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APSU prof named Outstanding Journalism Educator by SEJC

A longtime Austin Peay State University professor of mass communication received a high honor at the Southeast Journalism Conference (SEJC) held Jan. 25-27 in Birmingham, Ala.

Dr. Ellen Kanervo received SEJCs Outstanding Journalism Educator Award. SEJC is composed of schools from seven statesArkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.
A longtime Austin Peay State University professor of mass communication received a high honor at the Southeast Journalism Conference (SEJC) held Jan. 25-27 in Birmingham, Ala.

Dr. Ellen Kanervo received SEJC's Outstanding Journalism Educator Award. SEJC is composed of schools from seven statesArkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

In his nomination of her for the award, Dr. Mike Gotcher, professor and chair of the APSU Department of Communication, noted that Kanervo excels in the classroom, always pushing herself to adapt to the changing educational environment.

Although Kanervo is quoted as saying she would be “perfectly happy with a quill pen and inkwell,” she has embraced technological change, including online teaching, and has taught both graduate and undergraduate online courses in journalism and communication.

Gotcher has co-taught two courses with Kanervo, one of which, “Authoring Web Pages” was the first HTML course taught at APSU and the first step in moving the program from print journalism to print and Web journalism. The second was a study-abroad course in London.

“(Dr. Kanervo's) mastery of theory, application and practical skills brings out the best in her students,” Gotcher said. “Her student evaluations of instruction are always excellent, and she is a model teacher for new instructors at Austin Peay State University.”

To maintain her journalism skills by being immersed in the day-to-day activities of a working journalist, Kanervo initiated and implemented an exchange program with a former city editor of The Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville. For a semester, the two exchanged jobs.

Gotcher said, “(Dr. Kanervo) knew it was important for students to know that she not only speaks the speech, but she walks the walk.”
When Gotcher succeeded Kanervo as department chair, he said she left large shoes to fill. Under her leadership, the department grew from about 100 majors to more than 300.

“Before I was chair, I had the misconception that the job was easy,” said Gotcher. “The misconception was because she made the job ‘look' easy when, in reality, it's one of the most difficult jobs one can imagine. During my first few months, she lifted my spirits, provided the wisdom of a sage, identified successful strategies and listened to my … complaints.”

In addition to serving on numerous committee and panels, Kanervo served as SEJC president and hosted SEJC at APSU in 2002. Gotcher said, “Ellen has demonstrated a strong desire to maintain the integrity and commitment of SEJC.” -- Dennie B. Burke