Thorson to retire from the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications after 16 years

Sunday, March 6, 2022 - 4:00pm

Bruce Thorson, Buffett-Mangelsen-Sartore Chair of Photojournalism, will retire from the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications on May 13 after 16 years. 

Thorson joined the college in 2006, replacing longtime photojournalism professor George Tuck. He has taught a variety of photojournalism courses including basic digital photojournalism, advanced photojournalism and sports photography. 

In 2006, Thorson founded the Global Eyewitness program with the help of a sizable donation to the college. The program engages students in international travel to develop photojournalism and multimedia stories on world issues of poverty, hunger, conflict, disease and associated issues. In 2010, Thorson helped secure an additional endowment and expanded the program to include two international trips per year. 

Through Global Eyewitness, Thorson took students to international locations as close as Puerto Rico and as far away as Mongolia. Through the program, Thorson had a profound impact on participants. 

I went on seven Global Eyewitness trips, four of which were over the holidays. He [Thorson] always made it special and created a sense of family within the team,” said Kaylee Everly, CoJMC alum and former Global Eyewitness student. “There was an unforgettable New Year's Day celebration in the Dominican Republic on a remote beach, samba dancing in Brazil, many meals, lots of laughter along the way as Bruce was never afraid to put himself out there.” 

Thorson has also had a tremendous impact on his colleagues. Joe Weber, Jerry and Karla Huse Professor of Journalism related how Thorson’s teaching style rubbed off on him during a Global Eyewitness trip to Kazakhstan. 

“We at one point split off into two groups, with me taking some students to one part of the country and Bruce taking a group elsewhere,” Weber said. “That meant we all had to be pretty resourceful and adaptable, finding our way around in a place with little English and lots of challenges. The students thrived, and that was a joy to see, and I learned a lot about flexibility and adaptation.” 

Before joining the college, Thorson spent 25 years in newspaper photojournalism as a photographer and photo editor -- mostly in Oregon -- and as director of photography at the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press. When he became a professor, he didn’t quit being a photojournalist. He continues to freelance and his photographs have appeared in Sports Illustrated, People magazine, USA Today, Oregon Business and Nebraska Life, among others. 

Throughout his career, Thorson has had a tremendous impact on the photojournalism profession through his work and the future of photojournalism through his students.


Bruce Thorson headshot
Buffett-Mangelsen-Sartore Chair of Photojournalism Bruce Thorson