Savannah State University’s Department of Mass Communications marked 60 years of the Southern Regional Press Institute this past Thursday and Friday, February 24-25, 2011. The Institute brings the best and brightest to the University to provide first hand knowledge and insight to high school and college students in the areas of journalism, marketing, public relations, television and radio. The opening address was delivered by Maya Jackson Randall, Financial Reporter, Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal Washington Bureau. Jackson is an awardwinning veteran reporter covering financial policy, personal finance and the economy. She helped cover the 2010 midterm elections and worked as a White House correspondent focusing on the economic challenges facing President Barack Obama. Randall has received awards for her work in the field of journalism. After delivering an enlightening speech, Randall was awarded the Louis Lautier Award for Career Achievement. Past recipients of the Lautier Award for Career Achievement include local news anchors Dawn Baker and Kim Gusby and Susan Catron, Executive Editor, Savannah Morning News.
Aday and a half of workshops followed the opening session which afforded students the opportunity to interact with communications professionals, ask questions and receive valuable and rewarding information. On Thursday evening, the first Mass Communications Alumni Reception was held, and graduates of the program were invited to fellowship and reminisce on the time they spent as Savannah State students. Tatia Adams Fox, Savannah native, and SSU graduate address the alumni gathered. Fox has enjoyed a nearly twenty year career in the marketing and communications field. She currently serves as the founder and president of BOOPA! Marketing in New York.
On Friday, the annual Owens Milledge Luncheon. Wanda Lloyd, Executive Editor of the Montgomery Adviser, Montgomery, Alabama, delivered the luncheon address. Lloyd, a Savannah native, attended the Press Institute as a student. Lloyd was presented the Louis Corsetti Award for Excellence in Journalism. Other awards presented include the Robert S. Abbott Award for Meritorious Service in Mass Communications- Dr. Harold Jackson, Founder and President, JacksonHeath Group, a former student Institute participant, SSU graduate, and supporter and contributor of the institute; The Wilton C. Scott Award for Excellence in Scholastic Journalism- Ray Lightner, Student Media Adviser, Macon State College; and the Southern Regional Press Institute Award for Career Achievement- Tatia Adams Fox.
In recognition of the 60th Anniversary, Service to the Institute Awards were presented to Institute consultants and directors who have returned to provide support and participate in workshops year after year. Student publications were judged, and winners were recognized during the luncheon.
From humble beginnings, the Press Institute has grown to be a premier training workshop for students aspiring to enter into careers in the mass media. The Press Institute grew from the First Press Workshop held May 2-4, 1951 for members of the Savannah State Press Club under the guidance of Miss Luetta Colvin, former SSU educator and head of English and Humanities. The first Southern Regional Press Institute, as we know it today, was founded by the late Wilton C. Scott, former Director of Public Relations at Savannah State, and called the First Statewide Interscholastic Press Institute. Savannah State was one of the few predominantly black colleges in America to develop a scholastic press association in the early 1950s.
Scott remained at the helm for twenty years. The Institute has had seven directors including Scott, Dr. Harold Jackson, Dr. Charles Elmore, Augustus Howard, Beau tine Hardwick, Dr. George O’Neill, Dr. Dan Anyang, Professor Novella Cross Holmes and Professor Reginald Franklin.
Holmes has had the longest term as director and general chairperson of the Institute, and each year, with her support staff, creates a stellar and enriching Institute which has only grown during her twenty-three year involvement. The Southern Regional Press Institute has grown to be not only a Savannah State University treasure, but a Savannah treasure as well. Here’s to another sixty years!