Pollner Distinguished Professorship

Journalist Karen Coates, who graduated from the School of Journalism in 1993, was recently honored with a coveted faculty appointment at UM, the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professorship. In this role, she shared her experiences working abroad.  She taught a seminar class at UM, and delivered additional lectures to the campus community discussing her adventures and providing guidance for aspiring journalists.

Her most recent lecture, given in conjunction with her photojournalist husband, Jerry Redfern, was “Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos.” The two gave a glimpse of what it is like to live in a foreign country as a journalist.  “I write about food, the environment, health and social issues—really, anything that interests me. And that’s a lot,” says Karen.

Karen’s descriptive insight of Laos was peppered with details about eating things she never thought she would eat (like tarantulas) and was fused with Jerry’s intimate and factual eye for storytelling. 

The two previously led another discussion at UM with a focus on freelancing and the future of journalism.  They served tea at the front door and engaged the audience in casual conversation.

The seminar class and additional lectures are a way for Karen and Jerry to give back to the next generation of journalists.  Karen received several scholarships while attending UM.  She benefited from a Vaughn Scholarship based on academic achievement, a four-year Warren Brier Memorial Journalism Scholarship and a four-year Board of Regents academic scholarship.

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (with an emphasis on cultural anthropology), Coates took graduate courses in Vietnam and received a Master of Science from the University of Oregon.

She has written two books - Cambodia Now: Life in the Wake of War and Pacific Lady: The First Woman to Sail Solo across the World’s Largest Ocean.

In addition, she was named the eleventh Pollner Professor, which is an endowed professorship created in honor of Anthony Pollner, a graduate of the School of Journalism who passed away in 2001.  The Pollner Professorship invites seasoned journalists to lead a seminar and provide guidance for the Kaimin staff.  The Pollner Professor also delivers a public lecture, open to the Missoula community.