Golden is the recipient of the 2016-17 Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award.
By Alex Smith
After nearly 20 years of outstanding contributions to the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Gayle Golden, known as G.G., received the 2016-17 Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award, given by the University of Minnesota and the University’s Alumni Association. Golden accepted her award at an event held at McNamara Alumni Center on April 27, 2017.
Each year since 1965, the university has recognized a select group of teachers for their distinguished contributions to undergraduate education. Nominees in the teaching category are evaluated in all areas of teaching, advising and service, as well as the potential for continuing contributions. The process begins with a nomination bolstered by letters of support from faculty and students.
“It was a great honor,” Golden said. “To me, reading those letters was great. That was worth it, even if I hadn’t gotten the award. It was such an honor just to see the impact I had to some of the people I’ve taught.”
Al Tims, former director, hired Golden as an adjunct lecturer in 1998 and nominated her for the award last fall. “G.G. sets the gold standard for journalism educators,” he said. “She is masterful in her ability to motivate intellectual growth through her unfailing dedication to the development of innovative, contemporary learning opportunities, through her high standards for rigorous feedback on student work and her authentic enthusiasm for student achievement. It would be impossible for us to overstate the significance of her contributions to students or our program.”
Golden joined the faculty as a full-time lecturer in 2004 and was promoted to senior lecturer in May 2013. Throughout her time at Hubbard SJMC, she has developed relevant and engaging ways to keep pace with the changes that have swept across all parts of the news industry—reshaping courses such as News Reporting and Writing, Magazine Writing and the advanced-level Field-based Practicum, which places students in newsrooms.
The field-based practicum course is one of the contributions Golden is most proud of, she said. What started out as an experiment of creating a relationship between the School and the St. Paul Pioneer Press has led to a successful class model that has expanded to other media organizations throughout the Twin Cities, including the Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio News, APM Reports and KARE-11.
Nominees for the Morse-Alumni Award are evaluated primarily on their direct contact with students in undergraduate courses, programs and in co-curricular activities.
“G.G. really ‘saw’ me,” said Katie Dohman, a former student who wrote a letter in support of Golden’s nomination. “I was a green student reporter with secret, big ambitions in a sea of potentially better student writers and reporters. She told me to apply for the Pioneer Press class, which I never, ever would have had the confidence to do without her support. She served as a reference for me for a job. She has given me freelance advice. I was thrilled and flattered to be asked to do such a thing for a teacher who had done so much for me.”
Golden is no stranger to student activities on campus, both within and outside of Hubbard SJMC. For nine years, she has served on the board for the Minnesota Daily, which she now chairs. “To me, the real reward is what the students give back to me,” Golden said. “To be teachers, we get to watch what they do, how hard they work at growing and see how they develop.”
Her work has expanded into university-wide service. For the past four years, she has served as a member of the university’s Senate Educational Policy Committee and has also served on the 2016-17 Joint Task Force on Student Mental Health, the Public Engagement Council as well as a pre-planning group advising the vice provost and dean of undergraduate education on the future of the university’s liberal education offerings. In addition to her professional journalism courses, Golden also teaches Literary Aspects of Journalism and is herself a freelance magazine writer, with work published nationally and regionally.
Golden has been a force of creative innovation, further developing the curriculum for the school over the years. At Hubbard SJMC, she sits on the Undergraduate Committee and Diversity Committee and has led initiatives to develop courses in data journalism and to regularly assess and update professional journalism courses through outside evaluations of student work. Though Murphy Hall has changed greatly since Golden started working here in 1998, she said the core values of the school have remained solid. “The fundamentals of journalism haven’t changed. The platforms may be different. But the core values of seeking truth, reporting responsibly and holding power accountable have not.”
This year, nine University of Minnesota teachers were selected for the award. The award, named for a former dean of General College, is made possible through the generous support of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.