Alumni and Friends

Scripps College inducts Paula Shugart into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame

In her 23 years as president of the Miss Universe Organization, Paula Shugart (B.S.C., ’81) used her voice to advocate for herself, her contestants, and all women. Shugart says it’s a voice she developed and learned to use while she was a student in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.

“I would tell women every year to use their voice. Don’t be afraid to use your voice,” said Shugart. “Ohio University taught me that. Ohio University gave me my voice and made me the person I am today.”

Shugart was chosen by the Ohio University Scripps College of Communication as the next member of the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame. She was inducted on Thursday, March 21, during a special ceremony at the Baker Center Theater. To date, 38 people and two foundations have been inducted, and their names can be found in a wall display on the first floor of the Schoonover Center.

“We bring people into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame because of the lifetime achievement that they’ve had establishing excellence in their field related to communication,” said Scripps College Dean Scott Titsworth during the ceremony. “Today I have the honor of being able to induct a friend of mine into the Hall of Fame.”

Paula Shugart award
(left) Paula Shugart receives an award from (right) Dean Scott Titsworth as she is inducted into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame.

Shugart was a shy girl from San Diego when she came to Ohio University to study radio and television. But she overcame her fears while working as a student in the WOUB Public Media newsroom under the leadership of then WOUB News Director Bruce Cuthbertson.

“Bruce was tough and frightening. He was my first introduction to facing your fears,” said Shugart. “He asked me, ‘If I put a gun to your head, would you be sure everything in this story was right? Would you make it out of here alive?’  He taught me to get it right and go the extra mile. He made me a better person. He taught me that I could face my fears, and I realized it wasn’t so bad.”

With nearly 40 years of experience in the television industry, Shugart’s career has been widely recognized in entertainment television production for domestic and international audiences. She oversaw all business transactions of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) and was responsible for the production of the live, worldwide telecasts each year. Shugart also was responsible for securing the host sites for each event which she negotiated with various heads of state in all corners of the world.  Shugart served as a mentor and role model to the company’s three titleholders each year as they traveled the globe as spokeswomen for several charitable alliances on behalf of MUO. Shugart made it her goal to break the stereotypes typically associated with beauty pageants by telling the stories of the women competing and putting a focus on developing the life and leadership skills for thousands of women and teens who participate in the system annually. 

“At the end of the day, when I think of who I want to have as part of the Hall of Fame under my watch as dean,” said Titsworth, “I want to think about people who have distinguished careers and people who represent the values of the college and the values of our University, and I think, most importantly, represents the values of a community that we need to support. There is no person that I can think of that I’m more proud to bring into the Hall of Fame right now than Paula.”

Shugart also established an exclusive internship program with the Scripps College, enabling more than 60 students to intern in New York in the areas of public relations, video, photography and web design. The internships program represents how Shugart wanted to give back to the place that she credits with putting her on the path to success.

“I remember sitting on the wall of the patio of what was then the Frontier Room and scrounging the last two quarters I had to get a beer. I never would have imagined the day that I would actually go from the wall of the Frontier Room to the wall of the College of Communication, so it’s really a huge deal to me,” said Shugart.

Shugart ended her acceptance speech by encouraging other women and female students in the room to take advantage of opportunities and not give in to fear.

“The only person who holds us back is ourselves,” said Shugart. “We are all authors. We are charged with writing our life story. Any good book is filled with ups and downs. It’s the failures and challenges and overcoming them. Ohio University has been a huge part of the story I am writing for myself.”

March 25, 2024
Cheri Russo