Mack to be presented Alumni Association Award for Superior Service to Alumni

Katelynn Mccollough

The impact that Barbara Mack has had on Iowa State University is nothing less than evident. It is not hard to discover the depth of admiration, respect and fondness that students, faculty, staff and alumni share for the associate professor of journalism and communication.

At 1:30 p.m. Friday in the Scheman Building, Mack will be presented with the Alumni Association Award for Superior Service to Alumni. This award is given to faculty or staff who have striven for the betterment of connections between alumni and the university.

“As I got to thinking about our most distinguished alum, Barbara Mack came to mind,” said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, who nominated Mack for the award. “It just seemed natural that Barbara should be nominated for that honor.”

Bugeja has known Mack since 2003, when he first came to Iowa State to interview for the director position. Mack picked him up from the airport and took him to meet her horse, Mikki. For Bugeja, Mack gave him the sense that Iowa State “felt like home.”

Mack’s adventure at Iowa State can be traced back many years. She graduated from Iowa State in 1974 with a degree in journalism. From there she went to Drake University, where she graduated with a law degree in 1977, and then worked at The Des Moines Register and Tribune Company, specializing in broadcast law. However, in 1986, she chose to return to Iowa State and take on the role of a professor.

“I came back here because of my college adviser,” Mack said. “My adviser was retiring and encouraged me to apply … it was one of the best things he did for me.”

Just as Mack’s adviser kept her in touch with the university, Mack has worked hard to keep relationships between alumni and Iowa State strong.

“We realize that many of our alums are far away from Iowa, but we want them to remain apart of Iowa State,” she said. “Through our society of friends, we’re keeping alums and students in contact with each other.”

Mack teaches several courses within the Greenlee School, but she is best known for her media law and ethic classes. Her students also know her for her strict classroom policies, as well as her dedication.

“She calls out students and is loved by them … that is a singular talent,” Bugeja said. “She has helped shape the lives of thousands of students.”

“I want students to come away from a class believing there is always more to learn and there is always a way to improve their understanding,” Mack said. “Nothing is as frustrating to me as a day in which I learn nothing.”

Upon hearing that she had won the award, Mack’s reaction was “shock and humility … first reaction is I did what needed to be done. It was absolutely unexpected.”

Mack’s busy life is filled with opportunities to continue to learn. She is an Iowa State Daily Publication Board member, a member of the Lawyers for Libraries, the assistant director and associate professor within the Greenlee School, and serves on a variety of committees for the university.

“Barbara ranks among the most read, literate and zealous journalists I have ever met. She is provocative, inspiring, and a good friend,” Bugeja said, who pointed out that students wishing to take a class with Mack will have until fall 2012.

Mack began a phased retirement a year ago and will be fully retired in the spring of 2013.

“I hope that I leave gracefully, and I hope I have enough sense to trust the people following in my footsteps,” Mack said.

Though Mack will no longer be teaching, she plans to work for the Alumni Association “as long as they will have me.”

After retirement, Mack hopes to continue to travel with her husband, Jim. She also hopes to spend more time with her horse and volunteer at the Animal Rescue League.

There are two clear things that will not change in Mack’s life with retirement. She has no plans to move from Iowa, which has been her home since she was born in Des Moines, and Iowa State will remain an important part of her life.

“You think about all the people you’ve met, all the people you’ve worked with … it’s humbling to think of the experience I have had here. All of those things have happened because of Iowa State University,” Mack said.