John and Nancy Barnidge believe in funding opportunities that will remain long after they have gone. They have consistently contributed to the E. J. Ourso College of Business for years—through its student incubator program, endowed scholarships, the Dean’s Excellence Fund and the new Business Education Complex, among several others.

Their son’s recent positive experience with the Manship School of Mass Communication’s master’s program prompted them to expand their giving.
“Originally, we wanted to endow a scholarship and have the dean utilize it as needed,” John said, adding, “We never believed in giving gifts with a lot of restrictions.”

Instead, Dean Jerry Ceppos shared an “unorthodox” opportunity to give, through a donation to commemorate the school’s centennial. This year marks the Manship School of Mass Communication’s 100th year of journalism and mass communication education at LSU.

The year-long centennial celebration, named Manship 100, culminated in the distribution of nearly 1,000 tickets for a weekend of activities in October, aimed to establish a national brand for the Manship School in media and public affairs education, and to raise more money than ever before for its annual excellence fund—surpassing the previous, record-breaking year.

Ceppos said of the school’s unique curricula, “We are the only university to teach at the intersection of media and public affairs at all three levels—bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral. Our graduates cover Congress and state houses; work in congressional offices and federal agencies; and campaign for officeholders. Our job is to be sure that they can communicate the significance of public affairs, whether they’re working for public officials or for media organizations.”

The Barnidges’ donation provided a framework for supporting the school’s efforts to raise $300,000 in support through the centennial celebration. “It’s a good investment on our part,” John said. “[I thought], we can make a donation, and the dean can take that donation and quadruple it in terms of returns … four-to-one return on your money is good.”

The Barnidges’ gift provided funding for centennial publicity, mailing materials, keynote speakers, workshops, dinners and a tailgate. A specially designed centennial website hosts a timeline of student, alumni and friend stories and videos to help engage visitors in the celebration.

“It’s a sense of loyalty, a sense of pride for the university,” John said of his and Nancy’s decision to give. “It’s a sense of loyalty that’s instilled in you and, at least in me, it’s never left.”

Published in Cornerstone Winter 2013 and Spring 2014.

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