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Journalism professor honored for ‘dedicated and meritorious service’ to UT

A phrase on journalism Professor Wayne Danielson’s Web site reads: “Don’t be discouraged if your ideas are not accepted right away; hang anything in the lake long enough and a fish will come along and bite.”

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AUSTIN, Texas —A phrase on journalism Professor Wayne Danielson’s Web site reads: “Don’t be discouraged if your ideas are not accepted right away; hang anything in the lake long enough and a fish will come along and bite.”

Those words proved prophetic for Danielson, a scholar, experienced teacher and journalist who has been named a recipient of the Civitatis Award at The University of Texas at Austin. The honor is conferred upon a member of the UT Austin faculty in recognition of “dedicated and meritorious service to the University above and beyond the regular expectations of teaching, research and service.”

President Larry R. Faulkner will present the award to Danielson, who holds the DeWitt Carter Reddick Regent’s Centennial Chair in Communication, on Sept. 19 in conjunction with his State-of-the University Addressand the UTexas@117 anniversary celebration.

The Civitatis Award, which is made on recommendation of a standing committee, is not given annually, but whenever the committee believes that a particular faculty member “has earned such recognition by extraordinary service to the University beyond the normal duties.”

Danielson is the third recipient of the award, which was created in 1997. His name will be entered on a permanent plaque, and he will receive an engraved watch in recognition of his service to UT.

“I didn’t even know there was such an award,” Danielson said. “But, I’m very honored and pleased to receive it. I’ve spent almost my entire adult life working in universities. I’ve been surrounded by good, intelligent people whom I’ve enjoyed working with. It’s a good way to spend one’s life.”

Danielson was awarded the Ph.D. in mass communication research by Stanford University in 1957 and has been an active teacher and administrator since.

Former dean of the School of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and former dean of the College of Communication at UT Austin, he has been a consultant on journalism education to such schools as the University of Michigan and Howard University.

He has published 26 major articles, 11 books, seven book chapters, 22 technical reports, 18 reviews and more than 40 conference papers. He served for three years as director of Project Quest, a UT Austin program to increase the use of microcomputers in teaching and research at the University. From 1996-1998, he served as director of the Office of Accreditation Studies for UT.

His varied and extensive committee work also has included service on the Faculty Computer Committee, the University Council’s ad hocCommittee on Multicultural Education, the Information Technology Advisory Committee, the UT Faculty Senate (of which he was chair in 1989-90), the University Co-op Board, the Graduate Assembly, and the ad hocTask Force on Internet Services for Ex-Students and Retired Faculty and Staff.

He also served on the University’s most obscure — and arguably its most powerful — group, the Committee on Committees, which annually nominates members for an astounding array of University work groups.

“Chancellors, presidents and vice presidents come and go,” Danielson said, “but committees and their work go on forever. You have to have a lot of patience, but in the end, committees really do change universities. It has been a pleasure to work with so many good people who have devoted themselves to shaping the future of UT.”

Danielson’s undergraduate teaching centers on writing, editing and theories of communication. His graduate teaching emphasizes survey research on public opinion and content analysis involving the use of computers to analyze texts.

He was founding editor of Journalism Abstractsand serves on its editorial board. He also was a consultant on educational offerings for VIEWTRON of Miami, Fla. His research interests and projects include continuing research into computers and content analysis, which has led to the development of more than 30 operating programs for such tools as readability indexes, automatic indexing of news and stylistic advice to authors.

Danielson is former head of the Office of Survey Research and served on its advisory board. He is a member of the College of Communication team that recently completed a three-year study of TV violence. In 1991-92, he served as chair of the department of journalism and as summer graduate adviser. In 1984, he and two colleagues conducted a broad comparative study of media behavior of Anglos and Hispanics in Texas based on telephone surveys of more than 1,200 people, a project sponsored by the Gannett Foundation. The College of Communication created the Wayne Danielson Award in his honor to recognize outstanding contributions to communication scholarship.

After 43 years of teaching, Danielson says he is still learning from his students, from his wife La Vonne, from his four children and two stepchildren, and from his 10 grandchildren.

Previous recipients of the Civitatis Award are Gaylord Jentz, professor emeritus of business law, and H. Paul Kelley, professor emeritus of educational psychology.