Marquette University Receives Single Largest Donation
$28M gift to College of Communication will establish Marquette
as one of the nation's premier communications schools
May 6, 2005
Marquette University has received $28,000,000, the largest
single donation in its history, to benefit the College of
Communication, President Robert Wild, S.J., announced at the
47 th annual Pere Marquette Dinner held Thursday.
College of Communication will be renamed J.
William and Mary Diederich College of Communication in
honor of the donors (pictured right), and will establish
the college as one of the top institutions for educating
students in the converging world of print, broadcast and
electronic communication through innovative curricula,
cutting-edge research, and access to experts in the field.
"Rarely, if ever, does a college
have the opportunity to reinvent the education it provides, but thanks to Bill
and Mary Diederich's great generosity and vision, that is precisely the position
in which we find ourselves." President Robert Wild, S.J., says. "When
Marquette's J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication is recognized
as one of the very best schools of its kind, we will be able to trace the college's
transformation right back to this moment. Because just two alumni have
decided to do something special for Marquette, this university has just taken
a huge stride forward in its march toward greatness. Marquette is and
always will be profoundly grateful to Bill and Mary Diederich for their marvelously
A Transforming Gift
The gift is specifically designated
for the transformation of the College of Communication and will establish endowments
for scholarships, professorships, research, guest speakers and capital improvements
including a renovation of Johnston Hall, which will
include a complete overhaul of its audio and video broadcast equipment for
state-of-the-art studios, the addition of "smart" classrooms with
Web technology, and Wi-Fi Internet connectivity throughout the building.
will be need-based while faculty research funding will be directed toward
research that investigates the role of communication technology as an agent
of social change. The
guest speaker series will be focused on changes to the communication field
and will bring together students, alumni and faculty with leaders in the
Diederich's Vision: Marriage
of Theory and Skill
the future direction of the college, Mr. Diederich is building upon his career
of vision in the communication field. According to Dr. William R. Elliott,
dean of the college and William R. Burleigh and E.W. Scripps Professor, a
shift in communication in recent years means that graduates with
communication degrees will no longer work only in newspapers,
TV or publishing. Restructuring the college's curriculum
to utilize the Diederich gift will create the opportunity to
educate Marquette students in a new world of communication.
"Graduates of the Diederich
College of Communication will have the theory and skills to master changing
technology and communication across fields," Elliott says. "Our innovative
curriculum will give alumni a competitive advantage, particularly in broadcast
and electronic communication of the future, while they remain grounded in the
Catholic, Jesuit education of Marquette. We will reinforce that by encouraging
students to take a second major so that their expertise beyond communication
will create the most skilled communicators of this century."
About J. William and Mary
Mr. Diederich served in several leadership
positions at Landmark Communications Inc. in Norfolk, Va., before retiring
in 1990. Landmark Communications owns the Weather Channel and
related media; eight daily newspapers (including The Virginian-Pilot
in Norfolk, Va.; the Roanoke (Va.)
met while pursuing their degrees at Marquette.
Times and the News & Record
in Greensboro, N.C.); some 100 other paid and free newspapers,
shoppers and other special publications; two television
stations; four publishing companies; and an emerging business
A native of Ladysmith, Wis., Mr. Diederich enrolled at Marquette
as part of the Navy ROTC program in September 1947.
After working for Marquette University Press, the Marquette
Tribune and other entities around Milwaukee as a student,
Diederich received his bachelor's degree in journalism in
1951. After active service in the Marine Corps, Mr. Diederich
received an MBA from Harvard University in 1955 and joined
Norfolk Newspapers Inc., a predecessor of Landmark Communications.
Diederich was a part-time instructor at Boston University
in 1954 and taught business courses at Old Dominion University
in Norfolk at night for four years. Mr. Diederich also continued
as an officer of the Marine Corps Reserve and retired as a
lieutenant colonel in 1971.
Mary K. Diederich, Arts '52, is also very accomplished.
She successfully raised their 13 children. As a musician,
Mrs. Diederich played viola for many years in the Virginia
Beach Symphony Orchestra and later in the Carson City (Nevada)
Symphony Orchestra. She was a cantor and choir member
in all of the Catholic parishes in which she lived in Virginia
Mr. and Mrs. Diederich are members of Marquette's 1881 Society
and have supported Marquette as alumni in a number of ways
including funding the Bill and Mary Klein Diederich Scholarship
and the J. William and Mary K. Diederich Advanced Digital
Laboratory. One of their children, Michael M. Diederich,
graduated from the College of Business Administration in 1978.
The Diederich gift is a significant addition to Magis:
The Campaign for Marquette as the seven-year campaign nears
its conclusion in June. With this gift, more than $345 million
has been raised from alumni, parents and friends through the
campaign, making it the university's most successful fund-raising
initiative in history.
Office of Public Affairs Contacts
Brigid O'Brien Miller
Director of University Communication
Phone: (414) 288-7445
Sr. Media Relations Specialist
Phone: (414) 288-0286