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IMC Connect! Offers Industry Insights, Career Preparation Tips

Posted on: March 4th, 2024 by msross
IMC Connect! panelists take the stage inside Farley Hall.

IMC Connect! panelists take the stage inside Farley Hall.


OXFORD, Miss.Several of the nation’s top communications professionals will share insights and offer advice to students later this month at the third IMC Connect! Conference at the University of Mississippi.

The event, hosted by the School of Journalism and New Media, is set for March 25-27 at various locations across campus. It is a student-led event that provides opportunities for students to connect with communication leaders from well-known brands representing different industries. IMC Connect! is recognized as an official University of Mississippi 175th anniversary event, supported by the Provost’s office. 

This will be my third year attending IMC Connect!, and I’m excited to hear from all the guest speakers this year,” said Caroline Tibbs, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Diamondhead, Mississippi. “Every IMC Connect! session I’ve attended over the past few years have been informative about potential career options and much more. I’ve learned many great job tips and advice.”

Students enrolled in Dr. Amanda Bradshaw’s event planning class, including Tibbs, organized the conference.

“Through planning IMC Connect!, students learn the invaluable lesson of how to remain productive and make progress despite uncertainty. This includes how to pivot in real time due to the unexpected challenges that arise when you have a catering quote come in too high, a speaker unexpectedly back out, or sponsor come on board at the last minute—all of which has happened this year alone,” said Dr. Bradshaw. “Our students are learning the life skills of not only event planning and logistics, but also professionalism, stress management, and the art of flexibility, which is required behind the scenes when planning events of all sizes.”

The panelists, many of whom are Ole Miss alumni, represent leading corporations and organizations, including: 


  • Leslie Westbrook, Owner, Leslie M. Westbrook & Associates
  • Tiffannie L. Hedin, Corporate Communications Manager, Toyota of Mississippi
  • Marti Powers, Vice President of Communications, Boeing Defense, Space & Security
  • Kendra Evelsizer, Communications Branding and Operations Specialist, The Boeing Company
  • Jennifer Anderson, Chief Marketing Officer, C Spire
  • Will Kiss, Senior Director, Media Relations, National Football League’s Las Vegas Raiders
  • Chris Chiames, Chief Communications Officer, Carnival Cruise Line
  • Elizabeth Whittington, MBA, APR, Director of Executive Communications, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Jenny Robertson, Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing and Communications, FedEx
  • Yanique Woodall, Vice President, Corporate Affairs & Strategy Communication, CVS Health 
  • Amanda Brown-Olmstead, Founder, A. Brown-Olmstead and Associates
  • Radina Russell, AU.S. Chair, Corporate Affairs Advisory & General Manager, Atlanta Southeast Market, Edelman
  • Victor R. Scott II, IMC Executive 
  • San Sharma, National President, Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)
  • Jeffrey Young, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, National Hot Rod Association
  • Steve Holmes, Emcee
  • C. Heidi Grether, Former Communications and External Affairs Lead, Deepwater Horizon Response, BP/Swift Worldwide Resources
  • Lisa Houghton, Consultant, WPNT Communications
  • Kelley Hunsberger, Managing Director, Red Window Communications
  • Lucy Schultze, CEO and Founder, Red Window Communications
  • Rita Men, Ph.D. APR, Professor – Department of Public Relations and Director of Internal Communication Research, University of Florida 
  • Holly Overton, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Advertising/Public Relations, Director of Research for the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, Pennsylvania State University
  • Todd Holmes, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Head of the Entertainment Media Management Program, California State University of Northridge
  • Brett Robertson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina


This year’s event serves as a district conference for the Public Relations Student Society of America, allowing students and faculty from other universities across the country to visit Oxford. 

Oakley Weedle, Vice President of Chapter Development for the PRSSA National Committee, attended the event last year and said, “IMC Connect! is always the best event of the year. Ole Miss does an incredible job putting together programming that integrates both regional and global perspectives to help students launch their career in media. If you’re out of town, Oxford is a charming town at the intersection of business and southern sweetness. As the Vice President of Chapter Development for the PRSSA National Committee, I am thrilled to extend an invitation to join us at this transformative event. IMC Connect! is not just an opportunity to learn—it’s a gateway to the future of media and public relations. I look forward to sharing this extraordinary experience with you at the PRSSA Southeast District Conference.” 


Students in the event planning class work to plan every detail of the 3-day conference.


Panelists will provide insights related to crisis communication; branding and visual communication; internal communications; corporate social responsibility; diversity, equity and inclusion programs; and navigating a media landscape with artificial intelligence, deepfakes and other emerging concerns.

