The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University has named James Thomas (Tom) Emmerson the recipient of its 2022 James W. Schwartz Award. The annual award recognizes distinguished service to journalism and communication and is the highest honor conferred by the school.
Emmerson’s Iowa State career spans from being a student in the 1950s, returning in 1974 as a professor, and serving as chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication from 1986-1993. He advised hundreds of journalism students and taught reporting, print media editing, media ethics, American journalism history and public relations.
As an Iowa State undergraduate student in the 1950s, Emmerson was active in student media and wrote an article about the discovery of a plaque commemorating Jack Trice, the first Black athlete at Iowa State. His article helped bring Jack Trice’s story back into memory and was an early milestone in the decades-long movement to name Iowa State’s football stadium after Trice.
As chair of the department, he faced several challenges, including the Board of Regents plan to eliminate the Iowa State Journalism school in the late 80s. Emmerson took a leading role in pushing back against this proposal by writing articles, editorials and newsletters. He also garnered considerable student and alumni, as well as large and small media, support throughout Iowa.
Emmerson graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s in technical journalism in 1960 and with a master’s in history in 1963. He received a Ph.D. in international history in 1973 from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Emmerson retired from Iowa State in 2004.
He was honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the Iowa Newspaper Association in April 1999 – the second Iowa State faculty member to be recognized by the INA. The award is presented for outstanding service to the newspaper profession and the community. Nominated by his former students, Emmerson received the 2018 Iowa State University Alumni Association Faculty and Staff Inspiration Award.
“Tom Emmerson not only inspired countless students, but he also led the Iowa State Journalism School and successfully pushed back against the Board of Regents plan to eliminate the school almost 40 years ago. The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication continues today as a world class School because of his efforts,” said Michael Dahlstrom, director of the Greenlee School.
“I am both gobsmacked and overwhelmingly appreciative. James W. (Jim) Schwartz was my teacher, colleague, boss, mentor and inspiration. I hope I have come close to living up to his high standards,” Emmerson said. “I also owe a lot to my journalism faculty colleagues and the alums who championed our cause when the then-department was earmarked by the Regents for elimination in the 1980s.”
Emmerson will be recognized at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Honors and Awards Ceremony and at a separate ceremony in the Greenlee School later in the fall semester.
About the James W. Schwartz Award
The James W. Schwartz Award is the highest honor conferred by Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. It is awarded in honor of alumnus James W. Schwartz (1941), who served as department chair of the school for 13 years and president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The Schwartz Award has been presented since 1978 to leaders in journalism and related fields. The school’s advisory council and faculty nominate candidates and faculty and staff select the winner. Previous honorees include four Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished broadcast journalists, authors, advertising and public relations executives, newspaper and magazine publishers and editors and leading writers in a variety of specialty areas.
About the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
At Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, students create their adventures in a top communication program. In the classroom, students practice the latest communication trends and methods as they are mentored by award-winning practitioners and respected scholars. They also apply their skills through involvement in student media and organizations. A required professional media internship gives undergraduates an industry experience that builds their resumes and portfolios and prepares them for success as they enter the workforce. The Greenlee School has been continuously accredited by ACEJMC since its initial accreditation in 1948. The Greenlee School offers three undergraduate majors – journalism and mass communication, advertising and public relations – and a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication.