RELEASED NOVEMBER 2003
The Journalism Education Association (JEA) honored Jack Dvorak, professor of journalism at Indiana University, with its Carl Towley Award during the organization’s national convention. The award was presented at a luncheon at the Hilton Washington, in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Nov. 22. Dvorak spoke about heroes at the luncheon.
The Towley Award is JEA’s highest honor. It is given annually to a JEA member whose work is unusually beneficial and of superior value to the national JEA and to scholastic journalism.
Dvorak, a Master Journalism Educator, has worked tirelessly throughout his career to legitimize scholastic journalism.
Work of JEA’s Commission on the Role of Journalism in Secondary Education, undertaken 20 years ago, relied heavily on Dvorak’s statistical studies conducted through the American College Testing Program.
Dvorak explored whether any significant differences in scores existed between those secondary school students who had been on the staff of a school newspaper or yearbook and those students who had no high school publications experience. He found such significant differences do exist in favor of those involved in high school publications.
Because of Dvorak’s statistical studies and findings, Julie Dodd, journalism professor at the University of Florida and one of four who nominated Dvorak for this award, said, “the Commission’s final report had much more credibility to an audience beyond scholastic journalism advocates, such as school administrators at the high school and university levels and professional journalists.”
Also nominating Dvorak for this award, John Wheeler, Commission chair, wrote, “He brought a scholar’s perspective to Commission proceedings, reminding the group that more than surveys and anecdotal evidence were needed if JEA were to persuade educational institutions that scholastic journalism was valuable.”
Taking his research farther, Dvorak co-authored the book Journalism Kids Do Better with Larry Lain and Tom Dickson.
“This is one of the most significant books in the field in the past 20 years,” Dodd said.
Dvorak’s second major role for JEA has been in establishing its program to provide national certification for journalism educators. He served on the original committee to create JEA’s certification program and has continued to serve on the Certification Commission, the body that oversees the program, as a valued consultant, especially in formulating and evaluating test questions.
“When the Certification Committee met at the Freedom Forum to develop the program,” Dodd said, “Jack had recently worked on developing teaching assessment tests for Indiana and brought that experience to the development of the JEA certification exams and the approach to the scoring of the exams.”
Dennis Cripe, associate professor at Franklin College and director of the Indiana High School Press Association, credits Dvorak with leading Indiana’s journalism standards committee to a successful battle in adding journalism as a stand-alone license in the state.
“It was a long and difficult battle,” Cripe said, “but Jack’s leadership as chair of the journalism standards committee last fall resulted in the state’s acceptance of the new journalism standards in May 2003.” Cripe also nominated Dvorak for the award.
Through programs he directs at Indiana University, Dvorak is actively involved in enhancing journalism at the high school level. Each year he coordinates a spring media writing competition on the IU Bloomington campus, attracting students from throughout the state. Each summer he directs the High School Journalism Institute, more than a month of workshops for both high school students and advisers.
“Having taught adviser classes for 12 summers,” Dodd said, “I know what a wonderful job Jack does of having a strong learning experience for the students and a supportive and organized teaching experience for those of us who are instructors.”
Another of Dvorak’s nominators, Linda Puntney, JEA Executive Director, wrote, “Although he hasn’t advised a publication in decades, his influence on scholastic journalism has made it possible for thousands of others to be more qualified, more informed and more empowered advisers.”
“From a higher education perspective,” Dodd said, “Jack is the consummate journalism educator. He teaches university classes that prepare future journalism teachers, directs workshops that help improve the journalism background of teachers and high school students, provides significant outreach in scholastic journalism, and conducts research on scholastic journalism, presenting and publishing that research to validate its importance.”