Grady College names 2021-22 Teachers of the Year

Grady College is happy to recognize its Teachers of the Year for the 2021-22 academic year: 

Grady College is also happy to recognize the 2021-22 recipient of the Roland Page Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty:

  • Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, Journalism. 

The Teachers of the Year are annually selected by their peers, based on excellence in the classroom and student feedback. The recipient of the Roland Page Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty is annually nominated and selected by graduate students. 

“Winning the Teacher of the Year award in one of our departments is saying something, because these hallways are lined with award-winning teachers. It takes a superb effort to rise to the top of this competition,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College.

Dodie Cantrell-Bickley advises students on the set of Grady Newsourse. (Image: Sarah E. Freeman)

Cantrell-Bickley, who previously spent more than 30 years in various roles for television news stations, is known by students for her enthusiasm, high energy, interesting and inspiring stories and persistent willingness to help students both inside the classroom and during the job hunt. 

“(Professor Cantrell-Bickley) communicates a lifetime of experience in easy-to-understand and widely applicable techniques, quotes, witticisms, and when need be, lectures. All of this is done in a frank and personable manner with respect to who students are and who we are developing into as people,” wrote one student.

“The Journalism Department is so lucky to have Dodie,” added Janice Hume, head of the Journalism Department and the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism. “She offers students the perfect mix of professional rigor and support. She does as much for students outside the classroom.”

In 2021, Cantrell-Bickley launched an all-volunteer news production program focused on social justice that attracted students from freshmen to seniors, and she led a team of faculty coaches and students to produce the hour-long documentary, “The First Five: The Integration of University of Georgia Football.”

Mattison, a filmmaker and author, uses his large bank of experiences writing and directing to teach his students what it takes to create stellar films. 

“Some students in his directing and capstone courses come away with award-winning films. But they all come away with invaluable knowledge, experience and insight into the skill, inspiration and determination it takes to create an entire, original visual story from the ground up,” said Jay Hamilton, head of the EMST Department and the Jim Kennedy New Media Professor.

Booker T. Mattison celebrates with students during Grady’s spring 2022 graduation celebration. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Outside of the classroom, Mattison recently finished shooting for his upcoming film “Sound of Christmas,” which stars musical artist and actor Ne-Yo and will air on BET during the holidays.

Pfeuffer is known as an avid proponent of active learning, a teaching method that focuses on engaging with students through discussion and problem solving. 

“Professor Pfeuffer is absolutely amazing. He’s so understanding and so concerned about every one of his students. He makes sure we understand the material, while still being genuinely concerned about our workloads,” wrote one of his students. 

“Alex is a beloved professor who teaches tough core courses in the curriculum,” added Bryan Reber, head of the AdPR Department and C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership. “The fact that students express the fact that they don’t have to come to his classes, but they want to come to them, speaks volumes.”

Smith, who specializes in teaching Graphic Communication, is beloved by her students for preparing them with applicable skills for their careers. 

“Kristen is an excellent instructor!” wrote one of her students. “She was always engaging and excited about our work and eager to both give helpful feedback and listen to students’ ideas. I feel like I learned a lot about graphic design, to the point that I would feel comfortable doing graphic design work when necessary in my career.”

“Kristen Smith continually embraces new pedagogical models in her teaching,” added Reber. “Even when it means that it will increase her workload, she is willing to take the plunge and try new ways to critique and grade student design work. Kristen is a remarkably dedicated teacher.  Our students are fortunate when they wind up in her classes.”

Rice is an expert health and medical journalist and communications professional with experience reporting for some of the nation’s top news organizations and serving as the director of media relations for the American Cancer Society. She is praised by her students as a mentor inside and outside of the classroom. 

“Professor Rice has gone above and beyond countless times for me and my peers in and outside of the classroom,” said one graduate student. “She helped me network and helped me get an assistant producer freelance job that I am enjoying so much!”

Juan Meng named Department of Advertising and Public Relations Head

Juan Meng, an associate professor of public relations and founder and director of the Choose China Study Abroad program, has been tapped to direct the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at Grady College effective August 1, 2022.

Current department head, Bryan Reber, will retire effective August 1, 2022.

