Embattled Maryland college adviser wins SPJ award

The Society of Professional Journalists honoredWilliam Lawbaugh, newspaper and yearbook adviser at Mount St. Mary’s College inEmmitsburg, Md., as the inaugural winner of the Eugene S. Pulliam FirstAmendment Award during its annual convention Sept. 12-14 in FortWorth.

The longtime media adviser was selected from among more than 20nominations for his diligent defense of student press freedoms, a nod to theaward’s namesake, the late Eugene S. Pulliam, who as publisher of TheIndianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News until his death in 1999was well-known for his commitment to First Amendment rights andvalues.

Lawbaugh was nominated by Mount St. Mary’s College alumni as asign of support for his continuing battle with administrators over the school’s120-year-old, award-winning newspaper, The Mountain Echo. The tenuredcommunications professor’s has risked removal as adviser and salary losses forhis undaunted refusal to engage in prior review and his advocacy for studentpress rights at the private institution.

Lawbaugh was presented with acheck for $10,000 and a special sculpture during the presidential banquet Sept.14.

SPLC View: This award could not have gone to a more deservingrecipient. It is easy to talk about one’s commitment to the principles offree speech and a free press, it is another thing to live them. Lawbaugh hasbeen put through the ringer by Mount St. Mary’s College officials yetrefused to back down. The SPLC joins with many in the student media community inoffering our congratulations — and thanks.