SPLC's Frank LoMonte receives Louis E. Ingelhart First Amendment Award

The College Media Association has named Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, the 2015 recipient of the esteemed Louis E. Ingelhart First Amendment Award.

The award honors Louis E. Ingelhart, a former Ball State University journalism professor who dedicated much of his life to studying, writing and teaching the First Amendment. Ingelhart, a longtime member of SPLC’s executive board, helped form the SPLC in its modern incarnation. He died in 2007.

LoMonte has served as the SPLC’s executive director since 2008. He has provided legal assistance to thousands of high school and college journalists and advisers who faced censorship or other challenges. Known in the journalism world as a tireless fighter for student press rights, LoMonte has traveled to almost all 50 states on behalf of the SPLC to speak at high schools, universities and conferences.

The Louis E. Ingelhart First Amendment Award is not given out annually, but rather, when the CMA recognizes a career of exceptional achievement. In 2011, SPLC’s special project attorney Mike Hiestand received the award, as did former executive director Mark Goodman in 1996.

“It’s kind of overwhelming to look at the list of past winners, which includes so many people who gave a lifetime of service to student media, including so many good personal friends like James Tidwell, Mark Goodman and Mike Hiestand,” LoMonte said. “I feel like I just cut ahead in line, but I’m overjoyed to accept the award not as personal recognition but as recognition for an organization of staff, board members and volunteers who’ve given such valuable service to journalism for 40-plus years.”

Ingelhart was known by many as the first professional advocate for the free-press rights of high school and college journalists. He advised student journalists and their advisers across the country. 

“It’s going to be a challenge to live up to Louis Ingelhart’s legacy as a giant in journalism education, and I’m so grateful to everyone at CMA for recognizing the SPLC’s continuing importance in keeping college media free and vibrant,” LoMonte said.

LoMonte will receive the award on Oct. 29 in Austin, Texas, during the 2015 National College Media Convention.