For release: March 12, 2008
For press information, contact Curt Guenther
Dr. Elinor Kelley Grusin has been named Journalism Teacher of the Year by the Scripps
Howard Foundation. She will be formally recognized during an awards presentation ceremony
April 18th at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., when she will receive the
Charles E. Scripps Award and $10,000. The University of Memphis will also receive
a $5000 grant from the Foundation.
Dr. Elinor Kelley Grusin
Her award is given in cooperation with the Association for Education in Journalism
and Mass Communication. Judges were from universities around the country, representing
This is the fifth year the award has been given. Previous recipients were from LSU,
Penn State, the University of Florida, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Grusin is one of 17 journalists and journalism professors to be honored this year
by the Foundation. Some of the others include David M. Rubin, dean of the S.I. Newhouse
School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, named Journalism Administrator
of the Year, and editorial staff members from such notable and well-known news organizations
as The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated
Press, the Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio.
The awards honor distinguished service to the First Amendment and recognize excellence
in such areas as editorial writing, commentary, photojournalism, political and public
service reporting, and journalism education.
“These awards celebrate the role of journalism in a democratic society," said Mike
Phillipps, the Foundation's president and chief executive officer. “Our country and
our communities are better places because of the work honored by these awards."
Grusin was nominated by University of Memphis Journalism Department Chairman James
Redmond, who called her “...one of the best teachers I've ever been around, and I
thought she deserved to be recognized as a force in so many lives. Here is a person
who has dedicated her life to others, and now one of the top teaching awards in the
nation recognizes that. She has changed so many lives for the better, a truly amazing
achievement by an amazing college professor."
Supporting Grusin's nomination was Otis Sanford, editor for opinion and editorials
with The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. “I've been around journalism practically all
my life, and Elinor Grusin is one of the finest journalism professors I have ever
known," Sanford said. “Students adore her, and working journalists respect her. Her
dedication and passion for teaching and her commitment to The Teen Appeal high school
newspaper are what set her apart."
One of those students is Nevin Batiwalla, current editor of The Daily Helmsman, the
student-run newspaper at the University of Memphis. “After I had Dr. Grusin for media
writing, I knew I wanted to be a reporter," Batiwalla said. “Then, I took her media
law class, and I could see myself becoming a media lawyer. She made the course fun,
and she used court decisions as focal points to discuss and debate the balance of
the First Amendment with other rights. From the first day, it was obvious that she
had a passion for what she was teaching."
Grusin has taught journalism at the University of Memphis since 1987; she also has
teaching experience in the San Antonio, Texas, and Panama City, Florida, public schools,
and she was a reporter with The Commercial Appeal early in her career.
She has received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Memphis,
the Distinguished Journalism Alumni Award from the University's Journalism Alumni
Board, and from the U of M College of Communications and Fine Arts she has received
the College Research Award and twice the Outstanding Adviser Award.
Grusin was also named a Gannett Teaching Fellow at the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism
at Indiana University and the Outstanding Doctoral Student at the Scripps School of
Journalism at Ohio University.
At the U of M, she has been active in departmental and University initiatives. One
of her most visible and demanding responsibilities has been that of coordinator of
The Teen Appeal, a citywide high school newspaper, since it was created in 1997. The
newspaper is published monthly by 85 students chosen each year from 29 Memphis high
schools. Almost 20,000 copies of the publication are distributed throughout the city
to students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and it is available online
The Teen Appeal is supported by the Scripps Howard Citywide High School Journalism
program through the U of M's Department of Journalism.
Grusin has been active in such professional organizations as the Society of Professional
Journalists and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication,
and the Newspaper Association of America. She is co-editor, with her U of M journalism
colleague Dr. Sandra Utt, of the Newspaper Research Journal, an international refereed
She holds a B.S. degree in journalism from Memphis State University, an M.A. degree
in journalism from the University of Mississippi, and a doctorate in mass communication
from Ohio University.
The Scripps Howard Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The E.W. Scripps Company.
The Foundation is dedicated to excellence in journalism and is a leader in industry
efforts in journalism education, scholarships, internships, literacy, minority recruitment
and development, and First Amendment causes.
An awards program book featuring the winners and their work and videos of the winners'
work will be available online after April 18th at www.scripps.com/foundation