Jan Whitt, a professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, nominated Abrahamson for the award.
"I have never met a person more devoted to creating successes for others,” said Whitt. “Or a person more joyful when surrounded by those who are energized by ideas.”
The lifetime achievement honor is awarded annually by AJHA. It is the highest honor granted by the organization and indicates devotion to research, instruction and service in the field of journalism.
Abrahamson teaches Magazine Editing, the Journalism of Impact and Literary Journalism at Medill. He has written two books on the subject of magazines and is currently working on a third, which is under contract with Peter Lang Publishing. He also previously served as Managing Editor of Car and Driver magazine and Editor-in-Chief of AutoWeek magazine.
“Doing research is creating new knowledge,” said Abrahamson. “And that’s always been very near and dear to me.”
Abrahamson was named the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence in 2005. He has taught at Medill since 1994 and also established Medill’s Literary Journalism Seminar.
“Abrahamson truly exemplifies the idea of excellence in all three areas of academic life,” said Mike Conway, associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Journalism and the AJHA Awards Committee Chair. “To put it simply, Abrahamson has made a career of helping other scholars.”
When Abrahamson learned that his commitment to teaching and research were being honored with a lifetime achievement award, he related his feelings to a quotation by Henry Rosovsky, who formerly served as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.
“Research is an expression of faith in the possibility of progress,” said Rosovsky. “The drive that leads scholars to study a topic has to include the belief that new things can be discovered. That newer can be better, and that greater depth of understanding is achievable. Research, especially academic research, is a form of optimism about the human condition.”
“Isn’t that lovely?” Abrahamson asked. “I’ve always tried to live by that.”
“And to get this award, in some weird way, validates my belief system.”