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Bill and Mary Diederich changed the course of Marquette University’s College of Communication, seeking to produce students who can change the way people communicate.
In May 2005, the Diederichs gave $28 million, the largest individual gift in the college’s history, to establish the college as one of the nation’s top communication schools. They wanted Marquette students educated in the converging world of print, broadcast and electronic communication through innovative curricula, cutting-edge research and access to experts in the field.
The newly renamed J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication immediately set about reinventing the education it provides.
Television and broadcast studios in historic Johnston Hall were overhauled, replacing traditional analog gear with state-of-the-art, HD-ready digital technology. The J. William and Mary Diederich Scholarship was established—a full scholarship awarded each year to an incoming freshman. This premier scholarship includes tuition, and can be renewed annually.
The gift will also establish endowments for professorships and for research that investigates the role of communication technology as an agent of social change. Guest speakers will focus on changes to the communication field and will connect students, alumni and faculty with industry leaders.
In funding the direction of the college, Bill Diederich built on his career of vision as a leader of Landmark Communications, a media company whose innovations include the Weather Channel. Bill was known for looking ahead, always seeking “the next big thing” in communication. In 1995, he founded Wide World Web International as a vehicle for exploring what he considered the next big thing — Internet opportunities.
Through their gift, the Diederichs sought to help Marquette students marry theory and skill to master changing technology and communication across fields. Diederich College graduates will gain a competitive advantage while remaining grounded in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition of Marquette.