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Alum relishes campus visit, Journalism School centennial

Saturday, September 13, 2008 | 10:17 a.m. CDT; updated 10:37 a.m. CST, Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Bob Van Leer, a 1951 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, traveled from Oregon to attend this week's Centennial and Dedication ceremonies. Van Leer, 81, published and edited the Curry County Reporter in Gold Beach, Ore., with his late wife, Betty, for 41 years.

COLUMBIA — By now, the oodles of yellow name tags that speckled MU's campus this past week have undoubtedly found their way into the bottom of desk drawers and scrapbooks around the world. Yes, the MU School of Journalism's centennial celebration has come and gone.

Bob Van Leer, a 1951 Journalism School graduate, said he knew before he came to the centennial that a class of '51 reunion would be unlikely. "Our age is too advanced for that, you see," Van Leer, 81, said. He instead traveled to Missouri from Oregon to attend futures forums and technology summits to gather industry information for his daughters, who work at the Oregonian and McMinnville News Register newspapers in Oregon.

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Van Leer was among the more than 1,800 alumni, students, faculty, journalism leaders and others pre-registered for the centennial Wednesday through Friday. Sandi Strother at the centennial check-in desk said that so many people registered on-site that an official attendance report won't be ready for a few days; however, she estimated attendance at 2,500 to 3,000.

The celebration featured 33 forums on the future of journalism, 27 technology summits, art exhibits, alumni reunions, a golf classic, social mixers, dedication of the school's Reynolds Journalism Institute and opening and closing ceremonies. A theme song, "Coming Back Again"; a poem, "The Lead Honorarium"; and an orchestral piece, "Telling the Story: Fair and True," were written in honor of the event.

Mayor Darwin Hindman, 1956 alumnus Jim Lehrer and U.S. Sen. Kit Bond offered birthday wishes to the Journalism School at the closing ceremony Friday. Also during the ceremony, Dean Mills, dean of the Journalism School, shared his observations.

"I must say that to me, the great thing about the events of yesterday and today is that, in times of some despair on the part of some people about the future of journalism, I saw little but hope and excitement and can't-wait attitudes to get to the future," he said.

From the events Van Leer attended, he said he'll relay to his daughters that newspapers are placing more emphasis than ever on online content. Although his mission was information-gathering, he said he most enjoyed "visiting around" campus with people who share his passion for journalism. Van Leer has returned to Columbia now and again over the years, most recently in 1999, and said he was happy to once again immerse himself in the school that gave him a solid foundation for his journalism career - a foundation he said he couldn't have obtained everywhere else.

Van Leer came to the Journalism School from St. Louis, his hometown, in 1950 to get a degree in advertising. With the aid of an alphabetical seating chart, he sat behind and met classmate Betty Templeman in their History and Principles of Journalism course.

"She had to come to Neff Hall from white campus, so she was always late to class," Van Leer recalled. "I helped her take her coat off every day, and things took off from there."

The two married and spent 41 years publishing and editing the Curry County Reporter, a weekly newspaper, in Gold Beach, Ore. Theirs was the first small-market newspaper in Oregon to utilize four-color printing, Van Leer said, and he was known around the state to always be up on the industry's latest technology and other innovations.

"The school didn't let us completely specialize our journalism studies to just advertising," Van Leer said. "I found out how important that is, that you've got to keep your hand in everywhere.

Bob and Betty Van Leer were married for 55 years and worked at other small newspapers before taking over at the Curry County Reporter. Betty, who got her bachelor's degree in journalism in 1952, died this year.

An encore presentation of the centennial's theme song ushered the event to a close as students, alumni and others reflected one last time on their time at MU, the past three days and the past 100 years.

"It reminded me of how much time has gone by since then," Van Leer said. "And that what I learned here in two years would have taken me 20 years to learn on the job.

