The University Record, March 28, 1994

Gifts to Journalism Fellows program total $915,000

Capital Cities/ABC Inc. announced today (March 28) a $750,000 gift to the Michigan Journalism Fellows program to establish a fellowship named for retiring president Daniel B. Burke.

The endowment will sponsor a yearly academic program of study for a journalist working in either print or broadcast media. In addition to the national network, Capital Cities/ABC owns magazines, newspapers and local television and radio stations.

“The company was looking for an appropriate way to honor Dan Burke’s significant contributions to the communications industry over a 33-year period,” said chairman and chief executive Thomas S. Murphy.

“The Michigan Journalism Fellows program offers an opportunity to do this in a way we hope will be meaningful to our business on an ongoing basis. We think the creation of a Dan Burke Fellowship is a fitting and relevant tribute.”

Burke, who grew up near Albany, N.Y., developed an admiration for the U-M while managing Detroit radio station WJR in 1964–69.

“My ties to Michigan go back many years and make this association a special honor,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my campus visits and to being an active participant in the program.”

In March 1985, Murphy and Burke stunned the media world with their announcement that their small, relatively unknown company, Capital Cities Communications Inc., would merge with American Broadcasting Companies Inc. The merger took effect Jan. 3, 1986, and in the eight years since then, Capital Cities/ABC Inc. has grown to a $5.7 billion company, one of the largest communications companies in the world. The company owns the ABC Television Network, television stations, radio stations, radio networks, and newspapers and other publications. In recent years it has expanded significantly abroad and has developed many new businesses internally, with an emphasis on programming it produces.

“The University of Michigan is deeply grateful for this beneficial and timely gift,” said President James J. Duderstadt. “I am particularly encouraged that Dan Burke will personally become involved.”

Charles Gibson, co-host of ABC’s top-rated “Good Morning America,” was instrumental in arranging the gift as a Fellowship program alumnus who now serves on its board.

“I simply would not have stayed in journalism without the Michigan experience,” he said, “and couldn’t think of anything likely to better reflect Dan Burke’s fierce and lifelong commitment to quality in his profession.”

In his letter of thanks for the fellowships gift, program director Charles R. Eisendrath stressed the importance of Burke’s participation. While appreciating the company’s generosity, Eisendrath told Murphy, “ ...your best gift to us may turn out to be the association with Mr. Burke. I can think of nobody better qualified to discuss the business of print and broadcast journalism. Nor have I met anyone more capable of inspiring a group of people who have dedicated a year to improving their performance.

“The first Daniel B. Burke Fellow will be selected next month, and we look forward to Dan’s visit here in October.”