Queens University of Charlotte Becomes Digital Literacy Pioneer

Press Release

September 13, 2010


Knight Foundation provides $5.75 million in support; School of Communication to be named for James L. Knight

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte will become a national leader in the area of digital and media literacy under a new grant announced by the university and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The $5.75 million grant will:

  • Name the School of Communication at Queens for James L. Knight, the cofounder of the nationally respected newspaper group that became Knight Ridder, and former Charlotte newspaper publisher. 
  • Create an endowment to allow the school to develop programs that will teach digital and media literacy to its students, and outreach programs that will help these students spread digital and media literacy in the community at large.
  • Help the school invest in the teaching of digital and media literacy to all Queens students through the university’s core classes.
  • Support annual conferences, a website and a journal all oriented toward the role Queens is playing, and other universities can play, in teaching digital and media literacy in their communities.

“It’s pioneering for a university to take responsibility for teaching digital and media literacy not only to its own students, but in the community at large,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation’s president and CEO. “In the 21st century, successful communities will be those who can best connect with each other and the world using digital media. Queens is uniquely positioned to help Charlotte do that.” 

Full participation in today’s digital world requires two types of skill sets, according to a landmark report last year by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in Democracy. Digital literacy means understanding new technologies and their impact. Media literacy means the ability to evaluate content for accuracy and bias, and to help create it.

“We are honored to be chosen to receive this grant based on the strength of our community service and the innovation we foster in our School of Communication,” said Queens President Pamela L. Davies. “We knew that we were uniquely positioned to receive this transformational gift, and are thrilled to see the goal of forming a unique and lasting partnership with Knight Foundation realized.”

The community-university link is reflected in the naming of the school after James L. Knight, a firm believer in community prosperity.

“Naming the school for Jim Knight is a tremendous honor, and reflective of the great work our professors and students do each day,” said Van King, dean of the School of Communication.

As part of their community service, Queens students could, for example, become literacy volunteers at libraries, teaching digital skills to seniors or leading workshops for parents on age-appropriate uses for social media.

“Knight already is a strong supporter of libraries in Charlotte, and that kind of connection would be welcome,” said Susan Patterson, the foundation’s program director in the city.

The Knight Commission report called for new thinking and aggressive action to improve the flow of news and information in America’s communities. Digital and media literacy, the commission said, should be built into education at all levels, from kindergarten through college and on into adult education programs.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

About Queens University of Charlotte
Queens University of Charlotte is a private, co-ed, Presbyterian-affiliated comprehensive university with a commitment to both liberal arts and professional studies. Located in the heart of historic Charlotte, Queens serves approximately 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students through its College of Arts and Sciences, the McColl School of Business, the Wayland H. Cato Jr. School of Education, the James L. Knight School of Communication, Hayworth College for Adult Studies and the Andrew Blair College of Health, which features the Presbyterian School of Nursing.

Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation,
(305) 908-2677, [email protected]

Van King, dean of School of Communication
(704) 337-2384, [email protected]

Queens University of Charlotte Name Usage Guidelines:

  • (Preferred) Queens University of Charlotte
  • (Abbreviated) Queens

Video at top: Clip from Paul R. Jacoway's Emmy-winning "Final Edition: Journalism According to Jack and Jim Knight http://learn.uakron.edu/final_edition.