When Robert Jordan took a job as the University of Mississippi’s photographer in 1984, he stepped into some pretty big shoes.
His predecessor was Jack Cofield, the longtime university shutterbug and son of J.R. “Colonel” Cofield, William Faulkner’s personal photographer and photographer for the UM yearbook. The father-and-son Cofield duo had spent decades chronicling Ole Miss events both minor and momentous.
Jordan, on the other hand, was fresh out of college, with just four months’ experience at the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville.
But according to Dr. Alice Clark, Ole Miss’ interim vice chancellor for university relations, Jordan rose to the challenge beautifully, shooting more than a million photos and mentoring dozens of aspiring photographers.
“We have all seen firsthand how Robert’s work shapes the way people view Ole Miss,” Clark said at a retirement reception honoring Jordan Wednesday in Bryant Hall. “His images and his talent have been instrumental in showing people in our state and around the world how Ole Miss transforms lives and communities.”
Jordan announced his retirement plans earlier this month. Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat, in a university press release, praised him as “a gifted artist,” adding, “He could make that camera talk. He is quiet, unobtrusive, humble, kind and patient. He would take the time to shoot an assignment over and over until he got exactly what we needed, and he made remarkable contributions to the university that will be treasured and studied forever.”
Clark said Jordan’s photos, showcased on the university’s website, have inspired countless people to visit the campus. “Ole Miss has a long legacy of fostering great storytellers, most of whom use the written or spoken word to tell stories. Robert is also a legendary storyteller, using images to convey the story of this beautiful institution, of its outstanding people and the stellar achievements being accomplished here.”
Jordan has won numerous College Public Relations Association of Mississippi awards, as well as honors from the University Photographers’ Association of America and the Council of Advancement and Support of Education.
Jordan and fellow Ole Miss photographers Kevin Bain and Nathan Latil even published a book, “Ole Miss: A Photographic Essay,” in 2013.
Jordan also volunteers with Nine Lives Cat Rescue and photographs cats available for adoption at the Oxford-Lafayette County Humane Shelter.
“Eudora Welty once said, ‘A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.’ Robert, all those countless moments you captured in your one million photographs have given us the cherished memories that will never fade,” Clark told Jordan at the reception. “And that is your true gift to our university and to each of us, and it will stand as your legacy.”
Rick Hynum is editor-in-chief of HottyToddy.com. Email him at email@example.com.