Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Lecture for deceased Southeast journalism student to be presented

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Michael Davis was a journalism major who died in 1994 as a result of hazing, which led the Mass Media department to begin the Michael Davis Lecture Series. - Submitted photo

Public relations professional Byron McCauley will present the annual Michael Davis Lecture at Southeast Missouri State University on Feb. 29.

This lecture began in 1995 as the Department of Mass Media's way to honor deceased journalism student Michael Davis.

Davis was an African-American, nontraditional journalism student who died Feb. 15, 1994, in a hazing incident involving the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

"The goal is to really highlight what Michael's life would have been had he been able to live and graduate and begin working professionally," said Dr. Tamara Zellars Buck, assistant professor of journalism at Southeast, who worked with Davis at the Arrow at the time of his death.

McCauley is the public relations director at KnowledgeWorks and will speak about the lessons he has learned throughout his mass media career and how his small-town roots prepared him for the challenges of life.

According to McCauley, the main point of his lecture is to teach students to "maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, never give up on your dreams and don't compromise while getting there."

"I feel a duty to help younger people, especially those who will become the next great set of journalists in the United States," McCauley said. "If I can inspire anyone to personally succeed and while making things better for others, I will do that."

McCauley was involved in the journalism field for 20 years prior to his role at KnowledgeWorks. He worked as a state and business reporter for the Arkansas Gazette, where he worked with Southeast assistant professor of journalism Dr. Ann White.

McCauley was also the editorial page editor for The Times in Shreveport, La. The page won best editorial page in 2001 and 2002 under his leadership. McCauley served as assistant editor for the Cincinnati Enquirer. While there, he won second place in the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists Best Editorial Campaign. He won Ohio Writer of the Year for an editorial series on gun violence in Cincinnati in 2006.

He has also served as executive speechwriter at Cintas Corporation as well as an adjunct assistant professor of journalism at the University of Cincinnati.

Southeast's mass media department plans to continue the tradition of inviting speakers to honor Davis and inspire students for the future.

"Michael's legacy hasn't died," Buck said. "He was a good person, a good journalist. Honoring that I don't think has a time limit. We continue to honor his legacy through this series, not only to show that diversity is still important in mass media, but also we are showing that people of color are succeeding. It's not about race, gender or ethnicity, it's about being a mass media professional. That's something that was important to Michael when he was alive, and it is still important today."