As part of its first annual Faculty Awards Ceremony, Utah State University announced Brian Champagne as the recipient of the Undergraduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. Champagne is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Journalism and Communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHaSS).
“My goal is my students’ success,” Champagne said. “I will do what it takes for that. Students have a certain conviction level, and I will match them and take it further with them. Some have lots of questions, and I will stick around to answer them. I’ll answer my phone nights and weekends.”
The Undergraduate Faculty Mentor of the Year award is an annual award that recognizes and encourages excellence in academic mentoring. Each dean from USU’s eight colleges selects a nominee to be considered, with a committee choosing the award recipient. The award has been awarded each year since 1985.
Champagne has a unique position at USU. He came to the university in 2010 after spending 22 years in the news business, working for ABC, NBC and FOX in California before working for CBS in Salt Lake City. Now, in addition to his teaching role, Champagne also works freelance for all the major news stations in Northern Utah. This allows him to keep the information he gives to student fresh. Instead of talking about what he did years ago, he can talk about what he did the weekend before on assignment.
“Because I am so current, I can be a good mentor,” he said. “I’m not guessing when I answer questions about what people want in the business. I can talk about what I did on Saturday when I’m teaching on Monday morning. It keeps my skills current, it keeps me current about what goes on in the business. And it keeps me connected. I know the people that my students may work with or for. And if I don’t know the answer, I can talk to my contacts and get it for them.”
Champagne is committed to student success. Ofttimes, he will man a camera as his students move into the director’s role. He even keeps in touch with former students who share successes or need someone to talk to about certain struggles. Champagne loves how the relationship evolves, from where he answers questions to the time where he can call former students and ask them questions.
“I love when a relationship flips and I can start asking them questions,” Champagne said. “I bring them back to talk to our students. I hook them up with students so they can have another mentor and someone who can look at their resume reel. That’s the cycle I want to create here.”
Champagne is known for a tough-love approach. He is very critical of his students when he sees something they can improve on. But he also does this because he knows what it takes to succeed in the business of broadcasting. He knows if he holds back, he may hold a student’s progression back.
“I know what won’t get by,” he said. “I know what’s unacceptable. I will let them know. I’m not doing anyone any favors by holding back. We have to get you ready to go. And the faster we get you ready to go on the basics, the faster we can get you to awesome. The goal is awesome. I know what it takes, and I’ll make sure you have what it takes.”
Champagne has loved seeing the changes in the JCOM department over his time at USU. Although the program is smaller than others in the region, graduates of the program have been just as competitive in the job market as others.
“Anything we don’t have in quantity of students, we make up for it in quality,” Champagne said. “Every Aggie who comes out of our program is ready to go. Because we are smaller than some of the other programs in our region, our students do more, and we expect more out of them.”
For more information on the Undergraduate Faculty Mentor of the Year award, visit www.usu.edu/provost/university-honors/undergraduate-faculty-mentor-of-the-year.
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