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Posts Tagged ‘Dean Mills’

An Emotional Ending to an Exciting Event

Posted by Bill Prosecky on September 14, 2008

The closing ceremonies of the past week’s Centennial celebration were nothing short of another knockout for the Journalism school. Dean Mills of the Journalism school was the first speaker of the night. Mills, like much of the audience, seemed to still be in awe of the grandeur and excitement that had taken place over the previous three days. He expressed his sincere thanks not only to the students of the J-school and the alumni who had returned, but also to Suzette Heiman and Ashlee Erwin, the two ladies, who, as Mills stated, were the real people behind this entire celebration.

Following his speech, Mills introduced the first segment of the evening, a video presentation of “Telling the Story, Fair and True”, with musical accompaniment provided by the MU Department of Music. The video featured famous historic images of the past one hundred years, including those of President Truman holding up the newspaper reading “Dewey Defeats Truman”, of Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech, of an airplane in flight about to crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and, in perhaps one of the most striking images of the entire ceremony, split-screen images of soldiers lifting the flag at Iwo Jima and of firefighters lifting the flag at Ground Zero on 9/11. Dean Mills summed up the presentation by calling it an “extraordinary convergence piece.”

The second presentation of the night was a reading by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko of a poem that he commissioned specifically for this occasion, entitled “The Lead Honorarium”. Yevtushenko not only read the poem, he performed it, displaying moods of anger, sadness, and disbelief, as he conveyed the stories of several Russian journalists who had been murdered, many of whom were close friends of Yevtushenko. His performance was nothing short of powerful, as his voice boomed throughout the arena and into the hearts of the audience members. Dean Mills, afterward, stated that maybe if poetry was performed that way in America, then maybe we would all be a little more interested in poetry in this country.

The final presentation of the night was an encore showing of a video entitled “Coming Home Again”, which had also been shown during the opening ceremonies on Wednesday night. The video showed images and videos of the MU campus and of famous MU alumni. Dean Mills wrapped up the presentation with a tongue-in-cheek comment that he wishes to see us all back here in the next 100 years.

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Coming Home Again

Posted by Kiki Schmitz on September 14, 2008

Journalists, it’s been said, are pretty good at thinking on their feet. If an interview goes sour, a good journalist can lighten the mood and put the subject back at ease. If a headline won’t fit, a good journalist can replace the lengthy line and still set their story apart. If a centennial closing ceremony performance is accidentally interrupted mid-song, well, a good journalist can cover for that too.

Dean Mills is a good journalist.

Still fresh from belting out the National Anthem, and mouths open to begin the Alma Mater, four members of the University of Missouri’s Mizzou Forte a cappella group were cut short, as the announcer introduced Mills before they could sing a note. As the audience, realizing the error, began to boo, the announcer, identified only as “Rod,” said eloquently, “Oh!” (Editor note: He was referring to Rod Gelatt)

Shuffling back to center stage, the quartet sang and the crowd cheered. Mills, taking the stage for the second time in two minutes, quipped “we were just trying to build demand for that wonderful singing group.”

Mills went on to recap the centennial celebration, covering discussion forums and international guests, flying in from France, Denmark, China and elsewhere to make the event. He extended thanks to the alumni, current faculty, and students for their efforts.

“We promised a good time, “ said Mills “and I hope we delivered. I have heard a few complaints about the sessions though—apparently, they were all so good, people couldn’t figure out which one to go to.”

And while the attendees had a hard time picking and choosing, there were still those that couldn’t make the event at all. Alumni Jim Lehrer of PBS sent a video message apologizing for his absence and expressing his “congratulations to the school and all [his] fellow alumni.”

Even the locals came out to show their J-School pride, with Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman addressing the crowd and joking that the city tries “to provide enough fodder to keep the journalists happy.” Hindman welcomed back alumni to what he called their student hometown. “I hope you like what you see.”

Mills returned to honor Suzette Heiman and Ashlee Erwin, who started planning for the centennial over three years ago.

“It was a real honor and a privilege, “ said Heiman, “to be able to do this. Thank you.”

From here, the focus shifted to the Telling the Story, Fair and True program, performed by faculty and students from the University of Missouri School of Music, under Conductor Edward Dolbashian. The orchestra played as more than 200 photos from the Pictures of the Year International competition appeared on screen. In the background, student narrators read from Walter William’s “The Journalist’s Creed.”

Pictures flashed by, images of Mother Theresa and Muhammed Ali flanked by penguins and polar bears and nuns having fun. There were pictures from womb until tomb, little league victories and cheerleaders crying, Albert Einstein with his tongue out, and a baby with spaghetti on his head. The final pictures, a juxtaposition of the famous Iwo Jima flag raising and a similar shot taken at ground zero following 9/11, lingered on screen, as the orchestra rose to an ending.

As the violinists took their bows, Mills returned to introduce poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Yevtushenko penned a tribute to Russian journalists killed in recent years, victimized for reporting the truth.

