Retired but not forgotten: A farewell to professors

By Megan Lupo

When Pamela Brown, director of the master of arts in business communication program, stepped down as faculty advisor for The Rider News in 1994, she left imparting words to her next-in-line, journalism professor E. Graham McKinley.

“It is difficult now to step down from a job and a two weekly challenge that I have enjoyed so much, but I do so trusting that my successor, Graham McKinley, will continue to uphold the educational role of The News while also supporting the staff’s freedom of expression,” Brown said in the 1994 Rider News article. “I wish for her the good fortune I have had in being able to work so closely with such wonderful individuals as those who have made up the staff year after year.”

Twenty-five years later, Brown and McKinley are both saying goodbye to Rider at the end of the semester. 

The fall of 1969 was when Brown stepped on campus for the first time as a student and found her time at Rider worthwhile. 

“Once I got here, I found journalism classes were interesting and challenging. I got involved with the newspaper pretty quickly,” Brown said. “There were two professors that had a huge impact at least in the department — one was Bill Lally. He was advisor to the paper and the main journalism professor when I was here. And the other was a speech professor, Inez Calcerano.”

Working as a student journalist for The Rider News on Wednesday and Thursday, Brown said that those nights consumed her and her fellow editors’ lives.  

“We used to stay up all night putting out the paper. The paper came out on Friday. There was a lot of fooling around, a lot of laughing,” Brown said. “It was a great community and everyone up there was serious about journalism and very committed. We would go to conferences as a staff and won lots of awards.”

A few years after she graduated and went off to Ohio State University for her master’s, Brown found herself circulating back to Rider in a one-year teaching position, where she said she had one of her friends when she was an undergraduate in her class. 

After receiving her Ph.D. at Iowa University, she secured a tenure-track position at Rider, teaching and serving as faculty advisor for the Rider News for a decade. 

“That was really interesting because having been on staff, my only experience of advising was Bill Lally, so I followed his model, which was [a weekly critique session but hands-off approach for student decision-making.]”

“It was a very satisfying experience, again challenging, but I felt like it was best teaching that I did in journalism,” Brown said. 

When reflecting on what she’ll miss at Rider, she said the students and a handful of faculty members that she had grown close to. 

For McKinley, she echoed Brown’s sentiment. 

“I have been privileged to teach at Rider for almost three decades. I have especially loved working one-on-one with students, both in and out of the classroom,” McKinley said. “I enjoy doing research and writing, but teaching and helping students succeed has always been the most rewarding part of my job. And Rider students are great to work with.”

McKinley’s academic career began with the pursuance of her first love— music at Yale University.

After working as an organist and choir director for churches throughout Connecicut, Massachusetts and Illinois, McKinley received a master’s in church music with an organ concentration at Westminster Choir College (WCC) in 1983. 

Working as an adjunct professor and teaching journalism courses, McKinley discovered another one of her passions and went on to get her Ph.D. at Rutgers University.

According to Nancy Wiencek, assistant professor of public relations, McKinley is the only faculty member on the Lawrenceville campus who is a graduate of WCC. 

The contributions to the Department of Communication and Journalism she instrumented are vast, including the formation of all three journalism computer labs, the hiring of Rhon Fitzwater, its systems manager and creating the graphic design and web design programs. 

For 22 years after Brown’s departure, McKinley aided as advisor, in which the student editors continued their work of general excellence. 

Under McKinley’s leadership, the 2007 staff won the most New Jersey Press Association awards of any state newspaper, according to Wiencek. 

In retirement, McKinley said that she plans to continue doing music at church, while Brown said she intends to volunteer at an animal shelter that’s meaningful to her. 

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