John Pauly Tribute
From Ana C. Garner, Chair, Department of Journalism and Media Studies
On August 11, 2018 our friend and colleague Dr. John J. Pauly passed away after a long battle with cancer. The Department of Journalism and Media Studies, in the Diederich College of Communication offers this on-line symposium, this “community of John,” as a way to honor the life and career of Dr. Pauly and the contributions he made to our lives.
Dr. Pauly had a long and distinguished career serving as the provost of Marquette University, the dean of the Diederich College of Communication and as chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. John also served for nine years as chair of the communications department at Saint Louis University.
Dr. Pauly was a gifted writer, academic and mentor, receiving awards for both his teaching and scholarship. His academic interests included the history and sociology of the mass media, the theory and practice of literary journalism, and cultural approaches to communication research. As importantly, John was a noted and highly respected administrator with an ability to connect with people.
Please read and enjoy the notes from colleagues, students and loved ones who not only remember John but also honor him. If you would like to add your own reflection, please feel free to submit your 250-500 word reflection to: email@example.com.
~Dr. Ana C. Garner
Professor and Chair
Department of Journalism and Media Studies
My Friend John
We met in graduate school at the University of Illinois in the mid-seventies. I was a first year doctoral student and he was finishing his master’s thesis and preparing to enter the doctoral program. I don’t recall that I ever had a class with John but there was a pretty tight group that spent a lot of time in Gregory Hall. It was inevitable that we would eventually meet. When we did I was drawn to his warmth, wit and his inexhaustible repertoire of bowling stories. From anyone else, bowling stories would be prosaic, but John could draw them out and invest them with all sorts of meaning and insight and, of course, make them funny. They were typical of his subtle, self-deprecating humor and I remember often in those grad school years sharing his cackling laughter.
A bond emerged among several of us who were excited about what we were doing, engaged with the doctoral program and looking forward to our academic futures. John, Norm Sims, Dean Krugman and I shared not only our academic interests, but our extracurricular activities as well. We played softball together on a UI intramural team. John pitched (“It’s just like bowling!”) and slammed monstrous hits to deep left field. We argued over pitchers at Treno’s, and I clearly remember singing and dancing to “Proud to be an Okie from Muskogee” in a C&W bar in Urbana on more than one occasion.
John with Norm Sims
Fortunately, our spouses Lindsey, Debbie, Vicki and Kathy also shared common interests and mutual affection and that lead to doing many things together after leaving Illinois. We shared a canoe trip in the bounty waters. We took advantage of professional meetings to get together for recreation. On one occasion the four of us drove from Krugman’s home in Georgia to an AEJMC meeting in Gainesville. During our stay with Krugmans, John demonstrated for my (then) young son how chickens breakdance on the kitchen counter before migrating outside to the grill. On another occasion in Corvallis, we rented a round house together on the Oregon coast where every horizontal and vertical surface was adorned with owls. Setting out on a canoe trip in Maine with Norm and Dean, John and I shared the chilling experience of swimming the Androscoggin River after our boat swamped in the very first rapid.
Our most recent get-together was in Bend, Oregon a few years ago. Since Dean and Vicki were prevented from attending at the last minute, we took advantage of the time difference to call Dean regularly in the middle of the night, his time, to fill him in on what he was missing.
John was everything everyone has described, intelligent, warm, friendly, articulate, kind, a dedicated mentor and an insightful contributor to our field. All of those qualities are greatly to be missed. Most of all I miss him because he was my friend. He should have been with all of us much longer.
A colleague recently commented that John was a “gentle soul.” I thought that was an interesting comment as I didn’t think this person knew John particularly well. Turns out he didn’t. But then again, you didn’t have to know John long, or well, to know that he truly was a kind and gentle soul.
In his classic novel The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, wrote, “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” John Pauly didn’t seek attention, wasn’t a flashy guy, didn’t try to impress people. Like Exupery, John recognized that what really mattered was inside, in the heart and in the soul.
I distinctly recall the first time I said hello to John and the last time I said good-bye to John. And as I reflect on these two occasions, I am struck by the abundance of grace and compassion he exhibited on both occasions and in all of the days between. John didn’t have to work at it, he was grace and compassion and he showed through his own behaviors how to act accordingly every day.
John taught me many things, but perhaps none more important than to be fully present with others. John didn’t so much preach this as he modeled it. John was never too busy to push aside his work for a conversation, and as dean and then provost, he had a lot of work. I can think of many instances when he strolled over to my office, either in Johnston Hall or Zilber Hall, simply to see how I was doing. But on those occasions when I went to see him, even without an appointment, John never refused me. He was never too busy for me and quite frankly, I don’t think he was ever too busy for anyone. Rather, he graciously welcomed me and asked what I needed. Then he listened very carefully, very patiently, never interrupting, never distracted. John gave everyone who sat across from him his full attention. But more than that, he made you feel as though you were the most important person in the world in that moment.
The following quote has been attributed to a few different people including Carl Buehner, general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the 1950s as well as American poet Maya Angelou:
“People will forget the things you do, and people will forget the things you say. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I will never forget the way John made me feel, every time we were together. And now when I am with others, I try to remember how he made me feel and then try to ensure the person across from me feels the same way too. It’s one small way I try to honor John’s memory each and every day.
Moving back to the Milwaukee area in 2016, one of the first things I did was seek out John to catch up on our friendship face-to-face. I was eager to see him and hear his calming voice of reason as the verbal turbulence rose in the U.S. that election cycle.
Though we stayed in touch through periodic emails and phone calls over the years, that is never the same as having a one-on-one engaging sit-down conversation. I’m a jokester and have been known to ask someone what that speck is on their shirt and point to it, and when the person looks down, I bring my finger up and flick their nose.