A session on “The Playbook for Success in Sports Communication” is set for Tuesday, March 26th in the South Club of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

“I am looking forward to this opportunity to hear Will Kiss from the Las Vegas Raiders talk about his expertise in sports marketing. I am intrigued to learn about the insights of the NFL and what goes behind the scenes of game days that we don’t see on tv,” said Tatum Chenen, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Middleburg Virginia that is planning the sports panel. 

Another session that tackles timely challenges is “The Power of Trust: Unleashing AI in Modern PR Tactics,” with discussion focusing on the use of ChatGPT, Photoshop Beta and other AI platforms. This session is slated for Wednesday, March 27th at The Inn at Ole Miss in the Ballroom

Attendees are encouraged to follow @olemissjourimc on Instagram for program updates. Check out the conference website for schedule updates and other information. The event going paperless with the program to promote sustainability; thus, the full agenda, maps, speaker contact information and direct messaging service, and more can all be found on Whova. 

The conference is free to Ole Miss students, faculty and staff and can register here. For out-of-town guests, register here. Attendees can also reserve a room at the conference venue, The Inn at Ole Miss, here


By Carleigh Holt Harbin

Journalism Grad Releases Feature Sports Documentary on Tubi

Posted on: February 1st, 2024 by msross

Andrea Buccilla, a 2010 journalism graduate, releases her first feature documentary, SHATTERED GLASS: A WNBPA Story, now available on Tubi. Buccilla was also a member of the Ole Miss Women’s Golf team.

Andrea Buccilla

Andrea Buccilla

“I’ve had to claw my way into being allowed to tell sports stories,” said Buccilla. “Those typically are reserved for men. Even though I was a D1 golfer, it wasn’t until this year I directed two commercials with a couple of LPGA tour pros and then this documentary. My passion is telling female sports stories and I think they deserve to be told and haven’t been done enough.”

After graduating from the University of Mississippi, Buccilla joined the Mississippi Teacher Corps, later completing her master’s degree in education, teaching English for 10 years before diving back into the journalism industry. 

“I’ve always kind of viewed myself as a storyteller,” said Buccilla. “I’ve always loved writing. I took Curtis Wilkie’s feature writing class and a couple of Dr. Dolan’s classes. I took several of Garreth Blackwell’s classes and I realized, oh man, I like being creative and writing.” 

Along with Buccilla’s connection to Ole Miss, other Ole Miss connections are included in the film. Brian MacKay, a 2008 journalism graduate, served as the Archival Producer. Former Ole Miss women’s basketball coach, Van Chancellor, is also featured in the film.

To learn more about Buccilla’s work, visit her website


More about the documentary

“SHATTERED GLASS: A WNBPA Story is a transcendent documentary that uniquely captures the power and spirit of female athletes,” said Anjali Sud, Chief Executive Officer at Tubi. “Tubi is proud to collaborate with the Women’s National Basketball Players Association as part of our commitment to uplifting bold and inspiring voices for young and diverse audiences.”

SHATTERED GLASS: A WNBPA Story dives deep into the lives beyond the court of the next generation of basketball luminaries, Jonquel Jones, Nneka Ogwumike, and Breanna Stewart, as well as WNBA legend, Sheryl Swoopes. From intense off-season routines to the intricacies of family dynamics to navigating the politics of women’s sports, this documentary offers viewers a rare, all-encompassing look at the athletes as holistic individuals.

“We’re excited to bring together the WNBPA and Tubi on the release of SHATTERED GLASS: A WNBPA Story, showcasing the incredible athletes and stories that define the WNBA,” said Jessica McCourt, Executive Producer and Head of Partnerships at MALKA. “MALKA’s cutting-edge production brings to life the strength and resilience of these phenomenal players, underscoring our commitment to celebrating and supporting women’s sports.”

Directed by rising filmmaker Andrea Buccilla (MALKA), a former college athlete and commercial director whose passion for female sports shines through in the film, the documentary features an all-women team in its development, production, and direction. Its executive production team boasts names like Breanna Stewart, Nneka Ogwumike, Jonquel Jones, Jessica McCourt (MALKA), Terri Carmichael Jackson, Rebecca Otto (Wasserman), Faith Suggs (Sports International Group) and Sheryl Swoopes, with Erin Gilchrist managing the production.

“SHATTERED GLASS: A WNBPA Story is more than a documentary – it’s a movement,” states Executive Producer Terri Carmichael Jackson. “We’re bringing to light the incredible stories of these athletes, who are not just sports icons but powerful advocates for change, respect, and inspiration – something that all women can relate to and feel empowered by.”

Presented by PUMA with additional support provided by Crown Royal Regal Apple, SHATTERED GLASS: A WNBPA Story premieres exclusively on Tubi beginning January 31, 2024.


Shattered Glass Movie Poster



Journalism Professor Wins Multicultural Recruitment Award

Posted on: August 3rd, 2023 by msross

The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication has selected a University of Mississippi journalism professor as the winner of the 2023 Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award. 

