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OHIO’s Sweeney named 2018 Teacher of the Year by American Journalism Historians Association

Sep 26, 2018

Michael Sweeney, a professor in the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, meets with graduate student Natascha Roelsgaard to advise her on her master’s thesis on Wed., Sept. 19, 2018. / Photo by Daniel Owen
 

OHIO’s Sweeney named 2018 Teacher of the Year by American Journalism Historians Association

 
By Margaret Mary Hicks
 
ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 26, 2018)—Mike Sweeney, a professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, was selected as the 2018 Teacher of the Year by the American Journalism Historians Association.
 
Sweeney has been a faculty member at Ohio University since 2009 and has been teaching since 1996. He will accept this award at the 37th Annual AJHA Convention, slated for Oct. 4-6 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
“Being recognized as Teacher of the Year by the American Journalism Historians Association is particularly pleasing to me because they are my peers,” Sweeney said. “These are the people whose opinion I value most… just to have them honor me in this way is very heartwarming.”
 
Sweeney was nominated after a number of requirements were met including letters of support, teaching philosophy and course evaluations, according to AJHA.
 
AJHA’s education committee noted his consistently strong evaluations, innovative course and project designs and valued connections with students and fellow faculty members.
 
Aimee Edmondson, an assistant professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, said she nominated Sweeney for the award because he was adequately noted in service and research and it was time for him to be recognized for the third pillar: teaching.
 
“He is widely known in our industries, so he’s got a big name anyway in journalism history,” Edmondson said. “If there were to be a Mount Rushmore of journalism historians, he [would be] on it.”
 
Edmondson attributes the real-world experiences, the way he teaches and the ability to reach students where they are as why Sweeney’s classes are special for students.
 
When Bailey Dick was asked why she thought Sweeney was nominated for the award, she replied, “Why not?
 
“He is just this warm, encouraging, enigmatic kind of person,” said Dick, a doctoral student studying mass communication-journalism. “He has this ability to make you want to do well and make you want to utilize your talents that you’ve got.”
 
Both Edmondson and Dick noted Sweeney’s extraordinary efforts to help students have opportunities and be the best they can possibly be.
 
Since 2015, 14 of Sweeney’s students have had papers accepted for presentation at AJHA Conventions.
 
Sweeney said being able to see students succeed, whether it be through conference paper presentations, job offers or published work, is the most rewarding part of being a professor.
 
“I keep teaching because I get so much out of it,” Sweeney said. “I’d rather be here than anywhere else.”
 
Some advice Sweeney has to offer students is to take all sorts of different classes, because students won’t know if they don’t like something until they try it.
 
“Keep looking around for something that you love so much that you get up in the morning and you say, ‘I can’t wait to go write this story,’ ‘I can’t wait to go file this down in my archive,’ ‘I can’t wait to go bake muffins,’ and you can do this at any point in your life,” Sweeney said. “Do what makes you happy because if you do what makes you happy, then you’ll do it well and it will have an impact.”
 
To read more of Sweeney’s accomplishments and to view a short video, see http://scrippsjschool.org/faculty/faculty_details.php?oak=sweenem3.