Robert W. Dardenne, Ph.D.

USF St. Petersburg mourns the passing of Journalism Professor Robert Dardenne

USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska today issued the following statement regarding the passing of Associate Professor of Journalism Robert W. Dardenne:

To the USF St. Petersburg Community:

I am saddened to announce the sudden passing of Associate Professor of Journalism Robert W. Dardenne, Ph.D. who died unexpectedly at home today.

An experienced journalist and dedicated teacher, Dr. Dardenne was beloved by his students and colleagues and admired by all who knew him during his 22 years at USF St. Petersburg.

I regret not having the opportunity to work with Bob. He was such a leader and the heart and soul of the Journalism and Media Studies Department.

He led the department twice during his tenure here, most recently for four years before returning to the classroom full time last fall. He planned to retire next year.

Deni Elliott, the chair of the department, recalled Bob’s wisdom and commitment to his students. “His door was always open and he would never let a student’s call go unanswered,” she said. “He provided a great model of leadership for me to be chair, but he made it look way too easy.”

A native of Baton Rouge, La., Dr. Dardenne joined USF St. Petersburg in 1991 after seven years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He earned a B.A. in journalism from Louisiana State University, an M.A. in journalism from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of Iowa. Before his academic career, Dr. Dardenne worked for newspapers in Louisiana and New York.

Dr. Dardenne started the USFSP chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha, the journalism honor society, and presided over the first induction ceremony last year.

G. Michael Killenberg, the founding director of the USFSP Journalism and Media Studies Department, hired Dr. Dardenne. He believed strongly in the importance of community-based journalism, he said, and they were co-authors of a book on the subject, The Conversation of Journalism. “I really liked his approach of people-first journalism,’’ Killenberg said. “He believed you find the news in the streets, not from the government.”

Friends and family will gather to celebrate the life of Dr. Dardenne on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the courtyard of the Peter Rudy Wallace Center for Teachers, where the journalism department is located. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Robert Dardenne Memorial Fund, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 7th Ave. S, WMS 200, St Petersburg, FL 33701.

Our thoughts are with his wife, Barbara O’Reilley, and son, Rob, a spring 2013 history graduate of USF St. Petersburg.

Bob will be missed by all who knew him.

Sophia Wisniewska, Ph.D.
Regional Chancellor
USF St. Petersburg