VCU School of Mass Communications professor to be recognized by the National Journalism Education Association

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RICHMOND, Va. – Wilma H. Wirt, associate professor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Mass Communications, will be presented with the Journalism Education Association’s (JEA) Media Citation Award during the organization’s national convention this month in Washington, D.C.

The award is given to a professional journalist or media outlet that has made significant contributions to scholastic journalism, the study of journalism and student production of school media at the middle school and high school levels. This is the second time Wirt is being honored by the JEA. In 1981, she received the Media Citation Award for her work in integrating professional journalism with all levels of journalism education.

“Professor Wirt’s commitment to providing training and support for high school journalism teachers and their students in Virginia is simply unmatched,” said Dr. Judy VanSlyke Turk, director of VCU’s School of Mass Communications. “Her ability to create partnerships that involve high schools, newspapers and the School of Mass Communications working collaboratively is an incredible gift that she brings to scholastic journalism.”

Wirt, along with Robert Button, director of activities and communication for the Virginia High School League (VHSL), will be recognized for their efforts in creating and sustaining educational opportunities to train journalism educators with their work on the VHSL-VCU Partnership.

Created by Wirt and Button in 1997, the Partnership has provided journalism teachers and publications with adviser courses in writing, design, technology and publications, bringing together the professional press and academic community.

Wirt has served as VCU’s coordinator for the VHSL Publications Workshop held annually at VCU, drawing over 1,000 high school students. In addition, VCU recently established a 35-hour Master of Science Mass Communications degree with a concentration in scholastic journalism as a direct outgrowth of the VHSL-VCU Partnership. Wirt says the graduate school is accepting applications and they will officially inaugurate the program with the first class in summer 2004.

Wirt, a resident of Richmond, has been at VCU since 1987, where she teaches courses in news-editorial and print media. Last April, she was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, primarily for her work in journalism education. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, and her Master of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

The Journalism Education Association was founded in 1924 as a volunteer organization. Headquartered at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., it is the only independent national scholastic journalism organization for teachers and advisers.