Al Cross began his 15th year as director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues this month with a new title: professor.
Cross had been an associate professor with tenure in UK’s School of Journalism and Media since 2011, but this summer he was promoted to full professor, the highest academic rank.
His appointment is in the Extension Title series, because most of his work is directed off campus. He is the only full professor in that title series outside the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. He works in the College of Communication and Information.
Cross is editor and publisher of The Rural Blog, a daily digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America; Kentucky Health News, funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky; and the Midway Messenger, a newspaper (mainly online, in print twice a year) that he and his community journalism students produce for Midway, Ky., between Lexington and Frankfort.
He is the author of several book chapters, most recently “Trump and non-metropolitan America: An urbanite saw a rural base where pollsters and journalists didn’t,” in The Trump Presidency, Journalism and Democracy, a book published by Routledge in February. He is a contributing political columnist for the Louisville Courier Journal, where he was political writer for almost 16 years before coming to UK to take the Institute out of its pilot phase and into full operation.
“The creation of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, followed by the selection of veteran newspaper reporter Al Cross as its director, were significant steps forward for UK’s School of Journalism. But it was more than that. It was a boon to journalism throughout Kentucky and rural communities everywhere, including Africa and Asia,” said Dr. Mike Farrell, interim director of the School of Journalism and Media, referring to Cross’s travels to Zambia, Botswana, India and China.
“What he has accomplished in his academic career is amazing and fulfills the role of professor at a land-grant university,” Farrell said. “We are very fortunate he is part of our faculty, and he is most deserving of his promotion to the rank of full professor. His colleagues and I congratulate him and are proud to be associated with him.”
Dr. Dan O’Hair, who recently stepped down as dean of the College of Communication and Information, said, “I am so pleased that Al Cross was promoted to professor. The title is well deserved and fits perfectly with the high-level, scholarly work he does with rural communities.”
Cross is frequently quoted in national news media about rural issues, journalism and politics. A native of Albany and a graduate of Western Kentucky University, he began his newspaper career as editor and manager of weekly newspapers in Kentucky. He has won many awards for his journalism and is in the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. He is secretary of the Kentucky Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee, an independent watchdog group, and remains active in the Society of Professional Journalists, of which he was national president in 2001-02. At UK, Cross also serves on the University Senate Council and the College of Communication and Information Faculty Council. He and his wife Patti, a native of Leitchfield and an independent publications designer, live in Frankfort.