Five esteemed alumni join Hall of Fame
By Erica Thompson -
Katherine King, Douglas Ramsey, Elaine Ikoma Ko, Ann Darling and Lorraine Howell each stood behind the podium as new additions to the UW Department of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame last Tuesday. The ceremony was complete with laughs, a few tears and high regards for the inductees and the Department.
“Welcome to the debate watch party for this evening,” professor and Chair of the Communication Department David Domke joked as he greeted everyone at the ceremony, coincidentally starting at the same time as the Presidential Debate.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2004 and has inducted 61 alumni. Domke proudly admitted that the competition is stiff, but the criterion is simple: People who have made a vital difference in the world.
“This is truly one of the best nights of the year,” Domke said. “These people are pioneers, they are civic leaders and models, and they are visionaries. These people are tireless and terrific in the pursuit of very important social goals and it’s a real privilege to honor them tonight.”
King (B.A., 1983), the writer, editor, digital media leader, journalist, producer and teacher, was the first inductee.
“It’s still hard to assimilate that I’m actually in a group as amazing as some of these other alumni,” King said.
King focused her speech around the concept of community.
“Community is the key and it’s fair to say it really does take a village,” she said. “You need a lot of different kind of people helping you along the way.”
King introduced and thanked her friends, family and mentors who she said helped her get to where she is today.
“I don’t really understand why I’m standing up here, but one of the reasons is because of this community,” she said. “I’m now so proud to be a part of a new community, which is the Hall of Fame for the Communication school.”
Ramsey (B.A., 1956) similarly thanked his wife for putting up with him and moving with him to 17 different houses throughout his career. Ramsey is an award-winning author, journalist, lecturer and American jazz scholar.
“It took me awhile after I left the University of Washington School of Journalism, as it was called in those days…what I had really learned there,” he said. “What I think I learned is that the most important thing in journalism or multimedia, or whatever we choose to call it, is to help people understand what you’re writing about, to help people understand their world.”
Ramsey was introduced by Hanson Hosein, Director of the Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) program. Hosein said he loves that Ramsey has a blog “proving that there’s nothing old school about you despite your many accomplishments over the decades.” His tweet to describe Ramsey: Classic, charmed, possibilities, improvisation and a sense of timelessness. And if he had a few more characters he would add “OMG.”
The next inductee, Ikoma Ko (B.A., 1975) said it was an honor to be in the company of Ramsey and the other alumni being awarded.
“It’s been said that the greatest honor is to be recognized by your own peers and that is very, very true,” she said.
Ikoma Ko is a community builder and civic activist, mentor and leading communication executive. She also said she is a Husky and always will be.
“The award is special because it gives us, alumni, an opportunity to give back and to come back to the very institution that gave us this strong foundation and our wings to conquer the world,” Ikoma Ko said.
Darling (Ph.D., 1987) also assured the room that she will uphold her responsibilities as a new inductee of the Hall of Fame.
“I have two black belts and at the end of a black belt test, you’re sweaty and often bleeding, and you bow to your teacher and say, ‘I promise to stay in shape and I promise to end violence quickly,’” said the award-winning professor and researcher, writer, editor and community leader. “So in joining this Hall of Fame, I’m really not convinced that I deserve this honor, but I do promise you that I will stay in good intellectual shape and I will do good work in every world that I enter.”
Darling said she owes everything to her parents, who traveled from Albuquerque, N.M., to be at the event.
“I think my parents’ parenting philosophy boils down to this: love them and believe in them fiercely no matter what,” Darling said. “I did challenge that ‘no matter what’ occasionally and I know it to be true because without that love and belief I wouldn’t be here today.”
Howell (B.A., 1982) indebted much of her success to her husband, who she said pushed her to always keep working hard. The author, teacher, producer and transformative communications professional had a rough college start as she “flunked out in spectacular fashion, missing the 1.0 grade point by just a hair.”
With a couple of other stops along the way, Howell eventually transferred to the UW in 1979, where she said she was given a “mulligan,” or a do-over, and called the award a “full-circle moment.”
“So you see that journey that started with a huge disaster has brought me back here to this world of learning and to be standing here is truly a remarkable story,” Howell said with tears in her eyes. “Still I keep looking over my shoulder and saying, ‘Are you sure?’ For this communicator, words aren’t always enough to describe how I feel about standing here. You’ve truly touched my heart and I am so honored and humbled to be here and to be inducted into this Hall of Fame.”
Domke closed the evening with two closing thoughts that struck him during the event: “What a good fortune it is to be part of a department and university such as this and what an incredible privilege it is to have alums like yourselves who come back and invest in us and make our experiences that much better. Thanks to the inductees for who you are, what you have done and what you continue to do.
It’s an honor to call you alums.”