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Remembering Jim Hayes: Journalism Department Honors the Values Behind the Man

Jim HayesIn newsrooms across the United States — from Washington, D.C., to New York and San Francisco — the name Jim Hayes invokes a sense of pride and affection among a loyal following of Cal Poly graduates. 

Hayes, who died on June 10 after a battle with cancer, taught journalism at Cal Poly for 23 years. Today, he is remembered by former students — reporters and editors whose lives he touched — for his attentive mentoring and disciplined style. His legacy continues to influence the Journalism Department. Students, colleagues and the community still speak of his dedication and vibrant personality.

“He wasn’t just a teacher. He was someone who really cared about his students and formed lasting bonds with them,” said Mary Glick, professor and chair of the Journalism Department. “He had a rare gift that many professors aspire to.”

In honor of Hayes’ dedication to his work and students, the Journalism Advisory Board hosted the inaugural Jim Hayes Symposium: Advancing Integrity in Journalism and Communication on Friday, Oct. 10. The event focused on the values he lived by to inspire a whole new generation of students and industry professionals to do the right thing.

“In trying to establish what the event would be about, we gravitated toward integrity because that’s what Jim embodied,” Glick said. “We wanted a way to have Jim’s impact live on and reach an even larger audience.”

The event’s diverse set of guest speakers reflected multiple perspectives on the issue of journalistic integrity and ethics. Speakers included Karen Miller Pensiero, standards editor for The Wall Street Journal; David Kerley, ABC News correspondent; Peter King, executive director of public affairs for the University of California; Patrick Lin, Cal Poly philosophy professor and director of the Ethics + Emerging Technologies Group; Robert Logan, senior staff member at the U.S. National Library of Medicine; and Judy Muller, broadcast journalist and professor at USC. The symposium was moderated by Randall Communications Senior Vice President Kevin Riggs.

Each speaker focused on the underlying values that guide their actions.

“I participated in the event to help bring top thinkers in the world of journalism to promote the ethics and integrity that Hayes was known for,” said Riggs (B.S., Journalism, 1978).  

“Sometimes you just get lucky in life, Riggs said. “I was enormously fortunate to stumble into Jim Hayes’ classroom back in 1977. He helped guide me on a career path in journalism that spanned more than three decades. Hayes was a professor who became a valued friend, and I owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

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