Organization site - Summer 2000
Issue: 2/20/01


FULL SPECTRUM CAREER: Dr. Tom Buckner Retires from McLennan
By John Neal

Dr. Tom Buckner, who served as president of the Community College Journalism Association in 1992, has retired from his position as journalism instructor and campus newspaper adviser at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas.

He retired at the end of the 1999 spring semester after teaching at McLennan for 15 years.

Buckner had been active in journalism organizations at the state and national level, and in 1993, College Media Advisers presented him with the Distinguished Newspaper Adviser of the Year Award for two-year colleges.

He served as president of the Texas Intercollegiate Press Adviser's Association in the mid-199Os and was also active in the Texas Press Association and the Public Relations Society of America.

Recognition came from other sources, too, including a Teaching Excellence Award presented at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development conference in 1999 and the Edith Fox King Award from the University Interscholastic League.

The UIL cited his distinguished contributions and outstanding devotion to scholastic journalism education in Texas. Buckner's honors also include having received McLennan's nomination for the Piper Professor Award, a state competition for teaching excellence.

He put together especially excellent programs for the CCJA portion of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention in Boston in 1991, including an international panel for one session and representatives from Boston-area free-circulation newspapers for another.

Three years after that, he hosted the Texas Community College Journalism Association convention in Waco, and he was commended by that organization for the overall excellence of the event, which drew 228 participants.

Buckner's journalism career goes back to 1959, when he began working for his family's newspaper, the San Marcos Record, in San Marcos, Texas, where he stayed until 1975.

As the years passed, the paper became the top community newspaper in Texas in terms of circulation and awards, and he worked his way up to editor.

Buckner also became a member of the board and treasurer of the Texas Press Association. "I helped draft the bill that became the Texas Open Meetings Act," he says.

Along the way, he found time to get an education and serve in the military, too.

Buckner received his bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University and his master's degree and doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

After stints in the Air Force and Texas Air National Guard, he joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve, editing his unit's newspaper and was named the Reserve's Outstanding Information Officer.

The opportunity to teach a course at Trinity University in San Antonio came along while Buckner was editor of the San Marcos Record, and he enjoyed it so much he later went into teaching on a full-time basis at McLennan.

Now that he's retired, he says he has stayed busy enough that his wife, Helen, hasn't had the chance to complain about his being in the way at home.

Buckner puts it this way:

"Major projects are teaching my grandson, 5, to fish and swim; watching my oldest granddaughter begin high school; having tea with my granddaughter, 3, and seeing my other grandchild who was born last November."

He also plans to spend more time with church activities, reading, gardening and canoeing.

But he hasn't lost his love for journalism.

"A number of my former students still keep in touch," he says. "Seeing them grow as journalists and as solid citizens is the great reward of our profession."