University of Maryland to honor Capital Gazette shooting victims

With a renamed seminar room, writing contests and a placard in its football stadium press box, the University of Maryland will create permanent testaments to the five victims of June’s mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom.

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism will rename an executive seminar room in Knight Hall as an on-campus memorial for Maryland alumni John McNamara, ’83, and Gerald Fischman, ’79, adjunct professor Rob Hiaasen, and their colleagues Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

A ceremony to dedicate the room will be co-hosted with The Diamondback student newspaper and will take place in December. Merrill College will also create writing contests in memory of Fischman and McNamara, as well as a teaching award in memory of Hiaasen.

“These people served their community by practicing and supporting journalism,” Lucy A. Dalglish, dean of the Merrill College, said in a statement. “We hope these remembrances will be a consistent reminder of their example, and that their memory inspires others to seek truth and do good.”

Maryland’s athletic department will pay tribute to McNamara, a sports reporter who covered Terps football and basketball for two decades, with a moment of silence in the press box before Saturday’s home football game. Press seats with permanent placards will be dedicated in memory of McNamara in the press areas at Maryland Stadium and XFINITY Center.

“From his time as a young reporter for The Diamondback, John dedicated much of his life to reporting news and sharing stories of our student-athletes, coaches and programs at Maryland,” director of athletics Damon Evans said in a statement. “John was a part of so many special moments in our history and created many personal moments of his own in College Park.”

McNamara started covering the Terps as a student reporter for The Diamondback. He wrote books on Maryland men’s basketball and football. The sportswriters in the press box became McNamara’s family, said his widow Andrea Chamblee.

“The Maryland Terrapins were very important to him,” Chamblee said. “By the time he was a senior he had sat next to people from all the big papers on press row — from The Washington Post to The New York Times.”

During his years in the press box, McNamara helped writers, especially women, acclimate to the world of sports writing and advance in their careers.

“Here’s John — he’s the kid from The Diamondback or the Prince George's Journal or The Capital — and he helped them,” Chamblee said. “He showed them around, introduced them, told them who gives good quotes. He was so selfless.”

Fischman, who also worked for The Diamondback, was an award-winning editorial writer who began working at the Annapolis newspaper in 1992.

Hiaasen taught news writing and reporting at Merrill College in spring 2018 and was set to do so again this fall. He started working at The Capital in 2010 after 15 years as a feature writer at The Baltimore Sun.

Wendi Winters, an editor and features writer, began as a freelancer at The Capital nearly 20 years ago, and Rebecca Smith was a recently hired sales assistant for the company.

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