MU journalism institute aims for growth, self-sufficiency

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – The $15 million in additional funding secured by the Reynolds Journalism Institute was the fruit of nearly two years of discussions with the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, said Roger Gafke, RJI director of program development.

The institute makes regular progress reports to the foundation, Gafke said, but formal discussions about an extension of funding began in late 2007.

An evaluation of RJI activities in the first five years of its existence culminated in a presentation to the foundation in May 2009 by Dean Mills, dean of the Journalism School, and Pam Johnson, RJI executive director.

The $15 million will be distributed evenly over five years, beginning July 1, 2010, and will support staff salaries and program costs, foundation president Steve Anderson said Friday.

The new funding, announced formally on Tuesday, will replenish the original $31 million gift from the foundation that established RJI in 2004. The initial gift provided funding of staff and program costs for six years.

Had funding not been renewed, the institute would have continued operations, albeit on a smaller scale, Johnson said. "We would have to ratchet down."

Johnson identified an expansion of corporate partners as one of the major goals for RJI. To date, RJI has worked with Apple, Adobe and AT&T, among others, according to the MU News Bureau. Such partnerships allow opportunities for student participation, Mills said, but are also a source of revenue.

"We're going to be doing our darnedest to bring in projects that help with the bottom line, " Mills said. He said self-sufficiency is "certainly one of the things that we're aiming for."

Still, RJI leaders hope for future support from the Reynolds Foundation. "Our hope is that at some-point they would consider additional funding," Mills said.

If RJI programming continues to grow, Gafke thinks that future support will be available.

“There’s always the expectation that if we’re doing good work, other people will join us,” he said.

At the morning announcement in Reynolds Journalism Institute, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said the new money makes the Reynolds Foundation MU's largest contributor, with $60 million in donations since 1987.


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