Hugh Harelson: 1930-1998

Jan and Hugh Harelson


The Hugh and Jan Harelson Award for Teaching Excellence is given annually by the school to an instructor who exemplifies the highest quality of teaching, based on nominations from students.

The winner is chosen by a committee composed of the school director and at least two people from outside the school (the director can provide additional information for the committee, including teacher course evaluation scores).

The winner is given $1,000 and a trophy, generously provided by the Harelson family, handed out at the Just Desserts gathering in May. The winner is kept secret until the award is given out at Just Desserts.

• Award winners since 2000

Former Arizona Highways publisher Hugh Harelson, a 1952 graduate, died Jan. 1, 1998, in Phoenix after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.

Harelson became publisher of Arizona Highways in 1982 when Gov. Bruce Babbitt asked him to salvage the troubled magazine.

"He saved this magazine," Highways editor Bob Early told the Arizona Republic. "He build an esprit down here that is really great. He seta a standard here that is going to last a long time."

Harelson retired in 1995, but remained active in a number of activities, including serving as co-chairman of the Save Journalism Committee, the panel formed when the department was threatened with closure.

"He did a remarkable job of dealing with people — telling the journalism story," retired journalism Professor Donald W. Carson told the Arizona Daily Star.

An endowment was set up by his family to benefit the department and its students.

Harelson started his career at the Bisbee Daily Review in 1952, then moved to the Republic, where he was a reporter and sports and city editor in the 1950s and '60s.

He also worked for a short time at the Scottsdale Progress, in television news and public relations.

Harelson came to the UA in 1973, where he headed the university's public relations efforts for nine years.

"He would walk into a room and make friends with everyone in the room," Hal Marshall, a former UA colleague, told the Star. "He had that knack."

Harelson also was past president of the University of Arizona Alumni Association.

At his memorial service in Phoenix, the UA's fight song, "Bear Down, Arizona," was played on a trumpet bringing smiles to mourners as they left the church.

He is survived by his wife, Jan; sons Scott and Matt; and a granddaughter.

Key Word(s) of the Page: