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VisCom Scholarship Honors Late Alumnus Chris Hondros

From Staff Reports | Oct 21, 2012

On April 20, 2011, alumnus, Senior Staff Photographer for Getty Images, and award-winning photojournalist Chris Hondros captured his last images before being attacked by mortar shells while on assignment in Libya during the uprising that eventually led to dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster.  Hondros died hours after receiving fatal wounds to his head.  Fellow photojournalist and film director Tim Hetherington also died in the attack, and Guy Martin and Michael Brown, also photojournalists, were injured. Hondros was 41.

Almost a year later, the Chris Hondros Scholarship Fund was established by the School of Visual Communications (VisCom) in Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication. The scholarship commemorates the life and work of Hondros, a 2006 graduate of the program, said Terry Eiler, the School’s director, and it supports a VisCom graduate student who may be in the middle of his or her career.    

“Chris was the kind of stay-in-touch friend that everyone counted on. He was the kind of alumnus that just simply enjoyed giving back. And we want to celebrate that,” Eiler said.  “We are arguably one of the nation’s top mid-career graduate programs in photojournalism, and many mid-career students come back to school needing funding. We have only a handful of small graduate scholarships. This was a chance to name one after Chris.”

Photojournalists communicate in a universal language by telling visual stories of people that would otherwise not be heard, giving them a unique voice in the international dialogue. Hondros’s last images reveal conflict, war, and humanity. They show buildings with holes blown out of them, fire spreading across floors and walls, and men with guns. Hondros hoped, one would think, that they also would show the reality of human nature.

Hondros was twice a Pulitzer Prize finalist, once in 2012 for images he made shortly before his death. His work comprised compelling images of the conflicts and cultures of the Middle East, Africa, and Southeastern Europe.

“Our group is devastated,” said writer and fellow photojournalist Michael Kamber in a New York Times article after Hondros’s death. “But talking with other photographers, I’m struck that I have not heard anyone say, ‘They should not have gone (to cover the conflict).’”

Bozeman, Montana-based photojournalist Anne Sherwood, who received her graduate degree in VisCom in 2010 and was a friend of Hondros, explained how he got involved with this last assignment.

“In February of 2011, a good friend called in tears from California. His people in his homeland of Libya were being slaughtered and the world wasn't yet aware of it. He wanted to know if I knew a journalist he could call. I gave him Hondros's number. I knew he would go, and he did. I just wish he had come back,” said Sherwood. “We became friends immediately and stayed in close contact over the years,” Sherwood says about her friendship with Hondros. “He would call me from far away places and give me a front row seat to the world's events.”

Sherwood was the first to make a donation to the Chris Hondros Scholarship Fund.

“We want the scholarship to keep Chris’s spirit alive and keep his name spoken in the hallways of Ohio University where he started his career,” she said.

A separate fund, called the Chris Hondros Fund, was created by Hondros’s former fiancé Christina Piaia, and supports photojournalists by bringing attention to the issues they face. This fund has pledged $3,500 in support of OHIO’s Chris Hondros Scholarship. All told, $5,050 has been committed to the scholarship fund within The Ohio University Foundation.

To make a gift to the Chris Hondros Scholarship Fund, contact The Ohio University Foundation at 800-592-FUND or giving@ohio.edu. Checks may be made payable to The Ohio University Foundation (be sure to write “Hondros Scholarship” in the notes section) and sent to the foundation at P.O. Box 869, Athens, Ohio 45701.

Gifts also can be made online at www.ohio.edu/give. For more information contact Scripps College of Communication Senior Director of Development Robin Stock atstockr@ohio.edu.