This time, John turned the tables and pointed at my shirt and asked what happened to the front, and as I looked down, he brought his finger up and got me with the flick. The John Pauly cackle followed. I thought to myself how much I enjoyed his presence and missed seeing him personally.
John’s wit, laugh, kindness, along with his historical, current, journalistic, communications and political insights all made him one of the most interesting and compelling people in my life, and a marvelous friend. He was also someone I frequently mentioned to others as a “great” man. I don’t think there are a lot of people like that in the world and would qualify why I described that way to others.
John listened to understand, not waiting to get the next word in. He spoke to explain and teach, not lecture. He was a spectacular conversationalist, something that is extremely difficult because you must listen, ask questions and suspend judgment. John was great at all those things.
He rose above the pettiness of the day to provide a broader framework to understand a complicated world. He looked at problems of all kinds in fresh ways, and proposed solutions that challenged me to think differently and remain open to new approaches.
Those qualities made him great. We lost so much when he passed. I lost a friend and mentor. Many lost a wonderful colleague or former professor. His family lost a caring husband and father. Because of who he was and how he lived and connected with others, huge parts of John will always live on, his messages resonating through others to the world at large. We are all better because of that.
Former student of John's at UWM, and friend
The Community of John
The Community of John is a perfect title for this symposium. John and I studied together at the Institute for Communications Research of the University of Illinois. We became close friends during our years of graduate study, and remained friends for well over forty years.
John was a humanist who very much believed in the value and agency of human beings in an individual and community manner. Fittingly, John was drawn to and actualized the writings of Dewey. In the Public and Problems, Dewey wrote, In a community, when someone cuts their finger, everyone bleeds a bit. By extension, in a community when someone laughs or smiles, everyone laughs and smiles a bit. No one understood the nature of community and human interaction better than John. He possessed a very special antenna for finding just the right way to make a connection.
John was so very smart. While there are lots of very smart folks, few had John’s instincts and the willingness to move others along. When reflecting on our doctoral program, an experience that we shared with Norman Sims and Charlie Frazier, John remarked on how proud he was that we always supported each other. It was John who did a great deal of the supporting. For example, after conceptualizing, collecting and analyzing data, I wrote the first couple chapters of my dissertation. The result was workmanlike. Good stuff said my advisor Arnold Barban, but it needs an editing, not a proofreading, an editing. I turned to John and asked for his comments. In retrospect, I was likely asking too much as John was extremely busy with own work. But John unflinchingly said yes and edited the first two chapters. While words and meaning were not changed, John demonstrated a tone and phrasing that not only fit but enhanced my style. Lesson learned, the rest of the chapters came easy. Simply put, John understood my direction and edited accordingly. I have frequently credited John for his writing guidance.
In addition to being very smart and intellectually oriented, John was grounded with the common sense pragmatism and Chicago street smarts.These attributes presented a powerful combination when it came to argumentation. John was a tough and fair advocate for his positions and views. Even though our perspectives sometimes differed and we worked in different areas of communication, Dewey and power of both community and communications was the common ground we cultivated.
But goodness, it was John’s sense of humor that helped make him so wonderful. His humor came in all forms — convivial conversationalist, acerbic wit, and an easy flowing smiling delivery often accompanied with a chuckle. Most of all, I loved his delivery. We spent a good bit of time on road trips, providing a perfect forum for his sneaky fastball. After he dropped a sly joke or tease we would both smile and laugh. Next, John would wait a few beats and in his best Chicago tone say, I’m pulling your yosh.
So, as part of the Community of John I am greatly saddened by his loss but also get to smile and laugh when remembering him.
~Dean M. Krugman, Professor Emeritus
University of Georgia
I too met John at the University of Illinois. I was a MA student in advertising. He was a Ph.D. student in communication.
My first knowledge of John was secondhand. That knowledge came primarily from Dean Krugman and Charlie Frazer, Ph.D. students who taught advertising. We three served as advertising instructors, and they spoke glowingly of John’s intellectual abilities and humanity.
My first real memory of John is from the intramural softball field, where he played for the Institute of Communications Research team and I for the Department of Advertising team. Let’s just say John’s intellect did not help him, nor his fellow Ph.D. students compete against me and my lowly band of MA students on the softball diamond.
One year later, I entered the Institute’s Ph.D. program. Over the course of that year, I came to know John as a person and as a serious scholar. John associated himself with the cultural school of communication theory and research and was a fierce defender of the perspective especially when challenged by those aligned with the more traditional perspectives of communication processes and effects. Though we did not share the same communication perspective, I found John to be an intellectual giant, who saw communication from an interdisciplinary perspective which threw off the boundaries imposed by post-positivism and quantitative analysis. Theoretical differences aside, I can say without reservation that John represented “the best” not only as communication scholar, but as a human being. As Dean Krugman said, John was a humanist in broadest sense of scholarship and everyday social life.
That John rose to the highest levels of university administration is no surprise to me. Obviously, others recognized and appreciated John’s leadership abilities as he progressed from department chair (St. Louis University) to college dean (Marquette University) to university provost (Marquette University) over the course of his outstanding academic career. While I am not privy to any of his administrative contributions or accomplishments, I am certain that John shaped the teaching, research, and service missions of Marquette as both college dean and as provost. I am also certain that his devotion to and advocacy of scholarship and learning will be deeply missed by the greater Marquette community.
I consider myself blessed to have known John. He was a gift to communication scholarship, to higher education, and to humanity.
Speaking for scores of John Pauly’s friends at Saint Louis U., my memories of “the community of John” are many and treasured.
