March 20, 2015 will mark for ever a very special day for me. My colleagues at the department organized a symposium in my honor and some of my dearest and most admired colleagues came to Dresden and talked about their research. My second academic home, the Universidad de Navarra, was represented by no less than four collagues and the “Mainz Gang” (several of whom are no longer at the University of Mainz, by even more! Even the Saxon minister of science and culture, Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, took the time to say a few words about me as a scholar and as a citizen.
At the beginning I received the festschrift “Publizistik und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung”, a wonderful collection of articles that all are, in one way or the other, related to my own work. Many thanks to the editors, Olaf Jandura, Thomas Petersen, Anna-Maria Schielicke and Cornelia Mothes. And many thanks to all my colleagues at the department who contributed to this event with a lot of work!
Of course, all the praise was much exaggerated – but it’s still nice to listen to. The most exaggerated of all and at the same time the nicest to listen to is the text by my dear friend and admired colleague Thomas Patterson of Harvard University. One might forgive me the vanity to publish it here. Tom was not able to come over from Boston – so I give his words recognition through this channel…
My congratulations to Wolfgang. Fortunately, Harvard University has no mandatory retirement age. Unfortunately, I’m stuck here because of that. My graduate seminar last evening prevented me from catching a plane in time to join you today.
The United States is a sports-crazed nation. The highest award we bestow on our athletes is that of Most Valuable Player. If we had such an award in our field, Wolf would get it. I know of no other scholar whose research, teaching, institutional, and associational contributions can match his.
The rest of us do one or two things fairly well. None of us, save for a handful, do all things at the highest level. Wolf stands out even among that tiny group. His research contributions match those of our most productive scholars. His teaching and mentoring are of the highest order. His institution building is unparalleled; what he’s done for Dresden’s communication department is nothing short of spectacular. And his associational leadership—his presidencies of the International Communication Association and World Association for Public Opinion Research, and his many other contributions to these and other professional organizations—is without equal.
Wolf is the leader among our generation of communication scholars. I’m honored to be his close friend, and stand in awe of what he’s given all of us.