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Release: Oct. 8, 1999

UI journalism students win top national award from professional group

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) received the 1998-99 National Outstanding Campus Chapter Award at the national convention of SPJ, which was held in Indianapolis Oct. 3-5. The UI group beat 11 other university SPJ chapters to win the national recognition.

Each year the Society recognizes both professional and campus chapters for their outstanding professional programs, service activities, membership growth, fund-raising projects and chapter communication through newsletters and other sources. The UI chapter first was named the best campus chapter in its region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and then was judged against other regional campus winners on the basis of its annual report.

Richard Johns, a UI professor of journalism who has been the SPJ faculty advisor for more than 20 years, said the UI SPJ chapter has won the regional distinction regularly over the years, but this is the first time the group has ever won the top national award.

"It's really a very nice award recognizing the excellent work this group has done in the last year," he said.

The officers for 1998-99 were: Angela Tague, president; Brenda Kline, vice president; Matthew Kussick, treasurer; Todd Hefferman, program director; Amy Sass, membership development director; and Johns, SPJ faculty advisor.

In presenting the award, Gordon "Mac" McKerral, vice president for Campus Chapter Affairs at SPJ, said the UI chapter had an excellent well-rounded program that involved a variety of chapter members. He cited the addition of 28 new members, the raising of $2,800 to help support chapter activities and provide funding to send student members to national and regional conventions, the outstanding chapter newsletters, and a special service project in which members participated in the UI Dance Marathon to support fund raising for children with serious illnesses.

Other regional campus chapter award winners were: Syracuse University, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, University of Georgia, Marshall University, Eastern Kentucky University, University of St. Thomas, Texas Tech University, Weber State University, Pacific Lutheran University, San Diego State University, and Loyola University-New Orleans.