New Scholarship Honors Industry Pioneer and Former AWC President

Christy C. Bulkeley

Christy C. Bulkeley

Debuting this year, the Christy C. Bulkeley Endowed Memorial Scholarship for Communication undergraduates was established as a celebration of Christy C. Bulkeley, who was one of the few female newspaper publishers in the United States in the 1970s.

The endowment was made possible by a gift from The Matrix Foundation, whose mission was to provide funds to help promote the advancement of women in the communications profession, and whose board of directors was comprised of past national leaders of The Association for Women in Communications (AWC).

“Christy was a dear and helpful friend who gave me much good advice and died much too soon,” says Jo-Ann Huff Albers, Director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University. “If I were asked to describe her in three words, I would say she was smart, energetic, and forward-looking.”

The Christy C. Bulkeley Endowed Memorial Scholarship is yet another chapter in the shared history of the UW Department of Communication and the AWC. The organization owes its creation to seven UW female journalism students in 1909; together with five other students, they formed the Alpha chapter of Theta Sigma Phi (precursor to 1990s’ AWC), a women’s fraternity with the mission “to raise the standards of journalism, improve working conditions for women in the profession and inspire the individual to greater efforts.”

Now with more than 1,100 members, the modern AWC continues “to elevate the role of women in communications through empowering opportunities of learning,” and through enabling its members to connect with a nationwide network of women leaders.

Former AWC UW Chapter President, Annika Larson

Former AWC UW Chapter President, Annika Larson

During chapter meetings, AWC members at the UW engage in active discussions, plan work site tours, and hear presentations from women in a communication discipline. “I love the supportive and encouraging club members, as well as how AWC prioritizes creating networking opportunities for women in the COM department,” says Annika Larson, past AWC chapter president and recent graduate. “Through AWC I experienced that first big push to really start thinking about what I wanted to do in a future career!”

“The true value of an AWC membership,” Albers remarks, “is the opportunity it provides to prepare oneself for maximum advancement in your chosen field(s), including helpful and realistic information on how to succeed in whatever you choose to do.”

A former AWC president, Bulkeley received the organization’s National Headliner Award in 1978, in recognition of her pioneering career in the newspaper industry.

Bulkeley worked for newspapers from junior high school through more than 20 years after receiving a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1964. She spent her career at Gannett newspapers, working in New York at the Rochester Times-Union and the Saratoga Springs Saratogian, where she became editor, publisher and president. She was a leader in her field; the first woman named chief executive officer of a local Gannett newspaper.

At the University of Washington, 1909

At the University of Washington, 1909

In addition to her pioneering work as a journalist, Bulkeley served on committees, boards and officer positions of various professional and trade and education-related organizations, wrote for their publications; was a guest lecturer at a number of journalism schools and on newspaper and community programs; was a nominating judge for the Pulitzer Prize, and is cited in several books dealing with the progress of women in journalism and communications. She had a deep interest in learning as the compelling component of news, and how that process is affected by community, social class and world view.

“The desire to inform people of information important to their decision making is one of the key ideas, I believe, which drove Christy’s career as a storyteller,” recalls Albers.

In spring 2002, Ms. Bulkeley published a research study in Nieman Reports that updated benchmark studies of women working in the mainstream media. “I think that if Christy were still with us,” says Albers, “she would want to impart the following lessons to the women communicators of today: (1) Be sure employers know your ambitions and (2) Don’t believe that you are less able than men.”

Department of Communication students will have the opportunity to apply for the Christy C. Bulkeley Endowed Memorial Scholarship and other awards for the 2019-2020 school year during Spring Quarter. To learn more information about Communication scholarship awards, made possible through the generous gifts of Department alumni, friends, and community partners, click here.