Del Brinkman has had a distinguished career in journalism and university teaching and administration. He began his career in 1954 on the staff of The Emporia (Kansas) Daily Gazette and retired in 2002 as dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Colorado Boulder. He also helped shape journalism education through work with an accrediting organization and with a national journalism foundation.
Brinkman was born in Olpe, Kansas, and earned his bachelor’s degree in English and social science from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. After writing for the Emporia paper, Brinkman taught at Leavenworth (Kansas) High School and was on the journalism faculty at Kansas State University in Manhattan. He taught journalism at Indiana University and was a tenured faculty member at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Brinkman was on the faculty at University of Kansas for 23 years starting in 1970, served as dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism there for 11 years and was vice chancellor for academic affairs for seven years.
He left KU in 1993 and served seven years as director of journalism programs for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, Florida. In this role, Brinkman was responsible for managing an annual grant budget, screening grant requests, evaluating funded projects and developing new initiatives and projects. In 2001, Brinkman left this position and began his duties as the dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Throughout his career, he also was active in journalism education curriculum development and national accreditation policy-making. He was president of the accreditation committee of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. He served as president of the IU Distinguished Alumni Service Award club in 1986.
Brinkman was honored several times for his work. In 2003, he received the Dean’s Award from University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. In 2012, Brinkman was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame.
Brinkman earned his master’s degree in journalism and political science from IU in 1963 and returned to Bloomington in 1971 for his doctorate in mass communications and political science. During his time at IU, he was a counselor for the High School Journalism Institute and has said in interviews that he enjoyed taking theater courses. He was awarded the IU Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1971.
Brinkman lives in Bloomington with his wife, Carolyn, and remains involved in IU Journalism activities. He is a member of Rotary International, the Ernie Pyle Society, Bloomington Press Club, IU Journalism Alumni Board and the IU Student Publications Board.