David Cuillier accepts the Wells Memorial Key from SPJ. (Photo by Andrew Seaman)
Cuillier testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on FOIA reform.
NEW ORLEANS — University of Arizona School of Journalism Director David Cuillier, past president of the Society of Professional Journalists and former chair of its Freedom of Information Committee, has been awarded the Wells Memorial Key — the highest honor for a member of SPJ.
Cuillier received this award at the President’s Installation Banquet on Tuesday night during the Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans.
"I look around the room and I see everyone who I got to meet around America and through the years, so many people who have inspired me and I get more energized about what we’re doing here," Cuillier said. “Thank you so much, I appreciate all of you and you’re wonderful.”
Cuillier started his career in journalism as a city hall reporter in the early 1990s, but joined academia in 2001 as the editorial adviser for the campus newspaper and yearbook in the Great Northwest. He went on as an instructor of journalism and media at the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University and the School of Journalism and Mass Media at the University of Idaho from 2003 to 2006. He joined the UA School of Journalism as an associate professor in 2006 before becoming director.
One of Cuillier’s biggest efforts as an educator and SPJ leader was his 45-day Access Across America tour. In the summer of 2010, he educated more than 1,000 citizens and journalists across 32 states and 56 locations about public records. In the summer of 2011, he held the same tour, allowing open government coalitions, SPJ chapters and small news organizations free training on access to public records.
The passion that Cuillier has for freedom of information and public access is evident in his tireless work for SPJ. For 13 years he has been educating, advocating and leading SPJ through multiple roles. In July 2016, he testified on behalf of SPJ in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee regarding FOIA reform.
Paul Fletcher, SPJ president, said of Cuillier, “Through his time as an educator and as an SPJ leader, he has fought tirelessly for freedom of information and public access, but that doesn’t even begin to describe his contribution to the Society—and for the profession as a whole.”
Named after Sigma Delta Chi’s second national president, Chester C. Wells, the Wells Memorial Key was first awarded 98 years ago. Each year, it is given to a member who has performed outstanding service to the Society in the preceding year or through a period of years.