ATHENS, OH – 10 years ago, Dr. Robert Stewart was not the first choice for the job.
“To be honest, there was another person in front of for the position,” Stewart said. “I’m just grateful for whatever ridiculous reason, that person decided not to take it.”
That person gave Stewart the chance of a lifetime: to be the Director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
After 23 years of being a faculty member, Stewart finally got his big break at Ohio. He went on to direct the school for 10 years.
“To think back 33 years ago to get this job, I always wanted to make people proud of that decision,” Stewart said.
Stewart certainly made all of the students that he worked with for the better part of three decades proud to call them their mentor. Stewart announced last month that he would be retiring at the end of the school year and hundreds of students made sure to to reach out to him, thanking Stewart for everything that he has done.
“Congratulations on a wonderful career,” Ohio graduate Justin Holbrock said. “You helped countless students learn what it meant to be a journalist and we will be forever grateful. Enjoy a well-deserved retirement!”
Stewart valued student recruitment to ensure and remind any hopeful journalist that Ohio was the right home.
“Thanks for welcoming a dream filled kid with open arms on my first visit to Athens, wish ya all the best in retirement,” Ohio graduate Russ Heltman said.
Stewart countless hours advising students, checking-in with student ran publications and leading the annual E.W. Scripps High School Journalism Workshop. The decision to step away from all of those things was not easy, but the time feels right.
“I don’t feel any grief about things. I feel a lot of relief and joy at the same time.”Bob Stewart, retiring director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism
Stewart, of course, has more on his plate than just being the director of the journalism school – He leads “The Bob Stewart Band”, but more importantly is a grandpa who’s ready to spend more time with his grandchildren.
“We got a limited clock here that isn’t open-ended,” Stewart said. “You want to have time with your grandchildren and time for the other passions you have.”
Stewart’s clock on being director continues to slowly tick. Day-by-day the emotions have become very real knowing that his 33 years at Ohio University are coming to a close.
“Students who are about to graduate have some of that feeling about looking back after 4 years and so multiple that by 8 and that gives you some idea,” Stewart said.
Things will be different with Stewart and his “always open” sign no longer around, but Stewart assures that he will still be there rooting and supporting his students.
“I think I’m coming to the end of the 4th quarter right at the right time,” Stewart said. “I have just the right amount of energy to finish the game. Not over time. So, I’m going to be a cheerleader and I will still show up to events and celebrate what students are doing and that’s what I’m excited about for the future.”
While Stewart’s presence will not be found inside the E.W. Scripps School Communication building, Stewart and his wife will remain in the Athens area.
“It’ll be a bit of a farther walk to campus for me, but Athens is still home,” Stewart said.