Pulitzer prize-winning School of Journalism professor Alex Tizon dies at 57

SOJC professor Alex Tizon died in his sleep Thursday night. He was 58. (Courtesy of AroundtheO)

This article has been updated to include a statement by Juan-Carlos Molleda, the dean of the UO Journalism School, which was in an SOJC website post. The article now also includes information that the Eugene police have found Alex Tizon’s death to be of medical causes and not suspicious.

Correction: A previous version of this article said Tizon was 58. He was 57.

University of Oregon journalism professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Alex Tizon died Thursday night at his home in Eugene. He was 57.

Scott Maier, journalism director at the school, said in an email to students that Tizon died in his sleep. 

“His death is a tragic loss not only to his family but to the entire SOJC (School of Journalism and Communication) community,” Maier wrote.

The Eugene police said Tizon’s death was due to medical causes.

Tizon was born in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1964. After moving across the country eight times during his K-12 education, from Honolulu to New York City, Tizon finished high school in Salem before enrolling at the University of Oregon. He graduated with a degree in political science and went on to earn a master’s degree in communication from Stanford University.

Tizon had a 17-year career as a reporter for the Seattle Times, where he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his coverage of a federal housing program for Native Americans. He also worked as a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, reporting on such events as the September 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina. Tizon has also contributed to the news TV show “60 Minutes,” co-producing a segment on mail-order brides in Asia, and freelanced for Newsweek magazine. From 2009 to 2010, Tizon returned to the Philippines as a Knight International Journalism Fellow, where he started crowdsourcing for the media to keep track of the Philippine government’s efforts to alleviate poverty in its poorest regions.

In 2014, Tizon released a memoir titled, “Big Little Man: In Search of my Asian Self,” which focused on his experiences as a first-generation immigrant and observations around how Asian male masculinity is portrayed in the West. Before it was released, it won the 2011 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize Work-In-Progress Award, which is sponsored by Columbia University and Harvard’s Nieman Foundation. He was an assistant professor at the SOJC.

Tizon recently published an Atlantic article about investigations into missing persons cases in the Alaska Wilderness.

“This is a great loss for the SOJC community,” said Juan-Carlos Molleda, the Edwin L. Artzt Dean of the School of Journalism, in a statement posted on the SOJC’s website, “Alex was a gifted writer and a clear public voice. Since I announced his sudden departure, I have received so many expressions of disbelief and grief. People who make an impact on others’ lives the way he did will always be remembered. My deep condolences go out to his family.” 

The UO Counselling and Testing Center is available for grieving students. Their number is (541) 346-3227.