Willard Bleyer

Credentials: 1873 - 1935

Willard Grosvenor (“Daddy”) Bleyer was the father of journalism education at the University of Wisconsin – Madison building a lasting monument dedicated to the responsible communication of facts and ideas: the School of Journalism. His influence was widespread to national journalism education during its formative period. Born into a Milwaukee newspaper family, Dr. Bleyer grew up in an atmosphere of active journalism. From an English instructorship, the young teacher moved on to achieve his dream of a full journalism program at the University. Ahead of his time, he believed that journalism belonged among the arts and sciences. He believed in the importance of a liberal education for practicing journalists. He stressed social responsibility and scrupulous honesty in news presentation. With encouragement from President Van Hise, Dr. Bleyer developed journalism from one course in 1905 to a separate department in 1912 and to a School of Journalism in 1927. As a student at the University of Wisconsin- Madison (B A., 1896; M.A., 1898; Ph.D., 1904), he was a reporter and later editor of The Daily Cardinal. He edited The Badger, headed the University Press Club, and was class president (1896). Affectionately known as “Daddy,” Dr. Bleyer commanded the respect and admiration of students and faculty. Quiet courage and dry wit dwelled beneath his surface reserve. Scholar as well as pioneer, he explored new vistas in his books on journalism. He foresaw an increasingly complex world in which educated, trained individuals would be essential for reliable reporting of news and ideas. His ideals of scholarship and public service set an enduring standard. Willard Grosvenor Bleyer contributed a concept of journalism education that will ever serve the state and nation in the American tradition of a free, responsible press in a flourishing democracy.