Largest-ever pledged SMPA donation to fund professorship

The largest-ever single pledged gift to the School of Media and Public Affairs will fund an endowed professorship dedicated to accountability journalism, according to a University release.

Char Beales, a ’73 alumna and chair of the National Council for Media and Public Affairs, and her husband Howard Beales, the chair of the department of strategic management and public policy in the business school, pledged the $3.2 million endowed gift to SMPA through a bequest commitment from their estate.

Char Beales is the former president and CEO of of the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing and is also a member of the Board of Directors for CTAM-Europe. Last year she helped to organize the school’s Silver Anniversary, setting fundraising goals and inviting alumni to the final event.

The Char Beales Endowed Professorship of Accountability in Journalism will be dedicated to the study and teaching of accuracy, accessibility and accountability in journalism.

“As a veteran media executive, Ms. Beales recognized the importance of maintaining high standards of accuracy and accountability in journalism, which has been made more challenging by the low barriers of entry for news outlets and the openness of the internet,” the release said.

University President Steven Knapp said in the release that the values of accuracy and accountability are key components of preserving democracy.

“We are deeply grateful to Char and Howard for their commitment to George Washington and their extraordinary generosity in making this splendid gift to the School of Media and Public Affairs,” Knapp said. “Accuracy and accountability in journalism are essential to the preservation of our democracy, and this new professorship will ensure that those values are studied and taught in the heart of our nation’s capital.”

Frank Sesno, the director of SMPA, said in the release that the Beales’ donation will support future generations of students and journalists at the school.

“The Beales Professorship is a tremendous expression of Char’s deep commitment to the future of journalism, GW and the School of Media and Public Affairs,” Sesno said. “It is an investment in the country itself because holding the powerful to account is a pillar of journalism and central to our democracy.”

Char Beales said that she and her husband hope the gift will motivate others to donate to the school.

“SMPA is on a trajectory to be a top-tier media school, and more support will make that happen more quickly,” Beales said. “We want this gift to inspire others to join us in supporting the university and SMPA.”

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