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Mayor orders city flags flown at half-staff to honor Cronkite


July 22, 2009

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who championed the successful effort to move the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to downtown Phoenix, ordered city flags to be flown at half-staff through July 26 to honor the late CBS News anchor.

The Arizona State University journalism school, named in honor of Cronkite in 1984, moved from the Tempe campus into a new six-story, state-of-the-art media complex in the heart of the city last summer, part of the mayor’s $223 million bond initiative to create a robust ASU campus in Phoenix.

“Walter Cronkite was one-of-a-kind, an American icon,” Gordon said. “He will forever hold a special place in our hearts and our history. Meeting him was something I will never forget and treasure always.”

Earlier this week, ASU President Michael M. Crow ordered university flags flown at half-staff on all four campuses.

Cronkite, who served as anchor of the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981 and became known as “the most trusted man in America” because of his integrity and high journalistic ethics, died Friday at age 92 in his New York home. Over his 25 year-association with the Cronkite School, he worked to successfully transform the journalism program into one of the premier journalism schools in the nation.

In his last public statement about his school before his death, Cronkite wrote about the new building on the Phoenix campus. “I trust you all know how thrilled and appreciative I am of this endeavor,” he said in a letter that was read at last year’s ceremonies for the annual Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. “Mayor Gordon and President Crow, your leadership made this dream become a reality, and our new home is now the envy of journalism schools everywhere.”

The Cronkite School is planning a major public tribute to its namesake in September. Meanwhile, the school is playing video tributes to “America’s anchor” this week on the large, high-definition TV in The First Amendment Forum and is displaying a collection of Cronkite memorabilia in the Marguerite and Jack Clifford Gallery, both on the second floor of the building at 555 N. Central Ave. The collection includes Cronkite’s lifetime Emmy, his CBS typewriter, books, photos and part of his pipe collection. It is free and open to the public.

The school also has created a special Web site at http://cronkite.asu.edu/rememberingcronkite that contains video, photos, commentary and news links about Cronkite. The site includes a comments page where former colleagues, students, faculty and admirers from around the world have written remembrances.  Comments can be added at http://cronkite.asu.edu/node/675.