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Belo Foundation Awards UT Austin $1.5 Million for Journalism Innovation Endowment

The Belo Foundation of Dallas has awarded UT Austin $1.5 million to create the Dallas Morning News Journalism Innovation Endowment, a fund to support digital innovation in the Moody College of Communication School of Journalism.

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The Belo Center for New Media (BMC), dedicated in November 2012, houses the School of Journalism.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Belo Foundation of Dallas has awarded The University of Texas at Austin $1.5 million to create the Dallas Morning News Journalism Innovation Endowment, a fund to support digital innovation in the Moody College of Communication School of Journalism.

The gift seeks to expand opportunities for faculty members and students to experiment with emerging technologies and business models and to develop solutions that benefit high-quality reporting, storytelling and audience engagement. The endowment will support the following initiatives:

  • Recruit and support professionals in-residence and other visiting experts who have proven track records in digital media innovation. They will help create and teach cutting-edge courses and take part in practical research projects with active university faculty and student participation.   

  • Recruit top graduate students by providing funding through the Dallas Morning News Graduate Fellows Program.

  • Create the position of innovation director to help lead and coordinate projects with the graduate and faculty fellows.

The Belo Foundation announced the gift simultaneous with an announcement that it is changing its name to Parks for Downtown Dallas and devoting its future giving to Dallas parks identified in the 2013 update of the Downtown Dallas Parks Master Plan.

“Given the lengthy history of the foundation’s relationship with the journalism program at The University of Texas at Austin, it is only fitting that we make one of our final college-level journalism education grants to this outstanding institution that is so expertly educating and training journalists for the future,” said Amy Meadows, former vice president and executive director of The Belo Foundation and now president of Parks for Downtown Dallas.  

The endowment is one of several initiatives of the School of Journalism to develop new curricula that enable graduates to thrive in a digital communications world.

“The Belo Foundation’s generosity to the Moody College of Communication has paid significant dividends for the university and the state through more robust journalism,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “This gift will allow our students to engage in new forms of discovery in the classroom and become the type of sophisticated, tech-savvy journalists who can make our communities better.”

In 2010, the School of Journalism updated its curriculum to focus on multimedia reporting. Since then, it has added courses in fields including database reporting, data visualization, multimedia storytelling, programming and app design and development.

“The Moody College of Communication is focused on training the next generation of leaders and innovators in all areas of communication,” said Jay Bernhardt, interim dean of the Moody College of Communication. “Thanks to the support of The Belo Foundation, this new program will ensure that our journalism faculty and graduate students push the boundaries of innovation and excellence. We thank The Belo Foundation for their many years of generous support and wish them the very best in their future work.”

This award is among several given by The Belo Foundation to support journalism at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2007, The Belo Foundation pledged $12 million as the lead gift in the university’s campaign to construct the Belo Center for New Media.   

“The Belo Foundation’s gift is nothing short of transformative,” said R. B. Brenner, director of the School of Journalism. “The endowment gives name, prominence and structure to an innovation culture that has emerged within the School of Journalism in recent years. Now, we’ll have the resources to spark and sustain innovation at all levels of our curriculum.”