SOJC Centennial Hall of Achievement dinner honors communication's past and future

Story by Carleigh Oeth

Video by Ryan Lund

The Lee Barlow Giustina Ballroom in the Ford Alumni Center was elegantly adorned in hues of black and green. At tables scattered around the room, flowers and candles set the mood for a gala event.  But each centerpiece also featured a surprise: an old-fashioned piece of camera equipment. These vintage contraptions were clues to the historic legacy that over 150 students, faculty, alumni and staff of the UO School of Journalism and Communication had gathered to celebrate.

On Oct. 27, the SOJC hosted its 2016 Hall of Achievement dinner. The event held extra significance this year as the culmination of the school’s yearlong centennial celebration.

“I want to put an exclamation mark on the fact that tonight is not just a celebration of the past, but of the future,” said SOJC Professor Tim Gleason, chair of the Centennial Committee and former Edwin L. Artzt Dean.

In 1998, the SOJC’s Journalism Advancement Council founded the Hall of Achievement to recognize the prominence of UO’s alumni and to bridge the gap between the school’s past and future. HOA began with just 14 members, but today it includes 73 distinguished alumni and faculty.

2016 Centennial Hall of Achievement

Centennial HOA Flickr album

Tracy Wong, BA ’81, emceed the ceremony with lightheartedness and sincerity. As chairman and creative director of the advertising agency WongDoody, Wong is one of the many successful SOJC alumni who traveled to Eugene for the historic event.

“What a joy it is to be here tonight with so many longtime friends,” Wong said. “The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication is like no other establishment in the world. For the current faculty and staff here tonight, it’s the reason you go to work every day. For alumni, it’s the reason we come back and support the school. And for all you students out there, it’s the path to your future.”

Another prominent speaker of the evening was SOJC assistant professor, author and Pulitzer Prize winner Brent Walth, BS ’84. Inducted into the Hall of Achievement in 2014, Walth has long been revered as a gifted journalist. Portland’s “Willamette WeekPublisher Mark Zusman, MA ’78 — also an HOA member — said in an interview that Walth “understands the good that good journalism can do; he understands the watchdog role … but he’s not the least bit cavalier about it.”

Walth demonstrated that humility and passion in his speech at the HOA dinner.  “HOA is more than legacy, more than tradition,” he said. “It’s a true honor.”

“To see all these people here who have been good journalists — and will be good journalists — from this school, it’s just wonderful,” said Joann Byrd, BS ’64.

Inducted into the HOA in 2000, Byrd’s roots in journalism date back to when she was just 13 years old. As a veteran journalist, retired editorial page editor for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and former co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, Byrd is known in the industry for her ceaseless dedication and authentic leadership.

Byrd — one of a roll of influential speakers that included such top industry professionals as Starbucks Vice President of Communication Corey duBrowa, BA ’88, and advertising standout Dana Wade, BA ’83 — reminisced about the days of clunky typewriters and the contemporary transformation of story development and distribution.

At the SOJC’s 100-year mark, the HOA members, as well as the other alumni, faculty and students in the room, were poised to reflect on their school’s past while addressing the many possibilities for the future of journalism.

As former Nike and Starbucks ad man and current Brandstream CEO Scott Bedbury, BS ’80, eloquently put it, “Storytelling has never been more important.”

Carleigh Oeth is a senior studying journalism in the SOJC. She is from Portland, Oregon, where she held an editorial internship with the city’s local arts magazine, Artslandia, during the summer of 2016. This is her first year as a part of the SOJC’s communications team, and she is also working as an associate editor for the Daily Emerald. You can view some of her work on her online portfolio and visit her on Instagram @carleighoeth.

Ryan Lund is a senior double-majoring in cinema studies and journalism, with a minor in business administration. This is his first year as a digital content creator, with a specialization in videography and video editing, for the SOJC Communications office. He has also worked extensively with the Science and Memory project. Follow Ryan on Instagram and Twitter @RynoLund, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at NorthFern Productions.


Centennial HOA Panels

 The morning after the SOJC’s Centennial Hall of Achievement celebration, SOJC students and faculty got the opportunity to pose questions to a number of distinguished HOA members and alumni during three panel discussions. Each panel was designed to facilitate in-depth dialogue around recent changes in the journalism, advertising and public relations fields and where they are headed in the near future.

The Future of Advertising and Public Relations

Moderator: Carolyn Silva Chambers Distinguished Professor of Advertising Deborah Morrison


  • Brandstream founder and CEO Scott Bedbury, BS ’80
  • 72andSunny co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Glenn Cole, BA ’94
  • SOJC Endowed Chair in Public Relations Pat Curtin
  • Starbucks Senior Vice President of Communication Corey duBrowa, BA ’88
  • Sparks and Honey Advertising Chief Client Officer Dana Wade, BA ’83
  • Wongdoody Ad Agency Chairman and Creative Director Tracy Wong, BA ’81

This panel illustrated how good PR and advertising lie in the “sweet spot between randomness and relevance.” The panelists concluded that solid research, good writing, creativity and bravery are what will drive the future of PR and advertising.

The Future of Journalism

Moderator: SOJC Instructor Lisa Heyamoto, MS ’11


The crux of this discussion revolved around the ways in which the journalism industry can be revived, namely through new possibilities offered by the internet and a reinvigoration of the connection between journalists and readers.

What It Takes to Succeed

Moderator: The Shipyard Inc. Vice Chairman Steve O’Leary, BS ’79


  • The Jernstedt Company CEO Rich Jernstedt, BS ’69
  • Funk/Levis and Associates President and Creative Director Anne Marie Levis, BS ’96
  • Rosen Communications Owner Neal Rosen, BS ’74
  • Ad Focus President Ron Thompson, BS ’69
  • Sparks & Honey Advertising Chief Client Officer Dana Wade, BA ’83

Major themes of this forum revolved around how to make yourself stand out as a promising candidate. No matter the field, the panelists agreed that the best advice is to do your research and customize your résumé to the job, prepare your own questions to ask in an interview, err on the side of formality and always remain confident.