Our Past Chairs
Patricio Espinoza: 2021-2022
Before the pandemic, Patricio Espinoza had the opportunity to visit Alaska and traveled across the state this summer. He said he was instantly hooked by the state’s beauty and the unique culture as well as the potential to research and produce many stories about Alaska and its people. Coincidentally, he met Larry Persily, the current Atwood Chair, who encouraged him to contact the university. When Espinoza learned of the Atwood Chair, he said he jumped at the chance and is hopeful he will spend some time in the 49th state before the summer ends and in the winter months to experience the Iditarod and other winter activities.
Despite needing to adapt the traditional classroom experience because of COVID-19, Espinoza is looking forward to a great year at UAA. He hopes that in addition to inspiring his students, he can also inspire faculty, alumni, and the community interested in learning more about multimedia and digital storytelling news in a rapidly changing world.
“I would like to encourage the community to support UAA and the journalism program so that the stories that are being told can be published in the community,” Espinoza said. “I think that’s especially important in today’s world.”
- Larry Persily: 2019-2021
Larry Persily brings almost 50 years of journalism and public policy experience to his new position as the Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage for the 2019-2020 school year.
Persily’s journalism career began in 1969 as a college newspaper reporter and continued for the next 30 years. Although he took leave from the profession periodically during the past two decades to work on public policy in federal, state and municipal government, he has returned of late to journalism to help out at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, the Nome Nugget, Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, and writing for the Alaska Journal of Commerce on topics of critical concern to Alaskans. He also will take over as owner/publisher of The Skagway News on April 1 as he looks to help Alaska’s smaller newspapers.
Persily’s wealth of knowledge and experience in natural resource and budgetary issues will serve JPC students and the UAA community well.
“My work in government will be beneficial to helping students understand not just the policy issues and how to report on them,” Persily said, “but how to cultivate sources, conduct research and look for the stories that seldom are in plain sight.”
"I want students to learn how to find a fact, how to separate facts from fiction -- and to understand the importance of their work."
Persily brings a wide diversity of experience to the Atwood Chair and is looking forward to meeting the Chair’s purpose of advancing quality journalism in Alaska.
- 2017-2019: Tim Bradner
Tim Bradner is serving as the Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage during the 2017-2018 school year.
Bradner has worked in Alaska journalism since 1965, interrupted only by a period working with a major oil company and graduate school. He is copublisher of the Alaska Legislative Digest and Alaska Economic Report, and editor of Alaska Inc. magazine.
He is a regular contributor to the Alaska Dispatch News, Platts Oilgram, a McGraw Hill energy publication, and also writes for the Anchorage Press, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Alaska Journal of Commerce and Petroleum News.
Bradner will teach an introductory reporting and writing course and an upper-division course in Public Affairs Journalism, where he will lead students in coverage of fiscal and state issues.
“I’m eager to engage with students about covering financial matters that affect them directly,” Bradner said. “Alaskans face complex decisions that will reshape state government and our economy, and I want to help beginning journalists understand these issues so they can explain them to the public.”
Bradner has worked in Alaska media for decades. He started in public affairs for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, then worked as a reporter at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and the Tundra Times, an Alaska Native weekly newspaper.
He also worked for BP Alaska in public affairs and government relations. He was a longtime staff writer and contributor to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, covering energy and state government.
- 2015-2017: Julia O'Malley
Julia O’Malley, a well-known independent journalist with deep roots in Anchorage, will serve as the University of Alaska Anchorage’s 21st Atwood Chair of Journalism.
“Julia will be a great addition to the program given her professional experience and sense of community,” said John Stalvey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We are excited to have her join us at UAA.” Within UAA’s Department of Journalism and Communication, O’Malley will engage students in digital journalism and entrepreneurial mass communications, which she practices as a freelance reporter and writer. During the 2015-16 school year she will teach an introductory reporting course, and an Alaska food journalism course that uses cuisine as a gateway into stories about the state’s changing culture.
Before becoming a freelancer, O’Malley wrote a popular column about Alaska life and politics for the Anchorage Daily News from 2009 to 2014. Prior to that, she wrote about court cases, military culture and Anchorage’s immigrant and ethnic communities. Her work has appeared in Al Jazeera America, the Oregonian and PBS.org, among others.
