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Awards

Every day, SJMC alumni make important contributions not only to their individual workplaces but also society. Here are some of our most distinguished graduates. 

Outstanding Achievement Award

The University confers its Outstanding Achievement Award on graduates or former students of the University who have attained unusual distinction in their chosen fields or professions or in public service, and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level. The following list includes SJMC alumni who have received the OAA since 1952. 

2010s
Ellen Wartella, 2015

2000s
Burton Cohen, 2005
Michele Norris, 2006
Dave Mona, 2008

1990s
Raymond P. Christensen, 1991
William Allard, 1994
Stone K. Shih, 1995

1980s
Graham Hovey, 1985
Charles W. Roberts, 1985
Albert Milgrom, 1988

1970s
Harry Reasoner, 1970
Harry E. Atwood, 1971
Warren Agee, 1973
Harold L. Nelson, 1973
Theodore B. Peterson, 1973
John R. Finnegan, 1974
Geri Joseph, 1974
Otta A. Silha, 1974
Robert M. Pirsig, 1975
Bob Eddy, 1976
Larry Gates, 1976
Victor Cohn, 1978

1960s
Roy Wilkins, 1960
Raymond O. Mithun, 1961
Carl T. Rowan, 1961
Richard M. Scammon, 1963
Malcolm S. Maclean, 1968

1950s
Nat S. Finney, 1952
Harrison Salisbury, 1955
Eric Sevareid, 1955

Other University honors awarded to SJMC alumni

Roy Wilkins, Honorary Doctor of Laws, 1976
Mohamed Benaissa, Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2007
Chikuen (C. K.) Lau, University’s Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals, 2008
Carl T. Rowan, Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2000

SJMC Alumni Society Award for Excellence

Every year, the SJMC Alumni Board names a recipient of the Alumni Award for Excellence. The award is given to an SJMC alumni/ae who exemplifies excellence, leadership, and creativity in his or her chosen field. The award is presented at the School’s annual Spring Celebration in May. The award, first given in 1980, has been awarded to graduates of the School representing many different facets of the communications industry, including advertising, public relations, print journalism, broadcast journalism, photography and academia.

PDF iconSJMC Alumni Society Award for Excellence Criteria and Procedures

For more information about the award, contact the SJMC Alumni Society Board.

2015-2016
Christine Hikock Fruechte, CEO, Colle+McVoy, BIS 1989

2014-2015
David Carr, journalist, New York Times, BA 1981.

2013-14
Bob Fransen, Minnesota broadcast legend, BA 1943.

2012-13
Annie Griffiths, photographer, National Geographic, BA 1976.

2011-12
Gail Marks Jarvis, finance columnist for The Chicago Times and author, BA 1973.

2010-11
Scott Meyer, founding member, Mona, Meyer, McGrath & Gavin and former CEO of Weber Shandwick, BA 2004.

2009-10
Chuck Porter, chairman, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, BA 1967.

2008-09
Don Gillmor, professor emeritus, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, MA 1950, PhD 1961

2007-08
Regina McCombs, senior producer for multimedia, StarTribune, MA 2003

2006-07
Carol Pine, owner/founder of Pine and Partners, BA 1967

2005-06
Howard Liszt, CEO of Campbell Mithun and Senior Fellow in the SJMC, BA 1968

2004-05
DJ Leary, political media consultant and Minnesota Politics co-founder and editor, BA 1961

2003-04
William Albert Allard, photographer and writer, National Geographic Society, BA 1964

2002-03
Paul Brainerd, Founder, Aldus Corporation and Brainerd Foundation, MA 1975

2001-02
Lynn Casey, CEO of Padilla Speer Beardsley, MA 1980

2000-01
Trish Van Pilsum, WCCO-TV, BA 1984

1999-00
David Royle, National Geographic Explorer's executive producer, MA 1988

1998-99
Jean Ward, SJMC Professor Emeritus, BA 1952, MA 1961

1997-98
Not awarded

1996-97
Dave Floren, Martin Williams Inc., BA 1961

1995-96
James J. Klobuchar, StarTribune, BA 1950

1993-94
Burton D. Cohen, MSP Communications, BA 1955

1992-93
Wilbur E. Elston, Grosse Pointe News, BA 1934

1991-92
Dave Mona, Mona, Meyer, McGrath & Gavin, BA 1965

1990-91
Betty M. Wilson, StarTribune, MA 1969

1989-90
Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek, BA 1940

1988-89
John R. Finnegan, Sr., St. Paul Pioneer Press, BA 1948, MA 1965

1987-88
Marshall Tanick, Mansfield & Tanick Law Firm, BA 1948, MA 1965

1985-86
Otto A. Silha, Cowles Media, BA 1940

1984-85
Geri Joseph, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota, BA 1945

1983-84
Ron Handberg, WCCO-TV, BA 1960

1982-83
James Whalen, University of St. Thomas, BA 1947

1981-82
Bob Shaw, Minnesota Newspaper Association, BA 1949

1980-81
Harold Chucker, StarTribune, BA 1940

Above the Fold Award

In 2011, the SJMC Alumni Society Board announced a new award: the Above the Fold. The award recognizes alums under the age of 40 who have achieved great accomplishment and prestige early in their careers. The award will have a minimum of two winners, one from each track of study at SJMC: professional journalism and strategic communication. To nominate a candidate please visit z.umn.edu/sjmcabovethefold.

2015-16
Elizabeth Dunbar (B.A. 2004), reporter, Minnesota Public Radio
McKenna Ewen (B.A. 2009), video journalist, The Washington Post
Tara Raddohl (B.A. 1999), director of corporate relations, Sam's Club
Katie (Woit) Rottier (B.A. 2003), head of industry for sports retail, Google

2014-15
Brian Bakst (BA 1999), political reporter, Minnesota Public Radio
Susan (Filkins) Beatty (BA 1998), public relations and social media manager, Bremer Bank
Sara Kehaulani Goo (BA 1998), senior digital editor, Pew Research Center
Susan (Newbauer-Hampton) Young, (BA 1998) - senior vice president, McCann XBC

2013-14
Luke Behrends (BA 2004), associate creative director, Anomaly New York
Lee Hutton III (BA 1999), attorney, Zelle Hoffman
Amy Carlson Gustafson (BA, 1999), journalist, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Sam Black (BA 1997), senior reporter, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal

2012-13
Tim Blevins (BA 2002), senior writer, OLSON
Jessica Fleming (BA 1998), food and restaurant editor, St. Paul Pioneer Press 
Vadim Lavrusik (BA 2009), journalist program manager, Facebook
Gabby Nelson (BA 2003), director of internal and external relations, Select Comfort

2011-12
Alan Bjerga (MA 1998), agricultural policy reporter, Bloomberg News
Danielle Engholm (BA 1996), director, Padilla Spear Beardsley
Mary Lahammer (BA 1995), political reporter for Twin Cities Public Television's "Almanac" and host of "Almanac: At the Capitol"
Tim Larson (BA 2001), president and CEO of Jostens