Ombudsman, Michigan State University
J-School director, teacher, reporter, editor, counselor and mentor. Worldwide, thousands of journalists have looked to Stan Soffin for guidance, motivation and knowledge. Born in 1942, Soffin graduated from Owosso High School in 1960 and the University of Michigan four years later. In 1968, he earned a master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University and joined the J-School faculty as an instructor. Seven years later, he completed a doctorate in American Studies, also at MSU. Over the years, Soffin worked as a high school journalism and English teacher, reporter, editor and journalism professor. In 1982, he was appointed director of the MSU School of Journalism. During his 16 years as director, Soffin guided the J-School successfully through three accreditation reviews and into the top echelon of journalism programs. He attracted outstanding faculty to the J-School and instituted fund-raising campaigns that brought new technology and several innovative programs to the school, including the Knight Chair in Journalism, the Hispanics in Journalism Program and the Victims and the Media Program. In 1985, he took a lead role in turning the Michigan Newspaper Hall of Fame, dormant since 1968, into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. He chaired the Hall of Fame Committee for 13 years. Another of his favorite programs was the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association, which he brought to the J-School in 1982. The organization represents secondary schools journalism teachers and publication advisers and provides workshops and conferences for more than 3,000 high school students and teachers each year. Soffin never lost track of the school’s “customers” – students and those who hired them. His goal was, as he often put it, “to emphasize the ‘J’ in J-School.” He resigned as J-School director in 1998, when he was appointed University Ombudsman at MSU. “Working with great faculty, students and alumni made this job something to enjoy rather than endure,” he said.