Irving Family Endows Two Chairs in Journalism at St. Thomas and Université de Moncton

January 13, 2005 – Moncton, New Brunswick

The Journalism Programs at two New Brunswick universities are launching new endowed chairs this year: the Irving Chair in Journalism at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, and the Romeo LeBlanc Chair in Journalism sponsored by Brunswick News at Université de Moncton.

A gift from the Irving family, the $2 million initiative represents landmark changes in media education in the province. Besides attracting distinguished journalists and journalism scholars to work with university students, they will be accompanied by an additional $340,000 commitment that will be spent on a two year trial program of paid internship and apprentice opportunities for students of journalism. This program will be reviewed and extended if successful.

An advisory board at each university will make the selections for the chairs which will build on Université de Moncton and St. Thomas University's international reputation for excellence in journalism and mass communication.

"We are proud and delighted to welcome distinguished journalists to our school and especially pleased that during their semesters with our universities, they will focus on interacting with our students," said Dr. Daniel O'Brien, president of St. Thomas University. "The additional emphasis placed on ensuring our journalism students are well-grounded in New Brunswick and Maritime history and politics will ensure tomorrow's communication industry has a specialized stream of talented writers and reporters."

"We are grateful for the generosity of the companies and members of the Irving family who made these two chairs possible because their establishment will add an entirely new dimension to our journalism programs," said Yvon Fontaine, President of Université de Moncton. "I am also particularly pleased that the Université de Moncton chair will be named after our former governor general, the right honourable Roméo LeBlanc, who was a career journalist and who is also the former chancellor of our university and one of our most illustrious alumni,” he added. “This commitment is not just to the benefit of Université de Moncton or St. Thomas. More importantly, it will be to the benefit of the standards of journalism in our region."

Jim (J.D.) Irving said his family chose St. Thomas and the Université de Moncton as the beneficiaries of the endowment because they wanted to mutually support the development of excellence in journalism in both French and English in this province and believe these institutions are leading the way in communications education.  "The Brunswick News network will ultimately benefit by hiring the specially trained journalists who will graduate from the programs," he said.  

"Journalism comes in many forms in the multi-media world, but its essence remains the art of storytelling," said Brunswick News Vice-President, Victor Mlodecki. "The best journalists, whether they be newspaper reporters and editors, or television and radio producers or Internet journalists, help us understand our world by ordering events into clear and coherent stories.”

Mr. Mlodecki went on to say, “As an employer of almost 150 journalists in the province, we are seeking candidates who have independent, inquiring minds and who have achieved the breadth of knowledge and depth of understanding about New Brunswick to clearly communicate the stories of the people, communities and events that are unique to this region. We believe this endowment will help that happen."

Meetings will be held early this year to select candidates for the chairs. As well, details of how students can become involved in the internship and apprentice programs are currently being worked out with the respective institution's journalism program heads. The first apprentices will be arriving in Brunswick News newsrooms by March break, and the first summer interns will be in place by this summer.

Jeffrey Carleton, St. Thomas University
(506) 452-0522

Paul-Emile Benoit, Université de Moncton
(506) 858-4129

Victor Mlodecki, Brunswick News
(506) 859-4875