Alum donates $1 million for LGBT journalism education, research

The $1 million estate gift comes from alum Timothy Blair.
MU alum Timothy Blair speaks Friday, April 24, 2015 at the MU Student Center during his donation announcement for $1 million to the LGBT journalism education fund.

MU announced a $1 million gift to the School of Journalism on Friday to support the education and research of how journalists cover LGBT issues.

The donation comes from alumnus Timothy Blair, who graduated from MU with a Bachelor of Journalism in 1973. He is the seventh member of his family to obtain a journalism degree and a seventh generation MU graduate.

During an announcement event at 1:15 p.m. in the MU Student Center, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and Blair called the estate gift, which will be used to create the Timothy D. Blair Fund for LGBT Coverage in Journalism, "the first of its kind" in U.S. higher education. The fund will be made available upon Blair’s death.

"What I'm really interested in is where the nexus between journalism and democracy (is) and how it relates to civil rights and human rights for people who are underserved and disadvantaged," Blair said at the event. "I think that's a huge story, and that's why I made the gift, and that's where I want it to go."

Blair said in a news release that journalism can have an immeasurable impact on the public attitude toward disadvantaged groups.

"The views of most Americans toward the LGBT community, and same-sex marriage in particular, have reversed course dramatically," he said. "What changed the hearts and minds of most Americans? My bet is it lies in the role of journalism as an integral part of American democracy."

Although it took Blair three years to plan the donation, he said it was clear from the beginning that the gift would be related to LGBT issues.

"When we began to talk, it became very apparent that the passion I have for LGBT rights being a gay man myself — that's where I felt that I should put my money where my mouth is," he said at the event. "That's what drove me to where I am today."

Blair’s donation is the fifth gift to MU announced this semester. Loftin praised Blair for his generosity and commitment to the School of Journalism.

"It's a great day for Mizzou," Loftin said. "This is a topic that is very central to the future of Missouri. It addresses a part of the media that few have gone before. This gift will further advance the MU School of Journalism."

Blair called the School of Journalism "uniquely suited" to tell the story to the LGBT community.

"What I see journalism doing is doing a different job in terms of covering (the LGBT community)," he said. "We wouldn't know about gay people had it not been for AIDS. The government wasn't talking about it. Those stories were told by journalists. So where do we go from here? I'm not really sure. But I know there's a story to be told."

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