 

COLUMBIA - By now, the oodles of yellow name tags that speckled MU's campus this past week have undoubtedly found their way into bottom desk drawers and scrapbooks around the world. Yes, the Missouri School of Journalism's centennial celebration has come and gone.

Bob Van Leer, a 1951 Journalism School graduate, said he knew before he came to the centennial that a class of ‘51 reunion would be unlikely. "Our age is too advanced for that, you see," Van Leer, 81, said. He instead traveled to Missouri from Oregon to attend futures forums and technology summits, gathering industry information for his daughters who work at the Oregonian and McMinnville News Register newspapers in Oregon.

Van Leer was among the more than 1,800 alumni, students, faculty, journalism leaders and others pre-registered for the centennial last Wednesday through Friday. Sandi Strother at the centennial check-in desk said that so many people registered on sight that an official attendance report won't be ready for a few days; however, she estimated attendance at 2,500 to 3,000.

The celebration included 33 forums on the future of journalism, 27 technology summits, art exhibits, alumni reunions, a golf classic, social mixers, dedication of the school's Reynolds Journalism Institute and opening and closing ceremonies. A theme song, "Coming Back Again," a poem, "The Lead Honorarium," and an orchestral piece, "Telling the Story: Fair and True," were written in honor of the event.

Mayor Darwin Hindman, 1956 alumnus Jim Lehrer and U.S. Sen. Kit Bond offered birthday wishes to the Journalism School at the closing ceremony Friday. Also during the ceremony, Dean Mills, dean of the Journalism School, told of his observations during the centennial.

"I must say that to me the great thing about the events of yesterday and today is that, in times of some despair on the part of some people about the future of journalism, I saw little but hope and excitement and can't-wait attitudes to get to the future."

From the events Van Leer attended, he said he'll relay to his daughters that newspapers are placing more emphasis than ever on online content; and although his mission was information-gathering, he said he most enjoyed "visiting around" campus with people who share his passion for journalism. Van Leer has returned to Columbia now and again over the years, most recently in 1999. and he was happy to once again immerse himself in the school that gave him a solid foundation for his journalism career - a foundation he said he couldn't have obtained everywhere else.

Van Leer came to the Journalism School from St. Louis, his hometown, in 1950 to get a degree in advertising. With the aid of an alphabetical seating chart, he sat behind and met classmate Betty Templeman in their History and Principles of Journalism course.

"She had to come to Neff Hall from white campus, so she was always late to class," Van Leer recalled. "I helped her take her coat off every day, and things took off from there."

The two married and spent 41 years publishing and editing the Curry County Reporter, a weekly newspaper, in Gold Beach, Ore. Theirs was the first small-market newspaper in Oregon to utilize four-color printing, Van Leer said, and he was known around the state to always be up on the industry's latest technology and other innovations.

"The school didn't let us completely specialize our journalism studies to just advertising. I found out how important that is, that you've got to keep your hand in everywhere," Van Leer said.

Bob and Betty Van Leer were married for 55 years and worked at other small newspapers before taking over at the Curry County Reporter. Betty, who got her bachelor's degree in journalism in 1952, died this year.

An encore presentation of the centennial's theme song ushered the event to a close as students, alumni and others reflected one last time on their time at MU, the past three days and past 100 years.

"It reminded me of how much time has gone by since then. And that what I learned here in two years would have taken me 20 years to learn on the job," Van Leer said.


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Comments

SK Hughes April 7, 2009 | 3:06 p.m.

My Boss and Friend Bob VanLeer passed away earlier this year, and while it was sad to see him pass, it made me thankful to have spent some time with the man.
His tales of life and his travels will be something I will remember for a long time to come.
As a boss he was direct and expected a job well done. He was willing to give correction, but always the first to give praise for a well completed task.
I have spent many an hour reading his website that chronicles his travels with his late wife Betty.
www.bobvanleer.com

I, as well as many many others miss him.
Shannon Hughes
Gold Beach, Oregon

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