UNC-Chapel Hill college generic South Building

The South Building at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Big news out of Chapel Hill today: The UNC-Chapel Hill journalism school got the largest gift in its history, and the J School has a new name.

The $25 million gift came from Walter Hussman Jr. The J School is now called the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

Hussman majored in journalism at Carolina and graduated in 1968. He grew up in a newspaper family. His grandfather bought his first newspaper in 1909. His father expanded the family business into radio, TV and cable TV systems.

These days, Hussman is chairman of WEHCO Media, a small-by-today's-standards and privately held media company. Its most prominent holdings are the daily newspapers in Little Rock, Ark., where the company is based, and Chattanooga, Tenn. Most of the company's holdings are in Arkansas.

UNC-CH said it will put Hussman's gift into an endowment to support faculty, staff and students.

The Hussman School is the fifth named school at UNC-CH. The other four (if you need a good higher ed trivia question) are business, dentistry, pharmacy and public health.

Full disclosure: I've worked with and near a ton of very talented graduates of the UNC-CH J School over the years, and at least three former N&R folks work there now — one on staff, and two as adjuncts. Judging by the quality of graduates I've seen emerge from there, the J School does some great work. A big new endowment should make the place even better. On a personal note, I'm glad that someone thinks journalism is worth investing in.

For more, here's the official word from UNC-CH, and here's the News & Observer story. Also, here's the story from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where Hussman is the publisher and my second boss (and friend — hi Mike!) from my Texas newspaper days is still working on the D-G's design desk.

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