I had the honor, and privilege, of sharing a few of those indelible moments with a gathering of friends and family, at John’s memorial service, a few months ago. (If you were there, please excuse any looming déjà vu moments, below.) His unique amalgamation of intellect, empathy, candor and wit was, and remains, a rich source of smiles and sagacity. Thus, for this occasion, and the sake of brevity, revisiting one of those memorial memories seems apropos.
My first encounter: Along about 1993, as a member of the four-person committee dragooned into evaluating the three, final candidates (of 40-plus hopefuls) vying for a spot as our departmental chair, John and I spent a couple of engaging hours at a local Greek restaurant, gabbing and noshing, getting to know each other, a bit.
As was true with most John Pauly conversations, we bounced all over the encyclopedic ionosphere: politics, movies, pop culture, music, pestoes, heroes, villains and bowling. During the festivities, our shoes bumped lightly, beneath our little, round table. We both glanced down, chuckled and shrugged.
I said, “Pardon my big feet.”
“Your big feet? I have a couple of 12 double-A’s here,” he replied, extending his right leg. And, he added, “With ugly shoes, to boot — no pun intended.”
I responded, extending my left leg slightly: “OK, but this is a 13 triple-E,” adding, “and my ugly boats, which my daughter says look like something a troll would wear, may rival even yours.”
John raised an eyebrow and responded: “Are you suggesting that my shoes are trollier than thou?”
We both nodded approvingly and smiled broadly, in mutual appreciation of the spontaneity of the moment, returning gradually to our discussion and our spanakopita. I thought, then, as I do now: Anyone who can think that quickly and react that wittily is worth knowing, worth working with and worth cherishing as a friend … and so he was. And so he remains, in my memory.
Saint Louis University colleague and friend
It had been 14 years since I had stepped into Johnston Hall, and I eagerly soaked in the changes in the building as students crammed the hallways.
Then I heard a voice.
“May I help you?”
I looked up and saw John Pauly, he of long limbs and a wide smile. We became fast friends.
He was sincere, selfless and the epitome of what it means to be a servant leader. Always willing to help. And seldom asking for anything in return.He carried with him a spirit of excellence that pushed students and faculty to do their best, to be their best.
May he rest in peace.
And may we always cherish his example, his wit and his grace.
Managing editor for multimedia editing and print planning, USA TODAY
So Many John Paulys
I’ve been thinking lately about how many John Paulys we are missing now—now that we can’t have conversations with John-in-person any more.
Although it’s been a regrettably long while since John and I talked, I’ve carved some vivid reminders of him into my SLU memories over the years; these are touchstone moments linked to places, people, and conversations grounded in midtown St. Louis. Other friends obviously will recall different memories. For me, however, few teachers could blend so many facets of themselves as they influenced so many people.
I recall the alert John, who described over lunch his continuing education simply riding St. Louis city busses to and from our campus. How different these other lives might be from his own, and how important their concerns, loves, and fears. This confirmation had become part of his daily regimen, a kind of training schedule of empathy and mission.
I remember the ballplayer I neglected to make time to shoot baskets with. We might have played once, before the hoop was purged from Xavier Hall’s lot, but my memory of this is shaky. His wouldn’t be.
I knew the targeted department leader, who thought he could shield vulnerable students and colleagues if he just stood up first and took the heat himself. This worked out very well, sometimes.
And when necessary his was the smorgasbord personality of the ready laugh and deeper wrath at unjust organizations and their alleged leaders, all puffed-up and certain.
Some of us got to know, too, the teacher who knew in his heart that he should be taught by his students.
Then there’s the informal anthropologist whose field trips into practices of popular culture typically unearthed or cultivated insights we hadn’t anticipated. Playfully, he found as much cultural truth in the career of jazzman Louis Prima as he did from most intellectual celebrities.
And don’t forget the historian who wouldn’t always advertise himself as such. Come to think of it, perhaps he too rarely advertised for himself. History in his writing came alive and felt wide, quivering, challenging. Yet his own voice was soft.
John was the smartest guy in the room who didn’t need to act like it; nor did he need to apologize for knowing what he knew, or for aiming at social repair within a responsible journalism. And while on this subject, many of us were lucky to meet the scholar who was led to commitments and projects by curiosity rather than by chasing academic status. What a concept.
I remember, too, the listening friend who would ask you what was wrong, just in the moments when you thought you’d successfully masked all that stuff.
Probably each of us has forgotten or had limited access to particular John Paulys. The family guy, the Chicagoan, the coauthor, the administrator whose patience wore thin. But, aside from my awkward metaphor of multiple JPs, who really wants to scissor apart a coherent life? I was grateful to glimpse and be changed by so many facets of a singular caring person.
Emeritus Professor of Communication, Saint Louis University
I met John Pauly shortly after I began doctoral studies at the Institute of Communications Research in the early 1980s. An Institute graduate from a few years before, John was back in Urbana visiting Cliff Christians, Jim Carey, and other friends there. Ever engaging and enthusiastic, John shared his experiences teaching writing courses, introduced me to the Catholic social critic Ivan Illich, and talked about writing a social history of bowling in America. John was simultaneously cerebral and down to earth and I liked him instantly.
The first time I heard John give a public talk was at the American Journalism Historians Association meeting in St. Paul in 1987. He was on a panel about historical research methods and he gave an off-the-cuff remark that nearly derailed my scholarly productivity. “Method?” he asked. “My method is to read everything that’s ever been written about a subject before I begin to write.” John was a voracious reader who seemed to remember every idea he encountered, which made his writing authoritative and insightful. John’s advice has always made sense to me even if, at least in my case, it expands a scholar’s understanding far more than his oeuvre.
