impressed me.” DR. RALPH BRASETH

Article by clancy smith PHoto contributed by sharyn alfonsi


le Miss alumna and news reporter Sharyn Alfonsi is on the move, specifically from the ABC network to join the team at “60 Minutes Sports.”

“I work really hard to maintain those friendships,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s all that really matters. Your job, as great as it is, will never love you back.”

Alfonsi says that it sometimes feels like she is dreaming and that she is convinced she is the “admissions mistake,” but Braseth says that he could not disagree more.

Alfonsi graduated from the university with honors in 1994 and has since worked for national networks CBS and ABC. She has reported extensively from war zones and was nominated for an Emmy for her “Made in America” series during her time at ABC.

Alfonsi gives a great deal of credit to Ole Miss for helping her get where she is today. She notes that the classes and experiences she had in college taught her skills she needed in order to get a good job.

“She created all this for herself, and she doesn’t always understand that,” Braseth said. “Luck doesn’t just happen. What she has took a lot of hard work.”

Stories that Alfonsi has covered include Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech massacre. There have been so many that no one event stands out as a better reporting job than the others. Danger has not been uncommon. Alfonsi experienced a very close call while covering the Israel-Lebanon War when Katushya rockets began pounding the bunker where she and her crew were hiding. “I texted my husband that I loved him and good-bye,” Alfonsi admitted. “I thought that was it.” Although she has been with two national networks, Alfonsi began her career working for a small local station in Arkansas after sending audition tapes to several small market television stations throughout the nation during her senior year at Ole Miss. “Most of them rejected me immediately, citing my big hair and thick accent,” Alfonsi said, “but a few were kind enough to write back and give me critiques so I could improve the tape.” After working several years for local stations, Alfonsi chose to audition for CBS. Her final interview for the job was with Dan Rather. Other reporters warned Alfonsi that he would want to discuss his favorite book, “War and Peace.” “I read ‘War and Peace,’ all 1,400 pages of it, in like two days,” Alfonsi recalled. “I studied the Russian Revolution, Tolstoy, the whole bit, and I was ready, but he never asked me about the book! I was being hazed!” Alfonsi said that moving to different networks can sometimes be hard after growing close to colleagues, but that change is good, too.

Alfonsi received her start at the campus news station, known at that time as Newscene 12. “My freshman year, I did the weather,” she remembered. “I was awful and my hair was so big it covered half the weather map, but I loved working there.” Dr. Ralph Braseth, who served as Alfonsi’s professor and adviser during her time at Ole Miss, says he always was impressed by the goals that Alfonsi set for herself. “You hear students say that they want to do a lot of things,” Braseth said, “but Sharyn would always say, ‘I just want to be a kick-ass reporter,’ and that really impressed me.” Braseth is quick to mention Alfonsi’s humility, integrity, and intelligence. “Sharyn is sincerely curious about the world and she loves to connect the dots,” he said. “She’s smart as heck and she’s not going to be outworked.” Although she does not get to come back and visit Ole Miss as much as she would like, Alfonsi does have the chance to return to Oxford every now and then. Once, after an interview with the prime minister of Japan, Alfonsi introduced the White House press corps to the town and university. “We spent the night hanging around the Square, eating at City Grocery. They loved it,” she said. “No one wanted to leave.” Alfonsi still manages to keep in touch with old friends from Ole Miss, especially the “journalism goobs.” “They text and write me whenever I’m on TV,” she said, “usually to give me hell.”

In addition to her career, family is very important to Alfonsi. She has been married to her husband, Matt, for 18 years. She and her husband, a Naval Academy graduate, met in Washington, D.C., during college through a mutual friend. They have a three-year-old son, Wyatt, and a oneyear-old daughter, Flynn. Alfonsi admits that it is strange raising kids in New York. “My son’s first word was ‘TAXI!’ but I have taught him ‘Hotty Toddy,’” she said. “Unfortunately, the only part he gets right is the ‘Ole Miss, by damn!’ part, which is always fun at Sunday School.” During time off, Alfonsi enjoys cooking, having friends over, watching football, and playing with her children. She said she is happiest in chaos. Braseth said he would not be surprised to find Alfonsi in the anchor chair of a major network one of these days. “She knows the background, she knows the history and she knows the world, and where she belongs is in the news anchor chair for the nightly newscast,” he said. For now, though, Alfonsi is excited to be a part of what she calls her dream job as a member of “60 Minutes Sports.” She said that her ideal interview would be to get the whole Manning family together. “They’re so talented, generous, and funny, and the family dynamic is great,” she said. “Of course, I may be a little biased!” Her advice to college students working to achieve her level of success is simple. “Work your tail off and be kind,” she said. “Good things will happen.” Clancy Smith is a sophomore in the Meek School. She is from Saltillo, Miss. MEEK SCHOOL



call it “Fridays with Liz” despite the fact we don’t always meet on Fridays. Life has been a prolific and eclectic one for Elizabeth Nichols Shiver. When it comes to journalism at the University of Mississippi, she is a legend, but as they say in the South, “I know her well enough to speak, too,” so I just call her Liz. At age 80, she’s adding the title of Documentary Producer to her resume’. I am honored to be her director on a film that will spotlight the lives of people like Liz Shiver who grew up in Oxford and around Ole Miss from the 1930s to the 1960s. The town and the university are a large part of her life, but she has also given decades of service to the rest of the nation. Liz’s childhood was spent mostly at Ole Miss where her father, Ray Nichols, Sr. joined the faculty in 1934. She showed her trademark fearlessness as a child when she and her playmates would slide down the steep, rocky 100-foot embankment that separated the Ole Miss campus from the railroad tracks. William Faulkner often entertained Liz and her childhood friends at his home. She attended Oxford/University elementary and high school and continued her education at Ole Miss. In 1953 and ‘54, while a student at Ole Miss, Liz served as the editor of the school newspaper, The Mississippian. “Other than two years during World War II, with few men on campus, there had been no woman in a leadership role at The Mississippian,” Liz says. To become editor, managing editor or business manager at that time, a student had to run for office in a campus wide election.

“I don’t know what she saw in me then, but apparently something because she asked me to be copy editor,” Autry said. “In the spring of 1953, she was elected editor. I ran unopposed for managing editor. We served together and, I think, produced a pretty good newspaper.” Young Jim Autry grew into James A. Autry, editor-in-chief of the Meredith Corporation, publisher of such magazines as Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal and Successful Farming. “I was absolutely astonished by her intelligence, her leadership and her grasp of the intricacies of university politics,” he says. “She also was a natural leader of the staff and taught me a great deal about that. And she taught me a lot about not taking myself too seriously. She had a very whimsical side and a wonderful sense of humor.”

WHEN IT COMES TO JOURNALISM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI, SHE IS A LEGEND. Sixty years later, Liz is still passing along story ideas and valuable sources to the Ole Miss newspaper, now called The Daily Mississippian. Pat Thompson, director of Student Media at Ole Miss worked with Liz on the book “100 Years of Mississippian Memories.” “Can you imagine what it must have been like for her as a young woman in the 1950s running a newspaper staff ?” Thompson asked. “I have so

much respect and admiration for her and what she accomplished, not only with the DM and at Ole Miss, but after she graduated.” After receiving her degree from Ole Miss in 1954, Liz was a Fulbright Scholar and entered the University of Manchester where she met, and later married, Jim Shiver, a Georgia Tech graduate from Atlanta who also was doing graduate work. She worked briefly for the Shreveport Times and the Cleveland Plain Dealer and spent two years in San Francisco before the couple moved to Washington, D.C., in 1961. Liz spent her first 10 years in the nation’s capital working for two educational associations, including the American Council on Education, designing and operating seminars that focused on international education and producing a book every year. Today, Ole Miss public relations students study one of her campaigns in a textbook compilation of outstanding public relations cases. In 1963, Jim joined a new firm formed the year before by Herb Hughes, a senior administrator of the Marshall Plan, established by the U.S. Government to promote the economic recovery of Europe after World War II. The other founder, Vice Admiral Harry E. Sears, held various posts during his Navy career, including carrying out the naval air operations in the Pacific during World War II and commanding the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea. 1963 was also the year Liz and Jim Shiver became parents with the birth of their only child, Lela. During the 40 years Liz and her family were in Washington, she served on the board of the Woman’s National Democratic Club, the Women’s Board of the Cathedral Choral Society and the Cathedral’s Altar Guild. Then there’s

“It was an entirely new venture for me and those who encouraged and supported me,” Liz says. Liz’s supporters included her father, a highly respected Ole Miss faculty member, and her mother, whose curiosity about the world fueled her daughter’s imagination. Besides her family, one of those who encouraged and inspired her the most was Dr. James Silver, a history professor. He was her mentor, and she was his constant student. “What Dr. Silver was doing, believe me, enriched my life beyond what it would have been otherwise,” she says. Her leadership qualities shined brightly at The Mississippian, and no one felt that glow more than a young journalist named Jim Autry.

Elizabeth Nichols Shiver on her 80th birthday.

Article by Mykki Newton PHoto contributed by Elizabeth nichols shiver


politics. In 1968, Liz was a staff member in Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign and was a press secretary for North Carolina Senator Terry Sanford’s 1972 presidential campaign. She also worked tirelessly in local politics.

an active interest is several volunteer activities. Her dedication to the things she has set herself to do is simply remarkable. And her sense of humor is as evident as ever. It does my heart good when we exchange funny comments and I hear her laugh.”

For more than 10 years, Liz and Jim Shiver operated a small government PR and marketing firm, Hughes, Sears and Shiver. Its primary client was the U.S. military. The company provided planning, design and execution of devices for specific functions on ships and in other military fields of operation. Jim Shiver passed away in 1989, but Liz continued to run the company until 1991.

“Liz knows so many players in the history of Oxford and the university,” Will Norton, dean of the Meek School, says. “She is an intellectual and has had remarkable experiences, but most importantly she knows how to get things done.”


