Director Michael Bugeja Named 2015 Journalism and Mass Communication Administrator of the Year


Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, has been named the 2015 Charles E. Scripps Journalism & Mass Communication Administrator of the Year.

Established in 1953, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s national journalism awards competition is open to news organizations based in the U.S. and recognizes outstanding print, broadcast and online journalism in 15 categories. Two additional categories honor college journalism and mass communication educators for excellence in administration and teaching.

Earlier this year a panel of expert judges converged at the Poynter Institute in Florida to review every submission and determine the winners who will share in $180,000 in cash prizes.

“In his 13-year tenure at Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Dr. Bugeja’s impact can be seen in the way he has modernized the school, increased scholarship opportunities and worked to streamline curricula to ensure students graduate in a timely manner," said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. "His dedication to transparency and affordability in higher education has been a model for other institutions in the state and nation. We’re proud of Dr. Bugeja’s many accomplishments and congratulate him on his selection as Scripps’ Administrator of the Year and for bringing this national honor to our great state."

The Scripps Award for the Journalism & Mass Communication Administrator of the Year is given in collaboration with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). It is open to any past or present administrator of a school, department of journalism or mass communication at accredited or non-accredited schools.

“I am incredibly honored to have won this prestigious award and owe it to the exemplary faculty and staff of the Greenlee School,” Bugeja said. “They made the decision to put our students and operation ahead of their own personal interests so that they could belong to and build something greater than themselves.

“They created that entity, built that program, and productivity and our reputation soared.”

The school’s enrollment has increased 38 percent in the past five years. When Bugeja became director in 2003, endowments totaled about $800,000. Now endowments and other accounts total close to $6 million. Bugeja is credited with establishing partnerships with industry, including an apprenticeship program with Meredith Corporation, and streamlining curricula so that students graduate with less debt in a timely manner. Placement rates now are near 100 percent within six months of commencement.

“Iowa State is very fortunate to have a director as dedicated and determined as Dr. Bugeja," said Iowa State University President Steven Leath. "He has elevated the Greenlee School to national prominence through his commitment to promote teamwork, contribution, and transparency. This award is a reflection of that dedication and is well-deserved.”

A frequent contributor to the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, Bugeja was among the first nationally to advocate for reducing student debt. In 2010, the school began publishing data about its program in an online “public accountability” page. Now all accredited journalism and mass communication programs must have such a page showcasing graduation and retention rates, among other metrics.

Bugeja was a finalist for the Scripps Award in 2014. In 2008 he won the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Award for Outstanding Leadership and in 2013 he received the Iowa State’s Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Letters of reference for the Scripps Award came from the executive director of the Iowa Board of Regents, three university presidents, and a distinguished media ethicist.

“Michael’s vision for higher education, which he successfully implements at the Greenlee School, points to the critical need to do things differently and transparently,” wrote Robert Donley, executive director of the Iowa Board of Regents. “Michael’s work influenced the conversation on how to open our universities to Iowans.”

ISU President Steven Leath wrote about “a fundamental cultural shift in the Greenlee School led by Michael’s commitment to promote teamwork, contribution, and transparency: top faculty has been hired, research productivity has flourished, promotion and tenure has increased, endowments have escalated nearly sevenfold, and most importantly, morale has rebounded.

“He lifted the school to national prominence, ranked among top programs in the country.”

Ben Allen, president emeritus, University of Northern Iowa and former ISU provost, wrote about Bugeja’s ability to effect positive change in the climate of a unit, as documented with the school being awarded the 2014 AEJMC Equity and Diversity Award. “He made some simple but profound changes in the procedures and practices within the Greenlee School that boosted morale of the faculty and staff, returned civility to faculty meetings, and greatly increased productivity of the Greenlee School.”

Before coming to Iowa State in 2003, Bugeja served as associate director of the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where he also worked as special assistant to President Robert Glidden.

“Michael’s success may be attributed to many factors, including a brilliant mind and the capacity to work 18 or more hours a day,” Glidden stated. “He has always had a strong commitment to doing what is right, regardless of political repercussions, whether in dealing with a student conduct issue or promulgation of a new proposal that may affect some colleagues adversely, and he has the courage to follow that commitment.”

Clifford Christians, Research Professor of Communication, Univ. of Illinois, noted that “Director Bugeja is genuinely collegial, committed to the common good, unalterably identified with a major program, and committed to the health and vitality of journalism and mass communication as an educational arena. An aggressive leader who makes decisions and acts on them with courage, an authority by virtue of his appointment, but truly a team player—it’s almost unheard of, but in abundance with this extraordinary man.”

Bugeja says this award will continue a legacy of achievement at Iowa State, associated with the history of AEJMC. In 1912, the American Association of Teachers of Journalism (AATJ)was created. In 1950, it changed its name to theAssociation for Education in Journalism (AEJ). Both organizations became the current AEJMC in 1982.

In 1923, Iowa State’s F.W. Beckman was elected president of the AATJ. 1937 ISU’s Blair Converse was elected president. In 1956, ISU’sKenneth R. Marvin was elected president of AEJ. In 1969, James W. Schwartz was elected AEJ president.

The school now has won two of AEJMC’s top honors, the Equity and Diversity Award and Scripps Administrator of the Year.

Bugeja and his fellow award recipients and he will be honored on Aug. 6 at the keynote session of the AEJMC annual convention.