‘Foundation Establishes New Knight Journalism Center to be Housed in Maryland’s Journalism Building

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A multifaceted center to house some of America’s most important journalism programs and publications will be part of a new journalism building at the University of Maryland.

University and foundation officials today announced a lead gift of $3 million to establish the John S. and James L. Knight Journalism Center at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

The lead challenge grant from the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to be paid over four years, helps the Merrill College of Journalism move a step closer to a proposed new, $30 million home.

The Knight Center is expected to be a hub of journalism activity at Maryland, bringing under one roof several programs now scattered across the College Park campus. The center will house the College’s national monthly magazine, American Journalism Review, double the space for the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, and will include a state-of-the-art conference room training facility for use by working journalists. The Knight Center will also be home for the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families, the Hubert Humphrey Journalism Fellows, and the College’s Journalism Fellowships in Child and Family Policy program. It will include offices for the National Association of Black Journalists (now located in college space off campus), the American Association for Sunday and Feature Editors and Knight Chair in Journalism Haynes Johnson. The College also hopes to attract a number of other headquarters offices of national organizations representing journalists of color.

“Our faculty see this Journalism Center as the creative spark that can unlock the full potential of this place,” said Merrill College Dean Thomas Kunkel. “The Knight Journalism Center can be the engine that drives the networking, professional development and training and the improvement of journalism education here.”

“Maryland has brought together a unique consortium of journalism organizations and professionals in association with that rare breed, a college of journalism devoted entirely to journalism,” said Hodding Carter III, Knight’s president and CEO. “The point of this grant – the point of the Knight Journalism Center – is to provide a setting for synergy and cross-fertilization on the one hand and direct contact with current and future journalists on the other.”

The grant is expected to help the Merrill College and the University of Maryland raise an additional $7 million from private sources, which University officials believe will encourage the State of Maryland to move up a new journalism building on its construction priority list. The College currently operates from a building constructed in 1957, with its broadcast news program and several of its professional centers and fellowship programs scattered in nearby satellite office space.

“Maryland is one of the best journalism schools in the country, and with its new dean, Tom Kunkel, it is positioned to maintain its leadership role in the new century,” said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s Director of Journalism Initiatives. “The school has wisely used the foundation’s substantial investments in the past, earning the respect and cooperation of working journalists. This center will substantially increase the outreach of Knight’s programs.”

Since 1987, Knight Foundation grants totaling more than $8 million have helped the Merrill College gain a national reputation for academic excellence and professional outreach. Included have been a series of operating program grants totaling $6 million for support of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, which offers week-long courses on the campus for reporters and editors on the coverage of complex subjects. A $1.5 million grant established and endowed the Knight Chair in Journalism here, held by Professor Johnson. And a recent $1 million grant from Knight has been used by AJR for expanded coverage, design enhancements and general publishing expenses.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.