O'Malley has embraced social media and video storytelling and has been recognized for long-form journalism. O'Malley was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2015 for a story about agriculture and restaurants in Homer. In 2014, she won a Berger Award from Columbia Journalism School for a series of stories about two teenage boys, best friends, one of them Lao and one of the them Hmong, who were diagnosed with cancer at the same time. In 2011, her series on heroin addiction in Anchorage won the Darrell Sifford Memorial Prize from Missouri School of Journalism. That same year, her columns won first place for general commentary from the Society of Features Journalists.
- 2014-2015: Mark Trahant
Trahant is an editor, reporter, columnist, television correspondent and the author of several books. A member of Idaho's Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and former president of the Native American Journalists Association, he has been reporting on Native American issues since the 1970s. Trahant's most recent book "The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars" is about Sen. Henry M. Jackson. He also publishes a daily poem about the news to Twitter under the handle newsrimes4lines.
Trahant was recently awarded a fellowship to the Rockefeller Bellagio Center in Italy and for the past three years, he was an editor in residence at the University of Idaho, School of Journalism and Mass Media. In 2009, he was awarded a Kaiser Media Fellowship and wrote about health care reform, focusing on its impact in Indian Country. He also reported for PBS' Frontline series, featuring a program titles "The Silence," a piece about sexual abuse committed by priests in an Alaska native village.
Trahant is the former editor of the editorial page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where he chaired the daily editorial board, directed a staff of writers, editors, and a cartoonist. He has been chairman at the Seattle Times. He has been publisher of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in Moscow, Idaho; executive news editors of The Salt Lake Tribune; a reporter at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix; and has worked at several tribal newspapers.
"This is an exciting time for a young person to begin a career in journalism today," Trahant said. "I look forward to working with the students at the University of Alaska Anchorage to help shape the future."
- 2013: Mike Doogan
Mike Doogan served as the Atwood Chair of Journalism in spring 2013. This nationally known hometown journalist/writer/legislator is a UAA alumnus. He earned his M.F.A. in 1999 and spent nearly 14 years as a columnist for the Anchorage Daily News where he shared in a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1989. He is also an award-winning writer of mystery novels.
- 2012: Richard Murphy
"Now, with the digital age, everybody has become a photographer. Unfortunately, almost everybody has become a really bad photographer. So I beseech you, don't be a bad photographer. You don't have to be." –Richard Murphy, Atwood Lecture, April 11, 2012
Ask a professional photojournalist to deliver a lecture and, naturally, he's going to give it to you in pictures.
The 2011–2012 Atwood Chair of Journalism, lifelong photojournalist and recent convert to cellphone photography Richard Murphy delighted a packed auditorium with a slideshow of photographs, largely shot with his iPhone camera. While he showcased some of his own story in images, attendees were given a sense of Murphy's Anchorage neighborhood (part of a zip code project he assigned to students in his spring semester photography class) as well as a quick peek at what happens when you ask your wedding guest (who happens to be a professional photographer) to get some good shots of your wedding.
Problem: He may want to keep one hand free to join in those champagne toasts.
Solution: He'll use his cellphone so he can blend in with the rest of the guests and grab some free-spirited candids.
As the Atwood Chair, Murphy brought decades of photojournalism experience to share with students at UAA. He also brought his new iPhone and an open mind. Recently retired from the Anchorage Daily News where he led the photography and arts/graphics departments, Murphy immersed himself as an artist and mentor, trying new things right alongside students with surprising results.
"I started to look at things differently—I started taking pictures of things I wasn't taking pictures of before," he said, urging lecture attendees to take the time to familiarize themselves with the journalistic tool that probably already lives in their pockets. "I predict that there will be a time shortly where no working journalist will go into the field without a cellphone. Whether it's to record photos, to record video, to record audio. You're going to take one of these tools with you. It may end up being your main tool."
Just as lecture attendees enjoyed the opportunity to learn from an expert, so students enjoyed an enriching semester under the guidance of a veteran with an eye for new challenges.