RJ Morgan

R.J. Morgan

R.J. Morgan, instructional associate professor in the School of Journalism and New Media, will be honored with the award at the annual AEJMC conference in Washington, D.C. on August 8. 

Along with teaching journalism and integrated marketing communications students at Ole Miss, Morgan has served as the director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association for the past 10 years. 

“I am so very thankful for the leadership of Dr. Morgan through MSPA, and I believe he is one of the main reasons why Murrah has become so involved with journalism education, especially in the past ten years,” said Sarah Ballard, student media advisor for Murrah High School in Jackson.

“He has made it a point to reach out to us and pull us into the conversation by encouraging us to enter our literary magazine and yearbook into the MSPA’s yearly competitions. He has also encouraged my students to submit to Journalist of the Year among other categories and asked me to serve on the board for MSPA to make sure Murrah has a voice at the table.” 

The Mississippi Scholastic Press Association supports and promotes journalism in a high school setting through workshops, competitions, conventions and online aids and advice. Membership is open to any Mississippi school that has a newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, online publication, broadcast and/or journalism class. More than 400 students attend the two annual conferences. The University of Mississippi hosts their spring conference and the University of Southern Mississippi hosts the fall conference.

Under Morgan’s leadership, MSPA conference keynote speakers have included the award-winning Black southern writer Kiese Laymon, FedEx Global Citizenship Manager Rose Flenorl Jackson and award-winning journalist and author of the first novel featuring The Black Panther superhero, Jesse Holland. Ballard said Morgan’s efforts to diversify the speaker line-up has a profound impact on students. 

R.J. Morgan speaks at a podium.

R.J. Morgan speaks at the opening event for the spring MSPA conference in the Grove.

“I especially recall when Kiese Laymon was the speaker for the spring convention in Oxford and what an unbelievable impact that made on my students of color to hear from someone who spoke and dressed and looked like them,” said Ballard. “As we know, representation matters, so for Dr. Morgan to continually strive to bring out diverse perspectives in the leadership, the speakers, and the awards that are presented means that he is dedicated to the goal of creating a welcoming and diverse community for Mississippi journalism education.” 

Donna Ladd, editor and CEO of the Mississippi Free Press and Mississippi Journalism and Education Group has seen firsthand how MSPA has changed the landscape of scholastic journalism in the state.

“Last fall, R.J. asked me to facilitate solution circles for MSPA students at the University of Southern Mississippi MSPA convention where, frankly, I expected to see mostly white journalism students like in the old days,” said Ladd. “I was so wrong. Due to R.J.’s leadership, the gathering and our circles were extremely diverse leading to rich and unexpected conversations from teenagers from across the state—all related in one way or another to diversity, equity and inclusion in journalism and or in the communities the young journalists live in. It was outstanding and inspiring.”

To further promote diversity in scholastic media programs, Morgan makes regular classroom visits to schools in underserved communities, and he has raised funds to offer every journalism teacher in Mississippi a free Journalism Education Association (JEA) membership, something especially important for schools with few resources as JEA boasts an extensive curriculum supplement for teachers. 

Morgan was nominated by Associate Dean Debora Wenger.

“When hundreds of Mississippi high school students descend on the University of Mississippi campus, the audience will more closely reflect the reality that is the state and the country,” said Wenger. “Dr. Morgan deserves credit for his tireless dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion in the MSPA.”

Professor Leaves a Legacy at UM Journalism School

Posted on: June 23rd, 2023 by msross
Journalism professor Joe Atkins talks with a student before one of his classes during the spring 2023 semester. Photo by MacKenzie Ross/School of Journalism and New Media

Journalism professor Joe Atkins talks with a student before one of his classes during the spring 2023 semester. Photo by MacKenzie Ross/School of Journalism and New Media

Joe Atkins, 33-year teaching veteran, says farewell to Farley Hall

OXFORD, Miss. – Anyone who has come through the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media in the last 30 years likely took a course under Joseph Atkins.

The journalism professor retires this summer after 33 years in the classroom, where he taught courses in advanced reporting, international journalism, ethics and social issues, media history, and labor and media.

“I’m leaving this program as a full-time professor in good hands because a lot of great, exciting things are going on,” Atkins said. “We’ve got a great faculty and good leadership.”

Before he started his work in academia, Atkins spent 15 years as a journalist, with the last five serving as a congressional correspondent for the Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C.

“Professor Atkins was a true gem of a journalist,” said Eva-Marie Luter, a journalism graduate student from Tylertown. “He put his students before himself, listening to our needs and working through them with us individually.

“There will be other great journalists, but none like professor Atkins and how he shaped the lives of every student he taught.”

