Indiana University

Indiana University Journalism

School banquet celebrates six distinguished alumni

Kourtney Liepelt | Sept. 29, 2013
three winners
Photo by Ben Wiggins
From left, Dan K. Thomasson, Nancy Weaver Teichert and Bill Foley are three of the six recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award. The school celebrated the winners Saturday.
Courage was the common denominator for Saturday night’s six 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.

Though the experiences of the alumni varied significantly, from reporting from the ranks of the U.S. Army during World War II to making contributions to IU journalism facilities, each shared the bravery and commitment to preserving a high journalistic standards and producing great journalism, said keynote speaker Paul Tash, CEO of the Tampa Bay Times and past DAA recipient.

“They should nourish our resolve and remind us that journalism is a bold endeavor,” he told the alumni, their family and their friends during the ceremony and reception at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center.

The celebration allowed the alumni and their relatives and friends, and faculty, staff and students to join in recognition of these varied achievements.

Recipients of the awards were:
  • The late Mark Ferree, ’26, LHD’77, who served as executive vice president and director of E.W. Scripps Co., and was president of the American Newspaper Publishers Association;
  • The late David B. Richardson, BA’40, who covered World War II from the battlefield for the U.S. Army’s weekly magazine and later worked as a foreign correspondent for Time, Life and U.S. News & World Report;
  • The late Miriam Meloy Sturgeon, BA’38, MA’40, who established IU’s first journalism library and raised funds for the renovation of Ernie Pyle Hall;
  • Bill Foley, ’77, BA’07, photojournalist who documented events around the globe and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983;
  • Dan K. Thomasson, BS’60, who reported from Washington for 40 years, was vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers and continues to write a syndicated column; and
  • Nancy Weaver Teichert, BA’76, who spent her career as an investigative journalist at the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, the Denver Post and the Sacramento Bee, and who shared in the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Photo by Ben Wiggins
Poynter CEO Paul Tash, who received the award in 2011, gave the keynote address and discussed courage among the six journalists honored this year.
Senior Charlie Scudder welcomed the crowd, expressing his admiration for the accomplishments of those being honored and the inspiration they offer for students in the school today.

“It’s all of you who make me and my peers strive every day to be the best in the nation,” said Scudder, who earlier this year won the Hearst Journalism Awards Program's national writing championship.

In her remarks, Interim Dean Lesa Hatley Major said the program will continue to maintain the standards, traditions and values that serve as the core of the School of Journalism. She referred to the proposal to return the school to the College of Arts and Sciences, where it could be part of a larger media school, and promised alumni that principles of journalism that helped shape the talents of alumni and current students will remain in place whatever happens with the proposal.

A multimedia presentation depicted the ways the recipients used their education at IU throughout their careers, after which the honored alumnus or representative of the honorees received the awards.

Sentiments of reverence, enthusiasm and pride filled the air after the awards were bestowed, and honorees and their families reflected on evening.

Mark Harris, Ferree’s great-nephew and namesake, said the newspaper business remained his great-uncle’s passion, beginning when Harris’s family owned the Palladium-Item in Richmond, Ind. As it turned out, this period of time became the most significant memory Harris has of his relationship with his great-uncle, he said.

“He was very instrumental in helping our family continue that tradition in our community,” Harris said.

weaver, thomasson
Photo by Ben Wiggins
Professor emeritus David Weaver, who received the award in 2012, chatted with 2013 winner Dan K. Thomasson, right, retired vice president at Scripps Howard who continues to write a syndicated column.
Sally Hart, who attended the ceremony with her sister to accept the award on behalf of their mother, Miriam Meloy Sturgeon, said she was ecstatic and honored that her mother was recognized by such renowned journalists. Not only did Sturgeon make tremendous contributions to the school, she said, but she was also a great parent.

“She’s one of the people I most aspire to be like,” Hart said.

DAA recipient Bill Foley recalled receiving the news of the award from Interim Dean Lesa Hatley Major with surprise and happiness.

“It’s very exciting to be honored, and to be here and see everyone,” said Foley, who teaches at Marian University in Indianapolis.

Foley’s neighbors echoed his excitement. Angela Espada, who lives near Foley in Indianapolis, expressed admiration for not only his accomplishments, but for all of those being honored at the ceremony.

“You hear so much speculation about journalism and how times are changing,” she said. “To see that the School of Journalism is honoring people in a variety of different media is exciting.”

To some, the awards are more than simply honors. Nancy Weaver Teichert, BA’76, said she hopes to inspire other journalists to continue telling the truth and maintaining quality in their work.

She said she was honored to be in the company of the other five recipients.

“I’m just so proud to be here among these other talented journalists,” she said.

While it was a great pleasure to be honored by the school, said Dan Thomasson, BS’60, the true testament to his achievements is his day-to-day experiences. He never once had a bad day, and the freedom he was permitted throughout his career made it “extraordinary,” he said.

“It’s always nice to come home again and have someone say you’ve done something great with your life,” said Thomasson, adding that he was extremely humbled to be included in such great company.

IU Director of Student Media Ron Johnson accepted the award on behalf of David B. Richardson. Johnson said Richardson’s career is comparable to Ernie Pyle’s, though Richardson’s voice reached the men on the frontline during World War II, whereas Pyle’s reports served a broader audience.

Photo by Ben Wiggins
Photojournalist and recipient Bill Foley had some fun with the table decorations, which featured a collage of photos from the lives of all six winners.
Johnson said he was proud to accept the award on the Richardson family’s behalf.

“It was very special to be asked and humbling because of the work he did,” Johnson said.

The process of deciding who will be awarded is no easy task, said Del Brinkman, member of the journalism alumni board’s DAA selection committee. This year’s honorees derived from a competitive pool of candidates, but there’s no doubt that those selected are qualified and worthy, he said.

“You can hardly go wrong when you’ve got outstanding candidates,” Brinkman said.

The school established the Distinguished Alumni Awards in 2011 as part of the centennial celebration. Fifteen alumni were honored at the inaugural ceremony, and 10 received the award last year.


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