Columbia, Mo. (April 25, 2008) — Journalists constantly face the challenge of communicating technical health and science information in a way that informs and excites the general public. As scientific advancements become more complicated, the need for skilled writers increases. A recent gift to the Missouri School of Journalism will give students the opportunity to gain experience and explore career options in science, health and technology journalism.
The $100,000 gift from Russell G. Smith II and his wife, Gail, establishes the Smith/Patterson Science Journalism Fellowship and Lecture Series. Smith named the gift in honor of former Missouri School of Journalism Professor Joye Patterson, who was his mentor during graduate school. Patterson, who received two journalism degrees at MU, the Master of Arts in 1962 and the Doctor of Philosophy in 1966, taught science writing at the journalism school from 1966 to 1988. She lives in Columbia.
“As a student in the journalism school, I was lucky to have the help of many people including Joye Patterson, my teacher and mentor,” Smith said. “Patterson and others encouraged me to get involved in science writing and obtain a scholarship to further my education. I am deeply thankful for that, and I wanted to give back to the journalism school and the MU community.”
The fellowship will be awarded to a graduate student in the journalism school who is interested in health or science writing and has a journalism, science or business background. The student will receive a stipend and full tuition waiver, valued at $20,000, for one academic year.
Fellows will work with the Health Communication Research Center (HCRC) at the journalism school. HCRC’s mission is to promote research to improve communication between the health care community and the public.
“This is an exciting opportunity for HCRC to add a new dimension by partnering with science journalism students,” said Glen Cameron, HCRC co-director and scientific adviser. “Fellowship recipients will gain immeasurable experience by working on the strategic communication aspects of health-related grants from agencies such as the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and Missouri Foundation for Health.”
Twice a year, the Smith/Patterson lecture series will host professionals to discuss current trends in science journalism. Fellows will be responsible for promoting the series, working with lecturers and managing details of the events. The first lecture will take place this fall during the Sept. 10-12 celebration of the School’s centennial and the dedication of the Reynolds Journalism Institute. The second will take place during MU Life Sciences‘ Darwin Days in the spring.
Russell G. Smith II was raised in St. Louis and has been active in the Joplin business community for the past 36 years. Smith earned two degrees from MU: a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1967 and a Master of Arts degree in 1971 with a focus in science writing and public relations. He is the managing partner of MYRUSH Futures, LP, a Midwest investment property and consulting firm. Previously, he was Missouri division president of May’s Drug Stores Inc., based in Tulsa, Okla. Smith and his wife, Gail, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from MU in 1968, live in Joplin; Naples, Fla.; and Telluride, Colo.
The Smith/Patterson Science Journalism Fellowship and Lecture Series supports 100 by 100: The Centennial Campaign for the Missouri School of Journalism. The campaign seeks to raise endowments to strengthen Missouri’s position as the world’s premier school of journalism. Endowment earnings benefit all areas of the School, including the media laboratories, faculty salaries, technology and scholarships. Outright contributions, estate commitments and planned gifts such as charitable trusts and gift annuities made before Dec. 31, 2008, will be recognized in the campaign total.
Updated: April 27, 2020