Our paths would cross for the rest of his life. As editor of American Journalism, John accepted a submission of mine, flattering me further years later by saying how much he liked it. When he was chair of the Department of Communication at St. Louis University, he visited the University of Louisville as a Conference USA Presidential Scholar, discussing with the faculty here the importance of news reporting to the civic commons. Every single person at John’s presentation joined the question-and-answer session, which went on as long as the talk itself. When he was Dean of the Diederich College of Communication, he made a point of meeting me for lunch when he passed through Louisville on Marquette business. I was in college administration then, too, so we discussed the issues we faced and the lessons we had learned.
After both of our terms as administrators had ended, John and I talked about that dimension of our academic experience. “What I miss is the teamwork,” John said, contrasting the autonomy of the professor’s life with the community and sense of mission of life in administration. John said that returning to the classroom was a joy, but that it did not diminish memories of administrative collaboration.
Our last email exchange reminded me of our first meeting. John was still fired up about bowling. “One of my guilty pleasures these days,” he said, “is watching videos of old bowling matches on YouTube. You can find matches going all the way back to the 1950s.” Then he summed up his experience in retirement: “I haven't been able to get to campus as often as I had planned, but my mobility is getting better and I was able to spend the day there yesterday reading at the library.”
Rest in peace, my friend.
~John P. Ferré
University of Louisville
Navigating the Long Now of Journalism and Communication
I had the privilege of working with John Pauly when we were both at the University of Tulsa in the early 1990s. Our paths had crossed before then, and he had sufficient confidence in my abilities to recruit me to Tulsa, for which I will always be grateful. He similarly had enough confidence in me (more than I had in myself) to urge me to serve as acting head of the department there in a time of crisis. He was a better judge of my abilities than was I, and, similarly, a better judge of the quality of my work than I was. His editorial abilities made my early scholarship much, much better. He had a journalist’s eye for language and a scholar’s mind for clarity and force of argument. He had a knack for seeing the best in people and bringing it out as well, and he had a knack for, simply, making things better, whether those things were an article, course outline, department meeting or just a quick lunch.
I was sad when John left Tulsa and that I never worked with him when he served as department head, dean and provost. What I learned from him nevertheless, thanks to conversations that continued after his departure and that I hope I carried forward when I served as an administrator is something I believe he learned at the feet of James Carey, who, with John, was another of my mentors. In his 1978 presidential address to the Association for Education in Journalism, Carey grappled with professionalism as it intertwined with both universities and journalism at the nexus of journalism education. In that address, Carey sought to explicate the role of the institution of journalism as the first (and sometimes only) scribe of history-in-the-making and reconcile it with the role of the university as an institution of long-term debate and discourse, noting that both contribute elements absolutely vital to the maintenance of a healthy public sphere. Carey revisits an idea for which he is probably best known, namely the contrast between transmission and ritual modes of communication, noting that the contemporary university was abandoning its traditional institutional role as it “has favored those subjects that can be transmitted in mass ways and those textbooks that suppress discourse as they pretend to be serving it” (p. 854). For Carey, as for John, the university tradition existed to “reassert the general ethical and intellectual point of view against all the claims of specialism that would overwhelm it,” and is “not merely training people for a profession or for the current demands of professional practice but for membership in the public and for a future that transcends both the limitations of contemporary practice and contemporary politics” (pp. 854-855). By contrast, “the role of the press is simply to make sure that in the short run we don’t get screwed” (p. 855).1
Carey then notes that journalism educators therefore face what he calls a “double burden” as they struggle to contribute to both the university and to journalism. I believe John understood this burden and carried it well, with patience and understanding, with incisive argument and good humor. His teaching, research and service were exemplary, imbued with a long view of organizations that allowed him to work within a bureaucracy, and a short view of justice that focused his attention on people, first and foremost his students and colleagues. In my favorite article of John’s, an essay on the role of the public communicator in post-war America, he concluded that, “the professional communicator will continue to be a convenient target for (Americans’) moral outrage, a rhetorical device by which (they) can deny moral complicity in the bureaucratic world that they have worked so hard to create and sustain” (1985, p. 90). The article is prescient in many ways, and worth another close read as I write this at the close of 2018, all the more so because one could substitute the word “professor” for that of “professional communicator” and see how well illustrated Carey’s “double burden” is in John’s essay. The value, the power, of John’s work is that it illuminated the contradictions inherent in contemporary American communication. In both his research and his work as an administrator he followed the moral compass that guided his path through those contradictions and laid a course that can inspire us to do the same.
Carey, James. (1978). “AEJ Presidential Address: A Plea for the University Tradition.” Journalism Quarterly, 55(4), 846 – 855.
Pauly, John. (1985) “The Professional Communicator as a Symbolic Figure.” American Journalism, 2(1), 79 – 92.
UIC Distinguished Professor of Communication
University of Illinois at Chicago
What I will remember most about John is that he was a deep thinker. I could be sure that John would not be quick to act without consideration of the people involved and the possible consequences of that action. John will be missed, bout our college and university are much richer places because of the time he spent as part of our community.
~Kimo Ah Yun
Acting Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
There were so many things about John Pauly that were exceptional.
He was brilliant, of course. But his intelligence was matched by his humility, which is quite rare. He was an extraordinary scholar, but perhaps an even better writer. His facility with language was astounding and seemingly effortless. Even his email messages were powerful and expressive.
He was the consummate teacher. He had a relaxed eloquence and was gifted in his ability to make the most complex subjects understandable. He was also warm and generous to his students and was sincerely interested in both their academic success and personal growth.
He was an outstanding leader. John was a model of calm discernment. He had strong opinions but was never strident. He thought about problems deeply, tested ideas rigorously and carefully considered the opinions of others. John’s presence in faculty meetings was especially welcomed because he had a way of diffusing tension and getting everyone to feel vested in decisions and satisfied with outcomes, even when they didn’t get their way.
