As the halls empty for the summer, Grady College is also wishing three long-term professors best wishes as they retire. Lee Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research; Lynne Sallot, professor of public relations; and Patricia Thomas, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism are retiring effective at the end of the school year.
Becker joined the University of Georgia in 1997 and has served as director of the Cox Center his entire tenure at Grady College.
Through the nearly 20 years that Becker has been at Grady College, he has traveled to numerous countries to conduct media training, hosted hundreds of international visitors including the notable Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists for the past eight years and directed the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates, a report that tracked employment and salaries of industry professionals. The survey, which lasted nearly 25 years, concluded in 2014.
Becker also taught many journalism courses.
“I have always appreciated the fact that Lee is willing to teach basic reporting and also he has taught so many of our graduate students research methods,” said Janice Hume, head of the Department of Journalism.
Hume also noted that Becker is a “publishing machine” including seven books, three monographs, 38 book chapters, 65 journal articles, more than 160 presentations and more than 40 grants.
In 2013, Becker won the Paul J. Deutschmann Award for Excellence in Research, one of several accolades over the years from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Grady College Dean Charles Davis noted at the time that Becker was, “one of the winners of the most prestigious awards a journalism educator can earn. UGA’s glory is reflected in Lee’s achievements, and we all are so proud of this signal achievement.”
In addition to all of his accomplishments at Grady College, Becker is a working journalist, authoring a digital newsletter called “Oconee Observations,” a go-to resource for citizens of Oconee County, Georgia.
“Lee has done it all,” Hume concluded, turning her thoughts to him. “We will miss you, and we appreciate so much everything that you have brought to our department.”
Lynne Sallot, APR
Sallot has had a positive impact on countless professionals throughout the public relations industry. While some were former students, others were impacted by Sallot through her tireless work with the Public Relations Society of America.
She joined the Grady College faculty in 1993 and has taught nearly every course in the PR curriculum.
“She hits it out of the park in teaching, in mentorship, in connections to the profession and scholarship,” Tom Reichert, head of the department of Advertising and Public Relations, said about Sallot. “There are not many people who do such a great job on all levels.”
Through the years, Sallot has been lauded with some of the biggest awards in education and the industry including the University of Georgia’s Meigs Award in 2008, the Outstanding Educator Award presented by PRSA in 2007 and the Milestones in Mentoring Educator Award presented by the Plank Center for Leadership in 2014.
One of Sallot’s former students, Neil Hirsch (ABJ ’00), said of Sallot in 2014: “She was probably the toughest teacher I ever had at UGA. Her expectations of her students were incredibly high — but those were exceeded by her commitment to us.”
Prior to becoming an inducted member of the Georgia PRSA Chapter’s Order of the Phoenix, Sallot received several PRSA honors and awards including induction into the chapter’s Hall of Fame, Outstanding Educator Award and Outstanding Faculty Advisor for the UGA PRSSA chapter.
Thomas joined Grady College in 2005 as its first Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, a graduate program that she has developed from the start.
“She has really built that program from scratch and it is an excellent, excellent program,” Janice Hume, head of the Department of Journalism, recently said of Thomas.
As a testament to her teaching, the students Thomas has taught have gone on to do some amazing things, Hume continued. “Pat has done a great job training her HMJ masters students. Pat is just awesome in that she beats the bushes and finds assistantships for her graduate students. She goes the extra mile to recruit.”
During her tenure at Grady College, Thomas has dedicated her time to ensuring her students have the skills to translate science into stories people can relate to. She is also focused on illustrating the importance of telling stories of people in poor and rural communities.
In 2007, for example, HMJ students traveled to New Orleans to report on the slow rebuilding of healthcare two years after Katrina. More recently, she led reporting trips to both the Southwest and Northwest corners of Georgia, where students generated multimedia stories about poverty and health for Georgia Health News.
She has also put UGA on the map as a host for national journalism conferences including the Association of Health Care Journalists in 2012 and the 2009 National Ethnic Media EXPO and Awards.
Thomas and Dan Colley, the recently retired director of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, teamed up to run the “Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard” series for the past 12 years bringing almost four dozen internationally known speakers to UGA, mostly boots-on-the-ground researchers, but also journalists, authors, filmmakers and communication directors from WHO and CDC.
Thomas summarized her goal of the Voices series in a recent interview: “I hope we have communicated that you don’t have to be a scientist or a doctor to help. You can help if you are a journalist or communicator,” Thomas said.