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Chris Hondros

Chris Hondros

Photographer: Katie Orlinsky

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Support sought for Chris Hondros Scholarship Fund at Ohio University

Visual Communication graduate students to benefit from award


Alumni and faculty of the School of Visual Communication (VisCom) at Ohio University are seeking monetary support to endow the Chris Hondros Scholarship Fund, which will honor the late alumnus and war photographer by supporting a graduate scholar in the school.

The intent to endow a scholarship was announced on VisCom Day on April 30, 2012, just more than a year after Hondros, a 2006 graduate of the program, was killed while covering the conflict in Libya.

“It’s been a year, almost to the day, that Chris Hondros was killed, Tim Hetherington was killed, and Michael Brown was wounded,” said VisCom Director Terry Eiler. “This is a chance for all of us to honor Chris; this is a moment we get to share as friends of Chris.”

Hondros, who was 41, was a senior staff photographer with Getty Images, an international photo agency in New York City. Nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize, Hondros had covered international conflicts since the late 1990s, including wars in Kosovo, Angola, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the West Bank, Iraq and Liberia. He completed an undergraduate degree at North Carolina State before beginning his master’s degree at Ohio University in 1996.

“Chris was the Johnny Appleseed of friendship,” remembers fellow alumnus and photographer Jeff Swensen, who met Hondros at Ohio University and remained close to him throughout their careers. “He traveled around the world, began relationships and nurtured those relationships. He was the best friend I ever had.”

Classmate Anne Sherwood, who is spearheading the campaign to create the fund, remembers meeting Hondros on campus and that the graduate class that year had only 12 cohorts.

“We entered together, and were very good friends from the beginning,” Sherwood said. “We took different paths, so I lived vicariously through him. It’s amazing what a void his death has left in my life. I miss him horribly.”

Sherwood and Hondros’ fiancé Christina Piaia, who serves as president and a member of the board of directors for the Chris Hondros Fund, a not-for-profit organization that supports and advances the work of photojournalists and raises awareness of conflict reporting, say in an early draft of scholarship guidelines that they hope the Chris Hondros Scholarship “will continue and preserve Hondros’ distinctive ability to bring a vital history of shared human experience into the public eye.”

Recipients of the award will likely be chosen based on a portfolio of work, a written statement, an application or personal interview and, possibly, financial need.

Major contributions thus far include $1,500 from the Chris Hondros Fund and a dollar-for-dollar matching pledge from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Enlight Foundation, founded and directed by Hondros’ fellow VisCom alumna Xin Liu, a 1996 graduate, and her husband, Yongping Duan.

“People like Chris work for people like us who live in peace,” Liu said at the announcement of the matching pledge on April 30. “We thank people like Chris and [fellow alumnus] Michael (Brown) who risk their lives out there to bring the bigger world to us.”

To make a gift to the Hondros Scholarship, 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 at stockr@ohio.edu.