Journalism historian Maurine H. Beasley, professor emeritus at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, was presented with one of the top awards in journalism research this month– the Eleanor Blum Distinguished Service to Research award.
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) bestowed the honor on Dr. Beasley at the group’s annual convention in Chicago on Aug. 8. The prestigious award has only been given 12 times since 1980; it recognizes those who devote much of their careers to promoting research.
Dr. Beasley, renowned for her attention to the role of gender in journalism, was selected after nominating letters were submitted from 22 educators at universities around the country. One described her as a “tireless champion of her students.” Another called her a “pioneer” who “has always been there not only for her students, but for all women in journalism and communication academia.”
Dr. Beasley is the author of “First Ladies and the Press,” (Northwestern University, 2005), coeditor of The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopodeia, which Booklist named as one of the outstanding reference books of 2001; and co-author of “Taking Their Place: A Documentary History of Women and Journalism.” A former education editor of the Kansas City Star and staff writer for The Washington Post, Dr. Beasley also is a past president of the AEJMC and of the American Journalism Historians Association. She joined the Merrill College in 1975 as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 1987.
Dr. Beasley told those who gathered to honor her in Chicago that she has advised many Ph.D students at the University of Maryland, many of whom are now in prominent academic posts.
“The field of journalism history is much richer today than it was a generation ago because of what Maurine Beasley spent her career studying,” Agnes Hopper Gottlieb, dean of freshman studies at Seton Hall University and a former student of Beasley’s, told the assembled crowd. Gottlieb said a journalism history seminar she took from Beasley “changed my life” by schooling her in historical research.
An assistant professor at the University of Central Florida described herself as one of “those Beasley girls” who were profoundly influenced by the Maryland scholar: “She is the professor and the educator I hope to be,” said Kimberly Wilmot Voss.
Douglas Ward, an assistant professor at the University of Kansas, spearheaded the campaign to nominate his former professor. “I, too, am one of the Beasley girls, and I am proud of that,” he said. Ward recalled how tough Beasley was when he presented his first journalism history research paper. “She sat in the front row and said, “That’s very nice. Why do we care?’”, a phrase he said he now uses with his own students.
Dr. Beasley, known for her rigor in journalism history, has a Ph.D in American Civilization from George Washington University and journalism degrees from the University of Missouri and Columbia University. She has won other awards, including a Leadership Award in 2001 from AEJMC, the Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism History from the American Journalism Historians Assocation, and the 1999 Distinguished Senior Scholar award of the Educaitonal Foundation of the American Association of University Women.
Much of her research has focused on Washington women journalists and their coverage of First Ladies. Dr. Beasley was named professor emeritus upon her retirement at the end of the 2007-08 academic year.