Grady turns 100 but looks to the future

Before he godfathered the Southeastern Conference, before he built a stadium that would bear his name, and before he became principal architect of the University System of Georgia, Steadman Vincent Sanford inaugurated journalism education at the University of Georgia. Sanford taught the university’s first course in journalism and by 1915 he won trustee approval to make it a school. One hundred years later, Grady College celebrates its lustrous history and promising future.

In 1921, the school was named for Henry W. Grady, the New South’s chief journalist and publicist, whose death in 1889 was an occasion for national mourning. That year also saw the school’s first graduate, Lamar Jefferson Trotti, who went on to write and direct more than 20 major motion pictures. Trotti’s career affirmed Sanford’s belief that journalism was a literary genre that would attract more students to literature and critical thinking.

Grady’s second graduate in 1922 would become its legendary dean, John Eldridge Drewry. As director and dean from 1932 to 1969, he developed Grady’s national reputation. He launched institutes for newspapers, broadcasters, advertisers and public relations professionals, and Grady soon became home to all their halls of fame. The 1930s also inaugurated student honor societies, a scholastic press association and one for intercollegiate editors.

In 1939, Drewry took a now-famous call from Lambdin Kay, general manager of WSB-Radio. Having been spurned by Columbia’s Pulitzer board, Kay asked whether Grady might sponsor awards for the National Broadcasters Association. By 1940 the regents approved the George Foster Peabody Awards, named for the Georgia native and UGA’s principal benefactor. The first presentations were made in New York in 1941, and the Peabody remains the oldest and most prestigious award in electronic media. The Peabody Awards Collection in the special collections libraries is the third largest media collection in the world.

World War II caused a dramatic decline in enrollments with women assuming leadership roles. Margaret Childs became the first female editor of the Red & Black. Grady always attracted female students, with 20 of its 61 graduates in the 1920s being women.

Grady faculty and students were front and center in the American awakening that followed World War II. In 1953, four Red & Black editors resigned rather than knuckle under to demands of an arch-segregationist regent, and in 1961 Charlayne Hunter-Gault broke the segregation barrier and chose journalism as her major. She was befriended by Tom Johnson, also a Grady student and Red & Black editor. Both went on to spectacular, award-winning careers and both have maintained close ties to the college.

When Drewry retired in 1969, the college had just opened its current academic home following years in the Commerce and Journalism Building.

By the 1980s a new norm had settled in. The faculty had matured into a research emphasis, a Ph.D. program was added in 1983, and with a full complement of degree programs the school became the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1988.

Today, Grady College has 15 named and endowed professorships and chairs. With centers and institutes for everything from international research and outreach to management studies to health and risk communication, the college’s reputation is impressive with an open horizon of opportunities that await the college and its students in the next century.

Like the partners with whom the college collaborates, Grady must transition to a digital-first footing while never losing sight of the principles of fairness, accuracy and truth telling, clear and concise written expression and the ethical moorings of these professions.

To this end, Grady has just completed a massive restructuring, merging the newsgathering faculty in a single journalism department and replacing the telecommunications department with the newly created entertainment and media studies department. As the venerable college prepares to launch its new journalism curriculum, students look toward a digital-first, multiplatform program that offers a rich mix of the skill sets needed to work in the newsrooms of tomorrow. Grady’s entertainment and media studies program combines the latest digital storytelling techniques, interactivity and gaming to capitalize on the momentum surrounding transmedia and the fast-growing film industry in Georgia. The department of advertising and public relations maintains its leadership status, preparing students for exciting careers in the era of digital social media.

Education in journalism and mass communication today features two competing narrative camps: the doomsday crowd and the futurists. The steady drumbeat of job losses and closed bureaus remains hard to ignore. However, bright spots emerge, heartening the futurists. Evidence exists for pessimists and optimists, but for educators, there is but one path: to champion the way forward and produce the next generation of professional communicators and engaged citizens. Today’s students will build the media products of tomorrow, so it is imperative that Grady provide ample room to dream, to build and to collaborate.

Prominent Alumni

Grady College alumni are working in all aspects of the media and include Pulitzer Prize, Emmy and Peabody Award winners.

