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NMSU emeritus professor to be inducted into NMPA Hall of Fame

A New Mexico State University distinguished achievement professor emeritus is the first college educator in the history of the New Mexico Press Association to be inducted into its Hall of Fame.


Man wearing a purple sweater
J. Sean McCleneghan, NMSU distinguished achievement emeritus professor, is the first college educator to be inducted into the New Mexico Press Association Hall of Fame. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

J. Sean McCleneghan will earn the NMPA’s highest honor during the 111th Annual NMPA Convention in Albuquerque at a luncheon on Oct. 26. He retired from NMSU in 2014 and now lives in Augusta, Ga.

According to their website, the NMPA Hall of Fame is reserved for those who make a significant contribution to the New Mexico newspaper industry. Examples include NMPA Board of Directors service, national recognition for journalism excellence, creation of innovative programs that benefit all New Mexico newspapers or meritorious service on behalf of First Amendment issues.

McCleneghan, a staunch supporter of community journalism, earned five national Kansas State University Huck Boyd community media research awards from 1982-2014. He provided free focus group research for New Mexico’s small dailies and weekly newspapers in his 32-year NMSU career.

From 1982-94, he directed the NMSU journalism and mass communications department along with The Center for Broadcasting. His students remember McCleneghan as “Dr. Mac.” He began a paid summer media internship program for students in 1982 that eventually earned 772 undergraduates more than $2.4 million from 1982-2014.

In 2002, the Southwest Education Council for Journalism & Mass Communications presented him with its 2002 Distinguished Silver Anniversary Pioneer Award. In 2004, the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) honored McCleneghan with its William S. Dixon First Amendment Award.

At NMSU McCleneghan earned two Donald C. Roush Teaching Excellence Awards in 1988 and 2012 and, in 2009, was honored with the first Provost’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advising based on student nominations. He was named a NMSU Distinguished Achievement Professor in 2013 and Emeritus Professor rank in 2014.

During his academic career, McCleneghan published 80 research articles in academic journals and presented more than 100 research conference papers. He earned his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, awarded the first master’s degree in journalism from North Texas State University, and B.A. degree from Fresno State University.