School of Journalism and Mass Communication alum reveals matching incentive for Graduate Student Support Fund

Two-time J-School alum Karen Walsh and her husband, Jim Berbee, made a generous matching gift to inspire donors to consider giving to our top fundraising priority: The Graduate Student Support Fund.

Walsh (BA ’81, MA ’89) and Berbee, have pledged $100,000 through the BerbeeWalsh Foundation to match leadership-level gifts of $10,000-$25,000 for this new endowed fund. To date, $85,000 has been raised through the match. The long-term goal is to raise at least $500,000 by the end of 2020.

“Jim and I know that matching incentives inspire gifts,” Walsh says. “Before speaking with Director Hemant Shah, I had no idea this was such a key need. We hope our gift will raise awareness and encourage other donors to support graduate students.”

Graduate students play a large role in the educational mission of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Our graduate students bring a unique combination of strong teaching and research skills. Because of this, the SJMC competes with some of the best universities in the world for graduate students with this unique skillset. And yet, University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students earn a stipend of only $18,350 for two semesters of teaching, a rate that is far behind some of our major Big Ten Conference rivals, such as Michigan and Northwestern.

Like many donors, Walsh’s first major gift to the J-School established an endowed undergraduate scholarship fund. While she does not want to take away from undergraduate support, she hopes her new match incentive will encourage donors to consider donations to the Graduate Student Support Fund.

“Journalism plays a central role in a strong democracy,” Walsh says. “We want to help support the graduate students who help prepare undergraduates for careers in journalism and other communication industries.”

Walsh brought this message to the SJMC’s Board of Visitors in April 2018. Long-time board member, John Roach, was inspired to give to the match fund. Roach mobilized his team at Roach Productions, a Madison-based video production shop, to create a video in support of the fund.

If you’re also inspired, follow this link to make a gift online to the SJMC Graduate Student Support Fund: