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Since 1968 the Department of Journalism has graduated more than 2,600 students who have gone on to careers in a variety of disciplines. Meet our award-winning journalism alumni.
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50 Years of UWO Journalism
Dr. David “Doc” Lippert founds the Department of Journalism in the College of Letters and Science at the Wisconsin State University of Oshkosh to train news reporters. The Oshkosh Advance, the student newspaper that Lippert renames as the Oshkosh Advance-Titan, and the Quiver, the student yearbook, operate out of the “White House,” which today is a parking lot next to the Multicultural Education Center. In 1969, the first four journalism students graduate: Eileen Hammer, David Hawk, Philip Meyer and Steve Van Vuren.
U.S. newspapers in the late 1960s report on protests, Vietnam War demonstrations and civil rights activism. This campus experiences a significant protest on November 21, 1968 when 94 African-American students hold a demonstration in the university president’s office. This event, remembered as “Black Thursday” as named by the Oshkosh Advance-Titan, encourages some students to pursue journalism.
The journalism department moves into the former UAW Hall, a swayback building at 732 High Ave., where the Clow parking lot is now located. In 1969, there were two faculty members in the department with Lippert (front right) – Harrison Youngren (back left) and Gary Coll (back middle). Judy Schultz had joined in 1967 when Lippert was planning the department.
Sigma Delta Chi, now known as the Society of Professional Journalists, establishes a chapter at UW Oshkosh in February 1972. In May 1979, a chapter of the Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society is established at UW Oshkosh. A ceremony is held for KTA inductees every spring.
The Oshkosh Advance-Titan wins its first Pacemaker Award, sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press. To see how the student newspaper has changed over the years, browse our A-T gallery with more than 100 years of front pages.
Journalism moves from the basement of Radford Hall to the inner section of Clow, formerly occupied by audio-visual. All faculty offices are now in one building. It includes a modern $30,000 photo facility with a darkroom and 12 enlarging stations. The Advance-Titan temporarily remains in the Radford basement. The journalism department was housed in Clow for 33 years, the longest of any location.
The department gains accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). The department maintains its academic rigor for this national accreditation evident in reviews every six years.
In 1980 the UW Oshkosh American Advertising Federation chapter is established, providing national opportunities for the advertising-public relations sequence.
Linda Lord-Jenkins, ’74, is the journalism department’s first recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, presented by the university’s Alumni Association. It is awarded to alumni who have graduated within the previous 15 years, and have shown professional and civic accomplishments and future promise. Since then, the department has had a total of 28 alumni win the award. To learn about their accomplishments, see our award-winning alumni profiles.
In May, the UW Oshkosh Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America is established, overseen by Dr. Harvey Jacobson. Photography Club was created in 2004 when there was a high demand for Photo II class and limited seats available.
The Advance-Titan moves to Reeve Union during Radford Hall renovations. The move was intended to be temporary but Reeve became the newspaper’s permanent home where it still operates. Today the A-T also provides news online.
Ad students finish 10th in the AAF’s National Student Advertising Competition, the first team from UW Oshkosh to finish in the Top 10 nationally. Four of the five presenters would later be selected by the university as Outstanding Young Alumni: Anne (Angoli) Enright, Jeff Maki, Chuck Monn and Mike Fredrick. Regional ad wins continue over the years, with the most recent being third place in 2017.
The Journalism Advisory Board forms to provide faculty with professional insight for curriculum, internships and strategic initiatives. Long-serving board members include Ron Montgomery ‘84, who has served on the board since its first year, and John Giesfeldt ‘88, the current president.
Paul Anger, ’72, then editor and vice president of The Des Moines Register, is the department’s first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. It is the highest honor alumni can receive from the university’s Alumni Association. Since then, the department has had six alumni win the award. To learn about their accomplishments, see our award-winning alumni profiles.
MySpace launches in 2003. It is followed by Facebook in 2004 and YouTube in 2005. Social media and blogs redefine the journalism industry. Photography Club is created due to high demand for Photo II class and limited seats. The department adapts to the digital environment with classes like Online Publishing in 2005 and New & Emerging Media in 2010. Later the Interactive Web Management program partners with the journalism department to provide students with a cross-disciplinary media curriculum.
Barb Schmitz Benish ’82 (MBA ’92), former Oshkosh Northwestern city editor and adjunct instructor, takes on the role of internship coordinator for the department. Working with more than 50 organizations each year, she has helped the department attain a rate of 90% of students graduating with one or more internships. Benish also serves as executive secretary for NEWSPA, the Northeastern Wisconsin Scholastic Press Association, which Coll established in 1969 to promote the field of journalism to high school students.
PRSSA wins first place in the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition (NODAC), and again in 2008. PRSSA becomes an award-winning chapter, eventually being renamed the Dr. Julie Henderson PRSSA Chapter in 2012 in honor of its dedicated public relations professor and adviser (pictured above). Among recent awards, PRSSA won a star chapter award for 2017, second place for NODAC in 2017 and an honorable mention for the Bateman Competition in 2018.
Journalism continues to add online content courses, such as New and Emerging Media and Application of New and Emerging Media. This effort leads to collaboration with the interdisciplinary Interactive Web Management program with the College of Business. The department also launches its social media presence, which includes a WordPress blog, and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts.
Jim VandeHei ’95 receives an honorary doctorate from UW Oshkosh for his exceptional accomplishments and record of distinctive service as founder and executive editor of Politico. VandeHei later went on to start Axios in 2016.
The journalism department is granted the Certification in Education for Public Relations by the Public Relations Society of America, becoming the first university in Wisconsin to receive this distinction.
In August, the department moves into the third floor of the new academic building, Sage Hall. The space features three journalism labs, a photography studio and a spacious reading room that features the department’s vintage “Journalism” sign from Clow. Chair Mike Cowling (pictured with academic department associate Cindy Schultz) and faculty welcomed back alumni for an alumni reunion featuring several panel sessions, an open house and tour of the new facilities.
The department rolls out the new public relations major, the first of its kind in the UW System, through the leadership of Henderson prior to her retirement. The new major is eyed as a growth opportunity due to demand in the field.
The department introduces the multimedia journalism major, which merges the writing and visual emphases to keep curriculum on pace with technology and practice in the field, as well as changing demands for online and mobile content.
The department welcomes alumni to celebrate its 50th, planning a professional development day on Oct. 19 at Sage Hall and an evening celebration on Oct. 20 at the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center. Events will feature more than 40 alumni speakers, including Jim VandeHei of Axios and Mariah Haberman of Discover Wisconsin, who will receive this year’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Many special guests plan to join our alumni, including Coll, Dr. Peggy Davidson, Jacobson and Judy Schultz.