Dr. R.J. Morgan, an award-winning teacher and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, has been named a Fellow at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss, according to chairman Charles Overby.
His role at the center will focus primarily on scholastic media, journalism education and related topics. He will also coordinate scheduling and operations for the center and function as a liaison between it and the School of Journalism and New Media, where he is an instructional associate professor.
“R.J. has the practical experience, enthusiasm and engaging personality that students love,” Overby said. “He will help energize the Overby Center, and he will help promote First Amendment values for our next generation.”
Morgan is a nationally-recognized speaker, judge and scholar in the field of high school journalism. He has served as MSPA director since 2013 and recently launched the Integrated Marketing Communication Association, a national high school media/marketing organization housed at the University of Mississippi.
He sits on executive/advisory boards for multiple scholastic media organizations, serves on the national certification committee for the Journalism Education Association, and was named Awards Chair for the Scholastic Media division of the Association for Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication last fall. He received the Elizabeth Dickey Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Interscholastic Press Association in 2018 and earned Master Journalism Educator status from JEA in 2020.
“I’ve been involved in student media in one role or another since I was in the eighth grade,” Morgan said. “The time I spent on my high school and college newspaper staffs was easily the most influential and rewarding experience of my educational career, so being able to help create those same powerful learning environments for successive generations of students has become my life’s work. As a lifelong Southerner and a strong First Amendment advocate, I am beyond excited to continue these efforts through the Overby Center.”
Among other university appointments, Morgan is a member of the School of Journalism and New Media’s executive committee and leads the school’s Talbert Fellows honors cohort. He was elected to the University of Mississippi Faculty Senate in 2021.
Morgan has a Ph.D. in K-12 education leadership from the University of Mississippi. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Mississippi State University and began his teaching career at Starkville High School, where he received several honors including STAR Teacher, Third Congressional District Teacher of the Year and the Paul Cuicchi Innovative Educator Award. He also advised the school’s newspaper, yearbook and broadcast programs and was thrice named MSPA Adviser of the Year.
Morgan spent 16 years covering college sports for The Associated Press and has written pieces for Religion Unplugged, Sporting News magazine, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and the Memphis Commercial Appeal, among others. He is currently working on his first book-length project about the folk and civil rights movements of the early 1960s.