I had many quotes about retiring Ole Miss political science professor John Winkle that I could not fit into today’s story. Here is more of what was left in my notebook.
Also, use this space to share your own thoughts and recollections about John Winkle in the comments section below.
I actually was taught by Winkle for Honors 101 during the fall of 2001 and Honors 102 the ensuing spring. I considered him my favorite and the best professor I had during my studies at Ole Miss,a sentiment shared by many of the former students I interviewed. He has long been someone I’ve held in high regard. He also was my advisor for my undergraduate thesis, which analyzed minor league baseball in New Orleans. The project benefited much from his oversight and I learned much about an in-depth research project – lessons I continue to use as a journalist. He was very sick on the day of my defense, but was there without a complaint about his discomfort.
I really appreciated the quote of John Bruce, chair and associate professor of political science at the university. It was such an appropriate summary of what Winkle meant to the university and to those he taught and worked with:
“I think what Professor Winkle has done at the university makes him singularly unique in terms of his relationships with students, with the university and with the academic world…He is unlike anyone else I am aware of. You get someone once a generation who has this kind of impact on students.”
That quote did make today’s story, but here are many others that did not because of space constraints.
U.S. District Court Judge
“Dr. Winkle was a fine teacher and a good role model. He was not a lawyer at that time though he taught Constitutional Law in the political science department. I took everything he taught. I also worked with him when I was in the legislature and he served as reporter for several committees on which I served as a member. He is top-flight in every way and must have a satisfied mind for he has not aged a bit in 35 years.”
2005 Tupelo High School
alum and currently education outreach specialist for the Eudora Welty House I used a quote from Wynn that spoke about Winkle being genuine and not trying to be inspiring – which is what made him inspiring.
Wynn also spoke about how Winkle would invite classes to his home to meet his family and how we would often see the professor at classmate’s weddings.
“What stood out was his investment in you, the fact he cared,” he said.
President of Tupelo’s B & B Concerete who took Winkle’s political science classes during the 70s…He is also former president of the Ole Miss alumni association
“My recollection was he came to class well prepared. He had a high energy level in the class.”
“He had a high standard of expectation for his students, but he was a very supportive and encouraging professor, even with the high level of expectation and the excellence he expected.”
“When I think about professors I was blessed to be associated with at Ole Miss, John Winkle is on the short list. I have the highest appreciation for his impact on me and the highest regard for his influence on the university. He truly was an outstanding member and representative of the Ole Miss family.”
Rachel Williamson Donald
2006 Tupelo High School graduate who now works as implementation manager for a health-care software company in Birmingham She had Winkle for both of his freshman honors college courses and then got him for every class she could. She was a political science major. He also was here honors thesis advisor.
“He was the very best. He was absolutely brilliant. He had this understanding of constitutional law, this depth of understanding that was captivating. He really taught in a way that made you want to understand it and grasp it.”
“He was very much a mentor to me and still is.”
“Constitutional law is very heady, especially when you are getting back to things so early in American history. The temptation is to memorize dates, facts, rules and the precedent it set. He so understood the climate, the political climate of the time, no matter when it was and what was going on and the true historical moment that it happened in. That is why he loved it. He grasped decisions that even on paper looked like nothing interesting. He would make it come alive.
“I just wanted so much to have that knowledge and to learn it from his point of view.”
Dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College
“Dr. Winkle was integral to the formation of the honors college, and he has been a key component to its success this past decade.”
(What set him apart was) “his experience, his engaging personality and his love of teaching.”
Chair and associate professor of political science
“His class is extremely hard and students make their first ‘C’ and will look at you and say it is the best class I ever took. That is a remarkable tribute.”
“John is an extraordinarily nice guy. That is a bonus on top of everything else when you get someone you want to have in the building.”
“There is only one John Winkle. We can’t pretend to replace him. We’ll hire someone and we’ll move on.”