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Remembering Karen Blumenthal: A selfless teacher

letter to the editor

From John Lumpkin, retired Director of the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University, previously Vice President of Associated Press:

Karen had a profound effect on journalism students at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth while I served as Director of the Schieffer School of Journalism. It was another example of the reach of her exceptional life.

She brought business journalism at TCU to a new level as visiting professor, hired through a grant we secured from the Donald W. Reynolds Center at Arizona State University to create an emphasis on business reporting.  In doing so, she had a one-way commute in DFW Metroplex traffic of an hour or more for a one-hour classes in more than one subject.  

In addition, she and I co-taught a newly established journalism capstone course in 2014 in which competitively chosen students partnered with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a major reporting project on civil asset forfeiture. The editor of the Star-Telegram warmly described the project here.

Currently leading business journalism instruction at TCU is Dr. Melita Garza, who, like Karen, was a business reporter who acquired an MBA to accelerate their knowledge and understanding of the field they chose to cover.

Dr. Garza wrote me after hearing of Karen's passing:

"Karen Blumenthal was a remarkable person; not just a fine journalist, but a very fine person.

Karen always responded immediately to any invitation to speak to business journalism students at TCU; and she never asked for payment, and in fact refused it if you tried to give it to her.

She had no affiliation with TCU and no reason to go out of her way to help out, but she always did. Prior to this, my only connection with Karen had been that her brother and I had lived in the same dorm at Harvard.

She’s been immensely helpful to me over the years in many other ways, including arranging for her relatives at the Laredo border to help me with a research project.

Karen last spoke to my business journalism class on March 31. When I wrote her a “thank-you note,” I mentioned that we should plan to get together in person when COVID-19 retreated.

We will never have that lunch, but am so thankful to have known Karen."

Similarly, Dr. John Tisdale, a former journalist, who served as assistant director of Schieffer School while I was there, reacted to Karen's passing:

"I’m seldom in 'complete awe' of anyone. I was in complete awe of her skill set and intellect.

When you two taught the capstone class (with me as the academic observer), I purposely kept my mouth shut because I realized early on that it was an opportunity for me to learn. What a privilege.

She was an incredible teacher."

In memory of Karen,

John Lumpkin, University of Virginia, '71


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