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.

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 Media and Journalism 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.”

2022 Lecture Featuring Margaret Bernstein

The annual Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Lecture and Awards Program celebrates diversity in the journalism field. This year, WKYC’s Director of Advocacy and Community Initiatives Margaret Bernstein delivered the keynote speech.

McGruder Award Recipients

2022 - Margaret Bernstein

Journalist, WKYC Studios


Not awarded


Not awarded

2019 - Tanzina Vega

Journalist, Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, and Eisner Fellow

The school also honored the late international journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

2018 - Peter Bhatia

Editor, Detroit Free Press

2016 – Paula Madison

Executive, NBC

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