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UMD to Memorialize Capital Gazette Shooting Victims

Athletics, Merrill College to Dedicate Room, Press Seat and Create Writing Competitions

By Maryland Today Staff

Capital Gazette

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The University of Maryland today announced plans to honor the five victims of June’s mass shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md.

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism will rename an executive seminar room in Knight Hall as an on-campus memorial for alumni John McNamara ’83 and Gerald Fischman ’79, UMD adjunct professor Rob Hiaasen and their colleagues, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. A dedication ceremony, co-hosted with The Diamondback student newspaper, will take place in December. Merrill College will also create writing competitions in memory of Fischman and McNamara, as well as a teaching award in memory of Hiaasen.

"These people served their community by practicing and supporting journalism," said Lucy A. Dalglish, dean of Merrill College. "We hope these remembrances will be a consistent reminder of their example, and that their memory inspires others to seek truth and do good."

Maryland Athletics will pay tribute to McNamara, a sports reporter who covered Terps football and basketball for two decades, with a moment of silence in the press box before tomorrow’s home football game. A press seat will be dedicated in his memory with a permanent placard in the press box at both Maryland Stadium and Xfinity Center.

“From his time as a young reporter for The Diamondback, John dedicated much of his life to reporting news and sharing stories of our student-athletes, coaches and programs at Maryland,” Athletic Director Damon Evans said. “John was a part of so many special moments in our history and created many personal moments of his own in College Park. The seats dedicated in his honor at both Xfinity Center and Maryland Stadium will serve as a constant reminder to the dedication and passion he had for Maryland and sports journalism."   

He and four others were gunned down in their newsroom on June 28, allegedly by a man who had a long-standing grudge against The Capital, including a reporter and publisher who no longer worked there. It was possibly the deadliest single day for journalists in American history.

McNamara started covering the Terps for The Diamondback; he also met his wife, Andrea Chamblee ’83, at Maryland. McNamara wrote a 2001 book with Dave Eflin on UMD men’s basketball, then in 2009 wrote another on Terps football.

Fischman, who also worked for The Diamondback, was an award-winning editorial writer who began working at Capital Gazette Newspapers in 1992.

Hiaasen, who taught news writing and reporting in Spring 2018 at Merrill College and was scheduled to do so again this fall, started working at The Capital in 2010 after 15 years as a feature writer at The Baltimore Sun.

Wendi Winters, a features writer, started out as a freelancer at The Capital nearly 20 years ago, and Rebecca Smith was recently hired as a sales assistant for the publication.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.