Professor Mike Quinn wielded enormous influence over his students and colleagues during thirty-seven years at the School of Journalism. For a long time, he was a crucial source of guidance for the University itself, and indeed for the entire UT System. Possessing the modesty of a good reporter, he never sought public recognition for his good works.
Quinn died at age 76 on January 22, 2006, in Katy, Texas, after a hard fight with a neurological disorder.
The quintessential tea-sipper, Quinn earned journalism and law degrees at UT, first enrolling in 1953 after serving as an Army journalist during the Korean War. He met his future wife, Catherine Sellers, as a staffer at The
. They were married fifty-one years. Throughout his career, he ranked in the upper echelons of Longhorn fandom. He could cite obscure team statistics dating back twenty years. Tall and angular, he had a quick, ironic wit and the ability to count cards at the poker table.
Quinn worked at Newsweek
and the old Humble Oil & Refining Co., but he rose to prominence at The
Dallas Morning News
, where he covered numerous beats before becoming a top reporter of state and national politics. His coverage of the Kennedy assassination in 1963 is on display in the Smithsonian.
He rejoined the University as a teacher in 1966. He taught many courses, but ended up being the resident expert in media law and ethics. He became a professor and was drafted by the University and UT System to spend part of his time helping UT navigate the rough public relations environment of the Vietnam War era.
Though he always taught, he usually continued to hold administrative positions. He was an associate dean in the College of Communication when he retired in 2004. He was an active member of the Headliners Club in Austin and helped it raise and award many thousands of dollars in journalism scholarships.
Quinn is revered and emulated by his former students. They rose through ranks to jobs such as publisher of the Wall
, managing editor of BusinessWeek
, editor of the Houston
, and hundreds of others at magazines and newspapers large and small. They have created the J. Michael Quinn Scholarship Fund in the journalism school.
John Michael Quinn, his full given name, was born in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on September 27, 1929. His father was a furniture salesman. His mother was a nurse. He is survived by wife, Catherine; daughter, Carol Bradford of Katy; sons, John Quinn of Irving and Patrick Quinn of Pearland; and seven grandchildren.
The School of Journalism will miss his approachability, good humor, wisdom, and competence.
William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
This memorial resolution was prepared by Professor Russell G. Todd.