video by Sam Sides
Cliff Brockman became a faculty member in the early 2000’s and in his time at Wartburg College he has impacted much of the staff, faculty and student body.
One of these faculty members is Dr. Penni Pier, who said she appreciates Brockman for his love of ethical journalism and his personality.
“Cliff, at his heart, is a good, moral, ethical person,” Pier said.
“I think it shows in the kind of interactions he has with people, and I think that’s the best kind of role model you can have because he is just, genuinely, a good person.”
Last week, Brockman announced he would be stepping down from his faculty position in the Department of Journalism and Communication and as adviser of the Trumpet due to health complications.
Both older and recent alumni said the department will not be the same without Brockman and future students will miss the opportunity to learn from a great professor.
“What Wartburg will miss most about Cliff Brockman is his kind spirit,” alumna Calyn Thompson said. “Whether he was in the Den eating lunch or walking to the next class he was teaching, he was so approachable and easy to talk to.”
Brockman came to Wartburg after a successful career in professional news that spanned over 30 years. After more than a decade at Wartburg, Brockman has had many experiences, but there is one thing in particular he will miss.
“My favorite moments are just working with the students,” Brockman said. “It’s the part I love and the part I will miss the most.”
Both past and current students have recognized and appreciated that love.
“Cliff is incredibly kind, he loves his family, good journalism and the students he teaches,” alumnus Drew Shradel said. “When you get the pleasure of getting to know him he sticks with you, he rubs off on you. I looked up to Cliff and I still do today.”
Other alumni said Brockman will be remembered for his attention to detail, professionalism and of course, the trademark moustache.
“At the time, it felt a little maddening,” alumnus Al Strain said. “But looking back now, you realize that his attention to detail came from a great place. Wartburg is going to miss that experience and that attitude. And that moustache is irreplaceable.”
Although he is leaving Wartburg, Pier said Brockman’s legacy will continue to grow.
“Cliff’s legacy lives on in the students he taught and the contributions they make and the careers they have,” Pier said.
Another one of those students, Riley Cole, said Brockman had a bigger impact on her than any other professor.
For Cole, Brockman was a mentor, not just a professor.
“Cliff pushed me to be my best, especially when practicing journalism,” Cole said. “I know that if I ever need advice on journalism or other topics that Cliff would be more than willing to help. That’s just the kind of person he is.”
For many students, Brockman’s impact goes beyond what they learned in his class.
“I would often see Cliff in Chapel, and would always see him when a Journalism & Communication student was giving their ‘Chapel message,’” Thompson said. “I was so happy to see him at mine. This is just one of many examples of Cliff supporting his students outside the classroom.”
During their time at Wartburg, Strain and Shradel referred to Brockman as “dad.”
This was more than just a joke as Shradel actually looks up to Brockman as a fatherly figure and the two of them even bought him Father’s Day mugs the year they graduated.
“When I made the tough decision to leave my job at KCII and pursue something that was not in media, the first thing I thought was, ‘Boy, how am I going to tell Cliff?'” Shradel said. “Not that he would be mad, but I respected him so much I wanted to make him proud.”
Brockman is leaving a place he has called home both as a student and as a professor and a place that is very close to his heart.
“I love Wartburg, that’s what I always tell everybody,” Brockman said. “I love our students, I love our faculty and I have just loved being a part of the program here.”
It is safe to say Wartburg has loved Brockman too. There may be other advisers and there may be other professors, but there will never be another Cliff Brockman.