University leaders remember McGaughey as a mentor and friend

MURRAY, Ky. — Members of the Murray State University and greater community came together June 20 to memorialize the late Dr. Robert H. McGaughey, III, a professor emeritus and retired chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.

McGaughey, known as “Doc” by his countless friends, colleagues and students, passed away June 14 at the University of Louisville Medical Center. He was 76.

A large crowd poured into Lovett Auditorium June 20 for a funeral service honoring McGaughey, who touched innumerable lives in his decades of service as a faculty member, department chair and mentor.

Some of McGaughey’s closest friends spoke at the ceremony, including longtime colleague and senior lecturer in advertising Bob Valentine, retired preacher John Dale and Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson.

“Doc would have loved this — Lovett Auditorium full of friends, family and colleagues sharing stories,” Jackson said. “He was a friend who always gave more than he took in life. We’re all better for having the chance to know Doc McGaughey.”

“Doc was not just in a profession; education was his calling,” said Dale, who first met McGaughey while they were both students at Murray State. “He went above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis. Doc left Murray State University and Murray-Calloway County a better place than he found it.”

Valentine, who worked with the late McGaughey for years, shared some of his favorite stories with those gathered. He described McGaughey as a man who always managed to find the humor in life while giving all he had.

“He gave of himself and what he had,” Valentine said. “There are hundreds — perhaps thousands — of students who were the recipients of loans or gifts or both to help them though tough times or unexpected emergencies. Doc made sure they could take that great opportunity with the extra money for moving or rent; that they could pay tuition when all else failed and the end of a college career seemed inevitable; that they could get the medical help they needed or start a married life with more stability and greater joy. He never kept records, except, perhaps in that library-like memory of his, but he never sent bills.”

McGaughey first came to Murray State in 1961, where he would become a member of the University’s ROTC program. He also participated in sports and served on the staff of the Murray State News. After he was named an honor graduate of the ROTC program in 1965, he went on to become the first master’s degree graduate of the University’s journalism program. He later earned his doctorate in mass communications from Ohio University.

McGaughey also served in the United States military, including a tour in Vietnam and 18 years with Kentucky’s 100th Army Reserve Division, from which he retired in 1985 with the rank of major. He was recognized with nine ribbons and medals, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal and the Vietnamese Service Ribbon.

He returned to his alma mater in 1969 as a University journalism faculty member and advisor to the Murray State News. McGaughey became the department chair in 1974, where he served for 23 years. In that time, his work grew the department from 45 majors to more than 400, while receiving accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Even after retiring as chair, McGaughey continued to teach, often in collaboration with Valentine. Since the 1970s, the two have also served as comedic professional speaking duo “Dr. Trey and Dr. Vee” for crowds across the country.

McGaughey’s work at Murray State earned him prestigious recognition and awards over the years. In 1984, he was named the Max Carman Outstanding Teacher of the Year by the Murray State Student Government Association. The Murray State Alumni Association named him Distinguished Professor of the Year in 1990. He was awarded Boss of the Year by the Murray Chapter of the Professional Secretaries Internationals in 1989.

Additionally, McGaughey served as an advisor to several on-campus organizations, including co-head of the University’s Elizabeth Residential College. He received recognition from groups including the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society.

Beyond the halls of Murray State, McGaughey was frequently honored by his peers in journalism. In 1987, he was named the Frank Stanton Fellow of the IRTS as the distinguished broadcast educator in the United States. He was part of countless scholarly publications or presentations, including national conferences of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, the Broadcast Education Association, College Media Advisors of the Associated Collegiate Press Association and Public Relations Society of America. McGaughey was also selected eight times to attend the International Radio and Television Society (IRTS) faculty-industry seminar in New York City.

He served for ten years as executive director of the West Kentucky Press Association, and two terms as education representative on the KPA board of directors. In 2012, he was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

Doc was interred in Riverside Cemetery in his native Hopkinsville, Kentucky, with full military honors. Dale offered the brief graveside service attended by family and friends.

Photo: Members of the Murray State University and greater community came together June 20 to memorialize the late Dr. Robert H. McGaughey, III (pictured), a professor emeritus and retired chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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