Brian Brooks, B.J. ’67, M.A. ’69, professor and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Administration of the School of Journalism, will retire at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Brooks has been a part of the journalism school’s faculty since 1974 and has been associate dean since January 2003. In 2009, Brooks was inducted into the Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame by the Missouri Press Association in recognition for his contributions to the journalism profession. Brooks’ legacy at MU includes improving the use of technology in journalism classrooms, managing the Dow Jones News Fund editing internship program, creating the Walter Williams Scholar Program, writing and co-writing four journalism textbooks, and educating thousands of aspiring journalists. Her Campus sat down and took a look back with Brooks on his long and accomplished career at Mizzou.
Her Campus Mizzou: What classes have you most enjoyed teaching?
Brian Brooks: Probably editing and news writing. Right now I am teaching a European media course, and I have really been enjoying that.
HCM: How long have you been teaching editing and news writing?
BB: I’ve been teaching those off and on for 38 years.
HCM: What are your plans following retirement?
BB: I am still going to work part-time. I will teach two courses in the fall and nothing in the spring, which will free me up to travel. Next spring, I am going to spring training.
HMC: What is your favorite Mizzou memory?
BB: It’s sports-related. I was an undergraduate here, and we beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl in 1966. And after that game Marching Mizzou marched down Bourbon Street playing the Tiger fight song. That’s a great memory! The quarterback on the Florida team was Steve Spurrier, who was later head coach at Florida and is now the head coach at South Carolina.
HCM: What’s your favorite place in Columbia?
BB: Probably Memorial Stadium, Faurot Field. Nothing like a Mizzou football game! (Brooks has season tickets to the football and basketball games.)
HCM: What legacy do you hope to leave at Mizzou?
BB: While I was associate dean we created the Walter Williams Scholar program, and I am very proud of that. It has multiplied by five or six times the number of high-ability students coming to the school, so that is a significant accomplishment. I think since I have become associate dean I have tried to make the school more student-friendly in general. I think we have succeeded in great measure in doing that with things like creating opportunities for faculty and students to mix outside the classroom, tickets to concerts and such. I have always felt that students are happier and do better if they like the place where they are going to school. And I think for the most part our students really like it here.
HCM: What do you think of the fake Brian Brooks Twitter account?
BB: I think it’s funny. I don’t follow it regularly, but I will look at it every once in a while.
HCM: What is a unique fact about yourself that most Mizzou students wouldn’t know?
BB: I played football for Elvis Presley. I grew up about a half a mile from Graceland, Elvis’s homedown in Memphis, and on the weekend he would bring his entourage up to Graceland Elementary school, which was a half a mile from my house, to play football. When they were short-handed, they would ask the neighborhood kids to fill in, so I got to play with him a couple of times. He was already back from Germany and the army.
Then years later when I was night city editor of the newspaper down there, I would be driving home around 1 o’clock in the morning. About once a month Elvis would pull up next to me, and he would recognize my face and wave to me. He couldn’t have told you my name, but he recognized me. The only time he got out and drove was the middle of the night because he would be mobbed otherwise.
HCM: So are you a big Elvis fan then?
BB: Oh yeah! And my little brother used to go up to his house on the weekends because his best friend was the son of Elvis’s lawyer. He (the lawyer) would take contracts up there for Elvis to sign, so my brother would go and watch Elvis sign the contracts.
HCM: What advice do you have for Mizzou students?
BB: Be honest. Work hard. If you do those two things you are going to do well in life.
HCM: Where do you hope to see the School of Journalism in 10 years?
BB: I think it will continue to grow and prosper. Some people have this idea that journalism is dead and dying, and there is no doubt there are fewer jobs at newspapers than there used to be. But look at all the jobs being created on the Internet and cable television, content for mobile phones and tablet computers. I think there is a great opportunity out there; it is just shifting a bit where the jobs are. I think the J-School has done a great job of keeping up with that. We are probably ahead of every other journalism school in the country in terms of being ahead of that change.
HCM: If you could change anything, if at all, about your time at Mizzou, what would it be?
BB: I don’t know. I can’t think of a thing. It has been a good run.
Photo credit: RJI Online