Long-time UH media staple leaving for new adventures
In his office at the corner of the Center for Student Media, Matt Dulin takes off his glasses, lays them on his desk and rubs the bridge of his nose. He’s frustrated — maybe stressed — or some other emotion that the student who just walked in can’t recognize unless they really know him. He minimizes the spreadsheet he has open on his computer and turns around.
“What’s up?” he says. “How can I help you?”
And that describes Matt in a nutshell. People who’ve known him for years say he’s a good guy and always willing to help, but now he’s moving on to help more people.
After 14 years of being associated with UH, as a student, production manager for The Daily Cougar and finally as director of the Center for Student Media, Dulin is leaving UH to become an associate professor at the University of Missouri and director of outreach for the local paper, The Missourian.
He’s teaching Participatory Journalism, which teaches students how to be journalists who interact with the community through social media, collaboration and audience outreach, a great fit for the guy who built CSM from nothing to what it is now.
“Mizzou is kind of the perfect match for him is because he’s always loved teaching and being able to lead students to a better path,” his wife, Anna Dulin, said. “He lit up (when we visited) in such a way… There was just something about that place that you knew it was right for him.”
Leading up to that moment, Dulin’s life passed in phases.
Dulin is a UH alumnus, a proud Cougar through and through — he even got married at A.D. Bruce. He became a news editor his freshman year and rose up the ranks until he became editor in chief, a position that former Director of Student Publications Dick Cigler said was made for him.
“Matt, being really shy and quiet in a way, really worked his way up by helping everybody do things, particularly editing,” Cigler said. “He loved to edit, and he was good at it. Everybody wanted Matt to become editor, and he ended up being editor for six semesters.”
Former journalism professor David McHam said he often found Dulin on a Valenti School of Communication couch, fast-asleep after a long night in the newsroom.
“He was living at home in Sugar Land, and he didn’t even bother to go home, and boy, it took a toll on him,” McHam said. “He was doing everything. He was writing, editing, (doing) layout and getting the paper to the printer.”
McHam said he saw Matt’s potential, even as a student, describing him as humble and calm during crises.
“Sometimes, I think the image people have of what it takes to be a great leader is not someone who’s necessarily flamboyant, but someone who just holds things together and remains calm no matter what happens. And that’s been Matt,” McHam said.
Dulin graduated cum laude in 2007 and became an editor, working at the Beaumont Enterprise for a year. He earned the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s top prize for copy editing during his time there.
Dulin has said he came back to UH after leaving the Enterprise because he had a wedding to pay for. He met his then-fiancée back when he was editor in chief and she was the photo editor who told him to go away anytime he came near her.
Cigler said he was excited when Dulin came back to UH because he knew he was going to do great things.
“In my 23 years as director, the best thing that that I did for The Cougar was to get Matt on board as production manager,” Cigler said.
As production manager, Dulin advised the newspaper and yearbook staffs if they ever needed it. He trained staff on how to make ads, use InDesign and helped start the social media accounts for The Daily Cougar under editor-in-chief Matthew Keever.
“He guided us through the paper’s foray into social media,” Keever said. “Our efforts from the staff perspective were often times misguided, especially on Twitter. We made a lot of mistakes, but he was always patient and he helped lead us in a better direction.”
Keever said that while Matt was always supportive, he gave constructive criticism whenever it was needed.
“Whenever I was at The (Daily) Cougar, I never felt like Dulin had an off day,” Keever said. “There was never a day where it felt like ‘Oh, Matt’s phoning it in, and we’re on our own today.’ He was always available, night, day, whenever. I remember times at like 1 a.m. when I’d be texting him like ‘Hey man, we ran into this issue.’ And I’m sure, begrudgingly so, that he’d always text back.”
When Cigler left his post as director of student publications in 2011, Matt was the only candidate for the position — the job wasn’t even advertised for the public.
Under his leadership, student publications moved from student services to student life. And after a Student Fees Advisory Committee decision, the Student Video Network and Coog Radio were placed under Dulin’s umbrella and he became the director of the newly created Center for Student Media in 2013.
“He’s a model professional, a trusted colleague and to me, as well as all the student life team, he’s a can-do person (with a) great attitude,” Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Kowalka said. “He really built the Center for Student Media to be what it is today by taking publications and The Cougar and merging it as much as possible with Coog Radio and CoogTV.”
He became even more of a trusted mentor and confidant in his role as director, letting him have the ability to interact with students from all different backgrounds and interests.
“I was the news editor and interning at the Houston Chronicle, and I was getting burned out and exhausted and I went to his office and said to him ‘Matt, I don’t know if I can do this anymore’,” said Joshua Mann, 2011 Daily Cougar editor in chief. “I had gone there intending to tell him ‘I want to quit. I have had enough.’ And I don’t remember exactly how he did it, but he somehow got me to stick with it, and if I hadn’t done that, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am in my career right now.”
Dulin helped usher in a new era of student media at the University. Cameron Wolfe, a sports reporter at the Denver Post and former SVN member, said Matt helped the three organizations get to a new level.
“He helped launch the revamp of SVN to where it is now, and I think it really took us to the next level to where people could take us more seriously as a whole because we were doing better work, more constructive work,” Wolfe said. “It just wasn’t TV, it just wasn’t newspaper, it just wasn’t radio. It was one entity as a whole.”
Now Dulin approaches a new chapter of his life as a professor.
“He’s ready for the next chapter, whatever that may be,” Anna Dulin said. “It’s so open-ended, and I think that’s what so scary and exciting at the same time for him. I always knew that there was something special about him, so just that he’s doing this confirms that even more.”