Samford University’s Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) Department celebrated its founder at a special Homecoming event Nov. 16. Jasper “Jack” Cunningham Hutto joined the elite alumni of the department's Wall of Fame as alumni, students and faculty learned of his many accomplishments via JMC professor Julie Hedgepeth Williams.Kay Hutto Hull of Talladega County, Ala., was present for her cousin’s induction into the Wall of Fame and contributed research for the honor. Hull never met Hutto, but is pleased that his work is remembered and celebrated. “I was so honored to hear from Julie,” she said. “I had no idea it was going to blossom into all of this.”
Williams said Hutto, a 1909 and 1910 alumnus, excelled in oratory at what was then Howard College, and took part in various student publications, including the Howard Collegian newspaper. More notably, he helped found Samford’s Entre Nous yearbook and edited the first volume (1909-1910).
Hutto was keenly attracted to the life of journalism but for most of his undergraduate experience there was no academic journalism program in the nation, Williams said. That changed with the 1908 founding of a program at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
After earning a master’s degree from Howard College, Hutto enrolled in Missouri’s new program and returned to the state with a rare degree and unique expertise. While working as a journalist back in Alabama, Hutto convinced Howard College to let him create, in 1915, what is now the oldest journalism program in the region.
Howard's new journalism courses proved attractive to the young women admitted to the college in 1913. Mary Swindall, an editor of the newly-created Howard Crimson newspaper, was the first of many women to receive at Howard College a professional education unavailable to most men in the nation.
Williams noted that Hutto’s “firsts” also included creating the school’s first journalism internship, which continues to be a significant emphasis of Samford’s modern program.
Although his name might not be well-known outside of Samford, Hutto truly was a pioneer of professional journalism and journalism education. Williams made clear that everyone ever affiliated with Samford’s program has sheltered in “the house that Jack built.”