- 2011: Scott Jensen
Scott Jensen is a two-time winner of the National Press Photographers Association's National Ernie Crisp Television News Photographer of the Year. He has experience in large television markets such as Minneapolis/St. Paul and Seattle, but also has worked as director of photography at KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage. He is also the recipient of numerous Emmys and earned a Sigma Delta Chi Award for feature reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2008.
Jensen says now is the time for journalists to adhere to foundational storytelling theory. The concept he teaches in class is called commitment. Simplicity. Efficiency. Velocity. Journalists can survive in spite of the chaos ravaging their traditional mediums.
After his time as the Atwood Chair of Journalism, Jensen served as the chief photographer and managing editor of special projects at KTVA, a CBS affiliate in Anchorage. He then became chief photographer at KING 5 News in Seattle.
- 2009-2010: Pat Yack
Pat Yack's term as the Atwood Chair of Journalism made him into a believer—in journalism education at UAA and in the importance of the Atwood Chair position to enrich student study and connect UAA with the dynamic journalism community throughout the state.
Drawing on his 30+ years as a journalist, most recently as editor of The Florida Times-Union, Yack was able to bring an editor's eye and a veteran reporter's perspective to his classes.
Yack loved the opportunity to work with students in the Department of Journalism and Public Communications during his tenure as Atwood Chair so much that they've had no trouble getting him back in the classroom nearly every term since. "I love being on campus with the students," he says. Fall 2012 has him teaching JPC A204 Information Gathering.
Yack's continued work in the classroom is only part of his commitment to UAA. He is also an advocate for the Atwood Chair position. "I've been working to try and attract some additional interest and enthusiasm for the Atwood Chair," he says. "It's a phenomenal program." He's seen firsthand the mutual benefits gleaned by a community from having a strong, connected university—access to great athletics, library resources, visiting speakers and artists, to name just a few.
"In some communities, there's a real gap between the gown and town, as they say, and that's unfortunate because the college benefits from the community and the community unquestionably benefits from the college." Another charge of the Atwood Chair is connecting "the gown and town" through networking with local journalists and embracing public speaking opportunities.
"I've been fortunate to live in communities that have really vibrant universities, vibrant campuses," Yack says, referring to past hometowns Dallas, Texas, Eugene, Ore., and Jacksonville, Fla. "I'm just bullish on universities and love living in university towns." So, although he stays incredibly busy working as the vice president of public media for APTI (the folks who bring us KSKA, APRN and KAKM), he still makes the time to foster connections with UAA. "I've always felt it was important to give back in some way…That's been the reason for my involvement at UAA."
- 2008-2009: Julius Strauss
A Briton who worked as a foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. He started in Bosnia, then worked in Moscow as the Telegraph's bureau chief. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan. He stepped down from the Telegraph in 2005 and moved to Canada. He and his wife now run the Wild Bear Lodge (formally Grizzly Bear Ranch) in British Columbia.
- 2004-2005: Whayne DillehayWhayne Dillehay was the vice president for the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C., which teaches journalism in emerging democracies, before his arrival in Alaska. Whayne was the Atwood Chair in 2004-05, then taught as a term professor in 05-06.
- 2001-2003: Gary Cohn
- 1998-2000: Carole Rich
Carole Rich wrote the book on reporting and writing. Really. She is completing the latest edition of her book "Writing and Reporting News." She lives in Anchorage with her husband, Tom.
- 1997-1998: Byron Acohido
Byron Acohido won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting and 11 other national awards for investigative stories linking a dangerous defect in the rudder controls of Boeing 737 jetliners to a string of crashes that killed hundreds of people.
He is now a reporter and video producer at USA Today, where he has carved out a beat on cybersecurity.
- 1996-1997: Terry Wimmer
- 1993-1996: Tad Bartimus
Bartimus is a pioneer for women in journalism. She was the Associated Press' first female bureau chief (1974) and first female special correspondent (1990). She was a war correspondent in Vietnam, a foreign correspondent in Europe and Latin America, and a special roving correspondent in the United States. She was named Atwood Chair of Journalism in 1993 and served for two academic years. Her students, and their stories, inspired her to write her own; Among Friends was the result. From 1998 to 2000, the column was distributed by The Women Syndicate, which Bartimus and her husband Dean Wariner founded.
