URI journalism donors, class size grow, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour among donors

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KINGSTON, R.I. –May 9, 2007– Journalism is hot at the University of Rhode Island. Here’s the proof: Five years ago there were 120 students majoring in the Fourth Estate. Today that number has doubled to 240.

The rate of donations to URI’s Making A Difference Campaign for the Journalism Department is also sizzling. One donor, recognizable around the world, is CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, URI class of 1983, HON ’95. She recently donated $50,000 to fund an endowed annual speaker series, that will help the University bring well-respected professional journalists to campus.

“URI changed my life forever and it has a deep, deep, deep place in my heart,” the famous journalist told a gathering designed to build support for the journalism program this spring.

URI is the only Rhode Island institution to offer a journalism degree. In addition, the University serves as headquarters for The Rhode Island Press Association, which partners annually with the Journalism Department, to induct distinguished broadcasters, editors, and reporters into the Journalism Hall of Fame. In addition, the department and the press association annually co-host a “Journalism Day,” that focuses on relevant topics confronted daily by members of the media.

To support URI’s Journalism Department, the press association donated $3,000 to establish three funds in 2005: The URI Journalism Student Scholarship, The URI Journalism Speaker Series, and The URI Journalism Visiting Lecturer fund, which helps support adjunct professors who teach a variety of specialty courses, in areas such as sports or business reporting or photojournalism.

“URI is the training ground for so many of the interns and employees at publications around the state, so we felt it was important for the press association to support the Journalism Department not just morally, but financially,” explains Sheila Mullowney, president of the Rhode Island Press Association and executive editor of The Newport Daily News and Newport Life Magazine.

“With the increased number of students comes an increased number of students who need financial help. Fortunately, while the numbers of students has swelled, so has the number of donors,” says Linda Lotridge Levin, chair and professor of URI’s Journalism Department.

Levin doesn’t just talk the talk. In addition to matching the press association’s gift, she and her husband Len donated $25,000 to establish a need-based scholarship for journalism students. “I want to give back to the University,” Levin explains. “Perhaps our donation will encourage others to give.”

It has. “The Levins’ gift has made it easier for me to rally others,” says John Howell, the fundraising chair of the URI journalism funds, established by press association, which hopes to raise $125,000 in five years to fully fund the endowments. As president and publisher of Beacon Communications, Howell pledged $10,000. Beacon Communications publishes The Warwick Beacon, Cranston Herald, Johnston Sun Rise, and Prime Time. “ I believe in this field. We need journalists who are able to put a story into context and research accurately. I tell publishers if the Levins and Christiane Amanpour believe in the University, you should too! Donating is catchy and it helps elevate the University’s visibility.”

Howell’s encouragement has worked. The Edward A. Sherman Publishing Co., publishers of The Newport Daily News, Mercury and Newport Life Magazine pledged $5,000 to the journalism funds. So did Matt Hayes of the East Bay Newspapers, which are The Barrington Times, The Bristol Phoenix, The East Providence Post, NTW (Newport), Sakonnet Times, Seekonk Star, Swansea News, Westport Shorelines, and The Warren Times.

The Rhode Island Broadcaster’s Association also donated $5,000 to the URI Journalism Scholarship Fund. “Rhode Island’s radio and television stations have benefited from the talent of many URI graduates throughout the years,” says Barbara Haynes, current president of the association and general manager of Citadel Broadcasting in Providence. “It’s very appropriate that we direct some of our scholarship funds to URI students pursuing journalism.”

Mary Lyons MA ’66, Ph.D. ’81 recently added to the Bill Parillo Memorial Journalism Scholarship, an endowment created in memory of her late husband, a URI 1963 graduate and a well-respected sports reporter for The Providence Journal.

The University’s Making a Difference Campaign, which will be publicly launched in fall 2007, seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives.

Pictured above

CNN International Correspondent Christine Amanpour,

Photo courtesy of CNN

Linda Lotridge Levin, professor and chair of URI Journalism Department, John Howell, president and publisher of Beacon Communications, and Sheila Mullowney, president of the Rhode Island Press Association and executive editor of The Newport Daily News and Newport Life Magazine at the annual President Robert Carothers Media Breakfast. Photo by Nora Lewis