Journalism just got $1.4 million richer.
At a special ceremony held last week inside the television studio in the Professional Studies building, the Journalism and Public Communications (JPC) department accepted a check on behalf of the Atwood Foundation. The money will go to permanently fund the Atwood Chair of Journalism.
Robert Atwood, the former Publisher of the Anchorage Times (now the Anchorage Daily News) founded the chair with his wife, Evangeline Atwood, in 1979. Their goal was to bring nationally recognized journalists up to UAA as distinguished visiting professors.
“Atwood funded position for annual basis for the last 30 years, but now it’s permanent. It’ll be here at the university forever,” Ivy Spohnholz, a senior development officer at University Advancement, said.
Past chairs have included British journalist Julius Strauss, who taught war reporting, having gained experience in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
The most recent chairs were Scott Jensen and Patrick Yack.
Freshman journalism student Nicole Aden had both professors.
“Both classes were not so bad with busy work. The things we did do I feel like they aided me in the real world, versus some classes that are cut and dry—you have to turn this in—those classes that aren’t always enjoyable,” Aden said.
The Atwood Chair of Journalism is one of UAA’s four endowed chair. Spohnholz explained why it is unique:
“(The chair) guarantees another full time faculty position, but in this case, it also brings in professional journalists who can give students very practical advice, having spent less time in academia,” Spohnholz said.
Present at the ceremony were Chancellor Tom Case, Rasmuson Foundation Chairman Edward Rasmuson who presented the check and other distinguished foundation members, alumni, faculty, staff and students.
JPC alumni and Channel 2 KTUU employers Todd Walker and Abby Hancock were on hand to anchor the event, highlighting the history of the Atwood Chairs throughout its 32 year history.
UAA has pledged to raise and additional $100,000 over the next decade to bring the overall donation up to $1.5 million.
Chancellor Case wrapped up the ceremony by highlighting the importance of journalism and even writing a personal check to set the tone for university fundraising for the cause.