Jean Folkerts, dean emeritus of the UNC School of Media and Journalism — now a visiting professor and scholar at the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State University — has won the 2016 Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism History.
Folkerts served as dean of the UNC MJ-school from 2005-11.
As the American Journalism Historians Association’s highest honor, the Kobre Award recognizes individuals with an exemplary record of sustained achievement in journalism history through research, teaching and professional activities. It is named in honor of the late Sidney Kobre, a journalist, professor and author.
David Nord, professor emeritus of journalism at Indiana University, praised Folkerts for her contributions to the field of journalism history. “Her book ‘Voices of a Nation: A History of Mass Media in the United States,’ on which she is lead author, has been perhaps the most popular and substantial textbook in the field for 25 years,” Nord said. “Thousands of students have learned the history of American journalism from it.”
Folkerts earned her undergraduate degree in journalism with concentrations in English and sociology from Kansas State University. She continued her education and earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Kansas State University, a master’s of philosophy degree in American studies from the University of Kansas and a doctoral degree in American studies from the University of Kansas.
In addition to UNC and Kansas State, her academic appointments included serving as the dean and associate vice president at George Washington University. She has been the editor of Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and has served on the editorial boards of Journalism History and Journalism Monographs.
Folkerts will receive the award at AJHA’s annual convention, Oct. 6-8, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“I want to thank my students from across the years ... whose questions stimulated new research ideas,” Folkerts said. “Their accomplishments continue to motivate me.”
One of those former students, Carolyn Edy — a 1997 master’s graduate and 2012 doctoral graduate of the MJ-school — remembers how Folkerts was genuine and approachable. “She is generous with her time, knowledge and experience,” said Edy, now an assistant professor at Appalachian State University. “She expects the best of herself and of everyone else, and she also has a knack for realizing these expectations.”