Wayne Joseph Maikranz, known to many as a mentor, student advocate and valued colleague, died Sept. 27 at age 63. He served 34 years with UNC Charlotte as Student Niner Media director and adviser, as well as a lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies prior to his retirement in 2019.
Born in Evansville, Indiana, Maikranz completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Evansville and Ball State University, respectively. He worked at two daily newspapers in Indiana and spent time as a client service representative for an advertising firm prior to joining UNC Charlotte in 1985.
During his long University tenure, Maikranz received a number of accolades, including the 1992 Staff Employee of the Year Award. His contributions to student media earned him the 1993 Distinguished Magazine Adviser Award from the College Media Association and the National Teaching Award from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in 1987.
Maikranz served on the advisory program board for the Associated Collegiate Press Association, co-authored “The Guidebook of Magazine Fundamentals” for the Associated Collegiate Press and designed “The People of Route 601: Life in the Slow Lane," a book of photography by Lex Youngman.
In 2008, he was inducted into the College Media Advisers Hall of Fame. In 2019, he was honored by the Associated Collegiate Press with the organization's inaugural Pioneer Award, which honors those who have made exceptional contributions to college media programs.
Commitment to education and learning
As the student media adviser, Maikranz provided students with journalism training and support as well as counsel on legal, production and editorial content concerns.
For more than 30 years, Maikranz was a lecturer in communication studies. He taught several journalism courses, from introductory level to those with a focus on writing, editing and design. He supervised many students through practicums and internships.
George R. “Jody” Harpster, former director of student life and associate vice chancellor for student affairs at UNC Charlotte, recalled that prior to hiring Maikranz, student media at the University was advised by various faculty members. Maikranz was the first full-time professional adviser specific to student publications.
“[Wayne] was the best hire in my 40-plus-year higher ed career,” said Harpster. “He was superb from the beginning; good at getting people to work collaboratively. He had high standards but also was kind, supportive and generous.”
Jim Hoppa, retired senior associate vice chancellor for student affairs, was astounded by the awards that UNC Charlotte student media would bring back to campus.
“Here we were going against [UNC Chapel Hill] and other big universities with acclaimed journalism schools, and yet we were often winning against them,” Hoppa said. “Wayne had a knack for finding, recruiting and developing students from a variety of majors not just the comm department.”
Maikranz contributed to many University initiatives beyond student publications and teaching. He championed diversity and inclusion and was an advocate for the student LGBTQ+ community. He advised the UNC Charlotte PRIDE student organization in the first few years of its formation and was part of a group that established the Safe Zone program on campus.
In recognition of his 33 years of service to UNC Charlotte, he was honored with the establishment of a student media award in his name upon retirement. The Wayne Maikranz Student Media Award funds a scholarship to at least one member of student media annually.
There is much more to Maikranz’s story, such as how he started a community library from his basement when he was 12, hosted legendary Student Niner Media end-of-year awards banquets and loved gardening, practical jokes, friends and family.
Read the full obituary and tributes here.