RJI receives $30.1 million endowment gift from Reynolds Foundation

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri announced Thursday that it has received a $30.1 million gift to guarantee permanent funding for the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, the 4-year-old center devoted to innovation, collaboration and research in media industries.

The gift, the largest endowment gift in the history of the university, came from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. It is the second largest gift ever to the University of Missouri. The largest gift was the more than $31 million the Foundation gave in 2004 to provide the physical facilities and initial operating expenses for the Institute.

The Foundation also gave $15 million in 2009 to provide operating expenses through June 2015.

The latest gift establishes a permanent endowment fund that will support ongoing operating expenses.

Brady Deaton, chancellor of the university, said the endowment “ensures that the Reynolds Institute will benefit future generations of citizens with its groundbreaking work on new methods and models of journalism.”

“We will forever be in debt to the Reynolds Foundation for enabling the University to launch and now make permanent this world-class center of research and service.”

“Donald W. Reynolds was a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He worked his way through college and then spent a lifetime building a media company and personal fortune that would make it possible for his Foundation to give back to the Institution that he loved,” stated Reynolds Foundation Chairman, Fred W. Smith. “I know if he was here today he would be proud to have his name associated with the Reynolds Journalism Institute. This grant will help preserve that relationship into perpetuity.”

The Institute, part of the university’s School of Journalism, conducts experiments and research programs aimed at strengthening journalism in the service of citizens. It works closely with news organizations, both large and small, and others to find solutions to new and old challenges. Its Reynolds Fellows program brings up to six scholars and professionals to campus each year to develop thoughtful ideas and strategies for media industries.

The institute has a full-time staff of 23 researchers, technicians and support personnel. Its 50,000 square feet of facilities include auditoria, seminar and reception rooms for conferences, laboratories for experiments and media content creation, a television studio and the nation’s first university-based Microsoft application development lab.

“This is great news for the news business,” said Randy Picht, who joined the Reynolds Journalism Institute as its executive director earlier this year. “It will mean more partnerships, more solutions and, most importantly, stronger journalism.”

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed more than $145 million nationwide through its Journalism Program.

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