As you enter the office of George A. Gladney you are greeted by one wall covered in yellowing news articles, the opposing wall filled to the brim with textbooks and novels and between the two, a professor of journalism.
I don’t know if I ever mentioned this to you, sometimes I tell this to my classes, but it’s really true, It’s a fact, that, I was 20 years old, for an entire year. It’s true… You look at the look on students faces, and I chuckle to myself. Cause they never imagine me as someone that young.”
Prof. George Gladney
Born in Welmington, Del. George Gladney spent most of his childhood in Longmeadow, Mass. One of his earliest experiences in the field of journalism is from working as a sports editor for his high school’s newspaper. It was around this time he learned about the University of Missouri’s school of journalism. While stating he is comfortable living in the backwaters, in obscuria, he has certainly had his share of adventures.
He obtained his first bachelors degree in English from a small college in Pennsylvania(1969) and a second from the University of Missouri’s school of journalism in the form of a Bachelors of Journalism (1971). In 1986 Gladney enrolled in the masters program at the University of Oregon and had his first attempt at teaching college level curriculum.
“Like most people, you feel like kind of an impostor standing in front of a class, and you think to yourself, well I’m not a teacher. All the TAs say that their first semester. They are just playing a role. But it’s a role that anybody in graduate school’s very familiar with. You think of all those years you’ve been sitting in a classroom watching teachers, you know how to fulfill that role. So after a semester or two, you start thinking, well maybe I am a teacher.”
Working in the Field
After completing his Bachelors of Journalism degree at Missouri he got a job at the LA Times. It was during his move to LA that he first experienced Colo. and its beauty. He remained in LA for two years writing for the business and finance department. Gladney says he was never comfortable or qualified for that position. Spending most of his time in three piece suits and covering stockholders meeting just wasn’t him.
He wanted experience in the metro room, working on a police beat. In 1973 he moved to Colorado Springs and began work doing just that.
Gladney spent a year as a police reporter at the Colorado Springs Sun before being moved to general assignment and covering county government. In 1976 he was hired on by the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph as their business editor and quickly moved to the position of night city editor.
“Night city editor, that was fun. I would go to work about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and wouldn’t be done till 11, 12 o’clock at night. That was my schedule for at least a year. But it was fun.”
In 1978, after working as the Night City Editor, Gladney began his position as the Denver Bureau Chief and Chief Legislative Correspondent for the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. In 1979 Gladney began his own business in 1979, The George Gladney Co. business and financial public relations consulting firm, in Denver, CO. However he didn’t feel at home in this field. He was able to do the work for his clients but had no interest in finding them. The business closed its doors in 1982.
“I had to go out and find clients. I’m not much of a schmoozer. Not me.”
Gladney went on to get his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois and began his academic career at the University of Wyoming. Shortly after starting work at UWYO he quit and headed back to the University of Illinois to teach. This position was short lived. Gladney did not feel at home at the University of Illinois and upon finding the nationwide ad for his previous position at UWYO, applied and got his old job back for the following fall.
“6 months after I get there, 7 months, 8 months, whatever it was, I announce I’m quitting and going back to the University of Wyoming, I think that pissed them off a little bit… I mean how could I possibly reject the University of Illinois for an opportunity to go back the sticks in Wyoming. They just couldn’t understand that.”
With the development of the World Wide Web and its incorporation into academia, Gladney feels he is retiring just in time. With each passing year more of his time is spent learning new software programs. When he first started working in the field of journalism all you needed was a typewriter, telephone and a telephone book.
Gladney lacked a tolerance for the growing use of new technology into the field of journalism. With his specialty being the law, ethics and theory he has preferred to teach basic principles and techniques for news gathering and reporting, while being able to avoid specific technical demonstrations.
During his earliest coursework the students would come into the news writing and reporting labs without any previous experience with a digital word processor. More and more time, he felt, was spent on learning the software over actual writing.
On March 15th Gladney will begin a new teaching adventure in the city of Almaty, the Republic of Kazakhastan, at Kazakhastan National University, or KazNU. Gladney will be teaching a course in mass media and society, also incorporating international journalism, global media, and global society. The class will be taught over 7 weeks with 4 hours of classroom time every day. Gladney also expects to teach a workshop on mass media ethics while there. There is still a lot of planning to do before he heads there.
We will miss Dr. Gladney, both personally and professionally. His expertise in International journalism and in Media law has really helped our students prepare for careers in journalism. Those aren’t classes just anyone can teach, it takes years to develop that knowledge.
Assistant Lecturer – Rebecca Roberts
Gladney had traveled across Europe. He has experienced dozens of alien cultures and it has enlivened him. This hit the hardest when he first visited Warsaw Poland, it was a thrilling experience. He saw a vibrant and lively city filled with a rich culture and spectacular people enjoying every minute of their lives following their freedom in 1989 from the Iron Curtain. After first visiting Poland, he began learning Polish and plans to move there following his retirement this coming fall for up to 5 years.
Looking back Gladney feels everything has gone by fast. He doesn’t feel that it was that long ago he first began teaching at UWYO for his first year. He also got a late start in academia, not starting his teaching career until he was 44. Now 66 he remarked on how a lot of professors got started in their late 20’s. However he had 15 years of professional experience and would not have been hired without that experience.
“I think I’m pretty fortunate to have the life I’ve had, the career. Wyoming’s not a bad place to live and work.”
Gladney has three sons, all currently pursuing degrees either at UWYO or at LCCC. After his time in Poland he expects to move back to Wyoming to spend time with them.
You can check out Prof. Gladney’s UWYO profile with links to his curriculum vitae here.