Iger-Bay Endowed Scholarship Recipient

By Kyle Hornyak, July 28, 2021
Damani Madir ’24 is ready to go the distance.

In late 2019, Bob Iger ’73 and his wife, Willow Bay, generously committed to a $1 million gift to establish the Iger-Bay Endowed Scholarship at Ithaca College. The scholarship is funded through proceeds from sales of Iger’s memoir, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” and is 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 the college and nationally.

Both Iger and Bay are renowned media leaders who strive to foster inclusion and representation in their respective industries. As Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Iger is a powerhouse media executive whose blockbuster features 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.


Damani Madir ’24 (Photo submitted).

The inaugural recipient of the Iger-Bay Endowed Scholarship is sports media major Damani Madir ’24. Madir, who has been receiving remote instruction at his home in Brooklyn, NY since joining the IC community last fall, connected with Bob Iger, Willow Bay, and President Shirley M. Collado over Zoom in April to express his gratitude for receiving the scholarship. Madir shares that the meeting was incredibly meaningful.

“The meeting was a discussion between the four of us that really focused on me and my goals,” Madir shares. “Bob and Willow seemed to really care about not just where I came from, but what led me here to Ithaca College. They both really crossed the bridge to understanding who I am as a person.”

“Willow and I were thrilled to meet Damani and to hear about the personal journey that led him to Ithaca College,” shared Iger. “Not only was he deeply appreciative, but he expressed great passion for journalism and a strong commitment to learning. We are focused on improving diversity in the field of journalism by providing scholarships aimed at fostering more diversity in journalism programs at Ithaca College and other universities, and we look forward to supporting more students like Damani.”

During the meeting, Madir shared that what ultimately led him to attend Ithaca College was the close-knit feeling he experienced from the moment he began exploring IC.

“I had a chance to hear President Collado speak at one of the open houses [for accepted students],” Madir says. “The president really promoted IC as a ‘family’ in its stance on education, and that definitely resonated with me.” Madir had originally planned to study political science but decided to switch to sport media and broadcasting. “I made Ithaca my top school when I saw they have top-level programs in those majors.”

Upon being accepted to IC and receiving the Iger-Bay Endowed Scholarship, Madir raced to purchase “The Ride of a Lifetime” to learn more about Iger’s journey from local TV weatherman to one of the most powerful players in Hollywood.  The book gave Madir insight into Iger’s background, which the two discussed during their April meeting.

“Despite our obvious differences, Bob really emphasized the fact that he and I were not that different from each other,” Madir explains. “We both grew up in New York City, we both came to Ithaca with a passion for media...It really made me come to appreciate him even more, knowing we have more similar backgrounds than I had previously thought.”

“Beyond the support the scholarship provides to individual students like Damani, the Iger-Bay scholarship is symbolic of how critically important it is for the Park School and all its constituencies – alumni, faculty, staff, students, and industry partners - to embrace the aspiration of becoming a national model for colleges committed to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion and to work tirelessly to achieve it.” 

Ellen Staurowsky, professor of media arts, sciences, and studies

Madir is advised by Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies Professor Ellen Staurowsky. “We are so fortunate to have Damani as a member of our campus community,” said Staurowsky. “Having taught him last fall during his first semester at Ithaca, I was so impressed with his commitment, focus and talent. The grace he has shown as he has started his college career in the midst of a pandemic has been inspiring and admirable.”

In terms of aspirations for life after IC, Madir is hoping to join a media conglomerate and be able to tell stories from different individuals across the sport world. Madir is a huge sports fan and is particularly passionate about boxing. “Really, my ultimate goal is to someday be behind the commentator’s desk for Showtime Boxing,” Madir acknowledges.

In author Joyce Carol Oates’ celebrated “On Boxing,” Oates observed that “life is a metaphor for boxing — for one of those bouts that go on and on, round following round, jabs, missed punches, clinches...you and your opponent so evenly matched it’s impossible to see your opponent is you ….” This sentiment resonates deeply with Madir, and dovetails with Ithaca College’s commitment to being a place where progress is an ever-evolving process, with an inclusive community that encourages you to rally even when you’re on the ropes.

“I define progress in myself as in really taking the time to process and understand the flaws I have as a person in order to make progress,” Madir shares. “We force these expectations on ourselves, but we can’t perform at our absolute highest level every single day. At the end of day, what’s important is that you lie down and reflect on your progress, what you were able to achieve, and then you power up to get ready to do it again the next day. It’s a process.”