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Roush wins N.C. Professor of the Year award

Chris Roush, who launched the Carolina Business News Initiative, is UNC’s first N.C. Professor of the Year award recipient since 1998.
Chris Roush, who launched the Carolina Business News Initiative, is UNC’s first N.C. Professor of the Year award recipient since 1998.

It was a normal day in journalism professor Chris Roush’s classroom.

The students filed into room 21 of Carroll Hall. Before taking their seats, they gathered around the professor they refer to casually as “Chris” to catch up and discuss their stories.

But for the past few days, one thing has been different. Since Thursday, “Chris” has also been known to them as the N.C. Professor of the Year.

The selection made Roush the first UNC professor to win the award since 1998, when communication studies professor Julia Wood received the honor from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing students improve,” Roush said. “Although I loved working as a reporter, there is much more positive feedback in teaching.

“My hope is that students will attain the skills to get a good job. I want to teach them the things that I didn’t learn when I was first starting out.”

Students said they find the level of respect Roush commands in his classes demanding. But they said the courses are more than worth the effort.

“I really enjoy how the class is hands-on and practical,” said Andrew Westney, a student in Roush’s reporting and writing news course. “Roush really prides himself on being so available and accessible.”

Since his arrival in 2002, Roush has wasted no time establishing himself as one of the most knowledgeable and sought-after professors, particularly in business journalism.

“Roush has made such a difference in the journalism school,” journalism professor Rhonda Gibson said. “He’s really put business journalism on the map for Carolina.”

Before teaching, Roush worked as a writer and correspondent for many newspapers, including the St. Petersburg Times, BusinessWeek, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Bloomberg.

He has also authored four books and co-authored three others in addition to being the Walter E. Hussman Sr. Distinguished Scholar in business journalism and the founding director of the Carolina Business News Initiative.

Those duties have brought Roush a variety of awards, including the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Teacher of the Year award in 2009.

But his impact on the school goes beyond his resume, students said.

“Professor Roush helped me find a career path that was right for me,” said Sarah Rabil, a 2007 UNC graduate who works as a media reporter for Bloomberg, a company that provides business news and information.

“I loved journalism, but I was also good with numbers, and so he helped find avenue for finding a job that incorporated both of these.”

Notes from Roush’s class are the only ones former student Christina Rexrode has kept since graduating in 2005 and taking a job at the Charlotte Observer.

“You can tell at the end of a semester when a professor is ready for the class to be over,” she said. “You can also tell when a professor cares about his students. Roush is one of the latter.”

But students said that Roush is an especially valuable resource once the classes come to an end and the time comes to search for a job in the struggling journalism market.

Roush is well-known for his connections in the field of business journalism and his ability to put them to work.

“He introduced me to a ton of people,” Rexrode said. “That’s really been beneficial to my career now, especially because I cover media.”

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