Parents of an alumna have donated $500,000 to the School of Media and Public Affairs to endow two recurring fellowships, which bring high-profile working journalists to classrooms every year.
Bruce and Cindy Terker, whose daughter Jennifer graduated from SMPA last year, said they chose to make the donation after Director Frank Sesno pointed to the distinguished fellows program as one of the neediest within the school.
The program brings in major figures from the worlds of political communication and journalism to guest lecture and headline events at the school. This year, those spots have gone to former National Public Radio religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty and former deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto.
The Terkers have funded the fellows on a year-to-year basis since their daughter began attending the school in 2010, but chose to make a larger donation this year to solidify the program and the practical experience that the guest lecturers bring as a permanent part of the curriculum.
Without the gift, the program was in danger of coming to an end, SMPA associate director Kim Gross said.
Bruce Terker said he wanted to give to SMPA students in a way that could help them even after they graduated, citing the hands-on experience his daughter gained at the school that helped her secure her current job at CBS News.
“The ability for the students to get some real world experience and gain interactions with the people who are actually making the news of politics – that is an invaluable opportunity for them,” he said.
Hagerty, who is in the process of writing a book, said before she was asked to become a fellow, she attended a dinner with Sesno and several SMPA students to see how she would connect with them.
“I love seeing people at the beginning of their careers,” she said. “I want to get coffee with students, talk about stories and help navigate careers.”
Previous fellows include CBS News’ chief White House correspondent Major Garrett, former U.S. Senator Robert Bennett and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley.
Crowley continued working at GW after his fellowship ended. For the past four years, he said the University’s location has allowed him to combine his personal experience with what he teaches in the classroom.
“You are able to take what might be in the textbook and bring it to life,” Crowley said. “You are able to draw from a body of knowledge and relate to students.”
This article appeared in the September 2, 2014 issue of the Hatchet.