Making the presentation, Beth Morehart Shull of Little Rock called Watterson "a lifelong mentor to journalists and prospective journalists living inside and outside the borders of the state." Prior to his career in collegiate administration and teaching, Watterson spent 14 years in the N. Little Rock Public Schools as an educator and public relations administrator. "Active in Arkansas press circles, Watterson elevated the craft of journalism to national prominence," Shull said. "As a state teacher of the year, his students have gone on to occupy leadership roles in journalism working in both for-profit
and non-profit organizations, magazines, newspapers and broadcast news outlets."
"I've always been a believer in the First Amendment," Watterson said. "To be worthy of the freedom of speech and of the press, it is
our responsibility to educate, to nurture, to mentor and to guide prospective and practicing journalists. I continue to take that role seriously. That simple tenet has been my goal throughout my career."
The award is named for Walter Lemke, legendary dean of the school of journalism at the University of Arkansas. S. Allen Loibner,
director of the ASPA and professor of communication at Pulaski Technical College in N. Little Rock said, "We've been waiting a number of years to be able to honor Watterson for his contributions to journalism. He chaired the first national Journalism Education
Association Convention in the state, the most successful in the Mid-South." Loibner added that the national event attracted thousands
of educators and students nation-wide.
"Watterson and his steering committee for the national convention were able to attract Jeff Bridges and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists as highlighted guests," Shull concluded. "His colleagues and those attending the event will never forget the experience."
Semi-retired and currently teaching collegiate courses as an adjunct, Watterson also consults with collegiate and secondary press and development groups nationwide. Before his retirement, he served as a public relations officer at Shorter College and Darlington School.
His wife, Renva, serves as vice-president of academic affairs at Georgia Highlands College.