Remembering a great journalism educator

Les Anderson (WSU)

I was saddened by the news this morning that Les Anderson, 62, a journalism professor at the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University, died yesterday evening of a heart attack.

To most of my Canadian journalism colleagues, Anderson will be an unknown. But to anyone who has had anything to do with journalism in central Kansas, he was an icon.

Anderson was my first journalism professor; I first encountered him in a news writing course at Wichita State in 1982. I’ll always remember the joy and humour that suffused his teaching. To him, journalism was the most interesting, exciting and noble of pursuits. And while he was a stickler for detail (as all good j-profs are), he never failed to bring his trademark warmth and enthusiasm to the classroom. He cared on a personal level about every one of his students and cemented in me a belief that journalism should be my career.

Ironically, Anderson and I got reacquainted only in the past six months. The connection was assisted by Jesse Huxman, who, with his spouse, Susan Schultz Huxman, moved from Wichita to Waterloo, Ont., this spring. Susan is the former director of the Elliott School and is now the seventh president of Conrad Grebel College; Jesse is a well-travelled communications executive and news producer who is now the communication strategist with Mennonite Foundation of Canada.

The video below tells the story of Anderson’s career much better than I can. And it’s laced with precisely the kind of humour that Anderson would have appreciated.