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Our History

Joseph P. Medill was a leading newspaper editor, publisher and politician. He was co-owner and managing editor of the Chicago Tribune and served as mayor of Chicago. The Medill School of Journalism was dedicated on Northwestern University's Evanston campus on Feb. 8, 1921. From 1921 to 1937, it was part of the School of Commerce, directed by Dean Ralph Heilman, although Harry F. Harrington served as the Director of Medill. In 1922, nine students comprised Medill's first graduating class.

Medill's first dean was Kenneth E. Olson, who held that position from 1937 to 1957. The school's longest-tenured dean was Ira W. Cole, who followed Olson and served from 1957 to 1983. Brad Hamm now serves as Medill's eighth dean.

When Medill was dedicated, the school operated in Fayerweather Hall. It was not until 1954 that the school moved into Fisk Hall, where it still is housed today. Medill added a second building in 2002, when the McCormick Tribune Center was dedicated.

Medill offers its students a number of unique opportunities, many of which have been part of the school for decades. The Medill News Service in Washington, D.C., where students work as credentialed reporters on Capitol Hill, was started in 1966. In 1972, the school introduced its Teaching Newspaper Program (now called Journalism Residency), which allows undergraduate students to work full time as reporters at media outlets across the country.

In 1989, James M. Ross became Medill's 10,000th graduate.

In 1991, Medill launched the first graduate-level integrated marketing communications program in the United States after consolidating the school's advertising, direct marketing and public relations curricula.

Medill expanded its international presence in 2008, when the school opened a campus in Doha, Qatar, known as NU-Q. And in 2016, Medill launched programs along with the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern's new space in San Francisco.