WVU professor who wrote death penalty book honored

By Kyla Asbury | Dec 27, 2010


MORGANTOWN – A West Virginia University journalism professor has been honored with the 2010-11 Caperton award for his passionate storytelling, writing and teaching.

John Temple is a professor and the associate dean of the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at WVU and has given students the tools and inspiration they need to succeed in the journalism world for more than eight years.

This year he is being recognized for his efforts with the Caperton Award for Excellence in Teaching of Writing.

"While there are many excellent teachers of writing at WVU, it is hard for me to imagine anyone as deserving of the Caperton award as John Temple," said Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism Dean Maryanne Reed. "He has distinguished himself as a dedicated and skilled classroom teacher and as an innovator of cutting-edge curriculum and service outreach that advances the news writing discipline in the evolving digital age."

The Caperton award seeks to improve student skills by recognizing tenured faculty members who are dedicated and proficient in teaching writing.

The award was first established at WVU in 2008 and is supported by former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton.

"I think it is really hard to quantify what good writing is and it is really hard to teach anyone to be a good writer, in part because it is a lifelong process," Temple said. "I feel like if a student can come out of a class of mine having picked up on a couple of concepts that helped even in small ways, then that is what I am shooting for because that is how I learned to write.

Temple said he feels very gratified to have received the award because learning how to write has been something he has focused on for many years.

As part of the award, Temple will receive $5,000 to use as a salary supplement, savings bond or compensation for reimbursement of actual expenses, such as travel or equipment purchases.

In addition to teaching courses in reporting and writing, Temple has remained an active journalist.

"Throughout my time at the journalism school, I have honed theories I picked up as a journalist, and I've become better at conveying them," he wrote in his application. "I've learned how to craft a varied and thought-provoking class session and how to deliver a compelling performance in the classroom. Along the way, I have easily learned as much as my students, especially about teaching."

Temple has had two books published. His most recent book, "The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inmates," received the Scribes Book Award from the American Society of Legal Writers as the best law-related book of 2010. His other book, "Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner's Office," was published in 2005.

Temple founded the West Virginia Uncovered Project in 2008. With the project, WVU students and faculty are helping rural newspapers adapt to the demands of the digital age. The project has received nearly $400,000 in grant funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum, Ford and McCormick foundations.

In 2009, Temple was named a WVU Foundation Outstanding Teacher.

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