Adventures in Teaching and Blogging

Well, here we go… | September 18, 2008

My name is Lisa Lockwood and I am a first-time blogger.

Initially, I wanted to call my blog, “Here’s to shoes and bags, Aunt Ruth,” but one of my colleagues wisely pointed out that title wouldn’t really reflect my blog objectives. But there is a good back story as to why I thought of that title.

My Aunt Ruth went to Drake University in the 1940s and graduated with a degree in journalism. She went on to have a cool career starting out writing obits at a newspaper in Fargo, North Dakota. From there she became a reporter at the newspaper in Clear Lake, Iowa. I’m not sure what, if any, positions she held in between but she ended her career in public relations at North Shore Hospital on Long Island, NY.

She was always a beautiful woman, modeling part-time for Younkers Department Store in Des Moines while she was a j-student here at Drake. She was named a “Drake Beauty” and went on a date or two with Steve Allen, one of Drake’s famous broadcast alumni.

Bottom line: I always admired, respected, loved and looked up to my Aunt Ruth. Sometimes I even wondered if I was born to the wrong sister, she and I were so alike – noses buried in books or magazines and a zealous penchant (some might say fetish) for shoes and bags. Plus she had such sophistication of being a New Yorker, it gave me shivers. Even when her dark hair grayed, it did so with a dramatic streak right in front, adding to her allure and charm.

Oh, and we shared the same middle name: Lockwood. Mine is in the process of becoming my surname now but I was born Lisa Lockwood Inhofe, and she Ruth Lockwood Chapman.

When my cousin brought Aunt Ruth’s ashes back to Iowa a couple of years ago, we did some research at the State Historical Society to determine where exactly my grandfather worked as the state coal mine inspector in Albia, Iowa. We found the GPS coordinates to the mine, and knew Aunt Ruth and my mom were born and lived near the mine. So on a broiling hot, sticky, humid, Iowa August day, my cousin and his wife, my brother and his wife, my parents and I took Aunt Ruth’s ashes to the middle of a cornfield in Monroe County and strew them.

Each of us took a handful of ashes and made our last remarks to Aunt Ruth. My cousin, Thom, started by saying, “You can go home again, mom.” My mother, who has Alzheimer’s and was sporting a giant purple golf umbrella to shield her from the sun, said, appropriately enough, “To mom and daddy.” Someone else said something about Ruth dancing in heaven. (She loved to dance, one major difference between the two of us.) When it was my turn to toss ashes I said, “Here’s to shoes and bags, Aunt Ruth.”

My career path has been similar to Aunt Ruth’s. I have my master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations from Drake University. I started out as a newspaper reporter and have been in public relations in a variety of positions from news director in the p.r. office at Simpson College, to communication director for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad in his third term as governor, to executive director of a statewide non-profit called Friends of Iowa CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), to community relations coordinator for another statewide non-profit called Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, with some freelance stints sprinkled in here and there. My Drake education has served me very well in my career.

When I was hired to teach public relations at Drake this year, I was thrilled. I taught adjunct at Simpson for several years but it’s been a few years since I’d done so. Being back on a college campus feels like exactly where I need and want to be now. Being back at Drake feels like “home.”

But I also realized how much journalism education has changed since my time at Drake. Blogging, for instance. Unheard of in the 1980s.

So, I needed to learn about blogging as a public relations tool in order for my students to learn as well. I want to provide them with the great educational experience I had here as a student. (If it’s not obvious at this point: Yes, one of my stated objectives for this blog is to be a p.r. tool, in and of itself, for the University and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.)

But blogging to blog and toot Drake’s SJMC horn wasn’t enough. So I put my p.r. research students to work researching Drake’s journalism curriculum in Aunt Ruth’s time here in the 1940s, my time here in the 1980s, some students figured we might as well look at the 60s as well, and then compare those times to what’s going on in journalism education today. To say times have changed is an understatement!

I would love to hear from other journalism educators out there in the blogosphere, public relations professionals in the field, Drake alumni, and/or anyone else who loves shoes and bags!

Chime in!