Atkins’ work as a journalist continued at Ole Miss and his coverage of labor issues in the U.S. and Singapore gained international recognition. His work has appeared in publications such as USA Today, The Baltimore Sun, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Progressive Populist, Southern Exposure and Oxford American.

His book “Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press” (University Press of Mississippi, 2008) explores the tumultuous relationship between labor unions and the media outlets that cover their stories.

“I consider myself as much a writer as a professor,” Atkins said. “I always try to keep active as a practicing journalist as well as a professor who is teaching journalism, so I like to practice what I preach.”

Joe Atkins delivers the Mortar Board’s Last Lecture, the final lecture of the spring semester, on May 5, 2023. Photo by Eva-Marie Luter

Joe Atkins delivers the Mortar Board’s Last Lecture, the final lecture of the spring semester, on May 5, 2023. Photo by Eva-Marie Luter

Atkins used that passion as inspiration for the international Conference on Labor and the Southern Press at the university in 2003. Besides organizing conferences about labor unions, he is also a member of the United Campus Workers of Mississippi, an organized labor group at the university.

The Mississippi Association for Justice named Atkins “Advocate of the Year” in 2011 in honors of his work in underrepresented communities.

His emphasis on labor relations was a major influence on former student Jaz Brisack, the university’s first female Rhodes Scholar, who rose to national fame after leading the unionization of Starbucks employees.

“Joe Atkins is the best professor I’ve ever had the joy of knowing and is the reason I’m a labor organizer today,” Brisack said. “… so lucky to have taken a record-setting number of his classes.”

Atkins’ last semester as a full-time faculty member was accompanied by five graduate students that turned into a unique family. The group ended up together in both of Atkins’ last classes.

Hayden Wiggs, a graduate student from Flowery Branch, Georgia, was part of the five-student group that took Atkins’ last classes: Jour 580: Alternative Media and Jour 668: Narrative Journalism.

Journalism professor Joe Atkins (second from left) spends time with students in his last classes before retiring. They are (from left) Delila Nakaidinae, Hayden Wiggs, Eva-Marie Luter, Allie Watson and Jaylin R. Smith. Submitted photo

Journalism professor Joe Atkins (second from left) spends time with students in his last classes before retiring. They are (from left) Delila Nakaidinae, Hayden Wiggs, Eva-Marie Luter, Allie Watson and Jaylin R. Smith.

“Professor Atkins is, without a doubt, the best professor I had during my time at Ole Miss,” Wiggs said. “There is no other professor who cares as much about teaching or about his students as professor Atkins does; I genuinely looked forward to his classes, as they were always an equal balance of informative and fun.”

Having more time on his hands, Atkins plans to focus on writing projects that have taken a back seat over the years and recently was appointed to the board of directors of Theatre Oxford. He also has been granted the title of professor emeritus, and he hopes to continue teaching an occasional course because of his love of the classroom.

“I’m not retiring from life; I’m entering a new phase of life,” Atkins said.


Story by Jaylin R. Smith

Integrated Marketing Communications grad’s handcrafted work is getting noticed

Posted on: April 13th, 2023 by ldrucker
IMC graduate Shelby Toole with her pottery.

IMC graduate Shelby Toole with her pottery.

When Shelby Toole entered the University of Mississippi as an integrated marketing communications major, she never expected to become a potter. She took pottery classes during college and fell in love with the craft.

Now, after expanding into other creative areas, her jewelry is being noticed by others in the spotlight. Erin Napier, of HGTV’s “Hometown,” posted a photo of a pair of her ceramic earrings on Instagram.

After graduating and attending graduate school for her master’s degree in IMC, Toole began teaching pottery at the local community center before starting her own business.

“I started taking pottery classes as a freshmen at Ole Miss, and I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I took it every semester, and it was kind of like of my therapy. In grad school, I started teaching at the community center, but when COVID hit, classes died down.”

Her love for pottery eventually turned from a passion into a business. Toole describes SJ Ceramic Company as: “Functional pottery and personal enjoyment. It isn’t a brand or business. I picture my work as my art…I like taking a piece of pottery, and letting it slow people down, and letting it invite people in to take in the day.”

IMC graduate Shelby Toole with her pottery.

IMC graduate Shelby Toole with her pottery.

SJ Ceramic Company, (SJ stands for Share Joy), started in 2019 and has largely been run through online stores and social media platforms like Etsy and Instagram, but she also sets up booths in local and state art festivals. The majority of pieces Toole makes are personalized commissions customers can request.

The company is largely a one-woman business. “It’s just me, but I ask my sister to help me with the miscellaneous work,” she said.

Running a one-person business can be stressful, but Toole sees it as a method of expression. “In the big picture, it’s a business, but at the center (the art) is the heart of it,” she said.

