‘Dare to Fail’ — The J-school graduation circle

My old friend and former employer when I was at Sport and Fitness Publishing, John Winsor, recently gave the commencement address at the University of Colorado journalism school. The subject was “Dare to Fail,” and the talk was interesting in terms of the world that both new and longtime journalist face.

John’s speech made me remember that I, along with my buddy Andrew Lahana, actually founded the tradition of a J-school graduation ceremony at CU.

It’s actually an amusing story . . . Our friends in the business school had their own commencement and there was no such tradition in the J-school. We thought we’d show them how to hold a graduation — we’d get Jimmy Buffett to give our commencement address in Mackey Hall. Now there was someone who’d really done something with his journalism degree! He’d just played a concert that semester in the new CU Events Center and so we figured no problem getting him to speak to our graduating class. So we went through the channels, sent letters, made phone calls, etc. . . . and we waited. And waited.

Finally one day Russ Shain, who was the J-school dean, called us into his office and brought up that we had the entire class looking forward to this ceremony, but we had no speaker lined up. Andrew and I had never considered a back-up plan. The reality, Russ said, is that Jimmy Buffett was not coming. But Russ had connections, and so soon it was announced that WIlliam Hornby, who was some major figure at the Denver Post at the time, would be giving the commencement address.

Still, Andrew and I had to give the introduction, which I wrote and peppered with quotes from Buffett songs. Nobody got it, but we had dared to fail and today the J-school still holds a ceremony each semester. Twenty-seven years later I have former employers giving the commencement address.

Advertisements

5 Responses to “‘Dare to Fail’ — The J-school graduation circle”

  1. Stan Says:

    Beautiful. I just can’t figure out why Jimmy Buffett wouldn’t have jumped at being the first to speak at such a unique commencement. I would have.

  2. MrWuxtry Says:

    Russ Shain, I guess you mean (not Shane). And William Hornby (not Hornsby).

    • Hal Walter Says:

      I stand corrected, and I fixed it. Strange, I was just writing from quarter-century memory, and didn’t even consider the spellings. Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. Lynne Diligent Says:

    He did come to Tangier, Morocco, to our graduation ceremony at The American School of Tangier a few years ago.

  4. Lynne Diligent Says:

    Buffett came to our school in 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_A._McPhillips_III

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: