The JayMac Alumni Association of the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication awarded three alumni the 2010 Distinguished Alumni award Thursday in Gaylord Hall at OU.

The honorees were Carol Burr, editor of Sooner Magazine; John D. Montgomery, publisher of The Purcell Register; and J.C. Watts, former U.S. Representative.

In addition, Jennifer Johnson Hicks, online editor of the European edition of the WSJonline.com, was also honored as the Young Professional of the Year. The award is given to alumni under the age of 40 who have made great achievements in their careers.

JayMac and the Gaylord College also recognized Christopher Krug with the JayMac Teaching Award.

Burr graduated with a journalism/professional writing degree with special distinction in 1959. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Theta Sigma Phi, Alpha Lambda Delta, Mortar Board and Tassels honor societies, as well as a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. Burr also was editor of The Oklahoma Daily.

Her career has centered on OU and Sooner Magazine. Burr started at Sooner Magazine part-time as assistant editor in her senior year and became editor upon graduation. She worked there until 1963, during which time the magazine was the official magazine of the alumni association.

Burr returned to OU in 1980 to edit the institution’s 90th anniversary history, The Sooner Story: Ninety Years at the University of Oklahoma 1890-1980. Since 1980, she has served as director of publications for the University of Oklahoma Foundation and editor of Sooner Magazine in its new incarnation as a general interest magazine for the Foundation.

Montgomery graduated with a degree in journalism/news communication in 1976 and has worked for a multitude of Oklahoma community newspapers, beginning in his hometown at The Hobart Daily Democrat-Chief, as well as The Kiowa County Star Review, The Daily Oklahoman, The Oklahoma City Times and The Madill Record. While at OU he worked in the sports information department and was a member of Sigma Chi.

Montgomery became one of the youngest publishers in the state when he purchased an interest in the Johnston County Capital-Democrat in 1977, just one year out of college. In 1990, he purchased The Purcell Register with his wife, Gracie; both have been inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.

Montgomery was named president of the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation on July 1. He has served on every committee of the Oklahoma Press Association and was elected the youngest OPA president in 1992-93. A member of the National Newspaper Association, Montgomery has been Oklahoma State chairman since 1996, and joined the board of directors in 2004.           

Watts graduated with a degree in journalism/public relations in 1981 while serving as quarterback for the Sooners. He led the Sooners to two consecutive Big Eight Championships and Orange Bowl victories and was voted the Most Valuable Player in the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowls. He went on to play in the Canadian Football League and was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Grey Cup, the CFL’s Super Bowl, during his rookie season.

In 1990, Watts was elected to the Oklahoma State Corporation Commission and became chairman before being elected to the U.S. Congress from the fourth district of Oklahoma in 1994. In 1998, he was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served for eight years on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the House Banking Committee.

Hicks graduated with a double major in journalism and political science in 2002 and received her master’s in journalism from Columbia University in 2003. She was Outstanding Senior for the Gaylord College in 2002 and received the New Media Award from Columbia in 2003. She was a Knight New Media fellow in 2006 and has taught graduate journalism courses at Columbia and City University of New York.

Hicks is a news editor for the European edition of The Wall Street Journal Online in London, where she oversees the europe.wsj.com site, including multiple regional blogs and special projects.

Before moving to London, Hicks led the WSJ.com night crew in New York and was responsible for the WSJ.com homepage, breaking news and production. She edits original content for WSJ.com and has written about politics, education and health care for both online and print.

Prior to joining The Wall Street Journal Online, Hicks worked as night editor at The Muskogee (Okla.) Phoenix and was an intern for The Boston Globe and the Washington bureau of The Daily Oklahoman. She was editor-in-chief of The Oklahoma Daily and also served as night editor, managing editor, online editor, copy editor and reporter.

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