The WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism has announced the establishment of one of the country's first endowed professorships in public relations, as well as an endowed scholarship.
The Widmeyer Professorship in Public Relations was established in August by Scott Widmeyer, his parents, Douglas and Ruth Ann Widmeyer, and Widmeyer Communications.
Scott Widmeyer, chairman and chief executive officer of Widmeyer Communications, said he hopes this gift will help the school achieve national prominence for its strategic communications programs.
"The School of Journalism at WVU is the training ground for tomorrow's communicators," he said. "On behalf of Widmeyer Communications and my great parents, we are so pleased to support the P.I. Reed School of Journalism and its students and faculty through the endowed professorship and the scholarship program."
Diana Martinelli, the first Widmeyer Professor, is an award-winning teacher and recognized scholar. The associate professor earned her doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and both her bachelor's and master's degrees from the WVU School of Journalism.
"This position further distinguishes the School of Journalism as a national leader by supporting both public relations research and innovative teaching," Martinelli said. "It's an honor to hold the professorship that bears the Widmeyer name."
Douglas and Ruth Ann Widmeyer contributed to both the professorship and the newly established Douglas and Ruth Ann Widmeyer Endowed Journalism Scholarship for undergraduate students.
School of Journalism Dean Maryanne Reed said these gifts will enhance the educational experience for students now and well into the future.
"We are so fortunate to have friends like Scott and his wonderful parents," Reed said. "Scott's loyalty to WVU and his continued history of giving back to his alma mater make him an exemplary role model. Scott has achieved great success in his work and done good deeds in his life."
Widmeyer has a 30-year record of providing strategic thinking to scores of decision-makers, including presidents, governors, CEOs and union leaders. From working as a newspaper reporter in the 1970s to running major media operations for national campaigns, he knows how to garner press coverage for his clients.
Widmeyer's track record of success around reforming education, health care, campaign finances, technology, trade and other public policy matters illustrate his impact as a change agent on cutting-edge issues. Clients turn regularly to him for advice on economic development matters, marketing strategies, coalition building and crisis management.
He founded his own firm in 1988 after holding major communications positions with five national leaders - former President Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Walter Mondale, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro and the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker.
Widmeyer was named a 2008 David Rockefeller Fellow through a program sponsored by the Partnership for New York City, which annually brings together leading executives to learn the workings of the public and private sector in America's largest city. He also has served on the boards of the March of Dimes, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Victory Fund.
In addition to the endowed professorship, Widmeyer has established two scholarship funds to benefit black and first-generation West Virginians who are seeking degrees in journalism.
He received his bachelor's degree from the WVU School of Journalism and was editor and managing editor of the campus daily newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum. In 2005, he was honored with the Distinguished West Virginian award by then-Gov. Bob Wise.
Widmeyer currently serves as chair of the School of Journalism's advisory committee.
He will be inducted into the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, in the Ruby Grand Hall of the new Erickson Alumni Center.
Douglas and Ruth Ann Widmeyer are natives of the Eastern Panhandle. For some 40 years, they owned and operated Widmeyer's Cleaners until selling it in the early 1990s. Both are graduates of Martinsburg High School.
Douglas Widmeyer attended Shepherd University. He is a member of the board of directors for the WVU Hospitals-East, and he served as chairman of the Berkeley County Democratic Party for nearly 10 years.
Both are active in St. John's Lutheran Church and Meals on Wheels.