January 15-16, 2004
ITEM 122-1022-R0104 Authorization to Name the School of Journalism Building Don Anderson Hall, The University of Montana- Missoula
THAT: Consistent with Board of Regents’ Policy 1004.1, Naming of Buildings, the Board of Regents of the Montana University System authorizes The University of Montana-Missoula to name the new School of Journalism building “Don Anderson Hall.”
EXPLANATION: The University of Montana-Missoula proposes this action in recognition of Donald W. Anderson (1900-1978), a native of the Gallatin valley who was described in his Billings Gazette obituary as “the Abraham Lincoln of Montana journalism.” In 1959, acting as the principal negotiator for Lee Enterprises in the purchase of newspapers owned by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Mr. Anderson emancipated the major state dailies constrained by the “copper collar.” The purchase of the Billings Gazette, the Missoulian, the Montana Standard of Butte, the Helena Independent Record and the Livingston Enterprise (later resold) ushered in a new era in Montana journalism. The tribute to Mr. Anderson upon his induction into the Montana Journalism Hall of Fame points out that, in stark contrast to Anaconda Company policies, he personally “encouraged and inspired his Montana editors and publishers to exercise their new freedom with complete and fair news coverage, hard-hitting editorial positions on the issues and reader access to newspaper columns with letters to the editor.”
Although he continued in his role as publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Mr. Anderson also was the first president of Lee Newspapers in Montana and for six years played a key role in effecting the transition. He maintained that position until the Montana papers were folded into the main Lee Enterprises corporate structure. He never forgot his Montana roots, returning often to his summer cabin in the Gallatin country. His obituary describes Mr. Anderson as a man whose “speech, manner and friendliness were strictly of the West from which he originated. He was at home on horseback, in a trout stream, a Mexican village or a drawing room.”
Mr. Anderson’s career as a journalist began in 1923 and ended with his retirement in 1968. At the Wisconsin State Journal he rose from humor columnist to city editor, Sunday editor, managing editor, business manager and assistant publisher. He became publisher in 1942 and held the position until his retirement. He was familiar with all aspects of newspaper work and, even more importantly, he had a sure sense of the role newspapers can play in improving and sustaining community life.
In every respect—character, knowledge, commitment to the principles of a free press in a democracy, practical business knowledge and diplomatic bearing—Donald W. Anderson is an heroic role model. His life and work are inspiring to all who are familiar with it. In a speech to the Montana Press Association in 1975, Mr. Anderson summed up what he saw as the effect of the change in newspaper ownership and policy in which he played such a key role: “I have seen a healthy growth of civic responsibility and participation in a number of the state’s cities; I have observed a growing awareness among Montana citizens that government not only should be, but can be honest; I have sensed a growing feeling out here that Montana can move into the 20th Century without losing many of the strengths of the 19th. I believe the press of the state has been a major factor in achieving all of this.”
In sum, the values championed by Don Anderson are timeless, exemplary and worthy to be perpetuated to future generations of Montanans. To honor his service to journalism in general and the State of Montana in particular, and to recognize the principles he put into practice, the University respectfully requests authorization to name the new School of Journalism Building “Don Anderson Hall.”