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Five to be inducted into State News Hall of Fame

News / Five to be inducted into State News Hall of Fame

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The State News, Michigan State University’s student daily newspaper, celebrates its centennial Saturday by inducting four well-known Michigan journalists and an Oscar-winning animator into the State News Alumni Association Hall of Fame.

Detroit News veteran George Bullard, journalism educator/former Detroit News Managing Editor Sue Burzynski Bullard, Academy Award winner Fred Crippen, Pultizer Prize winner M.L. Elrick, part of the team that investigated former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and former Detroit Free Press columnist Jim Fitzgerald will join more than 40 members of the Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony is part of a weekend of centennial activities to celebrate The State News, which was founded in 1909 by students of Michigan Agricultural College as the Holcad. It became the Michigan State News in 1925 and was spun off into its own nonprofit corporation in 1971.

“The Hall of Fame began honoring distinguished former staffers who have included journalists, authors, history makers, leading national communicators and other prominent leaders, but this year’s centennial class is particularly special,” said Hall of Fame Chair Joe Serwach, who served as State News editor in chief in 1985-86.

The honorees will be recognized at The State News Centennial Celebration and Reunion banquet Saturday night at the East Lansing Marriott at University Place. A 264-page hardcover book on the newspaper’s first 100 years also will be released at the event.

“The State News doesn’t just develop journalists,” said Jeremy W. Steele, president of the State News Alumni Association and editor in chief of the campus daily in 2002. “These are people whose talent, commitment and force of will made a mark in the world in a variety of professions, and who have inspired and ennobled people around them.”

More details on this year’s Hall of Fame class:

- George Bullard came to The State News in 1968, at the height of the turbulence of the Sixties, and was editor in chief in 1970-71 as the paper gained its independence from the university. He would spend 35 years as a reporter and editor at The Detroit News and today is a blogger for the paper.

- Sue Burzynski Bullard, who worked on The State News in the mid-1970s, became managing editor of The Detroit News. She now teaches editing and reporting at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, joining the UNL faculty in August 2008, after a year as a visiting editor-in-residence at MSU. Before joining academia, Sue held a variety of editing positions during 21 years at The Detroit News, including three years as managing editor.

- Fred Crippen. a State News cartoonist from 1950-52, went to Hollywood where his long career in animation included creating the character “Roger Ramjet,” several spots for Sesame Street and the Electric Company, a commercial for John F. Kennedy, started his own studio and helped win an Oscar.

- M.L. Elrick, who won the Pulitzer Prize last April as part of a Detroit Free Press reporting team, has spent most of his career as an investigative reporter, mostly for the Free Press as well as a stint at WDIV-TV. His years of investigating the activities of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick helped lead to Kilpatrick’s conviction and the Free Press winning journalism’s highest honor.

- Jim Fitzgerald, an award-winning reporter, editor and columnist, majored in advertising instead of journalism, because, he said, it got him out of taking a foreign language. While at Michigan State College he worked for The State News selling advertising, eventually getting a front page byline. After graduating in 1951, he worked at the Lapeer County Press for 25 years, including 15 of them as editor. Fitzgerald went to work for the Detroit Free Press in 1976, where he became a widely syndicated columnist. By 1985 when a book of his columns, “If it Fitz,’’ was published, he had written more than 2,000 columns and was syndicated in more than 50 newspapers. He returned to Lapeer shortly before retiring in 1995.

Inductees are nominated by their peers and selected by a committee of State News Alumni Association members to honor their extraordinary work either at or after leaving The State News. Past winners include a White House press secretary, a university president, the first female publisher of the Detroit Free Press, a Detroit News executive editor, a nationally syndicated cartoonist, a Pulitzer Prize winner and an MSU economics professor who wound up being the longest serving columnist in the history of The State News.

ABOUT THE STATE NEWS: Founded in 1909, The State News is the official student newspaper of Michigan State University. The student-run publication has a daily circulation of 28,500 and a readership of more than 48,000 students, faculty, staff and area residents. The paper has won the Associated Collegiate Press' Pacemaker award, college journalism’s highest honor, 15 times. For more on The State News, visit

ABOUT THE STATE NEWS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION: The State News Alumni Association, founded by former members of the staff in 1992, works to connect thousands of State News alumni, raise money for scholarship, administers the State News Hall of Fame, sponsors reunions, works to bring in professionals to mentor current students, and strives to encourage the advancement of journalism. Visit the alumni association online at