Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity

The Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity lecture has become one of Kent State's most successful diversity events.

The 2015 event marked 12 years of honoring diversity excellence. The award recognizes the accomplishments of media professionals who encourage diversity in the field of journalism. The event is co-sponsored each spring by Kent State's School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The late Robert G. McGruder was a 1963 graduate of Kent State and a foundational local figure for diversity in journalism. He went on from Kent State to become the first black editor of the Daily Kent Stater and first black reporter at The Plain Dealer. He was also the first black president of the Associated Press Managing Editors group and the first black editor of the Detroit Free Press, in 1995 and 1996. 

Learn more about the McGruder Distinguished Lecture and Award program.




Diversity Speaker Series

Highlighting Minorities in the Media

The JMC Diversity Speaker Series exposes students to successful minorities who can serve as role models in the professions they are studying. In past academic years, distinguished guest speakers included:

"Unmanned: America's Drone Wars"

In the fall of 2014, Diversity Speaker Series expanded its focus on global issues as the Diversity and Globalization Committee hosted producer Laurie Jones to screen and speak about her film, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars” (Brave New Films). The discussion ranged to the morality of the global war on terror and the increasing militarization of American police forces.


Husband-and-wife duo Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, who combine journalism and activism in their unique brand of reporting centered on human rights abuses and advocacy, spoke to the Kent State community about worldwide maltreatment, marginalization and brutality toward women, the topic of their best-selling book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which draws a compelling picture of the trials and triumphs of women struggling for opportunity and equality. Kristof and WuDunn were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism for their coverage of China's Tiananmen Square democracy movement.


Dwayne Bray, a senior coordinating producer ESPN, offered students and faculty a candid exploration of the growing role of sports in American lives and how ESPN seeks to produce hard-hitting journalism about the teams and sports franchises which ESPN does business. "How do we report aggressively on teams when we have billion-dollar business relationships with sports leagues? We chase the best stories out there. Good stories are based on notebooks filled with good facts and figures," he said. "To build good stories, you have to work harder than everyone else."


David Pilgrim, Ph.D., the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan, engaged students and faculty in a provocative discussion about the effects of racist images embedded in popular culture throughout history. Pilgrim shared images that pandered to stereotypes of minorities or women and urged students to speak up when they believe a message is unfair, inaccurate or stereotypical. "You need to be the one to raise your hand and speak up when you something is wrong. Be passionate in the pursuit of answers about how we portray others."


Jim Colton, internationally renowned photo editor who recently retired after a distinguished career at Sports Illustrated and Associated Press, spent an evening with JMC students, faculty and guests reflecting on the power of photography and its digital evolution. "For a photo to be effective, it has to be affective. A picture must evoke a visceral reaction in the viewer – crying, laughing, thinking." His multimedia presentation spanned a significant range of world and photographic history, from the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima during World War II through iconic photos of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He also spoke about the enormous changes in photography. "What's happened in the last 10 years has not been seen before in our industry. The number of pictures in the last two years equals the total number of photos ever taken in history. We have so much to look at it, and a lot of it is crap. We need photo editors to filter and make sense of it. Photo editors are treasure hunters who find the gem in the box and get it published."