Reynolds School of Journalism dean killed in auto accident

1/8/2007 8:00:00 AM

Cole Campbell, dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism, was killed Friday morning in an automobile accident in west Reno. Campbell was on his way to the University campus when he lost control of his Honda SUV and rolled the vehicle onto its roof near McCarran Boulevard and Caughlin Parkway, according to police reports. The 53-year-old Campbell was taken to Renown Medical Center and later died from his injuries.

Campbell, former editor of both The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., became dean of the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism in July 2004. At the time of becoming the school's fifth dean, he was a senior associate with the Charles F. Kettering Foundation.

"It has been a tragic day in the Reynolds School of Journalism," said Warren Lerude, a professor in the school for more than 20 years and a former Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. "We were blessed to have Cole as dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism. He cast a long shadow, from our students to our faculty to the friends and alumni of this venerable school.

"He came from a distinguished newspaper background and was a true visionary. He had an uncanny ability to spark everyone's imagination here. His loss is a great one for our school. It's a loss of a great journalist, and an even  greater person."

"A light has gone out for our University," Nevada President Milt Glick said. "Please keep the Campbell family in your thoughts and prayers."

Glick added that Campbell "was passionate about journalism and optimistic about its future and the positive role that the University could play in that future."

Larry Dailey, a professor of journalism who joined the Nevada faculty one and half years ago from Ball State University, said Campbell's energy and ideas were prime reasons why Dailey listened when Campbell recruited him to work at Nevada.

Dailey said Campbell was an optimist - a man who wasn't afraid of declining readership for daily newspapers.

"He had an undiluted optimism ... he was very concerned about the future of the industry, but he lived his concern in such a way where those around him couldn't help but change that concern into optimism," Dailey said. "Cole believed journalism was a great calling, and he lived that ideal every day. Anyone who worked with him would tell you that his vision was one to best prepare all of the students of our school for the future of the industry."

One of the best examples of Campbell's vision was the school's first-year graduate program in environmental journalism. The program, which has focused on environmental issues at Lake Tahoe, has taken a multimedia approach to its storytelling, and has also stressed the value that serious journalism can have in solving major issues, such as the challenges faced at Lake Tahoe.

"We have a new graduate program, and it's been Cole's considerable vision and evangelism that has helped nurture it," Dailey said. "Like with anything Cole did, I don't think he looked at this program or anything else he did as a job, but as a calling."

When Campbell accepted the position in 2004, he said he believed the school was positioned for prominence in journalism issues, ethics and innovations this century.

"I think in the next five to 10 years, this school can leverage its commitment to media ethics and media technology to become a national beacon for journalism as a practice and journalism education," Campbell said. "There's just a lot of opportunity at this school."

"The Reynolds School already has critical thinking as one of its core ingredients," he added. "I love to see attention paid to that. I think journalists will always have to use certain conventions and rituals and routines to get through the day. The question is how are we going to revisit them to see if they still work for us effectively?"

National journalism experts applauded Campbell's hiring in 2004.

"Cole is an innovator, a daring thinker," said Roy Peter Clark in a 2004 interview. Clark is vice president and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Campbell served as a fellow in 2000. Campbell edited the 2002 book, "He challenges people to see journalism and education in new ways. I predict he will bring to the school a powerful combination of intellectual rigor and practical experience."

Campbell was an author or editor of three books and authored dozens of journal articles, book chapters, publications and reports. He earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1975. He was recently elected to the Board of Trustees of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, a research foundation rooted in the American tradition of inventive research.

He was a member of the Board of Visitors at the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees at KNPB public television station in Reno.

In addition, he served as a Pulitzer Prize juror and member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors for many years.

He is survived by his wife, Catherine, and son, Clarke, both of Reno, and daughter, Claire of Brooklyn, N.Y.


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