ASU professor creates endowed scholarship for aspiring journalists

Jacquee Petchel

Arizona State University alumnus and faculty member Jacquee Gaillard Petchel has established a new endowed scholarship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for aspiring journalists.

Petchel, the executive editor of the Cronkite School’s Carnegie-Knight News21 national investigative reporting initiative, created the scholarship to honor her mother, Mary Louise Gaillard.

“This scholarship honors the significant financial sacrifices on the part of my mother, who insisted that I attend Arizona State University, despite financial hardships,” said Petchel, a 1980 ASU journalism graduate. “She is and was a steadfast supporter of what seemed an impossible goal for me at the time – to become an investigative journalist.”

Gaillard, a retired nurse, helped both of her daughters, Petchel and Judie Gaillard Bizzozero, graduate from ASU, providing financial and emotional support. Petchel said she hopes the Mary Louise Gaillard Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship will help future students reach their aspirations at the Cronkite School.

Petchel established the scholarship through a special program offered to full-time ASU faculty and staff as well as emeritus faculty. The ASU Foundation’s Maroon and Gold Leaders Giving Program is designed to increase scholarship support for high-performing undergraduate students with financial need.

Petchel studied journalism and Latin American studies at ASU, where she was a reporter and editor for the university’s independent student newspaper. Upon graduation, she launched her journalism career as a Pulliam Fellow at The Indianapolis News from 1980-1981, and then went on to spend six years as a reporter for The Arizona Republic.

In 1987, she joined The Miami Herald and was part of a team that won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service for an investigation into property damage in South Florida caused by Hurricane Andrew. She then began producing investigative journalism stories for television stations in Minneapolis, where she won a DuPont-Columbia Award, and Miami before returning to the Herald in 1999.

As assistant city editor, she was part of a team that received the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News in 2001 for coverage of the federal raid that removed six-year-old Elián González from his relatives’ home in Miami. She then served as the Herald’s investigations editor for four years.

Petchel returned to the Cronkite School as a faculty member in 2013 after managing the investigative team at the Houston Chronicle for more than seven years. At Cronkite, she leads the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, a digital reporting initiative where top journalism students from across the country cover an issue of national significance.

As News21 executive editor, Petchel has overseen investigations into gun rights and regulation and the fate of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, she is leading a Cronkite School investigative report on the perils of heroin produced by 70 students. The report will air simultaneously on every broadcast TV station and most radio outlets across Arizona in January 2014.

“Jacquee has impacted and inspired countless students through her tireless dedication leading award-winning investigations that rival many professional news organizations,” said Christopher Callahan, Cronkite School dean. “We sincerely appreciate the establishment of the Mary Louise Gaillard Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship, which will help our students for years to come.”

Petchel’s scholarship marks the sixth endowed scholarship created at the Cronkite School in the past year. The others include the Sarah and David Bodney First Amendment Scholarship, the Jean and Christopher Callahan Family Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship, the John Misner and Angela Astore Misner New American University Scholarship, the Susan M. Newman and Craig A. Newman Family New American University Scholarship, and the Thomas J. and Dorothy J. Sokol Maroon and Gold Scholarship.

The Maroon and Gold Leaders Giving Program offers matching funds for 10 years, and immediately begins distributing scholarship help to students. As part of the program, ASU is matching 4 percent of an endowed scholarship commitment for the first 10 years of the scholarship. Commitments can be outright gifts or pledges with a five-year payment schedule.