“Dr. Meng adds to the long line of distinguished faculty who have stepped up to lead AdPR over the decades,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “She possesses the leadership skills needed for this demanding position, and she’s earned the role through years of strong service to the college. I’m so excited to work with her.”

Meng joined the AdPR faculty in 2012 and is an affiliate graduate faculty member, serving as the founder and advisor of the UGA/SHNU cooperative education 3+1+1 degree program, which recruits undergraduate students of Shanghai Normal University in China to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees at UGA. Meng’s teaching focus includes public relations foundations, public relations campaigns, PR ethics, diversity and leadership, and global PR. Her research specialization includes public relations leadership, leadership development, diversity and leadership in PR, measurement in PR, and global communication.

Meng has published more than 70 refereed journal articles, scholarly book chapters and research reports on leadership-related topics. She is co-editor of the book, “Public Relations Leaders as Sensemakers: A Global Study of Leadership in Public Relations and Communication Management,” published by Routledge in 2014. Her most recent scholarly book, “PR Women with Influence: Breaking through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges” (Peter Lang, 2021), is the Volume 6 of the AEJMC-Peter Lang Scholarsourcing Series. Meng has presented her research at various panels, workshops, webinars, podcasts, and symposiums nationally and internationally.

Meng serves on the editorial advisory board for six leading scholarly journals in the field of public relations and communication management, including Journal of Public Relations Research and Public Relations Review, among others. She was recently named to the advisory board of PR Daily. Meng was recently tapped to serve as an inaugural member of the Institute of Public Relations new initiative called IPR ELEVATE, a group of PR leaders dedicated to advancing the research-focused mission in the industry. She currently also serves as the Research Co-Chair on the executive leadership committee of the Educators Academy at Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Meng serves on the national advisory board of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama. She has collaborated with The Plank Center over the past ten years on several signature research projects, including the largest global study of PR leadership, Millennial Communication Professionals in the Workplace, the biennial Report Card on PR Leaders and the biennial North American Communication Monitor.

She is a graduate of the UGA Women’s Leadership Fellows program, the Office of Service-Learning Fellows program and UGA Teaching Academy Fellows program.

Meng earned Ph.D. and Master of Science degrees from the University of Alabama; a Master of Arts degree from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio; and a Bachelor of Science degree from Fudan University in Shanghai, China.

“I am honored and thankful for this opportunity. I look forward to working more closely with our talented students, dedicated colleagues, passionate alumni, and other brilliant leaders in the field to continue upholding AdPR’s legacy of excellence in education, research and service.” — Juan Meng

AdPR is the largest department at Grady College and graduated more than 200 advertising and public relations students this past Spring 2022. The department, one of the most prolific in terms of research productivity and cited articles according to a 2019 study, houses several certificate programs, labs and key programs within the College including the Crisis Communication Coalition, the student-run agency Talking Dog and the Center for Health and Risk Communication.

Dan Rather, TV Rain honored with Peabody Awards

Peabody announced that Dan Rather, the award-winning journalist whose career has spanned six decades, has won the Peabody Career Achievement Award.  Dolly Parton presented Rather with the honor via video.

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has been the home of Peabody since its founding in 1940.

Rather, who has interviewed every president since Eisenhower, was the CBS national evening news anchor from 1981-2006. Rather is being recognized for his commitment to helping Americans understand the events of the nation and the world for over six decades. Selected by the Peabody Board of Jurors, this honor is reserved for individuals whose work and commitment to broadcasting and digital media have left an indelible mark on the field and in American culture. Rather joins Carol Burnett, Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson, and Sam Pollard as winners of the Peabody Career Achievement Award.

“Dan Rather’s remarkable career—from local news reporter and international correspondent to network anchor—is a textbook example not just of what quality reporting looks like, but how journalists serve democracy well,” said Jeffrey Jones, executive director of the Peabody Awards. “Spanning over six decades, Rather helped viewers understand and interpret some of the most traumatic historical events in our nation’s history, from the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War to 9/11 and more. We are happy to call attention to and celebrate his life’s work.”

It was also announced today that TV Rain (known in Russian as Dozhd) was recognized with the Peabody Journalistic Integrity Award, which honors the sustained achievement of the highest professional standards of journalism, as well as personal integrity in reporting the news in challenging times. TV Rain was Russia’s last independent television channel before it was shut down in March 2022 for its criticism of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Its final broadcast was a blatant protest, with the entire staff walking off the set as the anchors said “no war.”

