James Dyer

James “Jim” S. Dyer, highly respected assistant professor and chair of journalism at Knox College, passed away on February 12, 2023.

A member of the Knox faculty since 2013, Dyer made innumerable contributions to the department and the College. His primary teaching interests centered around narrative feature writing, media law and ethics, multimedia journalism, and oral history.

Dyer received a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish from the University of Minnesota in 1989, masters of arts in journalism and Spanish from the University of Iowa in 2002 and 2006, and a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Iowa in 2017.

“Jim was loved and respected by his students and faculty colleagues alike, and future Knox students will be the poorer for not having the opportunity to have their lives enhanced by being taught or mentored by Professor Jim Dyer,” Michael Godsil, associate professor and professor of practice in art, said.

Dyer’s career before Knox was as interesting as it was impressive. After finishing graduate school at the University of Iowa, he worked for five years covering the crime beat at the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald and the Quad-City Times. Later in his career, he was among a dozen journalists nationwide chosen by the National Press Foundation to work and study in Morelos, Mexico. While there, he worked for La Jornada covering the massacre of peaceful protesters in Tepoztlan by government troops.

In 1997, Dyer was hired by the Detroit News to cover the criminal court system, investigating a story that exposed that nearly 40 percent of Detroit’s felony cases were dismissed because of institutional malfeasance. When relations soured between Iraq and the United States in 1998, the Detroit News chose Dyer, who had only been at the paper for 15 months, to cover it because of his experience living and working overseas and his storytelling skills.

After joining the faculty at Knox in 2013, Dyer spent nearly a decade immersing himself in oral history, conducting hundreds of in-depth interviews of Galesburg residents, Knox alumni, and many others. Dyer also served the College as a volunteer assistant tennis coach for men’s and women’s tennis. He also worked with students to create the “Live Lit Storytelling” club, which held live storytelling nights at Cherry Street Restaurant for several years.

Dyer’s career was filled with awards and accomplishments, including multiple nominations for the Pulitzer Prize (1997, 1999, 2001). He received many journalistic awards, including the W. Earl Hall Award for Interpretive Writing (1992), the National Press Foundation’s Spanish Fellowship Abroad Award (1996), and the Detroit Press Foundation Public Service Award (1997). His career in teaching also saw many accolades, including the Sandra H. Barkan Graduate Student Outstanding Mentor Award (2009) and a grant from the Center for News Literacy for Bringing News Literacy to Knox College and Galesburg Area (2014).