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Kristin Gilger, a former newspaper editor who for the past decade has helped lead the transformation of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication into one of the premier programs in the country, is being honored by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Gilger, who serves as the Cronkite School’s senior associate dean, will be inducted Saturday into the Order of the Silver Key Society by SPJ’s Valley of the Sun Chapter in recognition of her career as a journalist and educator.
Gilger oversees many of the Cronkite School’s growing professional programs for students as well as 70-plus associate faculty members. She also serves as the director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism and the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Cronkite School.
She holds the faculty rank of professor of practice and recently was named the Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism.
“The rise of the Cronkite School over the past decade is attributable – in great part – to the leadership, passion, talents and dedication of Kristin Gilger,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “Quite simply, we would not be where we are today without Kristin. It is a privilege to work side-by-side with her every day, and we are delighted about this important and extraordinarily well-deserved recognition from SPJ honoring our friend and colleague.”
Gilger, who has been part of the Cronkite School leadership team since 2007, joined ASU in 2002 as director of student media, where she provided editorial guidance and oversaw business operations for the university’s daily student newspaper, The State Press.
As a Cronkite dean, Gilger has helped develop and lead a number of the school’s signature professional programs, including Carnegie-Knight News21, a groundbreaking initiative that brings top students from across the country to Cronkite to report on issues of national significance. The Washington Post, NBC News, USA Today and dozens of other news organizations have published the student investigations.
As a faculty member, she has mentored and guided hundreds of students, who have gone onto careers at news organizations and communications companies across the country. Her 2009 Depth Reporting class won the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in the college category for “Divided Families,” which documented the effects on families separated by the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gilger also designed and executed a national training program for adjunct journalism professors in partnership with the Poynter Institute.
Prior to joining ASU, Gilger was deputy managing editor for news at The Arizona Republic, where she oversaw all newsgathering operations, supervising more than 100 reporters and editors. Many of the people she hired and mentored at the Republic have gone on to become leaders at newsrooms across the country.
Gilger, who earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Nebraska, began her career as a reporter for the St. Cloud Daily Times in Minnesota in 1980. From there, she went on to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, where she served as bureau chief, administrative editor and suburban editor.
In 1993, she become managing editor of The Statesman Journal in Oregon, where she led editorial operations for six years before joining The Arizona Republic. Under her leadership, The Statesman Journal won the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association Presidential Citation for Outstanding Public Service Campaign in 1995.
She currently is completing a book on women leaders in news with Julia Wallace, the school’s Frank Russell Chair in the Business of Journalism. Wallace and Gilger worked together at The Statesman Journal, where Wallace was the editor, and at the Republic, where Wallace was the managing editor.
“Kristin is a brilliant and courageous leader and journalist,” Wallace said. “She inspired those of us who worked with her in newsrooms, and now she plays a critical role in developing the next generation of journalists.”
The Order of the Silver Key honors journalists who have been in the profession for at least 25 years, with a significant majority of that time spent in Arizona, and who have conspicuously contributed to the journalism profession and have inspired fellow journalists.
Gilger is joining Arizona Republic Editorial Page Director Phil Boas and Arizona Informant reporter Floyd Galloway in this year’s class of Silver Key Society members. They will be inducted during the Arizona Newspapers Association Fall Convention the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler.
“When I started out in journalism, all I really wanted to do was report and write stories that mattered,” Gilger said. “But most of my career has been spent working with others – reporters, editors, visual journalists, teachers and students – to do the work we all love. I couldn’t be more grateful to them, or to SPJ for this award.”
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. The Valley of the Sun chapter has been doing the same since 1958.