Bartimus has also been awarded a lifetime achievement medal from her alma mater, the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing (1989, 1991), she has been honored for her writing by the Associated Press Managing Editors Association more times than any other living AP journalist. She has received Headliner and Inter American Press Association awards, and a year after launching Among Friends, Bartimus won the Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications for best editorial commentary over 100,000 circulation.
She lives in Hawaii, but continues to visit Alaska. She and husband Dean brought their Talk Story, Write Story program to rural Alaska in 2013.
- 1992-1993: James Atwater
James D. Atwater served as the Atwood Chair from August 1991 until June 1993. He came to UAA after serving as the Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Prior to this Mr. Atwater had a distinguished 33-year career in journalism that included two stints with Time Magazine including eight years as a senior editor, five years with the Saturday Evening Post and three years with Reader's Digest while based in London. He also briefly worked in the White House as a special assistant to President Richard Nixon. Mr. Atwater authored three books including "Time Bomb," a novel written after covering the conflict in Northern Ireland. Mr. Atwater was recruited by Time Magazine after graduating from Yale in 1950.
Mr. Atwater thoroughly enjoyed his time as the Atwood Chair, claiming that he learned as much from his students as he taught them
- 1989-1991: Robert R. Rhodes
- 1987-1989: John Strohmeyer
John Strohmeyer began his journalism career at age 16 at the Nazareth Item. He attended Moravian College before joining the Navy, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant. He graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown in 1947, and a year later from The Journalism School at Columbia University in New York. He won a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship to cover the1948 London Olympics and the Berlin airlift. Before becoming editor in Bethlehem, Strohmeyer worked eight years as an investigative reporter for the Providence Journal in Providence, R.I.
Strohmeyer led The Bethlehem Globe-Times for 28 years, from 1956 until 1984. In May 1972, the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s highest honor, for a series of editorials that focused on racial unrest in Bethlehem.
“I think the influence of the paper changed the character of that city,” Strohmeyer told the Northern Light, the University of Alaska ’student news The satisfaction of knowing you saved a town — that’s better than a Pulitzer Prize.”
In 1984, Strohmeyer left The Globe-Times after winning an Alicia Patterson Fellowship. In 1986, he served as a McFadden professor at Lehigh University, from which he received an honorary doctorate. The following year, he moved to Anchorage to take the post as the Atwood Chair of Journalism, where he remained as writer in residence, writing columns for the Anchorage Daily News and fishing whenever possible.
Strohmeyer spent two years writing his first book, “Crisis in Bethlehem: Big Steel’s Struggle to Survive.” He also wrote “Extreme Conditions: Big Oil and the Transformation of Alaska.” He died in March 2010.
- 1986-1987: Richard D. Smyser
Richard D. “Dick” Smyser was the founding editor of the Oak Ridger newspaper, which he led for 45 years.
He was hired as managing editor before the Oak Ridger printed its first edition on Jan. 20, 1949. It was the first newspaper for the “secret city” the federal government created as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb used at Hiroshima. During Smyser’s tenure at the Oak Ridger, he chronicled the change from a government-owned community to a self-governing city of about 30,000. The coverage helped the newspaper win 13 first-place Tennessee Press Association public service awards. Smyser, a 1944 graduate of Pennsylvania State University, retired from the newspaper in 1983.
In addition, Smyser was president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association in 1973-74 and president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1984-85. At the two professional organizations, he helped boost the number of minority journalists and news relevant to minority communities. He also was a member of ASNE’s first delegation of journalists to visit China after the communist takeover and led the organization’s exchange of U.S. and Soviet journalists in 1984. He was the Atwood Chair of Journalism in 1986-1987.
He died in March 2005.
- 1984-1986: Wallace W. Allen
Wallace “Wally” Allen was born in 1919 in Norwich, Conn. He attended Brown University and served in the Army in World War II in the Pacific. He received a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and a master’s in English literature from the University of Wisconsin.
“He viewed the press as a critical element of American society,” his son, Stewart Allen, said. “He viewed its mission and its role in society as absolutely critical. He believed that with that freedom and with that role came an incredible responsibility to do a good job and to be accurate.”
