Former EKU Professor Inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame

Published on April 23, 2024

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Emeritus Professor and Communication Department Chair Dr. Deborah Taylor Givens was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame on Tuesday, April 9.

Givens began her journalism career as an editor at the Green River Republican in Morgantown, Kentucky. Later, after founding the Butler County Banner, she purchased the paper where she got her start, combining the two to serve the readers in Morgantown.

Givens was nominated by Dr. Ginny Whitehouse, director of the EKU School of Communication. Tricia Fulks Kelley, EKU assistant professor of broadcasting and electronic media and adviser of The Eastern Progress, and Abigail Whitehouse, 2012 EKU graduate, wrote letters of support for Givens’ nomination.

“Deb has been passionate about community journalism in Kentucky throughout her entire career,” Whitehouse said. “She has been a committed journalist, editor and educator and knows what great storytelling can achieve.”

Givens, who received her doctorate from the University of Kentucky (UK), taught at Western Kentucky University and UK before coming to EKU in 2006. She taught journalism classes at EKU until she became chair of the Communication Department in 2017, where she worked to update the department curriculum and facilities until her retirement in June 2020.

Givens, an Indiana native, has also held various leadership positions within the journalism industry, including regional director of the Society of Professional Journalists and president of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

“During my years as a community journalist, our goal was to provide the people of Butler County with the information they needed to be citizen monitors of government and to help them improve their community,” Givens said. “As a teacher, I hope I was able to share with my students the knowledge and support I had received.”

Givens acknowledged emeritus EKU Foundation Professor and 2014 Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Elizabeth Hansen as one of her mentors when she arrived to teach at EKU. 

Other EKU faculty members who have received the honor include 2006 inductee Ferrell Wellman and 2007 inductee Dr. Glen Kleine. 

Other inductees who have EKU connections through service to the university or as attendance as students include Keen Johnson (1996), Louise Hatmaker (2003), Don Edwards (2008), John Nelson (2013), Marla Ridenour (2013) and Steve Crump (2020).

Journalism Hall of Fame member Al Cross, former Courier Journal reporter and director emeritus at UK’s Institute for Rural Journalism, delivered the Joe Creason Lecture in Journalism prior to new members’ inductions. Cross lectured on the importance of local news and the state of the journalism and news industries. 

“Journalism must be seen as a public good by the various groups that make up society,” Cross said.

The Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame was established by UK’s Journalism Alumni Association in 1980. For more information on the hall of fame, visit