Legacy of UK School of Journalism and Media honored in annual Creason Lecture


Sam Abell, an accomplished photographer and UK journalism alum, gives the 41st Annual Joe Creason Lecture in the Kincaid Auditorium on April 19, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Makenzie Dixon

A blast from the past came to inspire the work of the future, as accomplished alumni came to accept awards and spread wisdom before a crowd of friends, faculty and students.

Thursday night, the School of Journalism and Media hosted the 41st annual Joe Creason Lecture in the Kincaid Auditorium. The lecture was first established in 1975, and awards are given out to graduates who have had an outstanding career.

“The School of Journalism has a great heritage,” said Mike Farrell, interim director for the UK School of Journalism & Media. “For our students, the message is that you can do it too.”

In honor of her late husband Davis Dick, an accomplished author, journalist and UK alum, Lalie Dick presented the Davis Dick “What a Great Story!” Storytelling Award to Courier Journal journalist Laura Ungar and Kernel news editor Rick Childress. 

Sam Abell, a UK alumnus and American photographer best known for his photographs in National Geographic, delivered the Creason Lecture. Abell took the audience through his raw photographs and explained how he makes his still photography.

He shared stories of his time at UK, and talked about those who helped shaped the way he lives. Abell told students to “learn how to express your potential, believe in yourself, lean forward, try to find your own behalf, and express potential.”

Next, the Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to nine individuals who have made significant contributions to their communities and professions through their work. 

Recipients of the awards include: Sam Abell, Gene Clabes, Joe Creason, Virginia Edwards, Walter M. Grant, John R. Guthrie, William Neikirk, Susan Straub and Michael York. 

Michael York, a 1986 Pulitzer Prize winner for his Investigative Reporting with Jeffrey Marx and Distinguished Alumni Award winner of the night, said that UK prepared him “in every possible way” for his career path. 

“I didn’t really go to UK, I went to the Kernel and I minored in UK,” York said, looking back on his time in college. “I wish I had done more. The university then as it is now has world class people in every single department.”

Farrell said that students today have the same ability to do good work in their fast-approaching careers.

“It’s that same type of potential, same type of opportunities in a different technological world, but even so, our journalism students are winning awards and we are proud of them,” Farrell said. “This is one way to tell our students that we expect some of them to be back here in 20 to 25 years.”