Donors Seek to Help Restore Integrity of News Media

Jordans' $4 million gift creates Center for Journalism Advocacy and Innovation

A woman and man stand in front of a bank of screens showing news broadcasts.

OXFORD, Miss. – A desire to improve the U.S. media environment while helping consumers better discern truth and accuracy in news reporting has led a former University of Mississippi faculty couple to make a $4 million gift to the UM School of Journalism and New Media.

The gift establishes the Jordan Center for Journalism Advocacy and Innovation Fund, named for its donors: Jean and Jerry Jordan, of Oxford. The university has agreed to seek matching support of the Jordans' gift, potentially creating total support of more than $8 million.

"We're making this gift in honor of all the choral students we taught during our career at Ole Miss," said Jerry Jordan, whose directing of the Ole Miss Concert Singers holds the record for winning more international competitions than any other choral director in the nation. The Jordans, who directed UM choirs for 21 years, were popular with students and audiences.

"The Oxford community and the students we taught here had a tremendous effect on our lives, and we're very happy to be giving back in the name of our students and to help the community the way it helped us."

Jean (left) and Jerry Jordan

Throughout his career, Jordan has been concerned about the news, saying he's "seen society being torn apart by misinformation" and has felt for many years that the media needs a renaissance.

"The Jordan Center's purpose will be to proactively promote the preeminence and effectiveness of reliable, relevant, responsible and educational journalism in American media," he said.

A second purpose is to promote the role of journalists in educating citizens to think more critically as they consume news from disparate sources, he said.

"It's about making sure the consumer is getting accurate news and then is equipped to make discriminating use of that news," Jean Jordan added.

In recognition of the need to establish responsible and intelligent consumption of media, one of the center's first projects will be a collaboration with local school districts. Students will be taught a basis for responsible consumption and use of media in all areas of lifelong learning.

"The purpose of the project will be to help students in acquiring essential life skills and insights that are not addressed in traditional high school curricular requirements – practical skills they'll use throughout their lives," Jerry Jordan said.

Funds from the Jordans' gift will be used by the school to hire personnel to run the Center for Journalism Advocacy and Innovation and provide for its daily operations, summer programs and other projects.

"The value of journalism in society has been diminished of late, in part due to unsustainable business models and rhetorical branding," said Andrea Hickerson, dean and professor in the school. "The establishment of the Jordan Center for Journalism Advocacy and Innovation is a bold initiative to re-center journalism as a public good, with the School of Journalism and New Media leading the way.

Students go to class in Farley Hall, home of the School of Journalism and New Media. A $4 million gift from Jean and Jerry Jordan establishes the Jordan Center for Journalism Advocacy and Innovation Fund, which aims to promote 'reliable, relevant, responsible and educational journalism.' Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

"We look forward to creating innovative programs and projects that demonstrate the intensely practical value of journalism to healthy communities."

The Jordans announced their gift on the second day of the April 9-10 Giving Day event, which is an annual online, social media-driven fundraising campaign. The fifth Ole Miss Giving Day lasts one day, eight hours and 48 minutes, in honor of the university's founding year of 1848.

Retired from teaching vocal music, the Jordans manage real estate and other investments and own and operate NetVoice, an answering service, time and temperature, and telephone banking business with roots in their college days.

Hickerson expressed gratitude for the donors' vision.

"The Jordan family has pushed us to think big," she said. "It's humbling and immensely gratifying.

"Although the center has journalism in the name, we see this center akin to an integrated marketing communications campaign for the practice of ethical, accurate and relevant journalism. The center speaks to the totality of expertise in the school."

The Jordan Center for Journalism Advocacy and Innovation Fund is open to support from businesses and individuals. Gifts can be made by sending a check, with the fund's name noted on the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or by giving online here.

For more information about supporting the School of Journalism and New Media, contact Jason McCormick, executive director of development, at or 662-915-1757.


Bill Dabney



April 10, 2024