It is with sadness that we share the passing this week of Dr. John Dimmick, a colleague and collaborator to many in the MMEE division. Some of you worked closely with him over the years, while others of us were strongly influenced by his work. Among his scholarly contributions was his book, Competition and Coexistence: The Theory of the Niche (2003), for which he won the Robert Picard Book Award from the MMEE division. He joined The Ohio State University in 1977. A link to his obituary can be found here . Yesterday, a former student of John’s, Dr. John Feaster of Rowan University, posted a touching tribute on the CRTNET listserv. I am re-posting it here with his permission, as I believe it is a wonderful reminder of the role we all play in shaping the next generation of scholars. ~AJC
Obituary: Dr. John Dimmick
It is with great remorse that I share that Dr. John Dimmick passed away on Friday, May 20th. Thankfully, I am told that he was comfortable and surrounded by his family.
Dr. Dimmick earned his PhD at the University of Michigan in 1973 and served as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago before joining the faculty at the Ohio State University in 1977, where he served more than 30 years. He had a lucrative academic record, becoming a pioneer in the fields of media economics and communication studies. Although his contributions to the scholarly literature were numerous, he was likely best known for adapting the theory of the niche, introducing the concept of gratification opportunities, and incorporating time geography into the study of media competition.
John was my mentor. Although I only knew him toward the end of his career, looking back on his achievements and in speaking with some of his other students, he was consistently a teacher first. Many of his major scholarly contributions involved collaboration with students.
While some faculty use graduate collaboration as a means of creating a faster research pipeline, John never did this. He used research as a means to educate. I am honored to be one of the students whose academic career was started through work under his guidance.
He showed me what it means to have a respectful but aggressive argument.
During my graduate studies, I recall another student in my cohort commenting, “You guys are always yelling in his office! Do you hate each other?” What this person didn’t see was that although we would raise our voices at each other, getting passionate about the side we were taking, we had smiles on our faces. My happiest memories of Dr. Dimmick were when we thoroughly disagreed on an issue and would aggressively dissect each other’s chain of logic. This theme of discussion began during my first meeting with him. While some faculty try to avoid being blunt with first year MA students, he had no reservations about plainly saying, “John, you’re confused” in the first 15 minutes of speaking to me. Although I felt indignant at the time, he was totally correct and put me on a path to where I needed to be. Every conversation with him, which became daily toward the end of my graduate studies, made me better. Looking on my career thus far, I didn’t realize until recently how rare it would be to have a colleague who can so completely separate an attack on logic from an attack on character.
I am thankful that my last interaction with him a month ago on the telephone was like so many before. He had asked me to look at a draft of a paper, and as usual, we were butting heads over the feedback one was offering to the other. Although I am greatly saddened to not have had many more conversations (both in the past and future), I wouldn’t choose any other way to have our final conversation. I could never be able to express how grateful I am for his influence in shaping me as a scholar and as a person. He will be greatly missed.
John Feaster, PhD