He was a model colleague. John was always willing to give people his time and attention. He regularly mentored and encouraged junior faculty. And he listened– more intensively and genuinely than anyone I have ever known. When you spoke to him, he would study your face and absorb your words. He made you feel heard and validated.
He was also a good man. He was a loving husband and father. He was a good friend and compassionate soul. He was authentic and original. There was no pretense or pomposity with John. He was an intensely curious person and appreciated the beauty and complexity of our world. He had many varied interests and a great perspective on life, never taking anything, especially himself, too seriously.
I will miss john deeply. I will miss his great stories, his wit and his smarts. And I’ll miss that full-bodied laugh of his, which used echo down the corridors of Johnston Hall.
John Pauly had a tremendous influence on me. He was one of the people I most admired will always be one of my role models.
Associate Professor of Digital Media and Performing Arts
Diederich College of Communication
Another important person in my life has passed away. Dr. John Pauly, first my Dean, then my Provost, then a faculty colleague, left this world on August 11th, 2018. And I can't help but feel great sadness at his leaving. He was one of my favorite people at Marquette. He always seemed happy to see me. He always gave me a ready smile and a “How’s it goin’?” like he really wanted to know. He knew I was a hugger, and even seemed to like getting hugs from me. He always had good suggestions on how to fix problems. He always had time to talk to me. He made me feel valued and heard. He even helped me with my drafts of statements for my tenure dossier one summer when I asked him to, which was really above and beyond. In 2011, he was the one who handed me the certificate when I was recognized for Teaching Excellence, with a big smile and a hug, on one of my most important days in my career, and I will never forget that he told me he was proud of me. John came to every theatre production when he was Dean, and most as Provost. He was brilliant, and funny, gracious under pressure, humble and kind. And I hope he knows, because I told him, how grateful I was to him for everything, and how much I liked visiting with him and hearing about Lindsey and the kids, and his research, and the music he was listening to. I hope he knows I meant it when I said I enjoyed our talks. I wish I could have one more talk, to tell him even more about what he has meant to me.
He was a very good man. And I really miss him.
John Pauly was a friend and colleague. He was also one of the kindest, gentlest souls I ever met. He made me laugh with his imitations, he made me think with his astute observations about everyday issues and problems, and he made me want to be better.... at just about everything.
I first came to know John through AEJMC (the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication). We were both members of the Qualitative Studies division, as it was known then. It is the Critical and Cultural Studies division now. When I served as the Research Chair of the division, I could always count on John to step up as reviewer and I could also count on him to go the extra mile by providing thoughtful critiques for the author(s) who wrote the paper(s). He didn’t know it but I used those critiques to help me determine which papers, sitting on the accept/reject fence, should pass on to the Annual Convention.
When I became head of the division, the debate over who we were, as a division, and what we should call ourselves was raging. Were we just a methodological response to the quantitative paradigms in full force throughout AEJMC? Or were we a scholarly discipline in our own right that deserved pride of place within the journalism and mass communication community? These may seem like silly debates now but they were important ones for us then. John, along with many others, helped guide our debates over identity and a new name. His thoughtful questions and responses to issues raised in business meetings helped the division find its identity and pride of place within AEJMC.
John and I lost track of each other over the years but reconnected when I was serving as Interim Dean of our college for the first time. John called me up and asked if I was considering the dean position. If so, he would not apply. I assured him I’d rather remain a “pain in the ass faculty member” and would be delighted to turn over the reins should he be selected. John was invited to come to campus for an interview and it was my task, as Interim Dean, to meet with him. There was a problem, however. At the last minute I had to have eye surgery that required I remain at home and stare at the ceiling for 10 days. Our in-person chat become a phone conversation, the first half of which was spent making sad but very funny jokes about being interviewed by someone who insisted on staring at the ceiling during his job interview. This was John.
John was my dean, provost and department chair. I was John’s dean and department chair. He was my friend and colleague. If I can make people feel the way John always made me feel....important, cared for, heard....then I will have honored John and become a better person because of him. I miss him.
~Ana C. Garner
Professor and Department Chair
Department of Journalism and Media Studies
One of the tasks and responsibilities that I always enjoyed during my 20 years at Marquette University as dean of the College of Professional Studies was to be an active and engaged participant in the many searches that I was a part of, be those for another fellow dean, a vice president, a provost, indeed, even a president.
I was particularly honored to serve as the Dean’s Council representative on the search team for the dean of the College of Communication, a search that resulted in the hiring of Dr. John J. Pauly, and several years on, as provost of Marquette University.
In our search team’s first phone interview with John, at the time a professor at St. Louis University, I was struck by his thoughtful, reasoned responses to our questions as well as by the kind and gentle timbre of his voice. His sense of Jesuit identity and mission was as rich and deep as his professional embrace of academic excellence and scholarship.
While I served under seven different provosts during my tenure as dean, each one bringing his or her own particular style of leadership, I found John’s sense of deep listening, his commitment to careful deliberation as critical to decision-making, and his respectful regard for the ‘other’ to be unique and central to his role as our chief academic officer.
During the scores of one-on-one meetings we had together, first as fellow deans, then as ‘my boss,’ we inevitably veered into robust discussions on matters of common interests. We found more than a few intersections between the philosophical and theological studies that I was engaged in during my years in Rome, Italy and John’s study and scholarship around the theory of communication and the cultural approaches to communication research.
We shared a heartfelt common embrace of Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue and his notion of making meaning through mutuality and exchange, as well as the theory of communicative action espoused by the philosopher, Jurgen Habermas, whose focus on ‘deliberative democracy’ emphasized ethical cooperation based on shared, mutual deliberation. Both Habermas and Buber advocated for a kind of ethical ‘civility’ to create a more meaningful, productive and just world.
