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Around the Columns

Brooks calls it a career

Brian Brooks, associate dean of MU’s School of Journalism, morphed newspaper editing, reporting and war correspondence into a 38-year career at MU.

On April 6, 2012, Mizzou notables packed the glass-enclosed Palmer Room of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute to celebrate Brooks’ retirement. He will step down as associate dean at the end of August and plans to teach only during fall semesters.

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Brooks, BJ ’67, MA ’69, launched his MU career in 1974 as news editor of the Columbia Missourian

In 1985, he and faculty member Phill Brooks led efforts to build the first personal computer network to produce a newspaper at the Missourian.

“It was innovative. We even wrote our own computer library system,” Brian Brooks says. “Nobody was doing that back then.” 

The venture cut the cost of computer terminals from about $10,000 to $1,000. It also led to a $15 million grant from IBM, and in 2004, MU’s J-School became the first to require wireless laptops for incoming freshmen.

A 2009 inductee to the Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame, Brian Brooks earned a Department of Defense Exceptional Public Service Award, served as national president of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and co-wrote four journalism textbooks.

His accomplishments are numerous, but his advice is simple: Be honest. Work hard.

“If you do those two things, you will succeed in life,” Brooks told the more than 80 attendees at his retirement celebration.

Brooks made student well-being his job’s highest priority. A freshman at MU in 1963, he described campus as unfriendly and unwelcoming. Advising, he said, was subpar at the time.

 “I remembered that. I remembered it, and I resented it,” he said. “And I hope we never get back to that because students are what we’re all here for. I don’t care if you’re faculty or staff. In the end, it’s all about educating students and making sure they get a good start in life.” 

Mission accomplished for Joe Proszek, a former student of Brooks. 

“He’s had a tremendous impact on me,” Proszek says. 

Although Proszek had considered himself a good writer, he says Brooks helped improve his work “ten-fold,” and Proszek was not an anomaly.

 “He’s touched student lives at this university more than anyone,” Proszek says.