Distinguished Alumni Award
2013: Norm Shearer: Partner, Cactus Communications
Norm Shearer (’97) describes his approach to advertising as “edgy” and “rebellious within reason.”
Shearer is a partner in the Denver-based advertising and marketing agency Cactus Communications Inc., where he also serves as chief creative officer. The company’s clients include the Smashburger restaurant chain and mantherapy.org, a nonprofit suicide-prevention website. He is also president of the board for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
Shearer is a consistent and generous presence at CU Journalism & Mass Communication. He hosts interns, lectures in classes and frequently reviews student portfolios. He offers students career advice and often hires them after they graduate. He served as an adjunct instructor at the program for several years.
“Norm is a key educational resource for the advertising program,” Associate Professor Brett Robbs wrote in recommending Shearer for the 2013 Distinguished Alumni award.
Shearer first got involved with JMC students when Robbs invited him to give a guest lecture. That expanded into his stint as an adjunct instructor. “I would drive home from literally every class just engaged, and I got more from it than the students did,” Shearer said.
2012: Phil Karsh (’57) | Founder, Karsh & Hagan Advertising
Two things figured prominently in Phil Karsh’s academic career at CU – his love for advertising and his passion for networking.
He parlayed those lasting lessons into a 40-year advertising career that included ownership of one of Denver’s biggest agencies, Karsh & Hagan. The firm vaulted to prominence when it managed the Colorado lottery’s first advertising account, and grew further with clients including the Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau and several major Colorado businesses.
Karsh retired from the agency in 1997. Since then, he has stayed visible, and influential, as a board member for several Colorado charities and community groups. He is a former member of the board of National Jewish Hospital, a member of the Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame and a member of the board of History Colorado.
He served for years on the CU Journalism & Mass Communication advisory board and continues to fund a scholarship and internship program for advertising students.
Karsh is a strong backer of diversity at the university, in his community and in his industry. “He has been a wonderful, caring mentor to our students and a professional colleague to our advertising faculty,” said Assistant Dean Steven Jones.
Rick Reilly (’81) receives 2011 Distinguished Alumnus award
Rick Reilly (’81) is best known for his work at Sports Illustrated, where he spent 23 years, 10 of those writing his column, “The Life of Reilly.” He has been voted National Sportswriter of the Year 11 times. A front-page columnist for ESPN.com and an essayist and occasional anchor for ESPN SportsCenter, Reilly is the host of “Homecoming,” ESPN’s one-hour interview show.
He won the Denver Press Club’s 2009 Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism and is the founder of the anti-malaria effort Nothing But Nets, which has raised $32 million to provide mosquito nets for children in Africa. He has endowed a scholarship/internship for a future journalist.
Reilly started his career in Boulder working 40 hours a week as a sports reporter at the Boulder Daily Camera while he was a sophomore at CU. Reilly left the Camera in 1981 for The Denver Post. He went to the Los Angeles Times in 1983 before joining Sports Illustrated in 1985. Reilly is the author of several books.
Joanne E. Arnold (MA ’65) is the 2010 Distinguished Alumna
Joanne Easley Arnold (MA ’65), professor emerita, has been named the recipient of the SJMC’s 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award. A professor of journalism for 21 years and associate dean for 13 of those, Arnold also served for eight years as CU associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and as acting vice chancellor for academic affairs.
“Jo’s legacy at the School is enduring, and endearing,” Dean Paul Voakes said. “I visit frequently with alumni from the ’80s and ’90s, and Jo seems to be the professor most fondly remembered from that era. And, of course, the current and emeritus faculty who have worked with her regard her as a stellar colleague and friend.”
When she retired from the School in 1995, a Bylines story described Arnold as “a trailblazer, a mentor, a friend and, when she had to be, a fighter.” She served in many campus leadership positions including six years each as chair of the Silver & Gold Record editorial board and chair of the Chancellor’s Standing Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual issues. Arnold was chair of the committee that founded the campus Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Resource Center and has served on the center’s Advisory Board. She also chairs the Women and Gender Studies External Advisory Board.
