For more than two decades, Alan Prince drilled School of Communication students at the University of Miami in journalistic writing, editing and history. To each class, say students, faculty and administrators, he brought a keen sense of integrity, knowledge and professional know-how.
Prince, who retired from the university in 2000, suffered a fall in March after which he contracted the flu and pneumonia. In and out of the hospital and rehabilitation centers for the past three months, Prince died under the care of a family friend on June 17.
“I miss him already,” said SOC Professor Bruce Garrison. Prince, a long-time editor at The Miami Herald, taught journalism classes part time before becoming a full-time lecturer in the late 1980s, Garrison said.
“Alan was completely devoted to our school and journalism program,” Garrison added. “He gave our students a very strong foundation in the news writing classes and in understanding journalism history. There is probably no teacher in our program’s recent history as devoted to the success of his students. He was a caring individual with a warm heart and sharp sense of humor.“
Marilyn Gonzalez, a senior advisor in the School of Communication, remembers Prince’s generosity. During his tenure at UM, Prince routinely provided holiday gifts to SOC staffers and took them to lunch, she said.
“I will always remember his smile and the way he would appreciate us going to have lunch with him,” Gonzalez said. “It was a field trip for him and us.”
The “field trips” continued following Prince’s retirement.
A small group of SOC administrators, staff and professors would meet once a year with Prince to eat lunch and test their luck at the slot machines at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, one of Prince’s favorite haunts.
At the group’s most recent gathering in February, Prince, an accomplished amateur magician, wowed his friends with his sleight-of-hand card and coin tricks, a highlight at each of the annual gatherings.
Former students learning of his death praised Prince for the magic he worked in the classroom.
“He was always trying to help students improve, to make us better writers, giving feedback whether we wanted it or not,” said Annette Gallagher, who took classes with Prince in the early 1990s. “Getting an A on an assignment from Alan Prince was a real accomplishment. He was tough, but kind underneath it, and I’ll always thank him for pushing me harder than any professor I had,” said Gallagher, now communication director at the School of Architecture at UM.
Sara Frederick Burgos, an editor at the Dallas Morning News, recalls Prince’s insistence that students know the First Amendment.
“He drilled the First Amendment into our brains so often that I can still recite it today,” said Frederick Burgos, who took “History of Journalism” with Prince in the mid-90s. “He made us write that thing down at the beginning of most every class.”
“Professor Prince was a real, old-school newspaperman,” Gallagher said. “There’s no other way to put it.
“From watching George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” bit when talking about the FCC to having to memorize the First Amendment to weekly current events quizzes, he made learning about journalism about a lot more than mechanics and AP Style.”
Born in Montclair, N.J., in 1930, Prince studied journalism at New York University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree before serving in the army from 1952-1954 during the Korean War, according to a published online obituary by the United States Harness Writers Association. Prince, a longtime national officer for the association, was founder of the group’s Florida chapter and served as its president in the late 1960s.
Prince’s newspaper career began at the Union Leader in New Jersey, where he started as a sports writer covering harness racing at the weekly newspaper.
He later worked at The Miami Herald for 25 years covering sports and later travel.
A major opera fan, Prince listened every Sunday to the live performances of the New York Metropolitan Opera. He also was an avid baseball fan.
“I will always remember Alan as a modern renaissance man,” Garrison said. “He amazed me with his depth and breadth. He could be watching UM football at the old Orange Bowl with me while discussing the latest opera performance he attended. He could tell us first-hand stories about watching the best standard bred horses in the country and then dazzle us with his professional skills as a magician.”
“He was an extraordinary, generous and kind person,” Garrison added, “and he will be missed by all of us around the Wolfson Building who worked with him and who knew him well.”
Services for Alan Prince begin at 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 19, at Riverside-Gordon Memorial Chapels at Mount Nebo Kendall Memorial Gardens, 5900 SW 77th Ave., Miami, FL 33143.