Ismach served as the 10th dean of the SOJC. He was appointed in 1985 after serving 12 years on the faculty at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication and served as the school’s leader until 1994, before returning to teaching. He retired in 2000.
Ismach was applauded for bringing the SOJC into the computer age with the introduction of three computer labs and by providing every faculty and staff member with their own computer. He also helped fund raising reach an all-time high. Ismach helped secure funding that helped hire faculty, buy new equipment and provide more student scholarships.
“Arnold Ismach served the SOJC as dean during a time of great transition,” interim Edwin L. Artz Dean Julianne Newton says. “He was instrumental in laying the foundation for our media studies and doctoral programs, helping the school embrace the digital age, and hiring core faculty who still lead the school today. He cared deeply about the school and about the role the school would play in the future of journalism and media. Even in the last few years, he made a point to support the school by attending major events and frequently sending messages of encouragement and wisdom. We already miss him deeply.”
“As dean, he greatly advanced the school, strengthened the faculty, put computers in Allen Hall for the first time, championed research and media criticism in the form of a news council” says Everette Dennis, former SOJC dean and current dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar. “He connected the worlds of communication theory and professional practice with real grace. Above all he had high standards and was as great friend to me, and so many others. He truly cared about people and did much to support them in quiet ways.”
Ismach grew up in New York City in an immigrant family and graduated from The Bronx High School of Science. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951, served in the army from 1951 to 1954, and returned to civilian life as a daily newspaper editor from 1954 to 1970, when he earned a Master of Arts from UCLA, then a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Washington.
Ismach taught at the University of Minnesota, where he was co-director of the journalism graduate program until he came to Oregon in 1985.
After retiring from the UO, he worked at his company, Communications Research Center, which he founded in 1973, and consulted politicians and media companies.
He was also very active in Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon, according to The Register-Guard obituary, and was a member of the board for many years.
Tom Bivins, SOJC professor and longtime fiend says, “Arnold once wrote, ‘Memory is the museum of the mind,’ in a history of the SOJC I authored. If that is true, and I believe it is, Arnold Ismach will always have an honored place in that museum. He was a traditionalist in the best sense of the word, and a kind and gentle man.”
For more information on the passing of Ismach and his work, please read the Around the O story.
Story by Celina Baguiao