The 53rd Annual Scripps Dinner and Lecture Series was held on Tuesday, March 28 at the Joe Crowley Student Union Building in the Milt Glick Ballroom. The dinner is sponsored by the Ted Scripps Family and the Scripps Howard Foundation which honors the memory of Edward W. “Ted” Scripps II.
This year’s event attracted some 300 guests.
Approaching the University grounds, one is amazed at the large number of buildings under construction plus the equally large number of completed buildings. Even the main entrance to the campus has been relocated from the former southern entrance to a spacious entryway on the west side.
Upon entering the Student Union one notices the expansive rooms inside which resemble a five star resort. These enclaves are a far cry from the rather cramped quarters of the Lawlor Events Center, where the original dinners were once held.
I personally remember Ted Scripps from some of our mutual Journalism classes under Prof Al Higginbotham. One of the favorite jocular questions posed to Ted by fellow students and occasionally by teachers was, “Do you have any job prospects upon your graduation?” As a matter of fact, Ted had little to worry about since he was scion of the famous Scripps Howard Publishing Company. Ted graduated from the U of N Journalism Program in 1952 and went on to distinguished service with the United Press and the Scripps Howard Newspapers, both of which were founded by his grandfather, E. W. Scripps. Unfortunately, Ted passed away in 1987 at the age of 57 while flying to Sydney, Australia on a tour of the Pacific to gather information for the Scripps Howard editors and publishers.
The annual Scripps Lectures were started initially by Ted, who was a generous contributor to his alma mater. The tradition continues in his honor through the support of his family and the Scripps Howard Foundation.
The evening started off with a Welcome from Al Stavitsky, the current Dean of the University Journalism School. He also served as MC and after thanking numerous people who were responsible for the event, he introduced the first speaker, Liz Carter, President and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation Scholarship Presentation. Among those 2017 Scripps Scholars were: Emily Fisher, Samantha Van Hoozer and Jacob Solis. The Scripps Internship was awarded to Madeline Purdue. Following the awards, dinner was served and that was followed by the keynote speaker, Stephen Stirling.
Stirling gave a riveting personal discourse about his own battles with alcoholism, drugs and depression. He said that experience might have given him the inspiration to seek what all good reporters should seek—the Truth.
Stiriling himself is a reporter for the Star-Ledger and NJ Advance Media. His year-long investigation revealed the scale of the heroin population in New Jersey. “HeroinTown” asked what would happen if all heroin addicts lived in one town. His research indicated there was a population of 100,000 people in New Jersey that suffered from the heroin epidemic.
Following his talk, Stirling engaged in a long and lively question-and-answer session.