Mike Perkins didn’t need a college degree to launch his career. He was already working as a reporter at The Herald-Press in Huntington, Ind., and had even done a stint in the military.
He had tried college once before at a big state school, but that didn’t work out so well for him. He ended up being drafted and serving during the Vietnam War. When he returned, a nagging sense of failure lingered with him. He wanted to finish college, and Huntington was the perfect fit.
“I needed something to complete my background,” Perkins said. “I needed a liberal arts education.”
As a journalist, Perkins explained, you need to know a little about a lot in order to effectively conduct interviews, research stories and communicate information back to your readership.
“The best reporters, the best journalists, are generalists,” he said. “People have to have a very broad base of knowledge to be good at news. I knew this is what I lacked when I went (back to college).”
Perkins came to Huntington as a nontraditional student, majoring in communications
. He graduated in 1980 after seven hard years of work. He continued at The Herald-Press for 40 years, 30 of those years as the editor.
In 2008, he left the newspaper to take a position at Parkview Huntington Hospital as the director of the hospital’s foundation. Perkins called it a “seamless transition,” but knew Huntington had prepared him from the get-go.
“I hoped (my liberal arts education) would give me what I wanted, and it did,” he said. “It just taught me how to think.”