Me, Steve Lackmeyer, Tamie, Linda Patterson, Murray Evans and Philip Patterson at Saturday night’s Oklahoma SPJ awards banquet.

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By Bobby Ross Jr.

The Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists honored my friend and mentor Philip Patterson as Teacher of the Year at its annual awards banquet Saturday night.

My friend and fellow Oklahoma Christian alumnus Christy Watson, an editorial writer for The Oklahoman, introduced Philip.

Here is Christy’s speech:

I’ve spent the better part of my journalism career writing about schools. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about good teachers, it’s that they know developing a trusting relationship with students is really important.

Philip Patterson has made a career of developing those relationships with his students. While Oklahoma Christian is a small liberal arts university not as well known as larger Oklahoma universities like OU, OSU and UCO, Dr. Patterson has played a leading role in teaching and mentoring a number of graduates who have established careers as Oklahoma journalists. I county myself among that number along with Bobby Ross, Steve Lackmeyer, Murray Evans and our own Food Dude Dave Cathey.

Dr. Patterson has a bachelor’s degree in religion, a master’s degree in mass communication and earned a Ph.D. in political communication from the University of Oklahoma, and is a member of the editorial review board of the Journal of Mass Media Ethics and the author of a leading media ethics textbook used by a number of public and private universities. He’s also spent time working in a professional newsroom to make sure his classroom instruction stays fresh and relevant.

No journalism student is unimportant to him. He’s served for many years as advisor to the campus newspaper and taught capstone courses to graduating seniors. But he also teaches freshman-level courses, developing those all-important relationships with students from day one.

Let me share an example of his influence. In nominating him, Bobby Ross wrote that “In Dr. Patterson’s classes, I learned the basics of journalistic writing and media law and ethics. Working on the campus newspaper, I practiced those skills and enjoyed the freedom to both excel and make rookie mistakes. As editor in chief of our weekly student paper, I knew I could call Dr. Patterson or stop by his office at any time to seek insight or advice. I also knew that he’d back the staff and thwart any effort at administrative censorship.”

What I remember was his coursework required us to think outside our comfort zones and question what we thought we knew. For generations of Oklahoma Christian’s journalism students, Dr. Patterson’s role as a teacher and professor lasted long after graduation ceremonies. And we’ve learned from him that we have an obligation to share what we’ve learned with others. I know that well, having learned not just from Dr. Patterson but the students who came before me who continue to serve as professional mentors.

It’s a great honor to introduce Dr. Philip Patterson as the Society of Professional Journalists’ Teacher of the Year.

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Tamie and me

Philip and me

Me with Gary England, the News9 meteorologist who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, along with longtime Oklahoman Capitol Bureau reporter John Greiner.

Philip accepts the award, as SPJ President Carol Cole-Frowe listens.
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