Movie industry exec’s bequest creates $3.25 million ‘game-changer’ endowment for school’s broadcast program

The UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media has announced a $3.25 million endowment supporting its award-winning broadcast program and honoring the late 1965 UNC alumnus John H. Stembler Jr. of Atlanta.

The school's broadcast program has finished in the top 5 of the Hearst Journalism Awards collegiate national competition every year since 2003, including national championships in 2015, 2013, 2008 and 2006.

The endowment, established through Stembler’s bequest after his death in 2007, will fund five inter-related initiatives in the school:
  • John H. Stembler Jr. Distinguished Professorship  
  • Stembler Professional in Residence
  • Stembler Associate Producer
  • Stembler Capstone Immersive Student Experience
  • Stembler Lecture
The Hussman School’s first Stembler Lecture — featuring “Ant-Man” director and UNC alumnus Peyton Reed and Motion Picture Association of America CEO and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd — will be held Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, during UNC’s homecoming weekend. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is strongly encouraged. 
The school hosted NBC’s Bob Dotson Sept. 7-11, 2015, as its first Stembler Professional in Residence. Dotson spent a week at the school interacting with students and faculty in classes and sharing his experiences in one-on-one and group meetings. He offered his perspective on storytelling honed during his 40 years as a leading correspondent for NBC News.
John Hardwick Stembler Jr. (1943 – 2007) graduated from UNC in 1965, where he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. From 1965 to 1967, he served as a U.S. Naval officer, after which he attended the University of Georgia School of Law for a year. He then spent a year in San Francisco with United Artists Distribution. In 1971, Stembler joined Georgia Theatre Company, where he was in charge of concessions and promotions.
In 1991 he partnered with his brother, William J. Stembler, to found the Georgia Theatre Company II. He later sold his interest in the venture and established Zota Theatres, which operated in Florida.
“John Stembler helped create a new world of modern movie-going. He experienced changes in and the growth of television and visual storytelling that made America the global leader in entertainment and news in the 20th century,” said Susan King, dean of the school. “His bequest will help us create a generation of UNC graduates – producers, reporters, anchors and innovative business leaders – who will reimagine and reinvent the 21st century media business.”
King said visual communication is driving learning and entertainment today. Faculty in the school – which changed its name to the School of Media and Journalism in July – recently voted to require a new core course to help prepare all students in the elements of audio and visual storytelling.
“The Stembler bequest allows the school to supercharge our visual media offerings by strengthening teaching staff both academically and professionally, as well as offer students an outstanding senior year experience,” King said.
The activities and initiatives funded by the endowment include:
John H. Stembler Jr. Distinguished Professorship 
The first John H. Stembler Jr. Distinguished Professor is professor C.A. Tuggle. Tuggle had a 16-year career in local television news and media relations before returning to academia to educate and train a new wave of broadcast journalists. He is the school’s senior associate dean for undergraduate studies and also oversees the school’s broadcast and electronic journalism specialization. Each week, journalism students produce the live 30-minute TV news program “Carolina Week,” radio newscast “Carolina Connection” and sports highlights, analysis and commentary show “Sports Xtra.” 
These programs have won more than 600 regional and national awards since 2001, including best radio newscast, best TV newscast, best website, best sports program and best news team – all national awards. The broadcast specialization has finished in the top three in the Hearst national competition each of the past 10 years – including first place in 2015 – and boasts three Society of Professional Journalists national reporting champions in a row. 
Tuggle is the recipient of an Edward Kidder Graham superlative faculty award from the university; the school’s David Brinkley Teaching Excellence Award; and the Ed Bliss Award, which is a national honor for broadcast journalism educators who have made significant and lasting contributions to the field throughout their careers. He is also the executive producer of the documentary “Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and the Search for Identity” – which tells the story of an Argentinian human rights organization of grandmothers committed to finding their lost grandchildren, who they believe were stolen by their country’s government during Argentina's “Dirty War” from 1976 to 1983.
John H. Stembler Jr. Professional in Residence
The Stembler Professional in Residence program attracts accomplished broadcast journalism professionals to the school. These industry leaders bring the real world into the classroom and studio, offering unique insights into the current world of journalism while offering enhanced networking and mentoring capacity. NBC’s Bob Dotson served as the first Stembler Professional in Residence from Sept. 7-11, 2015.
John H. Stembler Jr. Associate Producer
The research/production associate will work directly with the Stembler Professor and others in the broadcast and electronic journalism specialization to manage “Carolina Week,” “Carolina Connection” and “Sports Xtra.” The position will oversee the student live-production team, working with student reporters to develop ideas into engaging broadcast stories that are well-researched, written, shot, edited and presented.
John H. Stembler Jr. Capstone Student Experience: Media Hub
Media Hub, a capstone course in the school, is supported by both the Stembler Professional in Residence and the research/production associate. The course provides students with challenging, hands-on experiences that push personal boundaries and provide real-world preparation. Students from the school’s various specializations work together to find, produce and market stories that attract the attention of professional media partners throughout the state and region, and at times, nationally or internationally. The majority of the work in the class is fieldwork — chasing down leads, investigating tips, securing sources, performing print, audio or video interviews, capturing video and audio, pitching stories to news directors and promoting work regionally.
John H. Stembler Jr. Lecture
A speaker or panel event will be organized periodically at the school to honor Stembler’s career and passion for the motion picture industry and examines the challenges imposed on it by digital media. The lecture will bring focus to topics related to the film industry to students, faculty and the Carolina community. The inaugural Stembler Lecture will feature “Ant-Man” director and UNC alumnus Peyton Reed and Motion Picture Association of America CEO and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, during UNC’s homecoming weekend.