Venit ‘gives back’ through teaching

By on December 8, 2004

Kenn Venit, an adjunct associate professor in the School of Communications takes a different approach to teaching by utilizing advice from his college advisor and mentor, the late Dr. Larry Blenheim.

Blenheim received his Ph. D at Temple University on the same day in June, 1966 Venit received his master’s degree in communications. Dr. Blenheim had an everlasting impact on Venit’s professional and personal life.

“He had more influence on me than anyone else except for members of my family,” said Venit. He said Dr. Blenheim taught him to “give back to the community.”

As a teacher, Venit sometimes plays the role of editor or news director and transforms his students into journalists the minute they walk into the classroom. Everyday, he’s dressed in a jacket and tie to create a professional newsroom atmosphere.

Whether the class assignment is searching the Internet for the latest presidential debate updates or showing clips of tragic incidents such as 9/11, Venit teaches his students to obtain information quickly and accurately from the Internet and other sources to help them get a feel for what journalists do under the pressure of deadlines.

As a teacher and mentor, Venit focuses on constructive criticism. When he evaluates a student’s work, he tries to find three positive comments before a negative one. As students walk out of his class, they’re often both surprised at how fast the time went and by how many new things Venit has taught them about reporting and life.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Venit was successful as a broadcast journalist and later as a nationally-recognized TV news consultant. After he suffered two heart attacks during a business assignment in San Diego at age 49, it took him three years of work to get himself out of the “rat race” so that he could extend his life expectancy.

Venit has applied Dr. Blenheim’s advice ever since his graduation day. “He is responsible in part for the good relationship between my family values and my jobs,” Venit said. He noted that he has been married to the same woman, Bonni, his childhood sweetheart, for almost 39 years – beating the marital odds for a broadcast journalist. They have two married daughters and six grandchildren, all residing five minutes from the Quinnipiac University campus.

Venit had some fun times as a TV journalist. Comedian Totie Fields surprised him with a French kiss as the camera rolled. He also remembers eating dog food for a story about a senior citizen nutritional controversy, wrestling a bear, and interviewing President Richard Nixon. “These are some of the things I’m remembered for,” he said.

Venit has already received two lifetime achievement awards for excellence in broadcasting and for mentoring. “And I’m not even dead yet,” he joked.

With 15 years of experience as a broadcast journalist, followed by 23 years as a news consultant, Venit sees teaching as his third career. Aside from teaching two undergraduate and one graduate course at Quinnipiac, he is president of a TV consulting firm, two-term president of the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and associate publisher / executive managing editor of the monthly newspaper “State’s Most Wanted.”

Venit refers to himself as an “eclectic collection” because of the many jobs he has taken on throughout his lifetime. “I’m enjoying the best of those jobs now, as an adjunct at Quinnipiac, Southern Connecticut State, and Albertus Magnus, where I hope I am trying my best to ‘give back to the community’ as Dr. Blenheim asked me to.”


About S. Alison Mula