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Albert Taylor Scroggins Papers, 1931-2001
"In his 20 years as dean of USC's College of Journalism, Al Scroggins has evinced a versatility and virtuosity far beyond the norm," Associate Dean Henry T. Price stated in tributory remarks made at ceremonies held in 1985 upon Scroggins' retirement not only as head of the College of Journalism, but as the senior dean in the USC system at the time. "He has been more than an educator, more than an administrator. He has been an archetype, an architect, and artist...." And in a letter of 27 February 1985 Scroggins' colleague Del Brinkman, then at the University of Kansas, very simply stated to journalism professor Perry J. Ashley - - "Al Scroggins has done an excellent job of developing one of the top journalism programs in the country."

In tracing the professional life and work of Alabama native Albert T. Scroggins, Jr. (b. 1920), who by the time of his retirement was referred to as the "Dean of Journalism Deans," this collection of six and one-quarter linear feet of papers, 1931-2001 - - including letters, notes, memos, agendas, schedules, minutes, programs, reports, certificates, citations, resolutions, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, miscellaneous printed items, and photographs - - also provides something of a history of journalism and mass media studies at the University of South Carolina, in the state, and beyond, for much of the last third of the twentieth century.

"The role of a dean is to try to create an environment in which students, staff and faculty can reach their highest potential," Scroggins was once quoted as saying [see Beth B. Dickey, "Third District American Advertising Federation Honors Advertising Man of the Year: Albert T. Scroggins" (leaflet), 1979]. "A combination of academicians with Ph.Ds and professionals with long and distinguished careers gives a theoretical and practical approach to the media." When he became dean in 1965, the program enrolled 225 students and was mostly newspaper focused. By the time of his retirement as Dean Emeritus in 1985, the college had an enrollment of some 1100 (including 85 graduate students), a full-time faculty of thirty, a budget of more than $1,600,000, and accredited sequences in advertising, broadcasting and news-editorial (including major emphases in photojournalism, public relations and magazines) - - graduating some 250 annually.

Such contacts, USC journalism professor Bryce W. Rucker wrote Provost Keith E. Davis, 16 May 1977, "provide a mutually advantageous link with the scholastic and professional media of the state and the South. I know of no other university with such close ties with prospective students and the profession." "In addition to his very active role with the media and allied businesses in South Carolina," Rucker further observed, "[Scroggins] works energetically with the media in the southeast and the nation." At the time of his retirement the dean himself remarked - - "I'm very pleased to have been associated with an entire generation of USC journalism students, many of whom have distinguished themselves in the mass media and in public service....I am glad to say that our graduates in the media and public affairs compare favorably with those from other good schools all over the country."

The Scroggins collection takes on a dimension of nationwide importance, moreover, not only for the record it provides of the college's achievement of a national reputation for service to mass communications organizations such as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications (representing journalism faculty and mass communication administrators respectively); but also for its witness to the dean's involvement in a whole range of professional organizations and societies. In the course of his career he served at various times as president or head of more than ten state, regional and national mass media-oriented organizations. In addition to his leadership in local and regional associations or units - - the Columbia Advertising Club, the Media Club of Columbia, the American Advertising Federation (Third District), the Southern Interscholastic Press Association - - he became a leader in such national ones as the honor society Kappa Tau Alpha, the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Association of Schools and Departments of Journalism, the National Advertising Review Board, the American Newspaper Publishers Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the National Public Service Committee of the American Advertising Federation, and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation's Journalism Awards Executive Committee, which in 1983-1984 contributed over $100,00 to journalism students nationally.

Other organizations represented in the collection are the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, Sigma Delta Chi (professional journalism society), National Council of College Publications Advisors, Baptist Public Relations Association, American College Public Relations Association, and the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund. During retirement year ceremonies in 1985, Scroggins received distinguished service awards or medals from more than a dozen academic and professional organizations or institutions, including press, broadcasting, advertising, and high school and university press/media groups.

Further national attention was focused upon USC's journalism department the year following his retirement when the Association of Journalism and Mass Communication named Scroggins as the chief program officer for its Journalist-in-Space Project. The collection contains an extensive file on this endeavor, whose object was to select the first American reporter to make a flight into space. Scroggins spearheaded the search until NASA put the program on hold following the loss of the space shuttle "Challenger" on 28 January 1986. Regarding his leadership in this project, Jerry W. Friedheim, executive vice president of the American Newspaper Publishers Association and member of Scroggins' journalism advisory committee, wrote him on 23 July 1986 - - "I'd like to express our appreciation to you, Bob Hoskins and ASJMC for the great leadership you all provided for the Journalist-in-Space project....Your excellent work has shown that it is possible to have a fair and reasonable selection process, and we thank you for what you've done."

One and one-quarter linear feet of papers document Scroggins' higher education, as well as his career experience prior to coming to the University of South Carolina. Various files reveal his early connections with Southern Union Junior College (Wadley, Ala.), which he attended from 1938 to 1940; and with Auburn University, from which he received a B.S. degree in 1942. His three-year enlistment in the U.S. Navy as a Pharmacist Mate First Class, 1942-1945, included eighteen months' service in the Pacific, where he was stationed in New Guinea, Morotai, Borneo and the Philippines.

A lifelong tie with the University of Missouri began in 1946 when he entered the program there dually enrolled in the School of Journalism and the Graduate School (in English) and teaching two sections of freshman English. In 1949 he received his Bachelor of Journalism degree and M.A. in English. "Thomas Wolfe: The Growth of an Artist" was the title of his master's thesis.

