Prof Aggrey Brown hailed as top educator

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Observer staff reporter husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

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JUST over a week before he was to be honoured for his contribution in educating generations of professionals in media, the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), The Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) and past students of the institute, are among those mourning the loss of an accomplished educator and communications stalwart, Professor Aggrey Brown.

PAJ President Jenni Campbell saluted Prof Brown as one who foresaw the explosion of technology long before many, and helped journalists to look ahead and position themselves and the profession for the advent of social media and the digital age.

"Prof Brown was the essence of CARIMAC, who demanded, and in fact got excellence from his students of media and communication," the press release from the PAJ said. "He was the standard bearer for journalism and media education in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. The media fraternity joins the family of Professor Aggrey Brown in mourning the passing of a giant in the regional and international communication industry."

The PAJ said that Brown's students will remember him as a stickler for detail, making no apology for marking them down if necessary.

"Professor Brown provoked the debate which continues to rage today, about whether or not journalists we can be objective," Campbell said in the news release. "His strong belief in the need for fair and balanced reporting, pushed against the 'illusive' notion of objectivity."

Lifetime PAJ member and director of CARIMAC Dr Canute James said that the Caribbean had lost one of its most accomplished educators in the field of media and communication.

"I have lost not only a guide and mentor, but also a very good friend," James said. "Professor Brown was a most accomplished educator in the disciplines of media and communication. In the 22 years in which he led CARIMAC, Professor Brown guided hundreds of aspiring and professional media workers and communicators from across the Caribbean. We have lost a great man," James said.

The staff and students of CARIMAC, James said, are saddened by Brown's passing yesterday after battling cancer.

Brown was director of CARIMAC for over 22 years and later Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education.

"He taught me how to think," said CARIMAC graduate Kari Morrison-Heron. "He was more than a lecturer. He was a mentor, who inspired. He played a crucial role in my development as a professional communicator," she said.

"My most enduring memory of him was when Brian Lara was set to break Gary Sobers' batting record in 1994. Professor Brown brought a TV into class so that we could 'see history in the making'," said Jewel Forde, another graduate of the institution.

"He was very concise," said Juanita Dunkley, another CARIMAC graduate. "He was one of those lecturers that you never forget. His style of delivery was deliberate and unique and that made it stay with you," she said. "I suspect every student who encountered Prof Brown will recall the Chief Seattle speech "all things connect" that he used as a teaching point," she added.

It was under Prof Brown's directorship that CARIMAC cemented its reputation as the leading school of media and communication in the English-speaking Caribbean. His passing has left a void in the teaching of communication that will never be filled, a CARIMAC release said.

He also authored several books and articles that documented his ideas about the industry, its potential and its practitioners.

Before joining CARIMAC in 1974, Brown taught in various capacities at American universities including Howard, Rutgers, and Princeton. He is a former newspaper columnist, TV cameraman, radio announcer, news analyst, and moderator of the call-in programme The Public Eye.

Brown, a Cornwall College old boy, served as head boy of the Montego Bay-based institution and also represented the school in the daCosta Cup football competition, captaining a winning team as well. He also played cricket.

Prof Brown will be honoured posthumously by the PAJ during the National Journalism Week celebrations next week.

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