John A. Boyd · 1992
This speech was given at his induction into the Hall of Fame.
A newspaper editor in Southern Indiana recently said about the journalism program of Indiana State University, “You must have a gem of a program there. Every one of the students I’ve hired out of there over the years has come into my newsroom ready and willing to work as a professional. They’re well-educated and well-trained.”
The roots of the ISU program reach back to the early 1950s. That’s when, in 1952, a fellow, originally from Springfield, Mo., arrived on the campus of what was then Indiana State Teachers College in Terre Haute. Jhon A. Boyd had traveled up U.S. Highway 41 from Evansville, where he had been director of publications at Evansville College, to become a journalism professor in the Department of English at ISTC. On the Terre Haute campus he became known as “Mr. Journalism,” teaching courses in the field and advising the Indiana Statesman student newspaper and Sycamore yearbook.
In those days, he was just Mr. Boyd, having earned his bachelor’s degree in English from DePauw University in 1937 and his master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University in 1941. His teaching career had begun in 1937 at Bosse High School in Evansville where he remained until 1948 when he switched to Evansville College.
In the early 1950s, Indiana State Teachers College was the primary training ground for teachers in Indiana. Journalism students were required to double major in English as well, but they looked to John A. Boyd for guidance in journalism. No one has ever counted up the number of Indiana high school journalism teachers who were influenced in their formative stages by John A. Boyd. It is safe to say that virtually all journalism teachers in the 1950s, 1960s into the 1970s crossed his path, if not in the classrooms of ISTC, then surely at professional meetings and conferences where he was a familiar figure as Dr. John Boyd. He had earned his doctorate in 1960 from I.U.
Significantly, in 1962, he became a national figure in scholastic journalism when he was named president of the National Council of College Publications Advisers, the primary professional organization for high school journalism teachers.
Two years later, in 1964, he was named executive director of the organization whose national office co-existed with his own faculty office on the ISTC campus. In 1980, the organization honored him by naming its archives at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa as the John A. Boyd Archives.
During his years in Terre Haute, Dr. Boyd was active on campus and in the community. For example, he handled public relations for such organizations as the Vigo County Tuberculosis Association and the United Way. His professional honors were many. In 1948, he was named a life member of the Indiana High School Press Association, and in 1967, he was named the Distinguished Yearbook Adviser for
1967. In 1969, he published a highly praised guide for teachers and advisers. Its title was in keeping with John’s practical, simple nature. It was called “Yearbook Manual and Style.” Another later guide carried an even more simple title – “Manual and Style.”
The 1960s was a period of change for society at large, and that was certainly true for Indiana State Teachers College which evolved into Indiana State University with a broader educational mission than just preparing students for teaching careers.
The journalism program was soon to change also, and Dr. Boyd was instrumental in that move. The big step came with his hiring in 1971 of a former student from his first journalism class at Bosse High School – John H. Boyd Jr. With two John Boyds to contend with, faculty and students at ISU began referring to Dr. Boyd as John A. (emphasis on the A) and to Mr. Boyd as John H. (emphasis on the H).
John H. Boyd assumed the leadership role as director of journalism at ISU, but the two men worked closely together to plan and implement significant changes in the university’s journalism program. They added a number of courses as they switched the program’s emphasis from the preparation of prospective high school teachers to the training of prospective professional journalists. Enrollment jumped and additional faculty members were hired, all of whom had been professional journalists and benefited greatly from Dr. Boyd’s considerable experience in teaching journalism. In communities across the Wabash Valley and throughout Indiana, the program became known for its ability to turn out highly qualified, highly motivated young reporters and editors ready to enter the profession.
In 1981, Dr. Boyd retired from the ISU faculty, and a year later he stepped down as head of the National Council of College Publications Advisers, which today is known as College Media Advisers.
But his influence remains. Many of his students remain at work in Hoosier classrooms and credit him with providing the foundation on which they built their own careers in education. Their students still attend ISU and major in journalism, which today operates as a separate program within the Department of Communication. Each year, several journalism students receive the John A. Boyd Scholarships, which are based on an endowment started originally by Dr. Boyd himself and supported today by many alumni of the program.
Each fall, on Homecoming Saturday for ISU, department alumni gather for a traditional brunch. A recent graduate, who had not known Dr. Boyd, spent some time with him. Later, she said, “I wished I had had him in class. He’s one of the wittiest men I’ve ever met. I bet he must have been a great teacher of journalism.”
Witty? Boyd certainly must be.
Guess what, folks?
Boyd sent us along with other information about himself his grade transcript from his alma mater, DePauw University.
It’s pretty good. But we wonder how that transcript stacks up against the transcript of another DePauw graduate, Vice President Dan Quayle.
John Boyd, a new and worthy member of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.