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Development Update

By Mary Hicks

Murphy Hall: The place where careers - and lives - take off

Mary HicksMurphy Hall isn't just a building. It's a launching pad -- for countless award-winning journalists and media moguls, for Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winners, and for couples.

Couples? Well, we're pretty sure romance has taken off in Murphy -- perhaps most notably in room 10B, the Minnesota Daily's old quarters. And at least one such partnership resulted in a 41-year marriage.

Meet Joyce and Dan Wascoe, who met in Murphy Hall and worked together at the Daily -- Dan as editor, Joyce as city editor.

Dan subsequently pursued a 40-year career as reporter and columnist for the Minneapolis Star/Tribune. And Joyce has had a nearly 30- year career at the University after reporting for United Press International and writing and producing at WCCO-TV. She says she has used her journalism training in every job she's had. She built on that preparation with an M.B.A. from the Carlson School of Management and went on to serve as associate to University president Mark Yudof after several years as assistant and associate to deans in the College of Liberal Arts. These days, she works for the University's Office of Service and Continuous Improvement.

Together, Joyce and Dan created a scholarship for students in the J-school -- to help them prepare for careers in a rapidly changing field. I wanted to know more about the reasons for their generosity, and so we sat down for an interview.

You've both been involved in the J-school for a long time. Was there something special that prompted this gift?

Joyce and Dan WascoeJoyce: In this time of Internet blogs, when everyone with an opinion thinks they can be a writer, we need professionally trained, objective and ethical journalists more than ever before. We're both concerned about the increasing cost of attending school. Students need more help than ever before. While our gift is not a full ride, it will help students defray the cost of their education. They'll have more time to concentrate on their classes.

Dan: This seemed a way to continue our involvement in the J-school in perpetuity. As members of the School's alumni society, classmate Carol Pine and I helped create the mentoring program in the J-school -- the U's first such program. One of my students in that program, Ann Merrill, went on to become a reporter and competitor for the Pioneer Press and eventually became one of my colleagues at the Star/Tribune.

What qualities do you hope to see in Wascoe Scholars?

Dan: A student who is passionately curious about finding out how things work and learning the skills to convey that knowledge clearly and credibly. These days, that means becoming competent in several kinds of media, including online.

Joyce: Someone bright and inquisitive who has expertise in other areas as well. We'd be very proud to have such a student carry the name of Wascoe Scholar.

What advice would you give to today's J-school students?

Dan: Be flexible. Learn how to learn. Soak up all that the University has to offer. Get a good grounding in the liberal arts.

What counsel would you give to other alumni?

Dan: Making a gift has to be a personal decision that reflects your feelings of how important the U was to you, measured against your resources, plans for your family, tax considerations and overall economic expectations. We know gifts will be appreciated by the students and the School. You just have to figure out the best way to do it.

Joyce: If you give, you're doing yourself a favor, too. It's a great feeling to know that you can help a student have a good experience and be successful.


I could see the pride on their faces as I talked to Joyce and Dan. On behalf of the students, faculty and staff of the SJMC, I thank these two for their generous support. They, and others like them, are building tomorrow's School of Journalism & Mass Communication and contributing to the continued vitality of the profession.

With gratitude,
Mary Hicks