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Journalism Professor Makes a Difference in Students’ Lives

Posted Nov. 21, 2011
enter photo description
Journalism Professor Gary Hanson is congratulated by
Dean of the College of Communication and Information
Stan Wearden for receiving the 2011 Distinguished
Teaching Award (DTA).

Although teaching is a second career for him, School of Journalism and Mass Communication Professor Gary Hanson has been an inspiration to many students.

Hanson spent 25 years in TV news, but says what he really did in the newsroom was teach. He has been teaching a lot longer than he has been a professor.

“I spend a lot of time with students, and that’s the most important time of all,” Hanson says. “I really care about journalism. I’m fascinated with the process and how information travels.”

As a result of his passion for journalism, Hanson is one of three recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA).

“It really is humbling when you look at the list of previous winners,” says Hanson.

Hanson teaches Broadcast Beat Reporting and Media, Power and Culture. With online courses becoming more prevalent, Hanson developed the online version of Media, Power and Culture in 2010. The course won a Best of Festival Award by the Broadcast Education Association for interactive multimedia.

“I was anxious and nervous when I stepped into Professor Hanson’s Broadcast Beat class,” a former student of Hanson’s says. “His calm voice quickly eased my tightly crossed arms. Personally, he helped me find confidence in my strengths and instincts as a journalist.”

Another former student said in a nomination letter, “Gary Hanson is an invaluable asset to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I still hear his voice in my head every time I write a story.”

Hanson was recently involved in a project called International Story Telling. He traveled with a group of students to Shanghai for 11 days of reporting. This spring he is taking students to India.

Hanson enjoys Kent State University because he gets to work with hardworking, highly motivated students as they prepare for media-related careers. He said he also gets to work with like-minded faculty colleagues who share his passion for teaching.

Being part of the university community is really something special to Hanson. “It has really given me a tremendous set of opportunities,” Hanson says. “The most rewarding thing is seeing the light come on in someone’s eye, that ‘oh yeah, I get it!’ moment.”

Hanson grew up in North Dakota and moved to Ohio to take a position as a producer in Youngstown, where he worked at WKBN for 18 years.

His goal is to make a difference. He says students and parents trust him, and he wants to make sure they’re spending their money wisely. Students pay for access to the faculty, and Hanson believes it is his moral responsibility to make that happen.

“I want to make journalism better,” says Hanson. “I want to make sure it’s good.”