Newsweek named Ole Miss the “most beautiful campus in America.” That was no surprise to Jeff McManus, Director of Ole Miss landscape services. In 2010, he attended a publishing seminar hosted by Ole Miss alum Neil White, and suggested publishing a coffee table book that would show the world the beauty of the Oxford campus.
“There hasn’t been a photo book endorsed by Ole Miss in nearly 25 years,” White said. “It was long overdue. The book is stunning because we benefited from a perfect storm – the most beautiful campus in America that just so happens to employ some of the most talented photographers in the country.”
One of those photographers is Robert Jordan, who has been the ‘University Photographer’ since 1984.
“I was a Banking and Finance major at the University of South Alabama and working as the staff photographer for the student newspaper,” Jordan said. “In my junior year, I made the decision to be a professional photographer rather than a banker and began researching universities with a photography major. I had applied to several universities with prestigious photography programs and was waiting to see if I would be accepted when I met Ed Meek. Ed looked at my portfolio and offered me a job working 20 hours a week at the PR office if I attended Ole Miss. I needed the money, so I came to check out Ole Miss. Once I saw the campus, I knew this is where I wanted to be, even though Ole Miss only offered one photojournalism class at the time. Jack Cofield was the University Photographer at the PR office and he was my boss, mentor and friend. I learned photography not in the classroom, but by working for Jack, the Daily Mississippian, UPI and the Associated Press. Jack retired a few months after I graduated, so I applied for the position and was hired as the University Photographer.”
Jordan also has a talented team of photographers, and the idea of an Ole Miss photo book was always on their minds.
“Over the years, university photographers Kevin Bain, Nathan Latil and I had talked about making a photo book, but
we didn’t have the time or resources to produce a superior Ole Miss book so we tabled the idea.,” Jordan said. “Then last spring, Neil came to me with a proposal to make an Ole Miss coffee table book. We had worked together on many projects in the past, so I knew Nautilus Publishing had the resources to design, layout, publish, promote and distribute a quality book. Early on, Neil and I agreed that we wanted to make the best Ole Miss book we could – not a book designed by a committee – but a book that captures the essence of the campus as seen by the Ole Miss photographers. We had tremendous support from Ole Miss Chief Communications Officer Tom Epps, who helped keep the project on track so Nathan, Kevin, Neil and I could personally select every image in the book.”
The photos are stunning on their own, but most of them include a quote about Ole Miss from famous friends and alumni.
“If someone hasn’t visited the campus, just toss this book in front of them. Then they’ll get the picture,” said Neil White.
—Emily Gatlin, Editor-in-Chief, HottyToddy.com