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16 Comments »

  1. I am an engineer, so my comment is straight to the point….”SWEET blog site!” I like it.

    Comment by Mary — September 18, 2008 @ 8:29 pm

  2. Love hearing about your new career! Best wishes – cool site.

    Comment by Kathleen Caudill — September 18, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

  3. I love your site! Great shoes and bag in the picture! Keep at it.

    Comment by Amber Russell — September 19, 2008 @ 2:56 am

  4. I really like the story of your Aunt and how this blog came about. Great first post!

    Comment by Kasie Pheanis — September 21, 2008 @ 8:39 pm

  5. Love it! I can’t wait to see where this goes. And I agree with Amber, great pic! So where do we go from here? Well let me start this blog off with a student perspective. Doing the research was so much fun. Flipping through the year books from the 40’s was like we were solving a mystery and uncovering sacred archives. We found out Drake had a flying school. Of course this makes sense, we were in the mist of a war. Also the campus was not even half the size it is now and consisted of only a few schools. In the 40’s the Journalism school (where the PR curriculum is taught) was called The School of Finance, Commerce and Journalism. It wasn’t its own school until the 60’s. Overall our research class found some pretty interesting things. As with Drake today, in the 40’s Drake held their standards high. As a result of the strict curriculum, you were certain to receive a great education. I am proud to be receiving my education from a school that has always valued their students and has been dedicated for decades to higher education. Way to go Professor Lockwood!

    Comment by Jessica S (PR Student) — September 22, 2008 @ 3:02 am

  6. Looks good Professor Lockwood!

    I really enjoyed working on conducting research for the start of this blog. Going to the library and digging up old information was a great way for us to understand the history of Drake.

    The most interesting part for me was looking through the yearbooks and seeing the how the school has changed over the years. I enjoyed seeing all the different clubs and groups that they had back in the 1940’s.

    Good luck!

    Btw…The picture is great too!

    Comment by Shelby — September 22, 2008 @ 3:19 am

  7. Professor Lockwood,

    I can tell that as this site continues to build, so will its character. It already has a great start. I honestly feel it would be so fascinating if every alumn had a blog site about their Drake experience…not just as something fun for students to read, but as a form of “eternal documentation” and as a tool that could be used to both connect alumni to one another and to ignite interest in prospective students. I hope that as this progresses, others can be inspired to perhaps do the same thing.

    Comment by Sarah Bush — September 22, 2008 @ 5:00 am

  8. I think it will be interesting to see how this topic develops. It seems like you are getting readers outside our classes already (a great sign), so maybe they will have input and ideas of where you should take the blog.

    It will be neat to see how all of the information we gathered comes together as a reference and tool about the evolution of journalism and public relations at Drake. Good job!

    Comment by Emilee Richardson — September 22, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

  9. Great first blog professor! I can’ wait to see what this blog turns into! You’ve done a great job of describing your aunt and setting the tone for the blog. I have never blogged myself, and feel more confident about doing so, especially since this is such a used and popular form of communication, and possibly research! Keep it up!

    Comment by Allison Francis — September 22, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

  10. I agree with everyone else so far! I actually enjoyed doing the research for this project. I like how this project is blending new technology with information from the past. I wonder what Aunt Ruth would think of “blogging” as a journalism tool!

    Comment by Amy Schneider — September 22, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

  11. I think that this is a very unique extension of preserving the memory of Aunt Ruth and the cultural history of the university… I’m curious to see what kind of ‘adventures’ unfold from a professor’s perspective.

    Comment by Allison Carver — September 22, 2008 @ 9:02 pm

  12. Prof. Lockwood –
    Good job! I’m glad to see how well everything came together!
    The story definitely reflects a lot about Drake – all the tradition and heritage that Drake prides itself on.
    I think what is even more wonderful is that while our class is your pet project with this, in the future as it will have already been developed and integrated into your teaching.
    Congrats on a job well done!

    Comment by Marissa Lawson — September 22, 2008 @ 9:54 pm

  13. Professor Lockwood-
    I liked how you brought in your aunt, yourseif, and Drake into the blog. I’m excited to see where the blog will be going next. Excellent start! Also, incorporating the picture helps break up the text!
    Nice touch!

    Comment by Carly Rimbey — September 23, 2008 @ 1:34 pm

  14. Professor Lockwood- The blog looks great! I am excited to see it develop.

    Comment by Hayley Larsen — September 24, 2008 @ 2:09 pm

  15. As a fellow Drake Alum and fan of shoes and bags…way to go! This is a great site and opportunity to bring like minds together to share PR skills and strategies.

    Comment by Kelly Meyers — September 24, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

  16. Professor Lockwood –

    This blog has gotten off to a really great start! It was a lot of fun looking back in the old yearbooks and seeing how Drake has changed! (and how it has stayed the same!) I am looking forward to reading more from you!

    Comment by Teri Deardorff — September 25, 2008 @ 2:44 am


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About author

I'm a first year visiting assistant professor of journalism at Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I'm teaching public relations classes and see blogging as an important p.r. tool. I know very little about blogging and feel I need to learn along with my students. Thus, "Adventures in Teaching and Blogging" is born.

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