Grindeland named MSUM's 8th Minnesota Professor of the Year

Posted: November 20, 2008

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Martin Grindeland

Release originally published by Minnesota State University Moorhead

Martin Grindeland knows how to make a diverse group of journalism students perform together like a symphony.

Some of his colleagues at Minnesota State University Moorhead suggest he acquired those skills while attending a one-room schoolhouse near his family farm in Mayville, N.D., watching a lone teacher single-handedly manage to juggle a group of first through eighth graders.

Ten years of coaching Babe Ruth baseball in Fargo didn't hurt. "You'd have to see it to believe it," said Mark Strand, who chairs MSUM's mass communications department.

"Martin would regularly take an average league team and somehow put them together as a team and make them consistent winners. It was amazing to watch.”"

And maybe producing survival films as a young Air Force lieutenant showed him how to endure a career of teaching student editors, reporters, photographers and producers to work together in an ego-intensive career field.

He did it for more than two decades as the founder and supervisor of Campus News, a half-hour newscast produced by MSUM students that airs every spring semester on Prairie Public Television. And he’s still doing it with his capstone broadcast documentary class.

In recognition of his achievements, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has named the MSUM mass communications professor as its Minnesota Professor of the Year.

Grindeland is one of 46 winners selected from 384 faculty members nominated by colleges and universities across the country. Today (Thursday, Nov. 20), Grindeland is in Washington, D.C., where the announcement is being made.

The Carnegie awards, established in 1981 by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, are recognized as among the most prestigious distinctions honoring professors.

Grindeland is the eighth MSUM professor to win the Carnegie Foundation teaching award in the past 21 years. Delmar Hansen, MSUM's legendary theatre director who passed away last January, received it in 1987; Evelyn Lynch, a former MSUM elementary and early childhood education professor and former president of St. Joseph College in West Hartford, Conn., won in 1992; David Mason, a former MSUM English professor now teaching at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, won in 1994; Andrew Conteh, a current MSUM political science professor, won in 1999; Jim Bartruff, a former MSUM theatre director and now director of theatre at Emporia (Kan.) State University, won in 2001; Mark Wallert, a current MSUM bioscience professor, won it in 2005; and Ellen Brisch, also a current MSUM bioscience professor, won it last year.

Grindeland, 62, joined the MSUM faculty in 1981 after earning an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Mayville State College, a master’s degree in television production from the University of North Dakota and a doctorate in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"I intended on studying law after graduating from college," he said. "But I changed my mind when I was in ROTC. Television just caught my attention."

He began his broadcasting career as a television production officer for the U.S. Air Force, writing and producing survival films for pilots while serving two years on active duty.

Then Grindeland began his teaching career in 1973 at Illinois State University, where he co-developed TV-10 News, a nightly news program produced by students and faculty. The newscast is still on the air, covering Illinois State and the Bloomington-Normal community.

Three years later, he brought his cooperative learning approach to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he taught television production for five years.

He hit the ground running at MSUM, developing a television news workshop. The goal was to take students from five courses (television news, writing, reporting, photography, editing and producing) and put them together to create a weekly newscast called Campus News.

"Knowing the importance of getting practical experience for a career in journalism, Martin has always combined theory with hands-on experience," said Kevin Wallevand, a former Campus News producer who's won both a national Edward R. Murrow Award and two Emmy Awards as a reporter for WDAY-TV in Fargo. "When the university first launched its Campus News show, there were nights that turned into days. Martin always stayed with us as we put together our stories and shows."

Campus News first aired on Moorhead cable television and in 1984 it was picked up by Prairie Public Television, where it's been part of their spring lineup ever since. (Today Campus News is supervised by Aaron Quanbeck, who started working on the news program under Grindeland's tutelage as an MSUM freshman. Now Quanbeck is an assistant professor at the university.)

"I believe students who are studying broadcast journalism want to start telling stories from day one of college," Grindeland said. "Because of that, I didn’t have prerequisites for the television news workshop classes. Some of my best students started working on Campus News as freshmen."

And like it was at Mayville #4, the one-room schoolhouse he attended from first through eighth grades, the younger students learn from the older students, and they ultimately end up tutoring the next generation of students.

"Eventually all of them come together into a community of sorts, all pulling together to accomplish something bigger than themselves," he said. "I've been using this approach for 35 years, and it seems to work."

His students and alumni consistently win regional and national broadcast journalism awards, and his graduates are anchoring, reporting, photographing and producing news in markets throughout the country.

"My 24-year career in news began when Martin simply asked me to participate," said Eric Blumer, a former National TV News Photographer of the Year and Edward R. Murrow award winner who works as photographer for a CBS television station in Denver. "He apparently knew something about me before I knew myself. Martin put me in the right place at the right time."

Grindeland, an accomplished table tennis player who often hosts student challenge matches Friday afternoons in the student union, is frequently referred to as "modest" yet "approachable and passionate" by his colleagues and students, going about his business quietly, which includes encouraging students to participate in MSUM's Society of Professional Journalists chapter. Last year MSUM students tied with the University of Arizona for winning the most national first place SPJ awards.

He also chaired the university's mass communications department for the allowable maximum nine years and developed a special class on media ethics that's required for all departmental majors. He says he works with the best students and colleagues anywhere.

Grindeland begins every day with a one-mile walk, which he's been doing for 30 years. "That's about 11,000 miles total," he said. "For me, walking is the ideal way to start a day. I stretch my muscles, breath some fresh air and do some of my best thinking."

His students took notice. In 2007 his broadcast documentary class produced a regional Emmy award-winning documentary titled "Walk into the Wild" and followed it last year with "The Greatest Silent Sport," about walking on the North Country National Scenic Trail.

It's a lesson well learned. As another former teacher and writer, Henry David Thoreau, once said: "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."


Minnesota's 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve more than 430,000 students across the state.