The early days of journalism at Drake University were male-dominated. To most, this isn’t a surprise. It’s only as you move through time and look between the lines that you see how women have impacted journalism at Drake. They’ve been under the radar and behind the scenes, shaping the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and providing needed sources of news and entertainment on campus for decades.
Former professor and Dean Emerita Kathleen Richardson was a student, professor and administrator at Drake. Richardson finished her first journalism degree in 1976 but consistently returned to Drake and the SJMC. She’s seen and experienced the changes at Drake and the journalism industry.
“The School of Journalism, to a large extent, does reflect the world and the industry,” Richardson said. “I never had a female faculty member when I was a Drake student in the journalism school…[when] I went off to work at a newspaper…I didn’t have a female boss until 1988.”
Throughout the later quarter of the 20th century, there was an increase in female professors and eventually administration as well, despite the previous lack of women at Drake and in the industry. Although there have always been women working in the dean’s office, as pointed out by Richardson, it wasn’t until 1994, with Janet Hill Keefer, that the SJMC got its first female dean. In the years following, Patricia Prijatel became the SJMC Director from 2004-2007. She was also a key member in creating the magazine program, which has impacted many young journalists at Drake.
Prior to their administrative leadership, women on campus have been active writers for The Times-Delphic and brief Girls Delphic, which was published in the very early 1900s. Moving forward, there have been countless female editors of publications since the journalism school was established in 1962.
“Female students were in leadership positions [in] student organizations like The Times-Delphic ever since the beginning,” Richardson said.
As seen on the SJMC’s centennial website, the amount of women in journalism has only increased, with the number of female editors and publication presidents at Drake growing each and every day.
This is true with more than just the TD. Part of the SJMC is video production and publications like Drake Broadcasting System. DBS got its start in 1984 when it was founded by Todd Evans and Donna Tweeten. Tweenten, an SJMC graduate, former adjunct professor and current President of Hy-Vee, was the first president of DBS.
She explained the need for a broadcasting organization on campus during a time of rapid change and progress.
“Print was old school, and video and electronic information gathering and dispersing of those messages was where the future was,” Tweeten said.
Creating and leading these student publications allows students to get as close to real-world experience as they can while still having room to grow and make mistakes. Starting DBS gave Tweeten lifelong skills, such as leadership skills she was able to apply throughout her career.
“The biggest impact that [the SJMC] had on the wider journalism industry is by nurturing all of these women through our student organizations who learned their leadership abilities and then were able to go out and make an impact on the world,” Richardson said.
There are countless other impactful female alumnae. One of them, Megan Stein, is the editorial director for Scott Brothers Global. As an SJMC undergraduate, she wrote for the TD and Drake Magazine. The 2013 graduate took to the world of magazines. Now after writing for, working on and leading countless magazines, Stein is another empowering name to come out of the SJMC.
From encouraging and supportive advisors and alum to student editors and friends, Stein said that she wouldn’t be where she is without the people she met at Drake.
“Clara Haneberg, she was a Drake Mag [Editor-in-Chief] my sophomore year,” Stein said. “She was an awesome mentor for the magazine program. She is the woman who connected me with my first internship, which is basically what set my entire career on track.”
But Stein had countless people who she mentioned, the people of the SJMC who help others and who want to see each other succeed.
A large part of the SJMC community was built on student publications. Publications that, according to Richardson, have always given women space to lead and to grow into successful and impactful journalists, writers, professors, editors, producers, leaders and friends.