Many people wonder why Joe Champ decided to leave a successful television news career that spanned more than a decade to become a professor here at Colorado State University.
Champ spent eight years as the host and news anchor of Madison, Wisconsin’s local CBS affiliate. He is now an associate professor of journalism and technical communications at CSU. According to Champ, part of the reason he now teaches is the students.
“You know, I haven’t met a student I didn’t like,” Champ said.
Champ’s career began with a job as a public relations assistant and media liaison for the Green Bay Packers.
After getting a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Wisconsin, Champ was hired as a sports anchor and general assignment reporter in Minnesota.
“The worst part of that (reporting) was covering barn fires,” he said. “You just stand there all day in the cold.”
In 1987, Champ became the host and news-anchor on WISC-TV, Madison, Wisconsin’s CBS affiliate. Champ anchored in Madison for eight years. During said time, Champ also earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.
Champ eventually earned his doctorate in journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Shortly afterward he joined the CSU faculty as a full-time instructor in 2001, and has stayed Fort Collins ever since.
Since 2001, Champ has published an array academic works and taught thousands of students.
Champ has garnered quite the reputation among his students at CSU, and he has a near perfect score on the website Rate My Professor, which serves as a platform for college students to provide independent feedback of what they think of their instructors. Many of the reviews cite Champ’s knowledge of the subject matter and passion for teaching.
Champ has “never met a student he didn’t like,” and it seems difficult to meet a CSU student who does not have good things to say about Champ.
Champ was surprised when he heard about his reputation among students at CSU.
“Maybe it’s because of my teaching approach, I try to build a rapport with students, and make my lessons applicable to their lives,” Champ said. “I love the students the way a father would. And maybe that’s not all good, but it’s true.”
Champ has settled well into academia over the past decade and a half and still enjoys it, even more than his time as a journalist in Wisconsin.
“I realized that what we do as communicators is a reflection of how we are,” Champ said. “That’s one of the reasons that I love academia, thinking about the deeper questions of communication.”
Champ is no stranger to these kinds of questions. He has wrestled with them in various publications over the years. Champ has even been nominated for an Emmy award for a documentary film on family dynamics entitled “Our Family Tree.”
Currently, Champ still teaches several courses for the CSU Journalism department, and is involved in a collaborative research studies with the National Parks Service “Find Your Park” campaign as well as the United States Geological Survey.