February 27, 2013
R. Smith “Smitty” Schuneman, an accomplished Ohio University alumnus and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism benefactor, was inducted into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame on Monday, Feb. 25, at the fifth annual Schuneman Symposium on Photojournalism and New Media.
Schuneman, whose $495,000 gift to the School of Journalism in 2009 provides for the symposium, was honored following Monday’s keynote lecture.
“This is a wonderful surprise,” Schuneman said. “Totally unexpected.”
The Ohio Communication Hall of Fame was established by the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University in 1993. The criteria for induction into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame are lifetime achievement and a tie to Ohio (either the state or the University). Communication professionals who are not graduates of Ohio University may be nominated and inducted.
Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth said Schuneman was honored for his lifetime achievement in photojournalism mostly as an instructor at the University of Minnesota, where he taught for 16 years.
“Smitty had a number of highly successful students and helped to shape a generation of photojournalists,” Titsworth said. “Of course, we’re also grateful to Smitty and Pat (Schuneman’s wife) for their incredible gift to the journalism school and for the experiences we’ve been able to create through the Schuneman Symposium for our students.”
Schuneman earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts in 1958 and a master's degree in 1960 from Ohio University. He then earned a doctorate degree at the University of Minnesota before becoming a professor of photojournalism there.
Later, he and his wife, Patricia, founded Media Loft Inc., a full-service production firm that creates award-winning meeting, events, film and video for corporate clients.
“My proudest accomplishment is that the editor, star photographer and director of photography at National Geographic were my students,” he said. “The joy of teaching was that group, but Ohio University was where I had a wonderful six-year love affair with learning photography.”
Schuneman also said he and his wife decided to give the money to Ohio University while they were still living so that they could come back to learn more about the industry they loved on the campus that they loved.
“It is because of this alumnus that we are all gathered here tonight, for the fifth year in a row, to examine the changing field of photojournalism and new media,” said Ohio University Provost Pam Benoit. “Thanks to their generous gift, the Schuneman Symposium has brought esteem and a variety of leading journalists and speakers to the Ohio University campus.”
The surprise presentation followed a keynote address entitled “Why Journalism is Not Dead” by moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and “PBS NewsHour” senior correspondent Gwen Ifill, who received the Carr Van Anda Award from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
Other speakers presenting as part of the Schuneman Symposium on Feb. 26 included three-time Pulitizer Prize-winning photojournalist and Ohio University alumnus Michel du Cille of The Washington Post, Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica, Keith Jenkins and Kainaz Amaria of NPR, and Meghan Louttit, an Ohio University journalism alumna of The New York Times.
The Schunemans reside in Okoboji, Iowa. For a full list of Ohio Communication Hall of Fame members, visit http://www.ohio.edu/scrippscollege/about/ohio-communication-hall-of-fame.cfm.