"To say there wouldn't be a Wallace House without Mike is one thing,
but to realize that there very well might not be a journalism fellowship program at the University of Michigan focuses the perspective. I can attest that he provided the marquee name necessary to build the program long before buying the building to put it in. It isn't often that a major donor also happens to be one of the greatest practitioners; I'm reminded every day when I pass the plaque at the front door of Mike & Mary Wallace House."
-Charles Eisendrath, Director, Knight-Wallace Fellows, The Livingston Awards
Legendary newsman and University of Michigan alum Mike Wallace was an enthusiastic and generous supporter of the Knight-Wallace program, endowing an investigative reporting fellowship and donating an additional $1 million for the program. But perhaps most precious to the Knight-Wallace Fellows is the gift Wallace and his wife Mary bestowed upon the program in 1992: the beautiful Arts and Crafts home that serves as the heart of the fellowship, housing the program’s offices and serving as the perfect gathering space for the fellows during their year in Ann Arbor.
Wallace’s financial generosity was matched by the contribution of his time, expertise and energy to the Knight-Wallace Fellows. For decades, Wallace played an integral role in shaping the fellowship program, as well as inspiring mid-career journalists who emerge from the program. His affection for the University of Michigan and the Knight-Wallace Fellows was immense and infectious.
A beacon of journalistic integrity, Mike Wallace enjoyed a career that harkens back to the Golden Age of reporting. After graduating from the University of Michigan, Wallace started out in radio broadcasting in Grand Rapids and Detroit, later moving on to Chicago. During World War II, he served as a naval communications officer and in 1951, he joined CBS, where he would spend the bulk of his career.
In 1968, Wallace was part of the team that launched the seminal news magazine “60 Minutes.” It was there that, over the next four decades of reporting, Wallace sealed his reputation as a hard-charging, no-holds-barred interviewer. His style and integrity earned him the trust of viewers and news-makers alike and resulted in some of the most impressive and exclusive “gets” in the broadcast history. His most memorable moments at “60 Minutes” were often news-making events in their own rights, including his legendary 2000 joint interview with Louis Farrakhan and the eldest daughter of Malcolm X and his 2006 conversation with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. Wallace broke the Major League Baseball scandal wide open with his 2005 interview with Jose Canseco and was the first to interview Dr. Jack Kevorkian upon the euthanasia advocate’s release from prison in 2007. In 2005, Wallace’s greatest moments included two remarkable achievements: an interview with Russian Prime Minister (then president) Vladimir Putin and an exclusive conversation with noted mathematics genius and schizophrenic John Nash. In 2006, Wallace became a correspondent emeritus for CBS, where he continued to contribute to “60 Minutes” and the network’s other news shows.
Wallace’s reporting not only made history – it garnered him an arsenal of journalism’s highest honors. He earned 21 Emmy Awards, including a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Emmy, and a spot in the Television Academy Hall of Fame. In addition, he received the 2002 Fred Friendly First Amendment Award for journalistic contributions to free speech; the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award; three Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards; three George Foster Peabody Awards; a Robert E. Sherwood Award; and the Radio/Television News Directors Association Paul White Award. Wallace was also hailed as Broadcaster of the Year in 1993 by the International Radio and Television Society.
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