UA Scholarship to Honor Longtime C&IS Staff Member
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences has announced a new scholarship honoring alumnus and long-time staff member Jim Oakley, in conjunction with his upcoming induction into The University of Alabama’s Communication Hall of Fame.
The Jim Oakley Family Scholarship, created by alumni of the College in honor of Oakley, will be a tuition scholarship awarded each year to outstanding undergraduate students who are participating in summer internship programs. Many internships are unpaid but require students to be enrolled in classes.
“For 28 years it has been a real pleasure to interact with our students in helping them find their way to a rewarding future and a good life,” Oakley said.
“For a long time I have been concerned about students who were required to work a real internship and would not be paid. Many times this limited the student to either do one of less quality or not at all. Hopefully, the benefits of this scholarship will enable a student to be all they want to be.”
Oakley serves as career counselor and internship placement director for the College of Communication and Information Sciences. After graduating from UA with a communication degree in 1958, he joined The Centreville Press, where he eventually became publisher and owner before selling the newspaper in 1985. He joined the C&IS staff that year and also taught journalism classes and served as chairman of the UA Media Planning Board.
He is a former chairman of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and former president and board chairman for the Alabama Press Association. In 2006, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Journalism from the APA.
Dr. Loy Singleton, dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences, said the purpose of the scholarship speaks to Oakley’s character.
“Jim Oakley’s service to the College has had a very positive impact on countless students through the years,” Singleton said. “It’s only fitting that a scholarship named in his honor would provide opportunities for the very students he continues to work with every day.”
Mike Oakley, son of Jim Oakley and a 1987 alumnus of the College, said his father’s love for the University and its students are what have allowed him to make a lasting impact on the lives of many.
“Some of our favorite family memories surround homecoming at Alabama,” Mike Oakley said. “When he sold the newspaper our family had owned for years and got the call from UA President Joab Thomas to come teach at UA, we were thrilled.
“From that moment in 1985, his life changed for the better. Not only his life but students’ lives changed. I can’t tell you how many times someone will see my name or meet me and ask if I was kin to Mr. Oakley at The University of Alabama. When I tell them he is my dad I get the exact same story – how lucky I am to have a dad like him.
“The bottom line is that he made such an immediate impact on them through his love for the University. To a person, they say the love and enthusiasm he shows sells UA. That, in itself, is amazing, but his ability to follow-up and his former students’ ability to keep up with him has been unbelievable.”
For more information, or to donate, visit the official UA Advancement page for the scholarship. A Facebook group has also been formed with updates on the scholarship and for former students to share their “Oakley stories.”
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.