In so many respects, this was the filter through which John Pauly saw the world, and, to the benefit of the university and our community, these were the core values that guided how John managed his responsibilities and exercised his leadership. While there were some who thought John was overly deliberative, extending discussion and dialogue around issues and challenges in ways that prolonged his taking and making a decision, I always felt that his careful reflection was the better path, erring on the side of shared discernment and deliberation. It didn’t hurt either that the man had a wonderfully dry sense of humor.
For me, John Pauly embodied some of the best of our human condition: humility, insight, wit, wisdom, patience, compassion, civility. Our world needs those qualities now more than ever before. Thank you John.
Served as Dean of the College of Professional Studies at Marquette University from 1996 to 2016
I met John soon after my first book appeared (1978) and saw him on many occasions at AEJ conferences and other gatherings of scholars doing what was not yet called “journalism studies.” In that world, I encountered a set of unusually thoughtful scholars who were drawn to the language itself of journalism and particularly to “new journalism” or what came to be known in the academy as “literary journalism.” I think notably of David Eason, Norman Sims, and John Pauly. There would be others later, too, like Kathy Forde, with similar subtlety and depth, and there are others still today – see Thomas Schmidt’s forthcoming book from the University of Missouri Press.
I saw less of John in the years since he moved to Marquette, but for family reasons I visited Milwaukee periodically and at least three or four times I arranged to get a cup of coffee with John, feeling an intellectual kinship and personal affection. Invited to contribute to this memorial symposium, I turned to some relatively recent papers John wrote that I had not read before – “Is Journalism Interested in Resolution, or Only in Conflict?” in Marquette Law Review(2009) and “The New Journalism and the Struggle for Interpretation” (2014) in Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism. And I found in both what I knew I would find: a lucid intelligence, a respect for and fairness to those scholars he differed from on a variety of important interpretive points (myself included). I also saw some impatience with journalists and journalism, much as I think John’s work indicates his love of them. His answer to the question he raises about whether journalism is interested in conflict resolution or only conflict is “conflict only.” He turns to Martin Buber as authority on the centrality of dialogue to the human ethical experience, and states his impatience when the news media most bluntly when he asks journalists to “choose simply to start again, in a different place, with a different charter: to encourage dialogical practices that make the wider task of conflict resolution palpable and urgent.”
If John were here to argue with, I would say that this is too harsh. I would say that objectively reporting conflict is important and that interpreting conflict is also important and that both can contribute to resolving conflict. As for “more dialogical practices,” well, there is some of that now and it’s damned difficult to keep it civil, let alone constructive!
I guess I’m saying that a dialogue with John has long been rewarding; sadly, he is gone but some kind of dialogue remains. I sought our John on my trips to Milwaukee because I felt his strong sense of a moral mission in his work and trusted the balance in his writing that kept the study of journalism connected to the wider world that journalism is supposed to serve. I wanted a coffee with a scholar and human being I admired and enjoyed.
Professor of Journalism and (affiliated faculty) Sociology
Upon deciding to come to Marquette in 1986 as a freshly minted Ph. D. at U. of Georgia, I heard about this guy John Pauly from several Georgia faculty. He was at UWM at the time. As a fellow Illini alum, I was interested in connecting, so we did once by phone once I was in Milwaukee. However, soon after, I heard he left for Tulsa as I recall to teach with a fellow GA Ph. D. Jack Lule. Every time I saw Lule he boasted about the opportunity to work with John on some hermeneutics research of journalistic writings. (Y’all can look up what that means).
Then, years later, we hire a new Ph.D. from Oregon and she says she had John as a major professor during his Master’s degree work at SLU. Shortly thereafter, John applies and gets the open dean position in our College of Comm. I now began to experience the wonderful traits of John Pauly as a leader, a scholar and a person. As a department chair, we had the occasion to work together often. We didn’t always agree, but I always felt like he respected and listened to my opinion. A particularly contentious situation involved a proposal to add a new major in my area, one that had some overlap with a major we already offered. He made the convincing argument that since both majors were in the same department, we could assure that the two majors were distinct and offered different things to the students. But he firmly believed the major had potential, which turns out it did. He also promised to argue for two new faculty positions to support this program.
Just after the new major was passed, he left us as dean because the University recognized his talents and wanted him to become the University Provost. I thought for sure the promise of new faculty positions would disappear in thin air, but one of the first things he did as Provost was to assure me he didn’t forget about the promise and in his new role had the power to deliver on the promise. That’s the kind of person John Pauly was—considerate, honest, ethical.
No finer person will hold the posts of dean and provost at our institution than John Pauly. I was lucky to experience him in life. Godspeed, John.
~Dr. Jim Pokrywczynski
Strategic Communication Department
Diederich College of Communication
John Pauly was a man of integrity who inspired excellence, while his actions nourished it. He was a great scholar and a genuinely passionate community member, but it was his love of teaching that truly inspired me. When it came to teaching John modeled and encouraged what Parker Palmer calls engaged learning spaces: a bounded but open classroom, spaces that are hospitable and charged, classrooms that invite the voice of the individual and the chorus the group, the need to honor the small stories of learners and the big stories of our disciplines, spaces that support solitude and embrace community, and the ability to welcome silence and speech.
I remember his ever-open door and my bounding in near the end of John’s first year at Marquette. I had no appointment, only arms piled high with the masterful work of my students and his spirit calling to me. He welcomed my joy with equal joy. John Pauly helped me to hone the craft of teaching and he did it with elegance and grace.
John Pauly inspired us to be the most creative and committed teachers we could be.
John Pauly inspired us to be the most impactful and prolific researchers we could be.
John Pauly inspired us to be the most thoughtful and dependable advisers we could be.
John Pauly inspired us to be the most dedicated and passionate community servants we could be.
John Pauly, quite simply, inspired excellence by modeling and nourishing excellence.