Toole said she sometimes becomes creatively blocked when she is involved in large shows or has large orders. “It’s easy to get in production mode and have to remind myself to do something fun,” she said.

For Toole, the best way to overcome a creative block is to avoid putting pressure on yourself, step away, and do something you enjoy. Some of her biggest inspirations are artists Keith Haring, Adam Trest, and Walter Anderson. She is influenced by their use of movement, abstract shapes, nature scenes and vivid colors.

One of the biggest struggles with running SJ Ceramic Company is monitoring inventory. Though actually making the pieces is exciting, displaying and advertising the finished product can be tedious and tiresome.

“Even though I have a master’s for (marketing)…the online aspect can be heavy because there’s a lot that goes into selling a product and showing it off,” she said.

Everyone wants to do what they love for a living, but that doesn’t mean we love every part of what we do.

“(Glazing) is my least favorite part of the process,” she said. “It can sometimes be the most intimidating because I’m overwhelmed with all the options.”

Once a piece is made, it is the only one in existence, which gives the customer something that truly belongs only to them. The company produces many products, from plates, cups, and pots to earrings and necklaces, all hand-made from porcelain. All earrings are made with a form of 14k gold.

Toole loves to create jewelry, cups, plates. Her life motto, “drink well,” which means to take in life and all that it offers, is part of her art. Her cups and mugs often have this message abstractly carved into them, connecting message, art and functionality.

Though SJ Ceramic Company is primarily run by Toole, her biggest helper and supporter is her sister Kellie Bickes, who helps with marketing, product assembly, and often travels with her to art shows and festivals throughout the state.

“I was very excited for her because she was always very artistic growing up,” Bickes said. “I would describe her art as very organic. Everything’s bright and happy and makes you want to gather with friends and family. They’re always good pieces to have in your home; they’re all very inviting.”

For those who wish to have their own Shelby Toole creation and support SJ Ceramic Company, they can be found on Etsy under SJ Ceramic Company and at the upcoming Double Decker Arts Festival April 28 – 29.

This story was written by student Taylor Rogers.

Mississippi Today named Silver Em winner by UM School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: April 4th, 2023 by ldrucker
Headshots of the Mississippi Today staff.

Headshots of the Mississippi Today staff.

It’s the first time in history a news organization has won the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s prestigious Silver Em award.

Mississippi Today will receive the honor during the annual ceremony Wednesday, April 12, at 6 p.m. in the ballroom at the Inn at Ole Miss.

Adam Ganucheau, editor-in-chief of Mississippi Today, said he is proud that Mississippi’s largest newsroom was named a Silver Em winner.

“We are very familiar with the prestigious Silver Em award and know full well that it is given to Mississippi journalists with exceptional journalistic contributions to the state or nation,” he said. “We’re immensely proud our organization is now among that number. The UM journalism school has such a rich history of producing impactful journalists and journalism, and we’re proud to carry on that legacy in our home state.”

Several Mississippi Today staff members are UM graduates, including Ganucheau and three more of the site’s top leaders: Mary Margaret White, CEO; Kayleigh Skinner, managing editor; and Lauchlin Fields, audience development director.

Other alumni include Devna Bose, health reporter; Julia James, education reporter; and Bethany Atkinson, community manager.

Ganucheau said the Mississippi Today team aims to make everyday Mississippians their reporting focus and to show that powerful leaders and systems either serve or don’t serve the people.

“Since our launch in 2016, we’ve built a loyal following of readers who trust us to call it like we see it in the halls of state government,” Ganucheau said, “and some of our more recent investigative and accountability work, in particular, is among our proudest.

“We continue to deploy a full staff of reporters to the Mississippi State Capitol every single day for the state’s deepest watchdog journalism of the Mississippi Legislature, and we cover a wide range of beats touching every corner of state government.”

Debora Wenger, associate dean and professor, said the school is proud to honor Mississippi Today.

“It is only fitting that our school, which is focused on instilling journalistic excellence in our students, has the opportunity to recognize one of the most innovative and high-quality news sites in the country,” she said. “The fact that Mississippi Today is producing journalism in service to our state just adds to the pleasure we take in honoring these fine reporters and editors.”

Ganucheau said his staff also loves writing positive stories of Mississippi, including sports and broader cultural stories that show off the breadth of talent and creativity of the state.

“But lately, we’re especially proud of our investigation and close coverage of the sprawling Mississippi welfare scandal,” he said. “Mississippi Today poverty and investigative reporter Anna Wolfe revealed in our ‘The Backchannel’ investigation former Gov. Phil Bryant’s role in a sprawling welfare scandal. Each part of series delved further into Bryant’s previously unreported influence over the misspending of at least $77 million in federal funds intended to assist nearly 588,000 of the state’s poorest residents.”

