Judith Dunwell Nichols

Judith Dunwell Nichols (’82, ’97) was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

I have many memories of the Wildcat, including working with a group of extremely bright fellow students with whom I would be proud to work with today. I remember hiring Sam Stanton, a business major, because the sample story he handed in was so perfectly typed, something no journalism student could match. He turned out to be one of the most natural and talented journalists I have ever seen. I remember Sam helping me hold Ellen Ettinger, a reporter, upside down and shaking the change out of her pockets to gather 50 cents to get a bean burrito at the Student Union. I remember many “staff meetings” at Gentle Ben’s, where the fragile state of journalism was discussed into the early hours of the morning. I remember meeting and falling in love with my husband-to-be, Tom Nichols, despite his complete obliviousness to my overtures and his belief that my attentions were motivated by my deep interest in the science issues he was covering. (Not.) I remember the administration’s disapproval of the syndicated column I ran which was written by a grandfatherly looking doctor who discussed, very explicitly, sexual questions from college students. And I remember the administration’s efforts to get rid of me when I sued the university. Mostly, I remember the unwavering defense from my journalism professors, Don Carson, George Ridge, Jim Johnson, and others, and of Clyde Lowery, the director of student publications, who as staff rather than faculty, was perhaps the most at risk. Their support and belief in me gave me a feeling of righteous courage that I hold to this day.

Judy (Dunwell) Nichols is Director of Communications for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Previously, she was a reporter and editor at The Arizona Republic for more than 20 years. She specialized in in-depth and computer-assisted reporting, and for many years focused on Native American issues. She has won numerous state and national awards, including a National Headliner award for a project that used state records to demonstrate a pattern of abuse, neglect and exploitation of Arizona’s elderly and documented the lack of state regulation to protect them and a National Heywood Broun Award for a project that showed the same situation in the state’s childcare system. She was a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, a finalist for Arizona Journalist of the Year, and was given a grant from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to write about AIDS among Indian communities.

While working on her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Arizona, Judy served as a reporter, city editor and editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. As Wildcat editor, she and her staff filed a lawsuit against the university for withholding documents in an internal investigation of a slush fund in the athletic department. The decision in favor of the paper set a precedent for more open public records in Arizona and provided that those who are forced to sue for access can recover attorneys’ fees. She and her husband, Tom, a wire editor at The Republic, owned and operated a bi-weekly newspaper, the North Coast News, in northern California, in the late 1980s. They have one son, Nate, who is a high school freshman at the Arizona School for the Arts, and plays saxophone, piano and guitar.

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