TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --The former dean of the Florida A&M University School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, Dr. James Hawkins, has died, according to family spokesperson Kim Godwin.
An official announcement was made on behalf of Hawkin's wife, local Judge Judith Hawkins, on May 27.
According to the announcement, Dr. Hawkins was traveling back from Atlanta and attempting to visit a former student in Macon, Georgia, before he died. Various sources say that he died of a heart attack, though it isn't noted in the official announcement.
Hawkins' wife has asked for at least a day to grieve and continued prayers and support. She says that she is thankful that her husband "left his life doing what he loved to do."
Dr. Hawkins began working at FAMU in 1977, just three years after the journalism program began, as an assistant professor in broadcast journalism. He was named interim dean in 2003, and became the official dean less than a year later.
During Hawkins tenure at FAMU, the journalism department received numerous awards and accolades. For example, FAMU has the first journalism program at a historically black university to be nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
In addition, Hawkins himself has been recognized for his work. In 2010, he was named Educator of the Year by the Black Journalists Group.
He was beloved by many of his students, who expressed their sentiments through social media, as evidenced in the following Twitter post from the school's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society:
"Rest in peace to former SJGC dean James Hawkins. We will never forget the legacy you left, we promise to build and continue your work."
Hawkins retired in 2012.
Memorial services are expected to be announced after arrangements have been made for Hawkins' body to be returned to Tallahassee.
In lieu of flowers, Judge Hawkins has asked that donations to the James E Hawkins Endowed Scholarship fund at FAMU. For more information on how to give, visit famu.edu/foundation.