Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Lecture and Awards Program
The annual Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Lecture and Awards Program recognizes the accomplishments of media professionals who encourage diversity. It is one of Kent State University's most successful events celebrating diversity.
The 15th Annual Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Lecture and Awards program honored champions of diversity in media. The 2019 honoree was Tanzina Vega, host of NPR’s The Takeaway. The school also honored the late international journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
About the Program
Robert G. “Bob” McGruder was a trail-blazing Kent State journalist who listed a number of “firsts” on his resume: first black editor of the Daily Kent Stater and first black reporter at The Plain Dealer both in 1963; first black president of the Associated Press Managing Editors group in 1995; and first black executive editor at the Detroit Free Press in 1996. He died in April 2002 at the age of 60, but his legacy continues.
In addition to a scholarship in his name at Kent State, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication awards the Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Lecture and Award program. The event is co-sponsored each spring by Kent State’s School of Media and Journalism and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The award and lecture series serves as a reminder of the commitment Robert G. McGruder had for diversity. By honoring today’s media leaders who display the same fervent commitment, the award and lecture series also seeks to be an inspiration to students and media professionals. The school takes as guidelines for the award these words from McGruder:
“Please know that I stand for diversity … I represent the African-Americans, Latinos, Arab-Americans, Asians, Native Americans, gays and lesbians, women and all the others we must see represented in our business offices, newsrooms and our newspapers.”
McGruder Award Recipients
2019 - Tanzina Vega
Journalist, Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, and Eisner Fellow
2018 - Peter Bhatia
Editor, Detroit Free Press
2016 – Paula Madison
2015 – Kate O’Brian
President, Al Jazeera America
2014 – Byron Pitts
Anchor and Chief National Correspondent, ABC News
2013 – Russ Mitchell
Managing Editor and Lead Anchor, WKYC-TV Channel 3 News, Cleveland
2012 – Debra Adams Simmons
Editor, The Plain Dealer
2011 – Caesar Andrews
Journalist and Educator
2010 – Richard Prince
Columnist, Richard Prince’s Journal-isms, Maynard Institute of Journalism Education
2008 – Dr. Jannette Dates
Dean, John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University
2007 – Michelle Singletary
Columnist, The Washington Post
2006 – Leonard Pitts, Jr.
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Miami Herald
2005 – Albert E. Fitzpatrick
Assistant vice president, Akron Beacon Journal
2004 – David Lawrence, Jr.
Former publisher, Miami Herald
2003 – Gregory Moore
Editor, Denver Post