Professor Otis Pickett Joins Mississippi College History Faculty
May 21, 2013
Growing up in South Carolina, Otis Pickett often gazed at Fort Sumter from his front window, and the historical site of the first shots of the Civil War really left an impression.
As a young boy, Otis took short rides on his bike to Fort Moultrie, the location of the Battle of Sullivan’s Island in 1776 where Colonel William Moultrie helped drive away the British fleet from a siege of the Charleston harbor.
History was always a big part of his life. Fast forward to the summer of 2013 when Pickett will join the Mississippi College faculty as a history professor.
“I cannot remember a time when some knowledgeable person (from my great grandmother to my Ph.D. advisor) was not teaching me about the history of my surroundings,” Pickett said. “Therefore, I decided that I wanted to teach others about history for a living.”
Starting on the Clinton campus in late August, Pickett will teach such classes as U.S. history, Southern religious history, Mississippi history as well as geography and social studies methods. He will work with future secondary social studies teachers as a supervisor of their student teaching.
Pickett comes to Mississippi College fresh from winning a top honor as the 2013 Outstanding Teacher of the Year in the University of Mississippi School of Education. He worked for a year as a clinical assistant professor of secondary education with the Ole Miss School of Education at its Tupelo campus.
He’s passionate about history and enjoys mentoring future educators.
Pickett eagerly anticipates the opportunities ahead at America’s second oldest Baptist college.
“I believe that everything is held together by Christ Jesus and that He is the reason why I can do anything,” Pickett said. “I find that when I am teaching and mentoring students, I am using my gifts to glorify and praise Him. I am thankful to work in a place that recognizes this truth, freely proclaims this and supports faculty with this worldview.”
The 32-year-old South Carolina native received his bachelor’s degree in history from Clemson University in 2003. He earned a master’s in theological studies at Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri and a master’s in American history in 2008 from the University of Charleston and The Citadel. In 2013, he was awarded a doctorate in U.S. history at Ole Miss in Oxford.
One of his memorable experiences was working as a docent at the L.Q.C. Lamar House Museum in Oxford in 2012 where he gave tours of the facility to visiting dignitaries, including Caroline Kennedy. At Ole Miss, he worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of History and chaired its graduate advisory committee.
An avid reader, writer, film buff, bluegrass music fan, and frequent visitor to historical sites, Pickett also stays involved in his community. He helped launch the Oxford chapter of Mission Mississippi that seeks to promote racial reconciliation of people in churches around the Magnolia State. He makes his growing family a big priority. He and his wife, Julie, who first met as Clemson undergraduates, are the parents of two children, Martha Jane, 5, and Otis, Jr., 2. A second son, Thomas, is due to be born in June. Julie Thome Pickett works for the Southern Foodways Alliance, and will continue her duties once the family moves to metro Jackson.
“She has supported me faithfully all throughout graduate school, and is the reason why I have been able to accomplish anything.”
The professor is familiar with the Clinton area and its attractions, from the Natchez Trace Parkway to MC landmarks like Provine Chapel that opened its doors in 1860. Several of the resources he used for his dissertation were at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, a few miles from Mississippi College.
“I remember driving through the MC campus and noting how beautiful it was,” Otis Pickett said. “I never thought I would be blessed to have the opportunity to be a faculty member here. It is a blessing for sure.”
Photo: Professor Otis Pickett, his wife, Julie, and their two children Martha Jane, 5, and Otis, Jr., 2