The Peabody Board of Jurors also made a special commendation to the journalists and filmmakers from around the world, including Peabody-winning documentarian Brent Renaud, who have risked their lives and died covering the violence and humanitarian crises in Ukraine. “We honor these courageous storytellers killed in their line of duty to bring the truth to the world, not just in Ukraine, but in India, Mexico, the Philippines, and globally,” noted Jones.

Dan Rather began his career in print and radio in Houston before landing a job at KHOU-TV, Houston’s local CBS’s affiliate, in 1960. He went on to become a national network correspondent and later CBS’s White House correspondent. Rather became the CBS evening news anchor in 1981, holding the position until 2006. During his time on air at CBS, Rather reported on and guided the nation through Kennedy’s assassination, the war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, Watergate, the Cold War, and 9/11. After leaving CBS, he hosted Dan Rather Reports for HDNet and The Big Interview on AXS TV. Rather currently serves as President and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company that he founded to make high-quality, non-fiction content across traditional and digital platforms. Over the course of his career, Rather has won multiple Peabody Awards and numerous Emmy Awards.

Natalya Sindeyeva founded TV Rain in 2010 as an independent television channel. After the channel was banned from cable in 2014, it moved to an online broadcast. TV Rain has reported on the Russia-Ukraine conflict since its beginning, prompting the Russian justice ministry to declare it a “foreign agent” in 2021. TV Rain continued to report on the activities of the Kremlin, until the Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor blocked access to the channel because of its critical reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For its final broadcast, the entire TV Rain staff gathered on air at the news desk before walking off set, with the anchors saying “no war” as they exited. The broadcast then cut to a performance of Swan Lake, in reference to when Russian news channels played the ballet during the August 1991 Russian coup after they were banned from live coverage of the event.

The 30 winners of the 82nd Annual Peabody Awards will be named during a multi-day virtual celebration from June 6th through June 9th.

Grady lawn to be renovated, renamed ‘Schnitzer Family Media Lawn’

At the start of fall semester, all incoming and returning Grady College students will be welcomed to campus with an improved and expanded lawn upon which to study, socialize and relax. The transformation will take place thanks to a generous donation from the Schnitzer family, celebrating Lauren Schnitzer (AB ’21), who graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

The redesign will feature rolling grass hills, a new ADA accessible pathway and an outdoor classroom with seating, which will be accessible by way of a new staircase where the gray wall currently sits.

“We are so excited to transform the exterior of the college in a project designed to improve space for our students and open our college up to the rest of campus,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College. “The big gray wall in front is coming down and will be replaced by a landscaped outdoor amphitheater, with increased seating on the Sanford Drive corner of the building.  We’re also thrilled to include hardscape pathways that will ease access to the college for everyone.  It will be an incredible enhancement to our environment.”

Construction is scheduled to start May 16 and finish by the time students return in August.

“We want every student to feel that they can go check out Grady,” said Sara Cook, senior director of development at Grady.  “The Schnitzer Family Media Lawn will serve as a red carpet entrance to all the incredible educational opportunities available at Grady College.”

Even with the renovation, some notable features of the existing lawn will remain the same, including the granite slabs for lounging, engraved granite tiles and bamboo shoots protruding through the table seating area.

“Lauren had a great experience at Grady,” said Ken Schnitzer, the proud father. “Our family is honored to support the College and improve functionality and access to one of the most special places on campus.”

Congratulations, Spring 2022 Graduates

We are bursting with pride for the graduates of the Spring 2022 class.

Please visit our Spring 2022 Graduation landing page featuring:

• Our virtual convocation with special speakers Eric Baker (ABJ ’90) and Delaney Tarr (AB ’22)

• A roll call of graduates

• Social media highlights from our graduates

Photos from our Graduation Celebration on the Grady College Lawn can be viewed in our photo album on Flickr.


The Writers’ Room provides collaborative experience for future screenwriters

The old adage “write what you know” applies to the students in The Writers’ Room, a group honing their craft as future television and screenwriters. While the group may not be professional yet, the students are creating a sitcom about a fictional college writers’ room.

The group of nearly a dozen students met most Mondays during the year in this collaborative writing club, a subset of the student-run club, The Industry.

