A Lifetime of Scholarship
AEJMC bestows journalism professor with distinguished service award
Gene Burd, associate professor in the College of Communication's School of Journalism, was recently granted the Distinguished Service Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). The honor is only awarded when deemed worthy and has only been given three other times since its inception in 2001.
"We are giving (the award) out this year to Professor Gene Burd, who has not merely seen, but embodies the history of the organization…," said AEJMC president Linda Steiner in an address at the AEJMC business meeting in Chicago. "Gene Burd, thank you for your passionate and generous commitment to journalism, journalism education and journalism scholarship."
The recognition is rare and exclusive to those who have enhanced journalism and mass communication education for a lifetime of service to students, colleagues and media professionals. Burd showed great appreciation for the honor.
"What feels good is when I hear from a student years later about something I'd said or done or in some way helped out that made a difference in their life," said Burd. "That's what has really made an impact on me. It's heavy."
Burd, an 80-year-old with more than 40 years of teaching experience at The University of Texas at Austin alone, has contributed to the AEJMC since 1959 and had previously served on the faculty at Marquette, Minnesota, Columbia College and Northwestern.
Also a longtime print journalist, Burd worked for daily and weekly newspapers in Kansas City, Houston, Albuquerque, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Earning several titles throughout his time with the AEJMC, Burd has made nearly 100 AEJMC presentations and endowed $28,300 for the Lori Eason award for graduate student research in science communication in honor of the late UT doctoral student. He also donated $10,000 to establish the Communication Technology Division's award for faculty research, and gave more than $1 million to establish The Urban Communication Foundation, which has presented annual $5,000 awards to journalists from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco at AEJMC conventions.
"For me – it was never a job – it was a calling," said Burd. "It's just what I do, and I've been a part of studying and promoting journalism for just as long."
Burd said the shifts of technology in journalism have done nothing but motivate him to study more.
"I see it as a challenge to learn," said Burd, who said he has never owned a car and walks every day to campus. "The Internet is akin to the invention of the printing press. And all the issues that have arisen from it are a part of that – it's a whole new can of worms."
In closing, Burd said he has no plans to retire because what he would do in retirement is exactly what he is doing every day at UT.
"I'm always here – even on the weekends," said Burd. "I love what I do – and I'll continue to do it," he said with a grin.
Laura Byerley, (512) 471-2182