Journalism Hall of Fame: Retired Judge Mester recognized by CMU

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Retired Judge Fred M. Mester was recently inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame at Central Michigan University. The CMU Journalism Hall of Fame "recognizes those who have made a difference in the world, have remained true to the ethics and standards modeled at CMU, and have shown outstanding dedication to the communities they serve." according to the Hall of Fame committee's website.

The Hall of Fame primarily exists to honor CMU alumni who studied journalism however, Mester, a 1959 graduate of CMU received an "honorary recognition" for his exemplary work with the Lem Tucker Scholarship and Speaker Series. Mester is in the CMU Military Hall of Fame and was awarded the Centennial Award on CMU's One Hundredth Anniversary. CMU also awarded Mester an Honorary Doctorate Degree. Mester is a retired circuit court judge who served 27 years on the Oakland County Circuit Court. During his college days, Mester was good friends with Lem Tucker, a journalism student. Tucker succeeded Mester as CMU Student Body President in 1960.

Tucker went on to success as one of the first African-American broadcast journalists. Tucker was the recipient of Emmy Awards among many other notable achievements such as being on the Meet the Press Panel, director of the Saigon Bureau in Vietnam, etc., before passing away in 1991 at the age of 52.

In 1996, Mester approached several CMU Journalism alumni with an idea to establish an annual event in the Metro Detroit area honoring Tucker, with an award benefiting minority students who wanted to major in journalism. This idea developed into the Lem Tucker Scholarship--which every year since 1997 has awarded a 4-year scholarship to an incoming CMU student who has demonstrated their dedication to "promoting minority excellence and success in print or broadcast journalism." An annual dinner and Speakers Series was established to promote the scholarship program, as well as serving as a venue for awarding the scholarship.

According to Robert Rulong's remarks at Mester's Hall of Fame induction, "...Mester turned the annual Lem Tucker Dinner into the most prestigious CMU event ever conducted in the Detroit area," working with CMU alumni and the CMU Journalism Department. "The featured speakers were of national renown (Ed Bradley, Al Roker, Robin Roberts, to name a few) and the evening's highlight was always the introduction of the newest Lem Tucker Scholarship winner.

Over the years, the lives of many students have been touched by receiving the scholarship. Several of the recipients of the Tucker Scholarship expressed their gratitude and admiration for Mester's efforts in making the scholarship program a reality.

Darnell Gardner, a Detroit CMU sophomore said, "In just over a year, the Lem Tucker Journalism Scholarship has opened up a world of opportunity for me. It has allowed me to form valuable connections, given me the resources to travel to the other side of the world, and further inspired me to explore political journalism...To study journalism in China has been a dream of mine for years, and this past summer, because of the resources provided me by the Lem Tucker Scholarship, I was able to realize that dream, working out of Shanghai. I learned Mandarin and gained an understanding of the Chinese News industry while studying under a seasoned journalist. Thank you, Judge Mester for the crucial role you played in establishing what has become one of the most positive forces in my life."

Patricia Emenpour, a CMU senior said "Looking back, I am the first person in my large family to ever attend a University. To many, this may not seem like much, however, in my family it is a gift from God...from the moment I found out about this scholarship, my life has changed so much. My family's low-income status was not going to prevent me from furthering my education and this time next year, I will be in graduate school."

The 2008 Lem Tucker Scholarship winner, Kyle Goodall from Lake Orion said in commenting on Mester's induction to the Hall of Fame, "through Tucker's Legacy Scholarship, I have studied broadcast journalism and public relations at the heights of my imagination, in ways that I would not have thought possible--in countries like Finland, China, Singapore and more...This summer I will be studying human rights in the Hague in the Netherlands, hoping to do an internship at the International Criminal Court. The potential brought about by your work is life-changing and I am grateful to be able to celebrate with others your work tonight."

Another of the Lem Tucker recipients, Kameel Stanley now works as a reporter covering news and features at the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. Kameel wrote to the Journalism Hall of Fame committee saying that without the scholarship she would not have the opportunities she now has. She expressed her appreciation for Mester's leadership in establishing the scholarship.

Logan Patmon is the present CMU Lem Tucker Scholarship winner. He is from Southfield. He said that the Lem Tucker scholarship has impacted his life in a most positive way, affording him opportunities few students have. He said "So when you see my name in the byline of the New York Times, USA Today or the Wall Street Journal, you can know that you played a huge role in me getting there."

Former Lem Tucker winner, Kirkland Crawford of the Detroit Free Press, advised Journalism Professor Jim Wojcik that two people have made a lasting impression on him. One was Lem's sister Mary and the other is Mester. Crawford said he was thrilled with Mester's Hall of Fame induction because he believes Mester "is the best ambassador any college could have."

Mester, in accepting his induction into the Journalism Hall of Fame said "the honor reflects on many who have worked together over these past 15 years to establish the Lem Tucker Scholarship and Speaker Series."

He then said he accepts the honor on behalf of these individuals: Oakland County attorney Henry Baskin, the late Bob Talse of the Detroit Free Press, Terry Ferrell of the Detroit Free Press, Hester Wheeler, then of Michigan Bell and now executive director for the NAACP; Dale Duncan then publisher of the Oakland Press; Chris Colcer of CHR Communications; Sheila Druber McLean and Sherry Knight of Knight Writers; Kelly J. Kohagen-Crawford, senior vice president of Manning, Salvage, and Leo of Ann Arbor; Rob Rulong, CMU vice president; Jim Wojcik, CMU Journalism professor; and the entire Lem Tucker family who have been most gracious in support of the scholarship and Lem's memory and legacy.

"It took a team to make the Lem Tucker Legacy a reality." concluded Mester in his address to the Hall of Fame dinner.

Other inductees include:

* Cathleen Curtiss, the first photo editor of America Online. She became vice president of Global Photography at America Online Media. In 1990 the White House News Photographers Association named her the Still Photographer of the Year.

* Richard L. "Dirk" Milliman II, president of Milliman Communications, Inc. He has worked for the family newspaper business for 27 years, managing nine daily and weekly newspapers.

* Hall of Fame Inductee, Keith Naughton is the deputy Detroit Bureau chief of Bloomberg News and has covered the Michigan and International auto industry for more than 25 years.

* The final inductee was Retired CMU Journalism Professor Dr. John A. Palen. Dr. Palen was a charter member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Published: Fri, May 6, 2011

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