Sherry Liang laughs during a meeting of The Writer's Room
Sherry Liang, a graduating EMST major, coordinated the first year of The Writers’ Room.

The group was led this year by EMST major Sherry Liang who served as coordinator and motivator.

“This is hybrid learning,” Liang explains. “Learning how to write and actually writing.”

The students spent each Monday doing table reads and workshops where they would pitch ideas for the eclectic collection of characters…the hopeless romantic, the new guy, a teacher’s pet, the Eeyore (the one who is always dumped on)…and re-enact the episode that had been written since the previous meeting.

The group then discussed pros and cons of what was written, giving constructive feedback on tone, voice, style and sense of character. Suggestions are then given about topics like writing more concisely, thinking about how the ultimate angle the story is going to be viewed or providing a stronger sense of scene.

“Writing a single episode is much different than a standalone short script, explains Olivia Colburn, a second-year EMST student who just completed her first screenwriting class. “We must connect the episode to previous episodes, have a cohesive story in it of itself, and plant seeds for future episodes.”

Students in the Writer's Room review a script on the screen.
Reviewing the script that was written since the last meeting is part of every meeting.

Each week, one main writer is assigned to write the episode, and work with other club members to develop characters. All members then contribute ideas and suggestions during the meetings.

Derek Walker makes a point during the Writer's Room
Derek Walker admits that it’s challenging to organize a creative endeavor with a large group of people, but The Writers’ Room succeeded. “I think it’s not only a testament to the passionate members, but also the approach.”

Derek Walker, a fourth-year EMST major, appreciates the collaborative nature and also the fact that he can pitch ideas and have fun.

“It’s ultimately a place where I can get out of my own head and relax,” Walker said. “It’s creatively rejuvenating, and I’m inspired to work more on my external projects.”

Another advantage, especially for students like Whit Pope, a first-year student, is that they can gain a lot of experience prior to taking their core EMST classes.

“It was daunting at first since I am only a freshman and had little to no scriptwriting experience, but I think the creative content mixed with the welcoming club atmosphere truly kept me coming back every week and made it a highlight of my semester,” Pope said. “I was also grateful for the advice from many older members who never stopped giving me such great pointers before taking an actual EMST course.”

While most of the advice focuses on character development and writing for the scene, technical input is also provided like the best software programs to use when writing.

Ultimately, the mission of The Writers’ Room is to provide a comfortable, supportive environment where students can flex their creative muscles. That is one of the reasons the group chose to write about a writer’s room this year.

“Everyone could contribute because everyone was in a college writer’s room and their niche experience would add color to the narrative,” concludes Walker. “Overall, I learned giving people a means of making the group project feel like their own brought out the best in everyone.”

The Writers’ Room students wrote nearly 10 episodes this season and are considering turning the script into an actual production for a web series next year.

Incivil replies to ‘The Squad’ nearly doubled after Trump tweet, researchers find

After Trump’s 2019 tweet telling four congresswomen, known as “The Squad,” to “go back” to their home countries, the number of incivil replies to tweets made by the congresswomen almost doubled, new research finds. 

Despite all four congresswomen Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — being U.S. citizens, many of the remarks echoed Trump’s sentiment that the congresswomen don’t belong holding office in the United States. In particular, two types of incivility towards the congresswomen increased significantly after Trump’s tweet — the use of stereotypes and threats to individual rights. 

According to the researchers, these four women “represent the racial, gender and religious minority in the United States” and have been the target of a large amount of incivility online. This research provides insight into incivility on Twitter, particularly when it is directed towards members of minority groups. 

“Conceptually, we were trying to figure out what incivility is,” said Itai Himelboim, a co-author of the study and the Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media Analytics at Grady College. “Part of it is vulgarity, name calling and so on, but another element is a threat to one’s rights and democracy as a whole.”

To conduct their study, the researchers collected all replies to all tweets made by the four congresswomen from June 1, 2019, to August 31, 2019 six weeks before and six weeks after Trump’s July 14 tweet.

Out of the total 102,815 replies to the congresswomen’s tweets during the time period, a sample of 20,563 were coded for 14 variables, including tones and popular topics such as immigration, Muslim ban, abortion, LGBTQ rights and more. 

