Ralph S. Izard
1938 - 2020
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Ralph S. Izard, 81, of Athens, Ohio, former director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, died of prostate cancer on Thursday, September 3, 2020 at his home. He was born November 12, 1938. He and his wife Janet came to Athens in 1966, he as an assistant professor of journalism and she as an adjunct instructor of home economics. Their daughter, Martha, a fourth-grade teacher at Morrison-Gordon Elementary School, was born in Athens in 1975. Izard was author or editor of seven books and published articles in many of the nation's leading journalism/mass communication journals. His most recent book, The Scripps School: Its Stories, People, and Legacy, was published in 2018 by the Ohio University Press. His early years as a teacher primarily involved journalistic writing and editing, but he later branched into journalism ethics, diversity and the First Amendment. He became the school's director in 1986, serving until 1998 when he retired from Ohio University after 32 years of service. Following retirement, he worked at the Media Studies Center/First Amendment Center, a journalism think tank in New York City, as coordinator of the International Initiative for Journalism Education and editor of New York Publications. In 2001, he joined the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University as associate dean for graduate studies and research, a position he held for four years. For the next six years, he taught off and on at the school and served in his final year as interim dean. While at LSU, he was founder and executive director of the Media Diversity Forum, a web site dedicated to diversity in the mass media and higher education. In addition, he was a visiting professor in 1981-82 in the H.H. Herbert School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma and a fellow in 1986 at the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. Outside the United States, he served as a consultant and workshop director in Australia, several South Pacific island nations, Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. For three years, from 2005-2007, he worked as a consultant for the Caucuses School of Journalism and Media Management, Georgia Institute for Public Affairs in the Republic of Georgia. Professionally, he worked as education editor and general-assignment reporter for the Charleston, W.Va., Daily Mail; as a reporter in four bureaus of The Associated Press and one summer for the Columbus, Ohio, Citizen-Journal. He received many awards including honorary Ohio University alumnus, 2000; the L.J. Hortin Faculty Mentor Award from the Scripps College of Communication, 2007; induction into the Manship School of Mass Communication Hall of Fame, Louisiana State University, 2014; national Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, 2007; Distinguished Service Award, Newspaper Division, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, 1994; Outstanding Faculty Award, H.H. Herbert School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Oklahoma, 1982; P.I. Reed Achievement Award, School of Journalism, West Virginia University, 1988; and the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor given for service by the Society of Professional Journalists, in 1973. Surviving is his daughter, Martha of Athens. He was preceded in death by his wife, Janet, and a sister, Carolyn Jones of Rogers, AR. A memorial service will be held at a later time. Contributions may be made to the Ralph Izard/Post Endowed Scholarship, Ohio University Foundation, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701. Please share a memory, a note of condolence or sign the online register at www.jagersfuneralhome.com.

