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Arizona State University is creating an endowed professorship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in honor of Sue Clark-Johnson, the newspaper executive, journalism pioneer and ASU professor who died two years ago this month.
The Sue Clark-Johnson Media Innovation and Leadership Professorship will drive innovations within Cronkite News, the student-produced, faculty-supervised news division of Arizona PBS, and create new, multidisciplinary collaborations with other ASU colleges and external partners. Clark-Johnson was the former president of the Gannett Newspaper Division and former publisher of The Arizona Republic.
“Sue Clark-Johnson was a pioneer and one of the leading thinkers in news media who embraced bold innovation,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This endowed professorship will carry on Sue’s values and vision and preserve her extraordinary legacy.”
Louis A. “Chip” Weil, former Arizona Republic publisher and a close friend of Clark-Johnson, is leading the fundraising efforts. The Clark-Johnson Professorship already has received significant funding from her husband, Brooks Johnson, and friends as well as APS, where she served as a board member. The Cronkite School is working to complete the endowment and appoint a faculty member to the new professorship this fall.
“Sue was passionate about the news business. She believed providing people the information to make informed choices could bring about real, positive change,” Johnson said. “Technology has altered the way news is delivered, but the need for factual, dispassionate reporting remains unchanged. I hope this professorship will help find new ways to keep traditional journalism alive.”
Clark-Johnson served as a professor of practice at the Cronkite School from 2010 until her death in January 2015. She was a driving force behind the creation of the school’s New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, which brings students from across the university to the Cronkite School to develop cutting-edge digital products for media and other companies. She also pioneered the school’s partnership with Chyron Corp., an innovative digital broadcast graphics products and services company, to bring a new graphics management system to the school.
Clark-Johnson also was the director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU, where she created the State of Our State Conference, which has become an annual signature event featuring reports, panels and interactive discussions on Arizona’s key challenges and opportunities.
Clark-Johnson joined Morrison in May 2009 after retiring as president of the Gannett Newspaper Division a year earlier. She worked for 41 years in a variety of news and executive leadership roles with the company, which owns about 85 daily U.S. newspapers, including serving as publisher of The Arizona Republic for five years.
Clark-Johnson previously served as senior group president of Gannett's Pacific Newspaper Group with oversight responsibility for 32 companies throughout the West, including Hawaii and Guam.
Her newspaper career included leadership positions at Gannett newspapers in Niagara Falls and Binghamton, N.Y., as well as in Reno, Nevada. She also served a term as chair of the Newspaper Association of America.
The Sue Clark-Johnson Media Innovation and Leadership Professor will join the Cronkite School’s five other endowed chairs and professorships: the Knight Chair in Journalism, occupied by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Doig; the Weil Family Professor of Journalism, held by former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr.; the Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism, held by business journalism leader Andrew Leckey; the Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Visiting Professor in Business Journalism, held by former CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz; and the Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism, occupied by former Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor-in-chief and Cox Media Group Ohio executive Julia Wallace.