A $1 million grant from the Knight Foundation of Miami will create an endowed professorship in the School of Journalism at Kansas University, the school's dean announced today.
Dean Mike Kautsch said the grant will be used to support teaching and research about the leadership role of the press in communities.
"The goal is to find a journalist who has been successful in leading his or her community," Kautsch said in an interview. "We want the chair to be a means of stimulating dialogue about the national sense of community."
Kautsch said the press has the ability to magnify disunity in society, and the grant will be used to study how the press can go beyond simple documentation of conflict in society and have a constructive influence.
He said the school hopes to attract a newspaper editor by the fall semester. KU's journalism school has received grants for visiting professors in the past, but Kautsch said the Knight Foundation grant is the school's first endowment for a permanent professorship.
"Our goal is to find a distinguished journalist who can stay on the faculty until retirement," Kautsch said.
Two similar Knight Foundation grants were presented to Duke University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. The universities were chosen by a Miami-based philanthropy from a field of 34 applicants.
"The common denominators in these programs are their solid commitments to quality and proven track records," said Creed Black, Knight Foundation president. "The selection of these three also reflects our belief that there is more than one good path for educating journalists of the next century,"
Established in 1950 by John S. Knight and James L. Knight, the Knight Foundation is one of the nation's largest private foundations. It is wholly independent of Knight-Ridder Inc., parent company of The Wichita Eagle, but supports causes and organizations in communities where Knight-Ridder Inc. has newspapers.