In Memoriam: Professor Jack Behrens
Over his 65 years of editorial work, he published more than 15,000 articles for periodicals including Writers Digest, National Observer, Business Journal and hundreds of others.
It is with profound sadness that the Utica College Community recognizes the passing of one its icons.
John "Jack" C. Behrens, professor emeritus of public relations and journalism at Utica College, passed away Friday, July 16, 2021 at the age of 88 at his home in Port St. Lucie,
Born in Lancaster, Ohio, in 1933, Professor Behrens earned a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State and a master's degree from Penn State University. After serving in the U.S. Army, he took a job as sports editor in Lancaster and then as acting chair and instructor of journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University, followed by a position teaching journalism at Marshall University.
He found his home at Utica College in 1965, beginning as assistant professor of public relations. In 1972, he founded UC's journalism program. The following year, he wrote the proposal that created the $250,000 Frank E. Gannett Journalism Scholarships at UC, the largest single gift the College had received at the time. He was promoted to professor of journalism in 1975. Awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award from the UC Alumni Council in 1991, Jack retired from UC in 1997 and was granted emeritus status. A mentor to generations of journalists, he wrote "Pioneering Generations," an historical chronology of the College.
Of his 30 authored and edited books, his 1976 book "Typewriter Guerillas" was a best seller. A nationally-known award-winning journalist with the Associated Press and a number of newspapers, he collaborated with "Roots" author Alex Haley on a magazine-writing textbook, and joined Tom Clancy and James Michener in discussions about writing in classes from the Far East to Central New York. Over his 65 years of editorial work, he published more than 15,000 articles for periodicals including Writers Digest, National Observer, Business Journal and hundreds of others.
Jack brought to UC, under the auspices of College Media Advisors, the Student Press in America Archives. With the assistance of UC librarians, he collected, summarized and filed (on paper, long before digital methods were available) records on every challenge and controversy related to the student press. This collection continued even into his retirement. Researchers and graduate students would visit the Archives or exchange files with Jack, especially after the United States Supreme Court landmark ruling on the rights of student journalists in 1987, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier.
Jack also served as adviser to the Tangerine for many years as well as chair of the public relations and journalism department. After his retirement, the UC Chapter of the Society for Collegiate Journalists was named in his honor as the John C. Behrens Chapter.
Jack is survived by his wife, Gertrude, of Port St. Lucie, his children, Mark Behrens '93 and Cynthia Daugherty '83, as well as several grandchildren and many family members. He was predeceased in 2009 by his wife, Patricia "Patty" Behrens.
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