Inauguration of Thomas Kunkel, seventh president of St. Norbert College

Friday, October 10, 2008

From St. Norbert College, August 21, 2008
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, (920) 403-3089

Ceremonies for the inauguration of the seventh president of St. Norbert College, Thomas Kunkel, will be held on Friday, Oct. 10. A Mass of Celebration will be held at St. Norbert Abbey at 1:30 p.m., followed by the inaugural ceremony at 3:30 p.m. in the Schuldes Sports Center, on the St. Norbert College campus, with a reception to follow.

Kunkel has chosen to focus on "The Pursuit of Excellence" as the theme for his inauguration. The celebration takes place during Heritage Days, an annual week-long celebration of the college's history. This year the college celebrates its 110th anniversary.

A writer and editor, Kunkel served eight years as dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, where he was also president of American Journalism Review, a national magazine published by the college. At Maryland he was the director of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and editor and director of the Project on the State of the American Newspaper.

Kunkel spent much of his early career in newspaper management. Most recently he was deputy managing editor of the San Jose Mercury News. Prior to that he worked for The Miami Herald, The New York Times and The Cincinnati Post, and he was editor and publisher of Arizona Trend magazine. When he was named executive editor of Knight-Ridder's Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer, he became the youngest top editor in company history at age 29.

He has written or edited five books including "Genius in Disguise," the critically praised biography of New Yorker editor Harold Ross. The volume was a New York Times Notable Book of 1995. "Enormous Prayers: A Journey into Priesthood," an ethnographic portrait of 28 Catholic priests, appeared in 1998. "Letters from the Editor," a compilation and analysis of Ross letters, was published in 2000.

Kunkel worked with legendary editor (and Maryland journalism professor) Gene Roberts on the Project on the State of the American Newspaper, a two-year, in-depth examination of the newspaper industry. In this 18-part series, Kunkel edited some of the best nonfiction writers in America, including seven Pulitzer Prize winners. He is co-editor of two books examining the newspaper industry.

Recognized as a leader in his field, Kunkel chairs the national committee of the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications and, in August 2007, he became president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication. He has chaired accreditation reviews of such nationally prominent journalism programs as Columbia, Syracuse, Berkeley, Florida and Southern California. In 2006 he was named Journalism Administrator of the Year by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the top honor in his field.

Kunkel was born and raised in Evansville, Ind. He earned his B.A in political science at the University of Evansville in 1977 and his master's degree in humanities from the same school in 1979. He and his wife of 32 years, Debra Kunkel, have four daughters.

Kunkel succeeds William J. Hynes, who successfully led the college for the past eight years. Hynes returns to the college in the fall of 2009 as a member of the religious studies faculty.

A week of celebratory events will place the inauguration of Thomas Kunkel in the context of the annual celebration of the college's Heritage Days.

St. Norbert College is a Catholic, Norbertine liberal arts college known for its academic excellence, focus on international awareness, and leadership and service opportunities. Founded in 1898 by the Rev. Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., St. Norbert College provides an education that is academically, personally and spiritually challenging. U.S. News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Colleges" ranks St. Norbert College among the top liberal arts colleges in the nation.

The college has also been named to the Templeton Honor Roll for Character-Building Colleges and has been named one of the "Best in the Midwest" by The Princeton Review.