Peter and Patricia Frechette fund new journalism fellowship at Marquette University
Feb 13, 2013 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A Minneapolis couple has donated $8.3 million to Marquette University's College of Communication to fund a new fellowship intended to produce world-class public service journalism projects and enable students to work with some of the news industry's best journalists, the university said Wednesday.
Peter and Patricia Frechette made the gift in honor of Patricia's parents, Perry and Alicia O'Brien, who graduated from Marquette in the mid-1930s. Patricia's father, Perry, was a longtime reporter with the Janesville Gazette and WCLO-AM radio in the 1940s and '50s.
The donation is the second-largest ever made to the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication, behind only the $28 million the Diederichs gave in 2005.
The goal of the Perry and Alicia O'Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism, which involves a partnership with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is to bring journalists from all types of media to Marquette for one academic year to work on important in-depth public service journalism projects.
Marquette President Scott R. Pilarz said the Frechettes' "remarkable contribution will allow us to enhance our commitment to innovative academic excellence."
"As a Catholic and Jesuit university, Marquette has a special responsibility to contribute to solutions that solve the problems most troubling to our world today," Pilarz said. "This new fellowship in public service journalism will benefit our community and broaden our strategic partnerships."
The fellowship begins this fall. One of three fellows will be a member of the Journal Sentinel staff, and two other fellows will be chosen from applicants from media organizations around the country. Each fellow will research and produce a multimedia project to be published or broadcast by the fellow's home news organization.
Fellows, if they wish, will have access to the journalists, staff, data and other investigative resources of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Journal Sentinel.
The fellowship project will include Marquette journalism students as investigators and assistants, exposing them to firsthand experience with investigative journalism.
"This project just matched up with so much that's right," said Lori Bergen, dean of the Diederich College of Communication. "It's consistent with Marquette's mission to be in service to others. It's the perfect way to teach our own students journalism. I love to use the phrase 'teaching hospital model' because there is no better way than experiential learning. So our students will be partnered with professionals -- world-class journalists who will be here, focused on the kinds of stories that change policy, save lives."
Journal Sentinel Managing Editor George Stanley, who collaborated with Marquette in designing the fellowship, said it will result in outstanding public service journalism and great experience for students.
"It will allow experienced professional journalists to go off for nine months -- the academic year -- and work on their dream project of real in-depth or investigative journalism that serves the public," Stanley said. "At the same time, students who normally wouldn't be able to do this kind of work for years and years into their career will get to see how it's done and take part in it, and offer their abilities and skills."
Stanley added: "It's just a tremendous way for students to learn and for a professional journalist to do the type of project that in today's economy when everyone is so busy -- staffs are smaller with so much to do -- they might not have the freedom to take the time to do."
Peter Frechette, a Minneapolis-area businessman, said the couple's recent visit to Marquette helped solidify their vision for the fellowship.
"We had not been to campus in some time, and we were very impressed with the growth and quality of the learning possibilities," said Frechette, who is chairman of Patterson Companies Inc., a specialty distributor serving the dental, veterinary and rehabilitation supply markets. "This fits perfectly with our goal of honoring Pat's parents. The delivery models for journalism have changed dramatically over recent years, and this is an opportunity to take a little different approach to finding solutions. It is a wonderful opportunity for success."
Frechette said he and his wife were pleased the fellowship involves a partnership with the Journal Sentinel.
"One of the things that really intrigued us was the relationship of the school with the paper," Frechette said. "I think that's what really makes this thing potentially terrific."
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