Jan Larson, professor and chair of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's department of communication and journalism, is the university's recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award from the UW System. This annual honor goes to one woman from each system campus in recognition of achievements in advancing equity and inclusion for people of color within the UW System, as well as communities across the state. Recipients will be honored at a UW System Board of Regents event on Nov. 9.
Larson, who joined the UW-Eau Claire faculty 27 years ago, has served in a variety of roles on campus, including assistant professor, professor, department chair and assistant to the provost for academic affairs. Larson also has served as Teaching Fellow for the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning, a student-faculty collaborative research mentor, and a McNair Scholar research mentor. Some of Larson's most significant campus contributions include:
- Scholarship on civil rights reporting, race, class, gender and sexuality, reading to learn, and best practices for retention.
- Creation of numerous domestic and international immersion travel experiences for her students to learn to report on civil rights issues domestically and abroad.
- Securing of numerous grants totaling more than $100,000 to support those high-impact learning experiences.
- Co-leading a committee that received a Wisconsin Humanities Council grant to develop and implement a monthlong series of programs on Civil Conversations and Civil Rights.
Most recently, Larson earned a national award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, receiving first place in the organization's Best Practices in Teaching Diversity in Journalism and Mass Communication competition. The 2018 first prize was awarded to Larson for her development of a course titled “Immersion Reporting: Civil Conversations.”
"The course collaborates with a university-sponsored 10-day domestic intercultural immersion experience — Civil Rights Pilgrimage — traveling the Civil Rights trail to sites of historic importance to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement," the course abstract states. View a video of the course activity.
In the spring of 2018, the National Voting Rights Museum installed a permanent exhibit of photographs and stories by Blugold journalism students enrolled in Larson's "Civil Conversations" class. Students interviewed foot soldiers of the civil rights movement and captured images of the thousands of attendees at the 50th anniversary Jubilee Celebration commemorating the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Larson describes the collection as an accurate reflection of the "pageantry of the celebration of the 50th anniversary, but also the reality of today."
“When I reflect on my time teaching journalism, among the moments I’ve felt the most pride in my work is when students have demonstrated a real commitment to social justice and the role journalism plays in giving voice to people who would not otherwise be heard," Larson said. "I’m humbled when they take time to tell me — sometimes years later — how much those reporting experiences continue to shape their work.
"The UW System award is a lovely surprise, and I appreciate being selected for my body of work contributing to making UW-Eau Claire a more equitable and welcoming campus."