The Story of Alvin E. Austin
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Alvin E. Austin, a University of North Dakota educator for over 30 years who retired in 1980, was known for his passion for news, for students, and for the quality of public life.
Austin, who was a UND professor from 1946 to 1980 and who chaired the Journalism Department for over 20 of those years, has been remembered by his former colleagues and students as an outstanding teacher, mentor, and community member. Austin died in 1999.
A life-long native of Grand Forks, Austin earned a B.A. in journalism from UND in 1931. He was a night editor for the Grand forks Herald in the 1930's and 1940's and wrote a popular column in that newspaper, "Looking Around with Al Austin" in the 1940s and 1950s. He was a news and editorial consultant for various newspapers in the country and held several national offices, including National President of the Society of Journalism School Administrators and National Vice President of Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists.
Al Austin also had a distinguished military and public service career. He spent four years of service in the Pacific Theatre in World War II, earning a Bronze Star and promotion to commissioned officer. He was an alderman for the Fifth Ward on the Grand Forks City Council and president of the City Council. He served on the Mayor's Committee on Improving Election Procedures in Grand Forks and was a special consultant and assistant for the Garrison Conservancy district.
He was awarded many honors including the highest honor of the UND Alumni Association, the Sioux Award, and was named a national Distinguished Teacher of Journalism by Sigma Delta Chi. He has been credited with treasuring the people's right to know and with launching students into their careers.
The family of Al Austin includes Ellen Austin, who married Al in 1946, and their two daughters and sons-in-law, Sheila and Morgan Lacy and Suellen and Jeff Heinrich. The Austins have four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.