WSU to dedicate building in honor of Kathi Goertzen

PULLMAN, Wash. - KOMO anchor Kathi Goertzen never forgot the institution where she learned broadcast journalism, and now Washington State University will ensure future students will remember her as well.

The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication will dedicate a building in her honor Saturday and launch a campaign to fund a state-of-the-art media lab for journalism students.

"It is fitting that we honor Kathi's devotion to preparing the next generation of journalists with the rededication of a building in which so many future journalists will learn the trade," University President Elson S. Floyd said in a news release.

The college plans to build a Hall of Excellence featuring kiosks and monitors that showcase the reporting and the life stories of successful Murrow College graduates, such as Goertzen and the college's namesake, legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow. The college will also transform its broadcasting studio into a new, functioning newsroom for broadcasters, web journalists, and other students.

"Kathi really epitomized the Murrow legacy," said Lawrence Pintak, founding dean of the Murrow College.

Goertzen died last year after a long and public battle with a brain tumor. After Goertzen's death, Floyd tasked a committee with deciding the best way to honor her legacy at the university.

Margo Myers, a close friend of Goertzen and the chair of the committee, said the 13 members decided to rename the Communication Addition because it was the most tangible recognition of Goertzen's work at WSU and at KOMO in Seattle.

"When you think of positive role models and people who've been influential in the state, Kathy is a positive role model," Myers said, "not only for Murrow students, but for all students at WSU."

Myers said Goertzen would often speak to broadcast classes at the university, and remained active in alumni activities until her death in 2012.

"Kathi loved helping students," she said.

Glenn Johnson, a WSU professor of broadcast communication, first met Goertzen during her senior year in 1980. Her coverage of the eruption of Mount St. Helens made a profound impression both in the classroom and professionally, Johnson said.

"There was no question in my mind that she'd be a major player in television news," he said. "She was an outstanding individual, with a beautiful personality."

After graduation, Goertzen started her career at KOMO. Goertzen's co-workers at KOMO said they still feel her presence and think of her often. Dan Lewis, who co-anchors the 5 and 11 p.m. KOMO newscasts, said he met Goertzen when they auditioned in 1987.

"I'm so pleased that her legacy will live on at Washington State University as it will in Seattle," Lewis said.

Goertzen faced her illness courageously and showed a great love toward everything she encountered, he said.

"She was so proud of her Cougs, whether it was in academics or athletics," Lewis said. "She was just always beaming whenever she and I would have a conversation about Pullman or Washington State."

Darin Watkins, spokesman of the Murrow College, said the naming will ensure future students know of Goertzen and her work both as a WSU student and alumna.

"I'm honored we're going to name a building after her," Watkins said. "Universities don't do that as much as they used to. Our challenge is that we don't lose sight of that name on the building."


The Murrow News Service provides local, regional and statewide stories reported and written by journalism students at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.