USD mourns the passing of Al Neuharth

Al Neuharth, Jack Marsh, President and chief operating officer, Al Neuharth Media Center at University of South Dakota, and Bob Schieffer of CBS News share a laugh on the stage of Slagle Hall Oct. 6, 2006. Schieffer was recipient of the 2006 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media. (Photo by David Lias)

Al Neuharth, Jack Marsh, president and chief operating officer of the Al Neuharth Media Center at University of South Dakota, and Bob Schieffer of CBS News share a laugh on the stage of Slagle Hall Oct. 6, 2006. Schieffer was recipient of the 2006 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media. (Photo by David Lias)

Al Neuharth, a 1950 graduate of USD, a former editor of the Volante, creator of USA Today and founder of the Freedom Forum, died today.  Neuharth turned 89 on March 22. He lived in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

“It is my sad duty to report that our alumnus, benefactor and friend Al Neuharth has died,” stated President James W. Abbott. “He was a favorite of students, faculty and staff in part because he visited USD so often. He was in Vermillion three or four times a year.”

Neuharth’s last visit was in October 2012 when he presented the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media for the 26th time. As part of the annual Neuharth Award festivities Al always included time to interact with students, answer their questions and ask them questions of his own.

In 2003, the “New” Armory at USD was renovated with a lead donation from the Freedom Forum and renamed the Al Neuharth Media Center. The building, bearing the words of the First Amendment, today houses the Volante, KYOT radio and television, the Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism, and South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

“The state of South Dakota and the nation have lost a great media innovator, and USD has lost a wonderful alum and a dedicated supporter,” Abbott said.

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