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Department celebrates new name by opening doors to new students

October 8th, 2009

The Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts invited prospective students to learn about the major and celebrate its new name during an open house last Friday, Oct. 2. 

The department was renamed for Tim Russert, a 1972 graduate of John Carroll University and former moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Russert passed away in June 2008.

Faculty and JCU students discussed the curriculum and admission requirements, toured the television studio, The Carroll News office and JCU radio station, and listened to alumni share their JCU memories and professional experiences.

“These three words – inquiry, integrity, involvement – encapsulate the goals we have as a department, and the goals we have for students of this university,” said Karen Gygli, chair of the Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts.  “We were inspired by Tim [Russert] and everything he stood for, and we are very proud to bear his name.”

In making students critical thinkers, Gygli stressed the importance for students to ask probing questions, much like Russert did as moderator on “Meet the Press.”

“We also work toward integrity – we want students in our department to

live ethically and to have compassion for others,” Gygli said.  “Tim was very aware of how his work effected other people, and how his work mattered out in the larger world.”

Gygli said,  “Tim was very aware of how his work affected other people, and how his work mattered out in the larger world.”

Through involvement, students of communication will apply their learning to the wider world, locally, nationally and globally.

In addition to the naming of the department, University President Father Niehoff unveiled two other ways John Carroll will honor Russert’s memory: The Tim Russert Endowed Scholarship and the NBC/JCU Meet the Press Fellowship.

“The Tim Russert Scholarship was a way for Tim to provide a link between the two areas of his life that were very important to him—his hometown of Buffalo, New York and John Carroll,” said Ryan Daly, senior director of development.  “That was the spirit in which Tim created the scholarship.”

The scholarship was awarded to John Carroll freshman Katherine Warner, from Western New York.

Andrew Rafferty, who graduated last May, was the first student chosen for the Fellowship and recently began his work with the NBC show.

“Being the moderator of ‘Meet the Press’ was one of the many hats Tim wore,” Daly said.  “He contributed in a lot of ways in many different areas throughout his career, and naming the department after him was a way to highlight his contributions to his profession that started from his roots at John Carroll.”

Bob Longo, an alumnus of John Carroll Class of 1972 and friend of Russert, described Tim and himself as “rabble-rousers and political cronies from the very start of their friendship.”

Longo said Russert would have thought that the communications department bearing his name would be something to laugh at.

“Joseph Miller and I used to always tease Tim about him belonging in the communications department and not the political science department, and it was almost an ongoing tease that went on for years,” he said.

Although Russert was a political science major, Longo seemed sure that the naming of the communications department was fitting and proper.

“It makes sense considering what his mark was as a journalist and a master communicator,” he said.  “Tim always had a healthy ego, but it was a good ego and I think it drew people to him.  He had that personal touch, and I believe he wore it well.”