Trevor R. Brown · 2004
By David L. Adams
Trevor R. Brown has spent more than three decades of his professional career as a journalism educator and leader, having made his way to Indiana University by way of South Africa, the United Kingdom and Stanford University.
Brown joined the then Department of Journalism faculty at Indiana University in 1972 when Richard Gray was its chair. Brown studied modern history at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and first came to the United States in 1964 to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from Stanford University, which he completed in 1965.
He began his career as a general assignment and sports reporter for the Cape Times, in his home town of Came Town, South Africa. In 1968 he left South Africa for doctoral study at Stanford, and has lived in the United States since. After Richard Gray’s death in 1985.
Having also been an associate dean in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, Brown helped the IU School of Journalism become an independent school in 1989. The school’s degree requirements and curriculum were completely revised upon the school’s separation from the College, and the bachelor’s degree awarded is now a BAJ degree.
The program also raised admission standards and has grown from 500 to nearly 700 undergraduate majors. In addition, the journalism program offers masters and doctoral programs and is unique in that its accredited program of study is offered on both its Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses.
Brown oversaw the growth and stabilization of the independent school during the past 20 years. “We’ve grown the infrastructure that’s allowed growth of the school,” Brown said. Today, the school has four endowed professorships, and impressive undergraduate scholarship program that awards more than $150,000 annually to nearly 75 majors, and nearly 20 percent of its operating budget comes from outside funding. The school has also moved into newer areas of media technology under Brown’s leadership. He assisted the school in obtaining a Knight Foundation grant of $1.5 million to help train current faculty and recruit new doctoral students to study and eventually teach in technology and new media academic areas.
In nominating Dean Brown for this award, Craig Klugman, editor of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, said, “The terrain for any journalism school administrator is rocky.” A dean must balance academic accomplishments and scholarly research with the professional interests of the school’s constituents in the media. “It is fair to say the priorities of each can differ widely. If administrators in a journalism school aren’t careful, the disconnect can be debilitating. To Trevor’s credit, that has not been a problem for the IU School of Journalism,” Klugman added.
One of the school’s long-time faculty members, its Row W. Howard Distinguished Professor David Weaver, relayed a similar theme about Dean Brown’s administrative skills. “Trevor has a rare ability to be able to relate well to an incredibly wide variety of people and to resolve conflicts with the even-handedness and patience of a saint. I have often thought that if I were in his position, I could not begin to have the patience and foresight that he exhibits every day.”
For two decades, Brown has also gained funding from The Freedom Forum and led an annual national teaching workshop at IU for a new collegiate mass communication faculty. He regularly teaches courses at the school, and also serves on numerous university, state and national committees and boards. Bonnie Brownlee, and associate professor and the associate dean for undergraduate studies at the school, gave these insights into Brown’s many achievements as the school’s dean: “At Indiana University, Trevor has been a tireless and effective administrator. He has represented the school on every important committee a campus can imagine. He seems always to be called upon when there is a need for someone with the rare mix of vision, the ability to actually accomplish the task and the selflessness needed to take on the job. Trevor Brown is truly an outstanding individual; he surely deserves a spot in the distinguished Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
While independent editorially and financially from the school, both the Indiana Daily Student and Arbutus yearbook report through the school’s administrative structure. Dean Brown sits as a permanent member of the media boards. Journalism majors largely staff both student media.
Adjunct faculty member David Adams, IDS is often in the center of controversy, but Adams is thankful for Trevor’s understanding of the “independent’ roles these student media play. “Trevor’s always there for us. Many journalism directors or deans are often the first to jump ship and publicly criticize student media during heated times. Trevor has never done that. He really believes in staying with the students, even during the most difficult situations.”
During the past two decades, the IU School of Journalism has matured into one of the most respected programs in the country. It continues to provide and excellent stream of young professionals to serve Indiana’s media and communication industries. One of Brown’s former students, Tim Harmon, managing editor of The South Bend Tribune, notes: “Like Craig (Klugman), I have spent most of my career in Indiana journalism, and I have hired many of the graduates of Trevor’s school. They are well prepared for the profession with all its challenges and changes” And, while Harmon notes that IU’s program has moved into other areas of service to the communication industry such as public relations, advertising and new media, it ‘somehow, under (Trevor’s) leadership, has managed to mutate into an institution that caters effectively to very different disciplines.”
Brown’s colleague and supervisor, IU Chancellor Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis, remains thankful that he’s worked closely with Trevor Brown for nearly 30 years. “Trevor has been enormously successful as an administrator in the College of Arts and Sciences and for many years as Dean of the School of Journalism. His success can be attributed to many aspects of his character. He is a person of high ethical standards, integrity, forthrightness, all of this covered with a combination of humility, humanity and humor,” Gros Louis said.
Gros Louis, with a bit of humor of his own, added: “Trevor inspires others by the high standards he sets for himself and the collegial way in which he approaches problems, no matter how complex. It has been an honor to be his friend – I never thought of myself as his boss – and even greater honor to have defeated him so often on the tennis court.”
As Brown prepares to retire as dean in June, he leaves confident that the school is secure in its mission educationally, in its service and research interests to the communication professions, and it is a program that is secure financially as it moves through a new transition in leadership. “What I hope to pass on to my successor is a stable financial base with faculty and student resources to carry it into new areas of service, leadership and responsible growth,” Brown said.
Dean Trevor Brown has been a leader in national and international academic journalism accreditation and assessment work during the past decade and a half. In 2001, The Freedom Forum named him the Journalism Administrator of the Year. Post retirement plans include continued service as a board member of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and continued work with journalism accreditation and assessment.
Brown and his wife, Charlene, who works closely with the IU Honors College, plan to remain in Bloomington. They have two grown children, and they are also proud grandparents.