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In Memory

James K. VanLeuven

March 30, 2013

James Kenneth "Jim" VanLeuven, whose work at five universities in the West had a lasting influence on journalism and public relations education, died March 26, while on vacation with his family in Orlando, Florida.

Jim anhd Susan VanLeuvenHe was 72.

A gifted and enthusiastic teacher, researcher and administrator, Jim taught at Oregon State University, the University of Idaho, Washington State University, Colorado State University and the University of Oregon.

“Jim’s greatest contribution was his amazing spirit, cheer and citizenship,” said Tim Gleason, dean of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. “He set the standard for collegiality and willingness to roll up his sleeves and get the work done.”

Jim was born in Spokane, Wash., in 1940 to Kenneth and June VanLeuven. He and his younger sister, Jane, spent their school years on the South Hill of Spokane. Jim graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1959.

He attended Washington State University for three years. At WSU, he wrote for the student newspaper, The Daily Evergreen, and was active in the Theta Chi fraternity. In 1963, he married Susan Carter in Spokane, Washington, his wife of nearly 50 years, who survives him. Jim transferred to the University of Oregon, where he graduated in 1964 with a major in journalism and a minor in history. Two years later, he completed a master’s degree in journalism at Oregon.

Jim spent his early professional years happily working for regional newspapers including the Beaverton and Tigard (Oregon) Times and the Wapato (Washington) Independent. His students recalled his fondness for the commercial printing business in Wapato, which produced “picker tickets” for orchardists in the lower Yakima Valley. He later was a part-time correspondent for the Associated Press, a science writer for Oregon State University while teaching journalism part time.

His son, Thomas Carter, was born in Yakima, Washington in 1966, and his daughter, Kathryn Jean, was born in Corvallis, Oregon in 1968. The family moved in 1970 to Moscow, Idaho, where Jim taught at the University of Idaho as half of a two-member Department of Journalism. He helped develop the multi-disciplinary School of Communication, which formed in 1973. Jim began work on a Ph. D. in sociology at Washington State University in nearby Pullman. His dissertation combined social organization, media effects and public opinion. From 1981 to 1985, he taught in WSU’s Department of Communication.

In 1985, Jim moved to Colorado State University’s Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, becoming chair in 1991. Under his leadership, CSU was designated as one the top 23 undergraduate programs for public relations in the nation. He also helped establish CSU's master's program in communication management for working professionals in Denver.  In 1999, the Public Relations Society of America recognized Jim with a lifetime achievement award.

Jim’s research focused on applying behavioral and managerial concepts to PR practice and on international public relations. He was one of the original co-authors of what is now a leading public relations textbook, “Public Relations: The Profession and The Practice,” published in 2003.

Jim and his family enjoyed two sabbaticals abroad. In 1979-1980, he was a visiting international fellow at the Kuring-gai College in Sydney, Australia, now the University of Technology. In 1993-1994, he served as a visiting senior fellow at the National University of Singapore. Just last month, he and Susan returned to Australia, where they reconnected with friends from Sydney and Singapore.

From 2000 until 2006, Jim held the first endowed professorship in public relations at the University of Oregon. He helped develop a new master’s program in strategic communication based in Portland and launched a “Portland Experience” program that now offers 40 to 60 student internships each year.

In 2006, Jim retired from full-time teaching. He and Sue moved to Madison, New Jersey, to be near their grandchildren, Susannah and Johnny. Five years later, Jim and Sue relocated to Skyline at First Hill retirement community in Seattle. There, he continued his walking routine, serving the community and making friends. He continued to advise former colleagues in leadership positions at the universities where he taught. He also volunteered with public relations students at Seattle University.

An active member of the Episcopal Church, Jim led stewardship campaigns and served on committees in almost every parish where the family lived. In addition to spending time with family, he enjoyed reading newspapers, keeping up with current events, walking, playing golf with friends and community service. Jim was beloved for his sunny outlook, good sense of humor and concern for others.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sister, Jane Hardy in Seattle, Washington; his daughter-in-law, Margaretta VanLeuven, and his grandchildren in New York City. His son, Tom, and his daughter, Kate, died previously. He also will be dearly missed by his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Trinity Parish Church, 609 Eighth Ave., Seattle, with a reception to follow. The family suggests memorial contributions in Jim's name to Skyline at First Hill Residents’ Association, 725 Ninth Ave., Suite 009, Seattle, WA 98104, or to the Oregon State University Foundation to support the Kate VanLeuven CSSA Award, 850 SW 35th Street, Corvallis, OR , 97333, or to Trinity Parish Church to support an Episcopal Service Corps intern (address above).


Contact: Dell Rae Moellenberg
Phone: (970) 491-6009