— Florida A&M University (FAMU) is mourning the death of James E. Hawkins, former dean of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication (SJGC) from 2004 to 2013.
“We have lost a great educator and administrator who worked tirelessly during his tenure to continue the great legacy of the School of Journalism at FAMU,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson. “Due to the commitment and dedication that Dr. Hawkins demonstrated to the professional development of his students, the program produced outstanding journalists and graphic design professionals who helped diversify newsrooms, and design studios throughout the U.S. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family. He will be sorely missed.”
Hawkins a graduate of Oakwood College and Ohio State University, began teaching at FAMU in 1977 as an assistant professor in broadcast journalism. In 1982, Hawkins was named director of the journalism division. As dean and director, Hawkins was always a student advocate and maintained an open door policy. He prided himself on his ability to remember the names of all students who matriculated through the SJGC.
Hawkins guided the school to becoming the first historically black college or university recognized by the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. He is also credited with:
• Establishing FAMU TV-20;
• Increasing the wattage of WANM 90.5 FM;
• Establishing the CBS Harold Dow Professorship and Internship Program;
• Creating the Thelma Thurston Gorham Distinguished Alumni Award;
• Implementing the National Association of Black Journalists Multimedia Short Course;
• Establishing the Media Sales Institute;
• Creating the FAMU Music Recording Program; and
• Establishing the Black College Communication Association’s national office.
Among his many honors, was being recognized as “Educator of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists.
“Dean Hawkins had this amazing ability to see the potential in every student,” said Kathy Times, former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “Not only did he inspire and encourage us to be excellent journalists, he also made sure we were exposed to professionals, conferences, and other events beyond Tallahassee that would help us stand out in an extremely competitive field. He was also a masterful magician. I don't know how he did it, but he made it possible for me and others to receive scholarships and opportunities time and time again with limited financial resources. Words cannot express how much I will miss hearing his quiet and reassuring voice. He was one of my must trusted mentors and cheerleaders. I'm so grateful for his guidance and friendship and thankful to his family for allowing him to spend countless hours performing miracles and changing thousands of lives.”
Hawkins began his career working as a reporter, photographer and film editor at WLWC-TV in Columbus, Ohio. He held news reporting positions with the Associated Press and the Oakland Tribute. A native of Newport News, Va., Hawkins received his bachelor’s’ degree from Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala., and earned his master’s and doctorate from Ohio State University.