In memory: Thomas F. Baldwin

Posted on: April 25, 2011

Professor Emeritus Thomas F. Baldwin passed away on his birthday, April 25, at the age of 78.

Dr. Baldwin, a faculty member at Michigan State University for almost 38 years, was a specialist in broadcast and telecommunications policy research and scholarship. His classes focused on multichannel television. Baldwin received the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award in 1976. Before formally retiring from MSU in 2003, he held joint appointments in the departments of Telecommunication (now the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media) and Communication. He was a senior fellow with the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law. 

Upon his retirement, Professor Baldwin continued to stay active in the college, serving on the college’s alumni board from 2003-2010 and participating on funded research projects. Over the past few years, Baldwin was part of a National Science Foundation research team, coordinated through the Quello Center, on a grant entitled “Scale and Complexity of Media Markets as Determinants of Local Government News Coverage.”

In addition, Dr. Baldwin directed the Mass Media doctorate program (now the Media and Information Studies Ph.D. program) for more than a decade. In 2002-2003, he was associate dean for graduate studies.

“Tom is remembered by his colleagues and students for his ground-breaking research, wonderful teaching style and world-class humor,” stated Dr. Pamela Whitten, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

He was the co-author of “Cable Communication” (two editions with Steve McVoy), “Convergence: The Integration of Media, Information and Communication” (with Steve McVoy and Charles Steinfield) and “Cable Advertising,” with Kensinger Jones and Martin Block.  “Convergence: The Integration of Media, Information and Communication” won the 1997 Book Award from the National Cable Television Center and Museum.

While at MSU, Professor Baldwin’s research was supported by the National Science Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ford Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health. He served as a consultant to TCI, AT&T, Coaxial Communication, United Cable, the State of Minnesota, U.S. Department of Energy and others. He has testified on communication matters before the FCC and the U.S. Senate. A former radio and television journalist, he received a Sigma Delta Chi award in radio journalism in 1963.

Dr. Baldwin received his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Cincinnati in 1956, his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa in 1962, and his doctorate in communication from Michigan State University in 1966.

Baldwin is survived by his wife Jan, daughters Andrea (George Rohde) and Susan (David Moody), and grandchildren Jessica, Haley, Skyler and Ellie.

A memorial service is set for 4 p.m. on Monday, May 2 at the MSU University Club.

Contributions may be made to the Thomas Baldwin Graduate Fellowship Fund, established in 2003 in the MSU College of Communication Arts & Sciences. Inquiries can be directed to the Advancement Office of the MSU College of Communication Arts & Sciences at 517-432-6514.

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