Remembering Jim Patten

Alumni and colleagues from the University of Arizona and University of Nebraska remember Jim Patten, a professor at UA from 1983 to 2000 and department head from 1991 to 2000. He died June 5 in Prescott. (Some of the testimonials are from Facebook.). Click here to read his obit.

UA alums, colleagues and Tucson/Arizona friends

• Morgan Loew (Class of 1996): "Jim Patten was a true champion of Big Journalism, and a heck of a nice guy."

• Jen Duffy ('03): "There are probably two lessons from journalism school that stand out most in my mind. 1. Nothing is unique, not even the Virgin Mary and 2. Question everything, and everyone. And then ask again. Jim Patten encouraged us not only to seek the truth, but also to challenge what we think we know. His mentorship and friendship made a lasting impression in my life and I’m certain many, many others. Rest peacefully my friend. You will be missed."

• Joe Ferguson ('06): "I am sorry to hear about this. He was one of my first professors at the UofA and I owe a lot to the lessons he taught me all those years ago.

• Gabrielle Fimbres ('85): "Prof. Patten was my first journalism professor and a true mentor and newsman. Sending love to Jim’s family."

• Kristy Hickson-Gerke ('93): "One of my first J professors as well! Prayers to his family, friends and colleagues. This has been a rough year! He is the third professor from my years at the J school that has passed. My heart is sad, but their wisdom is forever in my brain. Ex. Automatic E!"

• Jacqueline Sharkey (former school director): "Jim was completely dedicated to journalism education, as a faculty member and administrator. His primary focus was on developing the finest curriculum, so the next generation entering the profession would be thoughtful journalists who could provide the public with the information that people need to make informed decisions about their government.
"Jim led the department through its most difficult time, when the unit had been targeted for closure in the 1990s by the university president and provost. Jim organized the effort that saved the department -- a campaign that involved hundreds of alumni, students, and university and community supporters. Then he led the rebuilding process that resulted in the department again being recognized nationally as a leader in journalism education."
• Rich Robertson: "The U of A turned out the best newspaper reporters in the state during those years of Jim Patten and his colleagues. Their influence was far-reaching. I also had the pleasure of working with his son Mike at The Republic. My condolences to him and the rest of the family."
• Sylvia Quintero: "JP was my favorite boss of all time (UA Journalism). He was kind, compassionate, encouraging and a lot fun. RIP my friend."
• Jim Johnson (retired UA journalism professor): "I owe a great deal to any success I've had as an author to Jim. He believed in me when I embarked on my first book. He was supportive of me in almost any project I tackled. That's what a department head  and a friend  does. He was a pillar of strength when the then journalism department was threatened with closure in the mid-1990s. That the department, now school, is still thriving is a tribute to his leadership. I also appreciated his dry Nebraska wit and hearing about his beloved Nebraska football team."
• Gawain Douglas ('93): "I remember fondly working with Prof. Patton my senior year of J-school in the early '90s. As the new department head, he hired me to teach him how to use his new Mac and applications. He was keen to modernize the department and also had me help other professors and set up computers for classwork."
• Manuel De La Rosa: "Sorry to hear about that. I remember how important his leadership was to the students and saving the department."
• Jane See White: Jim hired me as an adjunct in 1997, and I continued through 2014. He was always very kind.
• Susan Knight (UA journalism professor): "Jacqueline Sharkey recruited me, but Jim Patten hired me. Jim and I shared some quirky musical tastes, including John Prine, and we used to laugh together about this song, "Please Don't Bury Me." We were fairly stunned when we both realized we both knew all of the lyrics. Some of them: Throw my brain in a hurricane, the blind can have my eyes, and the deaf can take both my ears if they don't mind the size.... Give my stomach to Milwaukee if they run out of beer. Put my sox in a cedar box just get them out of here. Hope you're singing it and laughing all the way, Professor Patten."
• Mike Gabe Gabrielson: "So sorry to hear this. I met Mr. Patten for the first time last summer at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. We talked off and on for several days about journalism, the changing views of media in today’s society and of course Shakespeare. I 'googled' him and he 'googled' me as a foundation for our talks. What a privilege it was for me to spend those days talking with him. RIP Mr. Patten. You will be missed by many."

Nebraska alums and colleagues

• Shelley Smith (reporter at ESPN): "Breaks my heart. He was so inspirational, a great newsman and teacher. Love to his family."

• Mary Jo Pitzl: (Arizona Republic reporter and Nebraska alumna): "Tears. I am a lifelong practicing journalist because of Jim. Those darn obits-for-errors drills worked! Condolences to Mike, Susan, Rebecca and other family."

• ‎Sylvia Lee Wingfield‎: "So sad to hear of Jim’s passing. He guided me at the University of Nebraska to a career that brought lifelong challenge and satisfaction. He was an inspiring teacher who insisted on the best from, and for, his students, and his kind encouragement didn’t end with graduation."

• Rick Alloway: Sad news for the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications family. Jim was the first journalism faculty member I met with when I started my studies at UNL in the fall of 1973. He was always kind and gracious. I was blessed we became reacquainted via social media in the last few years. He was a fine man, and I am honored to teach in the same place he did for so many years.

• Chris Harper: "I think all of us hope that we will remembered for the impact, toughness, and kindness Jim taught us. As a journalist for 20 years, I used everything he taught me. As a journalism educator for 20 years, I used everything he taught me. As a human being, I used everything he taught me for more than 40 years! He made a huge mark on many of us. I hope I get 10 percent of the accolades I see here when I go."

• Claire Wiksell Markovsky: "Oh I'm so sad to hear this. I have the best memories of classes with Professor Patten -- he truly made my college experience memorable. He was incredibly kind and really cared for his students -- well after they graduated. He will be sorely missed. My deepest condolences to his family."

• Susan Ihne Yennez: "He was my advisor when I started in the fall of 1973 -- and he helped me the next 35 years thru a career in newspapers. His reaction when I told him I had acquired a summer internship after my sophomore year: I'll buy you a dictionary if you'll use it!"

• Rex Seline: "Oh no. I called him “Coach” because “Professor Patten” seemed too formal. And he was more than a teacher."

• Jimmie D. Davis: "I team taught classes with Jim 1967-69. He was an excellent professional journalist with a great empathy for his students. We had recently reconnected. My condolences to his family."

• Mary Fastenau: "My heart breaks. Like so many of you, he had a huge impact on my life. He believed in this farm kid when I didn't believe in myself. He shaped my life in amazing ways."

• Joe Hudson: "So sorry to hear this. Jim was, I think, the only professor I kept in touch with over the years. He took pride in being both a journalism prof and a journalism pro."

Key Word(s) of the Page: