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Reynolds Foundation Gives ASU $5.34 Million for Business Journalism

November 19, 2008

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is giving $5.34 million to make the Cronkite School a global hub of business journalism education.

With the grant, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will create the Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism, build a specialization in business and economics journalism and integrate the Reynolds Center’s work throughout the Cronkite School curriculum.

The Las Vegas-based Donald W. Reynolds Foundation also announced the creation of two other business journalism chairs—at the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Nevada, Reno. Together with a previously created business journalism chair at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., the senior professors will work with the Reynolds Center to improve media coverage of business and economic news nationally.

“The current worldwide financial crisis has shown clearly that journalists must be prepared to understand and interpret complex financial and economic issues,” said Fred W. Smith, chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. “Consequently, our trustees have committed substantial funding to ensure that resources are in place to help professional journalists, and university journalism students, gain expertise in reporting on these issues.”

“With four Reynolds Chairs in Business Journalism in place, and with the outstanding coordinating skills of the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, we envision this network of Reynolds-funded institutions providing real leadership in the effort to improve the quantity and quality of business journalism across the country. This increased flow of high-quality journalism on business topics will, we believe, be an important factor in helping citizens and public institutions make informed decisions about the tough economic challenges that confront all of us.”

Andrew Leckey, the founding director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism who is a longtime syndicated investment columnist for the Chicago Tribune and former CNBC anchor, will be appointed as the inaugural Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism at the Cronkite School. The tenured position carries the faculty rank of full professor.

ASU President Michael Crow, who has worked closely with Smith and the Reynolds Foundation, said the grant will play an important role in advancing ASU by focusing on such a critical global issue.

“At no time in our recent history has the need for good reporting and accurate news analysis of business trends and the health of the global economy been more apparent,” said Crow. “The Cronkite School has earned a national reputation for the quality of its student journalists and already has several national journalism centers. ASU is pleased to have the opportunity to be a global hub of business journalism education, and we thank the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation for these generous grants.”

The Reynolds Center, created by the foundation in 2003 and charged with inspiring improvement in the quality of business journalism nationwide, will receive $3,161,360 to continue its operations for another three years. The Center was launched at the American Press Institute in Reston, Va., and moved to the Cronkite School in 2006.

The RNCBJ, which now has received $9,261,248 in operating support from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, has reached more than 7,000 working journalists, journalism educators and university students across the country with intensive one-day workshops, weeklong residential seminars for journalism educators, and a variety of Webinars and Web-based tutorials and seminars. Its Web site, www.businessjournalism.org, is a highly popular destination for journalists and students seeking information about the latest concepts and techniques in business journalism.

A national search will start immediately for a new Reynolds Center executive director, who also will serve on the Cronkite faculty as a professor of practice.

In addition, all four Reynolds business journalism chairs will work closely with the Center. While each chair will carry out teaching, research and industry-service work on his/her own campus, each also will participate in collaborative, cross-campus initiatives that include joint research about key business journalism issues, mid-career training of media professionals and development of new curricular concepts to encourage broader business journalism course offerings on campuses across the country. The chairs’ collaborative efforts will be overseen by Leckey, the newly appointed Reynolds Chair at ASU who also will hold the new position of president of the Reynolds Center.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has played an integral role in helping the Cronkite School grow into one of the premier professional journalism programs in the country. The foundation also funds the Reynolds High School Journalism Institute, which brings 35 high school journalism advisers from around the country to ASU each summer for intensive training and education programs.

The Reynolds Center is located in the new, $71 million, state-of-the-art Cronkite building in downtown Phoenix that opened in August. The Center is adjacent to the Donald W. Reynolds Leadership Suite, which houses the offices of the school’s deans and directors and is named in honor of the foundation.

“Chairman Smith, President Steven Anderson, journalism consultant Bill Winter and the entire Donald W. Reynolds Foundation team have played a pivotal role in our rise over the past three years,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “We are enormously thankful to the foundation’s leaders for their great support of journalism education, especially in the field of business and economics journalism, which grows in importance every day.”

The Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism is the third endowed chair at the Cronkite School, joining the Knight Chair in Journalism, held by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Steve Doig, and the Frank Russell Chair in the Business of Journalism, held by former Minneapolis Star Tribune Editor Tim McGuire.

The school also is home to former CNN anchor Aaron Brown, the Walter Cronkite Professor of Journalism; digital media leader Dan Gillmor, the Kauffman Professor of Digital Media Entrepreneurship; former Sacramento Bee Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez, the Carnegie Professor of Journalism; and Senior Associate Dean Marianne Barrett, the Solheim Professor.

The Cronkite School, named in honor of the legendary CBS Evening News anchor who remains active in the school, has enjoyed unprecedented growth since Crow made it an independent college in 2005.

In three years, Cronkite has moved into its new, 223,000-square-foot building in downtown Phoenix, doubled its faculty and staff, added new programs such as the Reynolds Center, the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Cronkite News Service, Cronkite NewsWatch, the New Media Innovation Lab, ABC News on Campus and the Azcentral.com Multimedia Reporting Program.

In July, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a $7.5 million grant to Cronkite to lead the 12-university Carnegie-Knight News21 Journalism Initiative. And Cronkite students have finished first nationally in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence competition for three consecutive years.

The new grants bring to $77 million the total of grants made by the Reynolds Foundation through its journalism initiative over the past 10 years. Of that amount, nearly $18 million has been targeted directly at the business journalism initiative, which was launched in 1999 with endowment of a Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism at Washington and Lee University.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

For additional information, contact:

Steven L. Anderson, President
Donald W. Reynolds Foundation

Christopher Callahan, Dean
Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Arizona State University

Andrew Leckey, Director
Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism