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2015 Communication Hall of Fame-1

Nikki Kahn, the wife of OHIO alumnus and Ohio Communication Hall of Fame inductee Michel du Cille, is pictured with (from left) Scott Titsworth, Tim Goheen, Terry Eiler and Gary Kirksey.

Photographer: Sabrina Schaeffer/Ohio University Scripps College of Communication

2015 Communication Hall of Fame-2

Pictured (from left) are Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth, Scripps Howard Foundation CEO and President Mike Philipps and Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis.

Photographer: Sabrina Schaeffer/Ohio University Scripps College of Communication

2015 Communication Hall of Fame-3

Scripps Howard Foundation CEO and President Mike Philipps addresses the crowd after being inducted into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame.

Photographer: Sabrina Schaeffer/Ohio University Scripps College of Communication

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Scripps alumnus, stalwart supporter inducted into Ohio Communication Hall of Fame


It was a family affair earlier this week as Ohio University Scripps College of Communication faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends gathered to welcome two new members into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame.

OHIO alumnus Michel du Cille and Mike Philipps, a longtime supporter, partner and friend of the college, were officially inducted into the Hall of Fame during a March 23 ceremony that also marked the beginning of the Scripps College’s annual Communication Week. Their names will be added to the 29 names that already grace the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame. The two new inductees will be the first to have their names immediately added to a new installation located in the Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication, the college’s integrated facility.

Established by the Scripps College of Communication in 1993, the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame honors communications professionals who have ties to either Ohio or Ohio University for their lifetime achievement in the field of communication. A special lifetime commitment designation is also awarded from time to time, but was not part of this year’s ceremony.

“The individuals we are honoring tonight represent the highest of achievement in the journalism, communication and media fields both nationally and internationally,” Scripps College Dean Scott Titsworth said in his welcoming remarks. “They are individuals who have had a deep and lasting impact not just on Ohio University or the state of Ohio, but across the world.”

It was a bittersweet evening as Nikki Kahn accepted the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame award on behalf of her late husband, an award-winning photojournalist who passed away suddenly this past December while on assignment for The Washington Post covering the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.

A 1994 OHIO graduate who earned a master’s degree in journalism from the Scripps College, du Cille’s career in photojournalism spanned more than 30 years, during which he earned three Pulitzer Prizes.

During the induction ceremony, three members of OHIO’s School of Visual Communication reflected on du Cille’s longtime relationship with the Scripps College and Ohio University as well as his contributions to the field of journalism.

“Michel embodied all that is photojournalism. To know Michel was to know photojournalism,” said Tim Goheen, director of the School of Visual Communication. “His legacy is strong, and the lessons from that legacy will last and grow in this school thanks to his passion and how that passion will continue to inspire the next generation of photojournalists.”

Terry Eiler, professor and former director of the School of Visual Communication, first met du Cille early in his career when du Cille served as a summer intern at The Louisville Courier Journal. The two maintained a friendship over the years, and Eiler watched as du Cille’s career took him to The Miami Herald, where he earned his first two Pulitzers, then to The Washington Post, where he secured his third.

“Journalism was the key to everything Michel did,” Eiler said. “His well-defined sense of journalism was built firmly around the ethics and excellence he practiced on the streets and in the field of visual communications. … I’m proud that he is part of the Scripps, Ohio University, Bobcat, Visual Communications family.”

Du Cille’s relationship with Ohio University began long before he became an official Bobcat.

Gary Kirksey, an associate professor of visual communication, reflected on his first encounter with du Cille when du Cille accepted an invitation to visit the Athens Campus in 1987 as part of Ohio University’s Black History Month celebration. Du Cille would return to the campus several times in the coming years, including in 2013 when he served as a speaker at the Scripps College’s annual Schuneman Symposium on Photojournalism and New Media.

Kirksey shared fond memories of his visits with du Cille and noted the alumnus’ dedication to Ohio University and its students.

“Michel was always cooperative when we asked him to do things,” Kirksey said, noting that he was one of the first to donate to a scholarship fund that has historically benefited many Bobcats. “He was always proactive in teaching the next generation.”

Service to aspiring journalists was a theme that carried over to the evening’s next honoree – Mike Philipps.

The CEO and president of the Scripps Howard Foundation, Philipps’ career in the field of journalism spans more than 30 years and illustrates an enduring commitment to advancing journalistic excellence.

“Mike is dedicated to the core values of ethical journalism – honesty, accuracy, fairness and a deep devotion to the First Amendment,” Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis said in honoring Philipps.

McDavis noted the partnership between the Scripps College and the Scripps Howard Foundation and its affiliates – a partnership that dates back to the 1960s and was solidified by a $15 million gift to the college in 2006. That gift, McDavis said, has transformed the college in numerous ways, enabling the college to increase its programming and further support its students.

“Because of Mike, the partnership and the college are both stronger than ever,” McDavis said, noting Philipps’ comprehensive understanding of the news industry and his commitment to working with the Scripps College to ensure that its programs serve OHIO students in the best ways possible.

McDavis’ comments were followed by a Scripps College-produced video featuring OHIO students sharing the ways in which they have benefited from Philipps’ work and the partnership the college has with the Scripps Howard Foundation. The video also highlighted the work Philipps has done most recently in encouraging the Scripps College to promote the work the college, its students, faculty and staff do on a daily basis to advance the field of communication. That encouragement resulted in the college developing a new brand, which was launched this week.

“Your vision and philosophy makes you somebody that has been an instrumental part of how our college has grown and evolved over the last several years, and we thank you for that so much,” Titsworth said to Philipps.

In taking the podium, Philipps extended his thanks to Ohio University’s faculty, staff and management for everything they do to support student success.

“That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do what we do,” he said, noting the numerous Scripps graduates he has worked with over the years and who were always among “the best in the newsroom.”

Philipps reflected on his professional career. An English literature major who served his country in the Vietnam War, Philipps spoke of how he ended up in the newspaper business, working various positions at The Cincinnati Post/Kentucky Post over a 30-year period before becoming CEO and president of the Scripps Howard Foundation in 2008.

He directed many of his comments to the future journalists in the room, telling them, “It’s a different world, but it is full of opportunity for you.”

“There’s great opportunity out there for folks who are not afraid to work, not afraid to think, and not afraid to create,” he said. “You have the opportunity to reinvent an industry, which until 10 or 15 years ago had not really seen much change since 1875.”

Among the opportunities that await the next generation of journalists, Philipps noted opportunities to create new business models and innovative ways of engaging with the audience in an evolving digital age.

He also issued some words of wisdom to Scripps College students.

“If you are to survive, you will become a continuous learner. Those who are not constantly learning new skills will get left behind,” Philipps said. “You will work harder than I ever had to … but you’re starting off way better prepared than I was and with a journalism education that prepares you to do just about anything.”

As Philipps prepares to retire from the Scripps Howard Foundation in the coming months, he reflected on the essence of his career and his hopes for the future of the communications industry.

“What I have done or tried to do … and what I hope you will do with your career is fight ignorance,” he said. “You at your best are warriors in the battle against ignorance, against misinformation, against misunderstanding. … You are the gatekeepers, and you must be the gatekeepers. We’re not here to tell people what to think, but we can give them the tools to think for themselves. In that world, ignorance always loses, and that’s the world I want to live out my days in.”

Philipps ended his remarks by inviting those in the room, and the future journalists in particular, to join him and the news industry in the battle against ignorance.

“I have great confidence in the young people in this room,” he said. “Don’t let me down.”

Communication Week 2015 continues through Friday. For a complete list of events, visit www.ohio.edu/communicationweek.