Donors award $151,000 in scholarships

Donors award $151,000 in scholarships

The Reynolds School hosted the 2016 Savitt Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 3, in the Milt Glick Ballroom at the Joe Crowley Student Union. The event is funded by an endowment established by Sol and Ella Savitt.  Mrs. Savitt regularly attended the awards banquet until her death at the age of 101 in 2004.  In recent years, the Rev. Jacqueline Leonard has generously and enthusiastically supported the event. To view images from the event visit our Facebook page.

The banquet honors high achieving journalism students by awarding scholarships and acknowledging the Reynolds Schools outstanding journalism students. A total of 63 scholarships funded by 44 donors were awarded to 77 students for a total of $151,200.  Additionally, 13 students were recognized for their outstanding work in their specific areas of study with cash awards.

Al Stavitsky

Dean Al Stavitsky


“The Savitt Awards Banquet is a wonderful and inspiring event celebrating our outstanding students and faculty,” Dean Al Stavitsky said.  “There is a remarkable sense of community here that makes The Reynolds School a special place.”



In addition to the 63 scholarships awarded at the banquet, other awards distributed included:

Outstanding Student Awards:

James Fasules Advertising Award: Rachel Felix

Broadcast: Marcus Lavergne

New Media: Nicole Skow

News:  Rocio Hernandez

Public Relations: JamalEdeen Barghouti

Strategic Communications: Lindsay Honaker

Marilyn Newton Visual Journalism: Sommer Denkin

Reynolds Business Journalism: Sarah Shoen

Graduate Student: Michelle Matus and Ryan Smith


Other Awards:

Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer Award: Alexa Ard

Steve Martarano Best Published Article Award: Cynthia Sandoval

Lerude First Amendment Award: Jose Olivares

Nita Spangler Service Award: Lauren Blackwell

Nevada Semenza Christian Award: Professor Vanessa Vancour


Senior Scholars

May 2016 – Jena Valenzuela

Watch this touching video of Jena thanking RSJ donors for their generous scholarship support:

Jena Valenzuela @ Savitt Awards Banquet from Reynolds School of Journalism on Vimeo.

December 2015 – Jacoby Bancroft

Twelve students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, an honor society recognizing academic excellence in journalism and mass communications.  Inductees included: Lauren Blackwell, K. Patricia Bouweraerts, Cassandra Breazeale, Gabriella DeLeon, Dominique DiPietro, Hayley Hanger, Michelle Matus, Sarah Parks, Rachel Serrao, Nicole Skow, Jacob Solis, and Natalie Van Hoozer.

Five students were inducted into Alpha Delta Sigma, a national honor society sponsored by the American Advertising Federation. Alpha Delta Sigma recognizes and encourages scholastic achievement in advertising studies. Alpha Delta Sigma is the only national, professional advertising honorary society in American higher education.  Students inducted included: Sadie Fienberg, Joshua Mills, Kendall Taylor, Evan Thacker, and Megan Weeks.

Also announced at the event were selected participants for the fourth-annual Next Generation Radio NPR Boot Camp, a weeklong multimedia training camp hosted by the Reynolds School in conjunction with NPR. The Reynolds School is the first journalism school in the nation to host an NPR boot camp. Participants selected to participate include: Gabriella DeLeon, Kenny DeSoto, Monica Gomez, Tim Lenard, Jose Olivares, and Natalie Van Hoozer.

Scripps Scholarships were awarded to Michael Olinger, Jose Olivares, Krysta Scripter and Jordan Wines.

“The Savitt Awards Banquet tradition speaks so eloquently to the strong connection between our school, our alumni and the professions,” Dean Stavitsky said.  “It was simply a wonderful event.”


About Ella Savitt:

The Savitt Awards Banquet is underwritten by an endowment established by Mrs. Savitt and her husband, Sol. It is one measure of their dedication to the value of education and part of a pattern of support that extends from The Reynolds School of Journalism to the School of Medicine to the University at large and to Savitt Scholarships for valedictorians of Northern Nevada high schools.

The Savitts’ association with Nevada journalism spams almost the entire history of the University’s journalism program. It began with contributions of newspapers through their business, Sierra News Co., founded by Sol in the early 1930s to distribute newspapers and magazines in Northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area.

Over the years, their support expanded to include not only underwriting the annual awards dinner, but also funds for the graphics lab named for Emeritus Professor Ted Conover, funds for graduate assistantships, an endowment for a scholarship in the name of Emeritus Professor Jim Ellis, a scholarship in her name for journalism students and numerous other gifts to the University of Nevada, Reno.

Mrs. Savitt believed passionately in education, and her generosity continues to make a significant difference in the lives of journalism students, the University and the community. The awards banquet was one of her cherished events, and she was always an eager participant.


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