Profound Professors: Dr. Otis Pickett

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What is a profound professor? A quick search through the Oxford English Dictionary can provide a definition. 

Profound (adj.) - of a person: characterized by intellectual depth; having great insight into or knowledge of something; very learned

Professor (n.) - a person who proclaims or publicly declares something; a university academic of the highest rank

However, when I think of profound professors I don't think of a dictionary entry. I think of the professors I have encountered during my time at Mississippi College. These professors truly are profound and are making a difference in their fields and in the lives of the students they teach. 

Although I have never taken one of Dr. Otis Pickett's classes, I have heard laud after laud from countless students and faculty members, and after interviewing him, I concur that Mississippi College is lucky to have a professor as passionate as Dr. Pickett. 

                                                Dr. Pickett, courtesy of the Beacon 

                                                Dr. Pickett, courtesy of the Beacon 

His Background 

Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, Dr. Pickett was surrounded by history and furthered his love of history by majoring in history at Clemson University. However, being a historian by profession was not always in the plan. 

              1849 Map of Charleson, South Caroline, courtesy of AMDOCS 

Actually, Dr. Pickett attended seminary after graduation in hopes of becoming a pastor. As he progressed through seminary, he realized he excelled in the history based courses, and with the encouragement of current and past professors, he applied for graduate school. Several years later, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi. 

His Work

Dr. Pickett is an Antebellum and Colonial to Reconstruction historian with a passion for the 19th century and a budding interest in the 20th century. He believes that the 19th century is the time when America becomes the nation it is today. During that time, the country  radically changed as slavery ended, and the effects of that era are still evident in the racial problems that inflict America today. This is where Dr. Pickett is most passionate, especially when race and the church intersect. He has published three articles in the past few years, his most recent on the Monroe Mission and the Chickasaw Nation, and is currently working on a book.

                 The historical war map, courtesy of the University of Georgia

                 The historical war map, courtesy of the University of Georgia


His Ministry 

Dr. Pickett's love for Christ is evident. He holds a Bible study on Monday afternoons with four students. In his classes, he tries to show students the connection between history and their walk with Christ, but he isn't just talk. Dr. Pickett lives out what he preaches. About four years ago, Dr. Pickett and Dr.  Patrick Alexander, an Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi, began work on what is now called the Prison to College Pipeline program. The idea stemmed from a desire to show Christ-like love to the incarcerated population of our nation.  Through this program, inmates are given the opportunity to gain college credit and a sense of purpose. It's a simple but effective way to invest in the dignity of people who are largely marginalized by society. 

Dr. Alexander and Dr. Pickett courtesy of the Beacon 

Dr. Alexander and Dr. Pickett courtesy of the Beacon 

It's this genuine concern for the welfare of others and the passion for his field that cause others to point to Dr. Pickett as a profound professor. He will no doubt be an asset to Mississippi College and an inspiration for his students for years to come. 

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