Maureen E. Cotreau
University of Connecticut, Storrs CT
In nominating last year’s New England Journalism Educator of the Year, Stephen Burgard of Northeastern University said that there are three pillars of academic journalism: Being a great teacher, being a great researcher and writer, and providing valuable service to the university.
This year’s winner, professor Maureen Croteau, chair of the journalism department at the University of Connecticut, has excelled at all three.
Being a great teacher
She has taught almost every reporting and writing class UConn offers — from news writing to feature and magazine writing, copy editing, ethics and courses in production. She teaches the freshman journalism experience course as well as a final thesis course for honor students. Rarely is she in a position of asking faculty to do something she has not already done or could not do. She leads by example, setting high professional standards for everyone, while also directing the department, shaping its curriculum, managing its staff and providing opportunities for students at newspapers throughout New England.
Being a great Researcher and Writer
She has worked for three New England newspapers — the Hartford Times, the Hartford Courant and the Providence Journal-Bulletin — as a reporter, copy editor, features writer, magazine editor and section editor. She is the author, along with Wayne Worcester, of The Essential Researcher, a sourcebook for journalists, writers and students.
Providing Valuable Service to the University
She holds the distinction of being the first woman to head an academic department at UConn. Having led the Journalism Department for 30 years and still counting, she is the longest serving department head on campus. She’s an original thinker and genuine innovator, and her work has transformed the teaching of journalism at the university. She set up the first computerized teaching lab on the campus in 1985, and since then she has taken the department headfirst into the digital revolution, encouraging students to embrace both technology and journalism. Today, her program turns out graduates prepared to work in technologically advanced newsrooms of every stripe in the modern journalism landscape. She is committed to the idea that journalism majors need a strong liberal arts background to understand the world and report on it. Therefore, UConn journalism students are urged to complete an additional major or coursework that will provide context for their future writing and editing. UConn’s journalism department is nationally accredited.
For three decades, she has guided the department steadily forward through periods of financial challenges and technological transition, while remaining true to its core mission of teaching sound journalism. She has advocated for resources, cultivated opportunities for students through internships and job placement, while setting the highest standards for teaching and professional education.
She has also remained active in professional circles, serving on boards and committees of numerous organizations, including the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government, and the Board of Directors of the Day Publishing Co. of New London. She is also a Trustee of The Day Trust.
In college basketball circles, UConn’s Gample Pavilion has been called “Jim Calhoun’s House” or “Geno Auriemma’s House.” In that vein, the highly respected UConn Journalism Department is, indeed, “Maureen Croteau’s House.”