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Bob Iger ’73 and Willow Bay Establish Scholarship to Foster Diversity in Media

Contributed by News on 12/05/19 

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Bob Iger ’73 and his wife, Willow Bay, have generously committed to a $1 million gift to establish the Iger-Bay Endowed Scholarship at Ithaca College in support of academic excellence and the institution’s goal of becoming a national model for colleges committed to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The scholarship, which is funded through proceeds from sales of Iger’s recently released memoir, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” will be awarded to incoming students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications who demonstrate financial need; have declared a major of journalism, sport media or documentary studies; and hail from communities that are historically underrepresented and underserved in these fields at Ithaca College and nationally.

“The Park School has a rich history of providing an environment where students can develop their skills, ask challenging questions, and thrive among peers from varied backgrounds and experiences,” said Diane Gayeski ’74, Dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications. “Our community is deeply grateful to Bob and Willow for graciously establishing this endowment that will enable intellectually curious, high-achieving students to access the Park School’s innovative programs.” 

Both Iger and Bay are renowned media leaders who strive to foster inclusion and representation in their respective industries. As CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Iger is a powerhouse media executive whose blockbuster features, including “Black Panther,” have proven to be critical and commercial smashes that resonate with audiences around the world. Bay, who is dean of the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, is likewise committed to ensuring that students possess a deep understanding and appreciation of diverse voices in media

“I speak for the entire IC community when I share how incredibly appreciative we are of Bob Iger and Willow Bay for their tremendous generosity,” said Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado. “Their commitment to supporting and affirming underrepresented experiences across the educational and media landscapes is unparalleled.” Collado also reflected that Iger and Bay’s dedication to fostering inclusive voices dovetails with a primary aim of the college’s five-year Ithaca Forever strategic plan: to empower the many vibrant, diverse voices that make up Ithaca College to be bold and active participants in discourse, both in the college community and in the wider world. 

“Willow and I have advocated strongly for equitable representation of people of color in media and journalism for our entire careers,” shared Iger. “Increasing diversity in the newsroom is crucially important to us, and so we made the decision to allocate book proceeds in support of educational initiatives for underrepresented students in the hopes of fostering a more inclusive media environment for talented communications professionals.”

Iger appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on September 23 to share his philosophy on leadership and discuss his new memoir. He spoke with Robin Roberts about his humble beginnings 45 years ago, working as a studio supervisor at ABC on shows like “AM America” (the precursor to “Good Morning America”) and ABC Sports, never expecting he’d have the opportunity to run one of the greatest companies in the world. As part of the segment, Roberts played a clip of Iger as a student reporter on ICTV.

As one of Ithaca College’s most visible alumni, Iger has remained committed to supporting students at his alma mater despite an incredibly demanding schedule. Among his many contributions, Iger established the Reginald Simmons ’75 Memorial Award in honor of his lifelong friend that funds the cross-cultural exchange program Operation Crossroads Africa experience for two IC students each year (students must be politics majors or Park School students). Iger has also taken the time to volunteer as a classroom speaker at the college both in person and remotely, and welcomed guests at the college’s 125th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California in 2018.

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