BREAKING » Reese Cleghorn, dean of the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism from 1981 to 2000, has died, his family announced. He was 78. A memorial service will be held at the Memorial Chapel on the University of Maryland campus on Thursday, March 26 at 3 p.m.

The longest sitting dean on the University of Maryland campus when he stepped down, Cleghorn was associate editor of the Detroit Free Press when he was named to the journalism position. He has helped turn the college from one of relative obscurity to one of national prominence.

Upon taking over as dean at Maryland, Cleghorn, along with the faculty and a newly established Board of Visitors, developed a five-year excellence plan called “Toward 1990: Creating a Model Professional School.” The plan spelled out ways for the journalism school to build its future and resulted in an increase in minority students, the upgrading of radio and TV broadcast facilities, a smaller but higher quality undergraduate enrollment and an expanded master’s and Ph.D. programs.

In a 1988 national assessment of journalism education by the Gannett Center for Media Studies, the College of Journalism was included in the listing of “Eleven Exemplary Journalism Schools,” described by the report’s author Jerrold Footlick as “those deserving of imitation.”

Cleghorn was instrumental in bringing the national monthly magazine American Journalism Review (then Washington Journalism Review) to the college in 1987, and and has since served as president, and then publisher of AJR.

Other notable advancements at the College of Journalism during Cleghorn’s tenure include: The National Association of Black Journalists relocated its headquarters to the campus; a student-operated wire service, Capital News Service, was launched in 1990 with bureaus in Washington, D.C. and Annapolis as part of an expanded Public Affairs Reporting Program; the creation of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the Journalism Center for Children and Families brought new professional outreach programs to the college; and fundraising successes that resulted in new endowed chairs led to the faculty appointments of former CBS-TV correspondent Lee Thornton to the Richard Eaton Chair in Broadcast Journalism and former Pulitzer-winning Washington Post journalist and editor Haynes Johnson to the Knight Chair in Journalism.

Cleghorn was named Journalism Administrator of the Year by the Freedom Forum in 1995. In announcing the award, Freedom Forum Chairman Al Neuharth said that “at a time when journalism schools have teetered on the verge of extinction at many leading universities, Maryland has not only survived but thrived under Dean Cleghorn’s leadership. His model professional school — dedicated to both scholarship and professional experience — has set the standard for journalism schools of the future.”

Cleghorn is co-author, with Pat Watters, of “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” a book about the Civil Rights Movement and the South.

A native of Georgia, Cleghorn holds an undergraduate degree from Emory University in Atlanta and a master’s in public law and government from Columbia University in New York. A former editorial page editor of the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, he was named to the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 1996. Cleghorn is past president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers.

Since his retirement from dean in 2000, Cleghorn has served as a beloved professor at the Merrill College, teaching courses in commentary and editorial writing.

There will be a private burial in Washington, D.C. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, a contribution may be made payable to the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, indicating it is for the Reese Cleghorn Scholarship Fund, and sent to 1117 Journalism Building, Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Contributions may also be made to the Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian Mission Fund, 1609 East Fifth St., Charlotte, NC 28204.

Service Information

For those from outside the university attending the Reese Cleghorn Memorial Service March 26 at the University of Maryland Memorial Chapel, parking will be available in the university’s Mowatt Lane Garage on the south side of campus. If arriving from either a north or south direction via Route 1 (Baltimore Blvd.), the main road in front of the campus, turn at the light at Guilford Avenue, which eventually becomes Mowatt Lane. (An Exxon station and Plato’s Diner are at the Guilford road intersection.) The garage entrance is on your right, and a campus shuttle bus marked “Charter” will take guests to the Memorial Chapel entrance. You can locate both the garage and the Chapel at A reception will be held after the service at South Dining Hall, a short walk from the Chapel. Following the reception, the shuttle will be available outside South Dining Hall to take guests back to the parking garage. For those parked in the garage and unable to attend the reception, the shuttle will pick them up in front of the Chapel after the service and take them to the garage.

Outside Coverage
A Giant Departs – American Journalism Review
Newspaperman Led U-Md. Journalism Dept. – The Washington Post
Reese Cleghorn, Former Dean — And Editor — Dies at 78 – AP via Editor & Publisher
1970s Observer editor Reese Cleghorn dies – Charlotte Observer