The University of Montana School of Journalism has named two accomplished journalists as T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professors for the 2015-16 academic year.
Kevin Van Valkenburg, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine, will be the fall Pollner professor. Sally Stapleton, a former executive photo editor at the Associated Press who is now managing editor for online and photography at The Day, a public trust news organization in Connecticut, will hold the position for the spring semester.
Van Valkenburg is a 2000 graduate of the UM journalism school. He worked as an enterprise sports reporter and online columnist for the Baltimore Sun from 2000 until 2012, when he joined ESPN to write in-depth features and investigative articles. His work has appeared in “The Best American Sports Writing,” and he has received a number of other awards for his writing and reporting. At UM he was a classmate and friend of Anthony Pollner, after whom the professorship is named.
Stapleton worked at a number of newspapers, including the Tampa Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Miami Herald and Boston Globe, before joining the AP. At the news agency she led two photography teams to Pulitzer Prizes. She also created a training organization for journalists in the Great Lakes region of Africa. She continues to train journalists there and in Latin America.
The family and friends of Anthony Pollner created an endowment for the Pollner professorship in 2001, just after his death in a motorcycle accident. Since then a distinguished journalist has been in residence at UM each fall semester.
Beginning in spring semester 2015 the endowment was expanded so that in addition to a professor specializing in writing and reporting who teaches in the fall semester, a professor specializing in digital, online or the business of journalism teaches in the spring semester. Beyond teaching a course, the professors work closely with the staff of the student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin.
The professors were selected this year by a committee that includes the Pollner family, former Pollner professors, the Montana Kaimin editor and members of UM’s journalism faculty.