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UM Journalism Dean Will Norton tapped for MPA Hall of Fame

Will Norton Jr., professor and dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, has been inducted into the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame.

Joining Norton on the list of those who have made lasting contributions to journalism is Carolyn Wilson, longtime chief executive of the state newspaper trade group.

Both were inducted Saturday (July 8) at the MPA convention in Biloxi.

Norton, who previously served on the faculty and as chair of the Department of Journalism at Ole Miss, returned to Mississippi in 2009 as inaugural dean of the Meek School. He holds a doctorate in mass communications from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.

A partner in The South Reporter in Holly Springs, Norton was serving as dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln when the innovative school was launched at Ole Miss.

Under his leadership, the school has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment and in scholarship dollars earned by its students.

He has been an active member of both MPA and the Nebraska Press Association, where he was inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame in 2009.

Norton has been crucial in establishing newspaper “reporting expeditions” to member papers. Funded by the MPA Education Foundation, the trips allow teams of journalism majors to work over the course of several days on assignment for member newspapers.

“Will is a tremendous advocate for excellence in both the curriculum and practice of journalism,” said Layne Bruce, MPA executive director. “He also has been invaluable in strengthening the relationship between Ole Miss and our member newspapers.”

Wilson, who lives in Sandy Hook, served as MPA executive director for 22 years and was one of only two employees when she joined the staff in 1982. She was promoted to executive director in 1985.

Under her leadership, the organization grew to a peak of a dozen employees and handled more than $5 million in advertising placements for its member papers through its business subsidiary, Mississippi Press Services.

An Arkansas native, Wilson worked on behalf of newspaper members on such cornerstone issues as open records and sunshine laws, as well as internships for journalism students and continuing education for member employees. She was also a key player in the purchase of two headquarters locations for MPA in 1987 and 2002.

The Hall of Fame was created in 1986. Inductees are chosen by a committee of previous honorees and past presidents of the association.