He spoke passionately, apologizing for his “inevitable Siberian accent,” and began his poem first in Russian, than ending in English. Yevtushenko’s reading grew more and more emotional, as the audience stilled and the orchestra sat silently behind him. His intensity increased, until he was nearly shouting the word “shameful,” used to describe mafia killings. His words still echoing, he finished, nodded slightly, and extended a “thank you,” before leaving the microphone. The crowd rose in standing ovation

As the evening drew to a close, Mills addressed the audience one final time. No need for a quick witted response, Mills opted for a simple, fitting send off.

“We assume you’ll all be back in a 100 years. Thank you very much.”

And with that, a centennial themed slideshow began to play. The background track, written by alumni Jenn Schott and Jack Smith, brought back memories of high school graduations. As the lights went up and the crowed filed out, the lyrics seemed fitting.

“This is where it started, where it all began. Writing my first story, dreaming of the glory out there, somewhere, waiting for me. This is where I come from, this is who I am.”

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RJI Dedication

Posted by amseibel8 on September 13, 2008

So walking to RJI, I’ll admit, I was confused. I had never seen this building before, where is it? What is exactly is this dedication about? Maybe it was my lingering fatigue from my two-day migrane I had that caused my confusion, but as I was walking, suddenly…Oh, yeah, that must be it…

Hundreds of people trickling in and out of the building, the futuristic, amazing architecture of the building in front of me, yeah this was probably it. I noticed the sign outside of it, Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Wow, okay so this is where I’m going to be studying journalism for the next for years? Not bad.

So what is this dedication going to be like? I had no idea. To be honest, it really just clicked in my head that this is the opening of this institute. Again, the fatigue taking over. So anyways, who are all of these people here? Looking around, I notice a lot of students, a lot of alumni, and a lot of people sitting in the front in chairs, who I assume are the celebrities and the important alumni we’ve been hearing about (later on I’ll find out that I’m right).

Right away I noticed the architecture and the structure of the building I was in. It was amazing: glass walls, glass podium, multiple levels, an upper level walkway, crisp, clean, newly painted, white walls. It’s very modern looking. You can also see the lower level, complete with dozens of new Mac computers. I am informed that this is the Futures Lab. It looks awesome. Just looking around is exciting.

The ceremony is pretty short. Dean Mills (Dean of Mizzou Journalism School) introduces everyone and gets the ceremony going. He used the “modern, light, open interior” to describe the hope and inspiration for RJI. The second speaker was actually the most inspirational for me. Lauren Zima (President of MU Journalism Scholars) spoke of her experience as a student and the ways they have paid off. She had just come back from a study abroad program also. Adult speakers are good, and in this ceremony they were fantastic, but Lauren really touched me because watching an actual student speak about how she was actually following her dreams, thanks to the J-School, gave me a lot of joy and excitement. She continued to talk about the new technology that will be available at RJI and that will make our J-School even better. Seriously, if you’re a J-School student, let me just tell you, you should be VERY excited to go here.

More speakers continued to come up. Pam Johnson (Executive Director of RJI) introduced a video featuring different people in the journalism world (who were all present, some also work here) who talked about their amazing goals to advance journalism, as technology is also advancing. They also talked about renewing the journalist creed for the new century. All of the goals they were talking about were basically revolving around changing journalism with the changing technology, and to use technology to figure out how people want to get their news.

After the video, the speakers kept getting bigger and better. First the Chancellor of MU came up, Brady Deaton. He said a quote that was my favorite throughout the entire ceremony. In regards to the new institute and all of us who will be roaming its halls, he said, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” And he is very right. Us journalism students need to step up, but with RJI I have a feeling it won’t be too hard or painful.

President Gary Forsee, Cheryl Walker, Mayor of Columbia Darwin Hindman, Governor of Missouri Matt Blunt, and finally Fred W. Smith all spoke with fantastic and exciting eloquence. As a teenager still, I get bored easy. And I can honestly tell you, they really were great speakers, not to mention these are very important people. After all spoke, Dean Mills, the Governor, and Fred W. Smith walked to right in front of where I was standing (I had no idea I had such a prime standing spot) to something covered in a black cloth. They unveiled it, a statue of Donald Reynolds, symbolizing the dedication of RJI. Now, the rush to the cooler of Tiger Stripe over in the corner!

Pretty darn cool, I must say. All of you J-School students should be extremely excited to come to RJI. I had no idea about it until I went to the dedication, so I imagine that none of you have even seen it yet. Trust me, though, it’s amazing.

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Dedication of the New Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

Posted by Becky Dale on September 12, 2008

Long before the start of the dedication ceremony, I bustle through the doors of the Reynolds Journalism Institute only to find myself bombarded with journalists, friends, family, and distant relations from all sides. The girl at the door gave me one of those tired smiles that have become such a rarity in the past few days. I guess the festivities have been wearing on her.

I, however, felt that surge of adrenaline akin to the start of the Mizzou football games, but on a different level. The excitement in the room was intoxicating. Mingling would be more accurately described as apologetically pushing and shoving to reach a place where I could see the podium as well as the then-covered Donald W. Reynolds bust.

