Terry L. Wimmer (‘76 BS)
Terry L. Wimmer, a native of Princeton, W.Va., graduated from West Virginia University in 1976 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science. As a student at WVU, Wimmer served as managing editor of the Daily Athenaeum and as president of the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Wimmer worked for The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Cali., in New Media where he designed content strategies for the newspaper’s Internet site.
Upon graduating from WVU, Wimmer joined the staff of the Charleston Gazette as a reporter covering city government, the arts and the coal industry. In 1980, he was promoted to assistant city editor. Four years later, Wimmer accepted a two-month fellowship to the Federal University of Espirito Santo in Vitoria, Brazil, where he taught political science and journalism. When he returned to the Gazette, Wimmer was named executive sports editor.
Wimmer left Charleston for California in 1986 when he accepted a position to edit city, courts and police coverage at The Orange County Register. He was named night editor in 1989. When wildfires broke out in the mountains of eastern Orange County in 1994 and approached his neighborhood in Laguna Beach, Wimmer led the round-the-clock reporting team. For more than a week, as 168,000 acres and 250 homes burned, his home served as the command center for dozens of reporters and photographers. Coverage of the disaster won a First Place for Deadline Reporting award from the Society of Professional Journalists and Wimmer received the Freedom Award of Excellence from Freedom Newspapers, Inc.
Later that year, Wimmer was named Health and Technology editor where he designed and produced a new consumer section for the paper on computer technology and its applications for the home, office and school. Then, in 1995, Wimmer directed coverage of a fertility scandal and massive cover-up at the University of California, Irvine. The team of reporters wrote more than 230 stories, not only furthering the investigation but also putting the revelations into context, explaining the science, ethics and law of the fertility industry. This coverage led to the closing of the university’s world-renowned Center for Reproductive Health, the firing of top Medical Center administrators, a federal grand jury investigation and the revamping of fertility guidelines by the American Medical Association. In April 1996, Wimmer and his team won journalism’s highest honor – a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.
Later that year, Wimmer took a leave of absence from the Register to spend a year as the Atwood Professor of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage where he taught ethics, advanced reporting and newspaper/magazine production and advised the student radio station. He returned to the Register in 1997 and assumed his current position in New Media.
Today, you will find Wimmer in the classroom at the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at WVU. In 2000, he returned to his alma mater as the Shott Chair in Journalism. The Hugh I. Shott Jr. Foundation endowed the $1 million chair to honor its family’s leadership in West Virginia news media and to enhance journalism education in the state.
Wimmer has received numerous honors and awards including Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the Best Award; National Headliners Award; George Polk Award for outstanding medical reporting; and Roy W. Howard Award for public service in journalism. In 1997, he received the Perley Isaac Reed Award from the WVU School of Journalism Alumni Association and is currently volunteering as a mentor for WVU’s Career Success Academy.