Off and on between 1955 and 1958, he returned to the University of Missouri to do work towards a Ph.D. degree. The files from these years include correspondence, student papers, and samples of his short fiction and creative nonfiction. His dissertation topic was a history of Nathaniel Patten's Missouri Intelligencer, the first newspaper west of St. Louis and north of the Missouri River. When he received his terminal degree in 1961, Scroggins was only the twenty-fifth person in the university's history to receive a Ph.D. in Journalism, and one of only 300 in the nation holding such a degree. His close association with faculty and friends there through the years resulted in the establishment in 1986 of the Albert T. and Lilla W. Scroggins Scholarship Fund in Journalism, and he has stayed in touch with its School of Journalism into the twenty-first century.

Even prior to his long tenure and the culmination of his career at USC, Scroggins' employment track as a journalist lay largely in the South. Thus a further part of the papers' value as a research collection lies in their provision of a regional profile of journalism in the South during the last half of the twentieth century through the record of this practicing and academic professional. Scroggins' first post-baccalaureate job was at Mississippi College (Clinton), where from 1949 to 1951 he taught English, became director of the Department of Journalism, and set up the first news bureau at the college, sending sports items to newspapers in Jackson and Memphis. From 1951 to 1953 he served as editorial director of the training materials unit of the Flying Training Air Force located at Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Ala., where he was responsible for writing and editing flight training materials for use in instructional programs for aviation cadets.

During the years from 1953 to 1961 - - with a 1956-1958 hiatus while working on his Ph.D. at Missouri - - Scroggins was affiliated with Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham, Ala., where he achieved the rank of full professor, directing the college's journalism and public relations departments, spearheading student recruitment, and functioning as adviser to the student newspaper and yearbook. The Howard files contain a valuable photographic unit, as well as items indicating another collateral interest: religious journalism and publishing. It was during this period that Scroggins, an active layman in the Presbyterian Church, U.S., prepared a paper entitled "The Mission of the Denominational Press." Correspondence from these years verifies that he served from 1956 to 1957 on the editorial advisory committee of the John Knox Press, Richmond, the publishing arm of his denomination. The Howard (Samford) ties, as well as his own Presbyterian ones, have remained strong through the years.

After spending the school year 1961-1962 as a visiting professor at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) - - where he taught news writing, editorial writing, the literature of journalism, and directed the work of graduate students - - Scroggins moved to Tampa as associate professor, chairman of the journalism program, and director of the office of publications at the University of South Florida. Here he had complete administrative oversight of both the teaching program and campus publications, with multiple other campus-wide responsibilities and committee assignments. While here he became president of the Florida West Coast Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the national professional journalistic society to which he had been elected as a member while teaching at Southern Illinois in 1961. Then, during the spring of 1965, the Gamecock announced (on 9 April) that Scroggins had been named dean of the University of South Carolina's School of Journalism, to succeed George A. Buchanan, who had been dean since 1956. The selection process, in which "numerous candidates from several states" were interviewed, "culminated a search of many months to find a suitable successor to Dean Buchanan," the Gamecock reported. In addition to former students and faculty colleagues and friends from throughout his academic career, correspondents in the collection include Maj. Gen. Lyle J. Barker, Jr., Jack Bass, Paul Delbert Brinkman, Dwight M. Chalmers, Thomas E. Corts, Harwell G. Davis, Everette E. Dennis, William A. Emerson, Jr., Thomas E. Engleman, Ashley Halsey, Jr., Frank Harden, Jack Harwell, A. Jerome Jewler, Dennis R. Jones, Thomas F. Jones, Reid H. Montgomery, Frank Luther Mott, Bryce W. Rucker, Charles E. Savedge, G. Richard Shafto, Joseph Shoquist, Harry E. ("Sid") Varney and Leslie S. Wright. Items of unusual interest among the papers include a 1946 term paper, "William Randolph Hearst's Contribution to America and the Press"; several files of short stories, dated as early as 1951, written by Scroggins; a copy of his paper "William Gilmore Simms and the Burning of Columbia (S.C.), 1865" (1967); "James Rion McKissick, Dean, School of Journalism (1927-1937)," an undated paper by student Jean Woods; "The Black Press: A Bibliography," by Armistead S. Pride (1968); a copy of "Reflections of an Expatriate," an address delivered by Harry S. Ashmore at USC, 4 March 1968; and a file of correspondence and affidavits, 1986, pertaining to Scroggins' serving as an eyewitness for the defense in a libel-invasion of privacy case brought by Charles Gatch against the Beaufort Gazette and the Island Packet. Of special note, finally, is a memo written to new journalism dean Judy VanSlyke Turk, 5 September 1991, headed "Some FYI random thoughts and bits of information re the COJ/MC, past and present," in which Scroggins confided - - "the reason we are so public-service minded today is because in 1965, the school was not highly respected by the state's media. When USC began doing some things for them, and attending their meetings, (going to the weddings and funerals) the state's media began to respond, by more support and by hiring our graduates, etc."

A large and valuable photographic unit of more than 300 images focuses principally upon USC and the College of Journalism's activities and events. Among the rare or uncommon printed items which came as part of this gift are the specially published CBS commemorative portfolio 1966: A Year of Movement, A Year of Hope, A Year of Controversy, which includes a unit entitled "Westmoreland on Vietnam: A Conversation with the U.S. Commander"; a copy of the history of the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, issued on the occasion of the celebration of the organization's fiftieth anniversary (1998); and a printed draft, 1993, of the Strategic Plan for Richland School District Two, a planning project which engaged Scroggins in 1992. The collection also contains numerous specimen publications from among the many professional organizations with which he was associated through the years.

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