Former photojournalism professor still inspires students

Friday, August 21, 2009 | 9:47 p.m. CDT; updated 4:44 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 31, 2009
Angus W. "Mac" McDougall, former MU photojournalism professor and director of the Pictures of the Year competition, in 1982.

COLUMBIA — A picture of Angus “Mac” McDougall hangs in the office of former student Randy Cox, visuals and production editor of the Portland Oregonian.

For the past 12 years, whenever Cox has made a decision, he first looked at the picture and said to himself, “What would Mac think about it?”

That was how deeply Mr. McDougall, former head of the photojournalism sequence at the Missouri School of Journalism, affected his students.

“I feel he’s always looking down from the wall watching, judging, encouraging and tsk-ing,” Cox said.

Mr. McDougall died Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009, in Columbia. He was 92.

He was born in Milwaukee to Archibald and Meta McDougall. He grew up in nearby Waukesha, Wis., where he finished high school and earned a master's degree in English. He taught high school for 2 years, then decided to pursue his dream of working as a photographer.

Mr. McDougall started his career at the Milwaukee Journal, then left after he was named as the Magazine Photographer of the Year in 1955 to join the International Harvester World, a corporate magazine in Chicago.

While at International Harvester, he co-wrote what former students call the definitive book on picture editing, “Visual Impact in Print,” which is still widely used by photojournalists today.

He was also named Picture Editor of the Year in 1965.

Mr. McDougall first arrived in Columbia when he was recruited by Clifton Edom to take over as head of the journalism school's photojournalism sequence and serve as director of the Pictures of the Year competition.

He and his wife, Betty, remained in Columbia ever since.

As an educator, he was noted for his expectation of excellence and pushing students to do their best.

“His critiques were blistering, but you knew that he was in your corner,” said Rita Reed, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and a former student. “All he wanted was for you to do the absolute best.”

“He reminded me always of a stern grandfather figure, somebody whose praise and good wish you were always looking forward to but never sure you would get,” Cox said.

Yet, he wasn’t overbearing. “He was a huge life force, a big personality that filled the room, yet he was modest and unassuming,” Reed said.

Not only did his passion and zeal inspire his students to believe that photographs are as important as words, but he also made sure that they had skills in all areas of journalism.

“He firmly believed that photographers should be able to write as well as photograph,” said David Rees, current head of the photojournalism sequence. He also stressed design and management skills, Rees said.

Mr. McDougall stayed involved with the university after his retirement. He would attend Picture of the Year contests and was always willing to come to class and speak to students.

“I don’t know that Mac really retired,” Reed said.

In 2008, Mr. McDougall and his wife donated to the School of Journalism to create the Angus and Betty McDougall Center for Photojournalism Studies. The center aims to preserve work by photojournalists in newspapers, magazines and documentaries.

He is survived by a daughter, Bonnie Latimer of Elgin, Ill.; a son, Angus Craig McDougall of Louisville, Ky; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

His wife and another daughter, Lorna, died earlier.

Memorial donations may be made to the McDougall Center at the Missouri School of Journalism, 103 Neff Hall, Columbia, MO, 65211.


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