The researchers determined that just under two-thirds of all replies during the 12-week time period included at least one type of incivility. The findings also showed that, after Trump’s comments, the total number of replies to the congresswomen’s tweets jumped by roughly 20 percent. 

Overall, the most common type of incivility used against The Squad was “name calling,” identified as using disparaging remarks, such as “idiot” or “stupid.” Second was “stereotype,” which was identified as associating an individual with a group and using terms, such as “Muslim,” in a derogatory manner. Third was “threats to individual rights,” which is implying someone should not have rights, such as freedom of speech. Fourth was “vulgarity,” which is the use of swear words. 

Less frequent types of incivility included “aspiration,” which is making disparaging remarks about a policy, such as immigration, “pejorative wording,” which is using disparaging words about how someone is communicating, and “threats to democracy,” which is stating or implying a threat to the democratic method of governance as an ideal or system, such as advocating an overthrow of the government. 

“We need to understand that it is more than being vulgar and calling names not that there is justification for that but it comes down also to threatening individual rights and threats to democracy,” said Himelboim.

The study, titled “‘You are a disgrace and traitor to our country’: incivility against ‘The Squad’,” was published in the journal Internet Research.

Additional authors include recent Grady Ph.D. graduate Bryan Trude (PhD ’22), Kate Keib (PhD ‘17), associate provost of non-traditional programs and an assistant professor of communication studies at Oglethorpe University, Matthew Binford (PhD ‘21), assistant professor of practice at Western Carolina University, Porismita Borah, an associate professor in the College of Communication at Washington State University, and Bimbisar Irom, an assistant professor in the College of Communication at Washington State University. 

Student plans to change the world one policy at a time

Mennah Abdelwahab grew up in Bogart where she was one of the few Arab Americans in town. Her parents were raised in Egypt and her family is Muslim. She said that this, combined with growing up in a working-class family, gave her a unique perspective and made her want to help others and get involved in policy work, two things she has definitely accomplished during her time at the University of Georgia.

In fact, she and her twin sister just won an award celebrating their service to the community. Ayah and Mennah Abdelwahab were selected as UGA Presidential Award of Excellence recipients, which recognizes the top 1 percent of UGA undergraduates who excel not only in academics, but also in service to the community and leadership, both on and off campus.

In addition to servicing as a Grady College Ambassador, Menna Abdelwahab was also co-director of the Student Government Association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, a Morehead Honors College teaching assistant and a CURO Honors Scholar.

Mennah said her UGA classes combined with her internships during college helped her find the necessary tools to do something about fixing some of the barriers she faced growing up. “I didn’t have the most elaborate understanding of how these issues are addressed or changed until I got to UGA,” she said. “My education and my internship experiences are helping me understand a lot of the more systemic issues. I started to realize that a lot of these things are policy issues.”

During her time at UGA, Mennah has taken every opportunity to learn and participate. She’s been co-director of the Student Government Association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, a Grady Ambassador, a Morehead Honors College teaching assistant and a CURO Honors Scholar. The graduating senior has two majors—journalism and international affairs—as well as two minors, Arabic and law, jurisprudence and the state.

“I came to the University as an international affairs major,” she said. “My goal was to help people, and I was trying to learn more about systemic issues in our society. I ended up adding a Journalism major to figure how to properly condense these issues in a way that is approachable and understandable to people, but also in terms of ‘This is why this policy is bad’ or ‘This is why we should pass this policy.’”

In her sophomore year, Abdelwahab started working for Georgia state Rep. Spencer Frye as a legislative fellow. In the fall, students conduct policy research on a topic of their choosing. In 2019, one of the things Abdelwahab researched was rural broadband access. “It wasn’t something that was really talked about then and it’s been cool to see something I did research on get more traction,” she said, noting the improvement in Georgia’s rural broadband access since the passage of the infrastructure bill.

In the spring semester, the fellows spend lots of time at the Capitol, hitching rides with Frye for the drive to Atlanta. “We’d arrive at his house at about 5:30 in the morning then go on our merry way,” she said. Often, they’d get back to Athens at 9 p.m. “They were long days but also really fun. We got the opportunity to go to committee meetings, watch sessions and read different legislation.” For the past two years, Abdelwahab has served as Frye’s public relations director.