Wolfe’s work on “The Backchannel” series won the 2023 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, which is considered among the most prestigious national investigative journalism awards.

Other finalists for the award were The New York Times, The Associated Press, Reuters, National Public Radio, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“We always strive to use our public service platform to the state’s advantage, offering our work completely for free to readers and to any Mississippi news outlet that would like to republish it,” Ganucheau said. “We see our role as helping bolster the state’s journalism outlets, not competing with them, and we firmly believe that the more sunshine that can be shed on our state’s leaders, the better.”

The Silver Em awards date to 1958, and recipients must be Mississippians with notable journalism careers or journalists with notable careers in Mississippi.

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

UM School of Journalism and New Media student wins Gracie Award for documentary

Posted on: April 4th, 2023 by ldrucker
Emma Harrington

Emma Harrington

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student has been named one of the winners of the 48th annual Gracie Awards.

Emma Harrington was one of the Television Student Winners for her documentary “Wyatt Waters: Below the Surface.”

Student Media Director Larz Roberts said he was surprised but not shocked to hear of Harrington’s win.

“Emma is sharp and she keeps her motor running,” he said. “Her work reflects that. Spend 10 minutes in a room talking with her and anyone can see how Emma representing Ole Miss on the national stage for that honor just makes sense. I’m happy the Gracies recognize the quality of student we have in Emma Harrington through her documentary.”

Read Harrington’s description of the documentary below:

“Mississippi is not a big place or a famous place. Yet somehow, truly amazing people arise here. William Faulkner and Eudora Welty set their stories here. Bo Diddley, Robert Johnson and Elvis Presley strummed their first guitar chords here while Medgar Evers and Myrlie Evers worked to change the world. Ethel Wright Mohamed and Walter Anderson captured the small world around them in scenes that now reside in the Smithsonian. Wyatt Waters stands humbly in this famous crowd, a nationally recognized painter… and so much more.

“With little more than a cup of water and a squeeze of pigment, he captures a forever frozen feeling… a moment in time deciphered masterfully onto a sheet of Arches paper. Paper colored not only with pigment, but with words and with music. He is first a painter. A lifelong, everyday, out in the heat or cold or rain, anywhere and everywhere kind of painter. His ability to see…to really see allows us to become a part of his work. Maybe there is another reason his paintings also capture us. We’ll take you below the surface of the painter. I hope you enjoy learning more about this amazing artist.”

Harrington said she hopes others see the beauty of Mississippi in her work.

“Many things have described Mississippi over the years, not all of them positive,” she said. “However, Mississippi has produced some of the most talented and inspirational people in history. Wyatt Waters is one of them.”

The Gracies are presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. The awards recognize outstanding programming and individual achievement created by women, for women, and about women in all facets of media in news and entertainment.

Local and student award-winners will be recognized at the Gracie Awards Luncheon on June 20 at Cipriani in NYC, according to award website.

This year’s theme is “Storytelling.” The awards were inspired and named after actress Gracie Allen.

Harrington said she hopes people are inspired to follow their dreams after watching her documentary.

“Wyatt didn’t come from much, but he made something of himself with a paintbrush and a dream,” she said. “He worked hard and never gave up, even when giving up would have been a whole lot easier.

“If you think the world wants you to give up, I hope this documentary can convince you otherwise. I never thought a girl like me from small town Mississippi could win such a prestigious award as a Gracie, and yet here I am. Find your people and chase your dreams.”

You can watch Harrington’s documentary here.

Click here to read the complete list of Gracie winners.

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

School of Journalism and New Media leaders travel to Ethiopia to bring the world to Ole Miss

Posted on: March 15th, 2023 by ldrucker
UM professors in Ethiopia

Beyene, Wilkin, Smith and Hickerson.

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media leaders are working to build international relationships by strengthening partnerships with Ethiopia Airlines, meeting with Ethiopian officials, and visiting the University of Namibia.

Four school and university leaders recently traveled to the African countries Ethiopia and Namibia to meet with business and government leaders.

The group included Andrea Hickerson, Ph.D., dean and professor; Marquita Smith, Ed.D., assistant dean for graduate programs and associate professor; Zenebe Beyene, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator of international programs; and Noel Wilkin, Ph.D., provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Beyene said the purpose of the trip was to demonstrate the school’s committed partnership with Ethiopian Airlines and explore other possible collaborations.

“Partnership is like establishing friendship or planting a seed or a tree,” Beyene said. “If you have a very good partnership, it has to be sustained and nurtured with effective communication. And you have to make sure that you are there for a long term, and you are interested in the relationship, not only the business aspect.”

That’s where many institutions fail, he said. They focus exclusively on outcomes.

“Once you establish a strong relationship, like having a strong foundation for a building, you can achieve so many things together,” said Beyene. “Because when you envision a partnership, it’s not only based on your interests and priorities, but it is also based on the interests and priorities of your partners.”

