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Michael Petrick, former department of journalism chair, dies at 70

Michael Petrick, former CMU journalism professor and chairman of the journalism department poses for a photo with his plaque during the 2006 Journalism Hall of Fame banquet on Nov. 4. Petrick was a journalism professor from 1978 to 2000. He died at the age of 70 on Nov. 29 in his Mount Pleasant home. (File Photo/CM Life Photo Staff)

Michael Petrick, former journalism professor and chairman of the journalism department at Central Michigan University, died at the age of 70 on Nov. 29 in his Mount Pleasant home.

Petrick was a journalism professor from 1978 to 2000. He taught at the School of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Maryland before coming to CMU.

Petrick was department chair at CMU when he retired in 2000.

John Hartman, professor of journalism, was a colleague of Petrick’s from 1984 until 2000.

“Mike Petrick was a role model for me as a professor and as journalism professor. Mike always did things the right way,” Hartman said. “He was also a very thoughtful man, and he had a great sense of humor. More often than not, he had a smile on his face.”

Petrick was born on Sept. 6, 1942 in Antigo, Wisc., where he graduated from Antigo High School in 1961. He continued his education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he received his master’s degree in 1967. Petrick furthered his education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received his PhD in journalism and political science in 1970.

He worked in journalism for a number of years after receiving his PhD. Petrick started out as a reporter for the Appleton (Wisc.) Post Cresent, and eventually became news editor at the Milwaukee South Times Star. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as copy editor for the Evening Star.

Petrick then began his teaching career.

Dirk Milliman, president of Milliman Communications and CMU alum, had Petrick as a professor for journalism law.

“He was tough and awesome. He made you learn your stuff, and he taught it right,” Milliman said.

Milliman also had Petrick as an adviser during his time as chair.

“He was always willing to give you career advice, and he made sure I was on track to graduate,” Milliman said. “He was an excellent role model to students.”

The funeral mass will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday. at St. John Catholic Church-Antigo. The burial will take place at Queen of Peace Cemetery.

Visitation will be at the Bradley Funeral Home from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday and 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, a parish wake service will be held at the funeral home.

Petrick is survived by his cousin Barbara Loh of Medfield, Mass., and their children Peter and Christopher Loh and Laura Howland, a cousin John Petrick of San Jose, Calif., and their children John Michael Petrick and Janin Hutchinson, and other cousins and friends.


  1. Robin Kelly-Kirkpatrick says:

    I had Dr. Petrick for several classes and he was my academic advisor. He definitely knew the business and had a unique way of passing on his knowledge. I really appreciated his style. May he RIP. -30-

    Robin Kelly-Kirkpatrick, Jackson, MI

  2. Jerry Fitzhenry says:

    Mike was great friend and colleague for 25 years. He contributed greatly to the efforts of the department to gain national accreditation. He will also be remembered for his unsuccessful campaign to be Drain Commissioner for Isabella County.

    Jerry Fitzhenry

    Professor Emeritus, Journalism

  3. Jerry Fitzhenry says:

    For all the reporting students who were fortunate to have Dr. Petrick, in an e-mail only a few weeks ago, Dr. Petrick insisted, once again, he did not own the lumber company.

  4. I had Dr. Petrick for Journalism Law in the late 1970s (soon after he started at CMU). I found him to be a VERY tough but VERY fair instructor. He always told us that if we missed a class, the only way we could get the homework assignment was if we presented a statement from a physician. I woke up one morning with a horrible headache and, knowing that I would miss one of Dr. Petrick’s classes, went over to the medical clinic, got the doctor’s excuse, and presented it to him during the next class. I think he was a bit surprised (maybe nobody had ever done this before), but I got the homework assignment and finished the class with an A. So glad he was one of my instructors.

  5. I had Dr. Petrick for Journalism in the mid-70′s as a student at the University of Maryland. He was always an inspiration to me even though I didn’t pursue a career in Journalism. Nonetheless, I’ve had many writing and editing assignments in my private sector and government careers and attribute much of my success in those endeavors to Dr. Petrick. I will remember him with fond memories.

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