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Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
February 27, 2006
DeKalb — Membership in the Northern Star Hall of Fame grew to 53 last week with the induction of six new alums, including two with connections to Hollywood.
Gerald DiPego, a reporter and columnist for the Northern Illinois University campus newspaper who graduated in 1963, is a screenwriter who includes “Phenomenon” and “The Forgotten” on his resumé. Diane Mermigas, the Northern Star's arts editor in 1972, is a contributing editor and columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and editor of her own “Mermigas on Media” subscription newsletter.
DiPego and Mermigas are among a class that includes the first graduate of NIU's journalism program, a former nationally syndicated sports columnist, a writer of plays, poems and short stories and the managing editor of a daily newspaper in a fiercely competitive suburban market.
Christy Arnold, a 1999 alum and reporter for the Pulitzer-finalist Charlotte Sun of Port Charlotte, Fla., received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Mark McGowan, of the NIU Office of Public Affairs, and a 1992 alum, received the annual BridgeBuilder Award.
The induction ceremony was held Saturday, Feb. 25, in Altgeld Hall, NIU's flagship building.
“We have a two-fold purpose with this,” Northern Star adviser Jim Killam said. “One is for the alumni to re-establish old friendships and to come back and see the campus again. The other is for our current students to see first-hand how much the Northern Star means to the people who have been here, even decades after their graduation.”
The Northern Star Hall of Fame honors former students, advisers and friends of the Northern Star who significantly affected the Northern Star, journalism or related fields, or who have otherwise received acclaim based in part on experience gained at the Northern Star.
Created in 2000, the Hall of Fame serves as a means to keep alumni actively involved in support of the Northern Star and to encourage Northern Star students toward excellence in their chosen career paths.
During the event, several honorees spoke about the Star students' publishing the controversial Danish cartoons.
“Even in that room full of journalists there were differences of opinion on the issue,” Killam said, “but what all of the speakers kept coming back to was the thoughtful, professional way the students handled it, and the courage it took to make the decision they did. Coming from journalists of that high caliber, those words meant a lot to our students.”
More information is available online at http://www.northernstar.info/alumni.
This year's inductees are:
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