There will never be another like him.
When John awarded me the Excellence in Teaching Award, his first year as our dean, I told him, “It was worth the wait to receive this from you.” The award remains one of my most treasured academic accomplishments. I am grateful to have known John Pauly. I am grateful he was my dean and our provost. I dearly miss John and morn his passing.
Rest in peace good man.
~Jean M. Grow
Professor, Department of Strategic Communication
Diederich College of Communication
It is a pleasure to offer some thoughts and remembrances of John. My first significant interaction with John occurred in my first year as chair, when he was serving as provost. An issue arose with a faculty search, which our Dean at the time could not help me with, and I wrote to John to arrange a meeting. He readily agreed. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was immediately struck by John's grace and professionalism. He listened carefully to my concerns, and asked questions to better understand the situation. In the end, John was very helpful in bringing the situation to a successful resolution. John's willingness to listen and to seek to understand my concerns were, in my view, the hallmarks of a good administrator, and is something I will always remember. I greatly appreciate John and his dedicated service to Marquette.
I am honored to have the chance to participate in this “community of John”. This celebration of John’s life was a brilliant idea, and I can’t wait to read the other stories. I am proud to be included in a group that John would call his friends.
And while I have written many letters and essays, I start this one with a real sense of nervousness. The nervousness stems from the fact that John was one of the best writers I have ever known. I am quite sure that John would assure me that my words were quite good, but that was one of John’s gifts, namely that he could inspire you by just being himself.
John saw the world through a lens that all of us would do well to emulate. He saw the good, and the funny, and the absurd, and then allowed everyone that came in contact with him to feel a little bit better about ourselves. John was quite adept at being able to tackle serious subjects, but always having a sense of context, and what is really important.
When I was considering leaving Marquette after a lengthy tenure, John was one of the folks I sought for advice — and wisdom. John encouraged me to look at the move out West as an “adventure’, and asked the critical question of me — “are you ready for an adventure?”. John was always up for an adventure, and his words of encouragement will help me to continue to look for other adventures in the future.
I will miss much about John, but whenever I think about him, which is often, I always smile. I smile when I think of his “Uncle Lou” stories (and the constant question – was Lou real??), of his bowling exploits, of his infectious laugh, of the kind and gentle way he treated everyone. I would always kid him that one of his favorite places to visit was Dork County (or Door County to some of you...) — because we were both fellow Dorks — and proud of it!
And I will miss his emails. And I hate email. But his emails were always the source of great happiness to me. They were filled with tales of work and family, and they were often quite hilarious. I would read them aloud to my wife Linda, and it was like story time at our house. The writing was sublime, and getting an email from John was always a real highlight. And, I could hear his laugh when I read them.
I miss you my friend.
~Robert G. Blust
Vice President for Enrollment Management
Dr. John Pauly always stopped to chat when I ran into him in Johnston Hall. He’d ask about my classes or suggest a reading for my Ph.D. research, which he agreed to advise.
When I met with him for an appointment, time stood still. You’d think he had all day. He never rushed when listening to my thoughts and sharing his about our common interest in literary journalism, on which his scholarship is internationally renowned. It was such a privilege.
At Dr. Pauly’s memorial service, those gathered shared knowing smiles when three people — his colleague, his close friend and his son — all read the same Maya Angelou quote to remember him: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We all felt very special in his presence. Everyone who knew John knew his family came first, but I’ve just learned I’m not the only one who felt like a close second. It appears each of us sensed that nothing was more important to John than what we wanted to tell him. And, at that moment, nothing was.
Humble, soft-spoken, compassionate, he made each of us feel valued. Since his death, we have shared stories with each other of his encouragement and guidance. Many of us know we were better teachers, administrators, scholars, people because of him.
Since Dr. Pauly became my advisor, I occasionally searched his name on the Marquette website to see if he had an upcoming presentation or publication, or was being written about. One day, I struck gold.
His 2010 reflection for the Marquette Educator provided some insight into how he became the man that gave the rest of us an awareness of our self-worth. John wrote: My work as a teacher has shaped my sense of who I am. I do not at all mean that the job has defined my status in the world; I mean that the talents I had to cultivate to become a good teacher (and I was not especially good at the start) have deepened my sense of myself as a human being. Teaching well requires intellectual rigor and clarity, compassion, careful listening, candor, humor, self-criticism, continuous self-improvement over many years, and patience.
He said that his father, also an educator, taught him to have “a genuine concern for students as human beings.” He also noted that students can see through you when you don’t. Everyone I have encountered who knew John, whether student or colleague, friend or family, never questioned that he was the real thing. He is remembered for his integrity, his intellect, his leadership, his humor and his wisdom, but most of all for the attention he gave each of us. He worked to solve problems, big and small, in the others’ lives, diligently, each time as if it were the most important work of his life. And it was.
~By Sandra Whitehead
Diederich College of Communication
John Pauly was one of the most influential people I have ever met. I had the honor of working with him at Saint Louis University in the Communication department.
One of the greatest gifts he gave me was the opportunity to take day classes at SLU. He knew I was a single mom and evening classes would take precious time away from my children. He encouraged me the entire time knowing that I would probably leave the department as soon as I graduated, which I did. But that is who he was — always thinking about what was best for others.
One of the most impressive traits about John was how he treated people. It didn’t matter if someone was cleaning the bathrooms or the President at Saint Louis University, John treated everyone with the same respect. He also talked to everyone, asking questions until he noted something they had in common to continue the conversation. When John talked to anyone, they knew he was truly interested in who they were and what they had to say.
