Liz Shiver: The “Go-To” Alumna
By Stuart Johnson and Robin Street
Elizabeth Shiver has lived through many changes in journalism since she graduated from Ole Miss in 1954.
She recalls when the department began with only one faculty member. The student media center did not yet exist, nor did broadcasting classes.
“The Mississippian was a weekly at the time and beholden to student-body wide election with its leaders accountable to the ASB,” Shiver says.
Now retired, Shiver returned to Oxford in 2001 where she has become the go-to person for historical and alumni organizational matters for the School. Then journalism chairman Samir Husni asked her and Curtis Wilkie to reactivate the Journalism Advisory Committee. They served as co-chairs until 2009.
Husni also asked her to give the Silver Em Award address on the early days of the Department, which began just prior to her student years. She served as chairman of The Mississippian 75th reunion in 1986 and is now a member of the committee planning the centennial reunion for June 17-19, 2011.
Dean Will Norton says Shiver is a tremendous asset to the School.
“She knows a lot of people and knows the history of Oxford and the university,” Norton says. “Liz is extremely smart and experienced, but most importantly she knows how to get things done.”
Shiver began her career after spending a year post-graduate as a Fulbright Scholar studying at the University of Manchester. Then she worked as a reporter for The Shreveport Times, and later for The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Her husband’s work took them to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the Association for Higher Education and then the American Council on Education. In those jobs, she planned conferences and wrote, edited and produced newsletters and books.
She later joined her husband in their own marketing and PR firm, Hughes, Sears and Shiver from 1980 to 1991. She also voluntarily did press and media relations for the Woman’s Democratic Club for years.
While in Washington, she also participated in several Democratic presidential campaigns over two decades, including Hubert Humphrey’s, where she helped write materials for local groups to use in the get-out- the-vote campaigns.
Today, UM public relations students study one of her campaigns in a textbook compilation of outstanding public relations cases.
“My last hurrah was the campaign called Protect Historic America created by my friends Nick Kotz and the late Julian Scheer who had run public affairs for NASA during the moon shots,” Shiver says. “We defeated Disney in its efforts to establish an ill-conceived historic theme park next to the Manassas battlefield.”
Shiver knows from her experience that it takes hard work and dedication to be a journalist or public relations professional.
“We have to have adequate skills and quality to adopt and learn and know things,” Shiver says. “We must learn this ability of learning and knowing and apply it to report to the people.”
This mentality is what Shiver wants to instill in the students who come through school today.
“We have to have adequate, basic skills and the ability and willingness to keep learning, not just the skills, but the body of knowledge that is ours to know,” Shiver says. “This curiosity and desire to learn is what students most need. Don’t think of just getting by. That will not do in the Meek School.”