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Friday, October 24, 2014

Journalism adviser McReynolds retires after 36 years at MU

McReynolds advised thousands of journalism students, many of whom have moved onto professional journalism.

Jill McReynolds, who has been an adviser at the School of Journalism for the past 26 years, is retiring after a 36-year career at MU.

McReynolds has worked at MU since graduating from Stephens College. She started helping set up conferences, and went on to work in the Registrar’s Office as the secretary to the director of registration for four years and an admissions adviser for another four years.

McReynolds later became the first pre-journalism adviser, and has worked in the School of Journalism ever since.

Eight years ago, McReynolds became the senior journalism adviser when the school expanded its number of advisers.

“It’s been a great ride,” McReynolds said.

Her favorite part of the job, McReynolds said, was the students.

Lynda Kraxberger, associate dean for undergraduate studies at the School of Journalism, said she enjoyed working with McReynolds from her first day, and that what most stands out about McReynolds is her calm demeanor and passion for students.

“For many, many years, Jill was ‘it,’” Kraxberger said.

McReynolds’ intimate knowledge of the School of Journalism has been extremely helpful to many MU faculty members, Kraxberger said.

“There are so many intricacies and policies, and Jill knew every single one,” Kraxberger said. “She knew more than any individual faculty member could know. She became my teacher for what I needed to know, and it has meant so much to me to have her as a teacher.”

Over the years, McReynolds has advised thousands of students who came through her office, many of whom moved onto professional journalism, from CNN reporters to National Geographic writers.

“We see students who are wildly successful,” Kraxberger said. “Jill especially had compassion for the underdogs.”

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Jim Spain said he not only came to know McReynolds through his interactions with academic advisers, but also because his daughter was a student in School of Journalism.

“Jill’s service has always been driven by what is in the best interest of the students,” Spain said. “It has also been driven by high expectations. Some people do work to promote themselves, but she does work to promote the students.”

Both Spain and Kraxberger said McReynolds leaves behind a very strong legacy of people who care about students.

Although McReynolds and her experience will be greatly missed by students and faculty throughout the school, Kraxberger said, the change presents an opportunity to look at what needs to be improved with a fresh set of eyes.

“We have leaned on her experience, and she has given us opportunities to say, ‘How can we do better?’” Kraxberger said.

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