It’s funny how important a single encounter with a person can be.
On Sunday, two retired journalism educators, with whom I had only a single brief encounter passed away. But, regardless of how well I knew them personally, Marian Huttenstine and Chuck Stone are noteworthy models for the trails they blazed as journalism educators and for the diversity they brought to the media.
They both leave legacies for what it means to make “DIVERSITY” an action word.
Fortunately, two institutions where they taught– the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill continue Stone and Huttenstine’s legacies today with initiatives aimed at high school students.
Much has been written about Chuck Stone, one of the founders of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), of which I am a member. He was our first national president.
But, many may not know about the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media, a summer workshop for rising high school senior that began in 2007.
Glimpse of Chuck Stone at Work
While I can’t call Mr. Stone a personal friend or even an acquaintance, I did have the occasion to see him at work at his office in the old Howell Hall (former site of the UNC School of Journalism) in the late 1990s.
At the time, I was just a visitor on the beautiful Chapel Hill campus checking out prospective Ph.D. programs in mass communication. Seeing the legendary Chuck Stone as he worked with a UNC student in his office was a highlight of my visit.
Ironically, UNC also factored into my path from working journalist to journalism professor through another person.
Dr. Huttenstine received her PhD. from the University of North Carolina. She taught media law for many years here at University of Alabama, where a few years after she left, I ended up in my first full-time job as a faculty member.
Back in 2004, I had the good fortune of meeting her on the 20th anniversary of the Multicultural Journalism Workshop, which she started with then graduate student Marie Parsons, who went on to be the first director of the workshop and a member of the faculty.
Hundreds of students have come through this workshop that is now in its 31st year. As a graduate of a similar Dow Jones News Fund workshop back in the 1980s, I know firsthand what a difference it can make in a high school student’s career planning.
Huttenstine: Opening Doors for Female Administrators
Even Stone and Huttenstine both passed away on Sunday, Dr. Huttenstine may not make the national headlines the way that Professor Stone has this week. But, her impact through her creation of the Minority Journalism Workshop in 1984 had just as much impact as Stone’s as one of the founders of NABJ.
Huttenstine is credited with having the idea for MJW (now known as the “Multicultural Journalism Workshop”) A decade ago, the editorial board of the Tuscaloosa News recognized the importance of such an idea, that has been sustained for three decades.
She’s also among those who opened the doors for women to eventually to serve as leaders of academic units like our own College of Communication and Information Sciences. Long before the University of Alabama would have its first female president (Dr. Judy Bonner), there was the Capstone Women’s Network (CWN).
CWN was started in 1980 as one local effort here at University of Alabama to respond to the national call to expand and improve the opportunities for women to be in administrative decision-making posts.
After her stint on the faculty at the University of Alabama, Huttenstine went on to become the first female chair of the Department of Communication at Mississippi State University.
Today incoming freshman in the MSU communication program can apply for the Marian Huttenstine Scholarship that was named in her honor.
More than once I’ve run into alumni from our program here at University of Alabama who vividly remember Huttenstine as a tough media law professor.
But, even if we don’t have those memories as students, we can be students of hers and Stone’s way of marrying education with the ongoing effort to bring about diversity in the nation’s newsrooms and media outlets. This week every journalism educator should remember them and re-commit ourselves as individuals to continue what they started as we do our part in preparing tomorrow’s journalists and mass communication professionals.
Marian and Chuck, we’ll miss you. But, your work will continue!