Dean Mills, his face projected across the four plasma screens on the wall in the opening between the first floor and the Futures Lab below, began the ceremony with the exact time that had passed since the opening of the Missouri School of Journalism, down to the hour. Standing on this monumental day in the RJI, Mills pronounced it a “new institution for this century.” And indeed it should be.

After a significant list of the key players in the coordination, planning, and construction of the RJI, and after a few words from various leaders in Mizzou’s world of journalism, director of the Journalism Institute Pam Johnson introduced a video depicting five Donald W. Reynolds Fellows projects underway behind RJI doors.

Bill Densmore of the University of Massachussets-Amherst recognizes the Internet as a terribly convenient, though sometimes overall terrible, source of information. His goal in “The Information Valet” is to secure the internet for users, thus maximizing convenience as well as privacy. This work will sustain the credibility of journalism.

Margaret Duffy of the Strategic Communications department at MU found herself observing the youth market of today. With youth and young adults accessing information in such a different manner from even one generation before, Duffy plans to answer the question of why harness that information for the expansion of journalism.

Mike Fancher, retired president of the Seattle Times, chose to focus on the Journalism Creed. While the creed itself is upstanding even in today’s world, he admits to some new elements that desperately need to be added. These standards are the same for which the public holds journalists accountable, and an updating public has updated standards. Technology will find its way into the creed.

Jen Reeves has been “a pioneer in using non-traditional delivery sources…in order to deliver content,” claims the Centennial/Dedication Program. However, these non-traditional ways are used every day for the personal use of non-journalists. Jen sees, indeed takes part, in the use of these sources and has founded her own multimedia, multi-platform news hub which she calls SmartDecision08.com. This hub aims to push the collaboration of multimedia projects and the newsroom. This will ultimately expand the options of journalism and hopefully profits as well.

Jane Stevens came to MU from the University of California, Berkeley with specialization in science and technology. She plans to create what she calls “shells,” networks that encourage the collaboration of community members and journalists. Two current shells focus on ocean news and information and on child trauma. While the reporters serve as fact-checkers and viable sources, communities are able to use these shells as means to help address and solve issues.

Deputy Web editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Matt Thompson plans to make good use of the bane of all English teachers–Wikipedia. Tentatively called “Wikipedia-ing the News,” Thompson hopes to create a news base as extensive as Wikipedia, with more reliable sources: the very reporters who put the facts in circulation to begin with.

Chancellor Brady Deaton stood to congratulate Mizzou for the addition of its new building and to insist “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Journalism students working out of this state-of-the art building have greater commitments and responsibilities in store for them.

President Gary Forsee applauded the great accomplishment of the faculty and administration. Their leadership and skills have set Mizzou as a model for other universities. The RJI will “lead the journalism school to greater distinction.”

Words from the Board of Curators, Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman, and Governor Matt Blunt are not to be shoved aside. All three spoke of the integrity and innovation that the RJI now stands for and the traditions that must be carried on by current and future journalism students.

Perhaps the most revered guest of all, though, was Fred W. Smith, Chairman of the Reynolds Foundation. The Alumni Center, dedicated in 1992, was the last building that Don Reynolds himself saw make its beginnings on the Mizzou campus. Smith shared heartwarming stories about Don’s attachment to MU, particularly the tigers, and his hope that the RJI would “perpetuate the entrepreneurial spirit” of Mizzou’s journalism students–the world’s finest.

Mr. Smith ended his speech to  a standing ovation on the part of the room that was not already standing. Dean Mills took the opportunity to invite everyone to watch the unveiling of the bust, and so ended the dedication. Alumni then adjourned to share in some of their favorite MU-famous Tiger Stripe ice cream and to continue talking and networking.

The Centennial’s Closing Ceremony at 8pm would be a bittersweet farewell for some, but the mark of a new beginning for all.

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No answer to meet new media challenges, but there’s definitely hope

Posted by Suvro Banerji on September 11, 2008

(from left) Brady Deaton, Maria Alfaro, Bruno Patino, Dean Mills

Alright, just got back from the Future’s Forum. Educating the Next generation posed a very important question: How do we meet the rising challenges of new media. We had three distinguished guests in our panel representing three different models of journalism from three different countries: Maria Alfaro from University of Navarra School of Communication (Spain), Bruno Patino from Sciences Po (Paris, France) and Dean Mills, dean of Missouri School of Journalism.

Alfaro and Patino are facing similar challenges we are facing here. The new media in the internet age is challenging traditional news media like newspapers, radio and even television. Columbia Missourian is facing financial challenges, but so are other newspapers.

So how do we fix this problem? The panelists really didn’t have a specific answer. “There’s an enormous commonality in approaching these challenges,” Mills said.

One thing was evident though- there’s hope- hope to fix these challenges, hope to embrace the new era, hope to make things better. The Reynold’s Journalism Institute will be destination to meet those challenges.

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