KINGSTON, R.I. — April 18, 2006 — University of Rhode Island junior Shaun Boutwell is a managing editor of the student newspaper, The Good 5 Cent Cigar, where he works some days until 2 a.m.
With money from summer jobs and his Cigar position, he has been able to pay for most of his University expenses and still maintain a 3.9 grade point average.
Last summer the Leominster, Mass. resident learned that some of his financial burden would be eased when he was named a recipient of the Wilbur Doctor Endowed Journalism Scholarship, which provides a $1,000 award each year to a promising journalism student.
Doctor, a resident of Kingston, is a URI professor emeritus of journalism who, from 1965 until his retirement in 1983, taught students how to assemble a news story, how to gather facts, how to get the story right, and how to get it fast.
“When (journalism) Professor Linda Levin sent me a letter last summer saying I was given this scholarship, words couldn’t really express how surprised and happy I was, knowing that some of the weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” Boutwell said before a luncheon for donors and scholarship recipients at URI President Robert L. Carothers’ house.
The first recipient in 2004, Nat Binns, a former Cigar editor-in-chief and now one-year intern at The Newport Daily News, was at the luncheon too.
“The scholarship served as a motivator for me, because it tagged me as a person who was supposed to carry on the legacy of the journalism program. It made me much more aware of all of those who came before me,” said Binns, a resident of Schuylkill Haven, Pa. “Many of the people who have been my mentors have told me stories about Wilbur Doctor. I took a lot of pride in receiving the scholarship, given the name that is attached to it.”
His daughter, Nancy Doctor, attended the luncheon for her father, who has been ill.
“It’s an honor for my father to be associated with a school for aspiring journalists,” Nancy Doctor said. “Our family congratulates Nat and Shaun, and we expect great things from them.”
Doctor honed his craft at Rhode Island newspapers, working first for The Newport Daily News and then for 16 years on the rewrite desk for The Providence Journal, where he was known for his ability to turn out crisp, colorful, and accurate copy, often from fragmented and confused accounts from reporters in the field. Doctor liked strong, muscular words, disliked puffery, and felt that the newspaper business was a calling. Even more importantly, he instilled in his students the need for integrity, honesty, and ethics. Although his gruff manner and intolerance of mediocrity left many of his students shaking, many today credit their successes in journalism to those redlined lessons learned at URI.
In the summer of 2003, about 90 alumni who had Doctor as a professor came together to pay tribute to him and to raise money for the scholarship fund.
While doing research on Doctor’s contributions to journalism, Boutwell became mildly intimidated. “So of course when sitting down to write this speech while attempting to adhere to his high standards, I thought to myself, ‘Great, no pressure at all,’” he told the luncheon audience.
He said pursuing journalism is certainly not about the money. “No, it’s something more important than that. For me it is about being heard or I guess if you want to get technical, since I’m focusing on print journalism, it’s about being read.
“What I am trying to say is that, in my opinion, to be able to inform, educate, entertain, or get some kind of emotional response from people through my writing is one of the most fulfilling gifts of all,” he added.
“Receiving the Wilbur Doctor scholarship is truly a great honor. The financial assistance this scholarship has provided me is invaluable, and I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for his or her generosity and support. Because of all of you I can continue to try and make a difference on this campus.”
JOURNALISM EXCELLENCE: Nat Binns of Schuylkill Haven, Pa., third from right, holding certificate, and Shaun Boutwell of Leominster, Mass. , far right, pause for a photo after being honored as recipients of the Wilbur Doctor Endowed Journalism Scholarship. Others joining in the ceremonies from left are: John Pantalone, URI journalism instructor; Dave Lavallee, assistant director of the URI Department of Communications; Robert L. Carothers, University president and Nancy Doctor, who attended the ceremonies on behalf of her father who was ill. URI News Bureau photo by Nora Lewis.