AUSTIN, Texas—The Hearst Corporation has pledged $1 million to create the Frank A. Bennack Jr. Chair in Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism.
Hearst created the chair as a tribute to Bennack, its outgoing president and chief executive officer who stepped down from that post on May 31. On June 1, Bennack became chairman of Hearst’s executive committee and vice chairman of Hearst’s board of directors while continuing to hold other posts within the corporation, the Hearst family trust and the Hearst foundations.
The gift is intended to enhance the School of Journalism’s national stature and ability to compete for the best and brightest faculty. Proceeds from the endowment will support a scholar or professional who is nationally recognized for his or her success in the field of journalism and has produced extensive work and/or research in the field.
“We are pleased that The Hearst Corporation has chosen to honor Mr. Bennack through this generous gift,” said Ellen Wartella, dean of the university’s College of Communication. “Our School of Journalism has a commitment to maintaining close ties with the professional journalism community. This gift will help us to augment our top-ranked program by affording us the opportunity to attract outstanding journalism educators.”
“We could think of no better way to honor Frank than to make a prominent gift to a journalism program at a school in his home state of Texas,” said Victor F. Ganzi, president and chief executive officer of The Hearst Corporation. “So much of what we do at Hearst depends on excellence in journalism. We are pleased that our gift will help produce talented journalists who will help to ensure the future of the whole communications industry.”
Frank A. Bennack Jr., a native of San Antonio, Texas, served as president and chief executive officer of The Hearst Corporation for the past 23 years. He directed Hearst through a period of unprecedented growth, increasing the size of the company more than sevenfold. Under his leadership, Hearst acquired 10 newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News and the San Francisco Chronicle. The company also acquired two trade publishing companies, started or acquired several major consumer magazines, acquired a television production operation and various syndication and distribution businesses during his tenure as CEO. He increased Hearst’s position in television from three stations to 26 stations across the country. Along with acquiring partial ownership of ESPN, Bennack was a founding partner of AandE, The History Channel and Lifetime Television.
Bennack was a television pioneer in Texas and pursued a newspaper career that led to his serving as publisher and editor of the San Antonio Light newspaper for seven years before he moved to New York in 1974 as general manager of all Hearst newspapers.
Bennack’s industry awards include the Gold Medal from the International Radio and Television Society in 1991, the Trustees’ Award (Emmy) from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1993, the 1997 Center for Communication Award, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Advertising Council in 1999 and the 1999 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters. In 1994 he received the DeWitt Carter Reddick Award from The University of Texas at Austin.
The Hearst Corporation traces its origins to 1887, when William Randolph Hearst became the proprietor of the San Francisco Examiner. The company is today one of the nation’s largest diversified communications companies. Its major interests include magazine, newspaper and business publishing, cable networks, television and radio broadcasting, Internet businesses, television production and distribution, newspaper features distribution and real estate.