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Published in The Advocate from Sep. 12 to Sep. 13, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
October 22, 2020
I have so many stories about Dr. Izard. He was my teacher, my academic advisor, a mentor and maybe what I would consider my first "adult" friend. He never failed to direct me to the right answer...or the right path. One of my favorite memories of Dr. Izard came my senior year. I was lucky enough to be Chief Copy Editor of The Ohio University Post. As CCE, I was usually the last person to see the paper before we boxed it up and sent it to the printer for next day's disbursement. One night in particular we were putting a big environmental story on the front page, top of the fold, 72 point headline. I remember distinctly looking at the big bold headline and laying the box on top of the paper mock-up. Next morning, the usual thousands of printed papers were dropped over campus. I went into my senior seminar class and as I said good morning to Dr. Izard. He asked me...."How do you spell environmentl?" I stopped and said, "E-N-V-I-O-R--N-M-E-N-T." I walked down the aisle to my seat wondering why in the world did he ask me that. Then that 72 point bold headline came back to me. I turned around and walked back to Dr. Izard, who lifted up his always-present dictionary and just handed it to me. He never said a word. He didn't look mad. He just gave me the dictionary and I sat down at my seat and looked up the word environmenT. He was watching me and when I realized that I had been spelling the word incorrectly all my life. I never thought, the night before, to double check the spelling. As I sat there, realizing how many of these papers had been distributed all over campus and beyond, I was preparing myself for the dress down from Dr. Izard. I walked back up to hand him the dictionary. He looked at me behind those horn rimmed glasses and said "How do you spell environment?" I said, "E-N-V-I-R-O-N-M-E-N-T." He just took the dictionary, nodded his head and gave me a little nod of dismissal. As I sat there in class, I thought what a great way to get the point across to me....no shouting...no reprimands....no "meet me in my office after class." Just a short spelling bee, a dictionary and another spelling bee. What a teacher. He could have handled that so many different ways, but he chose the one that had the most effect on me. Obviously.....I never forgot the incident. I have never misspelled that blasted work again. And....for the 40+ years I worked with college students, I kept a dictionary out on my desk. Frequently handing it to students to "look it up." Even with computers and spell check, I asked them to look up the misspelled word....and I thought of Dr. Izard every single time. He was one of a kind... teacher, mentor, advisor and human being. He was, without a doubt, my favorite teacher at Ohio U (sorry, Dr. Wheeler) and taught me more about leadership and responsibility and professionalism then any other teacher, dean, vice president or president I have had or worked with. Loved you, Dr. Izard
Darlene Brown Vandemark BSJ '71
September 15, 2020
Dr. Izard had been my mentor since 2007 when I began my doctoral program at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. His guidance, kindness, and encouragement played a significant part in my moving forward as a scholar-teacher.

Dr. Izard was very approachable, humble, decent, and hardworking person. He had been a great role model for his students and mentees. I am grateful to Dr. Izard as he offered me opportunities to grow as a scholar. I am blessed and proud to be Dr. Izard's mentee and student.

Losing both Ralph and Janet has left a big emptiness in my family’s life as they touched and impacted our life in many ways. Our deepest sympathy and condolence to Martha in such a tough time.
Mas Biswas
September 15, 2020
We are holding you in our hearts and prayers, Martha as you mourn the loss of your mom and dad in 2020. Your dad was a wonderful educator, a wise mentor and a old-school journalist who shaped my generation so well. I met RIZ on my first day at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in September 1986 as he moved into the director's role and office in the "new" building. We had a wonderful and immediate connection with our shared WV and 4-H roots. I cherish the memories of long chats in his office or the hallway; it was remarkable that he always found time to speak with students despite his many responsibilities and his advice was spot-on. I fondly recall his warm smile and his stories whenever I was in Athens to visit OU or when he visited you in Cincinnati. May he know peace; we are thinking of you. XOXOOX
Leanna Murphy Dono
September 14, 2020
Simply put, my career and life was so much better by having Ralph as a teacher -- and by him staying in contact for so many years. A trip to Athens always included a stop by Ralph's office. Just one brief story tells you all you need to know. I left OU in the spring of '72 to get married and hopefully start a journalism career. I was 12 hours short of my degree, primarily due to a winter internship that helped paid tuition but provided few credits. Ralph called while we were on our honeymoon and said he had two job offers for me - and he asked that I "do us proud." Over the next two years, he frequently inquired (nudged, cajoled, etc.) how I was doing finishing those credits. I don't think I would have graduated without his involvement.... He was an outstanding teacher, mentor and friend... he will be missed.
Tim Miller
September 14, 2020
Ralph and Janet were very kind to me as the neighbor kid across the street many years ago. I always enjoyed my conversations with Ralph during the time I did odd jobs for them.
Andrew Chiki
September 12, 2020
Martha, I am so sorry for your loss, my friend. May his memory be a blessing. Xo
Tara Towers
September 12, 2020
In the late ‘60s, Ralph was one of my favorite, and best, journalism profs at OU. He made it all interesting and nurtured my desire to become a journalist. I can’t imagine a 42-year newspaper career without the knowledge and training Ralph imparted. I am forever indebted. RIP good man.
Joe Hallett
September 11, 2020
I enjoyed all of those breakfasts and other feasts and will remember Ralph and Janet very fondly.
Jane Penwell
September 11, 2020
So very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Amber Channell-Kern
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