One day, in the Communication Department, a professor was complaining to John about me, in my office, while I was sitting there! The complaint was unjustified, but I just didn’t want to contradict a professor in front of my manager! When the spiel was over, John calmly looked at the professor and said, “Professors are easy to replace but a good secretary is hard to find.” In that one comment, John stated how much he appreciated me and my hard work AND put the professor in her place! Two things happened after that:
One - I stood up for myself a lot more because I knew I was worth it;
Two - I received my favorite chocolates from that professor the next day.
John had so much faith in me that I gained the self-confidence to branch out of the Communication Department into the technology field which has always been my true, professional love. Thank you John!
I know I am not the only one who misses John, a truly great person who left this world much too quickly.
~Carole A. Sharp
John’s office was a place of calm in an often stormy world. He had a singular focus on doing what was right for the people he encountered, the university he served and the world in which he lived. For that reason, I and countless others sought his counsel and his friendship. He helped to unravel complex situations and he added needed perspective in those moments when it was difficult to find a way forward. I wanted to spend time with John because he sparked my intellectual curiosity while pushing me to imagine what more there might be. He was a mentor who made you feel absolutely capable, while also challenging your assumptions. His ability to do this was remarkable and a gift he shared freely.
John shared so much great advice over the years, but one moment stands out. I was facing a particularly difficult situation, and John told me that I had the rare opportunity to respond with grace. That much-needed message continues to play in my mind, as it was how he lived his life – with consummate grace. I hope that I am able to honor our friendship by remembering his words and responding with grace in the same way that he did throughout his life.
~Sarah Bonewits Feldner
Acting Dean of the Diederich College of Communication
Dr. John Pauly: Brief History of Mine
Months ago, I anticipated John Pauly’s approval of my dissertation chapter. Instead, he handed me an assignment: Joseph William’s Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace. John was lucid and tactful. I had to write clearly. He once said, “I’m proud of you,” after I presented a conference paper. I wish I could hear those happy words again.
This essay explores John’s character and his influence on communication research. I met the man, who became my mentor and friend at UW-Milwaukee in 1983. I was a mass communication student, a broadcast engineer, pursuing a master’s degree. John was professor who posed difficult questions. He claimed autos were props for canoes. I was a car guy. Yet, we clicked.
I discovered John’s thoughtfulness before I took his seminal mass communication and society class. This John experience unfolded prior to a tense departmental yearend potluck. The situation was uncomfortable because the department’s chair circulated my poorly written term paper. Faculty had to read and sign it. I became the poster child of a bad education. Whether I’d return next semester, not John’s minestrone soup, was the hot topic at our gathering. John refused to read that document. On a lighter note: John surveyed the utensils I brought to our gathering and barked, “Get a good, sharp knife!”
John didn’t condone shaming. His philosophy of education, shaped by John Dewey, was democratic and pragmatic—you learn by doing. He wanted to students to read and discuss. When I whined about Dewey’s wordiness, John handed me Dewey’s biography. To help me become a better teacher, he directed me toward a teaching program. For history, read Hayden White. For cultural studies, try Stuart Hall. John was resourceful.
John cared for students. One example was my American studies doctoral exam fiasco. He let me squirm as St. Louis University scholars attacked my comprehensive essay, which examined American literature through the lens of technological innovation. John responded by heading a new exam committee. I refined my argument. Next, I botched an exam requirement. John located the school document that led me astray. I rewrote and passed the exam.
John’s academic rigor was as striking. His classes, for example, explored qualitative media studies. He framed our inquiries in an American tradition. We read Dewey informed by John’s mentor James Carey. Dewey contrasted two different views of communication. One focused on the transmission of information; the second, emphasized ritual. This latter perspective downplayed the sermon and emphasized the prayer.
“People use cultural artifacts,” John argued, “to assert and maintain a sense of reality…to thwart styles of domination and control.” This breakthrough idea set the tone for my exploration of material artifacts. Most scholars, for example, see TV set ads as messages to consumers. In contrast, I discovered they expressed the aesthetics those who created them. The nautical motif found in the Zenith’s early sets, for instance, expressed its yachtsman president’s taste.
John’s steadfast support helped me express myself more articulately. He encouraged me to reclaim the roles of those who made TV receivers. I think of him every time I hone my now vintage Chicago Cutlery knife.
John Pauly was a teacher, mentor and friend to me for 20 years. I can still picture the classroom in Xavier Hall at Saint Louis University where I first met Dr. Pauly. I was an undergraduate communication major in his Popular Culture of Communication course. I sat in the first row mesmerized by his intelligence, sense of humor and warm personality. John saw the potential in me that I didn’t even realize was there. When I was a senior at SLU, he encouraged me to apply to the Master’s program in communication. Once admitted, I worked as a graduate assistant in media relations at the Health Sciences Center at Saint Louis University Hospital to gain experience in public relations, which was my chosen area of expertise. John then served as my Master’s thesis adviser. Again, I have very clear memories of us sitting together at his desk in his office going over edits of my thesis on the ethics of public relations. I would always bring John and his family my mom’s freshly baked poppy seed bread.
John was an excellent teacher both in the classroom and one-on-one with graduate students. I am most certain that it was John’s letter of recommendation that sealed the deal for my acceptance into the PhD program at the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. Getting a doctoral degree was not on my radar but again John was so confident in me that I knew I could do it and I knew I didn’t want to disappoint him. And then as fate would have it, we were both hired in the spring of 2006 to join the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. I was ecstatic that we were reunited in Milwaukee.
I remember John and Lindsey dancing at my wedding in St. Louis and coming to our house for dinner. My memories of John don’t fade; in fact, they seem to get clearer as I constantly find myself thinking…what would John do? John had a profound impact on my life and my career. I am a better person because of him and I hope I can make others feel as special as he made me feel over the past 20 years.
~Dr. Kati Tusinski Berg
Acting Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Strategic Communication
Diederich College of Communication