Just learned that one of the giants in the field of media management and economics– Dr. Mary Alice Shaver– passed away this week.
Even though I won’t be able to attend her memorial service tomorrow in Fearrington Village, North Carolina, I can use the same mass communication that Mary Alice researched and taught thousands of students to use to celebrate her life and the impact that she had on up-and-coming media management scholars like me.
“Media Management and Economics, as well as the academy at large, has lost a star,” said Ken Killibrew, the current head of the Media Management and Economics Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
I remember first talking to Mary Alice when she was on the faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and I was considering doctoral programs in mass communication.
While I didn’t end up at Chapel Hill, I certainly ran into Mary Alice again and again as I presented research projects in media management at regional and national conferences.
I vividly remember sitting in on a panel one year at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium (in Chapel Hill, NC) where Mary Alice talked about what one needed to do to get published in academic journals.
In his statement this evening, Killibrew remembered Mary Alice as “a tough scholar with extraordinary standards who challenged each of us to do our best.”
I would definitely agree.
When news of Mary Alice’s passing came tonight, I immediately thought back to one of those cheesy grip-and-grin photos that we’re never supposed to take in journalism. (The ones we tell our students to avoid)
I was in one of those grip-and-grin photos in August 2000 as Mary Alice presented me a research award for a paper written from data collected for my master’s thesis at The University of Georgia.
Despite the cliche nature of the photograph, it now has special meaning as it’s a way for me to visually reflect the link I had as a graduate student to one who had such an influence on our field.
She’s one of the giants in the field who actually knew me by name. As I continue to make contributions to media management, I do so with a mandate to be excellent and to follow the example that Mary Alice Shaver set for so many of us.