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U of R Journalism School receives $400,000 donation to establish teaching Chair

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: February 25, 2021 5:00 a.m.

Leader-Post Foundation Board Members and Journalism Department Head Mark Taylor pose outside the University of Regina (from L to R, Brenda Indzeoski, Irene Seiberling, Janice Dockham, Jeff Epp, Jim Toth, Bill Johnson, Mark Taylor). The Foundation donated $400,000 to establish a chair position at the School of Journalism.
Leader-Post Foundation Board Members and Journalism Department Head Mark Taylor pose outside the University of Regina (from L to R, Brenda Indzeoski, Irene Seiberling, Janice Dockham, Jeff Epp, Jim Toth, Bill Johnson, Mark Taylor). The Foundation donated $400,000 to establish a chair position at the School of Journalism. Photo: Rae Graham

For many years, the Leader-Post Foundation has been an ardent supporter of journalism and the Journalism School at the University of Regina. Despite the Foundation dissolving operations, its support will still be felt for many years thanks to the board’s decision to provide the Journalism School a donation of $400,000 to establish the Leader-Post Foundation Chair. 

“It’s a huge vote of confidence for not just the J School but for journalism,” said Mark Taylor, Department Head of the School of Journalism. “It sends a pretty good message that at a time like this, when newsrooms are struggling, for someone to gift this kind of support to a school of journalism shows how important journalism is.” 

“The hope is by supporting the J School, with this Chair, we in some way contribute to the ongoing success of the journalism program and allow the school to continue to meet its objectives even as they change over time,” said Janice Dockham, a long-time board member and former editor-in-chief of the Leader-Post. 

The Foundation was created in 1986 with educational and humanitarian objectives and has provided over $500,000 worth of scholarships and bursaries to students while also donating to the Hospitals of Regina foundation and providing support to Regina women’s shelters. What allowed the foundation to provide that scope of financial support throughout its tenure was the revenue it generated from publishing and selling books. The nest egg from book sales grew steadily over the years and the interest accumulated eventually made up the donation to the Journalism School. However, the book publishing and selling business dried up in the early 2000s, spelling the end of incoming funds for donations, and in turn, the foundation itself. 

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The U of R School of Journalism
Credit: U of R J School Facebook page

Taylor was tasked by the Foundation’s board to come up with a proposal as to why the School deserved the funds. He examined the needs of the Journalism School and determined that establishing a Chair and having it occupied by a working journalist would serve the School and the students best and would complement existing scholarships for students and the state-of-the-art equipment that is already available to them.  

“If you have a working journalist teaching young journalists, they will have the benefit of getting up to speed with what’s happening in the industry and with what’s happening in the news,” Taylor said. “Hopefully, a working journalist will not just inspire young journalism students but teach them industry standard approaches and techniques so they can succeed.” 

Taylor added that the hope is that the Chair will also help develop the curriculum, so it keeps pace with the changing industry as well as help the school pursue new internship partners. 

Those parameters were accepted by the Foundation’s board. 

“The $400,000 is not to be spent, rather it is to be invested,” said Bill Johnson, a Regina lawyer and founding member of the board. “The investment income is to be used to fund the teaching of students, particularly their need to learn not only the skills of recording facts then instilling those facts into stories whether in print or in broadcast, but they must understand and receive training in the balancing of their reporting work, balancing the sides in the story, not taking positions, and remaining independent.” 

Dockham admits some sadness with the Foundation shutting down, but she believes some solace can be found in what it has accomplished over the years, as well as the lasting legacy of this final donation in the years to come. 

“Twenty-five years from now I’d like to know that the Chair at the School of Journalism supported by the Leader-Post Foundation is going strong – that’s the hope,” Dockham said. “If this can help the School of Journalism sustain a portion of its program every year while it continues to produce good solid well-rounded journalists, then we will have met our objective.”