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“A Bright Start for the Second Century”: The Dedication of the Reynolds Journalism Institute

Posted by Cassandra Kamp on September 12, 2008

If you’ve happened to traipse by Francis Quadrangle on the University of Missouri campus anytime in the past five years, you may have noticed a hulking monster of a construction site consuming the northern half of the quad. But recently, the mess has disappeared! No more chain-link fences! Not a single “Pardon our Progress” placard! Construction is complete, and we are left with the newest addition to Mizzou’s campus: The Reynolds Journalism Institute. And, if you were lucky enough to wander in from Ninth Street at around 4:00 p.m. today, you would have witnessed a milestone in the University’s history: the dedication of this new landmark.

As soon as you enter, the entire building is humming. A jazz ensemble cooly plays in a corner. Students, faculty, and alumni fill the entire floor, making navigation almost impossible without a few “Excuse me”s. If you need a moment to sit down, upstairs is silent in comparison and offers a variety of modern chairs (if you can call them chairs) to rest in. Back downstairs and down the hall, in the Frank Lee Martin Memorial Library, a handful of dedicated students study, seemingly oblivious to the major event occuring just twenty yards away.

Not too long after 4:00, a procession of Journalism and University big-wigs file out of the library. Among them: J-school Associate Dean Brian Brooks, University Chancellor Brady Deaton, RJI Executive Director Pam Johnson, and a host of others. Dean Mills, the Dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, steps up to the podium, while student volunteers hoist “Quiet, Please” signs a la the PGA. Mills begins the ceremony with a few words, and hands the podium over to the speakers at the ceremony.

The speakers, in order, were: Lauren Zima, President of the Missouri Scholars Association; Pam Johnson, Executive Director of the Reynolds Journalism Institute; Brady Deaton, Chancellor of the University of Missouri; Gary Forsee, President of the University of Missouri System; Cheryl Walker, Chair of the Board of Directors; Darwin Hindman, Mayor of Columbia; Matt Blunt, Governor of Missouri; and Fred Smith, Chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Immediately following the speeches, each with its share of thoughtful insight and appropriate humor, Governor Blunt and Fred Smith ceremonially unveiled the bust of Donald W. Reynolds that sits inside the main lobby of the RJI. Afterwards, in true Missouri fashion, Tiger Stripe ice cream was served, and the crowd slowly disseminated into the Columbia evening.

The overall message that left with the audience seemed to be the words of Chancellor Brady Deaton: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Indeed, the Reynolds Journalism Institute is a huge gift to the University of Missouri, and when combined with the dedicated faculty and bright students of Mizzou, it is certain ti improve the overall quality of journalism as a profession.

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