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William F. Thomas Professorship in Journalism

The William F. Thomas Professorship was given by the Times Mirror Foundation to honor Thomas (BSJ50, MSJ51), who served as editor and executive vice president of the Los Angeles Times. The endowment was established in 1989 when Thomas retired after 32 years with the company.

Thomas was metropolitan editor at the Times for six years and editor for 17 years. His legacy at the paper is one of expansion and increased resources for news.

In a story about his retirement, the Times listed some of the accomplishments of his tenure as editor: “Nine Pulitzer Prizes; six new foreign bureaus and five new domestic bureaus; two new regional editions, in San Diego and the San Fernando Valley; three new separate sections, Book Review, Calendar and Business; a new Sunday magazine; a 100 percent increase in the paper's news and editorial staff; a 600 percent increase in the paper's annual news and editorial budget; all-time highs in daily circulation (1.1 million) and Sunday circulation (1.4 million).”

He was lauded for his efforts to improve the quality of writing and varied story forms in the paper. Fellow editors at major papers praised his work in the same article. "He presided over it at a time when it became a great American newspaper," Benjamin C. Bradlee, then executive editor of The Washington Post, told the Times.

Thomas began his career as a copy editor at the Buffalo Evening News in Buffalo, New York. He later moved on to a small weekly in the Sierra Madre mountains, then joined the Los Angeles Mirror News. A member of Medill’s Hall of Achievement, Thomas died Feb. 23, 2014.

Professor Ellen Shearer was the first William F. Thomas Professor and has held the chair since 2003.