If Abdelwahab ever needs to commiserate about what’s happening in her life, she can turn to her twin sister, Ayah, who has an especially expert perspective. Ayah Abdelwahab is also an international affairs major (although her second major is economics) and is the director of legislative research for Frye. The two share tips on their ongoing internships or just provide the comfort of someone who really does know exactly what the other is going through. “You never really feel alone, which is great,” she said.

After graduation she will spend the summer in the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Congressional Leadership Development Program. “I’ll be in training for a congressional office, and then after that, I’ll be looking to work in jobs that are in the policy research area,” she said. “My interests are very broad, which is a good thing, but it also makes looking for jobs kind of difficult because I am interested in so many different things.”

Her best advice for fellow go-getters?  “One of the things that college has shown me is that showing up and being engaged will benefit you so much in ways that you don’t even recognize,” she said. “I’m not under the impression that I’m the smartest or most accomplished person in the room, but I do try to make the most of being there and getting the opportunity to engage with the school and different people. Even when I’m a little exhausted—or very exhausted—I try to come back to this idea that if you are the person in the room who is engaged and trying and clearly shows that they care, it will reap so many benefits in the future.”

Abdelwahab said she encourages students to make sure they balance this desire to be as engaged as possible with their mental health needs. “I have been blessed to have the support of my friends, family, professors and UGA administrators and staff to make sure I feel as supported as possible. These individuals have been instrumental in my college career, and I encourage all students to find that supportive community by taking advantage of the variety of resources available on campus.”

Editor’s Note: This feature was originally appeared on the UGA News website


EMST major Abigail Clark earns industry honor

Grady College Entertainment and Media Studies major Abigail Clark was chosen as a multimedia journalist (MMJ) to work at the Broadcast Education Association/National Association of Broadcasters annual convention in Las Vegas, which happened April 23-26, 2022. Clark was one of four students across the United States to be awarded this opportunity. 

Abigail Clark holds a camera on her shoulder.
Abigail Clark, from Dade City, Florida, spent four days reporting on the BEA convention and NAB show. (Photo: submitted)

BEA Student MMJs are a select team of undergraduate and graduate students with the task of reporting on the BEA convention and NAB Show in real time by using and infusing a variety of storytelling methods, including text, audio, video, pictures and graphics (or infographics). Student MMJs are tasked to think outside the box while reporting on the events and bring their unique visual storytelling skills and training to life. 

 “When I was accepted into the program, I screamed with excitement for the opportunity to go to Vegas for work,” said Clark. “I never thought at this stage in life I could say I went on a trip for work-related purposes.”

Student MMJs were selected in a nationwide search by a pool of professionals and educators. Awardees received travel stipends, press passes and full access to the NAB Show Newsroom, while working under the guidance of two faculty advisors. 

Daily assignments introduced student MMJs to different aspects of media, entertainment and technology through a series of interviews and stories that cover sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, award winners and special events. The student-produced content was regularly posted on BEA’s website and through social media. 

Keith Wilson has mentored me and worked with me on all different kinds of facets of production,” said Clark. “Applying what I had learned from him through production basics and cinematography really benefited me in the MMJ Program while on site in Vegas!” 

“I was thankful to those who helped me along the way and to Dr. Hamilton for sharing the opportunity with me and to Dr. Chess for assisting me with the application and sending over a letter of recommendation,” she added. “I am also thankful to the university for all the opportunities I have had and for having the opportunity to represent such a prestigious school in a highly respected convention.” 

Content created by Clark and her fellow MMJs is available on the BEA website.

Remembering Millard Grimes

Millard Grimes (ABJ ’51), a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor/publisher of nearly three dozen publications and ardent supporter of The Red & Black, died May 3, 2022 at the age of 92.

Grimes received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from Grady College in 2007 and was inducted into the Grady Fellowship in its inaugural class in 2008.

“Millard represents an era of media entrepreneurship in which news companies took big swings, some hits and some misses, and Millard won way more than he lost,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College.  “He was always a presence in Athens and at Grady College. I took many a wonderful call from him, and will miss him a great deal.”

