Posted April 11, 2016

School of Media and Communication establishes chair in media, cities and solutions

A $2 million gift—the largest one-time gift in the school’s history—made it possible to create SMC’s first donor-endowed academic chair.

Steve Charles smiling while being interviewed on camera by Temple Update.
Photography By: 
Joseph V. Labolito
Steve Charles, SMC ’80, smiles during an interview with 'Temple Update' at an event celebrating the new chair in media, cities and solutions—which his gift helped endow.

With the support of a $2 million gift from alumnus Steve Charles, SMC ’80, Temple University’s School of Media and Communication has established the Steve Charles Chair in Media, Cities and Solutions. It is the school’s first donor-endowed academic chair and the largest one-time gift in its history.

The chair is designed to support and study a solutions-based approach to journalism and media, aimed specifically at making a positive difference in urban environments such as the North Philadelphia neighborhood where Temple is located.

“Solutions journalism offers exactly the kind of innovative approach we advocate for all our academic programs,” said SMC Dean David Boardman. “Anchoring it explicitly to media and cities will strengthen our commitment to Philadelphia specifically and to meeting urban challenges in the 21st century more broadly.”

The new position will enable a faculty member and students to explore how media can help identify potential solutions to some of the seemingly intractable challenges facing cities today, Boardman said.

“Too much media coverage focuses solely on problems,” Boardman said. “Identifying potential solutions is far more difficult, but it can profoundly change the community conversation on such issues as poverty, healthcare and education.”

“The solutions journalism angle is something positive and new and fresh, given all the cynicism and lack of trust in our institutions today."
-- Steve Charles, SMC ’80
Establishing a chair that could have this sort of community impact was especially important to Charles, who after transferring to Temple from rural Lancaster County took a particular interest in urban problems and solutions. He graduated with a degree in advertising and founded immixGroup, a firm that helps technology companies do business with the federal government. 

“The solutions journalism angle is something positive and new and fresh, given all the cynicism and lack of trust in our institutions today,” Charles said. “This concept of training folks to look for solutions in our cities—not just happy, feel-good stories, but real, repeatable solutions—is something that I just feel so good about.”

In addition to the $2 million to establish the chair, Charles established a scholarship in 2011 for students with financial need who graduated from a high school in an urban environment.

“It’s just great to see Temple leading and being able to do things that we all know are possible, and I’m happy to be contributing toward that,” Charles said.

A search for the new chair will begin this summer, Boardman said. 

“Temple’s faculty is the university’s greatest asset,” said President Neil D. Theobald. “Creating endowed chairs helps us attract and retain the best faculty in the nation. I’m delighted to see this new chair and look forward to many more in the School of Media and Communication and across the university.”

—Shannon McLaughlin Rooney