Writers, journalists to be honored at Auburn University luncheon

Published: July 06, 2016
Updated: July 07, 2016
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Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg is one of five veteran media professionals selected to receive 2016 Auburn Journalism Honors awards on Sept. 9.

The other four honorees are David Housel, former Auburn athletics director; sports journalist Phillip Marshall; long-time news reporter and Auburn journalism faculty member emeritus Gillis Morgan; and Ken Hare, former editorial page editor and managing editor for the Montgomery Advertiser.

The annual awards are to be presented during a luncheon at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center by the Auburn University Journalism Advisory Council. The luncheon and program begin at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $50 each.

Recipients and their awards are: Bragg – Roy Bain Distinguished Special Achievement in Journalism; Housel – Distinguished AU Journalism Alumnus; Morgan -- Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist; Marshall – Distinguished Alabama Community Sports Journalist; and Hare – Distinguished Mass Media Achievement.

Winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, Rick Bragg has emerged as an important voice for the South through his popular memoirs and other books.

A native of Piedmont, Alabama, Bragg first gained prominence through his descriptive and engaging coverage of high-profile news stories, including the Oklahoma City bombings and the Susan Smith trial.

Among his more popular books are his personal memoir, "All Over But the Shoutin'" and two books about his parents, "Ava's Man" and "The Prince of Frogtown." He currently teaches writing in the University of Alabama's journalism program.

David Housel earned his journalism degree from Auburn in 1969, having served as editor of the Auburn Plainsman student newspaper. His career at Auburn began in 1970 and culminated with a 10-year tenure as athletics director.

Before being named athletics director, he served as sports information director from 1981-1994, following a year as assistant sports information director. He also taught journalism and advised the student newspaper from 1972-1980. The press box at Jordan-Hare Stadium was named for Housel in 2005.

Housel retired from the university in 2005, but he has remained an active part of the community through speaking engagements and a popular blog titled "The Backbooth at Chappy's." He also is active in university and community organizations and has hosted an Honors College Book Club since the program began in 2009.

Gillis Morgan taught reporting and other journalism courses at Auburn for 22 years, retiring in 1999. Before he earned his master's degree from the University of Alabama in 1977, he wrote for the Alabama Journal in Montgomery, the Birmingham News and the Milwaukee Journal.

It was during his tenure at the News, in covering the civil rights movement, that Morgan developed a reputation for solid spot news reporting that was honored twice by the Associated Press, in 1964 and 1965.

At the time of his retirement, Jerry Brown, then head of the journalism department, said, "Gillis Morgan converted a successful career as a reporter to an even more successful career as a professor. He showed the relationship between journalism and history, and now history is in his debt."

Phillip Marshall, the dean of Auburn football writers, has been providing content to the state's sports fans for 47 years. He worked in various sports-related positions at the Huntsville News, Birmingham Post-Herald, Decatur Daily and Montgomery Advertiser.

He has covered Auburn football since 1991, including 17 years with the Huntsville Times. Since then, he has written for Auburn Tigers.com, the Athletics Department's website, and most recently for Auburn Undercover.

Twice president of the Alabama Sports Writers Association, Marshall counts two Herby Kirby Awards for the state's top sports story among his more than two dozen writing awards. He has been named Alabama Sports Writer of the Year twice by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

Kenneth M. Hare retired from the Montgomery Advertiser after working 28 years as the newspaper's editorial page editor and earlier serving as its managing editor.

Before joining the Advertiser, he held positions at three South Carolina newspapers: state government reporter and metro editor for The State in Columbia; editor of the Myrtle Beach Sun News; and several positions at the Greenville News. He earned his degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina.

"Ken's editorials consistently cut through the shallow partisan claims and otherwise unchallenged assumptions to illuminate the core of issues," said Jim Earnhardt, who worked with Hare for many years. "His words were seldom what the politicians and the power brokers wanted to hear; they were always written with the common good in mind."

Since leaving the Advertiser, Hare has continued to write columns on statewide issues for wsfa.com, operated by WSFA 12 News in Montgomery. The columns are also posted on the web sites for WBRC Birmingham and WAFF Huntsville. His work has been honored by the Associated Press, the Alabama Press Association and the South Carolina Press Association.

The Auburn University Journalism Advisory Council established the honors awards in 2004 to recognize and celebrate the best and most enduring professionals in its field, both in this state and those outside it with Alabama roots. Only the Auburn University Journalism Alumnus award must go to someone with Auburn connections.

"The best part of the program will be learning about the lives of these five professionals," said John Carvalho, associate director for journalism in the School of Communication and Journalism. "They started before the days of computers and the internet, but they represent the enduring values our field has always looked to."

For more information on the program or if interested in attending, contact John Carvalho at 334-844-4454 or by email at carvajp@auburn.edu.