The text and headline of this story have been modified from their original versions to clarify that the future of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication is uncertain at this time, and therefore the allocations of donations to the school will not necessarily change.
Last updated September 22 at 11:18 a.m.
As the School of Journalism and Mass Communication prepares for possible reconstruction, the university’s fundraising partner, the CU Foundation, is making arrangements with the university’s donors in the journalism area.
Despite an unclear future for the J-School, Jeremy Simon, senior manager for communication and media relations for the CU Foundation, said representatives have been speaking to donors on an individual basis to find a place for the donations to possibly go elsewhere within the university.
“Donors have been quite positive and supportive of the transition and the decision,” Simon said. “We work with them to find a home for their gift that best meets their desire.”
He said the CU Foundation foresees this process bringing new opportunities and a “home” for all of CU’s donors.
Current donor and member of the CU Foundation Linda Shoemaker, a 1969 graduate of CU, said she is concerned about the possible closing of the J-School, but she supports it if it leads to a more vibrant journalism program.
“I’m excited about the potentials with ATLAS but wish the name ‘journalism’ was in the title of the proposed new ‘information’ school,” Shoemaker said.
According to the SJMC website’s FAQs page, the 2009 efforts to create a College of Information (merging the J-School and ATLAS) did not originally include recommendations regarding the SJMC. Recent plans for the J-School will finish that incomplete work.
Although interactions between donors and the school have been encouraging, Simon said it is still unclear what the results will be and where the donations will end up, should their allocations need to change.
“We don’t know what the future is going to be, and there are several months in which we are going to be waiting to see what the journalism programs are going to become,” he said.
Shoemaker said she plans to continue donating to Dean Paul Voakes’ unrestricted account at the J-School, possibly increasing the amount as long as there is still an active journalism program.
“There are some very exciting things happening at the J-School right now such as the Test Kitchen and the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network,” she said. “I don’t want to see those things lost.”
Similarly, CU graduate, current donor and Vice Chair of the Journalism Advisory Board John Leach said he will continue to make donations to the university, specifically for journalism students, wherever there is a place for his gift.
“Students are my top priority,” Leach said. “It matters to me less whether journalism is in one school or another, as long as journalism continues to be a major at CU and students continue to need financial aid in getting their college educations. I doubt that either of those things is changing at CU, so I don’t see my scholarships or my financial support changing.”
Leach is a co-founder of the Leach Family Scholarship, which donates money to both journalism and business students at CU. He also created the John F. Leach Scholarship, beginning in the next few years, to be presented annually to CU journalism majors.
Like Shoemaker, Leach spoke positively of the potential modifications in the works for journalism programs at CU.
“I favor journalism becoming part of a new, interdisciplinary program in information and communication technology because I believe that would benefit students preparing for careers in a digital world,” he said.
Because the futures of the students are his main concern, Leach said his primary goal is to continue to assist journalism majors in whatever way possible through his scholarship donations. He said he is confident CU will make changes to complement his desires.
“In many ways, it comes down to trust — and I trust Chancellor DiStefano to do what’s right for CU and what’s right for the students who want to pursue careers in journalism,” he said.
There are, however, some further complications when addressing the potential re-allocation of donations from donors who are deceased. According to the SJMC website, the Hemingway Scholarship awards $10,000 to seven juniors and seniors in the journalism program each year.
Because donor William S. Hemingway is deceased, the CU Foundation will deal with the donation’s whereabouts similarly to that of other such cases, should the allocation need to change.
If adjustments are made to the program, Simon said, adjustments must also be made to match gifts to areas that best fit with their donors’ original intent.
Ultimately, the deceased donors’ previously signed and privately referenced documents determine the path of the donation, he said.
“We tend to have a document that says what the donor wants to see happen, certainly in terms of scholarships,” he said. “We’ve got all kinds of students, and scholarships are just as big in need as they have been.”
The confusion with the changes in the mass media industry and what the future holds for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at CU may be constantly shifting, but Simon said he is confident the long-term outcome of the fundraising aspect is promising.
“My expectation is this is a great opportunity to remake journalism for the 21st century,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for students that hasn’t been available.”