JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A University of Mississippi donor has asked for his name to be removed from the university's journalism school following a social media post criticized for an "unjustified racial overtone," the journalism school's dean said.
Dean Will Norton Jr. on Saturday said Ed Meek sent him a statement apologizing for his post and requesting to have his name removed from the School of Journalism and New Media.
Meek had written a Facebook post Wednesday with photos of two black women in short dresses, suggesting they exemplify problems that cause real estate values to fall. Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter condemned the racial overtone of the post as "highly offensive." It has since been removed. Faculty members on Friday had urged Meek to voluntarily remove his name from the school.
"It was never my intention to cast the problems our community faces as a racial issue. I do not believe that to be the case," Meek wrote in his statement.
Meek said he particularly wanted to apologize to the women depicted, saying he was "wrong" to post the photos. He said he "loves" the university and the journalism school too much to have it held back by having his name attached to the school.
Meek led Ole Miss public relations for 37 years starting in 1964. The School of Journalism and New Media was named for him after he and his wife donated $5.3 million in 2009.
"My desire then and now is for the School of Journalism to be a global leader in Journalism education," Meek said. "I recognize that the attachment of my name to the School of Journalism is no longer in the best interest of that vision."
Meek's post came following months of debate in Oxford over whether and how to control underage drinking and crowds around the town's iconic downtown square. Aldermen voted earlier this month to require businesses serving alcohol to install cameras and other systems to verify identification. The debate prompted allegations of racism aimed at a concert hall that saw shots fired at a party that welcomed an African-American audience last spring, as well as claims that it was unnecessary surveillance.