Students and faculty from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication will gather to celebrate achievements of distinguished alumni for the 19th annual Gutenberg Dinner on Thursday evening.
The department will honor three established professionals in the Hunter Welcome Center at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Mimi Barnard (’81), Ken Smalling (’87) and Tasha French (’00) have been invited to return to their alma mater to receive the department’s most prestigious award.
“We feel like it’s important to honor those to whom honor is due—that’s biblical,” said Dr. Cheryl Bacon, professor of journalism and mass communication and department chair. “We think it’s a great networking opportunity to connect our students with alumni and to hold them up as role models.”
Two of the three honorees will be attending the dinner. One of the attendees is Barnard, the former vice president for professional development and Research Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C.
“[Barnard] has traveled all over the country doing special functions and faculty development for Christian colleges and universities nationwide,” Bacon said.
Smalling serves as vice president of global communications for Kimberly-Clark in Irving. Kimberly-Clark’s personal and health care products include Kleenex, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend.
The third Gutenberg award recipient,French, executive director of The Contributor in Nashville, will not be present at the dinner. Bacon said she was disappointed but understood French’s situation. She is coordinating the North American Street Newspaper Association annual conference this weekend, Bacon said.
The Gutenberg award honors three individuals each year, said Dr. Kenneth Pybus, associate professor and faculty adviser of The Optimist. He said the department was always on the lookout for alumni who attained professional success to be candidates for the award.
“We don’t necessarily look for success in the field of journalism, but we look at least for applying the things they’ve learned as students,” Pybus said. “It’s not an award in which people can lobby.”
Candidates must be graduated from the program for at least 10 years before becoming eligible.
The dinner has become the JMC event of the fall, Pybus said.
“I don’t think it started out as the time when all the students and all the faculty got to dress up and everyone be there—but it’s kind of become that,” Pybus said.
The Gutenberg Dinner will also feature a video documentary produced by JMC instructor Cade White on the making of the physical award. Dr. Charlie Marler, professor of journalism and mass communication emeritus, handcrafts each Gutenberg award.
Along with the honorees, the JMC department is also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Optimist this year.