“Greetings to you and all our fellow students, patrons and alumni of the Anderson Bible Training-School. May these ‘Echoes’ give you a better idea of the work of the students and a more personal acquaintance with the Class of 1922,” reads the third page of the first publication of Echoes 100 years ago.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of publications at AU, with the student-produced yearbook “Echoes” being the first.
Echoes began in 1922 when the university was the Anderson Bible Training-School and was discontinued after the 2007 issue.
In the past 100 years, numerous other publications have been established, including Slates, AU’s literary arts magazine, and the Andersonian, AU’s newspaper. Publications like these have given students hands-on experience in their fields outside of the classroom.
Nick Gerlich, now a marketing professor at West Texas A&M University, was heavily involved with the Andersonian while at AU. Gerlich served as a staff writer from 1977-1979, associate editor 1979-80 and editor-in-chief his senior year, 1980-81.
The publication was an important part of Gerlich’s college career, taking him all the way to Washington D.C. for a monumental moment in history.
“When I was editor, we decided that we weren’t just going to limit ourselves to campus news. We were going to look at state and national, as well,” he said. “In January of ‘81, my photographer and I drove to Washington D.C .and went to Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. We covered it for the student newspaper.”
Along with access to a presidential debate and Reagan’s inauguration, Gerlich also remembers getting tickets and press badges for the Gaithers’ music conference “Praise Gathering,” where he interviewed “a very young, unknown female singer, whose name is Amy Grant.”
Although he didn’t pursue journalism, Gerlich is certain his experience with the publication shaped his life.
“Even though I never pursued a career in journalism, I kept up with my writing,” he said. “I write a daily blog for my students, seven days a week… I write for a national magazine as a freelancer.”
Nikki Edrington Shover, 2018 graduate and current associate pastor for youth and young adults at First Baptist Church in Plainfield, Ind., was also heavily involved in the Andersonian publication while at AU.
Shover explained that her involvement took place during a major shift to a more digital platform.
“We had just gone through a major overhaul of our website, and we were introducing podcasts and video stories for the first time,” she said.
Like Gerlich, the Andersonian provided important moments in Shover’s life and career.
“I was the first and only person that I know of who President Pistole granted an all-access interview regarding his experience interviewing to be the director of the FBI,” she said. “That was history, and I sat across from one of the most inspiring humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and he shared with me a private moment. By knowing his story, it was as if I was participating in the history of it all.”
Scott Underwood, editor of The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, regional editor for 11 newspapers in Indiana and Illinois and general manager for The Herald Bulletin, Pharos-Tribune in Logansport and the Kokomo Tribune, was also involved with the Andersonian as a writer and editor from 1983-87.
“My experience there was 35 years ago, so it’s not halfway back in the history, but it’s 35% of the way back in the history,” he said. “It’s just really cool to see that the Andersonian still exists, it’s still strong.”
The history of the publications proved significant to Gerlich, Shover and Underwood in their recounts of their time at AU and the centennial has further inspired advice, thoughts and hopes for the future of student publications.
Gerlich said, “When you go to bed at night, and wake up in the morning, the world has changed while you were sleeping. That’s why it’s so critical to stay on top of everything that is changing in your world, whatever it may be.”
Underwood stated that he hopes to see truth at the forefront of student publications in the future.
“I think that the challenge for journalism schools and student newspapers, certainly now and moving into the future, will be to have the courage to speak the truth,” he said, “regardless of who disagrees with it, or who is offended by it.”
Shover explained that she hopes to see continued growth and change in the next 100 years of student publications at AU.
“I hope that publications as a whole, and at AU, continue to branch out into new areas of technology. But I also hope that things remain rooted in the history that made them what they are, never forgetting those who went before and how they paved the way toward brighter futures.”