Dolph Tillotson – Communication Hall of Fame

Dolph Tillotson, born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, got his long journalism career off to a remarkable start at Northington Elementary and Eastwood Junior High School, founding papers at both schools.

During his freshman year at UA Tillotson was political editor at The Crimson White, but in June of 1969, at the age of 19, Tillotson went to work full-time at The Tuscaloosa News, attending UA classes when not covering the campus unrest over Kent State, the political revolution in Greene County and the myriad other events of those turbulent years.

With the mentorship and trust of James Boone, Tillotson became city editor of the News in 1972, general manager of the Natchez Democrat in 1973 and, after a fi ve-year stint as the publisher of the Oskaloosa (Iowa) Herald from 1975-80, Tillotson was appointed president of Boone Newspapers.

Tillotson was 30.

From 1981-87, he also served as publisher of the Natchez Democrat, and in 1984 the Democrat was named one of the 12 best small newspapers in America by the magazine of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. From 1987-2011 Tillotson was president and publisher of the Galveston County Daily News and vice president of Southern Newspapers Inc.

Retired from the News, Tillotson is now executive vice president of Southern Newspapers of Houston. Under his leadership the News was five times named best newspaper of its size in the U.S. by the National Newspaper Association and received many top awards from the Texas Press Association, Texas Daily Newspaper Association and Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.

Tillotson has personally been honored with numerous awards for his columns and editorials in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, and for his professional leadership. In 1988, he was named Alumnus of the Year by the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences.

Besides his successes with the day-to-day running and improving of newspapers, Tillotson has been an activist for open government and freedom of information and an innovator in online technology; the Daily News has a daily internet edition with 3 million page views monthly. In Texas Tillotson received the Pat Taggart Award for industry leadership, the Bronze Steer for his work on open government issues and the James Madison Award from the Texas Freedom of Information Council.

In his last column before retiring from the Daily News, Tillotson wrote what might amount to a personal philosophy: “The key ingredients in surviving and thriving in Galveston are a sure sense of who you are and a thick skin. If you think you’re right, you have to stand up to pressure, fight for what you believe and never back down at the first whisper of opposition.”

Always active in his community, Tillotson has served as volunteer for The United Way, Salvation Army, Chamber of Commerce and First Lutheran Church.

Married to Teri Jo Schaper Tillotson for 22 years, Dolph has two children from a previous marriage, Jay and Katherine, and five grandchildren. Dolph has run ten marathons and is part of a climbing group that climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2002.

Randolph C. “Dolph” Tillotson’s lifelong devotion to journalism in all areas of newspaper work and in his commitment to a free press make him most worthy to be inducted into the College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame, class of 2012.