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The Alumni Gift That Keeps on Giving

Ten years ago, the journalism program was emerging from a challenging time – surviving the loss of accreditation, multiple leadership changes and faculty departures and even talk of dissolving the department. The time seemed right for a renewed commitment to the journalism education that alumni have found to be of such immense value.

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A small group of graduates had an idea: To stage an event that would engender pride among students and alumni and to provide financial support for the event – and the department – for years to come. The Jim Hayes Symposium and the Journalism Endowment were launched that October and have been growing ever since.

Jim Hayes was a Cal Poly professor for more than 20 years. Beneath his gruff exterior beat a warm heart. He took a personal interest in students and remained friends with many of them long after graduation. He was also an inspiration to dozens of journalists as a writing coach for newspapers throughout the state. Hayes died in 2014, just after giving his blessing to the symposium created in his honor.

Our fourth symposium is scheduled for October 27, returning after a five-year pandemic hiatus. It will be part of a Festival of Journalism that includes the induction of eight new members of the Mustang Media Hall of Fame and programming with our new partner, CalMatters. (See “You’re Invited!”).

The journalism department has committed to convening the Jim Hayes Symposium as a biannual event. To support this endeavor -- and to provide a flexible source of revenue to meet the needs of students long into the future -- our group of alumni created the Journalism Endowment. This fund holds its principal and pays out a small portion annually that goes directly to the journalism department.

The Journalism Endowment now contains nearly $90,000 in cash donations that have helped fund three symposiums and supported enrichment activities for dozens of students, like those who attended conferences this year. (See “Journalism students on the road again.”) In addition, a future estate gift will enhance the endowment to an even greater level.

Cal Poly Journalism has emerged from its earlier challenges with a renewed commitment to distinguish itself as one of the best undergraduate journalism programs in the nation. The program was fully accredited in 2021. The curriculum contains a new concentration in media innovation along with strengthened concentrations in news and public relations. New faculty have been hired, and enrollment is strong.

The continued support from alumni and friends has helped make all of this possible. Thank you to all the alumni and friends who have donated! Here's a link to contribute to the journalism endowment.

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