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Kittles make largest single donation in College of Media history to support education and journalism in the state

Luanne and Bob Kittle

Students will be better equipped to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing media landscape thanks to a gift from an award winning journalist and West Virginia University alumnus.

Bob (BSJ, 1975) and Luanne Kittle have been generous contributors to the West Virginia University Reed College of Media for more than 30 years. But their most recent pledge, the largest single donation in College of Media history, will allow them to make an impact on education and journalism in the state earlier than they anticipated.

At age 70 ½, most people are required to withdraw a minimum amount from their retirement savings accounts on an annual basis, according to federal law. Through a multi-year qualified charitable distribution to the College of Media, the Kittles are able to donate up to $100,000 of that annual withdrawal without paying income taxes on the money.

“I think this is a different way of giving that most people don’t know about,” Kittle said. “We had originally decided to include WVU in our wills. But this allows us to give the money to the University sooner and we get to see the gift being put to good use while we’re still living.”

Kittle, who is originally from Dunbar, West Virginia, is an award-winning journalist with extensive experience in national, state, and local affairs. He spent the majority of his career as editorial page editor of The San Diego Union-Tribune and hasn’t lived in West Virginia for decades, but he maintains close ties to the state and serves on the College of Media Advisory Board.

“Good journalism is the engine of social progress. And therefore, promoting good journalism in West Virginia is a way of promoting a better West Virginia,” Kittle said. “We hope this gift helps not just the College of Media, but all of West Virginia by promoting good journalism.”

Before joining the San Diego Union in 1986, Kittle was an associate editor of U.S. News & World Report in Washington where he served as White House correspondent, congressional correspondent and Pentagon correspondent. He has been a much sought-after commentator, providing regular political analysis on PBS’s “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” and appearing frequently on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and “Weekend Edition.” He has numerous writing accolades including the George Washington Honor Medal awarded by the Freedom’s Foundation of Valley Forge, the Scripps Howard National Newspaper Award, the William Randolph Hearst Award and the California Newspaper Publishers Association Award.

“I learned a lot through the J-School and as editor-in-chief at the Daily Athenaeum. Journalism was a lot simpler in those days, whereas today there are so many ways of communicating,” Kittle said. “I’m very impressed with the level of innovation at the College of Media in preparing young journalists to go out and meet the challenges of a rapidly changing media landscape. The College has a unique role to play in guiding West Virginia toward a better future and we hope this gift helps.”

Luanne is a retired educator who served nearly 20 years as the head of The Rhoades School in Encinitas, California. Bob and Luanne have two grown children and live in Cayucos, California, and Carefee, Arizona.  

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University. For more information on planned giving options, contact Joshua Walters at joshua.walters@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-6775.