Winners of AEJMC awards help further association’s diversity efforts

Research award winners from the 2011 AEJMC Annual Convention reflect a new level of ethnic and gender diversity in award recipients.

ST LOUIS–While it probably never crossed the minds of the various selection committees, the winners of several of the top awards at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) reflect what appears to be a new level of diversity.

For a number of years, women have risen through the ranks of AEJMC leadership to become president.  In fact, three of the last five presidents are women.  The new president, Linda Steiner will continue the female dominance of this position.

Next year in Chicago, a man, Kyo Ho Youm, will lead the organization. A native of South Korea, Youm will to be succeeded in 2013 by Paula Poindexter, an African American woman.

Despite the diversity in these leadership roles, change has been slower to come in the ranks of those receiving top honors for their research and scholarship.

In an association like this, one’s scholarly profile is equally, if not more important than a particular office or leadership position held.

“We don’t realize the importance of role models, of being part of a group where you don’t see anybody like you,” said Felix Gutierrez, a professor of journalism and communication at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication. ”

After this convention, young women will see that they can be recognized for their sustained scholarly contributions.  International graduate students can look to this year’s award winners and see AEJMC as a place that doesn’t allow a language barrier or a cultural difference to keep  them from making an important in the contributing new knowledge to the field of mass communication.

At least two of the faculty award-winners have international backgrounds while a third has broken a significant gender barrier.

First Woman Deutschmann Winner

-6 books
-50 journal articles
-25 book chapters

Those are just some of the scholarly stats on Sharon Dunwoody, the Evjue-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The former president of AEJMC on Friday became the first woman to receive one of the association’s highest honors, an award that is NOT given every year– the Paul J. Deutschmann Award.

2 terminal degrees, Mission To Fight Cancer Among Latinos

It wasn’t enough for Mugur Geana to receive his Medical Doctor degree from the Institute of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania.  He had to go back to school and work on another terminal degree, a Ph.D. in Strategic Communications from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Now he’s working on using his dual background to help fight colorectal cancer in the Latino community.

Expert  on Psychosocial Properties of Digital Media

He may have a long last name, but those who know “Sri” in AEJMC know what Sri Kalyanaraman has contributed to knowledge of digital media.

He started building his national profile as a scholar as a doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University.  Now he’s an associate professor on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill faculty.  On Friday, he was recognized for his early career contributions to the field.

On this 40th anniversary of AEJMC’s Minorities and Communication Division, it is worth noting how much ethnic and gender diversity is reflected in those chosen for scholarly recognition at this 94th gathering of the nation’s largest group of journalism and mass media educators.

“When I joined AEJ, I was glad there was a Minorities and Communications Division of which to be a part,” Gutierrez said.