Story by Paige Ernste
John Lytle, a beloved professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will retire from full-time teaching in May.
Lytle has been a faculty member in Drake University’s SJMC for 37 years.
Primarily a broadcast professor, he has taught a variety of journalism classes including Introduction to Reporting, Graphic Design, Radio News, Television News and capstone courses.
Lytle has worked in the media all his life, and got into teaching following a recommendation from a professor at Iowa State University, Jack Shelley. He began teaching at Drake in 1977, at a time when the J-School was doing a lot of converting and upgrading.
“It was a good time to come here,” Lytle said.
Since he came to Drake, Lytle has had an impact on the SJMC.
“It’s impossible to even picture the place without him,” said SJMC professor Jill Van Wyke.
Lytle is the head of the broadcast news program and launched the radio station, KDRA (94.1 – The Dog).
“That was kind of his baby,” Van Wyke said.
During his career at Drake, Lytle has won a variety of teaching awards.
Last spring, he was awarded Drake’s Ellis and Nelle Levitt Mentor of the Year Award.
“That, to me, is really indicative of his kind of commitment to his students and the J-School,” Van Wyke said.
“I think it’s a testimony to not only the quality of his teaching, but what his students think of him. He is very well respected by his fellow faculty members and by his students,” said Kathleen Richardson, director of the SJMC.
When asked why he decided to retire, Lytle said, “The time was right. Thirty-seven years is a long time. I am at an age now where I can collect social security, and it’s time to do something different. I’d also like to improve my golf average by three or four strokes.”
Students of Lytle’s were deeply saddened by the news of his retirement.
“Professor Lytle is one of the best professors I’ve ever had at Drake,” said junior Amanda Horvath. “He fully, fully impacted my broadcast career. I’m terribly sad to see him go. Happy for his retirement, but he will be missed next year and the years coming.”
“I love the fact that he is so into radio,” said sophomore Mariah Lewis. “Radio is what I want to do, and I love that he’s such a professional. He has just been so supportive and so knowledgeable. I’m really sorry that the upcoming journalism majors aren’t going to get to know him as well.”
To his colleagues’ and students’ delight, Lytle does not plan to disconnect from Drake or the SJMC.
“I’ll be in touch,” Lytle said. “I have my fingers in so many things here. I’m not going to abandon ship.”