Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Published in The Southerner: A MAGAZINE ONLINE - Vol. 1, No. 3 (1999); “Willie Morris Tribute,” pp. 31–35. Copyright © 1999 The Southerner.


Although most of his friends think of Willie Morris as a successful writer and creative editor, to me he was a great teacher. His journalism classes at The University of Mississippi were not devoted to details of how to write. Rather he read examples of good writing and explained to students why the writing was good. He read samples of writing by students in the class, and his students improved by applying the techniques to their own writing. In his classroom on the Oxford, Miss., campus, Willie also demonstrated his great ability as an editor. He knew a good story, and he knew whom to assign to each story. So he brought out the best writing in each student. Many of his Ole Miss students have become outstanding writers and reporters. He knew how he wanted each piece written, and he worked with each writer to craft each article. I was grateful for the attention Willie gave our students in advanced classes. I was the chair of the Department of Journalism at The University of Mississippi, and Willie’s teaching brought a measure of excellence to our program that was uncommon on a typical university campus. ...