Dr. Rich Lee

Dr. Rich Lee, journalism professor at St. Bonaventure University, gives remarks Thursday during a reception kicking off the Jandoli Institute.

ST. BONAVENTURE — Journalism professor Rich Lee worked for the Hall Institute, a public policy center based in New Jersey, earlier in his career.

When he decided to make the move and teach at his alma mater, St. Bonaventure University, he told Lee Coppola, then dean of the Jandoli School of Journalism and Communications, that he had dreams of creating a public policy institute at the university to analyze the intersection between media, politics and democracy.

On Thursday, his dreams of starting a public policy institute for St. Bonaventure finally came to fruition.

Lee and Aaron Chimbel, dean of the Jandoli School, unveiled the new Jandoli Institute at a reception held in Murphy Professional Building on Thursday.

“People know the Jandoli School for our great alumni and the great work our students do,” Chimbel said. “This ties in more with the research side of the school and the work faculty do in that area. It’s really important that people both on campus, but also across the country, realize that we do a lot of important scholarship, as well.”

Lee said that though he’s had the idea for the Jandoli Institute in the back of his mind for quite some time now, the project took about a year to culminate once he began serious work on it. Lee created the Jandoli Institute during his year-long sabbatical during the 2018-19 academic year.

“I did it in phases,” said Lee.

Lee shared that he began by speaking to people who run similar institutes to get a better idea of the necessary components he would need to pull together. He then started a website for the institute.

“It’s a hard thing to explain to people what a public policy institute is,” he said. “I figured if I had something that I could send people a link to, that would help.”

Lee said the website served as a good way to test ideas and realize which of his plans for the institute would work and which wouldn’t.

“We’re going to look at issues involving the media, with the ultimate goal of making journalism stronger,” said Lee.

Chimbel and Lee said that the Jandoli Institute will collaborate with other departments’ faculty members at the universities, as well as to incorporate students’ work.

Lee said he received a grant, which will provide six $500 stipends for faculty members who write articles for the Jandoli Institute.

Because the new institute bears the name of the late Dr. Russell J. Jandoli, for whom the school is named, Lee said it’s important that the work created honors his legacy.

“(The Jandoli Institute) is not only going to bear Dr. Jandoli’s name, but it’s going to carry his mission to fruition. We are going to inform,” Lee said.

Chimbel explained that now is an ideal time for the introduction of a policy institute that focuses on the commonalities and differences between the media and democracy. He said that despite tensions, it’s a crucial moment to understand the relationship between the two.

“I think it would be really good for us, as a school with this great history, this great value system and sense of ethics, to be part of that conversation and reach well beyond campus,” Chimbel said.

Lee said the Jandoli Institute’s website — www.jandoliinstitute.wordpress.com — will feature new content each week, including content such as articles and podcasts.

Chimbel praised Lee for his work on the Jandoli Institute.

“It’s really a perfect alignment with (Lee’s) professional background, as a journalist and working for elected officials, as well as the (Hall Institute),” said Chimbel. “He’s a great person to do this.”

Lee said he’s looking forward to what’s next for the Jandoli Institute and shared that he’s thankful for the support he’s received from the Jandoli School.

“I’m excited about this. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to put it together,” Lee said.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is jeckstrom@oleantimesherald.com.)