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Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

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Andy Alexander and Beverly Jones

Beverly Jones, BSJ ’69, MBA ’75 and Andrew Alexander, BSJ ’72, both E.W. Scripps School of Journalism graduates.

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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Scripps alumni support of innovation, ideas

Couple gives to the Voinovich School and Scripps College to support student and faculty innovation


Ohio University couple Andy Alexander and Beverly Jones, both seasoned professionals in the communications industry, believe one thing will always be constant: change. That’s why they recently committed to establishing three funds through their estate that will help OHIO’s Scripps College of Communication and The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs keep pace with the future of innovative thinking, projects and technology.  

Moving the “Do Tank” forward

Through her consulting work with The Voinovich School, Jones—who received her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1969 and her Master of Business Administration degree in 1975—experienced first-hand the school’s exciting identity as a “do tank” as opposed to a “think tank.”

“I asked myself, ‘What could I do to make a difference?’” Jones said about her decision to establish The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs Director's Innovation Fund.

The gift provides $250,000 and aims to do two things: move the school forward in a robust way and provide both seed money and a solid foundation for the projects it funds.  

“The fund can be used at the Voinovich School director’s discretion to support the purchase of cutting-edge technology or an innovative program, idea or service,” said Jones, who consults on leadership matters, coaches executives and professionals and serves as a Voinovich Fellow. 

“The Voinovich School already provides structure for big ticket projects, but I felt the school needed funds for smaller student or community–related projects—money that could be used to invite speakers to campus, buying equipment or for student travel.”

Professor and Director of the Voinovich School Mark Weinberg said these funds will go a long way in supporting innovative thinking.

"The Voinovich School is grateful to Bev for her gift that supports one of our key missions: innovative thinking," Weinberg said. "Her gift will enable us to support students, faculty and staff to develop creative projects and expand on new ways of thinking. It's support from alumnae like Bev that makes the difference, not only at the Voinovich School, but also at Ohio University." 

Supporting New Media Delivery

“We are in a period of unbelievable innovation and entrepreneurship” when it comes to how we communicate, said Alexander, an award-winning journalist, current Scripps Howard Visiting Professional and 1972 E.W. Scripps School of Journalism graduate. “[Veterans] in the business can either get depressed [about the industry’s new tools] or they can think it’s fantastic how media is creating new ways to communicate.” 

Alexander chooses the latter and proved it by establishing two funds. The Scripps School of Journalism Director’s Innovation Fund, guided by the school’s director, provides $100,000 in support, and the Scripps College of Communication Dean’s Innovation Fund, directed by the college’s dean, provides $150,000. Both support projects, programs and development grants for students, faculty or other purposes that encourage innovation. The funds support students by giving them the tools they need to learn how to merge the basics of journalism—including ethics, storytelling, multi-media training, investigation, and writing skills—with new media, digital media, entrepreneurial skills, technological innovation and cross-platform teamwork.  

Like the fund Jones established at the Voinovich School, both funds for Scripps College aim to provide flexible funding options, Alexander said.

“These funds provide maximum flexibility for Scripps College. They are funds that are nimble enough to change direction and also be part of the Scripps Innovation Challenge. They would support efforts like visits to campus by venture capitalists and new media experts.”

Scripps College Dean Scott Titsworth said Alexander’s gift benefits students in two ways.

"Andy's gifts provide that vital, flexible support our students need as they learn about and train with our industry's ever-changing media delivery platforms and tools," Titsworth said. "These gifts give our students exactly the right support mechanism to supply them not only with this next-gen technology they will use in the workplace, but also with practice in navigating the fast pace of change that takes place in our industry."

Keeping pace with change a must for industry professionals

Jones and Alexander agree that keeping pace with new media and the innovative ways that media are delivered is crucial to staying current in the communications and innovation industry.

“People resist change because that requires work,” Jones said. “[Andy and I] want to stay connected to the world, so we have to keep up with new technology. I like being around young people. If you don’t do the work [to keep current on the newest communication technology] then you’re too boring to be around.”

Alexander, The Washington Post ombudsman from 2009-2012, currently teaches journalism ethics. He explains how the importance of staying current and media savvy was reflected in the advice he got from colleagues who taught media ethics.

“Everybody said that instead of setting my syllabus for the year, I should be prepared to change it every semester because that’s the pace at which [change in] media delivery happens,” Alexander said.

Jones and Alexander’s gifts are part of Ohio University's The Promise Lives Campaign, which seeks to raise $450 million by June 30, 2015, and already has secured more than $441 million toward its goal in support of students, faculty, programs, partnerships and select facilities at Ohio University. Learn more at www.ohio.edu/campaign