Before joining the (Minneapolis) Tribune in 1951, he worked at newspapers in Cape Cod, Mass., and Michigan. Allen held several editing positions at the Tribune before being named managing editor in 1968, a post he held for nearly a decade. He retired in 1982 as associate editor, the same year the morning Tribune and the afternoon Star merged.
Allen oversaw the Tribune’s 1971 redesign that made it an early pioneer in a new era of newspaper design. Up until then, most newspapers presented news as they had for decades, ignoring modern design elements that had transformed magazines, popular art and other media.
After his retirement in 1982, Allen taught journalism at the University of North Dakota and served as the Atwood Chair of Journalism from 1984-86. He briefly served as managing editor of the Anchorage Times newspaper. In later years, he edited a newsletter at his assisted living home in Hawaii. He died in December 2012.
- 1982-1984: B. Dale Davis
Born in Bethesda, Ohio, B. Dale Davis’ first newspaper job following graduation from Ohio State University was that of a copy clerk for the Columbus Citizen. He was at the Detroit Free Press, working as an assistant managing editor, when he left in 1963 to become Sunday editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin. Davis was executive editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin from 1975 through 1980, the year the McLean family sold the newspaper to Charter Media Corp.
As newsroom boss, Davis made his strongest statement in defense of his newspaper when questions of fairness developed following coverage of the outbreak of “Legionnaires’ Disease” at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, which ruined the grand old Broad Street landmark. He maintained that the role a free press plays in a democratic society always has been misunderstood by readers.
“We can’t sit back and see things develop and not say anything about them. The Bellevue was an unfortunate victim of necessary press coverage,” claimed Davis. “The Bulletin was not only fair, it was thorough, too. I’m satisfied we did a responsible, honest job.”
When the Bulletin folded in January 1982, Davis was its vice president for communications. He left Philadelphia shortly afterward, and spent two years at the University of Alaska Anchorage as the Atwood Chair of Journalism from 1982-1984.
In 1984, he was named publisher and editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press in Southern California. In 1989, he retired to his home in Cape May Point, N.J. He died in August 1995.
- 1981-1982: Mort Stern
Mort Stern was born in New Haven, Conn., but grew up in New York City where he went to the High School for the Performing Arts. Mort started his journalism education at the University of Arkansas where he got his bachelor’s degree. He got his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, was a Neiman Fellow at Harvard and got his Ph.D. from the University of Denver.
Mort’s distinguished career as a reporter started at the Arkansas Gazette. He then came to Colorado to work at the Denver Post under the colorful editor and publisher Edwin Palmer Hoyt. He started out as a reporter but quickly rose up the ladder, becoming the youngest managing editor in the Post’s history. He also worked as night city editor, editorial page editor, and assistant to the publisher. Mort left the newspaper business after Hoyt’s death and went into education, first starting the School of Public Communication at the University of Alabama.
He then went on to serve both as Dean and faculty member in several journalism departments, including the University of Colorado in Boulder, Florida International University in Miami and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. He also served as executive director of Public Affairs at the University of Denver. One of his favorite jobs, however, was when he filled the Atwood Chair in Journalism at UAA. He died in Colorado in September 2011.
- 1980-1981: Cleve Mathews
A native of Bosque County, Texas, Cleve Mathews was educated at the University of Michigan and began his journalism career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was an editor at The New York Times from 1959 to 1971, including stints as assistant foreign editor under Harrison Salisbury and associate editor of the Washington bureau for Max Frankel. Mathews became NPR’s news director in 1971, helping to create its flagship “All Things Considered” program. The program won a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcast journalism the following year.
Mathews began teaching journalism in 1974 at Wichita State University, in Wichita, Kan. He joined Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications three years later, serving as a professor and associate dean through 1991. Between 1980-181, Mathews served as the first Atwood Chair of Journalism.
Mathews retired to Asheville, N.C., in 1992 but continued to teach, lecturing on media and public affairs at the College for Seniors at the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement. His last classes were in the spring 2010 semester. Students prized Mathews for his “incredible depth of knowledge, his personality, the way he interacted with them,” said Susan Poole, a student of his at the College for Seniors, where she now is director. “You never felt you were being lectured to. You were invited into a conversation with Cleve. That’s a rare talent.”