December 5, 2011
40th Anniversary Alumni Spotlight: Brian McDowell ’97 Wins Morrisville State College Distinguished Faculty Award
Brian McDowell ’97, at right, who earned a Master of Art in Culture and Policy Studies from SUNY Empire State College, has received the Morrisville State College Distinguished Faculty Award. He was recognized during the college’s 100th commencement on May 14. The award is presented to faculty members who display professional growth, personal and professional achievement and have provided outstanding service to the college.
McDowell, assistant professor of journalism and chair of the journalism department, has worked at Morrisville State College for 26 years. He worked in the public relations department for 10 of those years, also serving as its director.
A devoted member of the college and campus community, McDowell has served on various committees and in numerous capacities. He is currently advisor of the student-run newspaper, The CHIMES, and also has taught at the Norwich campus.
Throughout his academic career, McDowell has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist, graphic artist, publicist and book publisher. His experience in the industry has spirited him in the classroom, where he is revered by students for his unique classroom lessons and teaching style.
He remains current in the field through various affiliations and activities, holds seminars in desktop publishing, public relations and publication development and creativity with local companies, and maintains strong industry ties, which have greatly affected students’ careers.
“The mark of a truly distinguished professor lies in the impact that professor has on his or her students,” reads a nominating letter from 28 current students. “We can honestly say that, as his students, Brian McDowell has changed us; fundamentally and for the better.”
“Professor McDowell’s devotion goes far beyond the classroom,” said Franci Valenzano, public relations associate and alumnus of the college’s journalism studies program. “He’s an advocate for alumni, still providing guidance to former students, taking pride in graduates’ work and championing their accomplishments.”
“Brian is very dedicated to keeping alive the best of the 40-year traditions of the journalism program, including close student-faculty contact and a major emphasis on student writing and reporting skills,” said Dr. Paul Griffin, dean of the School of Liberal Arts. “He’s been instrumental in developing a new bachelor and associate degree that address the needs of today’s student going out into the contemporary job market.”
McDowell has participated in curriculum development that led to numerous new courses and the college’s journalism for online communication bachelor degree. He also established a photography show for students in the Press Photography course.
Outside of his college duties, he owns Log Cabin Books of Hamilton and has published 10 titles to date, including three books about Peterboro in partnership with Dr. Norman K. Dann, local historical author and former professor at Morrisville State College.
Through his company, McDowell has published children’s books as well as fiction, nonfiction/history and crafting.
McDowell donated publishing services and printing of “In Our Own Words,” which chronicles the 40-year history of the college’s Journalism Department through stories authored by Morrisville State College alumni and faculty.
The book is available through his publishing company at logcabinbooks.com. All proceeds benefit the college’s journalism program to fund scholarships and other initiatives.
A former member of the communications committee for the National Abolition Hall of Fame, McDowell works each summer with the American Legion Boys’ State of New York, serving as their communications advisor for their daily newspaper, annual yearbook and website.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Potsdam State College and a master’s degree in culture and policy studies from Empire State College.
McDowell lives with his wife, Margaret, in Hamilton; the couple has a daughter, Megan.
In honor of the college's 40th anniversary year, we will spotlight alumni from across the college, celebrating the range of academic, career and personal paths; geographic locations; modes of learning; and life circumstances and experiences supported by a SUNY Empire State College degree program.