Some prominent alumni include:

  • David Adelman (ABJ ’86) U.S. ambassador to Singapore 
  • Brooke Anderson (ABJ ’00) correspondent, “Entertainment Tonight”
  • Bonnie Arnold (ABJ ’77) producer, “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Tarzan,” “Toy Story”
  • Jack Avrett (ABJ ’50, deceased) chairman of Avrett, Free, and Ginsberg, New York. 
  • Joel Babbit (ABJ ’76) co-founder and CEO, Mother Nature Network
  • Dennis Berry (ABJ ’66) president and COO, Cox Enterprises 
  • Deborah Blum (ABJ ’77) Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer 
  • Ernest Camp Jr. (ABJ ’27, deceased) founder of the Society of Professional Journalists
  • Chip Caray (ABJ ’87) sports broadcaster, Fox Sports South
  • Harry Chapman (ABJ ’67) retired broadcaster
  • Maxine Kasselman Clark (ABJ ’71) CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop
  • Cathy Cox (ABJ ’80) former secretary of state of Georgia, current president, Young Harris College
  • Jackie Crosby (ABJ ’83) and Randall Savage (ABJ ’72) winners of a 1985 Pulitzer Prize for their examination of academics and athletics
  • Donald A. Davis (ABJ ’62) former UPI reporter and White House correspondent, New York Times best-selling author 
  • Tom Dowden (ABJ ’62, MA ’64), founder and CEO of Dowden Communications
  • Lee Duffey Jr. and Jenny Neal Duffey (ABJ ’76) founders of Atlanta-based Duffey Communications 
  • Justin Gillis (ABJ ’82) climate change science reporter, New York Times
  • Amy Glennon (ABJ ’90) publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Lewis Grizzard (’84, deceased) best-selling author, humorist and syndicated newspaper columnist 
  • Brenda Hampton (ABJ ’72) creator and executive producer, “7th Heaven” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”
  • Krysta Harden (ABJ ’81), deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • John Holliman (ABJ ’70, deceased) war correspondent, CNN
  • Betty Hudson (ABJ ’71) senior vice president of communications at National Geographic Society, former senior vice president of NBC
  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) Peabody Award-winning journalist for PBS, CNN & NPR, one of two students to integrate UGA in 1961 
  • Josh Jackson (ABJ ’94) co-founder/editor of Paste music magazine
  • Tom Johnson (ABJ ’63) retired chairman of CNN
  • Ernie Johnson, Jr. (ABJ ’78) host, “The NBA on TNT”
  • Jeanetta Jones (ABJ ’82) meteorologist, The Weather Channel
  • Randy Jones (ABJ ’77) CEO of Capital Publishing Inc. and founder of Worth magazine
  • John Kasay (ABJ ’94) retired NFL player, Carolina Panthers
  • Tom Lasseter (ABJ ’99) award-winning correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers 
  • Earl Leonard (ABJ ’58) former senior vice president for public affairs for the Coca-Cola Co.
  • Dan Magill (ABJ ’42, deceased) sports information director, head tennis coach at UGA
  • Tim Mapes (ABJ ’86), senior vice president of marketing for Delta Airlines
  • Eric McClam (ABJ ’99) Associated Press reporter in New York 
  • Gene Methvin (ABJ ’55) former senior editor, Reader’s Digest
  • Hala Moddelmog (ABJ ’81) CEO, Arby’s Restaurant Group
  • Julie Moran (ABJ ’84) host, “Mission Makeover” (Lifetime)
  • Powell Moore (ABJ ’59) assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs
  • William S. (Billy) Morris III (ABJ ’56) chairman and CEO, Morris Communications Co.
  • Dink NeSmith (ABJ ’70) president of Community Newspapers, chairman of the Georgia board of regents
  • Deborah Norville (ABJ ’79) host, “Inside Edition”
  • Steve Oney (ABJ ’79) Los Angeles-based writer/author
  • Eugene Patterson (ABJ ’43, deceased) editor Washington Post, St. Petersburg Times, Pulitzer Prize 1967
  • Don Perry (ABJ ’74, deceased) vice president of public relations, Chick-fil-A Inc.
  • Deborah Roberts (ABJ ’82) ABC News
  • Mark Schlabach (ABJ ’96), reporter and correspondent, ESPN and New York Times best-selling author
  • Loran Smith (ABJ ’62), columnist and broadcaster for the Georgia Bulldogs
  • Gloria Ricks Taylor (ABJ ’66), consultant, Hearst Management Institute, retired executive, Hearst Corporation
  • Amy Robach (ABJ ’95), news anchor for “Good Morning America”
  • Carolyn Tieger (ABJ ’69) retired partner and managing director, Porter Novelli
  • Lamar Trotti (ABJ ’21, deceased) Academy Award-winning screenwriter
  • Tommy Tomlinson (ABJ ’94) award-winning sports writer,
  • Alex Wallace (ABJ ’04) meteorologist and anchor, The Weather Channel
  • C. Richard Yarbrough (ABJ ’62) managing director of communications, 1996 Olympic Games