Fitzwater Center recognized by New England Board of Higher Education

January 16, 2009

Students at the DNC in Denver
Teams of students reported on the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions for Franklin Pierce University and mainstream media. Through the Marlin Fitzwater Center at Franklin Pierce, students representing a variety of majors have served alongside national media as reporters, producers, pollsters and pundits. These efforts were recently recognized by the New England Board of Higher Education.

RINDGE, NH - Franklin Pierce University's Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication has been recognized by the New England Board of Higher Education for successfully preparing students to succeed as journalists, critical thinkers, and contributors to a healthy democracy.

The Fitzwater Center was chosen, specifically, to receive the 2009 New Hampshire State Merit Award in the New England Board of Higher Education's annual Excellence Awards program. The award will be presented at a March 6 ceremony in Boston.

The Fitzwater Center at Franklin Pierce University was established in 2002 as an academic institute dedicated to preparing young men and women with the intellect and character that equips them to be politically-engaged Leaders of Conscience in their studies and professions. The Fitzwater Center was named for its primary benefactor, Marlin Fitzwater who stands alone as the only White House press secretary to have been appointed by two presidents (Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush). Fitzwater also serves on the University's Board of Trustees.

Since its founding, The Fitzwater Center has gained a national reputation for the caliber of student journalists who hone their skills through its hands-on learning and mentoring programs. During the 2008 presidential campaign, The Fitzwater Center provided students with a front-row seat to some of the most significant political events in recent history.

Student journalists worked alongside national correspondents and news producers during the June 2007 Presidential Debates in Manchester, New Hampshire and the state Primary. In the months leading to the Primary, students helped generate a series of Franklin Pierce University / WBZ-TV political polls which were quoted by media across the country.

On Primary Day, students' video coverage of the candidates' local campaigns and voter reaction helped The Fitzwater Center's YouTube channel gain a Top 100 world viewership ranking.

This past summer, teams of student reporters attended the Democratic and Republican National Conventions where they interviewed national political figures and media pundits, then filed reports for Franklin Pierce University media as well as WMUR-TV and the Union Leader newspaper. Students earned the distinction of being WMUR's "top bloggers" during the party conventions.

For Election Day, Franklin Pierce students were selected to work with Dan Rather Reports to provide video footage from the Granite State. The news magazine chose one college from each of the nation's critical "swing states" for its special election coverage.

In its selection for the New England Board of Higher Education 2009 State Merit Award, The Fitzwater Center was recognized for these accomplishments and for its broader contributions to New England higher education which include

  • Attracting leaders of national prominence to the University campus and to Central New England where students, faculty and community residents have opportunities to engage them in robust dialog and public policy discussions,
  • Graduating the next generation of media practitioners who bring both technical proficiency and ethical standards to the industry,
  • Preparing the next generation for college and beyond by collaborating with high schools and hosting events for pre-college students, and by helping these young people find their voice in the public square,
  • Showcasing the quality of New England higher education to people of influence across the nation.

The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) is a professional association that works across the six New England states to promote greater educational opportunities and services for the region' s residents through leadership, advocacy, and by fostering collaboration among educators and institutions.