1. You’re most likely to find him
at Tres Hombres.
2. He roots for the Los Angeles Lakers.
3. He listens to Tom Russell.
4. He gets peeved when journalists
don't use attribution.
5. Being licked in the face by his
dogs, Layla and Emma, is his
biggest guilty pleasure.
6. Boxer puppies are his biggest weakness.
7. He thinks golf pro Phil Mickelson
8. He wouldn’t mind spending the
as reporter and author Bob Woodward or legendary investor Warren Buffett.
9. He enjoys watching the 1980’s
teenage pop film, The Big Chill.
10. He hates cheese.
Dave Waddell knows he will have spent exactly 15.5 years working at Chico State when
he retires in December 2011. However, he needs a calculator before stating his 39-year
marriage to Karen Waddell.
Waddell is a professional-in-residence, journalism professor and adviser
to the student-newspaper, The Orion.
Waddell grew up reading newspapers. His father was a printer for The Fresno Bee,
and later his brother also worked for The Bee.
Waddell’s first journalism experience was working for Fresno City College’s
student newspaper, The Rampage.
“That’s when I knew I wanted to be a journalist and write for a newspaper,” he said.
Waddell didn’t jump right into newspapers, however. First, he worked at Fresno City College in public relations.
“It was a great job for me to have because I learned how to write,” Waddell said. “I had to write every day.”
Although he worked in public relations for three and a half years, Waddell knew it was not the job for him – he preferred newspaper journalism.
“I felt I wanted to serve the public in
a different sort of way,” Waddell said. “For me, trying to find the truth about things, and then tell the public, is a really good way to spend your life, and I knew when I graduated that that’s what I wanted to do.”
After graduating from Fresno State with a degree in journalism, Waddell spent 20 years as
a newspaper reporter and editor.
Waddell’s master’s degree in English is from Chico State, his Ph.D. in education from
By the end of spring semester 1997, Waddell had just finished his first full year as the adviser for Chico State’s newspaper, The Orion.
He said the constant turnover of staff presented challenges in putting out a quality newspaper.
“The top managers are really key, and it’s really important to me that The Orion is a student-managed
operation,” Waddell said.
Esmeralda Ramirez is a close student of Waddell’s and the fall 2011 webmaster for The Orion.
She likes that Waddell has enough faith in the editors and the content to allow everyone to produce work at their best discretion, she said.
"His attention to detail always provides tough criticism when necessary, as well as praise,” Ramirez said.
Under his guidance, The Orion has earned more than 50 major awards regionally and nationally. It’s been named the state's best university
newspaper 11 times by the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
“The college newspaper adviser is involved in journalism education at its most engaging. If there’s a better way to spend a life, I have yet to find it,” Waddell said.
Leaving a rewarding community like the one The Orion has created throughout past years can’t be easy.
Fifth-year Orion member Mark Rojas recalled a time when he considered taking a break from The Orion. He had a heartfelt conversation with Waddell, telling him there was too much on his plate, and he thought he’d take the semester off. Two weeks later he turned in an application for a different position.
“I fully expect Dave to be Team Orion, something that’s been a part of your life for so long is not going to be easily washed away,” Rojas said. “I imagine he’ll always have a fresh stack of Orions on his desk, ready to share with students.”
Waddell will be difficult to replace, said journalism Chair Susan Brockus Wiesinger Wiesinger.
If budget allows, a search will begin soon for a full-time professional-in-residence
to take on The Orion. That decision will be made with the input of both the faculty and studens.
In the meantime, it’s likely an interim adviser — perhaps even an alum of The Orion — will step into the role, Wiesinger said.
One of Waddell’s most rewarding endeavors is his commitment to increasing the diversity of the student population at Chico State.
Funds to recruit students from historically underrepresented populations became available when the Department of Journalism created
the four-year MediaNews Group Journalism and Diversity Partnership in 2006. That same year, Waddell took a sabbatical to visit 37
high schools and community colleges to lay a groundwork of relationships with other journalism programs, teachers and students.
Esmeralda Ramirez, an only-child, initially wasn’t interested in moving away from home. However, while working for Southwestern College’s
student-newspaper, The Sun, she was given the opportunity to learn about Chico State’s journalism program while having lunch with Waddell.
It’s a 600 mile move from Southwestern College to Chico State, but Waddell’s face-to-face presentation of opportunities, such as scholarships,
seems to be very influential in the students’ decision-making process.
“It’s a very good sales pitch,” Rojas said. “He’s a good salesman, with good results.”
Rojas and six other Southwestern College students were later invited to
Chico State for a welcoming and constructive visit. The students met with
counselors, students and staff from the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center
and the journalism department. They also went to The Orion’s editorial
board meetings and critique.
“I don’t just recruit kids and say ‘Come to Chico. OK you’re here, bye.’
I stay in touch with them, I help them, I try to get them scholarship money,”
Waddell said. “I try to get them internships because, well, they deserve it.”
Before Ramirez transferred to Chico State, Waddell helped her and some
of her peers obtain journalism scholarships. When Ramirez struggled to
find housing, he worked with her to secure her a home.
One of Ramirez’s favorite memories of Waddell is attending a
Mexico National Soccer Team game in Oakland with seven other
staff members from The Orion.
“Most of the stadium was filled with Mexico fans, and Dave completely immersed himself into that world,” Ramirez said. “Someone let him use a Mexico jersey and made him a bandanna of some sort to look like an authentic fan.”
Waddell has made a visible, significant effort to build relationships with his students throughout their academic journey. This will surely continue
after he retires as he hopes to continue diversity recruitment. His efforts will be influenced by an upcoming decision on the amount of financial
Currently, the Department of Journalism and Public Relations is seeking a $200,000, six-year Hearst Foundation grant to continue funding
for the diversity recruitment program.
As for his personal future, Waddell will likely be spending time with his wife, kids and two boxers, Layla and Emma. Waddell certainly doesn’t
plan to give up journalism. He can be found daily, actively participating and sharing in discussions on Facebook.
“You know, I’m not going to sit in a rocking chair,” he said. “I want to continue to teach. I want to continue to recruit. I think I’ll write for local
newspapers if they’ll have me. I don’t know beyond that, but there are stories I want people to do that aren’t being done.”