Baylor Department Celebrates Legacy of Excellence in Journalism Education

Oct. 10, 2011

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The Baylor University Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media is celebrating more than 110 years of educating students for careers in journalism on Oct. 20-21 with a special emphasis on the classes of 1958 to 1976, fondly known as the Cheavens-McHam era.

The festivities will begin with a reception on Thursday, Oct. 20, for alumni, followed by a dinner and ceremony honoring 1958 Baylor graduate David McHam, who taught at Baylor from 1961-1974. Celebrating his 50th year of teaching, he was named the outstanding journalism teacher in the nation by the Society of Professional Journalists in 1994, and has worked at The Waco News-Tribune, Houston Post and Dallas Times Herald.

The chair of the journalism department during that period was the late David Cheavens. Prior to serving as chair from 1962-1970, Cheavens was chief of the capitol bureau for the Associated Press in Austin from 1942-1961. He worked for the AP in Dallas from 1934-1942, when he was promoted to the Austin job. His family, including Alice Baird, daughter of Cheavens and granddaughter of Dr. Joseph Dawson, the first student editor of the Baylor Lariat in 1900, also will be recognized during the celebration. The dinner and ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Barfield Drawing Room at the Bill Daniel Student Center.

On Friday, Oct. 21, the journalism department will sponsor a panel discussion titled "Can Freedom of Information Survive U.S. Democracy (and Politics)?" The distinguished panelists include:

    • Judge Ken Starr, President of Baylor University and The Louise L. Morrison Chair of Constitutional Law at Baylor Law School
    • Moderator Tony Pederson, Belo Distinguished Chair of Journalism, Southern Methodist University
    • Kenneth Bunting, Executive Director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition
    • Charles L. Overby, former Chair & CEO/Newseum, Freedom Forum & Diversity Institute
    • Thomas J. Williams, partner, Haynes and Boone Law Firm

The panel discussion will be from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the Jim Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Classroom and Courtroom (Room 127) at Baylor Law School. The panelists will discuss transparency in government and access to information by the public and the media with focus on recent developments such as the Patriot Act and exceptions to the Federal Freedom of Information Act. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

For more information or to register for the dinner and reception, visit or call (254) 710-3261.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, classified with "high research activity" by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Baylor provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students, blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating Texas university. Located in Waco, it welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

About the Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media

The beginning of Baylor journalism can be traced back to the creation of the Baylor Lariat newspaper in 1900. Then in 1913, Baylor became the first university in Texas to offer a journalism course. The Department of Journalism was established in 1927 and the first chair was Dr. Charles D. Johnson. In September of 2011, the department was renamed Journalism, Public Relations and New Media to more accurately reflect what we do in a constantly changing media environment. We stay current on modern media platforms while remaining true to the fundamentals of strong, ethical journalism and public relations.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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