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Commercial Appeal Editor Sanford Named to U of M Chair of Excellence University News
For release: June 25, 2010

For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843

Otis Sanford
Otis Sanford
Otis Sanford, a veteran editor with The Commercial Appeal, will occupy the Helen and Jabie Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economics/Managerial Journalism in the Journalism Department of the University of Memphis. His appointment was recommended by the University’s College of Communication and Fine Arts and approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents at its June 2010 meeting.

Sanford’s current position with the E.W. Scripps Company’s Memphis daily is that of editor of opinions and editorials, which he has held since 2007. Before assuming those duties, he had served the newspaper as its managing editor from 2002 to 2007 and as deputy managing editor from 1994 to 2002. From 1977 to 1987, Sanford had worked as a reporter and assistant metro editor for The Commercial Appeal.

He is nationally recognized as a speaker on journalism ethics, education, and the First Amendment and has lectured at colleges such as Vanderbilt, Indiana University, Florida A&M, and Hampton University.

Sanford said of his appointment, “I am thrilled to be joining the faculty at the U of M, one of the major pillars in this community. Journalism education has always been one of my passions, and I have had a longstanding relationship with the U of M Journalism Department. I see this as an opportunity to have a significant impact on the study and discussion of journalism in an urban setting.”

Dr. Richard Ranta, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Art (CCFA), and Dr. David Arant, chairman of the Journalism Department, which is housed in the CCFA, praised the Sanford appointment. “I am very pleased that a senior journalist and community leader of Mr. Sanford’s experience and stature will occupy the Hardin Chair in Journalism,” Ranta said. “He has worked closely with the U of M’s Journalism Department for many years, including direct involvement with the city’s young people who produce The Teen Appeal, a cooperative program between the Journalism Department and The Commercial Appeal that is supported by a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation.”

Welcoming Sanford to a “strong and engaged journalism faculty,” Arant said, “We are fortunate that he has accepted our invitation at a time when the news industry is redefining itself. As the current president of the Associated Press Managing Editors, Mr. Sanford is involved in these discussions at the highest level. He also has a strong presence in Memphis, and we expect his association with our department to expand our outreach to the community and to enhance our impact on the journalism profession.”

A native of Como, Miss., and a 1975 graduate of the University of Mississippi, Sanford began his newspaper career as a reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. He also worked with The Pittsburgh Press as assistant city editor from 1987 to 1992 and with The Detroit Free Press as deputy city editor from 1992 to 1994.

While with the Memphis newspaper, Sanford launched The Desoto Appeal, a separate edition of The Commercial Appeal for Desoto County, Miss., and The Teen Appeal, a high school newspaper for Memphis City School students. He also taught news writing at the University of Memphis and advanced reporting, in the newsroom of The Commercial Appeal, for University of Mississippi seniors and graduate students.

Sanford is on the board of directors of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, and this year he is president of the board. He also serves on the Journalism Alumni Advisory Committee at the University of Mississippi and the board of directors of the Mid-America Press Institute, where he also served earlier as board chairman.

He is a board member of the Mid-South Food Bank and a former board member of Junior Achievement.

Sanford has been recognized many times during his career. He was awarded the prestigious Silver Em Award from the University of Mississippi Journalism Department in 2005, the same year that the annual print journalism award at the University of Memphis was named in his honor.

He has received the E.W. Scripps Company’s William R. Burleigh Award for Distinguished Community Service, and he has been named to the African-American Hall of Fame by the Black Business Association of Memphis.

He was inducted into the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame in 2000 and was named Alumnus of the Year in 1999 by Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he received his associate’s degree in 1973.

Sanford is married; he and his wife have four children.

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