Veteran broadcaster, Oswego State professor Garrick Utley dead at 74

Garrick Utley, left, moderating the 2012 Media Summit at the Waterman Theatre.
Garrick Utley, left, moderating the 2012 Media Summit at the Waterman Theatre. (Cameron Bruhns | The Oswegonian)

Garrick Utley died of cancer on Feb. 20 in his home in Manhattan at the age of 74.

Utley was a professor at Oswego State since the fall of 2012 when he began teaching “Broadcast News: Its History and Its Future” with the use of a video conference system on the second floor of Culkin Hall. Utley would teach from the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan.

Utley was well known for his work with NBC News where he worked for 30 years. Early on, he became a correspondent during the Vietnam War. He continued his foreign reporting as the chief foreign correspondent. He was also the station’s bureau chief for London and Paris. Utley was a weekend anchor, substitute anchor for “NBC Nightly News” and a moderator for “Meet the Press.” After NBC, Utley worked for ABC and CNN.

Utley reported from all over the world, being fluent in German and French, interviewing presidents and other leaders as well as soldiers. Utley reported on the Berlin Wall as it fell in 1989.

He won the George Foster Peabody Award and the Overseas Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Award as well as many others during his career. He also wrote a book titled “You Should

Have Been Here Yesterday: A Life in Television News,” which was his memoir
that  covers the  evolution of  broadcasnews.
When Utley moderated the Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit at Oswego State in 2012, soon after he became a professor, his figure helped him stand out among the large crowds who gathered in Waterman Theatre. He was 6 feet 6 inches tall, and he towered over everyone he met.

In his guest column, Patrick Malowski, former multimedia editor for The Oswegonian and former teacher’s assistant for Utley’s class, called the experienced broadcaster “the ideal professor.”

“The students who had him as a professor, myself included, are lucky to learn from such an esteemed broadcaster and a wonderful human being. He was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met in my life and he will live on through the students he has inspired,” Malowski wrote.

Adam Rupczyk, a senior journalism major at Oswego State, took the BRC 450 class in the fall as well.

“A very professional, wise impression I got from him,” Rupczyk said. “I really enjoyed all his stories he brought forth and his resume was so rich and his experience was there—it was a perfect fit for that class.”

Rupczyk said that he was glad to have learned from Utley about the broadcasting industry.

“He was really in it from the start,” Rupczyk said. “To see it progress to this day and so being that since he basically seen everything that the field has to offer and knows how to succeed in it so getting first hand experience in it was good.”

Rupczyk said that the way the professor communicated with students and guests alike was something that set him apart from many others, and is something he believes contributed to Utley’s successful career.

Oswego State President Deborah F. Stanley said in an email sent to students on Feb. 21 that professor Utley “always fully engaged with his students and colleagues in his time with us, ever curious about their work and interests and eager to contribute the benefit of his vast experience to current challenges big and small. He had a million fascinating stories, of course, but he shared them judiciously, as he found them pertinent and helpful. We will miss his eminently wise and kind presence among us.”

Dean of the School of Communication Media and the Arts Fritz Messere said he and Utley spoke in length on what the relationship between the college and the broadcaster would be. Messere said he convinced Utley to incorporate the new video conference technology into the class so he could teach from New York City.

“Professor Utley was the founder and president of the Levin Institute and when he stepped down, he was still interested in working with SUNY in some way,” Messere said. “I wrote him a letter and asked him to consider becoming a professor at SUNY Oswego.”

Despite only teaching three semesters at Oswego State, Messere said he thinks the goal for the class was achieved.

“We have enormous respect for his professional career,” Messere said. “And what we really were hoping to do and I think what we did do is we allowed students of today’s generation to have an inkling or an insight into the kind of person who becomes one of the great foreign correspondents of our day.”