LaConto won NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award during his final semester on the faculty. Students considered him not only an aspirational teacher and mentor but a friend.
“Professor LaConto has built the broadcast news program from scratch, and he has been a one-man band all these years. He never quits fine-tuning the operation,” former Department of Journalism Chair Don Brod wrote in support of LaConto’s nomination.
“In his final year before retirement, he is teaching 15 semester hours,” Brod’s letter continued, “simply because the courses need to be offered. He is hardly easing out gently. But, then, Bob LaConto does everything full-tilt. There is no other way.”
One year earlier, LaConto earned the highest student evaluation in his department. At the same time, the TV-8 newscasts he supervised were honored as the state’s best college productions by the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.
Born June 4, 1924, in Toledo, Ohio, LaConto held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Toledo. He later earned a master’s degree from Ohio University and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.
His career began in his hometown at WTOL, where he worked as a scriptwriter and director of special effects. He came to NIU from the University of Wyoming, where he was an instructor of journalism and yearbook adviser.