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Cronkite dean says award honors many

August 06, 2010

Cronkite School dean Christopher Callahan, accepting the Scripps Howard Journalism Administrator of the Year Award, said the recognition is “much more of a team award than an individual honor.”

“The award to me is similar to a ‘Coach of the Year Award,’” Callahan said in his acceptance remarks before several hundred journalism educators at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

“The Cronkite School has made great progress over the past five years because of a great team,” he said, crediting an accomplished faculty, inspiring students, a university president who encourages experimentation and innovation, supporters such as the Scripps Howard Foundation and a dedicated staff led by two “incomparable” associate deans – Marianne Barrett and Kristin Gilger.

Scripps Howard Foundation President and CEO Mike Philipps presented the award, which recognizes leadership in journalism education.

The foundation said Callahan was selected because of “the endless energy, exuberant vision and incredible fortitude that allowed him to move the Cronkite School into a program of excellence, positioned amazingly well for a 21st century media world.”

Callahan said the Scripps Howard Award had special meaning to him because of three past recipients who had a “tremendous impact” on his career.

Two were former journalism deans at the University of Maryland: the late Reese Cleghorn, who brought Callahan into journalism education from the newsroom, and Tom Kunkel, now president of St. Norbert College, a mentor whom Callahan credits as the most important influence on his professional life.

The third was Douglas Anderson, dean at Penn State University who as director of the Cronkite School for 12 years built the school from a regional program to national prominence.

“Without Doug Anderson and his work at the Cronkite School, I can assure you I would not be here today,” Callahan said.

Callahan came to Cronkite as the school’s founding dean in 2005 after serving as associate dean at Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism under Kunkel and Cleghorn.

In the five years since, he has launched new professional programs such as Cronkite News Service, the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, the New Media Innovation Lab and Cronkite NewsWatch, a 30-minute newscast that airs nightly on PBS across Arizona. He nearly doubled the size of the full-time faculty and brought on national figures such as Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor of The Washington Post, former CNN anchor Aaron Brown and former Minneapolis Star Tribune editor Tim McGuire.

He also brought to Cronkite the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, ABC News on Campus, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program for international journalists and the Carnegie-Knight News21 digital media initiative.

In addition, he has raised more than $30 million, led the school’s move to a new state-of-the-art building in downtown Phoenix and led a revision of the curriculum with a new emphasis on high standards, digital media, innovation, entrepreneurship and professional program experiences for students.

In his concluding remarks, Callahan reflected on the school’s namesake, the late Walter Cronkite.

“The one person missing tonight is our school's namesake – and my friend,” the dean said. “We lost Walter last year after he served as our guiding light and inspirational leader for 25 years. But his spirit and values live on each and every day in our students and our faculty. And I can think of no better legacy for a great journalist, and our journalism school."