Wilkie leads off Conerly Forum lectures Monday

Curtis Wilkie

Mississippi State's political science and public administration department is announcing the first guest for a new public lecture series at the university.

The Lamar Conerly Governance Forum debuts Monday [Nov. 17] with an address by author and former reporter Curtis Wilkie, now a member of the University of Mississippi journalism faculty. Free and open to all, "Mississippi: A Writer's Dream" begins at 2 p.m. in the Swalm Chemical Engineering Building's fourth-floor suite.

Wilkie is a Greenville native and 1963 UM journalism graduate.

To focus on contemporary issues in governance, legal affairs and public policy, the Conerly Governance Forum Lecture Series is made possible with the support of its namesake and his wife Tracy.

A 1971 MSU accounting/pre-law graduate, Lamar Conerly is a partner in the Destin, Florida, law firm of Conerly, Bowman and Dykes LLP. Long active in university affairs, he is a former national MSU Alumni Association president who also was honored in 2004 with selection as an Alumni Fellow of the College of Business.

Wilkie has a storied career. Early on, he was a reporter and editor of the Clarksdale Press Register at a time when the Mississippi civil rights movement was at its height. From 1971-74, he was reporter and editor of the News-Journal in Wilmington, Delaware.

Honored with a congressional fellowship by the American Political Science Association, he spent two years in Washington, D.C., as a legislative aide for Sen. Walter F. Mondale (D-Minn.) and Rep. John Brademas (D-Ind.).

Prior to retiring from professional reporting at end of the 2000 presidential campaign, Wilkie had covered seven presidential campaigns. In addition to serving as chief of the Boston Globe's Washington bureau and White House correspondent, he led in establishing the Globe's Middle East bureau, from which he covered numerous wars and conflicts for more than a decade. In 1993, he opened the Globe's Southern bureau in New Orleans, where he covered regional and national affairs until his retirement.

In 2007, he was named Overby Fellow in Journalism at Ole Miss and has served since as a visiting professor. For more, see www.overbycenter.org/curtiswilkieprofile.htm.

As an author, Wilkie perhaps is best known for "The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer." Released in 2011, it tells the story of the federal investigation, arrest, trail and conviction of fellow Oxfordian and superlawyer Richard F. "Dickie" Scruggs.

He also is the author of "Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern South," and, most recently, "Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest: Fifty Pieces from the Road." He is co-author of "Arkansas Mischief: Birth of a National Scandal" and a contributor to "City Adrift: New Orleans Before and After Katrina."

MSU political science instructor Whit Waide, a forum co-coordinator, said Wilkie was chosen specifically as the inaugural Conerly Forum speaker "not only because of his monumental presence in American political journalism, but also because we believe he is a good representative of the type of person we are seeking as future lecturers."

Waide also expressed appreciation for Conerly's support, which he said gives the department and university opportunities to bring four of the "best communicators of American thought" to campus each year. He said the series "offers a unique educational experience beyond the classroom that is vital to learning not just for students, but for professors as well."

"We are so thankful for Mr. Conerly's generosity and the vision he lends to the series," Waide said. "At its core, the Conerly Governance Forum enables us to bring a much bigger slice of the world to the students of Mississippi State, the future leaders of Mississippi and beyond."

For additional information about the forum, contact Quintara Miller at 662-325-2711 or qmiller@pspa.msstate.edu.

Learn more about the political science and public administration department at www.pspa.msstate.edu.

Complete details about Mississippi's flagship research university may be found at www.msstate.edu, facebook.com/msstate, instagram.com/msstate and twitter.com/msstate.

Sasha Steinberg | Public Affairs

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