Dr. Jim Dufek Honored for Service to Southeast Missouri

Monday, April 29, 2019
Jim Dufek poses for a portrait in front of a broadcast set space in the Rust Center for Media in Cape Girardeau.
Photo by Kassi Jackson.

Dr. Jim Dufek, professor of mass media at Southeast Missouri State University, was recently honored with the Silver Medal Award by the Cape Girardeau Chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). According to the AAF website, the honor was established in 1959 "to recognize men and women who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and who have been active in furthering the industry's standards, creative excellence and responsibility in areas of social concern."

It's an honor a lifetime in the making: Dufek says his fascination with film goes back to when he was in grade school and used old movie cameras to make short films. It was while in college, recording city council and school board meetings for a local cable channel, that Dufek realized he could make an income through his interest in media. This gig evolved into working in live radio and print, writing stories and doing photography, as well as working in sales. Due to his proclivity for organization, he found his niche as a producer of content, bringing talent together and recognizing each person's giftedness for one production task over another.

It's still what he enjoys doing most today as a professor who teaches television, which Dufek has practiced for the past 36 years. Dufek says he first "fell into" teaching as a teaching assistant during graduate school. After, he served as an interim professor at Southeast Missouri State University. As a professor, he enjoys the balance of having access to film equipment to tell stories, while also being able to engage young people in sharing the experience. This, he feels, is his calling.

"The students bring so much energy and so much creativity, and then you as an educator try to harness it for it to make sense. And then to be able to distribute it so others can see it and it can have an impact; there's a reciprocal relationship with that," Dufek says. "You give them the foundation and then watch them grow."

It's a passion Dufek's colleague Fred Jones, professor of mass media at Southeast Missouri State University, says has "literally impacted a generation of video professionals" in the Southeast Missouri region. As a founding member of the mass media department at Southeast, Dufek has seen his students go on to establish successful production companies, win countless awards and star in their own television shows. Jones says Dufek also played a "vital" role in the creation of the television production facility at the Rust Center for Media in Cape Girardeau, and has also established the university's partnerships with ESPN and KFVS.

"The TV/Film program has progressed greatly over the years under Jim's guidance," Jones says. "One thing that Jim has always stressed to his students is the importance of giving back to the community. His students produce television programming and video productions that have greatly benefitted many underserved groups in our region."

Regan Ernst, a junior studying TV/film at Southeast Missouri State University, is one of the thousands of students Dufek has taught throughout the course of his career. Ernst also works with Dufek regularly as a student worker, which she says gives her "even more chances to learn from him."

"He has impacted my life greatly," Ernst says. "Because of his confidence in me, I am learning more about how to be confident in my own work."

This learning goes beyond the classroom.

"It doesn't matter if he is even teaching; when you are in a room with him, you are learning something," Ernst says. "Whether it be from the way he interacts with clients or how he moves a light or the respect he has for each students' opinions on a project, I am always learning how to be better."