Despite all of that work, Liz still found time to entertain friends, especially those from her days at Ole Miss. Harter Williams Crutcher was one of those lifelong friends who would always call on Liz when she traveled to Washington. “When I was in D.C. and she was living there,” Crutcher says, “more than once she gave her time to make available experiences that she knew would be special.” According to Liz, her last hurrah in Washington was a campaign called Protect Historic America. “It was created by my friends Nick Kotz and the late Julian Scheer, who had run public affairs for NASA during the moon shots,” Liz says. “We defeated Disney in its efforts to establish an ill-conceived historic theme park next to the Manassas battlefield.” In 2001, Liz moved back to Oxford and

into her family home with her second husband, Sherwood Harris. She continued her hectic work schedule without missing a beat. Liz immediately became the go-to person for historical and alumni organizational matters for the Ole Miss journalism department. She was asked to coordinate the 75th reunion of The Mississippian in 1986, and she had been a member of the department’s advisory committee during the early 1980s. In 2003, Samir Husni asked Liz and Curtis Wilkie to reactivate the Journalism Advisory Committee. Husni also asked her to give the Silver Em award address on the early days of the department, which began in 1947, just before her student years. She served as a member of the planning committee for the centennial reunion of The Mississippian in 2011, reuniting Liz with her former DM managing editor, Jim Autry. “Liz does not give up,” Autry says. “She has had some serious health problems, but her intelligence is utterly intact, and she maintains

According to Thompson, Liz gets those things done in a uniquely efficient manner. “She has an amazing ability to tell you in a few sentences exactly what you need to know about a person or situation,” Thompson says. “I value her knowledge of Ole Miss, Oxford and journalism.” In fact, many in Oxford tap into Liz’s valued knowledge, including the Oxford-Lafayette Heritage Foundation, where she served as the president for three years. Under her leadership, the foundation restored the home of 19th century statesman L.Q.C Lamar and turned it into a museum. The foundation is completing restoration work on the Belfry in Oxford, once home to the Burns Methodist Episcopal Church organized by freed slaves in 1869. “We are indeed fortunate to have Liz in our midst,” Crutcher says, “and for her willingness to share with her people.” Mykki Newton is a videographer with the Meek School. MEEK SCHOOL


Article by Victoria Jett PHoto contributed by ann wilson

ann wilson



nn Wilson always wanted to be a writer, and she always had a connection to the University of Mississippi. Growing up about an hour from Oxford in Olive Branch, Miss., she joined her family in cheering for the Rebels, except when they played the University of Memphis, her parents’ alma mater. When it came time to choose a college, she wanted to stay near friends and family, so she decided on Ole Miss — close, but not too close to home. Arriving on campus in 1971, Wilson knew she was good at writing and that she wanted to major in journalism. She understood the Ole Miss journalism department was a great program, but she wanted to challenge herself, or as she puts it, to “grow the unknown side” of herself. She opted for taking electives in the business school — classes that would later give her an edge in her professional career. “Combining the business foundation with journalism was really fabulous,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for better experiences.” She discovered the journalism building, Brady Hall, had a full newspaper press in a back room, where the Daily Mississippian was printed. To get her foot in the door and gain experience in the journalism world, Wilson joined The Daily Mississippian staff as a sophomore and worked for the paper through her senior year. She held various roles, including copy writer, copy editor and feature editor. “The Daily Mississippian was the real deal, and it was so much fun,” Wilson reminisced. “The paper was read and respected not only on campus, but also throughout the Oxford community. It was such an exciting opportunity to participate in that.” Wilson appreciated all of her classes and enjoyed getting to know her professors, in particular Gale Denley and Dr. Jere Hoar. She recalled taking Dr. Hoar’s classes, which included feature writing, public opinion and law and ethics of the press, a class that provoked her to consider — but ultimately decide against — going to law school.

“Dr. Hoar was a demanding teacher. He made us work harder and be better,” she said.

relations and brand positioning to online communications, social media and experiential marketing.

Wilson was always busy. In addition to her class load, she was an officer in Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and worked on the newspaper five nights a week — all while trying to date and attend sporting events.

“It’s not just one single thing, and it’s constantly evolving. When marketing and communications efforts and all related activities are strategically integrated, that invariably works to the client’s benefit.”

Graduating in the spring of 1975, she set out to get a job with a newspaper, but that was at the height of the Watergate era. Everyone wanted to be in on the journalism scene, and competition was tough. So she began interviewing for public relations jobs as well, and accepted a position in Memphis with Holiday Inns, Inc. Wilson thought she would be there only for a few years and move on to a newspaper, but as she said, “The job was just too good to leave.”

Consistency of messaging is key to any successful IMC plan, she notes.

She stayed with the company 20 years. The first half of her career was in the communications area, including media relations, internal communications, corporate communications and marketing support communications. Then she moved into marketing roles, serving as director of advertising, director of business marketing and head of the frequent traveler program. She left the company as vice president of global marketing for the Holiday Inn brand. Wilson then joined Sheraton Hotels as vice president of marketing for the Franchise Division in Atlanta. During her time at Sheraton, she deepened her understanding of integrated marketing communications, gathering useful information and experiences that she would later call on when she started her own communications consulting practice. Three years after beginning her work at Sheraton, its parent company was acquired and the headquarters moved to White Plains, N.Y. Not keen on leaving the South, Wilson opted for a severance package and started Maywood Marketing & Communications in Atlanta in 1999. She describes integrated marketing communications as, “applying the basic tools and principles of communications and marketing across multiple channels — from traditional advertising, public

Wilson loves working with her clients, and running her own business provides a sense of freedom by allowing her to work with people and companies she enjoys. “Taking a team approach with your clients to solve problems or help them with their communications, marketing and brand strategy is very satisfying. I like knowing that I’m contributing to their success.” It’s not always easy. “Sometimes when I’m working with a client for whom the dynamics of the industry are shifting or whose internal organization is changing, it can be a roller coaster ride. You may start off in one direction and then something happens and you have to stop, reassess and shift gears — make a new path.” Things like that, she says, keep her on her toes and make the work interesting. Ann Wilson is a woman who has traveled the globe and had incredible career experiences that helped pave the way for her work in integrated marketing communications. Even though she runs a successful IMC company, she always remembers where it started — in the student newsroom of Brady Hall, writing and editing for The Daily Mississippian, in the classroom with Dr. Hoar, learning about media and public opinion, and in the classes of the business school that taught her to develop the untapped side of herself. Victoria Jett is a senior in the Meek School. She is from Dallas, Texas.






s he talks about his experiences in the professional world, you get the sense Ronnie Agnew is a humble man, a family man. A man who has experienced a lot of success in his career.

Despite not knowing what he wanted to study in college, Agnew soon realized journalism was the answer. He weighed the positives and negatives and felt it was the major to bring out the best in him.

And he is quick to credit Ole Miss as a major factor in his success.

“The journalism program changed me,” Agnew said. “It brought out my curiosity of why things worked. It harnessed that. I looked, and I was like, wow, people are actually having careers out of this (broadcast and print).”

Agnew, the current executive director for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, fondly remembers his experiences on campus and knows it is what put him in the right direction. “I attended from 1980 to 1984,” Agnew said. “They sort of chose me. Ole Miss really recruited me, and I felt they were reaching out for me.”

Agnew entered Ole Miss at a time when the study of journalism was confined to a department and not an official school. He decided to major in radio/television at a time when the broadcast side was just really forming.

“We inherited broadcasting in 1979 and inherited no equipment,” said Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and chair of the department during Agnew’s years on campus. “We got a special grant and that paid for about five cameras. There wasn’t the emphasis there is now.” Despite his initial decision to begin with a broadcasting focus, Agnew felt he would do better in print but never made the switch. He said it was a switch he should have done. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Agnew said. “By sophomore year, I’d rather have been in print. Will Norton, who was my teacher in school, told me, ‘If you keep going down this track, you’ll be selling insurance.’”

Article by Chris Lawyer PHotos contributed by Ronnie Agnew

Agnew chuckles, admitting that Norton had the right idea. “I spent 28 years selling insurance,” Agnew said with a laugh. “His words of ‘you’re a print journalist, this is what you are’ were correct.” Norton laughed when informed of his comment. He said it was his job to motivate. “I talked to each student as if they were my own son or daughter,” Norton said. “You need the input from someone being straightforward. I had experience and I had a feel for the broadcasting market at that time.” Norton reminisced about taking students to Ocean Springs to work at the Ocean Springs Record. “Ronnie Agnew was the best newspaper writer of the bunch.” Despite his path in the insurance world, Agnew seemed to find his calling later in life. It seems both print and broadcast/radio would be the right call for him. “I got a job at The Clarion-Ledger in 2001,” Agnew said. “I was the managing editor, which was the number two position. I ran the operational side of the newsroom. After 18 months I became the executive editor. It was more administrative.”

break from the day to day. I went in front of the board, but I didn’t know they were seriously looking at me. Minutes later I had an offer.” As the executive director, Agnew is in charge of running the statewide agency. MPB, founded in 1969 as the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (MAET), consists of 125 employees, and Agnew knows it is almost one of a kind. “We are fortunate in Mississippi to have a full-fledged public broadcasting system,” he said. “All things are under one roof. We are about one of 10 to15 stations with all things in one place.” Agnew knows that the future is exciting for journalism. He feels it will be a new experience, but one that most journalists will be able to adapt to. “Questions remain to be answered,” Agnew said. “What will the stations of tomorrow look like? I think it’s exciting and opening a lot of doors for young journalists. There will always be a thirst for information from the public.” Agnew readily shares his advice for the next generation of journalists.

“Hope you have prepared yourself to be well-rounded,” Agnew said. “Walk in with digital skills. You also may have to move to get your foot in the door. If you do that and cast a wide net of skills, you will be fine. Ole Miss has given the tools/education.” “Ron Agnew has been sidetracked from being a journalist during the last decade or so because he is so good at dealing with conflicts, but when he was a reporter and editor, he was a wonderful journalist,” Norton said. Agnew is grateful to Ole Miss. He pauses to reflect on his years on campus and notes that he would not have done his collegiate experience any other way. He attributes his friendships to college. “The best friends in my life today are from Ole Miss,” Agnew said. “Thirty-three years later, they are still my best friends. Ole Miss is who I am.” Chris Lawyer is a senior in the Meek School. He is from Winston-Salem, NC.

The Clarion-Ledger won many state and national awards under him, including the general excellence award from the Mississippi Press Association eight times. The paper was a finalist for the Pulitzer three times, and won more than a dozen national awards for civil rights coverage. Jerry Mitchell, the civil rights reporter, won a $500,000 “genius” grant, the first and only time in the newspaper’s history. Agnew judged the Pulitzer Prize four times and was a Pulitzer jury chairperson for the breaking news panel during the year of the Virginia Tech massacre. He received four President’s Rings from the Gannett Co., awarded to the company’s best editors, and he was an editor-of-the-year finalist twice. Then one day his world changed. Agnew was offered the position of executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting. It was a decision he would have to accept. “I was actually called by a guy who was leading the search,” Agnew said. “I needed a

Agnew encourages participation in a summer reading program.





Article by Jamey Sharman PHoto by rick guy/ gannett


y Mississippi roots run deep and family is a big part of my life,” Jim Prince said. “I identify with Mississippians, our culture and our traditions and I believe that’s an enormous asset when reporting the news and providing insights.” Prince currently serves as the president of the Mississippi Press Association. Prince also holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi. James E. “Jim” Prince III was installed as president of the newspaper association last year at the 146th annual meeting. Before Prince, the only other Neshoba Democrat editor to hold the position was Robin Weaver in 1934. Prince was first elected to the Board of Directors in 2004 before becoming president. “Being able to encourage colleagues is rewarding, so I’ve tried to accentuate the positives in our industry and fire up the team,” Prince said of his work with the MPA. The Mississippi Press Association was founded in 1866 and represents 120 of the circulating newspapers of the Magnolia State. “Nearly 1.5 million Mississippians read their local newspaper each week,” Prince said. “I say that as often as I can. I remind colleagues that our job is sort of like teaching. We enrich peoples’ lives by giving them information and insights. How our readers use that information is up to them.” Prince also serves as president of Prince Newspaper Holdings, Inc., which publishes not only The Neshoba Democrat, but also the well known Madison County Journal and Kemper County Messenger. “All of our communities are different, but story telling is universal,” Prince said. “You cover the community you serve. People are people. We are very fortunate to be serving some very good communities.” Prince’s love for print began in his

hometown of Philadelphia, Miss. Until his completion of college, Prince would spend his summer break working behind the scenes at The Neshoba Democrat. Prince received his undergraduate degree in business administration from Mississippi State University, where he also served as the editor of The Reflector, the university’s student newspaper. His move for graduate school pushed him into a rare community of double dippers, attending both of Mississippi’s rival public universities. Although Mississippi State remains his first love, Prince said, “Picking a favorite school would be like picking a favorite child.” He recited a line from the Ole Miss alma mater, “There Ole Miss is calling, calling/ To our hearts’ fond memories.” “Indeed, I have fond memories,” Prince said. “I had unique and meaningful experiences at Ole Miss and State.” “I had an exceptionally good academic experience at Ole Miss that’s been incredibly beneficial professionally. I use my law every day. I’m better professionally and personally because of Ole Miss. Being exposed to so many talented and interesting individuals was enlightening. The relationships I’ve forged — and continue to — through Ole Miss mean the most,” Prince said.

rather, simply covering the news accurately and objectively.” He offers pointed suggestions: “We have to be more aggressive marketers, helping our customers to succeed. Newspapers aren’t sick, the economy is sick. When the economy improves, newspapers will improve.” While he is not convinced that recent challenges have been caused as much by the Internet as by poor financing, he acknowledges, “the platform matters less and less.” Nonetheless, he is adamant that “readers still want quality local content and something to hold in their hands.” “Our future could be an electronic device as thin as a piece of tissue. I don’t know,” Prince said. “But the news gathering process and needing competent people to explain and interpret the world around us will be viable one way or another.” He understands the challenges that face rural, as opposed to urban, America. “Some of our towns are dying economically and newspapers are losing revenue because of that,” Prince said. “We have to be better promoters of our communities, cheerleaders and constructive critics at the same time.”

