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Business Wire founder Lokey funds new visiting professorship

STANFORD -- Stanford alumnus Lorry I. Lokey, '49, founder, president and general manager of Business Wire, has given $1.6 million to establish the Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professorship in Professional Journalism at Stanford.

Lokey has completed funding for the visiting professorship, which he proposed with a pledge in 1993, said Professor Donald Roberts, chairman of the Department of Communication. Roberts and Marion Lewenstein, professor emerita of communication, spearheaded the effort to establish the professorship.

A primary goal of the visiting professorship, Roberts said, is "to be sure that students come in contact with practitioners who are closely involved in current journalism practices, which change almost daily."

Roberts said the first visiting professor could be selected as early as Winter Quarter. The visiting professors will be appointed to terms of varying length depending on their availability and areas of expertise, Roberts said.

The inaugural search is being coordinated by Professor Theodore Glasser, director of the master's program in journalism, and Dale Maharidge, lecturer. Professionals from all areas of journalism will be sought, including those recently retired. The visiting professor will teach as many as four courses, advise students and host graduate seminars.

Lokey, 68, has a long history of supporting teaching and research at Stanford. He has made gifts for endowed professorships in environmental biology and Jewish studies, two fellowships in the Department of Communication and an internship program at the Stanford News Service.

"He has been a wonderful friend to this department over the years," said Roberts, who added that Lokey's gifts have enabled the department to purchase computers and other equipment to maintain its journalism laboratories.

"Without him, I think we'd be in pretty sorry shape," Roberts said.

Lokey says the success of Business Wire, the international media relations news wire service he founded in San Francisco in 1961, "is directly traceable to Stanford."

"It did not take many months to recognize after graduation that anything I might become was because of Stanford," Lokey said. "Very early on, I vowed to repay the university many times over for what it had taken a chance on with me."

However, he said, "I do not really view the giving program as giving or spending or paying back. When you get down to it, the action is one of reinvestment. Or, as farmers put it, plowing riches back into the soil in order to continue the run of good harvests."

Lokey entered Stanford in 1944, was drafted at the end of his freshman year and sent to Japan just as World War II was ending. While in the U.S. Army he was features editor for Stars and Stripes. After coming back to Stanford in 1947, he devoted much of his time to working on the Stanford Daily. "It showed in my grades," he said. He was named editor of the Daily in 1949.

After graduation, on the strength of a recommendation from George Turnbull, professor of journalism, Lokey got a job as night wire editor with United Press (now United Press International) in Portland, Ore. He later was an administrator with the Western Highway Institute in San Francisco and public relations representative for Shell Development Co. in Emeryville, Calif., before beginning seven years as western news bureau supervisor for General Electric in San Francisco.

In 1961, Lokey started Business Wire to capitalize on the fact that corporations wanted more immediate and broader distribution of their mandatory quarterly and annual financial reports. It took Business Wire just three months to turn a profit. The wire started with 16 print and broadcast clients from San Rafael to San Jose, and seven corporate customers. Currently, Business Wire has more than 17,000 accounts and transmits news releases to more than 2,700 media outlets. It has 17 domestic offices, bureaus in Tokyo and Paris, and employs 210 people.



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