Speech: Dr. Glen T. Cameron, 2015 Educator Honoree

BRYAN REBER: I’m honored to be here tonight to present this award to Dr. Glen Cameron. Glen is my mentor, my collaborator, and my friend. I believe most of his former students would introduce him in a similar way. I first met Glen when I began my doctoral degree at The University of Missouri in 1998.

He instantly embraced me as a budding scholar, which was a generous characterization at that point in time. Glen mentored me through conference presentations, publishing in academic journals, working on contracted research, and of course my dissertation and subsequent job search. He continues to mentor me as we co-author textbooks together today.

Let me give you one specific example of his mentorship. Glen encouraged me to apply for what was then called The Ketchum Smart Grant. A program co-sponsored by the Institute of Public Relations, which included research funding and a paid Summer internship in the Ketchum Research Department, New York.

It was surprised and honored to receive the award for a rural Kansan. That was a big deal and a life-changing experience, one of many that Glen has mentored me through. I asked several of Glen’s former students to weigh in on his mentoring role in their lives and I’d like to share a few of those comments with you, I think you’ll see some themes emerge.

One said, he feels a responsibility to mentor Ph.D. students. And is thoughtful about coming up with research projects that they can assist him with, that are a good fit for the student. Another said, he sees the potential in everyone he works with and finds a way to maximize that potential.

Another said, he encourages us to be ourselves and figure out what our unique contribution can be in our field and shows by example how one can work hard and enjoy what he or she is doing. His former students and colleagues wonder when he sleeps. One said he is such a prolific rider and researcher, always prepared in his classes, and still makes ample time to meet individually with students working on grant proposals, dissertation work or other research projects.

Glen’s former students are now deans and department heads. They’re leading research funded by million-dollar grants and developing and leading academic research centers. And they’re, of course, teaching, advising, and mentoring their own students. I’m proud that Glen and I share some students in common. I advised them during their master’s degree thesis, at the University of Georgia and they went on to the University of Missouri to study with Glen, where he advised them on their dissertations.

That’s a sort of multi-generational mentoring in the academic world. I’m going to close with three other observations from Glen’s former students. First, Glen taught me how to publish academic articles by example, and with an explanation, he walked me through the process of working with reviewers. I’m not sure I would’ve gotten tenure without his help.

Another, he is professor extraordinaire, a genuine friend, an exemplary model and mentor. A lot of who I am as a scholar, administrator, and person is what I’ve learned from my academic father, Glen. And finally, what sets Glen apart is the quality of the man, his value, his worldview, his approach to life and people.

On behalf of his multitude of mentees, it’s my pleasure to present Glen Cameron, The Bruce K. Berger Educator Award.

[APPLAUSE]

GLEN T. CAMERON: Thank you, Brian. That’s, there may be a little bit of fiction work in there but it’s very heartwarming, nevertheless. And I want to thank Brian, as well as The Plank Center, to show that although I’m an old and silver-haired prof, my minute and a half is actually on my iPhone.

So, I’m trying to keep my foot in the 21st Century. I want to truly say that I appreciate this recognition of what I consider a calling. And I first felt that calling when I was about 14 as a coach and I consider myself an academic coach in a lot of ways and a life coach.

The mentoring of masters and doctoral students is a privilege that I get to undertake every single day. But I must say it is a bit disconcerting to get so much attention. I am much more comfortable in my lovely and historic office. Some in the room know the place I’m talking about, next to the Chinese lion arch at the Missouri School of Journalism, the first school in the world.

Thank you. And that had two members of the class, that very first class in 1908, were from China. And gave back to their Alma Mater. I see my students outside through the six-sided room with windows hustling by and you can almost see the ideas sort of like little ideographic floating around their head.

And I know that they’re devoting themselves to improving the field and making the profession what it is today and what it will be in the future. And in that quiet place where I get to spend my time, I love working with the brilliant student on the puzzle of a plan of study or listening to a highly organized and bright young scholar, developed his research design.

That is where I get my greatest work satisfaction and really, it hardly works at all, I can say that. The dean of the J School is not here and my salary won’t be affected by my admitting that. But I sort of live in a sandbox where I invite very smart students from all over the world to play with ideas.

And to try to push the envelope on real challenges to the field. My job is more akin to how legendary basketball coach John Wooden at UCLA who won many, many national championships, explained his success. Get the best possible players, prepare them well and just sit back and watch in amazement.

And I feel like that’s what I get to do, so the award is really icing on the cake for a profession, a practice, a calling that means an awful lot to me. When I look over the audience I see a fine subset of my own many best possible players I have been privileged to mentor, this word is for and because of all of those students.

Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]


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