In his conversations about the difficulties the newspaper industry experienced after September 2008, Prince is quick to observe that many media corporations were highly leveraged and not prepared to deal with advertisers who also were highly leveraged and not able to pay for as much as advertising, and retail sales were down.

Prince said the gift Ole Miss gave him was helping him realize his potential. For those coming into his field Prince urges them to never stop writing or reading, saying neither could be done enough. He also says to always focus on the journalistic values of truth, accuracy and quality that, in his opinion, will stand the test of time.

“Our industry was the canary in the coal mine in this recession,” Prince said. “But publishing a good community newspaper still matters. I’m more convinced now than ever that print has a strong future.”

“Be curious. Be persistent. Be accurate. Tell the truth. Defend liberty. Never, ever give up, professionally or personally,” Prince said. “Don’t let the bad guys get you down because in our profession, if you’re doing your job, you’ll be directly in their crosshairs.”

Prince is bullish on the newspaper industry: “Quality journalism will survive. And by quality journalism I don’t mean the Pulitzer;

Jamey Sharman is a senior in the Meek School. She is from Meridian, Miss.




terry ewert

Article by margaret collins PHoto by joe ellis


le Miss alumnus Terry Ewert has developed a reputation in sports broadcasting and created a very successful production company. Dreams of acting took him to New York, but fate had plans for him on the other side of the camera. Because of his father’s career in the Air Force, Ewert and his family moved seven times before the third grade. He was born in Las Vegas on Nellis Air Force Base and moved to California; Okinawa, Japan; various places throughout Texas; and finally settled in Jackson, Miss. When he was deciding on a college, Ewert was a little torn. Even though his father had obtained a Congressional appointment for him to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Ewert decided to go to Ole Miss. “My mother worked for the UM Medical Center in Jackson,” Ewert said. “My older sister Polly also attended, and most of my friends were going to Ole Miss. “I think I was destined to go (to Ole Miss.) One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Ewert was a double major — political science, and speech and theatre. His classes for speech and theatre were his first introduction to journalism. While taking Broadcasting 101, Ewert discovered a new passion. “The Broadcasting 101 course was my inspiration,” Ewert said. “That planted the seed.” While at Ole Miss, Ewert had an opportunity to work on many prestigious projects. He served as a university campaign chairman for Senator Thad Cochran during his first run for the U.S. House of Representatives. “I was honored to be a very tiny part of Senator Cochran’s successful campaign,” he said. Ewert also was chairman of the Miss University Pageant. “I just wanted to contribute to the organization with that kind of legacy,” he said. One of Ewert’s fondest college memories was witnessing the first-ever, primetime nationally televised college football game in 1969.

“They set a number of all-time SEC records on that night,” Ewert said about the game between Ole Miss and Alabama. “It was amazing.” Another one of Ewert’s fondest memories was the very next Rebel football game that season when the Rebels upset the sixth-ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs. “Archie (Manning) had been injured in the second quarter and didn’t come out for the second half kick-off,” Ewert recalled. “When he emerged from the locker room and out onto the field, the whole stadium erupted. It was pure drama.” After graduating from Ole Miss, Ewert went to Alexandria, La., in hopes of landing a permanent job as a cameraman at KALB-TV. However, the operations manager noticed that Ewert was very knowledgeable about SEC sports and told him to audition for the newly opened position of sports anchor. Ewert got the job. “It was all luck and being ready to seize an opportunity,” Ewert said of landing his first job. After one year at KALB, Ewert decided to go out on a limb and move to New York City with theatre friends from Ole Miss who were hoping to make it big as actors and writers. “I gave up my career in TV news and sports to travel to New York City with $600 of savings in my pocket,” he said. In 1975, after a year and a half with only a small amount of success in acting, Ewert received a job as an NBC page. Then he worked as a desk assistant, news/feature assistant, and writer at WNBC-TV news and, in 1978, he became a production assistant at NBC Sports where he eventually was promoted to producer and coordinating producer. In 1985, Ewert landed the coordinating producer job for the 1988 Seoul Olympics and continued in the same position for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Bill Day, a broadcast major during the midto-late 1980s, interned for Ewert, the coordinating producer for SportsWorld in 1986. Day interned for Ewert’s team for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, his first olympics. “Terry is kind and caring, not to mention he

still answers my phone calls,” Day said. In 1996 Ewert was the Head of Broadcast Production for Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting, where he oversaw all the hiring and organization of the 3,000 hours of live coverage of all 26 sports in 31 different venues. Yes, the whole shebang. “I’d have to say the three Olympic games are my proudest achievements,” he said. After his highly successful work with the Olympics, Ewert became Executive Producer for CBS Sports, where he produced coverage for the Masters, the PGA Tour, the NFL, Super Bowl XXXV, SEC college football, U.S. Open tennis championships, plus a number of award-winning sports documentaries, including the Emmy Award-winning “Hoops and Hoosiers” and “Bear: The Life and Legend of Paul Bryant.” He has 13 National Sports Emmy Awards. His first Emmy Award was in 1981 for producing the first televised non-Olympic downhill ski race for NBC Sports. After leaving CBS Sports, he wanted to create a production company in which he could work on his own sports and reality projects. He did just that, and named it Ewert TV Productions, Inc. Under Ewert TV Productions, Inc., he has created and produced/directed a number of series and specials for the Discovery Channel, Fox Sports Net, NBC, ABC and the Golf Channel, including the Michael Douglas & Friends celebrity golf tournament. His favorite project for Ewert TV Productions is a car design series for The Discovery Channel called “Concept Car,” eventually named “FutureCar.” “FutureCar” also has a companion series called “2030Seven” on that follows seven design students as they design cars they thought would be available in the year 2030. Today Terry Ewert is a well-known producer for the Big Ten Network and resides in Short Hills, N.J. He also has a number of projects and documentaries in development for Ewert TV. Margaret Collins is a junior in the Meek School. MEEK SCHOOL


Article by alison bartel PHoto by anna brigance/ daily mississippian


reg Brock’s journalism career came full circle on Oct. 11, 2012, when he returned to the University of Mississippi, his alma mater, to accept the 2012 Sam Talbert Silver Em Award. The Meek School of Journalism and New Media presents the award to journalists with ties to Mississippi who uphold the highest standards of journalistic practice. Hailing the award as one of the most significant achievements of his career, Brock said it reminded him why he entered the field and drove him to recommit himself to the mission of journalism. After growing up in the small town of Crystal Springs, Miss., Brock spent exactly 10 days at Louisiana State University, he hesitantly admits, before transferring back to Hinds Junior College for his freshman year. After regaining his footing, he entered the journalism program at Ole Miss in 1972 as a sophomore, and began working on the staff at The Daily Mississippian. The staff ’s journalistic appetite was what made the experience memorable, Brock said. He recalled one night when the Board of Trustees met at midnight to fire the Kinard brothers, the athletic director and head football coach.


The Mississippian staff scrambled to put together an issue reporting the event, staying in the newsroom until the presses began to roll at 8 a.m. the next day. Those were the days of Watergate when we ‘caught the bug’ and realized why we wanted to be journalists,” Brock said. Brock attributes his journalistic foundations to his experiences at The Daily Mississippian and Mississippi Magazine, as well as to the guidance of professors, especially his mentor, Professor Jere Hoar. “We thought he was a tyrant. Unreasonable. Insane. Everyone had their ‘Jere Hoar story.’ And here we are all these years later, telling our Jere Hoar stories, but with a different perspective. In our student days, they were told as horror stories. Today, they are the same stories but told with gratitude and thanks that he would accept nothing but our best. That, fortunately, was a lasting lesson, one that could not be learned out of a book. And it has influenced me every step in this 38-year journey,” Brock said. At the beginning of this journey, Brock describes himself as a “perpetual duck out of water,” jumping from small-town Mississippi to an internship at The Palm Beach Post,

then on to The Charlotte Observer and The Washington Post. For Brock, everything was a new adventure and a growing experience. After spending a year on the Neiman Fellowship at Harvard University, Brock finally accepted his third offer to join the staff at The New York Times and has held the position of senior editor for standards since 2006. Some might call Greg Brock The New York Times’ knight in shining armor. As the senior editor for standards, he works closely with 35 other editors, weeding out factual errors and navigating subjective questions of ethics. Brock oversees corrections ranging from clarifying the difference between butter and lard, as was mistaken in a review of the movie “Butter,” to mitigating enraged responses to a typo proclaiming an event occurred Sept. 31, which does not exist. He also helps decide whether pictures or videos are acceptable to publish. In this capacity, he protects the credibility and integrity of one of the nation’s largest newspapers. “Ultimately the decision comes down to whether this is information the public needs to know,” Brock said, “Is publishing this good journalism?” When Brock accepted the Silver Em Award, he was surrounded by the people who taught him the meaning of good journalism — former award winners and Professor Hoar — as well as admiring students who will take up the torch in the future. “In many ways, the award brought my career full circle,” Brock said. “The award recognized my past achievements, of course. But it also served to remind me that I still have work to do. It reminded me why I got into this business. It caused me to recommit myself to the mission of journalism. … it lifted me up and reignited the enthusiasm that I have always tried to maintain.”


Alison Bartel is a junior in the Meek School and a student in the Croft Institute. She is from Harvest, Ala. Greg Brock accepts the Silver Em award from his mentor and former professor, Jere Hoar.

ELECTION SEASON PAST & PRESENT Charles L. Overby, former chairman of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute, takes a look.




very presidential election is historic, placing the United States at a crossroads.

Crouse, “The Making of the President 1960” by Theodore White, and “Game Change” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

We can learn a lot about the American psyche by taking a close look at presidential elections.

The long campaigns that take place today can cause us to just wish they were over. But every campaign is historic and quite incredible.

During the 2012 general election campaign, Ole Miss students were given the opportunity to compare past campaigns to the ensuing battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. They also observed how the press covers presidential campaigns.

We tend to forget that only 43 people have been president during the history of our nation. (Not 44. Even though Obama is called the 44th president, Grover Cleveland is counted twice because his two terms weren’t consecutive.)

