Marquette University News Release

Marquette College of Communication announces inaugural journalists for O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism

June 26, 2013

MILWAUKEE – Marquette University’s J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication has announced its inaugural class of three journalists who will take part in The Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism during the 2013-14 academic year.

The journalism fellows are Hal Bernton of The Seattle Times, Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Lillian Thomas of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They will begin their fellowships Aug. 24, 2013, and will reside within the College of Communication for the 2013-14 academic year, with each researching and producing an in-depth public service journalism project on campus and working with Marquette students, giving them first-hand journalism experience.

“All three journalists in our inaugural class have worked diligently throughout their careers to provide solutions to the most complex problems in their communities,” said Dr. Lori Bergen, dean of the College of Communication. “We look forward to working closely with Hal, Dan and Lillian throughout the year to encourage progress as they work side by side with our students to provide expert, in-depth professional reporting.” Bergen has described the fellowship as in-line with “the teaching hospital model” advocated by many journalists and journalism educators nationwide.

About the O’Brien Fellows
Hal Bernton has been a reporter with The Seattle Times since 2000. He received the Gerald R. Ford Prize for national defense reporting in 2013 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2003 for his work with other reporters from The Seattle Times on “The Terrorist Within.” In 1989, he was part of a team that won the Pulitzer for Public Service for “People in Peril,” a series published by the Anchorage Daily News about Alaska’s native peoples.

Lillian Thomas is assistant managing editor of special projects at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Since late 2012, her investigative team has broken dozens of stories about a federal investigation of the city of Pittsburgh that led to charges against the police chief, who resigned, and now has begun to focus on the city’s mayor. Thomas has also been a reporter, city editor and Sunday editor for the Post-Gazette.

Dan Egan has been covering the Great Lakes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel since 2003. He was a Pulitzer finalist for explanatory reporting in both 2013 and 2010. Egan won the Oakes Award for environmental journalism in 2006 and has received four National Headliner Awards for environmental and science reporting.

The announcement of the inaugural Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellows comes weeks after two groups of Marquette University students from the College of Communication teamed with reporter Meg Kissinger to produce the ongoing Milwaukee Journal Sentinel series, “Chronic crisis: A system that doesn’t heal.” Working as reporters and documentary filmmakers, the students helped to examine Milwaukee County’s mental health system and related efforts in Belgium.

Months-long in the making, the Journal Sentinel series is highlighting the challenges Milwaukee County officials have in caring for the mentally ill while emphasizing the need to focus more on continual care. Kissinger, who was a 2009 Pulitzer finalist for investigative reporting, spent the 2012-13 academic year at Marquette as a public service journalism fellow in the College of Communication.

The creation of the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism followed the announcement in November 2012 that Marquette was named the recipient of a Grand Challenges Explorations grant between Marquette University and the authors of The New York Times “Fixes” column, called FixesU. This grant, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, combines Marquette University’s Social Innovation Initiative with the journalism prowess of New York Times authors David Bornstein (best-selling author of How to Change the World) and Tina Rosenberg (Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Haunted Land).

About the Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship
In February 2013, Marquette University announced that a couple donated $8.3 million to the College of Communication. Peter and Patricia Frechette, of Minneapolis, made the gift in honor of Patricia’s parents, Perry and Alicia O’Brien. Perry and Alicia graduated from Marquette in 1936 and 1935, with degrees in journalism and liberal arts. The couple designated the gift toward the launch of “The Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism.” Patricia’s father, Perry, was a longtime reporter with theJanesville Gazette and WCLO-AM radio in the 1940s and 1950s.

The new fellowship brings three journalists from all types of media to Marquette for each academic year. During this time, the journalists will research and produce an in-depth public service journalism project.

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About Andy Brodzeller

Andy Brodzeller

Andy is an associate director of university communication in the Office of Marketing and Communication. Contact Andy at (414) 288-0286 or View all posts by .