By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Today, an era ends.
Dr. Charlie Marler, arguably one of the greatest men to walk this campus, retires today. To understand the importance of Dr. Marler-or “Doc,” as many students have come to call him-requires a brief history.
Doc was editor of the Optimist in 1954-55 and after graduation and a stint in the army was instrumental in shaping the creative services office, which now puts out ACU Today. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1974 and returned to ACU with a mission: to make the struggling journalism program a nationally accredited department.
In 1974, journalism classes were conducted in Gibson Physical Education Center, the basement of McKinzie Hall and elsewhere across campus. KACC-AM was broadcasting out of the McKinzie basement, and the Optimist and Prickly Pear offices were located in in the basement of the Campus Centera space roughly half the size of the current Students’ Association office.
But Doc arrived and became adviser to the Optimist, the journalism program’s most visible student work. In 1974-75, under editor Alan Miller, the Optimist was named an All-American newspaper by the Associated Collegiate Press. Twenty-seven years later, this paper has yet to lose that honor.
The Journalism and Mass Communication Department was recreated (it existed for a brief time in the 1950s) in 1987. And in 2000, the department received national accreditation, two years after Doc stepped down as chair.
All told, Dr. Charlie Marler was adviser to the Optimist for 22 years and was chair of the department for 11. He also advised the Prickly Pear for two years.
To say that this department owes its existence to him is unnecessary-without his vision, the success of this publication and this department would never have come to fruition.
But Dr. Marler is more than just a visionary or a talking head academic. His love and respect for the students he has advised and chaired is evidenced through the 100-plus responses the Optimist received in just two days after we asked former staffers via e-mail to add their names to our special tribute on Page 6.
Although he retired as adviser to this paper in 1996, he has advised its editors and staff members long after and probably will continue to do so as a part-time faculty member in coming years. And there’s a good reason for that.
The very essence of our profession is embodied in this man: his caring and his truthfulness, his respect and his passion, his love and his integrity.
Decades of students who suffered through Communication Law, generations of editors who suffered through newspaper critiques and hundreds of up-and-coming journalists who were glad for it all thank him today.
And this editor, another in a long line, thanks him with a gratitude that mere journalism cannot express.