Thanks, Professor Bentel

Portrait of Dwight Bentel, a former distinguished journalism professor at San Jose State University, at his home in San Jose on April 4, 2007. (Joanne Ho-Young Lee/Mercury News) ( Joanne Ho-Young Lee )

Today is the convocation for 130 San Jose State University School of Journalism and Mass Communications students. Every one of them, and the thousands of alumni before them, are in debt to the school’s legendary founder, Dwight Bentel. Professor Bentel died one week ago today at the age of 103. He left quite a legacy:

  • 77: Number of years the Spartan Daily has been publishing. Now also online at
  • 10,500: Number of Spartan Daily issues produced over those years. Staff motto: Never missed a scheduled day of publication.
  • 6: Number of Pulitzer Prizes won or shared by graduates of the Journalism and Mass Communications Department.
  • 240: Number of internship hours that students must serve to earn an undergraduate degree.
  • 9: Number of awards the Spartan Daily staff won this semester from the California College Media Association.
  • 29: Number of faculty and professional staff in today’s department.

In a San Jose Mercury News article, former student and retired Merc columnist Leigh Weimers said, “Just look in any newsroom in the Bay Area (and beyond). The professional standards he instilled live on.”

I spent many hours in Bentel Hall, the SJSU journalism building named after him. It smelled of old newspapers and damp wood. There was certain reverence; we knew we were learning from the best. At today’s convocation ceremony, I’ll thank Professor Bentel for giving us all such a great start. If you agree, consider leaving a message in his memorial guest book.

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