Will Norton has resigned from his position as Dean of the School of Journalism and New Media after nearly 11 years in the role, and he will return to the faculty at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year on May 11.
Provost Noel Wilkin announced Norton’s resignation in a campus-wide email on April 23. Norton emailed all journalism and integrated marketing communications faculty about his decision to resign, citing the coronavirus pandemic as part of his reasoning.
“My strengths are in raising funds, recruiting and finding support for projects in the school,” Norton said in the email. “Unfortunately, this is not an environment in which those strengths are effective, and I believe new leadership will bring skills and energy needed to make and implement future decisions.”
Norton’s email also said he submitted his resignation to Wilkin “in a conversation” on April 23 and that he hopes “to continue to contribute to the school” as a faculty member.
Wilkin said in his email that the university will soon appoint an interim dean.
“We appreciate his service as the Founding Dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, and we have tremendous appreciation for the incredible growth that the school and its programs experienced under his leadership,” Wilkin said in the announcement.
Norton was the first dean of the school when it was established in 2009 by a $5.3 million endowment from Ed and Becky Meek. That money has since been redirected, following Ed Meek’s controversial Facebook post that led to the removal of his name from the school in 2018. At that time, School of Journalism and New Media administrators condemned the post as “highly offensive.”
Prior to serving as the dean of the journalism school at the University of Mississippi, Norton was the Dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for nearly two decades, and before that, he was the chair of the University of Mississippi’s journalism department.
According to the provost’s email, the search for a new dean of the school has not yet begun.