The technological initiatives of the Obama campaign set new standards for future campaigns, but a lot of the 2012 action followed predictable patterns from past campaigns. Curtis Wilkie, a political and journalistic impresario, co-taught this fall semester class with me. He and I first met during the 1976 presidential campaign between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Curtis covered eight presidential campaigns, mostly for the big-time Boston Globe. I covered parts of campaigns dating back to 1968, mostly for smaller newspapers. Although Curtis and I view ourselves primarily as journalists, we have participated briefly on the political side. Curtis was a member of the first bi-racial Mississippi Democratic delegation to be seated at a Democratic National convention in Chicago in 1968, perhaps the most tumultuous convention in history. I coordinated things for the Tennessee Republican delegation at the Republican National convention in Detroit in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was nominated. Throughout the fall semester, as the Obama-Romney campaign was unfolding, journalists, pundits, consultants, even former Democratic nominee George McGovern spoke to the students in our class. The students wrote weekly news analyses about the issues and nuances of the campaign and its developments. They read and discussed three classic books about presidential campaigns: “Boys on the Bus” by Timothy

Looking ahead, nobody knows who will win the presidential election in 2016. But past campaigns should convince us that the nominees and ultimate victor will be decided by party, issues, money and image, plus technology. CHARLES OVERBY Only 38 have actually been elected president. Five vice presidents who succeeded their running mates because of death or resignation failed to be elected president in their own right. Still, being vice president is a good career choice for a person who wants to be president. Of the last 20 presidents since 1900, seven were vice president first. When you consider every past presidential election, there are four main factors in being elected president: party, issues, money, image. Everything else flows from those four things. Perhaps surprisingly, issues rarely top the list as the main influence on the outcome of the campaign. Issues and money influence every election to some degree, but party and image historically play the biggest roles. When Thomas Jefferson defeated John

Adams in 1800, it marked the first time a candidate from a different party assumed power. Jefferson won primarily because he wasn’t a Federalist. Jefferson always is listed as one of the greatest presidents—usually behind George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. But Jefferson almost didn’t win. Jefferson found himself in an Electoral College tie with his vice presidential running mate, the incorrigible Aaron Burr. The constitution did not provide for separate ballots for president and vice president in 1800, so the tie resulted in the election being decided by the House of Representatives—one vote per state. Amazingly, it took the House 35 ballots to decide between Jefferson—one of our best presidents ever—and Burr, certainly our worst vice president. Any decent vice presidential candidate would not have allowed his name to go forward to the House, but Burr held out hope the Federalists would choose him over Jefferson. While he was the vice president, Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in 1804 in a duel. He was charged with murder in both New York and New Jersey, but was never brought to trial. The Jefferson-Adams contest is considered the first partisan presidential race, and it produced nasty negative campaigning as bad as or even worse than what we see today. Jefferson was attacked by the Adams campaign for his religion—or the lack of it. He was accused of being an atheist or deist. This ad ran almost daily in the Gazette of the United States, a leading Federalist newspaper: “THE ONLY QUESTION TO BE ASKED BY EVERY American, laying his hand on his heart, is ‘Shall I continue in allegiance to God—AND A RELIGIOUS PRESIDENT; or impiously declare for JEFFERSON—AND NO GOD!!!’” If party made the main difference in 1800, image decided the outcome in 1828, when Andrew Jackson defeated incumbent John Quincy Adams. It marked the first time

Charles L. Overby is the former chairman of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute. For 22 years he was chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, a non-partisan foundation about the press and the First Amendment. He was CEO of the Newseum from 1997 to 2011 and supervised the building of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. He also was CEO of the Diversity Institute from its beginning in 2001. Overby has traveled to six continents speaking about media issues and promoting First Amendment freedoms. Before joining the Freedom Forum, Overby was a reporter and editor for 17 years. He was executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger when it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1983. He and Curtis Wilkie are teaching an Honors College course during the fall semester, on the 50th anniversary of Camelot.

a non-elitist—someone from a state other than Virginia or Massachusetts—won the presidency. Adams and Jackson couldn’t have been more different. Consider the writing of letters. At age 9, Adams wrote to his father asking for advice and a notebook. For Jackson, his first letter that we know about was written at 21, challenging a man to a duel. Jackson’s image as a war hero from the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 carried him to victory. Detractors tried to tarnish his image with perhaps the most negative campaign charges ever. They accused his wife Rachel of being a bigamist. One newspaper editorial asked, “Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband be placed in the highest offices of this free and Christian land?”

Jackson, to his credit, told Duff to back off. “Female character should never be introduced or touched by my friends . . .I never war against females, and it is only the base and the cowardly who do,” Jackson said. One pro-Jackson newspaper criticized Adams for being both a pool player and a Unitarian. Author Lynn Parsons said the Jackson image dominated the election. “In the end,” Parsons wrote, “it was the image of Andrew Jackson, the Hero of New Orleans, the outsider untouched by intrigue and corruption in Washington . . .that would prevail. It was one of the most powerful presidential images in American political history.”

One Cincinnati newspaper even said his mother was a prostitute.

Image continues to be a key to presidential victory. In every election since 1992, the candidate most liked in the polls has won. Political ads—positive and negative—shape the public’s image of candidates.

Of course, the Jackson supporters weren’t completely pure in this regard. Duff Green, editor of the pro-Jackson United States Telegraph raised questions about the sexual history of Adams and his family.

The Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts in the 2012 election guarantees that money will continue to be a crucial factor. But it has been for a long time.

Green said he had no desire to “trace the love adventures of the Chief Magistrate (Adams) nor to disclose the manner, nor the time at which he, his brother-in-law and his father-in-law before him led their blushing brides to the hymenial altar.”

Mark Hanna, campaign manager for William McKinley and the Republican national chairman in the 1890s, famously said, “There are two important things in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember the other one.”

For future elections, the four most important things may take on a fifth element: technology. The masterful use of technology by the Obama campaign demonstrated its impact on grass-roots politics, from messaging to voter turnout. In the 2008 election, when Obama was more of an unknown, he raised an astounding $500 million on the Internet, mostly in small donations. “Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president,” said columnist Arianna Huffington. Perhaps the winner of the 2012 election could have been forecast by Twitter followers. Obama had 20.8 million followers, Romney 1.4 million. There were 10 million tweets during and after the first presidential debate. Twitter said it was the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history. Looking ahead, nobody knows who will win the presidential election in 2016. But past campaigns should convince us that the nominees and ultimate victor will be decided by party, issues, money and image, plus technology. In the 2012 campaign, I believe image and technology were the main factors. In the 2016 campaign, money will be important in the primaries, but image and technology are likely to be decisive again in the general election.




Alysia Steele joined the Meek School in 2012 as a photography and multi-media professor. She has worked for numerous publications such as The Columbus Dispatch, as a picture editor at The Dallas Morning News and as a deputy director of photography at The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. She has shot documentary work in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. In 2006, she was part of the photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for its Hurricane Katrina coverage where she served as a picture editor. These are two of her favorite photos.

Basketball. Is life imitating art or is art imitating life? On a slow news day, I came across these young men playing basketball in front of a mural at a local park. I captured many shots of them playing, but this particular frame I caught the rebound in a juxtaposition of the painted mural basket. The real hoop is on the right side in the photo. I love this photo because of the timing and it always makes people stop and stare.

Muzunga. This photograph was taken for Habitat for Humanity’s 25th anniversary coffee table book. One year I volunteered all of my vacation time to document homes being built in South Africa, Uganda and Ivory Coast. When I stepped out of the car at one house in a small town in Uganda, approximately 25 children ran away from me. I’d interrupted lunch and they were afraid of me. They’d never seen anyone of my complexion before and called me a “Muzunga” or white lady. My fairer skin didn’t register as Black with them. I ended up sitting Indian-style on the ground and waited to see what they would do. Slowly they came out from wherever they were hiding and sat in front of me. The little guy in the middle pretty much sums it up — he’s not sure of me. This is one of my favorite images because of the intensity of his eyes.



Article by kayleigh skinner PHoto contributed by jack ford

jack ford J

ack Ford is no stranger to the small screen. He appeared on Jeopardy! three times to finance law school at Fordham University. However, the founder and member of the management team for the American Education Network began his career as a lawyer, but eventually made his way into broadcasting by doing interviews with local TV stations about a high-profile case in which he was involved. The American Education Network, AmericanEDtv, is devoted entirely to providing news about the nation’s education system. Ford serves as the chiefeditor and anchor. The network functions through its website, It provides digital video clips about trending topics in the field of education. Ford and the rest of his team ultimately hope to raise enough money to become a linear network that also provides on-demand video content.

of the network’s original anchors. Then throughout the 1990s Ford worked as an anchor with NBC news and ABC news. He has earned two Emmy Awards and a George Peabody Award.

serve as an anchor delivering news for the network.

Just a few years after starting with WCBS-TV, Ford jumped into yet another career path: teaching. Today Ford still teaches undergraduate courses at Yale and at the University of Virginia.

“There are networks that talk about the best diners in the United States, how to cook the best pancakes, but nobody is out there telling the important education stories,” Ford said.

“For me, education was my salvation,” Ford said. “I showed up at Yale – I was a freshman – with everything I owned in a single duffel bag, and I left four years later with everything I’d ever need for the rest of my life and that was all because of education.”

For Ford and his partners, AmericanEDtv is a project of passion. Ford said the network’s goal is to inform the public by giving people an opportunity to learn what they need to learn about the education system.

Ford’s love of education is what drives him in his work with AmericanEDtv. While teaching at New York University last year, Ford was approached by a producer from Court TV about a potential project.

While covering the Northeast’s first death penalty case in 1984, Ford appeared on a CBS news affiliate to provide legal commentary. Ford said that after his interview he was approached by the station’s news director, who noticed he seemed quite comfortable in front of the camera. That marked the beginning of Ford’s television work, and in 1984 he began working for New York’s WCBS-TV as a legal commentator.

“Symbolically, I guess, we had this meeting in a classroom about creating a network that was focused entirely on education,” Ford said. “The idea was nobody out there is telling all the education stories.”

“It was in some ways an accidental career that I hadn’t planned for, but when the opportunity came around it was good to take advantage of it,” Ford said.

“We are in some ways a combination of ESPN, ‘The Today Show,’ and ‘60 Minutes’ in that our idea is to be more of the storytellers who focus on the issues, the business, and the culture of education,” Ford said. He sees himself as the “storyteller” of the group since he will

AmericanEDtv is not the first network Ford helped start; in 1991 he helped launch Court TV, where he worked as one

Thus AmericanEDtv was born with partners Matthew Cacciato and Fred Cambria. Ford said they are currently in the fundraising stage, but several videos are available on the network’s website.

In addition to teaching and raising funds for the network, Ford works with CBS as its legal analyst. Ford spoke to students at the Meek School last fall. “I had fun being down at the Meek School,” Ford said. “When I was there it was a great group of kids, and they asked great questions.” Assistant Dean Charlie Mitchell, the listed faculty member for the course, said, “Jack Ford made his comments very relevant to the students and what they might experience in the workplace -whether they’re working as reporters or maybe even going to law school.” Indeed, that is how Jack Ford has risen to the top in his profession. He has made complicated matters relevant and easy for his audiences to understand. Kayleigh Skinner is a junior in the Meek School. She is a scholarship athlete from Wilmington, Del.

fifty years later Reflections on Ole Miss from 1962 to now.