UM professors in Ethiopia

Beyene, Hickerson and Smith.

In 2018, a group of University of Mississippi IMC students traveled to Ethiopia, visited the airline facilities, and created a marketing campaign for Ethiopian Airlines.

“The major focus of this partnership was enrolling employees of Ethiopian Airlines into our regular Master of Arts program or the online program,” Beyene said.

Leaders discovered that Ethiopian Airlines employees were also interested in short-term training.

The UM group also traveled to Namibia, a country in Southern Africa that borders the South Atlantic Ocean between Angola and South Africa, to explore possible collaborations with the country’s leaders and those at the University of Namibia.

Hickerson said one of the trip highlights was touring the Ethiopian Airlines facilities, including its airport and aviation university.

“The logistics of airlines have always impressed me, but here we saw our graduates at work. It was impressive and rewarding,” she said.

“This partnership is just beginning. We have many opportunities for future collaborations with EA, other organizations in Ethiopia, and in Africa more broadly. We are fortunate to have faculty with expertise in the region to facilitate meaningful, long-lasting work.”

While in Africa, school leaders visited the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa and held meetings with a U.S. diplomat, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Centers for Disease Control, and other government agencies in Ethiopia.

This was Wilkin’s first trip to Africa and Ethiopia. He said he was impressed with the welcoming hospitality and commitment Ethiopian Airlines executives have to being an industry leader.

“The training facilities and the extent to which the airline is committed to educating its employees and adapting to the needs of the continent are inspiring,” he said. “They are looking for creating programs or finding partners who can help them to ensure they have a well-qualified workforce.”

Wilkin said it was enjoyable to visit with graduates from the University of Mississippi in their home country.

“To be an industry leader, Ethiopian Airlines recognizes and is committed to provide their employees with the necessary education and abilities,” he said. “This commitment and their commitment to excellence is wonderful and is being recognized by other companies in Ethiopia and throughout Africa.”

Beyene said the group held talks with leaders about strengthening the collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines and other institutions in Ethiopia. He said one of the trip highlights was attending an event organized by the U.S. Embassy that provided information for prospective students. More than 200 students registered for the information session.

Beyene believes one of the University of Mississippi’s priorities is campus internationalization.

“Campus internationalization is an institutional response to globalization,” he said. “What that means is through various programs, projects, entities and departments, the university would increase its reach to the external world having some kind of role in serving humanity in general through providing quality education.

“By bringing in students from around the world, we can increase diversity and enrollment, and we can add value to our program. Our students would learn from our international students. International students greatly benefit from the resources and opportunities here in the university.”

Beyene said one of the university’s missions is to “transform lives, communities and the world by providing opportunities for the people of Mississippi and beyond through excellence in learning, discovery, healthcare and engagement.”

“People have very strong interests in advancing their career to get quality education if you make education affordable and accessible,” he said. “As you know, our university, compared with many, many other universities – we offer quality education at a very reasonable, affordable price. Not many people know this. So we can attract talent from around the world, and then make our institution a better place for everybody.”

Strengthening the relationship with Ethiopian Airlines will help the University of Mississippi extend its reach internationally, Beyene said.

“We can make Ole Miss one of the destinations for global education,” he said. “We can bring the world to Ole Miss and give our students firsthand experience that they cannot find elsewhere.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

“Educational Divide: The Story of East Side High” documentary to screen at the University of Mississippi

Posted on: March 8th, 2023 by msross

OXFORD, Miss. — When a federal judge ordered Cleveland, Mississippi, to desegregate its schools over 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, local residents were forced to grapple with a new reality while moving forward. The documentary, “Educational Divide: The Story of East Side High,” takes a candid look at the Cleveland community in the heart of the Mississippi Delta as it works through the transition. 

The film will be screened at 4 p.m. on March 22 in the Overby Auditorium in Farley Hall. The screening event is free and open to the community. A panel discussion featuring executive producer Dr. Eric Elston, director and UM alum David Ross, and producer Don Allan Mitchell of Delta State University will be hosted immediately following the film, and moderated by UM journalism professor Ellen Meacham. The screening is sponsored in part by an award from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Partnership, with funding provided by the National Park Service.

The Educational Divide movie poster

“Educational Divide: The Story of East Side High” will be screened at 4 p.m. on March 22 in the Overby Auditorium in Farley Hall.

“Educational Divide: The Story of East Side High” is a celebration of the legacy of East Side High School. The film features interviews with East Side legends like Hall of Fame Coach Lucy Seaberry, former Ole Miss and NFL football standout Ken Lucas, and the film’s executive producer and NBA veteran Johnny O’Bryant, as well as community leaders, legal experts, and scholars of the Delta’s complex history and culture. 

