Alumni, faculty, staff and students from all different decades filled the Grand Ballroom in the K-State Student Union on Saturday to celebrate the 100th birthday of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
With the motto, “preserving the past, preparing for the future,” the gathering was a time to glance back and remember the accomplishments of both students and staff, as well as a time to look forward at what the future holds.
“I’ve been reunited with people I haven’t seen, with professors of mine that I haven’t seen in years and years and years,” said Steve Smethers, associate professor of journalism and mass communications. “For me personally, it’s been great.”
The four-hour celebratory banquet was coordinated by Gloria Freeland, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications and director of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media.
Co-masters of the ceremony were Ralph Titus, emeritus professor for extension communications, and Luke Wempe, senior in mass communications.
Events for the night included a medley of songs performed by the K-State Singers, congratulatory remarks from several guests including President Kirk Schulz, a DVD presentation of the school’s history, memories throughout the decade and a silent auction.
Freeland said she had been planning the event for about a year, and her goal was to get everyone together to learn about the history of the Miller school.
“We have a great legacy here at K-State, a great tradition, people really love this program,” she said. “If you have heard alumni at all, they feel like we’re a family here at K-State, and they’re just excited about learning a little bit more about the past.”
The DVD presentation showed the school over time, from its beginning through some of the many changes throughout history. The show ended with mention of a woman who attended the school. Although unable to make it to the centennial banquet, a picture of Veva Brewer Mann, a 1933 K-State graduate, was shown on the screen, sending greetings from home.
Following the slideshow were short speeches from graduates of each decade, starting with 1943 graduate Don Richards, and ending with a speech from Anna Lewis, 2010 graduate in mass communications.
The celebration demonstrated the long-standing, successful history of the journalism and mass communications school at K-State.
“We have photographs here, in the silent auction tonight, from some of our award-winning alumni journalists. President Obama’s photographer is a K-State graduate, but we also have people here who are part of our alumni group who had great careers as photojournalists for United Press International, for the Associated Press, for the Christian Science Monitor,” Smethers said. “When you look at that kind of a track record and that kind of a background, I think that shows that this journalism school represents so many things to the industry and to the people of Kansas.”
With people of all ages and generations in attendance at the banquet, guests were able to get their glimpse back into the past.
“I was excited about seeing former students and former colleagues; it’s been great,” said Carol Oukrop, former director of the Miller school. “It’s just fun.”
Oukrop was director of the school from 1986 to 1997.
There was also opportunity to see what the future might bring, with current students in attendance.
“I feel honored, being one of the few younger adults here,” said Eric Hostetler, freshman in mass communications.
Hostetler, who has been at K-State just over two weeks, said he is ready to see what the Miller school has to offer.
“So far I really like it,” he said. “I’m definitely trying to expand to a lot of the different media out there, I’m willing to experience it all.”
When President Schulz took the stage to give remarks about the first 100 years of the Miller school, he said it was great to see the level of achievement that has come from the school.
“We’ve had a great hundred years,” Schulz said.
He said for the next centennial celebration, he knows “whoever is fortunate enough to be Kansas State president will be able to stand up and talk about the really great things that our faculty, staff and students at the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism have done.”