Article by John Seigenthaler photos of james meredith from the Ed meek collection/ the meek school


hen first invited to contribute this reminiscence of the troubling, tragic time when James Meredith first crossed the threshold at Ole Miss, it struck me that perhaps this story has outlived its relevance.

And, after all, there are photographs capturing the anger on the countenances of members of the mob as Meredith moved among them, protected by James McShane, the chief U.S. marshal, acting on the orders of the president.

So much has changed in 50 years. So much is different. Beyond the names on the buildings, so little is recognizable. So much has improved.

And, after all, on each decade of the anniversary, and sometimes annually, Ole Miss has gone out of her way to make certain that her painful mea culpa again resounds: “through my fault.”

And, after all, there are volumes of histories and biographies, stacks of articles, and hours of documentaries vividly recounting the violent confrontation between the federal government and the state of Mississippi. There are tape recordings memorializing the words exchanged in three terse telephone conversations between President John F. Kennedy and Gov. Ross Barnett.

And, after all, black enrollment this year climbs to more than 16 percent. And, the 2012 Ole Miss homecoming queen is an African American. And, when Rebel varsity athletes perform at Vaught-Hemingway, or in the Tad Pad, students pack the arenas to cheer black athletes, men and women who are admired by alums and students alike. And, after all, Meredith’s son has long

since graduated with highest honors from the university’s School of Business Administration. And finally, after all the rest, I was not here at the time. I did not set foot on campus as Ole Miss suffered the self-inflicted wound that bleeds profusely each decade as her sons and daughters once more pick the scab from the sore that gradually, but surely — like so much of the South — is healing. And yet, I, like every caring American citizen, in a sense was here. Our minds and hearts, if not our footprints, were in step with Meredith; with the effort to put an end to the vicious, vulgar, racism that infected this place — but, also, too much of the nation. We were shocked and sickened by it all, if from the distance. But, even so, should we not finally, after five decades, put behind us what

James Meredith walks to class surounded by protesters, journalists, and armed guards.

Students protest the integration of Ole Miss. Will Campbell’s song calls “Mississippi Madness?” Barack Obama resides in the White House now, his presence made possible by what happened here with Meredith and across the South with other heroes and martyrs of the movement. And yet, on the night of Obama’s reelection, amidst partisan celebration and sadness, there was raised once more, here at Ole Miss, and elsewhere, cries of the racist rhetoric, echoing from the night of riot. Thus, we dare not forget the madness. There is value in remembering; in reliving it all.




One September morning, a half-century ago, a mirror image of the Ole Miss campus would have reflected a picture-perfect academic enclave of the time — with 4,770 recently enrolled students celebrating their Rebels’ first victory of another undefeated football season. And then, another morning, just a week later, that serene academic scene was transformed into a devastated war zone by a murderous mob, bent on violence. Two men had been shot dead the night before. Dozens of others, most of them federal police officers there to keep peace, had been shot,

stoned, endangered, some hospitalized.

relaxing in the Lyceum.

The Lyceum lawn and walkway were strewn with random debris — stones, bricks, pieces of pipe and shattered glass from bottles that had been Molotov cocktails. The driveway encompassing the Grove was pockmarked by abandoned, burnedout automobiles. And, there still was the lingering, acrid odor of tear gas, mingled with the pungent smell of gun smoke, wafting from the Circle to Bondurant to Baxter Hall.

“Meredith.” The word spat from the lips of many students and most Mississippians as an obscenity. None of them knew him — but they knew enough about him to despise him.

By this time, the Rebels, playing in Jackson, had won their second game of the season — but the riot had left a sense of depression on campus, so that the occasional celebrative, morning-after rebel yells rang hollow — from angst, or guilt, or anger. If there was any spirit of celebration in the wake of the mob action, it was tinctured by the reality that criminality on this revered (and soon to be reviled) campus, had snuffed out human life, wounded peace officers, vandalized valued property, and decimated the reputation of the University of Mississippi — the proud Ole Miss. And worse, there was the knowledge that James Howard Meredith, a Negro, had spent the night at Baxter; that he was now

He was the black man (although that’s not the way most who hated him referred to him) who had dared despoil the hallowed 114-year tradition of an all-white university by seeking admission. The press had reported that he had served almost a decade in the U.S. Air Force, a staff sergeant when discharged. He had been a student at historically black Jackson State, and now wanted to graduate with the Ole Miss class of 1963. And, they knew he had consulted with Medgar Evers, the hated state leader of the NAACP, who had helped arrange for that organization’s lawyers to represent him. So, the saga of how segregation ended at Ole Miss is a story filled with passion and pathos and pain — and irony. • An irony: In the minds of a majority of Mississippians, what Meredith intended to do had never been done before. And would not be done now, said Gov. Ross Barnett, the state legislature and the State Sovereignty MEEK SCHOOL


Meredith sits alone in a classroom in 1962. Commission. And, so said members of the Ku Klux Klan who rushed in from throughout the region to meld with the student rioters and wage war against their federal government. Except, it had been done before. A black student had attended Ole Miss. As controversy swirled around the legal fight over Meredith’s application for admission, a man named Harry Murphy, Jr., a native of Atlanta, now living in New York, publicly stated that in 1945, while in the Navy, he had been sent to Ole Miss as part of a V-12 military education program. He had pursued a liberal arts course of study, never disclosing his ethnicity to anyone. The Navy had mistakenly listed his race as “Caucasian.” He never sought to correct that record. He had attended football games and dances, and had been accepted by unsuspecting fellow students and faculty. Murphy’s surprising disclosure, easily and immediately confirmed, did nothing to slake the hostile opposition to Meredith’s enrollment at the university. It may have

intensified it. • An irony: Major General Edwin Walker, the army officer who commanded the federal troops President Eisenhower sent to Little Rock to enforce a court desegregation order at Central High School, had resigned from the Army during the Kennedy administration — and now was making racist trouble at Ole Miss. A few nights before the violence broke out, General Walker delivered a radio speech in which he condemned President Kennedy and the “anti-Christ Supreme Court” that had ordered Meredith admitted to Ole Miss. Walker called on Mississippians to join in support for Gov. Barnett and in forceful opposition to President Kennedy. “Last time (at Little Rock) I was on the wrong side,” Walker declared. “… This time I am on the right side. I will be there.” And he was. As tension and anger infected the mob on the Lyceum, Walker, standing near the Confederate Memorial on the Circle, launched into a harangue,

urging the mob to accelerate the assault on the marshals. An Episcopal priest, the Rev. Duncan Gray, wearing his clerical collar, spoke out, pleading with Walker to calm his rhetoric and, instead, to try to defuse the violence. The general turned on the minister, demanding his identity. “I am Duncan Gray, a local Episcopal minister,” the priest said. “Well, you are the kind of minister that makes me ashamed I am an Episcopalian,” Walker retorted. He continued his diatribe as those listening began to strike out at Reverend Gray. And so, the erupting riot built in intensity. The marshals, under orders not to fire their weapons into the crowd, began to fall under the barrage of gunfire and missiles aimed at them. Tear gas only briefly slowed the assault. At Walker’s urging, it worsened. The general, arrested the next day by marshals, was charged with inciting insurrection. The charges later were dropped.

• Perhaps the most compelling irony that is part of the Ole Miss desegregation drama, has to do with the life-aftergraduation of James Meredith. A man of intelligence and courage, Meredith was an iconoclast. During the crisis, I engaged in two personal telephone calls with my old friend, Jim McShane, the chief U.S. marshal, who was at Meredith’s side throughout the days of danger. “He’s fearless and ballsy,” McShane said of his student ward. “But he’s walking to some other drumbeat than mine. He talks to himself more than he does to me.” And, he added, “My guess is we’ll hear from him again when this is all over. He may even run for class president.” McShane, always a man of good humor, was prophetic. Meredith was determined to be heard from. Much later, Meredith would write of himself: “I befuddle people...They have a hard time figuring me out. A lot of folks think I’m a real odd bird.” He knew himself. In 1966, he initiated what he called “The March Against Fear” from Memphis through Mississippi to Jackson, to promote the cause of voting rights. He was shot by a sniper on the second day of the trek. He recovered from the wound and rejoined the march a few days later. And yet, he was always offended when journalists later described him as a participant in the civil rights movement. He considered it an insult, he said. And, he demeaned Martin Luther King’s concept of non-violence.

Republican candidate against Mississippi’s ensconced senator, James Eastland — a campaign as ill-conceived as the brief bid against Powell. Still later, he announced his support for David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan candidate for governor. In between his several rudderless political journeys, he joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, the constant critic of Martin Luther King and the movement. Meredith was right. He did befuddle people. Meredith’s diverse personal and political post-graduate activity may have rendered him irrelevant a half-century later — but the riotous events that despoiled, then changed the character of the campus forever, and ultimately for the better, remain relevant for yet another generation. On the day the Meredith statuary was unveiled, those who spoke (he did not) reflected with passion and power on the meaning of his tenure at Ole Miss. Chancellor Robert Khayat predicted that the monument would remind later generations of the undaunted courage of Meredith and other fearless leaders who risked their lives to change a racist society. Congressman John Lewis, who suffered beatings, abuse and

prison because of his non-violent leadership of the movement, defined the statuary as “a monument to peace over violence,” and “love over hatred.” And, former Mississippi Gov. William Winter said, “The memorial tells us, not where we have been, but where we are going.” He was right. There still is a way to go.

John Seigenthaler Sr. served for 43 years as an award-winning journalist for The Tennessean. In 1982, Seigenthaler became founding editorial director of USA TODAY and served in that position for a decade, retiring from both the Nashville and national newspapers in 1991. During the 1960s, Seigenthaler served as administrative assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. His work in the field of civil rights led to his service as chief negotiator with the governor of Alabama during the Freedom Rides.

On leaving Ole Miss (his major was political science) Meredith earned a law degree at Columbia University in New York. He never took the bar and never sought to practice. In New York, he surprised liberals who had felt an emotional bond with him, by declaring as a candidate against the veteran Harlem congressman, Adam Clayton Powell. Meredith withdrew from that race before Election Day, stating that his reasons for challenging Powell “may never be known.” The following year, another surprise: he endorsed the losing campaign of former Gov. Ross Barnett. Still later, he ran as a

John Seigenthaler speaks to students during a visit to the Meek School. Photo by Charlie Mitchell.



Goodbye, Colonel Rebel I HEARD them before I saw them: the sound of the engine, the car horn playing “Dixie.” It was 1982, and I stood outside Deaton Hall, my dormitory at the University of Mississippi, as a Jeep full of young men waving a Confederate flag the size of an afghan cruised by, threw a smaller flag at my feet and yelled, “Nigger, pick it up!” What I couldn’t know at that moment was that Ole Miss and I were coming of age. Earlier this year, as I celebrated my 50th birthday, I was struck by the fact that I shared this milestone with the 50th anniversary of integration at my alma mater. Although the institution opened its doors in 1848, in many ways, we have grown up together. The university that was for so long synonymous with violence and racial hatred, and I, an African-American woman and a native Mississippian, are linked as is everything here by the past, which regularly rises to meet us. I am who I am in part because of what I learned here, and ultimately because 50 years ago this week James H. Meredith braved a deadly riot of angry whites, described by historians as the last battle of the Civil War. The university’s evolution from war to reconciliation in a span of 50 years is a human triumph. This is not to say that it has become a racial and social utopia; that was never anyone’s goal, anyway. Nevertheless, Ole Miss is a modern-day history lesson in what is possible. And like all places defined by their history, it is a land of contradictions. The monument to Confederate dead, which stands at the center of the campus, is just a short walk to the statue of Mr. Meredith. The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, which aims to “foster reconciliation and civic renewal wherever people suffer as a result of racial discrimination or alienation,” found a home in Vardaman Hall, named for James K. Vardaman, one of the most virulently racist politicians in the history of a state riddled with them. Those contradictions have been underlined by “Opening the Closed Society,” a yearlong celebration of the anniversary of integration. The title alludes to the 1964 book “Mississippi: The Closed Society,” by James W. Silver, an Ole Miss history professor who drew the wrath of much of the state with his outspoken support of racial equality. Mr. Silver befriended Mr. Meredith at Ole Miss, and finally resigned amid death threats and isolation. William Faulkner, Mr. Silver’s friend and fishing buddy, is here, too, his words emblazoned on a wall inside the university library: “I believe that man will not merely endure. He will prevail.” Those words might well have been on the minds of the small population of black students who provided the first real test of integration at Ole Miss, in 1970. Eight years after Mr. Meredith arrived, they still faced daily hostility from their white classmates. When appeals to the administration were ignored, the students put together a list of demands. After a peaceful protest, they were met by police officers, who filled local jails with most of the black student body before sending the overflow to Parchman Farm, an infamously brutal state penitentiary.

the university may have seemed to the outside world, they were a great and at times terrifying human experiment. That experiment was still continuing when I arrived in 1980. While 1962 was about the right to an education, the early 1980s were about the desire to truly participate in university life. I saw firsthand the hatred unleashed when the school’s first black cheerleader, John Hawkins, refused to carry the Confederate flag across the field at football games. He was met with bags of hate mail and death threats. White students wielding rocks and bottles took aim at his fraternity house. The Ku Klux Klan visited Oxford several times during my years at Ole Miss, changing into their robes and hoods across the street from campus. And yet in a sharp contrast to 1962, a small group of whites and blacks formed a counterprotest. In February of this year I attended the three-day Black Alumni Reunion. Many of the graduates now have children who are themselves graduates of or students at Ole Miss. A record crowd made the pilgrimage for this 50th anniversary. Proudly wearing Ole Miss garb, recounting their children’s accomplishments, many of these professionals are avid supporters of the university. It all seemed so ... normal. More than 40 years later, Mr. Cole said, “demands” that seemed insane at the time — integrated sports teams, removal of the Confederate flag and other divisive symbols, black professors — have been met. As I stood chatting with old friends, I was startled to see a big black bear dressed in an Ole Miss jersey waving and coming toward me. Colonel Rebel, the beloved school mascot, has been replaced by the Ole Miss Black Bear. (Students do still elect a young man to serve as “Colonel Rebel” alongside the homecoming queen; this year he will take the field with the first elected African-American queen.) The student body president is an earnest, bubbly, pearl-wearing black woman, who is also a member of Phi Mu, a white sorority. Last year, on a different trip to Ole Miss, I was asked to share my memories in a videotaped interview. After the interview, a young white man, the student who had been behind the camera, approached me with an outstretched hand. “I just want to say thank you for what you did for us,” he said. Though my first reaction was to say that my contribution would hardly register on anyone’s list of great civil rights accomplishments, I was gratified by his realization that the changes had been for him, too. As I look back on a half century, the stages of the journey are clearer. I have reconciled with Ole Miss, as perhaps it has done with me.

Eight students were expelled, including Donald R. Cole, now assistant provost and associate professor of mathematics at Ole Miss, who spent two nights in jail. A quiet, friendly Southern gentleman, Mr. Cole received his doctorate in 1985, after having been readmitted without fanfare.

At 50, I am part of a generation of African-Americans who were not Medgar Evers, James Meredith, Martin Luther King Jr. or countless others whose names we’ll never know. We did not take the beatings, feel the sting of the hoses, endure a thousand and one indignities as we lived our daily lives. We are old enough to have attended segregated schools by law, to have felt the tug of fear and angst before we could explain it.Yet we are young enough to have college educations we needed only to apply ourselves to achieve, to own iPhones on which we can read news of a president who looks like us.

“To understand the world,” Faulkner once said, “one must first understand a place like Mississippi.” He understood the contradictions of Southern society firsthand, but also the fact that as foreign as the state and

We have a front-row seat at American history, with a debt we can never repay no matter our achievements. We are like refugees, not from another country but from another time, carrying memories that propel us forward.

*Kitty Dumas, a writer and communications consultant, is completing a memoir. From The New York Times on the Web © The New York Times Company. Reprinted with Permission.

Article by kitty dumas PHoto contributed by kitty dumas

York Times? After so much progress, how bad would it be? I didn’t have long to wait.


ast year, with publication of a column I’d written for The New York Times hours away, I anxiously pondered my commentary about 50 years of integration at Ole Miss. Surprisingly, a small part of me, no doubt rooted in my past 30 years ago as an Ole Miss student, was apprehensive about the reaction to feelings so personal about an issue that still tugs at the very soul of the South. In the end, the angst was fleeting. My second thought, however, was harder to escape, and stuck with me for weeks. How will the world react to the next act of intolerance at Ole Miss? After the year-long celebration of integration, the candlelight prayer march, the panel discussions featuring federal troops and others who relived the dark days of the deadly riot of 1962, after an eloquent and elegant Harry Belafonte left the campus, how would we process the disappointment of the next act of behavior unbecoming? The idea for the column came from a realization that can only come with age – that growth and change can be next to impossible. Combine growth and issues of race, and the chances of success decrease even further. Yet, the university, through its leadership, students, beginning with James H. Meredith, and faculty, evolved. That kind of achievement, despite my own painful memories, should be acknowledged and celebrated. Despite all that, as surely as the sun rises over the Lyceum, I knew it was coming. To think otherwise would make one a poor student of history, not to mention current events. Would there be amateur video from someone’s iPhone or professional footage shot by a news crew? Would that moment be the subject of news stories across the country? In The New

In an emotional, contentious election year, with an incumbent Democratic president who is also African American, the odds were good, the conditions ripe. On election night, with the world watching, or at least a few undergraduates with smart phones, it happened. Students burned signs, were belligerent to onlookers, reportedly used what is now commonly referred to as the N-word to describe the President of the United States. Through social media, a small gathering grew into a group estimated at anywhere from 100-400 students – depending on who was doing the estimating – that required police intervention to disperse.

swastika drawings and “Whites Only” written on a water fountain. Some columnists looked at these incidents and tried to delve deeper. What does all this tell us about America? Ole Miss, arguably having more experience with the burdens of history, racial unrest and reconciliation than just about any institution in America, has some valuable lessons to teach. Progress is not perfection, and neither does it march forward in a straight line down a newly paved road. Sometimes it meanders down a gravel road. Sometimes it appears lost. It is, however, not affected by unfortunate events that change nothing. These ripples, as indicative of the existence of racial hatred as they may be, are just reminders of what we already know. We have seen, and overcome far worse.

While not exactly the Arab spring, this social media moment turned a small tantrum over election results into a much larger one that included a significant number of onlookers and curious bystanders. Though it was hardly a riot, in this age of instant news and just as instantaneous public opinion, it was a violent assault on good judgment with no consideration of the consequences.

As for the reaction to my column, it was nothing short of an emotional outpouring from people across the state, the nation and even from abroad. Within minutes of online publication, and the following day after the print version of the column hit the stands, the emails and Facebook messages began to pour in by the dozens. There were also the many unexpected face-to-face encounters.

One might argue that if it had occurred in another town on another college campus, the finger of judgment would not have wagged for quite so long. The event would have been a paragraph rather than a full news story with photos. Perhaps, but in news judgment, the where is often as important as the who and the what. Context is there, but seated in the passenger’s seat, being driven by the news of the moment.

I visited Square Books with my childhood friend and Ole Miss alumnus Keith Wiseman and another dear friend, the renowned Mississippi artist William Dunlap. The young white man behind the counter had overheard my friends discussing it. “My girlfriend cried this morning when she read it,” he told me.

Ask the administration at Hampden-Sydney, a small all-male college in central Virginia. That same evening, the school made national news for a protest that included bottle throwing and threats to members of the minority student organization. In the national news spotlight in March, Oberlin College, known for its liberalism, canceled classes after racial, anti-Semitic and anti-gay slurs appeared around campus including

The reaction to the column may tell us more about who we are today, than what happened at Ole Miss on election night. After the “incident,” I received a message from a friend saying how sorry he felt. Implicit in that heartfelt phone call was the unspoken “right after you went and wrote that column.” What seems like years ago now, I wrote “The university’s evolution from war to reconciliation in a span of 50 years is a human triumph.” What happened next, and what happens now will not dim the achievement or make those words any less true. MEEK SCHOOL


Article by Sidna brower mitchell PHoto contributed by the meek school



he integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith in the fall of 1962 was a life-changing event for me. As editor of The Daily Mississippian, I realized that I could stand up for what I believe despite the repercussions. I certainly found out who my friends and supporters were and, sadly, I learned to be a cynic and a bit suspicious in reading or listening to the media. As journalism students at Ole Miss, we heard over and over the importance of objective reporting and checking the so-called facts by Drs. Sam Talbert and Jere Hoar. And for the most part, back in those days — 50 years ago — the reporting was basically factual, leaving the editorial comments where they were supposed to be — on the editorial page. Not so today. Perhaps the best coverage of the integration and the events afterwards was done by the Christian Science Monitor, which is no longer in print form. We had famous reporters such as Roger Mudd, Dan Rather, Joe Cumming and others who made their mark based on their reporting at Ole Miss. In attempting to be fair in my editorials in The Daily Mississippian, I was accused of not “upholding Southern traditions.” I felt compelled to express my opinion when behavior was not appropriate — Don’t riot, boys — or the university was endangered of losing its accreditation. As a result, the Campus Senate decided to censor me, but soon found that was the wrong word since as an elected editor, that body could only censure me. Unfortunately, that

action only brought on more national criticism of this Southern university while I received favorable coverage in the press, even some of the Mississippi newspapers. About the same time, the Kappa Alpha fraternity began circulating a petition to impeach me. Luckily, that did not go far, especially with the Kappas (KKG), my sorority, although some of my sisters did not approve of my writings. One would spit on me if I walked up the main stairs in the Kappa house; I soon started going up the back stairs that happened to be closer to my room. Thank goodness for the friendship and sometimes advice from Dr. Jim Silver and his wife, Dutch. When things really got heated on campus, the Silvers would invite me over for dinner or just a break from the hectic times. Dr. Silver’s main advice was not to interview James Meredith or even meet him because that would create major issues for both of us. Meredith and I did not meet until 40 years later. Most of my father’s small dairy and food supply business was in Mississippi so I was very concerned about my editorials. Always supportive, he told me not to worry — “Write what you think is right.” Many years later, after Daddy passed away, I found letters from some of his Mississippi customers who said they agreed with my editorials but couldn’t say that in public for fear of losing business in their communities. Evidently one Mississippi radio station not only chastised me but also claimed I had been

sleeping with James Meredith. My father was furious and contacted a lawyer who told Daddy not to bother suing. On campus, the Rebel Underground had a heyday calling me “the Pink Princess” among other accusations. I even had one student who followed me around, spouting derogatory comments. (I later heard that he had been kicked out of school for growing or using marijuana.) All of these interruptions, distractions and stress only complicated my trying to put out a daily newspaper — girls had to be in by 11 p.m. in those days — and graduate. I managed to accomplish both but my problems were nothing compared to what James Meredith had to go through. Although I believed he had a right to be there, I felt I could never print that in The Daily Mississippian for that would create more uprisings and perhaps be detrimental to the university. However, I think almost everyone would admit that James Meredith was a brave man. Sidna Brower Mitchell was editor of the Daily Mississippian during the 1962-63 academic year. She wrote an editorial calling for an end to the riot that accompanied the admission of James Meredith, the university’s first black student. For that editorial she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. After graduation she went worked in journalism in New York and London before marrying and moving to New Jersey, where she and her husband are retired after selling their weekly newspaper.