“Telling the story of East Side High was something I knew must be done. East Side was a school that was a second home to many students but also a staple in its community,” said O’Bryant, an East Side alumnus and professional basketball player. “East Side is filled with rich history and the world needs to understand how a very small place could leave behind such a huge legacy for its community. I hope anyone that watches this film understands that East Side’s story is one of perseverance and pride.”  

Seaberry, an East Side living legend who coached women’s basketball for more than 30 years, said she is excited to share the project with all Mississippians.

“East Side was my pride and joy,” said Seaberry. “I believe in helping others, and East Side provided me the opportunity to do just that. This documentary will be an eye-opener for a lot of people. I hope that [the audience] will take away that we may be different, but we are all equal in God’s eyes.”

According to the film’s producers, “Educational Divide: The Story of East Side High” reveals that in America, culture and history are complicated and our past is never that far away from the present. Covering issues of race, public education and civil rights—all via the prism of basketball and high school sports—the film explores what America can learn from Cleveland.

“We hope this film allows us to recognize that we have a long way to go with race relations and equality in America, but the first step in making progress is listening to each other,” said Director David Ross. “The film forces its viewers to wonder, what can the rest of America learn from this small town in Mississippi?”  

For questions or more information, contact organizer R.J. Morgan at or Don Allan Mitchell at

University of Mississippi students win awards at multiple journalism conferences

Posted on: March 6th, 2023 by msross
A man and two girls stand with certificates in their hands at an award event

Director Larz Roberts with DM news editor Mary Boyte and DM arts & culture editor Kharley Redmon.

Congratulations to students in the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center for winning multiple awards in February at the 2023 Southeast Journalism Conference and the 2023 Intercollegiate Broadcasters Conference. 

Director Larz Roberts, along with The Daily Mississippian editors Mary Boyte and Kharley Redmon, first traveled to Thibodaux, Louisiana to attend the SEJC conference and accept awards on behalf of The Daily Mississippian, NewsWatch Ole Miss and Rebel Radio 92.1 staff. 

“I’m always excited to travel with students, especially when it’s for them collecting the awards they’ve earned,” said Roberts. “And with this being my first year as SMC director, I get a big kick out of seeing them get that recognition. In fact, this is just the beginning. With the talent collected in the SMC, I expect we’re going to bring in more.”

The Daily Mississippian ranked 4th in the best newspaper category, NewsWatch Ole Miss ranked 5th in the best TV station category and Rebel Radio ranked 5th in the best radio station category. 38 colleges and universities are members of SEJC. 

  • Erin Foley, a journalism major and design editor for the DM, ranked number 2 in the Best Newspaper Designer category. 
  • Hal Fox, an international studies major and news editor for the DM, ranked number 2 in the Best News Writer category. 
  • Emma Green, journalism major and writer for the DM, ranked number 2 in the Best Feature Writer category. 
  • Kharley Redmon, a journalism major and arts & culture editor for the DM, ranked number 4 in the Best Arts and Entertainment Writer category. 
  • Clay Hale, integrated marketing communication major and writer for the DM, ranked number 5 in the Best Arts and Entertainment Writer category. 
  • David Ramsey, integrated marketing communication major and writer for the DM, ranked number 5 in the Best Opinion/Editorial Writer category. 
  • HG Biggs, a Chinese major and photo editor for the DM, ranked number 7 in the Best Press Photographer category. 
  • Fletcher Canup, international studies major and photographer for the DM, ranked number 9 in the Best Press Photographer category. 
  • Aidan Gallardo, a journalism major and sports editor for the DM, ranked number 9 in the Best Sports Writer category. 
  • Justice Rose, a journalism major and DM opinion editor, ranked number 9 in the Best Opinion/Editorial Writer category. 
  • Violet Jira, journalism and philosophy double major and news editor for the DM, ranked number 10 in the Best News Writer category.
Two girls stand in front of a curtain with trophies in their hands

Graduate student AC Barker and senior Sarah Gail Myers accepted two awards on behalf of NewsWatch Ole Miss and Rebel Radio.

The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System hosted its IBSNYC 2023 Conference on February 24-25 in New York City. Graduate student Anna Caroline Barker and senior journalism major Sarah Gail Myers traveled with Roberts to attend the conference. While there, they were able to attend sessions, where they heard from broadcast professionals. 

NewsWatch Ole Miss was a finalist for Best Newscast and Rebel Radio 92.1 was also a finalist for Best Newscast. Becoming a finalist meant the stations were in the top 5% of their categories. The team returned to campus with two golden microphones. 

The Student Media Center in Bishop Hall is home to multiple publications including The Daily Mississippian, NewsWatch Ole Miss, Rebel Radio 92.1 and The Ole Miss yearbook