A Wise and Merry Man

Author: Robert Schmuhl

Mickey Gallivan
Mickey Gallivan

Educating informed, ethical journalists for the 21st century became possible at Notre Dame because of the love of a son for his father.

In the late 1990s, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded the University a three-year grant to launch a new program in journalism that carried with it a proviso: During the time period of the gift, the foundation stipulated that Notre Dame was expected to secure an endowment from another benevolent source to give journalism education a permanent place in the undergraduate curriculum.

Michael Dennis (Mickey) Gallivan heeded the call, swung at the pitch, answered the prayer — pick your cliché — and allowed a fledgling series of courses and internships to thrive in perpetuity. Characteristically, he didn’t want credit for establishing an endowment to foster excellence in journalism with an ethical dimension.

His father, John W. Gallivan, served for many years as the distinguished publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune. Mickey, a 1967 alumnus of Notre Dame, wanted to honor his dad, a 1937 Notre Dame graduate, and he did so by creating the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. Mickey’s sister, Gay, and brother, Tim, generously joined in this familial undertaking.

Mickey’s life, much like his father’s, revolved around communications. After college he worked in television news and print journalism before embarking on a long career in marketing and advertising, receiving multiple awards over the years.

His involvement in community activities within Salt Lake City and throughout Utah would have constituted a separate career for most people, given the time he committed to worthy causes and charitable groups.

Moreover (and back to our story), Mickey’s personal commitment to Notre Dame’s Gallivan Program encompassed more than two decades. He served as an original — and continuing — member of the Advisory Board, faithfully participating in all the regular meetings. He brought wise, worldly suggestions to the discussions along with a smiling measure of Irish merriment.

When he passed away on August 22, 2022, the Salt Lake Tribune obituary noted his graduation from Notre Dame and then added another sentence: “His love for Notre Dame shaped all that came next.”

That love will have no end through the journalism program he created out of another love, a love of a son for his father.

Robert Schmuhl was the founding director of the John W. Gallivan Program and inaugural Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Chair in American Studies and Journalism