Sidna Brower Mitchell at her desk at the Daily Mississippian in 1962. Mitchell was editor of the student-run paper.



the imc track


n May 11, the Meek School marked another in a series of milestones and proud moments.

Five graduate students received their M.A. degrees in Journalism with an emphasis in Integrated Marketing Communications — the first group to finish the new program. Three began their odysseys in August 2011; two others started in January 2012, accelerating their progress by taking summer and intersession courses. The program was launched after more than a year of design and planning. The basic blueprint of the innovative degree was hammered out at a meeting in Chicago in July three years ago. Mickey Brazeal, a professor from Roosevelt University who had started and now heads up their IMC studies, and I, the first director of the IMC graduate program, joined Dean Will Norton at a hotel near O’Hare airport. Our investigative steps began with a thorough look at existing IMC degrees worldwide. Then we tried to pick an optimal combination of content and strike just the right balance of principles and practice. Grounding in both complementary approaches, we know, is vital for our graduates’ success. Throughout the plan’s development, several others also provided counsel and encouragement, including well-known IMC pioneer Dr. Don Schultz from Northwestern University’s Medill School. He had more or less started “the revolution” during the early 1990s along with Northwestern colleague Stanley Tannenbaum and the University of North Carolina’s Bob Lauterborn. The titles of their first two books, “Integrated Marketing Communications: Putting it Together and Making it Work,” and “The New Marketing Paradigm,” were both prescient; they summarize well what we’re all about today.

Professors Samir Husni, Scott Fiene, Darren Sanefski and I are full-time faculty who teach graduate courses in IMC. Each of us has a different set of strengths to contribute. Dr. Husni is global guru “Mr. Magazine”— need we say more? Mr. Fiene’s background is primarily on the corporate side; Mr. Sanefski is an award-winning graphic designer, and my career has been mostly with advertising agencies and marketing research. Last semester, two very experienced adjunct instructors were added to the roster: Chris Canty Sparks, management supervisor for the Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency in Atlanta, and William Hajjar, senior partner and director of analytics for J. Walter Thompson, Atlanta. By happy coincidence, they both worked for organizations that are part of the largest global IMC conglomerate — WPP Marketing Communications. They had not known each other, or worked together, before we introduced them when both happened to be in Oxford on the same day. Each taught one evening course — Chris in Oxford, and William — sometimes in Oxford, but more often electronically via Scopia from Atlanta or wherever else his work had taken him on Wednesday nights at 6. Our students are outstanding, interesting and diverse. One is from China; one is from American Samoa. Two have master’s degrees already, and another, two MBAs. Six are African-American. We all understand that IMC is an approach to marketing communications that focuses on combining all related disciplines and how they work together. It includes — among other functions — advertising, public relations, direct marketing, sales promotion, sales/personal selling, and event planning, using “new” as well as traditional media. Everyone who aspires to work in

these areas needs to know IMC. Most employers expect no less. Varied, exciting job opportunities exist worldwide for accomplished IMC graduates with crossdisciplinary backgrounds. Assistant Dean Charlie Mitchell reinforces those thoughts: “This track is the faculty’s recognition of the need to stay ahead of the curve. Any firm would be well served to have someone who is well versed in the basics as well as the nuances of internal and external communication. That person helps the enterprise prosper in terms of operational efficiency and in terms of establishing and protecting the brand.” Ben Tucker, one of the first group of graduates, explained the program’s appeal: “It was unlike any other I had looked into. It was a combination of a variety of tools, all of which I knew would be important in whatever career path I chose. Many employers are highly interested in hearing more about the program. They know that each of the skills I am learning would benefit me in their working environments. “I like especially that this degree involves so much hands-on experience. It isn’t simply study material and lectures, but instead, it is participating in discussions, voicing and critiquing ideas and figuring out what the best method of expressing my message is.” Our student numbers, we fully expect, will grow steadily both on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford and through the University’s Outreach division at both the DeSoto and Tupelo campuses. James Lumpp is an assistant professor of Integrated Marketing Communications. Prior to joining Ole Miss, he was a marketing and research consultant in Atlanta. He had been vice president/research director for advertising agencies in Atlanta; St. Joseph, Mo.; Kansas City and Chicago, and in corporate advertising at DuPont in Wilmington, Del.

Article by james lumpp, ph.d. PHoto contributed by the meek school


This year five graduate students received their M.A. degrees in Journalism with an emphasis in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), including, from left to right, Kevin Cozart, Jajuan McNeil, and Wanfei Wu. Also pictured is Journalism graduate Mary Stanton.



Article by deb wenger and lauren baker

signs of the times Ole Miss students learn skills to keep up with an ever-changing digital front, Deb Wenger and lauren baker report.



ours before Hurricane Isaac made landfall on the Gulf Coast this past August, a team of Meek School faculty and students drove through the night to cover the storm as it bore down on Biloxi, Miss. The team had to scramble to get the story. With high winds and driving rain making travel difficult, they recorded interviews with people riding out the storm, spoke with the local officials about emergency operations and captured video and still photos in the low-lying areas where water was already flowing into roadways. Student Margaret Morgan, a Mississippi resident, had a chance to put her journalism education to the test under extreme conditions. “I think the most important thing that we learned is how important the use of true multimedia is, especially in a breaking news situation when it’s all coverage, all the time,” Morgan said. “We had to balance reporting to Twitter and Facebook and producing live shots and then turning around stories for the Web, so that we were able to reach everybody, whichever way they were getting their information.” And that’s just what educators in the Meek School wanted to hear. The process of re-imagining the program’s curriculum is now paying off with students better prepared to work across platforms. In 2009, faculty teaching the introductory writing course for journalism began incorporating modules on video newsgathering and broadcast writing, as well as writing for and posting to the Web into the class. In subsequent semesters, all students began taking a cross-platform reporting class and a photojournalism course that includes both still photo and video instruction. The most recent addition is a capstone course called Journalism Innovation. Journalism Innovation is designed to expose students to the latest new media trends and to stimulate their thinking criti-

cally about challenges and opportunities for today’s journalists. Recently, the course has included modules on social media, mobile newsgathering and online portfolios. Students also are required to produce multimedia projects that build on the cross-platform skills they have learned in previous classes. Cynthia Joyce is an assistant professor who teaches the innovation course; she said she sees multimedia as opening doors for students much earlier in their careers. “It’s sometimes easy to forget what an incredible era we live in, with so many media businesses struggling to survive — but it’s also true that there’s opportunity in crisis, and our students have an unprecedented opportunity to have an impact now — not five years from now, after they’ve settled comfortably into a career — but anytime there’s a new story to tell,” said Joyce, who joined the faculty in 2011 after working as the Web editor for NBC Nightly News. “These are the students who will be teaching their mentors when they enter the workforce.” For recent graduates of the program, the new multimedia focus is already leading to jobs that might not have been imagined four or five years ago. For example, Alex McDaniel, a former editor of The Daily Mississippian, is now working for the Clarion-Ledger as social media coordinator/multimedia reporter. McDaniel says the key to journalism today is the ability to adapt. She says journalists have to be able to write a news story, tweet about it and post photos to Instagram, all without leaving the scene. The fundamentals are critical, but staying on top of technology is a must, as well. “Trying to find the balance every day of telling stories is easily the most challenging part in journalism because as journalists we are expected to do and know so much,” McDaniel said. There is more work to do at the Meek School, and curriculum development will continue throughout 2013. Changes in

accreditation standards will soon allow the school to require more journalism courses within a student’s degree program and that creates an opportunity. “If we do it right, it will give us a chance to add depth, as well as polish,” Assistant Dean Charlie Mitchell said. “With more contact hours, more time with students, the more you can explore. Now, we find ourselves either leaving some components out or having to gloss over some things that deserve more attention.” Assistant Professor of Visual Journalism Darren Sanefski agrees. Sanefski, who also heads up the school’s technology committee, sees additional credit hours as a chance to instill many of the essential skills the school’s graduates will need. “In the past, a journalist’s tools were a pad of paper, a pencil and a typewriter,” Sanefski said. “Today journalists are expected to document history with words, Tweets, pictures and video. Today journalism schools need to teach crafting the words and the technology that goes along with it.” The curriculum at the Meek School pays attention to the principles and foundational skills that set journalism apart from all the new media noise, and to capitalize on new forms of storytelling and new platforms for sharing important and relevant content.

Deb Halpern Wenger, associate professor and undergraduate journalism sequence head, is a 17-year broadcast news veteran. Before her academic appointments, Wenger was assistant news director at WFLA-TV in Tampa, Fla. Wenger conducts research in the area of multimedia and provides multimedia training to newsrooms throughout the nation. She was awarded an undergraduate degree from what is now known as Minnesota State University where she graduated summa cum laude. Her master’s degree is from University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Lauren Baker is a 2012 Meek School graduate. MEEK SCHOOL


Alysia Steel

Scott Fiene

Vanesssa Gregory

Darren Sanefski

Jim Lumpp

Mikki Harris

Patricia Thompson

Evangeline Robinson

Charlie Mitchell (Not Pictured: Cynthia Joyce)

All photos by alex edwards




uring Fall 2009, when the Meek School of Journalism arrived as a new presence at the University of Mississippi campus, the mission was to build on the existing Department of Journalism — to keep the foundational teaching strong while adapting to changes in the media marketplace and the nonstop evolution of technology. One of the first to arrive was Patricia Thompson, appointed to direct the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center. She also serves as faculty adviser for The Daily Mississippian, and is an assistant professor who teaches writing, editing and special projects classes. “I never thought I’d work in Mississippi,” said Thompson, whose 25-year industry career includes work as a staff writer at The Washington Post and as an editor at newspapers in California and Florida, “but this job was the perfect fit for me.” Thompson graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and went right to the Post. She later became an assistant professor and program director at the Medill School at Northwestern University, and assistant managing editor at the San Jose Mercury News. She has taken students each year to the Southeast Journalism Conference, where they have dominated contests and were named grand champions two years in a row. “It’s been exciting, a blast,” she said. “I’ve worked in many cities around the country, and I hear from former colleagues that they are impressed with the work we’re doing here.” For the school’s second year, longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell, also an attorney, was appointed assistant dean. Mitchell taught in journalism when he was attending the School of Law. He returned to Vicksburg and was executive editor for nearly a quarter of a century. “It’s an energizing place,” Mitchell said. “An opportunity to

work with this faculty and the communicators of the future was too good to pass up.”

