News and Events


Professor Gene Burd Receives The AEJMC Distinguished Service Award

Link to College of Communication article: A Lifetime of Scholarship 


Distinguished Service Remarks from AEJMC President Linda Steiner
AEJMC Business Meeting
Saturday, August 11, 2012

For some years AEJMC has had a Distinguished Service Award. We rarely give this –and then only to very special people. We are giving it out this year—to Prof. Gene Burd, who has not merely seen, but embodies the history of the organization. Gene, who is 81 years young, has been teaching journalism and contributing to AEJMC since 1959.

Gene has long taught at the University of Texas, having previously taught at Marquette and Minnesota. His first teaching experiences were here in the Windy City-- at Columbia College and at Northwestern, where he earned his Ph.D. in urban studies under the direction of Curtis MacDougall.

Gene attended the “explosive” 1964 and 1965 AEJ conventions where a “Cold War” broke out between Chi Squares researchers and Green Eye Shade professionals. But Gene has straddled these worlds. With his years on daily and weekly newspapers in Kansas City, Houston, Albuquerque, suburban Los Angeles and Chicago, he was active in the magazine group, and headed the Magazine Division (1972-73). In 1966 Gene became a charter member of the new MC&S Division, which he chaired (1973-1974). He helped found a division for Minorities.

With two buddies Gene founded the Qualitative Studies Division. Gene was head of QS when I joined AEJMC (I was head when we changed the name to Cultural and Critical Studies). Given his abiding concern that researchers and scholars not ignore the professional practice of journalism, he helped establish an award that has gone to people such as George Seldes, I.F. Stone, Studs Turkel, and Christopher Hitchens. He has made nearly 100 AEJMC presentations and was elected to the Professional Freedom and Responsibility Committee.

Apparently during the heat of the methodological battles Gene earned the title of “Dr. Heckle and Mr. Snide.” But I know him only as someone who has literally and generously invested in AEJMC activities. He frequently paid for producing and mailing the Qualitative Studies newsletter. He endowed the Lori Eason award for graduate student research in science communication. He donated $10,000 to establish the Comm Technology Division’s award for faculty research—given the first time this year. He gave over a $1 million to establish The Urban Communication Foundation, which gives awards. In a few minutes, the Gene Burd Urban Journalism Award will go to Blair Kamin, architectural critic of the Chicago Tribune.

Gene Burd, thank you for your passionate and generous commitment to journalism, journalism education, and journalism scholarship.