COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has made a $4.4 million, multi-part grant to the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, University President C.D. Mote Jr. announced today. In recognition of this latest gift, and the university’s strong historical support from the foundation, the planned new journalism building for the Merrill College will be named John S. and James L. Knight Hall.
The new facility, with a scheduled construction start of early 2008, will carry the names of the Akron, Ohio, brothers who founded Knight Newspapers (forerunner of Knight-Ridder) and later the Miami-based Knight Foundation. Of the gift announced today, $2 million will be added to an earlier $3 million building fund campaign gift from the foundation, creating The Knight Institute for the Future of Journalism and naming the building. The remaining $2.4 million of the grant announced today will support operations of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, two professional development programs of the Merrill College.
“This is a great day for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the University of Maryland,” Mote said. “The Knight Foundation – going back to 1988 – has been one of the strongest supporters of the College of Journalism. The new Knight Hall and the Knight Institute within it will create even more opportunities for partnerships to improve journalism education and training nationwide. The Knight Foundation truly looks to the future, and the University of Maryland is delighted to be walking that path with them.”
Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation, said the foundation’s board was pleased to be joining forces with the college. “The University of Maryland has been a leader in journalism education,” Ibargüen said. “With the Knight Institute for the Future of Journalism and the state-of-the-art Knight Hall, we’re helping Maryland take a journalism program that has been a 20th century example of quality and turn it into a 21st century example of innovation.”
The Knight Institute for the Future of Journalism will work with Maryland’s Knight-funded programs to help ensure that as journalism evolves, in all its many forms, it does so while retaining the important professional values and watchdog principles essential to a democratic society.
The Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, which received $1 million today, was established at the College with a grant from Knight Foundation in 1988 and offers a series of seminars and courses annually to improve professional journalists’ knowledge of complex subjects. Today’s $1.4 million in new funding for the College’s affiliated J-Lab will launch the Knight Citizen News Network, a self-help training portal for citizen journalists; begin a second phase of a nationwide New Voices community news program; and expand the institute’s annual Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism to include an award for citizen journalism.
“This announcement formalizes a productive partnership that goes back two decades, and I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Merrill College of Journalism Dean Thomas Kunkel. “This school stands for the same values that the Knight Foundation does. The Knight name is the gold standard in our field, and we will work hard every day to live up to it.”
Knight Foundation has been one of the Merrill College’s strongest supporters. With today’s gift, the foundation will have committed more than $21 million to the University of Maryland over the last two decades. In addition to ongoing program support for the Knight Center and J-Lab, earlier Knight grants to Maryland created the Knight Chair in Journalism, currently held by Pulitzer Prize-winner Haynes Johnson, and provided funds to support the College’s national magazine, American Journalism Review.
The Merrill College, named after a $10 million gift by the late Annapolis publisher Philip Merrill, offers undergraduate, master and Ph.D. degrees in journalism. It operates several professional development programs, including the Knight Center, J-Lab, the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families and the Hubert H. Humphrey Journalism Fellows Program, and is home to the National Association of Black Journalists and the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. The College operates Capital News Service, a daily news wire staffed by students at bureaus in Annapolis and Washington, D.C., that provides hundreds of news stories each year to newspapers across the region. The school also runs UMTV, the university’s cable TV station that reaches more than 500,000 households in suburban Washington.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence world\wide and invests in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since its creation in 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $300 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. For more on Knight’s work, visit www.knightfdn.org.