Photojournalism professor wins prestigious award

“How [teaching] makes me feel is indifferent,” said photojournalism professor Tim Broekema. Broekema, who has been teaching full time at the university since 2000, was nominated and awarded the 2016 National Press Photographers Association’s, Robin F. Garland Educator Award. “If I’m positioning [my students] into a place that [they] can be doing what [they] want to be doing and getting paid for it, that’s my success. That makes me feel good, that [they] have success.”  Alyssa Pointer/HERALD 

Carly Mathews

Photojournalism professor Tim Broekema has recently been awarded the Robin F. Garland Educator Award given by the National Press Photographers Association for outstanding service as a photojournalism educator.

Broekema is a professor of photojournalism, picture editing, new media and news design at WKU and has been with the School of Journalism and Broadcasting since the fall of 2000. 

“I’m honored to receive this award, and humbled to be included in list of past recipients of this award,” Broekema said. 


Broekema was nominated by Josh Meltzer, a former WKU colleague. 

Due to the nature of the award which is given for outstanding service as an educator, it should come as no surprise that Broekema is fully invested in his students and their pathway to success.

“The student always comes first. Anything that I do creative or research wise, isn’t about me. It’s always about how it would benefit the student,” Broekema said. 

Although becoming a professor at a university was never originally a part of his plan, Broekema said he has been teaching throughout his entire career as an editor. 

“I taught a community and my photographers through my work as an editor, and that translates to teaching in class,”  Broekema said. 

Broekema said he gets close to his students due to the practice of documenting emotional and personal settings throughout a semester.

“First they’re my students, then they become like I’m the parent so we’re kind of friends, then to friendly colleagues and finally transition to a friend again,” Broekema said of his relationship with his students. 

Broekema also credits his mentors in teaching, Mike Morse and Dave LaBelle, for the success he has had with teaching and with his students. 

“Mike told me to always do what you know is right and what is best for the students. I always let that wisdom come back whenever I feel bogged down to help me remember that I’m here because I enjoy it and because I enjoy to see my students succeed,” Broekema said.  

In addition to the two men already mentioned and his students, Broekema credits his colleagues with his success. 

“The team environment in our department is part of our power, and teamwork is a big part of the award. It takes a village to teach a bunch of students,” Broekema said.

Broekema said although time has flown by during his 16 years at WKU, as long as he remembers what is important — his students, he will always have his success.  

The Garland Award is Broekema’s first award for teaching, and he is honored to be recognized for that as well as his photography.