The gift will strengthen the Walter B. Potter Fund for Innovation in Local Journalism, an endowed fund established by Potter in 2010 to support teaching and research at the school focused on journalism that serves small communities and individual neighborhoods in larger urban areas. Named for Potter's late father, the fund supports the Walter B. Potter, Sr. Conference, a series that brings together community journalists from around the country to share information about new technologies as well as strategies for adapting to the changing economic climate in community journalism.
Walter B. Potter, Sr. owned and operated six community newspapers and served as president of the Virginia Press Association (1959) and the National Newspaper Association (1966). His wife, Alice Kay, was an award-winning reporter and photographer for the Culpeper (Virginia) Star-Exponent and was active in Virginia Press Women ,Inc. Walter Potter, Jr. worked on his father's paper in Culpeper starting at age 13 and went on to work as a police reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. After earning a master's degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, he worked as a reporter for the Nashville Banner, a reporter and editor for the Kansas City Times (now the Star), a reporter for Presstime, and editor and business manager of the Independent-Messenger, which both his father and grandfather had run.
"The newspaper industry has provided three generations of my family with satisfying and rewarding lives," said Potter. "I just wanted to give back to the profession from which we have received so much. Also, my experience attending the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri was the major turning point in my newspaper career. Much of whatever success I’ve enjoyed has come thanks to what I learned and the people I met at the best journalism school in the world."