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Elizabeth Hendrickson

A journalism professor with a passion.

From the moment one enters Ohio University associate professor Elizabeth Hendrickson’s office, one can clearly see her abundance of passion for magazine journalism. 

One wall, floor to ceiling, holds hundreds of back issues, style guides, and student publication manuals from countless magazines, each volume slightly worn from years of use. The other walls highlight moments in pop culture captured on covers of magazines: Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp on covers of Movieline magazine, and meticulously illustrated covers of The New Yorker, to name a couple.

But among those thousands of stories between the pages of magazines are glimpses and clippings of Hendrickson’s own life story. Her workspace is a walk through time, highlighting every large milestone within her life – beginning with her deep journalistic roots.

Directly above her desk, Hendrickson displays a photo of her grandparents at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, as well as a hanging shadow box of their press passes. Both of them were journalists, writing stories and taking photos of the inauguration event. Her grandparents’ dedication to journalism is among her earliest memories of why she found her passion in the profession.

“They were scrappy; they ran the paper out of their basement to begin with,” Hendrickson said. “From a very young age, media, in my family, were respected, and I think that’s a big part of who I am.”

Next to their credentials is a photo of her grandfather with a printing press, working on Rural Farm Delivery News, the newspaper her grandparents started. This family legacy was in her blood at a young age. Growing up in Bellevue, Ohio, her support system of friends and family gave her a creative space designed to propel her higher and higher. Hendrickson has always felt there is nothing she cannot do.

“It’s a better use of your time to pursue things that you can actually have some sort of impact than to just glide along,” Hendrickson said.

The college diploma hanging above her desk is the reward of her first pursuit: education. Hendrickson saw the University of Missouri as the best journalism school in the country and was so confident in her choice it was the only place she applied. After completing her degree and internships, Hendrickson was ready for her next pursuit: finding a full-time job. 

Two of Hendrickson’s brothers had moved to New York and she thought it would be a good chance to jump headfirst into the industry. She began house-sitting to make rent and discovered the simultaneous struggle and glamour of living in New York City. As a perpetual optimist, finding success when she made that leap did not worry her.

“I don’t have room in my mental space to consider bad things happening,” Hendrickson said. “If they happen, they happen, but if I get weighed down by them, then I don’t have space to mentally explore opportunities.”

Hendrickson’s courage and determination, coupled with her knowledge of AP style and the journalism industry, opened many doors for her when she was starting out in New York City. In the summer of 1994, she started at Ladies’ Home Journal just two months after graduating. She worked under the entertainment editor in an era when celebrities were just starting to take over the covers of magazines. She assisted in securing celebrities for those covers and did copy editing and fact-checking for other departments.

“I learned everything, basically, in that job,” Hendrickson said. “Like who to talk to to get things done, how to go about getting things done, what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable… it was really almost like a master’s degree in magazines.”

It was an exciting time for her; part of her learning experience included attending glamorous parties, listening to and transcribing exclusive celebrity interviews, and more. After Ladies’ Home Journal, she went to Parade’s teen publication React as the associate entertainment editor.

When Glamour hired her editor at React, she approached Hendrickson and asked her to come along. Within two months she left her job at React and dropped into her new role at Glamour, where she and her editor handled celebrity cover bookings. 

This was during the dot-com explosion, when people were leaving magazines to join online startup teams and getting paid significantly more than with print publications. Hendrickson’s editor at Glamour was second-in-command of a new magazine that was being launched called Maximum Golf, financed by Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan. At his going-away party, Hendrickson’s editor told her to get ready to leave Glamour because he wanted to take her with him to Maximum Golf

Receiving a significant pay increase in the job switch, Hendrickson left Glamour to go to Maximum Golf and work there through the prototype launch, the premiere issue, and the launch party at the boathouse in Central Park. However, due to a lack of interest in print publications with the dot-com uprising, the magazine ended up folding.

Immortalized in photos on her office cabinet is Hendrickson’s time in New York City: her with coworkers, her husband, and even entertainer Henry Rollins after their interview. It was an impactful time in her life. Though Hendrickson had a few other jobs in New York after Maximum Golf, the devastation of 9/11 changed her perspective on living in New York. At the time she had just married her husband Matt, who was also working in the industry at Rolling Stone, and they both decided to leave New York. Hendrickson put her energy into applying for graduate school, which she felt was a necessary next step for job security.

The framed graduate and doctorate degrees hanging above her desk signify the next chapter of her life. 

After a career of moving around from job to job, she went back to the University of Missouri, where she received a stipend to teach courses while doing her master’s degree and doctoral degree, both in journalism. 

It took five years of painstakingly difficult work, but it paid off when Dr. Hendrickson earned an assistant professor position in the school of journalism at the University of Tennessee’s main campus. She was offered tenure there, but at the same time was encouraged to apply for an open position at Ohio University’s journalism school.

In 2014, Hendrickson and her husband moved to Athens, where she became a tenured associate professor at Ohio U. 

But they did not move alone; they had their two children in tow. Hendrickson’s role as a mom is more prominently reflected than any other phase of her life through the photos in her office. Pictures of her son Alex playing soccer or smiling from ear to ear with her daughter Simone are all hung proudly. Alex was born during Hendrickson’s doctoral degree, and Simone was born when Hendrickson was at the University of Tennessee. 

“Now we’re here, and it’s really what they consider home,” Hendrickson said.

Between her love for her family and her passion for teaching, Hendrickson feels she is exactly where she should be. 

“A lot of it is just the fact that I’m never satisfied,” Hendrickson said. “So it’s not like, ‘OK, after this semester, then I’ve done it.’ No, there’s always going to be a next group of students who have different needs and different levels of creativity and different experiences. And honestly, I just love working with students because it just keeps feeding my soul.”

As exciting, creative, and colorful as Hendrickson’s office is, the magazines and photos only tell part of her story. Her legacy reaches far outside the office walls, and continues all over the world through her students.

Posted in SEAMS