Hall wins distinguished Cummings Gold Medal Award from AAF

Steve Hall

Steve Hall, a senior lecturer in the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising, received the 2021 Barton A. Cummings Gold Medal Award with a unanimous vote from the American Advertising Federation. 

The award recognizes distinguished individuals for their service to advertising through volunteer work with the AAF, and this is the first time that it was given to an educator; previous winners have all been members of the industry. 

“I’m extremely lucky to have so many incredible people in my life. Doing what I do wouldn’t be possible without amazing students, alumni, faculty, administrators, friends, family, industry professionals, and the American Advertising Federation,” said Hall, who has served as faculty advisor since 1997 for AAF Illinois, the largest student chapter in the nation. 

“To be a part of Bart Cummings’ iconic legacy is special to me because of his connection to the University of Illinois as an alumnus, supporter of Charles. H. Sandage Department of Advertising, chair of the James Webb Young Board, and All-American athlete,” Hall added.

The award is named in honor of the late Bart Cummings (BS '35, journalism), former Chief Executive Officer of Compton Advertising (now Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising), whose career was dedicated to industry service and to advancing the social and economic values of advertising. Cummings received honors such as induction to the Advertising Hall of Fame for his volunteer work serving as chair of the AAF, the 4As, the Ad Council, the Advertising Educational Foundation, and the AAF Foundation. 

Echoing Cummings’ contribution to the advertising industry, Hall’s work in the Sandage Department of Advertising has helped shape the future of the field by teaching, mentoring, advising, and connecting students, alumni, and professionals in an array of industry immersion initiatives, activities, programs, and events. 

“As educators, we should be teaching advertising students how to be students of life,” Hall said. “Teaching them to approach the world around them with curiosity, eagerness, and open-mindedness so they can achieve excellence in everything that comes their way—in whatever career path they decide to take—because the greatest reward an educator can receive is when their students do awesome work in careers they absolutely love.” 

As AAF Illinois Faculty Advisor for more than 20 years, Hall has led National Student Advertising Competition teams to the finals, nominated more Most Promising Multicultural Student winners than any other university, and created countless industry immersion and engagement programs for AAF student members to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco. 

“For decades, Steve selflessly devoted himself to nurturing the future leaders of advertising, both in and outside of the classrooms,” said Professor Mike Yao, head of the Sandage Department of Advertising. “He was a champion for experiential learning before experiential learning became cool. Steve’s dedication to teaching excellence and student professional development are truly inspirational.” 

Hall has previously been recognized nationally as one of the best professors in the industry having received AAF’s Distinguished Advertising Educator Award, along with the University of Illinois Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Charles H. Sandage Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, and the AAF James S. Fish Aid to Advertising Education Award. 

When designing curricula, Hall advocates for finding new and creative ways for faculty and students to learn from each other. 

“Pedagogically, faculty should be willing to immerse themselves in myriad roles as educators, because significant learning also occurs when teachers become mentors, advocates, advisors, coaches, catalysts, facilitators, coordinators, collaborators, listeners, and participants in the educational process.” 

Hall believes advertising education should immerse, connect, and inspire students so they can achieve great successes in their careers and shape the future in the best way possible. 

“Advertising education should instill the maverick spirit of an inventor, conviction of a marathon runner, analytical mind of a scientist, empathy of a philanthropist, and creativity of a jazz musician in every student,” he said. 

“It should constantly strive to develop professionals who are thought-leading ‘architects’ who have the ability to balance the most intricate details with an extraordinary vision—and create blueprints that set the standard for best practices in the industry.” 

—Da Yeon Eom, Communications and Marketing Intern