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Scripps College inducts anchor Leon Harris into Ohio Communication Hall of Fame

Kristen Rapin | Apr 27, 2009

Scripps College inducts anchor Leon Harris into Ohio Communication Hall of Fame

By Kristen Rapin, kr323705@ohio.edu

Mary Shepherd, Leon Harris, Provost Kathy Krendl

Alumnus Leon Harris, center, reacts to a video tribute as he is inducted into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame at Ohio University on April 23, 2009.

Photo by Maisie Crow

ATHENS, Ohio (April 27, 2009)—Students faculty, alumni and friends of the Scripps College of Communication gathered at the 2009 Scripps College of Communication Awards and Recognition Celebration April 23 in Ohio University’s Baker Ballroom. The event paid tribute to a successful year for the college and honored Leon Harris, BSC ’83, this year’s Ohio Communication Hall of Fame inductee.

In his introduction of Harris, Dean Gregory J. Shepherd called him the ultimate orator, in the definition of the Roman rhetorical theorist, Quintillian: “a good man, speaking well.” Shepherd said that while Harris has been extremely successful, he’s also been an avid support of the college and its students.

“While it is true that we are inducting Leon into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame largely because of his extraordinary talent and success as a broadcast journalist, it is his loyalty, his intelligence, his openness, his other-directedness, his kindliness, his deep-seated goodness, that makes this induction special, celebratory, and so sincere,” he said.

Harris anchors the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. broadcasts for WJLA-ABC 7 in Washington D.C. Prior to WJLA, Harris spent 20 years at CNN where he co-anchored CNN Live Today and Prime News and hosted CNN Presents and American Stories. Harris served on the first ever College of Communication Dean’s Advisory Council and founded the Leon M. Harris, Jr. Scholarship for Scripps College minority students, which has benefited five students since its establishment in 2002.

“I am honored to be here to accept this award,” Harris said. “I’d like to thank each of you who had a part in my selection. I want to encourage all of you to keep doing what you’ve been doing to make this one of the best communication colleges in the country.”

A video testimony presentation featuring university faculty, staff, scholarship winners, and Harris’s former and current colleagues and a second Scripps College feature presentation detailing the year’s accomplishments were highlights of the evening.

Stellar faculty and staff were also recognized. David Lucas, of the Ohio University Southern campus received the 2008-2009 L.J. Hortin Faculty Mentor Award, created in 2000 by Tom Kuby to honor current or former faculty members who exhibit commitment to students through mentoring. Lucas will receive either $1500 for professional development or a $1000 cash prize.

While Lucas was unable to attend the event, Dean of Regional Campuses Dan Evans accepted the award on his behalf and read Lucas’s remarks. “I like to help my students chat their course and achieve their dreams,” Lucas wrote. “I find joy in my student’s success. I’m very honored to receive this prestigious recognition.”

Other awards and announcements included the Scripps College Employee and Student Employee of the Year awards, the Farfel Prize for Excellence in Investigative Reporting and the 2009-2020 Don Perris Scholarship-Internships.

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Services Eddith Dashiell presented Vicki Stewart, who worked in the E.W. Scripps of Journalism before joining the Dean’s Office staff last fall, with the Employee of the Year Award, a $1000 prize. “Vicki was a great ambassador for journalism and now for the entire college. I feel proud to be her colleague and blessed to be her friend,” said Dashiell.

Christina Synodinos, a journalism major who has worked as an office assistant in the School of Communication Studies for three years, was named Student Employee of the Year and received $500.

Rob Barry, Jack Dolan and Matthew Haggman of The Miami Herald were honored as the 2009 Farfel Prize for Excellence in Investigative Reporting winners for their series “Borrowers Betrayed,” which exposed more than $85 million in fraudulent mortgages in the state of Florida.

The award is sponsored by Ursula and Dr. Gilbert Farfel and carries a prize of $25,000. While the winners did not attend, a video detailing their work was shown. In addition to the cash prize Barry, Dolan and Haggman will serve as visiting professionals in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

Surprise recognition was given to Provost Kathy Krendl, who served as dean of the college from 1996 to 2004 and will soon leave the university to become the president of Otterbein University. Dean Shepherd credited Krendl for setting the foundation for the college’s current success, especially in fund raising initiatives.

“Kathy has been my boss, my mentor and my friend, but she has also been a remarkably influential and effective leader of this college and we all continue to benefit from her efforts and talents,” Shepherd said.

Featured student accomplishments included the debate team recently placing 7th in the nation; the student public relations firm ImPRessions landing Bob Evans as their first national client; and Soul of Athens, a online publication created by students and faculty of the School of Visual Communication winning an Award of Excellence for Best On-Line Publication in the Pictures of the Year International competition, placing only behind National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times.