More recent appointments to faculty ranks include Cynthia Joyce, Jim Lumpp, Scott Fiene, Vanessa Gregory, Evangeline Robinson, Darren Sanefski, Mikki Harris and Alysia Steele. “NBC’s loss is Ole Miss’s gain,” blogged anchor Brian Williams when Joyce, a senior producer in New York, moved south. With degrees from Duke and Northwestern, she began a career that has included arts and entertainment editor for, some post-Katrina time at and contributions to The Washington Post, Newsday, and Entertainment Weekly. “The time I’ve spent here feels in some ways like one continuous ‘teachable moment’ — for me as much as for, I hope, my students — in a place that has historically struggled with and continues to struggle with, well, some pretty serious image problems,” Joyce said. “It’s been fascinating to see our students learn new ways to tell their own stories in ways that aren’t contrived or received.” Her favorite moment? “A student came into my office all breathless with excitement because she was really starting to dig up some great info during the reporting of a good story, and she said, in a moment of realization, ‘This is so fun!’ “If I can teach more students not just how to be good journalists, but to find their passion for being good journalists, then I’ll be satisfied.” Jim Lumpp, whose Ph.D. is from Missouri, was the first person hired to teach full time in the Integrated Marketing Communications program, which includes an undergraduate degree and a master’s track. An industry veteran with extensive corporate, agency and research experience, he had been an adjunct instructor here since 2004. He’s now director of IMC graduate studies. MEEK SCHOOL


“It’s very rewarding to be a part of the Meek School, which is constantly innovating and growing in size and quality,” Lumpp said. The first degrees from both programs were awarded in May. “I’m sure they’ll all do well,” Lumpp said, “and we look forward to keeping in touch with them as they progress. One day, I’ll bet they’ll be hiring Meek IMC graduates.”

“It’s very fulfilling to be a part of a new program within the school, especially when I see students express their excitement about being able to major in IMC,” Robinson said.

Scott Fiene chairs the undergraduate IMC program. “I spent 25-plus years working full time in corporate marketing and consulting,” said Fiene, whose degrees are from Iowa and Drake. “And while the profession was very good to me, I realized nothing compares to the personal satisfaction of working with students. So I wanted more of it.

Design professor Darren Sanefski came to Ole Miss from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

“It’s a certain kind of high, very hard to describe. But feeling like I might make a difference with a few of these kids — no matter how small that contribution may be — that means more to me than any bonus or plaque or award or trip I ever received in my former career. Being here isn’t about money, but about meaning.” Vanessa Gregory, who has a B.A. in English literature from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, was working as a freelance journalist and adjunct when tapped to teach writing and editing. “I’m always astounded by the amount of activity occurring at the Meek School at any given time, from Overby Center programs featuring national figures of the media world to reporting trips that provide students with first-hand experience in their chosen fields,” Gregory said. “Ole Miss is a beautiful campus and a vibrant place to work.”

“Having the opportunity to return to the university as a member of the faculty with years of professional experience that I can share with my students has been a pleasure for me.”

Before teaching at Newhouse, he was sports design editor for The Post-Standard newspaper in both its print and web editions. He now serves as education director on the board of the Society of News Design. “When I was brought down to Oxford to be interviewed, I fell in love with the Ole Miss campus,” he said. “Then I met all the wonderful people at the Meek School. … I’m honored that I will be able to be one of the people to help drive that change.” It was an encounter with a Meek School faculty member that piqued Mikki Harris’ interest. “I was teaching New Media Technology at a college where I squeezed in lessons of mobile reporting, blogging, audio, photo, video gathering, editing and producing into a one-semester class,” she said. During the (Poynter Institute) workshop, I was impressed when I heard Deb Wenger speak about the Meek School’s structure of multimedia curriculum that introduces students to different platforms of journalism throughout each level of study.”

Gregory, whose own work regularly appears in Garden and Gun, The New York Times, Afar, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal and Outside, was a 2010 recipient of a Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism.

Harris is an economics graduate of Spelman College with a graduate degree in journalism from Boston University. She is a multimedia journalist with special interest in documentary photography.

“Another thing about the Meek School that strikes me as exceptional,” she said, “is the level of individual attention that students receive.

Her subjects range from President Obama to Condoleeza Rice; George W. Bush to the Clintons; the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Olympic Gold Medalists Charles Barkley and Vonetta Flowers; and the photo-shy Jimmy Carter.

“What other major offers so many courses where fewer than 20 students (per section) get the opportunity to learn from tenured and tenuretrack faculty?” The third IMC faculty member is Evangeline Robinson. With degrees from Jackson State and Ole Miss, she spent 17 years in fundraising and nonprofit marketing communications in Tennessee, Missouri, California and Mississippi.

Harris has served as a visual journalism fellow at the Poynter Institute, and has had images featured in USA Today, the Atlanta JournalConstitution, the Newark Star-Ledger, Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sports Illustrated and the New York Daily News. Two of her images illustrating life in Harlem were exhibited at the

Studio Museum in Harlem, NY, in 2005. “Meek’s curriculum not only prepares students with skills that can be used in subsequent semesters, but prepares students for careers in the current market,” she said. “It is an honor to now work at the Meek School as a multimedia journalism professor where there is a sense of responsibility and support to stay on top of the tools, technology and resources that are available to both students and faculty.” Alysia Steele also is a multimedia journalist. Her graduate degree is from Ohio University with an emphasis in multimedia management. “Once I came to campus, I saw how beautiful it was, and I was intrigued. And then I had conversation with faculty and my mind was made up. … There is a breath of fresh air here, and I like being involved.” Steele has worked as a staff photographer/ multimedia producer at The Columbus Dispatch, a picture editor at The Dallas Morning News and a deputy director of photography at The AtlantaJournal Constitution. She has shot documentary work in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. In 2006, she was part of the photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage where she served as a picture editor. While at Ohio University, she was the first student to produce her master’s project as an interactive pdf, a format that embedded audio and video–long before iPads were released. For the last three years, Steele has done the picture editing and layout/design for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Classic coffee table book, picture editing for the National Urban League and official photography and poster design for Lifeline of Ohio, an organization that specializes in organ donation. “Meek students are eager to learn,” she said. “They want to be challenged and that’s inspiring. I tell them all the time, ‘You may think I’m being hard. You may think I’m never satisfied, good. Think that because I’m not. “‘You are not just competing with other Ole Miss students, or students from other Mississippi universities, you are competing with students from Syracuse, Ohio University, Florida and Missouri.’”

Joe Atkins, continuing his ongoing research on labor issues, wrote the cover story, "Operation Dixie: The Battle to Unionize Nissan" for the July 18-24 edition of the Jackson Free Press in Jackson. The 3,700-word article was accompanied by a sidebar on actor Danny Glover's involvement in the issue. The article also ran in the Austin, Texas-based Progressive Populist and in Web magazines such as the Atlanta-based Like The Dew and Durham, N.C.-based Facing South. It also was translated into Portuguese and Japanese and ran in Web publications in Brazil and Japan. The story was selected as one of "Sidney's Picks" by the New York-based Sidney Hillman Foundation as one of the top five stories in the country that week on social justice issues.

Bill Rose and Eat Drink Delta author and Ole Miss journalism alumna Susan Puckett led their Depth Reporting students to produce an in-depth report on food in the Mississippi Delta. The student reporters spent their spring break combing the Delta to examine everything from the emergence of the wondrously sinful Koolaid pickles to the legendary restaurant culture of the Delta to the causes and possible solutions to rampant obesity in the region.

Dr. Kathleen Wickham, associate professor, published an article on ClarionLedger reporter Jerry Mitchell Jr. in The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, sponsored by The Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, and presented Fifty Years Later: Ole Miss Works to Open the Doors at the Media and Civil Rights conference at the University of South Carolina. In addition she was named a fellow at the Business Journalism Seminar, sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University. Dr. Wickham also moderated a panel held during the university’s Open Doors program that featured people who were on campus during the 1962 integration crisis. Dr. Wickham also spent a week at Washington University in St. Louis on a research grant related to her work on the press and civil rights and for a third time judged the National Headliner Journalism Awards.


Dr. Nancy Dupont is serving as president of the Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters Board. She produced a panel on student job-searching tips for the Broadcast Education Association convention in April. She continues serving as faculty adviser to NewsWatch in the Student Media Center. She is spending the summer writing for a co-authored book on the newspapers of the occupied cities of the Confederacy. In August, she’ll moderate a panel she produced on behind-the-scenes internships in television at the AEJMC convention in Washington, D.C.

In April, Dr. Brad Schultz had his fifth book published. The NFL, Year One chronicles the 1970 season and was published by Potomac Books. He also had three research articles published during the academic year, most of them dealing with how reporters are using social media to create their own personal brands. Dr. Schultz worked with Dr. Samir Husni’s magazine class to produce videos for both editions of the Mississippi Observer, and helped produce and edit Dr. Nancy Dupont’s documentary about Togo. He also served as head of the Sports Interest Group within AEJMC.



Mark K. Dolan was awarded a contract with Peter Lang for a forthcoming book, African American Culture and the Press, and a fall sabbatical to begin researching his manuscript; he organized an Overby Center panel, “Images of Minority Women in the Media: Then and Now,” featuring Imani Cheers, director PBS NewsHour Extra; presented on the Chicago Defender for “Creating Community Progress and Economic Progress in Blacks’ Westward Expansion,” a research panel at the 2012 annual convention of the American Journalism Historians Association in Raleigh; and mentored many students, whose multimedia projects appeared in the Biloxi Sun-Herald during last fall’s James Meredith events.

Lecturer Robin Street brought home top awards from state, regional and national public relations groups last year. The awards were for a campaign called Diversity Rocks! that she and her PR students put on to encourage acceptance of diverse groups. The campaign won Best in Show from both the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and the Southern Public Relations Federation. In addition, a media kit Street personally prepared won Judges Choice from PRAM and first place in its category from SPRF. The campaign also won an Award of Excellence in the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil awards, the highest awards given in PR. In addition, Street was presented the faculty award for her commitment to diversity by the Black Student Union, ASB, and the office of the Dean of Students/ Multicultural Affairs.

Debora Wenger has been selected as a Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Fellow for 2013. She will work at WLOXTV in Biloxi this summer to help foster connections in the industry and bring work experience fresh from the newsroom back to the classroom. Her paper, "An examination of job skills required by top U.S. broadcast news companies and potential impact on journalism curricula," is featured in the spring edition of Electronic News. She is also co-authoring a book for Sage Publications with Dr. Samir Husni on the new paradigm facing media managers. In addition, Wenger presented two papers at the World Journalism Education Conference in Brussels, Belgium in July.


Assistant Professor Vanessa Gregory writes regularly about Southern art, food, and culture for Garden & Gun magazine. In the past year, she has also written about the science of sleep and about a groundbreaking study of Yosemite’s wolves for Wired.

Kristen Swain received a $114,366 research grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to examine social media and news coverage of intermodal transportation toxic spills. She also collaborated on four NSF proposals about ocean ecology with pharmacy colleagues. Swain’s risk communication articles appeared in Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies and Journal of Risk Analysis and Crisis Response. She co-authored articles for Innovations in Pharmacy and Annals of Behavioral Medicine and an AEJMC conference paper about BP’s reputation repair strategies. Swain is a finalist in the AEJMC Great Ideas for Teachers competition and will present a risk perception paper at a national public health conference in Atlanta.

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Meek School Alumni Magazine Summer 2013