Four writers for the Red & Black in the 1950s read an issue of the paper.
Millard Grimes (third from left) wrote for The Red & Black all four years that he was a student, and served as editor of the then-daily newspaper in 1950. Others pictured include (from l. to r.): Dewey Benefield (ABJ ’53), news editor;
John Pennington (ABJ ’51), managing editor; Grimes; and Norman Friedman (ABJ ’50), business manager. (Photo: Grady College Archives)

While a student at the University of Georgia, Grimes applied at the student newspaper, The Red & Black, during one of his first weeks of school and served all four years, including working as editor in 1950. He later named a member of the paper’s first Board of Directors, when the paper became a student-run publication in 1981 and he served on the Board for eight years.

Working at The Red & Black “was the best training ground for newspaper people that you could have had,” said Grimes in a 2009 interview.

During his time as a student at UGA, Grimes was associate editor of Pandora yearbook in 1951 and was a member of the Gridiron Society, Sigma Delta Chi Honorary and Chi Psi social fraternity.

A. Mark Smith, Charles Davis and Millard Grimes
A. Mark Smith, Charles Davis and Millard Grimes at lunch in 2013. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

“Millard Grimes was a kind, thoughtful person who believed in the value of newspapers to a community and protecting and affording free speech to all,” said long-time friend A. Mark Smith, Sr (ABJ ’66), president & CEO of Smith Communications Inc. “He was a special friend to Grady College and helped many a student find a job. He was a special person.”

Grimes began his love for newspapers as a high school student starting at The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Georgia) as a proofreader and copy boy, and continuing with increased responsibilities during and after college.  He was a copy editor on The Columbus Ledger staff in 1954-55 when the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for revealing government corruption in nearby Phenix City, Alabama. By the time the Pulitzer Prize was announced, Grimes had decided to leave Columbus to start the weekly Phenix Citizen. He returned to Columbus in 1956 working for newspapers in that city for several years, culminating in his job as editor-in-chief of Columbus Enquirer from 1963 to 1969.

Over the course of the next 50 years, Grimes would serve in a number of publisher and editor roles of numerous publications throughout the southeast. In 1977 he founded Grimes Publications, a company that owned and operated more than 30 daily and weekly newspapers in Georgia and Alabama including The Rockdale Citizen (Conyers, Georgia), Clayton News Daily (Jonesboro, Georgia) and the weekly Athens Observer, among others. Grimes also owned and operated two statewide magazines, Georgia Trend and Georgia Journal, of which Grimes was publisher and editor from 1988 to 1998.

Millard Grimes talks with a student.
Millard Grimes talks with a student in this undated picture. (Photo: Ruhanna Neal)

“Millard Grimes bought and sold, launched and expanded more newspapers than I can recall,” Davis said.

Not surprisingly, Grimes read three or four newspapers daily for many years, according to Smith.

Grimes served as president of the Georgia Press Association in 1985-86; president of the Magazine Association of Georgia in 1996-97; and vice president of the Alabama Press Association in 1981-82.

In 2020, at the age of 90-years-old, Grimes self-published his first novel, “The Last New Dealer.”

At the time of his Fellowship induction in 2008, Grimes shared his views about the state of the newspaper industry. He pulled the following quote from the book “The Last Linotype: The Story of Georgia and Its Newspapers since World War II,” that he wrote in 1985.

Grimes began by quoting the French historian Alexis De Tocqueville: “A newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds at the same moment.  A newspaper is an adviser that does not require to be sought, but comes to you without distracting your private affairs.  Newspapers therefore become more necessary as men become more equal individuals.  To suppose that newspapers only serve to protect freedom is to diminish their importance; they maintain civilization.”

Grimes continued with his thoughts: “De Tocqueville wrote those words in the 1830s, when he could not have imagined how much more pervasive newspapers and other media would become.  The demise of newspapers and the printed word has been forecast during all of the 60 years I have worked in print journalism, and if that time is finally at hand, it will be a shame, not only for newspapers, but for “maintaining civilization,” a task the printed word still performs most ably as De Tocqueville recognized so many years ago.”

A nearly 90-minute interview with Grimes can be viewed here.  It was filmed in 2009 as part of the Georgia Politics Oral History Project through the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at UGA.

The official obituary for Millard Grimes can be read here.

Grimes and his wife, Charlotte, have three children.

Millard Grimes and Claude Williams
Millard Grimes and the late Claude Williams (ABJ ’47) in 2007. (Photo: Grady College Archives)