The Manship School of Mass Communication has received gifts from two Baton Rouge families of $2.55 million.
“Two gifts so large, coming at the same time, will transform the school,” Dean Jerry Ceppos said. “An outside team of experts just described the Manship School as being in the ranks of the country’s strongest mass-communication programs. These gifts guarantee that we will become even better.”
Charles and Carole Lamar are contributing $1.35 million to expand the Lamar Family Visiting Scholars program, which brings new voices to the school.
Dina Manship Planche, Richard Manship, Douglas Manship Jr., David Manship, Hunter Manship and Jake Manship are giving $1.2 million to complete the nation’s first endowed chair in media diversity.
“These gifts directly contribute to our signature goal of teaching and conducting research at the intersection of media and public affairs,” Ceppos said. “They also help us with our growing interest in using technology to deliver and dig out information.”
The Lamar family initially funded one visiting scholar as a way of bringing new voices to teaching and research at the school for one year at a time. The first scholar was Steve Buttry, the country’s foremost expert on journalism and social media. Buttry later became Manship’s director of Student Media. The second scholar is Paige Brown Jarreau, a post-doctoral researcher who is teaching science writing this semester.
“In a field changing as rapidly as mass communications, it’s vital to bring in experts with either current professional experience or current research,” Ceppos said.
Charles Lamar is chairman and chief executive officer of Woodlawn Investments, Inc. He is a former director of Lamar Advertising and formerly served as the company’s general counsel and secretary.
The new Lamar gift will increase the amount of the stipend for the original visiting-scholar position, which will be dedicated to a mass-communication practitioner. The new gift also will create a second visiting scholar, who will be a post-doctoral researcher and teacher. “Having two such scholars–one professional and one post-doc–working with students and faculty will greatly increase the program’s impact on the school,” Lamar said.
The gift from the Manships, whose family named the school in 1985, provides the funds to complete the Douglas Manship Sr.- Dori J. Maynard Chair in Race, Media and Cultural Literacy. “This gift brings together two great names in journalism,” Ceppos said. “It is especially important at a time when many traditional supporters of diversity in journalism are focused less than they used to be on championing diversity.”
“At a time when state funding is being cut continually, it is important that people step forward to help,” said Richard Manship, chief executive officer and president of Manship Media.
The Manship family often is called “the first family of media” in Baton Rouge.
The family owned all or part of The Advocate for 104 years until selling it in 2013. The family also owns WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge and KRGV-TV in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
Dori Maynard died at the age of 56 earlier this year. She was the president and chief executive of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, named for her father, the first African-American to own a mainstream newspaper in the United States. The New York Times described her as being “at the forefront of the campaign to make the American news media a more accurate mirror of American diversity.”
The holder of the chair will teach the school’s courses in media diversity, conduct research on coverage of racial issues and become a national leader in the movement to diversify the mass-communication professions. Before the Manship gift, the school had raised almost $600,000 toward the chair.
The school has a long history of leadership in diversity. In 2009, it received the first diversity award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Both gifts will be eligible for matching funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents, leveraging the donors’ gifts for a total impact of $4.21 million.
As part of its focus on media and public affairs, the school offers the only master’s degree in the country in political communication and the only doctorate in the country in media and public affairs. The school also has a strong interest in the technology that is changing the media professions. It recently opened the first social-media laboratory that is part of a mass-communication school.