COLUMBIA — Next year, MU’s School of Journalism will be eligible for a Willard Scott birthday greeting. But while the planning for a centennial celebration is in full swing, the planners are operating without a budget.
A golf tournament, discussion sessions, tours and dedication of the Reynolds Journalism Institute are scheduled for the three-day celebration, which will begin Sept. 10, 2008, almost 100 years from the day Walter Williams founded the world’s first journalism school.
Tentative Events for the centennial dedication celebration:— Demonstrations of new journalism technologies — Discussions of trends and issues that affect the future of journalism — Tours of the new three-building Reynolds Journalism Institute, the school and the campus — Performance of Freedom Sings, a critically acclaimed multimedia experience that invites the audience to take a fresh look at the First Amendment. It is sponsored by the Nashville-based First Amendment Center — Premiere of a new historical documentary on Walter Williams — Exhibits at the MU Museum of Art and Archaeology and the State Historical Society
While these events are slated for the celebration, no specific dates have been decided upon, nor do planners have a clear idea of what the celebration will cost. Dean Mills, dean of the school, said the school is handling the costs for the event as they arise rather than relying on a “one-size-fits-all budget.”
“The centennial and dedication will simply bring together, in one celebration, many things that we do all year long,” Mills said. “We will fund those components with the appropriate sources for speaker expenses, programming and other costs.”
The centennial of the journalism school will arrive with less hoopla than the school’s 50-year anniversary, which had a budget of $282,000, or more than $1.9 million in today’s dollars. The golden anniversary was spread out over 10 months and included a Founders Day, a National Newspaper week and advertising conferences among other events, according to budget files obtained from the University Archives. The budget in 1958 included funds for travel and expenses for the executive director, faculty and students.
“Right now we are still in the process of trying to figure out ways that we can hold costs down,” said Suzette Heiman, director of Planning and Communications at the journalism school.
Part of that plan includes asking guests and participants to pay their own expenses; charging a registration fee; asking guests to pay for celebration-related dinners; and tapping local alumni for events.
Mills said funding is accumulating from several different sources, two of which are accounts that were set up several decades ago. About $90,000 is in a fund set up for the centennial celebration by alumni.
No special fundraising efforts have been launched for the centennial celebration. However, the event could tap money raised through the school’s endowments and unrestricted funds from the school’s portion of the For All We Call Mizzou campaign, said Colin Kilpatrick, the school’s executive director of advancement.
“Even though we aren’t raising specific funds for the celebration, a lot of the funds that we have raised and continue to raise produce earnings that can be used for that celebration or any number of things,” Kilpatrick said.
The journalism school has branded its portion of For All We Call Mizzou the “100 by 100” campaign, spelling out the school’s goal of raising $100 million by the 100th anniversary. Set up in 1999, the fund is currently about $25 million short of the goal.
“We are taking advantage of the centennial as a way to create awareness about fundraising as a whole for the school,” Kilpatrick said.
For the 50th anniversary celebration, planners set aside $36,500 of the budget for fundraising; by October 1958, almost two months after festivities began, they managed to raise $214,295 of the total budget. Donors included the Kansas City Star, Ridder Publications and Times Inc, among others. The celebration took place in several different states, including New York and Texas and attracted speakers such as Harry S. Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Heiman says that next year’s celebration — which she calls a “centennial-dedication” — will focus on other resources to help honor the occasion, such as setting up a display using the Missouri State Historical Society’s “treasure trove” of political cartoons and booking alumni who are already planning to come to the celebration as speakers.
“We are looking at having round-table interactive discussions where the citizenry, the academe and the industry all weigh in and talk about the future of journalism,” Heiman said. “It’s not always a dollar and cents kind of thing. It’s that we are an MU community and family, and we all get in and share in the celebration.”
The journalism school’s endowed chairs have also been asked to create programs for the centennial celebration and fund them from their endowments. Judy Bolch, the Houston Harte Chair in Journalism, said that’s not an unusual use of endowment funds.
“Even though we have many famous alums we would love to hear from and certainly look to them to talk to us, it would be even more exciting if we had the money to hear from others who are cutting-edge journalists no matter what school they attended,” Bolch said. “We wish the school had the money for that as well.”