Gayle Forman

See all of the photos from the 2015 HOA dinner online.

The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) recently celebrated its 18th annual Hall of Achievement (HOA) award ceremony. For nearly two decades, the Hall of Achievement has celebrated alumni and faculty who have distinguished themselves and the university by reaching high levels of career achievement. This year’s honorees serve as a testament to the SOJC’s legacy of excellence.

The ceremony was held on October 30, 2015, in the Cheryl Ramberg Ford & Allyn Ford Alumni Center Lee Barlow Giustina Ballroom. HOA guests enjoyed speeches from University of Oregon President Michael Schill, SOJC interim Edwin L. Artzt Dean Julianne H. Newton and all four 2015 HOA honorees, including:

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Attig ’83
  • Best-selling novelist Gayle Forman ’95
  • Former SOJC Dean Arnold Ismach
  • Visionary philanthropist Robert X. Fogarty ’05, who was honored with the Eric Allen Outstanding Young Alumnus award.

About the 2015 HOA inductees

Rick Attig: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Born and raised in Corvallis, Attig began his career in journalism as a sophomore at the University of Oregon when he landed an internship at The Springfield News. Attig quickly found success and began serving as a police reporter within months of being hired. Following this position, Attig spent 13 years at The Bulletin in Bend and eventually made his way to a position in editorial at The Oregonian in 1998.

It was Attig’s work to expose the horrific conditions of the Oregon State Hospital in Salem that earned him a Pulitzer Prize. Attig used the editorial pages of The Oregonian to pressure the city of Salem into replacing the decrepit state hospital. After 10 months and 15 articles, two new hospitals were commissioned and the governor committed to reforming all major flaws exposed by Attig’s investigative journalism.

Attig’s work was inspired, effective and a true demonstration of the power of editorial writing. “Those were by far the best years of my life,” he says. “It was really rewarding to feel like I was making a difference, and that the state was a better place as a result of our work.”

Gayle Forman: Best-selling novelist

Gayle Forman’s success as a writer can be traced back to her time at the University of Oregon. Although she originally intended to study biology and chemistry, Forman shifted her career path to journalism in her sophomore year. After more than a decade of traveling the world and covering women’s and social justice issues for magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Elle and Jane, Forman transitioned to fiction writing.

Forman’s second young adult novel, If I Stay, became an international best seller in 2009, topping The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists with more than 2.4 million copies sold worldwide. Eventually the novel was made into a major Hollywood movie.

In her acceptance speech, Forman shared some of the lessons she learned during her time at the SOJC: “Fiction is the lie that tells the truth. And it is here, at the SOJC, where we learn to tell the truth.”

Arnold Ismach: Former SOJC Dean, 1985-1994

This past January, former SOJC Dean Arnold Ismach passed away at the age of 84. Surrounding this loss, many colleagues, students and alumni have reflected on Ismach’s impact on the SOJC. During his tenure as dean, Ismach gracefully handled a time of rapid expansion for both the university and the school of journalism. He established the school’s first endowed professorships, added the first computers to classrooms, increased scholarship funds for students, was involved with the vision of renovation and expansion for Allen Hall and much more.

Ismach, who was described as gentle yet powerful, an outstanding mentor and scholar, and a true asset to the school, was best remembered for his sense of humor, love for learning, and homemade chocolates and caramels. Ismach’s children spoke on his behalf at the HOA ceremony, reiterating his passion for education and incredible dedication to the practice of journalism.

About the 2015 Eric Allen Outstanding Young Alumnus Award Winner

Robert X. Fogarty: Co-founder of Evacuteer.org and founder of Dear World

In 2009, following the fulfillment of his AmeriCorps commitment in New Orleans, Fogarty co-founded Evacuteer, a nonprofit organization that trains local volunteers to assist in evacuation efforts. Shortly after, in 2010, Fogarty held a fundraiser during the Super Bowl in which he asked people to write “love letters” to New Orleans on their hands and pose for photos. The images went viral, and it wasn’t long before local celebrities began to take part in the initiative. Fogarty expanded on this idea, staging photo shoots across the city, which prompted the beginning of Dear World. Since then, this message-on-skin project has become an international sensation, capturing the experiences of people, including first-generation college students and cancer survivors, who have a simple yet powerful message to share. Dear World has been recognized by major news outlets including CNN and The New York Times.

After reflecting on the impact the SOJC had on his life, Fogarty ended his speech with a favorite quote from Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano: “Because every single one of us has something to say to the others, something that deserves to be celebrated.”

As the SOJC’s centennial approaches this January, the school’s students, faculty and alumni reflect on the outstanding accomplishments of its graduates. The SOJC looks forward to another century of ethics, innovation and action in journalism. Congratulations to all 80 HOA honorees for their exceptional work that will continue to inspire future generations of SOJC students.