Conrad C. Fink, veteran journalist and professor at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, is a recipient of this year’s Regents’ Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The University System of Georgia Board of Regents annually recognizes individual faculty members and academic programs for strong commitment to teaching and service to students. Fink is the faculty award winner chosen this year from research universities in Georgia.
“Conrad Fink’s dedication to the education, growth, ethics and professionalism of students is exemplary of great teachers,” said Arnett C. Mace Jr., senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “His commitment to excellence is highly valued and appreciated by all who know and work with him. This recognition is a small token of our appreciation and gratitude for his valued contributions.”
Fink is the William S. Morris Chair of Newspaper Strategy and Management and director of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Newspaper Management Studies in the Grady College. He teaches newspaper management, contemporary American newspapers, opinion writing, public affairs reporting and ethics.
“Conrad Fink personifies teaching excellence,” said Grady College Dean John Soloski. “He is a teacher, author, mentor and advisor, but first and always, he is a teacher.”
A former Associated Press war correspondent and news executive, Fink recalls discovering he had to redefine adventure and re-order his life when he stepped before his first class as a teacher at the University of Georgia in 1982.
Fink said that early in his career as a foreign correspondent, he thought life could deliver no greater adventure than traveling through the Kyber Pass into Afghanistan or running through the rice paddies of Vietnam. Later, he became vice president of The Associated Press in New York, and decided that was the greatest adventure of his 25 years in journalism.
“Now, however, as I enter my 24th year at the Grady College, I know that this – teaching – has been the greatest adventure of all,” he said.
Fink said he has learned as much from his students as he has taught, and has grown personally in new, unexpected ways while helping generations of students learn and grow.
“They learn, I learn – and together we move at least a bit toward the enlightenment that surely must be the goal of creative minds,” Fink said.
Students report being motivated and inspired by Fink’s passion for journalism and newspapers.
Greg Bluestein, editor-in-chief of The Red and Black, an independent student-run newspaper, said, “His door is always open to the students and alumni who visit daily for journalistic tips, career advice or fascinating conversation. ‘Fink, Inc.,’ he frequently jokes, ‘is always open for business.’ Time and again, his confidence and encouragement echo in his students’ lives. We learn to agree with him, ‘There’s no better way to make a living.Ҕ
In addition to teaching, Fink serves as adviser to the Media Management Club. He also has published nine journalism textbooks, including Strategic Newspaper Management and books on ethics, business news writing, opinion writing and sportswriting.
“Conrad recruits, teaches, mentors and inspires some of UGA’s finest students,” said Kent Middleton, Grady College’s department head of journalism. “Although his courses are known widely as rigorous and demanding, he consistently receives the highest marks from students in their course evaluations. He is the ‘newspaper guy’ who attracts and motivates students with his intense professionalism and leadership.”
Fink said, “With students as bright and motivated as mine, anyone could win teaching awards – especially if they have the support I’ve gotten from the Grady College faculty and staff.”
Last year, Fink received the national Freedom Forum Journalism Teacher of the Year award. In 1992, Fink received UGA’s top teaching award, the Meigs Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has been cited many times as the Grady College’s outstanding teacher and has been given the “Outstanding Faculty Award” by UGA’s Golden Key honor society. He is a founding member of UGA’s Teaching Academy and served the maximum five years as a University Senior Teaching Fellow. He received the Faculty Service Award from the UGA Alumni Association for his outreach to the newspaper industry and campus community.