New faculty mentoring award honors longtime KU journalism professor
Showing his lasting appreciation for the mentorship he received as a University of Kansas journalism student, alumnus Mark Mears and his wife, Stacy, have established a faculty award honoring Associate Professor Timothy Bengtson.
The couple established the fund with a $65,000 contribution to KU Endowment to benefit the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Mark Mears earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising from KU in 1984 and a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University in 1985. Mark, Stacy and their daughters, McKenna and Brianna, live in Valencia, Calif., where Mark is president and chief concept officer for Mimi’s Café.
“Since my graduation from KU, our family has been blessed by the fruits of my career,” said Mark Mears. “None of this would have been possible without the high-quality education I received within the School of Journalism and, specifically, without the mentorship of Dr. Bengtson, who took a personal interest in my success.”
Mark Mears announced the new faculty award at a recent gathering of KU journalism alumni, at which Bengtson was present. This student-nominated award features a $5,000 bonus and will be presented each spring to a deserving journalism faculty member.
“I had no idea this was going to happen,” said Bengtson, who has taught advertising and public relations at KU since 1979. “It is a wonderful honor for me and a great way to honor our faculty. The School of Journalism is noted for its faculty being available and advising students, and I am not alone in mentoring our students.”
Bengtson has received prestigious teaching awards at KU, including the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 1998 and the H.O.P.E. award in 1986.
Dean Ann Brill expressed appreciation for the gift. “We are deeply grateful to Mark and his family for creating this award to honor Tim Bengtson and the many dedicated faculty members who will receive this award in the years to come,” said Brill.
Mears said the award reflected his own deep sense of honor, privilege and gratitude to have had the opportunity to learn from Bengtson. “It recognizes the tremendous impact Dr. Bengtson has made within not only my life, but indeed within the lives of nearly 12,000 other students he has taught and mentored during his remarkable 33-year tenure at KU,” said Mears. “Our gift to fund the ‘Dr. Tim Bengtson Journalism Faculty Mentor Award’ will help to carry on his remarkable legacy of mentorship for many generations to come.”
Bengtson said he was proud of his former student, whom he described as a “shining star” in his education and career. “Mark is very creative and innovative — he gets the job done,” said Bengtson.
The gift is part of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.