In 1990 she endowed the Mary Frances Berry Scholarship in Journalism named after the first female and first African American chancellor at CU-Boulder. Berry, now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is a former chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Arnold didn’t stop with the Berry Scholarship. She has endowed four other CU scholarships – all in the names of her “heroes.” Two scholarships in the Women and Gender Studies Program are named for Jean Dubofsky, former Colorado Supreme Court justice. The CU School of Education awards the Ceal Barry Scholarship, named after the former CU women’s basketball coach who is now associate athletic director. The Karen Raforth Scholarship is given to a student in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies and named for the director of Counseling and Psychological Services at CU.
“I feel really good about that. It’s just fun to name scholarships for other people. They’re delighted, and I’m delighted. It kind of doubles my pleasure in giving,” Arnold said. She has also helped raise money for the Lucille Berkeley Buchanan scholarship in Women and Gender Studies created by SJMC Professor Polly McLean, and for other GLBT alumni scholarships.
Arnold, who taught journalism for 14 years at Boulder High School, received an English degree in 1952 and a Ph.D. in communication in 1971, both from CU. She was assistant director of the National Center for Higher Education Management systems at the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) when she was recruited to the School by former Dean Mort Stern. She later served as a WICHE commissioner.
She has also received several awards from Colorado Press Women and Women in Communication. In 1976 she was named National Woman of Achievement by the National Federation of Press Women.
She has served as trustee of The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County and was chair of the Foundation’s Open Door Fund.
Arnold is the recipient of many campus awards, including the Robert L. Stearns Award service to the University and the CU-Boulder Faculty Council Excellence in Service Award. This spring she also received the CU Alumni Recognition Award.
The SJMC’s annual Distinguished Alumni Award was created in 2007 by Doug Looney (’63) and his wife, Mary Ann Looney. Coincidentally, Doug Looney was Arnold’s student at BHS.
Bob Palmer is 2009 Distinguished Alumnus
The late Bob Palmer (’60) was honored as the SJMC’s Distinguished Alumni for 2009.
Colorado’s best known television newsman, Palmer died Aug. 20 in Denver. He retired in 1992 from the 10 p.m. KCNC-Channel 4 newscast after 29 consecutive years on Denver television.
He also taught broadcast classes at the SJMC and served on its Advisory Board. In 2006 he was inducted into the Broadcast Professionals of Colorado’s Hall of Fame. He was 77.
Jack Holden is SJMC’s first Distinguished Alumni Award recipient
Holden was honored at the May 8, 2008, commencement ceremony. His portrait is on display in the Armory to remind students of the legacies the School’s distinguished alums have left.
In addition to being a University of Colorado Foundation Trustee and serving on the SJMC Advisory Board for seven years, Holden has generously created several endowed funds that support diversity, faculty training and an annual lecture. Jack and his wife, Marguerite “Peggy” Holden, have also funded several renovations to the School, including the updating of the lobby area of the Armory.
“Jack is a loyal, generous friend of the School who has supported virtually every aspect of the School’s life over the years. We are thrilled to honor him as the inaugural member of what will become an SJMC alumni hall of fame,” said Dean Paul Voakes.
Holden, a Kansas native, started his college career at the University of Kansas, but he joined the Navy and was sent to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and later to a Harvard University short course in business. He returned to CU to finish his degree and in 1948 joined his father’s newspaper, the Loveland Reporter-Herald as an ad salesman and manager.
He eventually became publisher of the paper and in 1970 sold it to Ed and the late Ruth Lehman. The Holdens moved to Denver where Jack developed a second career at the Health Education and Welfare department and later as the regional director of business affairs at the General Services Administration. He retired from the GSA in 1987.
The Holden Journalism Lecture has brought to campus NBC News Correspondent Tom Costello (’87), Chuck Porter of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, investigative journalist James B. Steele and NBC News Correspondent Kevin Corke (’88, MA ’02).
The Holdens have two daughters, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The award was established by Doug Looney (’63) and his wife, Mary Ann Looney, to honor one graduate of the School each year.