Journalism college honors outstanding alumni

By Sandi Alswager
J Alumni News staff

Students weren’t the only ones honored during J Days celebrations April 10-14. Three outstanding alumni enjoyed themselves at their alma mater as they received the University of Nebraska Alumni Awards of Excellence. A non-alumnus was also honored.

Don Ferguson, class of 1963, Ray Depa, class of 1970, Joel Sartore, class of 1985, and E.N. “Jack” Thompson were honored Friday at the Journalism Alumni Awards of Excellence Luncheon at the Wick Alumni Center.

Don Ferguson
Advertising Alumnus Award

Ferguson is the principal of Geduldig and Ferguson Inc. in New York.

Ferguson said he had fond memories of the university.

“There are a lot of things that look familiar, but there also has been a lot of change,” Ferguson said. “It is interesting to see the growth and changes, but the buzz and feel are still the same. Students are enthused about what they are doing.”

He said the award was a real honor. He was also happy to be back in Lincoln for the first time in 20 years, he said.

Ferguson was able to go back to Lincoln Southeast High School where he had his start teaching journalism, he said. Ferguson also taught journalism at NU, Ohio State University and Baylor University. He said if he were asked to advise journalism students he would tell them to learn how to write and write well.

“That is the number one skill in this business,” he said. “I find that missing in most people looking for jobs. That’s the basis for all journalism.”

Ray Depa
Broadcasting Alumnus Award

Depa said students should never give up and take nothing for granted.

“Be true to yourself, and don’t compromise,” he said. “And when you make a mistake, own up to it.”

Depa, who is the general manager of KGUN-9 TV in Tucson, Ariz., said he enjoyed meeting with students and relished the opportunity to go and speak with students going into the business.

“That is very important,” he said. “We need to attract the best and the brightest. We as broadcasters need to be more active and more involved in attracting people to our profession. The university has a tremendous reputation, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

As Depa received his award, he said, “I’m humbled by this. I’ve had an incredible career took me to a lot of places. Never forget where you’re from or take for granted the enormous freedoms we have in this country.”

Joel Sartore
News-editorial Alumnus Award

Sartore, who has been a photographer for National Geographic since 1990, said it was a great honor being back at the university.

As Sartore received his award, he said he especially wanted to thank George Tuck, NU news-editorial professor.

While Sartore was a student, Tuck asked him what he wanted to do in his career.
Sartore told Tuck he wanted to work for National Geographic.

“(Tuck) said, ‘Well, you can do that. Just keep working on it.’ He is one of very few people who have been very influential in my life,” Sartore said.

The native of Ralston also has had work published in Audubon, Life, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and Time magazines. And he has published two books of his images, including Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky.

E.N. “Jack” Thompson
Service to the Profession by a Non-alumnus

E.N. “Jack” Thompson of Lincoln was also honored by the Journalism Alumni Association, receiving the award for Outstanding Service to the Profession. Thompson was president of Cooper Theaters Inc. from 1964-79 and has been chairman of the Cooper Foundation since 1990. As founder of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues, he has supported the university and the journalism college by bringing notable world leaders and

Thompson, who has also worked for the U.S. State Departmewnt, holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia School of Journalism and a law degree from New York University.