Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Few Words About Mike Quinn

Longtime UT journalism professor Mike Quinn died Sunday at age 76 after a long struggle with a neurological disorder.

As a late Eighties j-school undergrad, I always went out of my way to avoid morning classes. There was no avoiding Mike Quinn's 8am media law class, though. That's when he taught it, so that's when you took it.

Despite the early hour, Quinn's class was one of the best I had at UT. Media law could've been presented as boilerplate libel protection, but he made it interesting and relevant. You couldn't leave his class without an appreciation for linchpin court decisions like New York Times v. Sullivan.

Between lessons in media law, Quinn interspersed recollections of his days as a newspaperman in Dallas. He was reporting for The Dallas Morning News when JFK was assassinated. He was also drafted as a spokesman for UT after Charles Whitman's rampage in 1966. You never knew when he might tell a war story, so I never skipped his class.

Quinn retired in 2004 after 37 years of teaching. He also served as Associate Dean for Student Affairs in UT's College of Communication for many years. Quinn's academic legacy can be measured in the thousands of students who took his classes and remember him fondly today.

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