Randall Pinkston (left) and Will Norton (right)
Live programs will return this fall to the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss, and two new fellows have been appointed to assist the Center with advancing its mission of promoting First Amendment freedoms. Five programs will take place at the Overby Center, featuring conversations with seven outstanding Ole Miss alumni and one forum relating to religion, politics, and the Covid crisis, and two new fellows have been appointed to assist the Center with advancing its mission of promoting First Amendment freedoms. Five programs will take place at the Overby Center, featuring conversations with seven outstanding Ole Miss alumni and one forum relating to religion, politics, and the Covid crisis.
Dr. Will Norton, retired dean of the Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media, will serve as senior fellow, and veteran broadcast journalist Randall Pinkston will be a fellow in residence.
“We are fortunate to have two highly accomplished people as fellows,” said Charles Overby, chairman of the Overby Center. “They will help strengthen our programs and our commitment to the First Amendment.” The Overby Center suspended its usual programs for a year because of the Corona virus. But the programs resumed last week with a conversation with successful alumni Larry Martindale and Don Cole. The Martindale-Cole Student Services Center was dedicated last week.
The next program features veteran newspaper reporter and author Curtis Wilkie on Sept. 22. Wilkie, the inaugural fellow of the Overby Center, will discuss his longtime career and his latest book, “When Evil Lived in Laurel.”
Former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat will discuss his latest book, “60: A Year of Sports, Race and Politics,” at an Overby Center program Oct. 5. The promotion about the book says it is “a story of the year that changed everything for a nation, our culture and a young man from Mississippi.” Khayat, one of the most legendary figures to graduate from Ole Miss, retired as chancellor in 2009. He is a member of the Overby Center board.
On Oct. 19, a program remembering William and Elise Winter, both outstanding Mississippians and both graduates of Ole Miss, will be led by David Crews, former press secretary for Gov. Winter and a member of the Overby Center board. Crews will have a conversation about the Winters with three longtime friends of the Winters, Reuben Anderson, JoAnne Prichard Morris and John Henegan. Anderson, former Mississippi Supreme Court justice, was the first African American to graduate from the Ole Miss Law School. Morris, former executive editor of University Press, edited Elise Winter’s memoir, “Once in a Lifetime: Reflections of a Mississippi First Lady.” Henegan was Gov. Winter’s chief of staff. William Winter died Dec. 19, 2020 at 97, and Elise Winter died July 17, 2021 at 95.
The final program of the fall at the Overby Center will feature a discussion about religion, politics and Covid, led by Overby Center fellow Terry Mattingly. One of the most knowledgeable religion reporters in the country, Mattingly writes a weekly column about religion and produces a weekly podcast about religion and the media.
Dr. Norton was selected to be senior fellow following a vote by the Overby Center board. Ronnie Agnew, executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting and former executive editor of the Clarion Ledger, credits Norton for boosting his career. He said Norton told him while he was a student if he didn’t work harder, we would end up being the best insurance salesman in Mississippi. “He has literally helped hundreds of students become successful journalists,” Agnew said.
Jesse Holland, another highly successful Ole Miss graduate, praised Norton in an interview with Dr. Cynthia Joyce in an article for the school’s website. “He was the first one who told me he thought I could be a great reporter,“ Holland said. “Every job that I have taken since, I have called and asked Dr. Norton about it first.” Holland is former Daily Mississippian editor, AP reporter and author of “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slavery Inside the White House” and Marvel sci-fi novel, “The Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?”
Norton was dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Nebraska for 19 years before he became founding dean of the new School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss in 2009.
Pinkston, a former White House correspondent for CBS, was born in Yazoo County and grew up in Jackson. Pinkston began his career in Jackson at WLBT and was the station’s first Black anchor. He graduated from Millsaps College and has a J.D. degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Pinkston worked for CBS for 33 years, contributing to virtually all of the network’s major news programs. Since retiring, he has taught journalism at Stony Brook University in New York, City University of New York and Morgan State University in Maryland. While he is fellow at the Overby Center, Pinkston will also be a visiting professor at the journalism school.