Eleven successful University of Wisconsin Oshkosh graduates have been chosen to receive top honors for 2023 by the Alumni Association Board of Directors. In the months leading up to Homecoming—during which they’ll be honored at an on-campus ceremony—we will introduce you to these outstanding alumni. The full list of award winners is available here.
As a former colleague put it, Jeffery Gerritt “epitomizes public service and public trust journalism.”
His career in journalism now spans more than 35 years and the 1978 UW Oshkosh graduate has won more than 60 national and state journalism awards—including a Pulitzer Prize in 2020. He now works as the editorial page editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Gerritt, who majored in philosophy and music at UWO, has earned a Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater. He’s one of seven alumni who’ll be recognized with this award for their professional accomplishments by the UWO Alumni Association at Homecoming this fall.
“Throughout his career, Gerritt has highlighted the importance of newspapers for a democratic society,” said William Ketter, that former colleague. “He has a unique ability to provoke reflection, to view with alarm what might otherwise be accepted complacently, to create issues for debate and to offer solutions for positive change.”
Gerritt grew up in Oshkosh and Milwaukee and after earning his bachelor’s degree from UWO, obtained a master’s in journalism from Marquette University.
In those days he went by Jeffery Kleinhuizen. It wasn’t until he began writing columns at the Detroit Free Press that he swapped out his last name for his father’s first name to avoid future confusion over pronunciation.
Detroit was one of several stops on a journalism career that began at The Northwestern in Oshkosh. He also worked in Green Bay and Toledo, Ohio and his Pulitzer Prize—the most prestigious award in journalism—was for editorials he wrote as editor of the Palestine Herald-Press in Palestine, Texas. The series was about pre-trial inmates dying horrific deaths in a small Texas county jail and attempted cover-ups by the local sheriff and judicial establishment.
“Once I became an editorial writer, the skills that I learned as a philosophy major at UW Oshkosh really came to the fore,” he told the University in 2020. “The logical deductive reasoning to make arguments, that is very much part of editorial writing. I think it was invaluable that I was a philosophy major at UW Oshkosh and I had some very good teachers there. I got a lot out of it.”
The 2023 Alumni Awards Celebration will be held Oct. 27 at the Culver Family Welcome Center, with a reception at 5 p.m. followed by the dinner and program beginning at 6 p.m. The cost of the event is $40 per person. For more information, contact UWO’s Alumni Relations Office at (920) 424-3449 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register for the Alumni Awards Celebration here.